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Archive for September, 2007

This isn’t our usual Monday is October weather. It’s over 90 degrees today. Yesterday was hot as well – a beach day. We packed grapes, strawberries, PB&J and some cash in case the ice-cream truck came.

My daughter is now almost five. Beach life has changed dramatically. I have gone from, “wherever you are I want to be with you,” to the optional, “maybe and I do mean maybe, if a person anywhere near my size isn’t around and I don’t feel like playing alone can you be near me while I make sand castles.” 

If it sounds like I’m complaining that would be inaccurate. I actually don’t mind – well, not much. My daughter can be very happy to be near me by which I mean on me. Patient and attachment-style mother that I am, I can deal and do. Now that she has started three days of school and two new classes, she wants me for long cuddles, more stories, before bed hugs and has that “I need you” energy that she always has when she’s in a transition. She’s managing fine in school, at classes and in public but at home has that, “you’re not going out tonight?” question for me at 7am. 

So, I’m there, holding her hand while she falls asleep. Sometimes, I feel the only space I can count as mine is actually under my skin – as in my blood and bones.

We’ve made great strides but I can still be caught saying, “I’m not a napkin” when foamy toothpaste is wiped on my pants or, “I was going to take that bite,” as she dives into my yogurt like an Olympian doing a no-splash move. My coffee does still have a finger covered in marker and God knows what else put into it for a “finger taste” before I’ve had a sip and the “can I have some?” is always asked AFTER the finger is wet.

You get the idea.

So yesterday when I was background adult, the thing I’ve witnessed in people who 1)have more than one child 

2)don’t like children 

3)don’t like their child/children 

4)are having a meltdown 

5)are totally well-balanced, secure and easy-going

was what I seemed to be yesterday afternoon. I was, “Can I have food?” and “I need to pee” and, “Why are those kids playing with my toys?” mother. I was, “Just as long as you are around I’m fine but you don’t have to entertain me, talk to me, fend for me, finish my sentences or be the boogie board I ride on.” It was delightful.

So there I sat, on the blanket with a book and actually read more than a sentence and made a cell phone call, and yes, I was still attentive and watching and listening but I was not consumed with mothering. Me, the woman-person I am, was also at the beach, at the same time.

Is miraculous too strong a word? I’m sure feeling like yourself, or a human being not entirely defined by your responsiveness to a little person might happen if you have a job that pays in cash not “i love you” hearts on your key board…. or if your child has an obsession with Lego’s that lets you escape to the computer now and then for an hour or six and isn’t afraid of going upstairs alone in your three-room bungalow. Perhaps, being a parent who isn’t so terrified of failing might be helpful and allow one to put the fear on a back burner and not a 24/7 low boil just in case you ever need to give yourself the burn of memory of what can happen should you fail.

But I am who I am.

So, to not only KNOW you are more than a mother but to FEEL you are more than a mother WHILE IN THE PRESENCE OF YOUR CHILD – well, it’s rather astounding, a little disarming and a HUGE relief.

So, what was wonderful about my trip to the beach yesterday was the wider beach world I could observe and absorb.

The seagulls were screaming their greedy happy song, hoping to avoid a cold dive in the water for fish if people could simply leave their food out of their bags and they could dive on the blankets.

The woman, maybe in her 80’s, but strong and sturdy and helping a much older and/or weaker man maybe in his 90’s, in and out of the water. It was a slow beautiful scene as they went over the sand, onto the rocks and into the water. She held him the entire time until he was in the water, maybe lighter and refreshed and unburdened by a body that seems to have lost balance. She loved him deeply whether a friend, sister or lover I couldn’t tell. What I knew was that she was his companion on this walk, not a tired or grumpy staffer getting him out, hired by his children to give him exercise or sunlight. She was  with him at the beach. They were both both in bathing suits enjoying the warmth. I am guessing it took enormous amounts of time and energy to get to and from the car, in and out of the suits, to and from the towel each time they went it and back. I saw some of it. It was so tender and caring and loving.

