musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the tag “winter”

not exactly quiet

I know I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog lately.

The obvious place to start is with my grief over the loss of our dear sweet Lucy. It was so sudden, I think I’ve only begun to process it. I am not in a complete fog, walking through molasses and crying at the drop of a hat now. I think it piggybacked our autumn loss of Babette, which was within a week of the loss of my mother’s last living sister, and I couldn’t make it to the funeral. I lost a couple weeks of normal, quieter in some ways. In the meantime, we have been busier than usual in others.

Wrestling season ended for Captain Comic, but not before the number of hours spent in gyms across the Bay Rivers District increased exponentially.
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I am proud of him for trying hard, and always being game for a tough 1st season in the sport. Next year, maybe he’ll win a match from time to time.

Mr Cynic and I have been traveling to colleges and auditions for their music departments and Scholars Competitions, etc. and to have a look around. That has been a couple of adventures in traveling to Boston and to western Virginia.  That has been a bit of roller coaster of pressure, comic mayhem, not so comic mayhem, seeing good friends and my niece, sleeping on sofas, floors,  random beds and hotel rooms. We crossed many bridges, literally and figuratively.

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In the meantime, he has been involved in the Bay Rivers District Choir, and auditioned and won a spot in the All-Virginia Choir! The performance for that is the same weekend as his birthday in Richmond, at the end of April.

Toots is forever Toots, and a spark in our lives, and she apparently has a preschool boyfriend. I told her teacher on Valentine’s Day, that when I asked her who she loves after writing the family valentines, she answered, “D—?” sheepishly, knowing she should have said at least one family member in the context of the conversation. It was adorable. She also has been wanting to invite him over for sleepovers for a couple of months now.  The teacher cracked up and then told me she is always trying to get them to sit with other friends or at recess to play with other friends, but the two of them are stuck like glue everyday. I asked Toots at one point what she likes about D– so much and she answered, “because he is kind.” I couldn’t be happier, honestly, that she has found a best friend who is kind regardless of gender.

She has also been getting into trouble a lot at home, but she is approaching five, seeking independence or when we are preoccupied, seeking attention by plugging the sink, flooding the bathroom and soaking herself from head to toe. Or by poking the bear: Captain Comic, by doing the exact things she knows will trigger a negative response from him. Kazoos and pennywhistles she earns for good behavior in preschool are a big tool of torture for the noise sensitive Aspie.

But she is still our girl and how could we ever stay mad at this:

toots 2013.2.17

One day, I will remember to hold this smartphone horizontally while recording…

Meanwhile, in the writing department, I have started sending out queries to agents, and the rejections have started coming in. At least I’m starting at the top:

1st rejection

good news

1. Yesterday I completed the fourth draft of my manuscript! I am going to start submitting query letters to agents this week.

2. I wasn’t going to have any of my readers go over it again, but I had one late offer for a fresh eye to it recently, and after thinking I shouldn’t, I went ahead and sent it to him. He is someone whose opinion re: writing is one I value, especially one for humor and action elements. I suppose I wanted to be certain those elements were present after so much reworking over so long a time. I’m nervous, but it will be good to hear what he has to say about it. To paraphrase, I basically asked him to tell me if it was crap or not. I am not up for another draft at this point.

3. Captain Comic did not wrestle in last night’s home tournament, but he did last a good long time supporting his team in a loud gym, and he did a good job assisting setting up. Ear plugs helped.

4. One of the coaches asked him to draw up a poster concept of a wrestler hugging a cactus. He did two versions as soon as he got home. Both were good. He is an excellent artist with a lot of humor inherent in his work.

5.  While at the tournament, I was talking with another parent who suggested I contact the other closest high school in case a paraprofessional position opens up. His sister works in the special ed department there and he said he’d put a good word in for me.

6. I did. There is a little more to this story, but I have a good feeling about it and some things are best left to happen organically rather than discuss so much.

7. Mr. Cynic had a quick turnaround from his application to Berklee College of Music, his first choice, and his audition is in 10 days!

