May 24, 2007

Elfreda Pulls her Weight

The next morning dawned glorious and rose-colored. Elfreda stared through her windows, surprised at how beautiful the scrubby, reddish colored landscape looked with the flood of the early-morning sun over it. IT made her wish that she had Eastern-facing windows-- the sunrise itself must be breathtaking, she thought.

She slowly rose from her bed. Her little clock said 7 am, and she was still recovering from jet lag, but she congratulated herself for making an early start despite this handicap. She needed to show Bobbert that she was serious about pulling her weight-- he had been so sneering and sarcastic the other day when he mentioned her smooth hands and working with crocks.

Elfreda bit her lip and looked at her hands. They were beautiful; one of the things about her appearance that she was proud of-- smooth, small, pale, and with beautiful moon-shaped cuticles. She spent a fair amount of time buffing her nails to mirror-brightness in the hope that Davian would notice.

Well, that no longer matters, Elfreda thought dully as she walked to her wardrobe. She pulled it open and sorted through the racks to find something suitable, but she couldn't come up with much. Finally, she donned a pair of knee-high leather boots-- she had saved for months to buy them-- a pair of denim shorts, and a soft, cotton eyelet blouse. She pulled a straw hat from her hatrack and put it on. Finally, she pulled her red hair into little pigtails to keep it out of her face. She surveyed herself in the mirror and felt a stirring of confidence-- she looked like she was ready to work, she thought.

After a hurried breakfast, wherein Janey kept giving Elfreda odd looks, and suggesting various things like that she should rub sunscreen over her pale skin or change into a different pair of shorts (Elfreda just nodded politely and pretended she didn't care-- she didn't have any other shorts, and she didn't want Bobbert to think that she was worried about her pale complexion, not after what he said the day before), Elfreda walked out the back door and asked one of the yard hands to take her over to the crock farm. They drove for what seemed to Eflreda quite a while. The experience was unsettling-- the little jeep roared over rutted dirt swaths and churned up the muddy spots, spattering Elfreda's bare knees, shorts, white shirt, and shiny leather boots with drops almost as red as blood. When they finally got there, Elfreda knew she looked a sight.

She scanned the area with a hand shading her eyes. She saw several men bustling about, mostly with tattered or no shirts on, and filthy jeans and boots. She didn't recognize Bobbert until he turned and raised a hand in welcome. "Come over here," he called. "I have a job for you."

Elfreda had to remind herself to breathe in. Just as she had the day before, she was caught momentarily by surprise at the sight of Bobbert's rippling arm muscles, and Elfreda noticed this time, his build in the chest and back was admirable, too. She dismissed the thought from her mind with a sniff.

Davian couldn't hold a candle to Bobbert for strength, she thought. But who wants a brute when you can have a gentleman?

She shook her head. But I don't have a choice. She had forgotten for a moment, and the dissapointment at remembering her predicament fell on her like a lead weight.

She blinked back tears and took a deep breath, squaring her shoulders as she came up to Bobbert. "What do you want me to do?" She asked.

Bobbert looked her over, and an eyebrow quivered as he took in her costume, but he didn't say anything about it, for which Elfreda was grateful. Among these men in their tattered ensembles, she knew that she looked ridiculous, particularly the boots. But she was determined to play it off. After all, she'd had nothing more suitable in her wardrobe.

"This is what I would like for you to do today," Bobbert said gruffly, handing her a shovel. "A few of the crocks have been sick lately, and they've been pooping along the sides of the pit. I need you to shovel it into this barrow--" He indicated an encrusted wheelbarrow sitting by the edge of the pool, and Elfreda wrinkled her nose against a most unpleasant smell. "And dump it in the pile we've started over there. It makes the edges too slippery for us to work well with the animals."

Elfreda suppressed her surprise and disgust and began shoveling the smelly lumps into the wheelbarrow. She pressed her lips together grimly, but other than that, kept all expressions of what she felt off of her face. Bobbert watched her for a moment, and then went off to join the others. "Oh-- one more thing," he said, turning back. "Keep an eye out for crocks. They like to sneak up near the edge and spring. I don't want my wife for crocodile feed anytime soon, so look for their eyes-- those little lumps sticking up above the water. See?"

Elfreda couldn't help but shiver as she looked- there were countless little lumps all over the water, some within a few feet of where she was. For a moment, fear paralyzed her, but she felt Bobbert's gaze on her, and so she forced herself to inch a little bit closer to the pool to get the lumps that lay closer to the water, keeping a wary eye on the pairs of eyes as she did so.

May 20, 2007

SRM-- Haregewoin Teffera

I have mentioned Melissa Faye Greene's book a number of times. It is about a woman, Haregewoin Teffera, who through an unusual series of life events and circumstances, found herself caring for aids orphans. Her organization is an official institution. Check her out here.