We so rarely see our elders just living, not being pushed in a chair, or hurried or silenced or invisible. It was as precious as seeing a mother splash her child because the love between them was palpable. It could have been his last day on earth, that’s how it seemed they held the day, as the precious end note to a day, a season, a summer or a life. It didn’t matter and I know that’s how we are all supposed to try to remember to live and we never do until something tragic happens but they seemed to be living that way yesterday.

And the children, the strangers that became friends in two hours. The older girl, the leader, because she was at least six mos. older than the rest ran the show. My daughter said, at least three times, “You know what I was thinking?” and then, when no one said, “What? What were you thinking?” she finally announced it. She was thinking of going to the store for eyeballs for the eyeball stew soup they were making with mud and water. I was so proud she got her sentence out and resisted the urge to tell all of the other children, “Did you hear her trying to tell you something?” because, well, I wouldn’t want to seem intrusive. My mantra, “I’m growing an adult,” played in the background as she looked at me and I pretended not to see when a little boy took her shovel. “Clock him,” I thought, “Use your words,” and my passive peace-loving heart was nowhere to be found. She got her shovel. And if she hadn’t? She was happy and not just occupied, but giggling and playful and bounding to and from the water making pretend Halloween and Monster recipes. She was collecting snails because that’s what the big girl decided they were doing. She was stuffing her PB&J in as her belly needed food but she was so eager to play. I was happy to watch.

They worked out who would get the water and the dirt, and there was some “sneaking” of both and some yelling, “get your own,” and some dropping everything mid-project just to go to something more fun.

When they stopped playing, when the big girl’s mom called her to go home, she stood up. She said, as she was going, “Say goodbye. Say you’ll remember me always.” My daughter stopped. “Good-bye,” and sort of shy, “I’ll remember you always.” The girl, running across the beach, in her bright bathing suit, oblivious to all of the other people on the beach, screamed to the wind, to the world and to my daughter, “I’ll remember you always.”

Catch of the Day

1 small triangular brown piece of sea glass, the type you might put on a pinky ring if you were so inclined

1 vision of the type of person I hope to be in another 40 years

1 day “I’ll remember always”

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B. called today. She wanted to know if we can bunny-sit on Fri. night and Sat. She swims, every night, through Oct. at sunset. She’s a teacher. A veggie. Her significant other grows as much food as possible to eat in their yard. We watch the bunnies.

 This summer, I met M., she’s an artist. She’s a teacher. She’s a grandmother. She came to the family kid’s day this year with her grandchild. My daughter was so sweet to hers, as she is shy as mine is. My daughter said, “It’s not my first time, I can help.” For my daughter, it was her second time. M. and I watched our little girls being friends who had just met, caring and being kind and it tickled my soul.

It’s not that these people didn’t live on my street before. It’s not that I might not have met them mowing lawns. I didn’t. We cross on the street, to and from the sea, and a hi turns into a “how are you” and then into a “have a peach from my tree?’ and then a “are you going to the beach with the girls?” etc. etc. There is a sea community, an ocean community, a people and a way of life. Is it people when winter comes and the high tides hit the sea wall we’re all in the same boat? Is it because, if the water comes carrying her debris in the form of old motors and rocks as it has in the past, we’ll all be cold, out of electricity and trying to protect our houses? We are so economically diverse and that’s rare for a place with ocean front property. Precious. I feel lucky. I always wanted roots, felt unplanted, but who knew my roots would swim in sea water, fluid but deep.

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Why Write?

Why write a blog? “Isn’t it just an on-line diary?” my sister asked me the other day. 

“I’m a writer. Writers write.” I was a little defensive. Writers can write and not have blogs. It wasn’t exactly an answer. It’s a fair question. The truth is, this blog world is strange and new and not everyone agrees about the value or place of blogging.

Can’t anyone blog? What if you aren’t anonymous? Why if you are? Can’t someone steal your work? What if no one reads it? 