8. In the meantime, we all have colds, and it seems like it has been raining for eternity. The colds aren’t too bad, and the rain should help restore the water table from the recent summer droughts, and it hasn’t been a monsoon to flood, as how it usually seems to occur in recent years. But it sure would be nice if Mr. Sun would peak out from a cloud once in a while.

Things are moving right along for many in our family, and it feels good. The past few years, even with all the mayhem, has felt rather stagnant, and it’s nice to feel like progress can happen.


white throated sparrow

Jets fly overhead, blasting us with noise,
Rumbling our bones, and we tune that out, too.

But a birdsong, a flit, an unseasonal aah!
So tiny, so inconsequential
to starting the car and rushing about,
I cannot let it go.

Lately, I have tried, but an unfamiliar bird,
white stripe by his eye has crossed my path so many times,
as if to say, hello! I am here!
Don’t you want to know me?
So much so, that yes, yes I do.

In this age of instant gratification, I go searching on the internet,
And wish I knew where my ornithology book was,
wish I had to hunt through the library for Audubon’s giant tome,
lug the tome to a table and flip the illustrated pages,
smell the musty age of pages,
just to slow down a bit more because
don’t we need this?

Don’t we need to be wrong and curious,
don’t we need to stop, light up,
don’t we need to let go of this rubberband life
and be present for an hour, a minute, a day?

We live too much for our slow DNA souls
and a bird needs us to wink
And say hello, because he is singing
the universe’s song in our backyards.

We need to feel the breeze,
even in winter, blow through our hair,
not because we create a wake of it behind us,
but because we must live in it now
to know the world goes on without us.
We are not so important as a white throated sparrow.

I must stop, hear his cheery, melancholy
Old Sam Peabody, Peabody.
Old Sam Peabody, Peabody.

Because to take this moment,
this reminder to live,
to know joy and love in a birdsong, a flit,
is everything.


We went to Connecticut to visit with my parents and all the cousins between Christmas and New Year – the big post Christmas Coley Christmas, because that is the way we roll: two days in the car for a one day visit.

With the dog hopping from lap to lap.

We had lots of fun and Toots was very excited about the snow.

This is what winter looks like in Southeastern VA

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Toots, fresh out of the car in Connecticut, and so excited to see snow

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Immediate snow angel making night of arrival

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She’s just thrilled about her accomplishment

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“Yummy snow is so YUMMY!”

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Dawn over my parents’ back yard. I really grew up in a pretty place.

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Lucy loved the snow, too.

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Papa broke out the old Flexible Flyer and a slab of bacon to grease the runners.

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Toots would only let me pull her up the hill. She watched me ride down and determined it was too scary after great anticipation for DAYS and the whole ride up. All she wanted to do was go sledding before the actual sledding happened.

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I rode. A lot. and said, “Woohoo!!!”

2013.1.2 ct snow and stuff 063Here are my parents, Gaga and Papa, and all of their grandchildren minus the oldest, my one niece, who was working in Boston. She and Toots bookend five boys. Captain Comic is very silly.

belated and looking forward

Merry Christmas as well as anything else you may celebrate.


The year is winding down, and the way much of this one has gone, I’m glad to put 2012 in the rearview mirror: too many losses among friends and family, a lot of hard knocks. While I muddled through, I did remain grateful and had a lot of fun, too.

My dear old college friend, BJ Timoner is back on the road, on foot, to walk across America for Pancreatic Cancer Research. This is his second trek,  he had a heart event in the middle of the heat of Texas, and got back on the road east in 2011. You can imagine just how important this is to him, that he is willing to risk his very life to raise awareness and funds again.

Please click on his link at top right to learn more and to donate. This is one of the lowest rates of early detection and one of the highest death rates of all cancers.

You likely know someone besides Steve Jobs, who has passed quickly from this disease.

Please help BJ’s efforts and donate and pass the word.

Thank you, and have a stupendous 2013!