If there were more people like this woman, the world would be a much easier place for children to live in.

May 17, 2007

Religious traffic

This woman was reaaaally tired. Give her a break. Who wouldn't be, reporting traffic at 6 in the morning?

I say this after laughing so hard my stomach muscles are cramping up.

The forbidden hallway

In case you have fallen behind (and who could blame you):

Part 1 (includes explanation for horrified/confused readers)
Part 2

Elfreda woke suddenly. For a moment, she was completely mystified, and then the haze of sleep slowly drifted away, and she remembered where she was. Remembering didn't lessen her amazement, however, at her surroudnings. She'd hardly had time or attention to notice them as she drifted off to sleep, but she turned her full attention to them now. She was lying in a cloud of silk, or so it seemed; the linens were delicious, and as she sat up, she realized that she was resting on a cusion of water. A waterbed. A magnificent one, at that, with mahogany posters carved with alligators chasing delicately-carved cupids. Similarly, there was a fresco on the canopy-- two little chubby angels, embracing each other. It reminded Elfreda of a painting she had seen once. She looked around the room and took in the lavishly-carved wardrobe, the windowseat and long, western-facing windows veiled with gold velvet swaths. Everywhere she looked she saw plush furniture infested with plump, overstuffed pillows of glowing, jewel-like shades. The crowning glory was a white marble statue in the center of the room-- Venus de Milo. Someone had thoughtfully painted a bathing suit on her, which Elfreda was grateful for. Obviously, whomever decorated this room has good taste, she thought to herself, lightly touching Venus's marble elbow on the way to the vanity, festooned with candy-pink ruffles and covered with an assortment of glamorous-looking bottles.

As she sat down at it, she started in surprise-- right over the vanity hung a grim picture of a man with grizzled, sandy-colored hair and a day's growth of beard. He stared so, it gave Elfreda the nerves. Bobbert, she thought to herself crossly. Of course he wants to remind me whom I am making myself presentable for.

With this thought, the tears came in earnest. Davian.

Their parting had been terrible. Davian had been relatively calm and unemotional-- putting on a brave face, Elfreda thought fondly. He had, however, taken her hand and smoothed it with his fine fingertips, sending shivers racing up her arm, and told her that he would try to find a way. A way to make sure they could be together. His dark eyes had been pools of molten chocolate as he stared at her, the fervor in his face making its boyish features more grim than usual.

Elfreda sighed and blew her nose. It is no use, she thought. He can do nothing for me. My mother must have her operation, and I must marry Bobbert. That's the end of it. She looked at herself in the mirror, resolution lending an extra jut to her chin and an extra gleam to her eye. She looked well, she knew. Her tangerine-colored sundress was bright and cheery, and brought out the pleasant carrot aspect of her hair. But she must change to something more presentable if she were to meet the master of Grimschanks Manor for an evening together. Our first evening, she thought. He'll have to behave himself; he's too proud to forego etiquette.

She went to her closet, which had been loaded up with the gowns and dresses and wraps and hats and shoes and slacks and blouses and scarves from all of her bags, and selected an amber gown with crystal bangles runnning along the hem and bodice. It became her nicely-- made her appear more sophisticated. Elfreda nodded at herself in the mirror, assuming an expression of cool decorum. She slid her tiny feet into gilt-edged slippers and walked down the hall, careful to keep her head high, her spine straight. She had a little difficulty remembering how to get back to the main salon, and found that she had taken a wrong turn. She ended up in a rather dank, decaying hallway, with worm-eated doorframes and half-crumbled statuary. It was a little eerie, this place-- she couldn't remember it at all from when she and Bobbert had played as children. She jumped as she heard a sublte footfall behind her.

She turned, and sighed with relief, but Bobbert's face was ablaze with fury. "What are you doing here?" He hissed.

"I-I'm sorry," Elfreda stuttered. "I lost my way."

"Well, let me guide you then." His tones were clipped, and there was an ironic gleam in his pale eyes. He placed a firm hand in the small of her back, hurrying her to the point of her tripping on her little shoes. He looked down at them with distaste.

"Here we are," he said shortly, depositing her into the main salon.

"Aren't you coming?" Elfreda asked.

"No." He replied, and turned back the way he came.

Elfreda gazed after him, wondering. A slight chill ran over her as she though of his face when he had discovered her in that decaying hallway.

What is he hiding?
She rubbed her arms, and gazed in surprise down at them-- she was all over gooseflesh.

May 16, 2007

Mitt's up


I've been reading some polls today, and in the wake of the 2nd republican debate, it looks like Mitt and Rudy are neck-and-neck, with Ron Paul, and then John McCain trailing those two.

keep it up, Mitt. To watch the debate, you can go to I haven't had a chance to watch the whole thing yet, I have to go shopping and library hopping. Enjoy.