I had the urge to share my passion about sea glass. But it’s not JUST about sea glass. But this topic tugged long enough to make me want to give myself a name, an on-line identity, and start sharing some thoughts, images and works. Maybe a blog about sea glass seems safer say than one about feminism, parenting, adoption, healing, trauma or politics. I’m not sure as all topics end up coming into any writing that is from the heart and soul. We’ll see.  

Mostly, I must write. And I love to read. And I have a child not yet in school. And I’m forty. And I read a lot. I come across a lot of fantastic quotes I’d like to share. Maybe I’ll end up posting articles I’ve written “for publication” or essays which might be of a higher quality writing that I’ve just been too cowardly to submit. Haven’t decided. Right now, I’d rather have a tiny voluntary audience than spend the very little free time I have “selling” my writing and making it a business I have to market. Even that’s open for change. I may decide that the time and energy I put into blogging might be better spent selling writing. Again, I just don’t know.

I’m exploring, testing and noticing how much energy blogging gives and how much it takes.

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Today’s Catch

Gratitude 1:I can’t describe the sea glass pieces because I gave them all to my daughter. She walked on the beach with me. The air was cool but the sun still out. The man at home making corn on the cob and lima beans and saying, “You two walk, I’ll cook” and listen to pre-game stuff…He didn’t actually say that but the radio was on in the kitchen before the door closed.

2. All we caught on the beach went into her collection. “I like but don’t love sea glass collecting,” she said the way I had said, “I like but don’t love High School Musical” earlier in the day.

3. We came up with the idea for her birthday to have a sea treasure hunt. Everyone will collect one shell, one rock, one piece of white sea glass, one piece of brown and one piece of green. She had suggested everyone collect a blue piece but since I’ve been searching since June and haven’t found one I thought that might delay the cake and ice cream part of the party.

4. The entire day was wonderful. We met friends, another mother-daughter duo at a farm, and saw pigs and cows. We went on a hay ride. We ate lunch. The girls played in the dirt, with fake wooden eggs.

5. During a live snake demo, they stood right in front of the woman showing a snake. They just decided to hold hands while standing. Children are wonderful.

6. Eating iced cream and laughing, rolling in a sea of laughter and knock-knock jokes and the weather was warm but not hot, windy but not cold and the company was magical.

7. The memory of our daughters at this same farm years ago when they were toddlers and we were new mothers and all of us new friends. Now, we are all in each other’s lives and already have traditions.

8. A day of sunlight and nature. It was blissful, magical, simple, affordable and easy.

9. A short but nice conversation with my brother who just had a birthday. He’s creative and a wonderful father. It was nice to hear his voice on the phone early in the morning. I love him even though I don’t get to see him a lot. He’s a great human being.

10. My cousin with his warm eyes and smile who “set us up” and treated us for ice cream at the stand where he works.  

Life has bumps and bruises. There are days when bills and poor health, fear and anxiety rain down and soak us to the bone. Yesterday, from morning until night, was not one of those days. In my journal, in blog, in my life I am being as attentive to the gifts as I can possibly be knowing that like sea glass, memories can be savored, moments collected and inhabited more fully just by giving and paying attention.

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Journal: The rain stopped at 2:30pm. It’s 2:35pm. I’m in jeans, a thermal shirt, winters socks and a thick gray sweatshirt that matches the sky. In the distance the bright blue promises a sunny afternoon or tomorrow. But in this moment it is still not bright, blue or clear. The ocean is loud, the usually high and sturdy rocks for sitting on are soaked. I’m sitting up against the sea wall.

I listen to the ocean. I feel her mood, watch her go from gray to black, from smooth to choppy, see boats with engines, ones with sails, and those that carry cargo cross over and through her.

She is an energetic sea today. Has the ocean traffic picked up? Is the moon pulling on her in ways unseen? She seems to be calling for attention like a drunk talking too loudly, an activist saying, “listen up” or a child in a church for the first time usually her outside voice. She also hums a song this sea. She is repetitive, skipping an imaginary rope on the edge of the shore.