13 has always been a lucky number in my book. 🙂



I don’t know what to think of it. Is it here yet?

Yes. And then No.

And then kinda sorta, ah forget it.

February had blooms and snow and rain and 80F and freezing temperatures, all jumbled together.

Today is pretty dull, dank and chill. My daffodils and jonquils haven’t burst open yet, but locally, I see their sunshiney faces welcoming a season that hasn’t really arrived in others’ yards.

My winter blooming camellias are still blooming. The whites, variegated somewhat with my reds, began to bloom about a month behind the reds. Reds started in earnest in December. Whites sometime in January and are still hanging in there.

I should have deadheaded them more than I have, but well, see prior posts, things have been a mite crazier than usual around here.

I am holding out hope that things will settle down sometime soon…back to the usual mayhem.

I had the day off yesterday, and my writing group met. I have some more margin notes and a few more edited and typed paragraphs into my final chapter, so close, but for time to sit down and finish typing the sucker er, manuscript out. Last Chapter. Really. That close. My Chapters are quite short, mere pages. Wish me luck and the time and headspace to do it, please.

In the meantime, have a lovely Leap Day!



choices up against a wall

There is a lot of talk around the blogosphere  about choices. You only bring into your life what you ask for, etc.

And while I am as woowoo as the woowoo-est among us, and do generally prescribe to this theory, there is another part of me that says this is a crock of —-rubbish.

And that some people, who may have it a tad easier than some of us, often use this bon mot of wisdom to look down their noses at those of us who may not look like we have our s@&*# together. Yea, the view is pretty nice from the top. Mountain vistas usually are. Why don’t you come down here and join me for a day and see what the view is in the valley filled with jungle vines and no machete in sight?

I am going to talk about one area of my life where this karmic equation really bugs the you know what out of me, and no this will not be a rant, much as it looks like I am revving up to one.

I did not ask for one of my children to have a form of autism. There, I said it. Phew. It’s almost like I can breathe to admit it. But guess what? I reach this moment about 47 times every single day for the past thirteen and a half years. People have told me over the years that I shouldn’t think about that, but you know what? If I didn’t I’m not sure I could make it through any given day.

He did not ask to be born with a disorder that compromises everything about a ‘normal’ life.

We did not enter this life with each wanting to get into a verbal tangle over every little thing for him to accomplish from brushing teeth to doing homework. From sitting in his chair at dinner to making a consensus choice for family movie night that does not involve giant monsters or robots and might include a musical number or two and a princess. From wearing his winter coat on a 40 degree day to not wearing it on a 100 degree day.

I did not choose to have a child who did not choose his autism so that he could get bullied at school, on top of just trying to implement viable accommodations for his Individualized Education Plan. I did not choose to have a child who, when he has a normal cold, coughs so that it sounds and looks like he has tuberculosis, so school authorities will send him home over something a neurotypical kid would just deal with and not totally disrupt even the special ed class.

He did not choose to have to rage against an onslaught of sensory information every waking moment of his life.

I did not choose to have a son who could break my heart with his frustrations and suffering to communicate his needs , as well as blow my heart up bigger than I ever thought possible, every single moment of every day.

What I choose in the face of what Life DEALT me, and him, like it deals some other families cancer or cerebral palsy or Tourette’s, or severe allergies, or anything else, is to find what I can to enjoy in the midst of the mayhem of daily living.

I can choose, when things are at their most hectic and I really should just take that Saturday night once a month to go lie down and get a good night’s sleep, to instead be an hour and a half late to join my friends who also have children with special needs, so that we can laugh our faces off in the face of what we face everyday on our own.

Whether we have jobs, spouses, or anyone else to help, or other kids’ schedules to wrestle with, it often feels like the managing of every interaction, the assessing of where our children are and how to swing that response pendulum in a better direction – and it’s a wild one, let me tell you – is completely up to the parent who oversees functioning for that child.