May 15, 2007

Elfreda's Gaffe

For some reason, blogger's acting up, so I can't add my picture this time. But here's a link to the original installment of my farcequin, and an explanation for any bewildered and horrified readers.

Bobbert hardly spoke as they rode along the main way of the bustling harbor town, or as they bumped along the rocky offroad that lead off into the barren wasteland. The outback, Elfreda thought with a shiver.
"Cold?" Bobbert asked.
"Oh, no," Elfreda mumbled. Suddenly she felt warm linen on her bare shoulders. She fingered it with surprise-- Bobbert's plaid shirt. Without thinking, she turned to look at him and then blushed at the sight of his bare chest. His arms were deeply tanned, the tan stopping short in a line at the shoulder and a round at the neck.
"No thank you," Elfreda murmured, bunching the shirt into one hand and holding it sideways in his direction. She kept her eyes fastened on the road.
He took the shirt silently. "So, is rough flannel not good enough for you then?" He asked after a while.
"Why, I--" Elfreda stuttered. She really had no idea what to say; she was far to embarrassed to admit that it was the sight of his muscled forearms that had prompted the quick return of his offering.
"Well, you'll get used to flannel soon enough," he cut in crisply. Elfreda glanced sidelong at him; his jaw was set, and he had a steely glint in his eyes.
Oh dear, she thought to herself, I've upset him. "No, I'm fine," she hastened. "I'm quite looking forward to helping out with the crocodiles."
He jerked the steering wheel to the right; the car began ambling up a road which ran at a 45 degree incline. The potholes jarred the car horribly; Elfreda bit her lip without realizing it.
"No wife of mine will be getting her hands all scarred up with crocodiles," Bobbert stated, his lips firmly pressed together.
"But Bobbert--"
He pulled the car to a stop with a jerk. "You're lip's bleeding," he said.
Wonderingly she raised a finger to her lips, he pulled it away in a bruising grip and then brought his own lips down on hers. The kiss was ferocious, devouring. When he broke away, his own lips were covered in her blood.
It looks rather like red lipstick, Elfreda thought. "How dare you," she said, whitefaced. She looked at his hand, which was crushing hers-- the cuticles were ragged, the fingers yellow and hard with blisters, the nails chipped and torn.
He followed her gaze and dropped her hand like it was a hot potato."How dare I what? Kiss my own fiancee?" His eyes were blazing. "Well, if that's how it's going to be, then maybe you're right. Maybe you ought to pull your own weight around here. A marriage of convenience, after all. We'll see how your lily white hands fare with the crocs." He didn't bother to open the door for her, he just slammed his abruptly and headed into the house.
Elfreda's bloody lip trembled as she gathered up her mountain of suitcases and soft bags, purses and pelisses and hatboxes. She staggered into the front door. And nearly wept at the kindly face of the woman who met her there. "Janey!" She cried, a quiver in her voice. "How wonderful to see a familiar face."
Janey looked at Elfreda. "You've grown into a magnificent young woman. No wonder young master Grimschanks has fallen for you."
"Oh," Elfreda sighed desolately, "But I don't think he he has. He doesn't seem to like me much at all." Her eyes filled with tears.
"Oh, don't mind his gruff ways," Janey said, patting her on the shoulder. "Why, just the other day he scared the scullery maid into hysterics without realizing it. You'll figure out his mind soon enough. He's just like when he was a boy-- kind and gentle as a kitten," her eyes misted reminiscently. "He's the best master I could ever hope to have."
Elfreda frowned. Such an account was nothing in the line of what she had just experienced. Family loyalty, she thought with disgust. I can't see even a tiny bit in Bobbert of the boy I used to play with.

Janey lead her along several winding passages, past hundreds of rooms, until she reached a mahogany door and opened it. Elfreda walked dully into the room and collapsed onto her bed, senseless of the room around her. "thank you, Janey."

"I'll have Donkers bring up your bags," Janey promised. "Supper in half an hour."

"I think I'll skip supper," Elfreda said.
"I don't think that's such a good idea," Janey shook her head, glancing nervously toward the hallway.
"I'm tired, Janey. Make my apologies to Master Grimschanks."
She lay in the pillow, thinking of the complete changes that had come into her life. And in Bobbert. When he had been a child, he had been so fun, so gentle. And a tease. One time when they had been playing together, she had fallen asleep on the front lawn. She had awakened to find pieces of paper rolled up in her nostrils. She'd had a hearty laugh and gotten him back later by cutting off half of his hair.

What happened to that Bobbert? Gayle thought dully to herself. I didn't sign up for this.