On the sand, there is sea moss, what looks like maroon-colored spaghetti (seaweed).  Everything is still wet, not only from the ocean but the rain. My empty pockets will get full. The journal to the back of my jeans. I’m off.

Today’s Catch

Non-Sea Glass Treasures

-1 small square piece of ceramic

-3 shells. 1 shell is so thick and has so long lived in the ocean that I held it tight. I have never seen such a thick sea shell, smooth and weathered.

-1 rock, basic and simple and dark with one side completely smooth and yellowish green.

-1 piece of light purple beach glass which said, wrap pink wire around me and make a necklace

– More of the broken mug! This cup will be put back together!

 Today’s Catch, Sea Glass

-4 white pieces, frosty white, two triangles and two  rectangularish shapes.

-1 medium-sized white piece of glass. One hard-edge and the rest circular. Various levels of worked over by the sea.

-4 small think brown pieces with what looks like a soft snowfall on top

-1 thick green piece that looks like a guitar pick

-1 white piece which looks clear on white side and frosted on the other. One side is completely smooth and the other has a distinct line right down the middle.

Non-Sea Glass Treasures

-1 small square piece of ceramic

-3 shells. 1 shell is so thick and has so long lived in the ocean that I held it tight. I have never seen such a thick sea shell, smooth and weathered.

-1 rock, basic and simple and dark with one side completely smooth and yellowish green.

-1 piece of light purple beach glass which said, wrap pink wire around me and make a necklace

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Links and Header

Links: I’ve added many links. They are listed alphabetically. Here are the sub-topics: sea glass, trauma, adoption, trauma (and healing) and writing. Also, there are links to other bloggers which pretty much fit into one of these categories.

Header: I’ve been asked why I do not have an ocean scene on the header. A fair question. But, as I sat at the ocean today I realized this. Most often I am looking up at the sky or sideways down the beach. There is one tree that hangs over the water. Under the header I have I imagine an endless ocean, colors, sea glass and rock. I am with the ocean while I hunt and write but I am not staring at it except for the first few moments when I arrive. More on this in my post.

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Sharing the Sea Treasures

Heart-Shaped Stones I have a friend who collects them. She’s collected them for years. As I’ve gone along hunting I’ve come across a few here and there. I gathered them all up yesterday and found more than ten. Some were tiny hearts just a touch bigger than a thumb print. Some were as big as the palm of my hand, the angular uneven hearts popular now. My friend was so happy to receive the hearts. Her happiness, thinking of it this morning, made me tear up. I love her love. Rocks aren’t me. Heart-shaped rocks though beautiful don’t call to me. But they call to her. Seeing her joy made me thrilled. I know now, more than I used to, what it feels like to have a collection and to be known and seen in your love. A happy moment that makes me want to keep my eyes open for her as well.

 A Broken Cup of Whole It was someone’s recently broken. A mug. It wasn’t anyone’s definition of sea or beach glass but I couldn’t just leave it on the sea wall. So, I picked up it. It had words. One of them was God. Maybe it’s the Irish in me that is a little superstitious but I certainly wasn’t going to throw “God” away. But, what was I going to do with a broken mug? There are collections and there’s trash. So it sat on my shelf. One big piece. One small piece. It also said what I guessed was the end of the word friend.

Fast forward, a friend, different than heart-rock girl comes over. Let’s call her kaleidoscope. So, she visits. She plays at the beach. I have two four-year olds to watch and they tire of the ocean BEFORE us. So, I head back to the house. An hour or more later she returns. She has a bag of treasures and shows me this strange broken part of a mug. You guessed it. Big ocean. Medium shore. We don’t have the whole cup. But our parts fit together so that we can read that “A friend is a gift from God.” Together our broken pieces make a message that can be read. If that was in a made for t.v. movie wouldn’t you roll your eyes at the cliche? the improbability? the over-the-topness? Yup. My life. Yesterday afternoon. Amazing!

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