For instance, today:

Last night I left laundry in a midway state when I went to bed. This morning I asked Captain Comic to please help (and occupy him so he would stop pacing around me trying to get me to look at something he wanted to show me online while I was trying to just have my coffee and check 75 emails before getting in the shower so that I could take him and his sister to a doctor appointment I couldn’t get for yesterday, which is taking me away from my writing group today, when he’d called me out of work to come get him at school because of the cough I mentioned earlier and I hadn’t even walked into the door of work  at my recent re-employ yet yesterday) by moving the clothes from the washer to the dryer for me.

I did not specify for him to remove the clothes that were in the dryer before transferring the wash load there. I wondered briefly if I should let that important piece of information go or risk an argument for micromanaging my instructions to him. I also wondered if I should specify to put those clothes into a basket rather than dump them on the floor. I chose to risk them being dumped on the garage floor.

He came back in from the garage and Honey asked him where the dry load was.

“In the dryer.”

He merely added the wet clothes to the dry clothes and hit ON. We talked to him about that being too much and that he needed to remove the dry clothes from the dryer before adding the wet. Honey asked him to go back out there and remove the dry clothes please. He went out, came back in a few minutes later empty-handed.

Honey: Where’s the basket of dry clothes?

Captain Comic: What do you mean?

Honey: Where did you put the dry clothes?

(I was listening from the office to see how this would play out and seeing every step of this conversation before it happened)

Capt. Comic: Oh, in the garage.

Honey: Please bring it inside now.

Capt. Comic went out to retrieve the basket. Came struggling back in through the door with it, mightily. He was like Atlas must have acted as he lifted the world onto his shoulders just bringing the basket indoors.

Honey: [Captain Comic] Are the wet clothes in that basket, too?

Capt. Comic: Yes (in an of course tone, because this is what we asked, right?)

It goes on, but you can have a little taste. This is our normal. Every Day. Several times a day. And he wasn’t even arguing about our forcing him into Child Slave Labor over this one. He was being reasonably compliant!

And this is why my Mom’s Night Out is so important. Because this particular set of moms just gets these moments and understands and can laugh about it to help each other laugh it off. Because if we didn’t, this is a rough life.

They understand that I am not martyring by telling the story, I am not saying, oh poor me, I am just getting it out of my system, and am not looking for big puppy eyes or condescension or advice or anything else. This is just my IS. And my IS is pretty darned ridiculous. So I better be able to laugh.

Okay, the other thing is I brought him back to school after today’s doctor appointment. I really didn’t want to unstrap Toots from her car seat so she could commune with the fish tank as I sign him back in in the middle school office like I usually do. I called the secretary and told her. She said it was fine, she would watch for him. He’s rather well-known around that school. You can’t miss him. Unless he wants you to, so it’s best to keep an eye on him. And make sure someone does when I don’t. He walked in saying he didn’t really want to go back to school today. He walked to the front door in Super-Slo-Mo. If you remember the 1984 Summer Olympics, you know how slow that is.

The sky this morning was very grey, a wintery it’s gonna snow kind of sky, but a tad too warm for snow. A blue flash and orange flash crossed my field of vision. a twirl of an Eastern Blue Bird. It stopped on the No Parking Here sign and let out a song. I swear he was looking right at me. He was beautiful, he sounded beautiful and he was full of the promise of Spring.

Choosing Laughter, and Choosing to see these moments of beauty and soak them in are the choices I make to survive. And I choose several times a day to Love Captain Comic. I choose to love him when I have nothing left but to yell back. I choose to Love him because he is mine and needs so much more love and understanding than the rest of the world put together. I choose to love him because any other choice is immoral or illegal or both. I choose to love him because, even in the midst of all of this, no one loves back more when he can show it.

If you ever meet him, and your heart is true, you will be hug attacked. I promise. He will bowl you over and then he will make you laugh more than you thought possible.

I was reminded today of why I read and loved all of those 19th century Russian novelists in college. Tolstoy said it best:

Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source. 

I choose Love.


Yes, there is snow, Virginia.