And then she remembered. No, I must do as I promised, she thought firmly to herself. It's a matter of integrity. And After all, there's mother's nose to think of.

After a few moments, she fell asleep, and slept so deeply that she never heard the ominous clanging of the dinner gong. Bobbert came storming down the hall and flung open the door, but the sight of her there, with her pale face and cut lip, her delicate complexion and bright hair contrasting so sweetly with the paleness of the pillowcase, his anger melted away. Quietly he closed the door and let her rest. He stood for a long moment ouside the door, his grizzled head bowed, and then walked reluctantly back to the kitchen.

May 14, 2007

SRM-- mother's day gift

I know that Mother's day was yesterday. But I thought that it would be appropriate to continue the celebration. After all, compare the volume of good acts and kind deeds and life and liberty and happiness-sacrificing that your mother has done, with the amount of time it's celebrated ;)

I received a letter in the mail from my placing agency outlining a new program that they are starting. They're a non-profit agency, and in addition to adopting out orphans from Ethiopia and Liberia, they run a house for Ethiopian orphans, they do various projects to improve the lives of street children in Ethiopia and Liberia. Their newest project is a free day-care center for Ethiopian children. Their goal is to be able to take in the children of women who have to work outside the home, and provide them with care and meals so that the mothers can keep them and not give them up.

If you've read this , you know why this would be such a big deal. If you haven't, read it. It will change your life.

Anyway, I made a donation for mother's day. If you would like more information, you can contact the agency:

Americans For African Adoptions, Inc. - 2005
8910 Timberwood Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46234-1952
Phone: 317-271-4567
Fax: 317-271-8739

and they will happily supply you with it. Or, if you would like to just click a button and donate, you are the trusting sort (and I can vouch for them, they're legit,) go to their website. It hasn't been updated in a couple of years, but not for lack of desire, I think. Anyway, there's a button that you can click and simply donate that way.

Happy Mother's day, all you wonderful mothers out there.

May 12, 2007

Mitt and the other cheek

So, I'm not sure how I feel about Mitt right now. A piece of me cringes at the way he's doing his campaign. For instance, talking about how awful polygamy is. I mean, we all know it would be hell to have to live the principle. But are we really saying that it was never condoned by Heavenly Father? I feel like Mitt might be distancing himself from his faith in order to appeal to a broader audience. And then, there are times when I think he's doing a good job sticking to his guns. And yes, a small piece of me felt viciously satisfied when Mitt lashed out at Al Sharpton for his comment implying that Mormons do not believe in God. It's especially lusciously ironic that Al is a Civil Rights activist.

You know what? That PBS special, The Mormons, was spot on in some ways. The Mormon Persecution Complex was discussed in some detail. I admit that I am always wincing for the blow I feel is about to come. I had friends in high school tell me I was going to hell for what I believe. I had boys sexually harass me because I was so "pure," and I've had people that I respect make sly remarks about polygamy and Joseph Smith. A piece of me wants to sassily flick my wrist and snap my fingers and cheer for Mitt's calling Al on this.

And piece of me realizes that it doesn't make a dang bit of difference. Everyone thinks that Mormons aren't Christians. You can talk to some people until you're blue in the face and they'll still think you dont' eat meat on Fridays and ask to see your horns. No matter how well they know you, how much you've been through together, some people will still believe that you sacrifice babies in the temple.

I want people to see what they do to us. I want them to realize how awful they're being.

I also want people to forget about it. C'mon, we're all Christians here. I have an extra book of scripture, true. And a living prophet. And I wear special clothing to symbolize promises that I've made to God (yes, I do believe in him). And I plan on living with my family forever and ever, and I plan on creating worlds of my own someday.

If there are people who are going to belittle my religion and make fun of my lifestyle, simply because it's a little different, that is their right. But it isn't right. It isn't fair.

It isn't Christian. I know this, because I have studied Christ's teachings from the time I was a small child. They are the basis upon which I try to live my life.

For this reason, I'm not sure that Mitt ought to have said what he did. What about turn the other cheek? What about love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, pray for them which spitefully abuse you and persecute you. What about Christ and the woman taken in adultery.

Most of all, what about "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do?"

I realize that a politician cannot afford to turn the other cheek if he wants to be president. But what, after all, is more important?

May 11, 2007


For any dissappointed readers, this is not the next insallment of the farcequin, although I think that the title of this post may have been apt, were it the next installment. No, this is something else I just had to share. I'm going to try to post the farcequin on tuesdays and thursdays.

My little bro just turned eighteen. (I'm kind of floored. He was ten years old when I left home. TEN YEARS OLD. This is the beginning of the end. Anyway--)

I sent him a capn'wacky birthday card, and in grateful aknowledgement, he supplied me with a website that I enjoyed enormously several years ago but forgot about. This was before I was vegetarian. I enjoy this site even more now that I am *mostly* vegetarian.

I hope that you enjoy it, too. It's pages from a vintage cookbook, with commentary making fun of them. Some of you will recognize loved dishes and be offended, whilst others will cock disbelieving eyebrow and hopefully have a chuckle or two. If you're interested, just click here.

*warning* I just reread a few of them, and the guy does air on the tasteless side here and there, so don't read this if you're going to be offended by references to male anatomy.

May 10, 2007

The arrival

This is the first installment of my farcequin. I have devoted only 30 minutes per session to its writing, and so you may expect the height of absurdity and the lowest of the lows when it comes to quality writing. But, that's the whole point of a Farcequin, right? OK. And, along the tradition of the early harlequins, there may be wild innacuracies as to locale, trade, and cultural perception and political correctness. I intend to make fun of Harlequins in every way possible with these posts. All right, I Will not make any more disclaimers, but from now on, if you're offended by anything or just find the whole matter absurd, you can link to this original post once more by clicking on the icon that I will put in the corner of every one of these series posts.


Elfreda sighed once more and stared at the rugged shoreline. The fragrant breeze, scented with the tangyness of Bird of Paradise, ruffled the russet colored locks that always seemed to escape and fall charmingly around her face, no matter how severely she styled her hair.
“Well, here it is,” the voice beside her said.
Elfreda turned and smiled at the kindly old man who had been her caretaker throughout the long, arduous journey across the ocean. Her face improved considerably with her smile; soft dimples framed her mouth and made dents in her soft cheeks, which were the smooth, warm color of Irish Cream. “Thank you, Mr. Blackthorn,” she said. Her tawny eyes glowed with her sincere appreciation.
He gave her a kindly smile. “Say no more about it. And my invitation stands.”
Elfreda blushed, a soft, delicate shade reminiscent of spring lilacs. “Oh, I'll be fine,” she said. “I told you I've got a job.”
Mr. Blackthorn frowned and shook his head. “Why a nice girl like you would want to work at a mean place like that-- well, there it is. You know what you're about, I suppose.”
“Yes,” Elfreda said firmly. “My mother is dying in a hospital in London, and the only way I can afford to treat her is to marry Bobbert Grimschanks. He has agreed to treat her on condition of my marrying him.”
“Yes, but,” Again Mr. Blackthorn shook his head. “A marriage ought to be more than a match of convenience. It sounds like he's just using you to seal his business deal. And you're using him for your mother--”
“So both of us understand that it is an arrangement of convenience,” Elfreda said gayly, tossing her head. Her neat bun came undone, spilling radiant curls around her face. She was rather glad for the distraction of taming her wild tresses back into the little chignon that she customarily wore at the nape of her neck.
As fortuitious as Bobbert's offer had been-- they had played together as children, and Elfreda had always been fond of him-- Elfreda's heart was heavy. It was full of one face, one memory--

That of Davian Everingham. She had loved him for, oh, she coudln't recall how long. She had realized for many a year how vain her hopes were-- Davian would likely never settle down. He loved freedom, and the hunt; he was as wild as the Stallions that he liked to catch and tame as a hobby. Elfreda rememebered the jarring experience of their first meeting; she had been out riding, and her high-spirited mare had spooked when a little bunny rabbit raced across its path. She had screamed and hung on for dear life, but it had been Davian who had saved her.

There he had come, crashing through the bush on his dappled Arabian. He reached out and masterfully reigned in her frightened mount.

She had been only sixteen, and quite an impressionable girl. The sight of his tall, square frame, seated so proudly on that beautiful rearing animal-- his dark eyes flashing, his golden locks touseled in a glowing nimbus around his beauitifully shaped head--

The thought still sent her heart thumping.

“Here now, you've got all in a mess,” Mr. Blackthorn said, and helped her hair back into its little net.

Elfreda blushed again. “Oh thank you ever so, Mr. Blackthorn. You have been such a friend.”
He looked at her, his face lined and serious. “I do hope you consider my offer, should any trouble arise.
“I shall,” Elfreda promised. Suddenly she heard her name. She looked wildly about until she spied a scruffy-looking man with a couple of days growth of beard in the crowd.
“You Miss Ardmore?” he called when his gaze alighted upon her.