I was beginning to believe it didn’t exist. We already started spring here at the end of January.

See the hyacinth in the header photo?

The juniper by my front walk looks confused. a bulb is coming up next to it, a stray leaf is under it, and he has been snowcapped. I think he doesn’t know quite what to do about this state of affairs. He thinks, All time is now. The Buddha was right.


In the meantime, life has been off the charts crazy. I really don’t have time to be writing this post. I really need to be reading a lesson plan to ‘teach’ teens in about 2 hours, and finish coffee, and take a shower, and get all the kids ready to get out the door. And Captain Comic’s voice in my ear at 4am just about gave me a heart attack, “Mom, I can’t sleep.” Under normal circumstances, my normal, which is at least a little mayhem all the time, I would have awakened at the sound of his door opening and his feet on the hall carpet.

Last night, as we watched Mr. Cynic do a fabulous job in the All District Chorus concert, and be announced as an alternate Tenor II for the All Virginia Chorus, we couldn’t have been prouder or happier, even if Captain Comic and Toots were reenacting the Wild Ones in the audience. And then we walked out of the auditorium in Williamsburg to snow on the ground and the sky still spitting a mix of snow, ice, and rain. Yes, I use the Oxford comma.

Life couldn’t be better, but it could slow down just a little so I can breathe it in. And take a moment to play battle in the snow with the kids.


chicken, no head

I am trying to slow down, really. I have parts of some days that it is possible. And I do.

But, yes, I am late, but not forgotten.

For New Year’s Weekend, we visited my family in Connecticut, the house I grew up in, and I retrieved the boys from their father who lives in Rhode Island. It was too much driving in too short a time, but good to see my parents, brothers and their families. I can’t believe how fast my nephews are growing and how grown up my niece is now, with her own apartment in Boston.

In its way it was like so many Christmas gatherings of old, the way my mother likes them: as much as everyone in one place as possible. We used to do this with her enormous family when I was a kid, too. Must be where the mayhem started.

For about a half an hour of quiet, I took Honey and Toots to the old boat marina. A bit of salty air does me good, always, and this is the original salty air for me. Usually when I visit, I hit one of the beaches for a bit, but I hadn’t been to the Marina in decades. I went with my gut instinct to  see the marina.

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In other news, I contacted an award winning local musician for a senior year mentorship for Mr. Cynic. He’s very impressed with his songs, says he has an impeccable sense of rhythm, among other things and he is excited to work with him on his songwriting skills and in the process of recording the songs he writes, will learn some basics in music production. Mr. Cynic has his heart set on going into music, however it happens, and production was the contingency plan for his creative side.  Now is the official beginning of his career, if this mentoring happens for next school year, for credit, and so forth, one step closer to his college of choice, Berklee College of Music.

Here’s another little sample of his stuff:

I really couldn’t be happier. Unless I finish this draft of my manuscript at writing group tomorrow!


1. Christmas was wonderful.

2. I think the kids are all happy. I think Honey is, too.

3. Even though I received a tablet with Honey, my favorite gift may be my fluffy slippers, and new long sleeve shirts that are casually work appropriate, and sweaters, too, but mostly slippers.

4. Roadtrip was not bad, boys are off to their father’s for most of break. Honey, Toots and I stopped to visit with his Aunt and Uncle outside DC on the way home, and then

5. We’re spending New Year’s Eve day with my family in Connecticut for another ‘Christmas’ and I will retrieve the boys from their father.

6. I am exhausted and

7. Still need to bake the cookie doughs that I made last week.

8. I wanted to finish this draft of the manuscript this week, but between travels and job and cookies (haha), I don’t necessarily see it, unless I forgo sleep altogether.

9. I just can’t do that. I come close enough too often, and I do not want to hallucinate Angry Birds as I drive down the road to work.

10. Some pictorial highlights from Christmas Eve dinner and presents with cousins and Christmas morning:

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11. I will post some cute Christmas morning video later.

12. Next year I am asking for a better camera.

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