Elfreda nodded with dismay, noting his patched clothing and hard features. “That's me.” She steeled herself, descended gracefully from the boat, and handed the man her bags. “You may stow them in the trunk,” she said, cooly. “Mr. Grimshancks is expecting me.”
He gave her a quizzical look. “Well, it's nice to meet you once again, Miss Ardmore. I suppose you don't recognize me after all these years.”
Elfreda gasped, dropping her little sateen purse in her surprise. “Bobbert?” She whispered.
He smiled grimly at her. Abruptly he turned and picked up her purse and bag and deposited it into the trunk of his auto. He didn't bother to hold the door for her as she got in.
“I'm-- I'm sorry, Bobbert,” she managed finally. “I really did not recognize--”
“It comes from hard living, Miss Ardmore. You'll find that life on a Croc farm isn't as luxurious as it seems. I will expect you to pull your weight, of course. After all, I'm paying for your mother's treatment.”
“Yes, Mr. Grimshanks,” Elfreda whispered. Tears welled up along her lashes; she lowered them so that he would not guess her dismay. She must be cool-- dignified. After all, this was Australia, but she was an American, through and through. And she must show this conceited, unpleasant creature just what that meant.
Yes indeed, Elfreda thought, sniffing and raising her chin stoutly. I shall not show weakness. I shall meet every task that he burdens me with-- no matter how odious, with equanimity and calm. Then maybe I will prove my worth to him-- show him exactly what sort of woman he has decided to marry.

Good newses

Item #1-- for the past three nights, Jaws woke only one time. It appears that our cry-it-out session on Tuesday had its desired effect.

Item #2-- We now have everything completed for the adoption dossier (that we can do-- we're still waiting on the homestudy, and the letters of reccomendation have all been sent but not yet recieved), so I can rest with the divine knowledge that I'm pretty much officially waiting things out. The peace-- this is what I have been wanting to feel for quite a while.

Item #3-- my meal and cleaning schedules seem to be working out all right. But I haven't found the time for writing that I have been wanting to find, either-- going to have to experiment a little, I think.

Item #4-- I'm thinking of doing a serial Farcequin on this blog. (have you ever read old harlequins, like from the fifties and sixties? Squeakly clean, and oh, so fun and hilarious. Not purposefully hilarious, of course. It takes a really dry sense of humor to appreciate such material.) Anyway, that may be starting up sooner or later, so you can look forward to it; either that or dread and avoid it. I would not blame you in either case. But I plan on having fun with it, nonetheless.

May 7, 2007

Bad Day

12:30 am-- Jaws awakes and proceeded to fuss and cry for a solid 45 minutes before she settles down again. She's a year old (last week), and she still nurses around 3 times a night. We're trying to eliminate one of the feedings. When I say "we," I essentially mean, "I" because let's face it-- I'm doing all the work. A mom awakes and stays awake until the baby is done fussing; she can't help it. A father might wake up for a moment and then rustle around in bed just enough to encourage said infant that someone *might* be getting up to attend to her, thereby lenghtening the cry-out period by fifteen minutes, before falling promptly back to sleep.

7:30. Skywalker, love of my life, comes to kiss me goodbye and tells me that there's no need to pack him a lunch, he's got plenty. And he's left something for me on the stove for breakfast.

7:35 I engage in a little morning scripture study.

7:45 I scoop up Jaws and signal to Loli, we all shuffle downstairs, ready to dish out oatmeal. We find, to our mutual pleasant surprise, 2 1/2 pieces of pumpkin pie. Loli, Jaws and I thoroughly enjoy it (loli to the tune of orange smears all over her cute little pink-pantsed butt). I enjoy mine while reading the Giver-- the current selection of my RS bookclub. I've read it before and so I think it won't be all that riveting, but I should know better. Me and books. Books and me.

8:10 I fill the bathtub for loli and nurse Jaws for an additional 20 minutes while I read the next two chapters.

8:30 I direct loli to clothe herself and I fill the bathtub a little fuller, bringing Jaws in the room with me to romp so that I can watch her while I bathe. I finish a further two chapters, and try to distract Jaws from the toilet plunger, and try to wash my hair at the same time.

9:00 I assume my robe. Jaws wants to nurse a little more; I let her, and finish another chapter.

9:20 Loli comes downstairs and announces that she's ready to do school. I head upstairs, remove the towel from my head and put on my new shorts and an orange T-shirt-- my favorite color, to try to offset the grumpiness of sleep deprivation. As I walk down the stairs, I realize that the new shorts need a belt. I look in the closet upstairs, the closet downstairs, on top of the washer and dryer, and I can't find it. I know that I have three somewhere.

9:35 Loli and I settle onto the couch and review the days of the week, and the months of the year. We count to a hundred in ones, fives and tens. We count money and tell time. We review some addition flashcards and I give her a short spelling test. She gets all of them right because I let her use her phonics flashcards this time. We sit down and read a chapter of Dealing with Dragons. I have her draw a picture and write something under it; as usual, she finishes her picture but is mulish about writing something. It takes twenty minutes of "write anything you want! I don't care what you write, just write something. OK, sit there, then," to convince her that she ought to do this.

10:30 Jaws is eating paper. I dislodge a wet white glob and plop her into her baby seat at the table. I spread honey on a piece of wheat bread and cut it into meticulous little squares. I notice that both of her sippy cups are dirty-- I put them in the sink and fill her bottle with orange juice, and plunk into the table in front of her.

10:45 I start on the dishes with NPR in the background, pondering the troubling phenomenon of Loli's lack of enthusiasm for risks-- she absolutely hates being "wrong." And so she wants me to tell her what to do all the time. Will she ever grow out of it? I realize that I'm making a bigger issue of it than it really is, mentally, and try to focus on Cokie Roberts and the latest poll statistics.

10:50 Jaws wants down. She's acting like she wants to nurse; after two minutes she falls asleep. I slide her carefully into her little bouncer which I still use as a temporary bed, and keep in Skywalker's office. I go back to the dishes.

11:00 The phone rings. I hurdle the toddler gate, run into the office and grab it with my soggy raisin fingers. I'm surprised to hear the voice of my sister. I look up at the clock and decide that I need to do the dishes and talk at the same time, much as I'd like to sit down and relax and talk instead. We have a long conversation about her life and my life and the PBS special on the Mormons and Joseph Smith and Polygamy. She tells me some details about the experiences that her husband has dealt with in teaching high school orchestra, the parent lameness and trying to fill the shoes of a much beloved retired teacher. She suddenly has to go because her baby is crying, which is probably good because I'm starting to get a little bit angry about what I'm hearing, and that's never a good sign. Little sister doesn't need a sister bear. She doesn't like sister bear, either. Sister bear has never been a welcome intruder into her life.

11:30 Loli announces that she's done. I look at her paper and praise her extravagantly, and put on Polyanna (her choice). I finish the dishes, toss in a load of laundry, and hit the couch.

11:50 I finish off the giver, decide that it's as thoroughly depressing as I remember it being, and begin folding laundry. I hear Jaws making waking-up noises in the next room; I lift her out of her little seat and let her run wild. She begins wreaking havoc on my laundry pile so I construct an artificial barrier made of the box our bike trailer came in and a laundry basket. She is angry for a moment and fusses, but then turns to the TV, fascinated by Polyanna. She plays happily for a few minutes. I listen to my cherished Monday-Morning podcast-- Wait Wait, don't tell me, the NPR news quiz, as I finish folding and piling. I grab two piles and run up the stairs with them.

12:30 I hear Loli's program end, I ask her to take her laundry up and put it away. She tells me she's too tired, I tell her she can't have a treat when we go grocery shopping if she doesn't help out. She asks me what kind of treat, this ticks me off a little so I don't say anything. She silently picks up her piles and races up the stairs behind me.

12:45 I grab a bunch of hangers and begin putting articles of clothing on them. The phone rings again. I answer breathlessly; it's Aunt Katherine wanting to catch up. She tells she has some clothes for Jaws if I want them, I survey the huge mounds in the middle of the floor doubtfully. I sigh when I realize that Jaws will still be growing for the next year. I thank her, and we chat while I try to find the rest of my hangers. Loli has them, I hold out my hand, she whips them away. I grit my teeth and try to grab them, she teases me, keeping them out of reach. Finally I wrest them from her, she is upset at my brusqueness and is trying to talk to me while I'm trying to hang things up and talk to Aunt Katherine in as normal a manner as possible.

1:00 Finally Aunt Katherine has to go. I finish up the Laundry. I kiss Jaws and smile at Loli to make sure that they know that their mother loves them, and then flip open my laptop to my meal calendar. I amass a list a shopping list, print it out. I tell Loli to put on pants. I switch the clothes to the dryer. I tell loli to put on a different shirt; that one is stained. I start a new wash. I tell loli to take off the dirty shirt that she has on underneath the clean shirt that she has put on, and help her do so. I put shoes on Jaws.

1:25 I look in vain for my purse. Finally I think to peer through the windows of our locked car, parked there in the driveway and spattered with white splotches-- it's there. In the passenger seat. I lower myself to the ground and look under the car for the hide-a-key. Where did Skywalker say he put it?

1:30 I run in the house and phone him on his cell. He guides me to it. I open the car door and take out my purse, then hide the key again. I realize that my keys are not attached to the purse as usual, I think and then realize that Jaws was playing with them in Sacrament meeting yesterday, so that's probably where they are. Except probably not, because probably some well-meaning person picked them up and put them somewhere "safe". If I can't get them back, it will be the third set of keys I've lost this year.

1:40 I scoot back under the car, grab the hide-a-key, grab the housekey from its hiding place, hike up my shorts, settle Jaws into her carseat (she immediately begins making frustrated noises and pushing up against the straps) buckle the seatbelt around Loli's booster seat, and sigh with relief as I settle into the driver's seat.

1:50 I make a beeline for Carl's Jr, buy something distinctly non-vegetarian for myself (family is veg, and I'm supposed to be, too, but on a bad day I have my lapses) and a chocolate milkshake for loli to share with jaws. Loli takes delight in feeding jaws with the little straw-spoon.

2:45 We buy our groceries.

3:00 I pull out the key-lime yogurt that I bought, and dig through the glove compartment, looking for the spoons I know we keep there. I find five knives and a straw. It kind of reminds me of a certain Alanis Morisette song. As I trade my straw with Loli for her tiny spoon straw and pull back the foil, I'm also re-experiencing traumatic memories of jr high boys sucking up jello through straws and making disgusting noises.

3:25 We arrive home. I get the girls settled with little snacks and start to write this post.

4:00 I put some artichokes in the steamer.

4:30 Halfway through making the FHE treat, I realize that I didn't buy cream cheese, and so I phone Skywalker to get some on the way home.

4:35 I plop down in the chair that is mine whilst Skywalker is away, and browse through email messages.

4:45 A knock sounds on the door. It's a girl who I think I saw as I drove down the street toward my house. She's trying to sell me an all-purpose cleanser. I ought to tell her to leave, but she keeps giving me high fives and demonstrating all the wonders of her product with an embarrassing amount of enthusiasm. And she's black and so I feel akward being mean to her. I wonder to myself if I'm being prejudiced (the answer: yes. But give me a break-- there are hardly any African Americans where I live, and my feelings are tender because we're in the process of adopting Ethiopian children.)

4:55 Finally I tell her that I can't afford to spend thirty-five dollars on a bottle of cleanser, no matter how concentrated, and after the usual protestations she smiles and says thank you and leaves. I go back to my couch and my post.

5:25 Skywalker comes home bearing cream cheese. I finish the FHE treat and settle down with my family to eat artichokes and tofu sandwiches. Skywalker tells me that he feels like he was run ragged today at work. I wonder to myself if biking is a wise FHE activity, then decide we could use the recreation as a release. (Read, I could use it as a release.)

5:30 I nearly burn the lemon bars, but they come out unsinged.

7:30 Skywalker and I have spent about an hour over dinner, and about an hour getting everything all tricked out for our FHE bike ride. returning a package of moldy pita pockets I bought today.

8:30 Biking is really fun and invigorating, just what I needed. Skywalker is enjoying himself, too. Jaws and Loli whoop and holler as I go down scary hairpin turns at 15 MPH, still getting the hang of this trailer thing. I gash my thigh on the killer pedal spikes. We stop by the grocery store and return a package of moldy pita pockets I bought today.

9:00 We arrive at a park and let the girls play, Skywalker rides back to bring the car to us.

9:20 We arrive home. I nurse Jaws and pajama her and fold her in a blanket in her crib.

9:30 Loli trots up after brushing her teeth and proceeds to get Jaws all riled up, I chastise her (gently) and she complains, I can hear her asking "why mom? Why?" All the way back down the stairs.

9:35 I dole out lemon bars (Loli didn't finish dinner, so she gets hers Tommorrow) and settle down for some side-by-side laptop time with spouse.

The end. (hopefully).

May 2, 2007

My Vegetable Romance

The first conversation I ever had with my husband was about teenage promiscuity. He came to choir practice and stayed behind. As he sat on the piano bench, facing me with that expression of lively interest that I have come to love, I felt that I could spill anything and it wouldn't faze him. So naturally, I challenged this by talking about my desire to start a home for unwed mothers someday, and about my philosophies surrounding teenage promiscuity and substance abuse.

He held up his end pretty well. And then he reciprocated by telling me stories of his childhood, of his parents, of growing up homeschooled on a farm. He peered over my shoulder one time when I was playing a game of Settlers with some freinds. He stayed after Choir practice on an occasional Sunday and practiced Chopin on the piano that my sisters and I rented together.

My father is a pianist. He plays with the perfect precision of a mathematician, stopping and going over and over a rough spot until it's perfect before he moves on. My husband plays with the feeling of an artist. He takes the rough with the smooth, moving through the bars with fluidity, unashamed of the rise and fall of emotion within a piece. Both men are amazing pianists in their own right.

One time I sat in a chair near the piano and watched his fingers on the keys. Afterward, he turned around on the piano bench and we talked. We ended up sitting on opposite ends of the couch. He was telling me a story about his father, when he was a young boy. I sat and listened and looked at him, his wiry frame and well-shaped shoulders, his tie untied and hanging down over his chest, his white church shirt untucked. He had his legs up on the couch, relaxing as he related this experience. In that moment, I became aware of a sudden desire-- it tickled the edge of my consciousness. It horrified me, and so I pushed it to the back of my mind.

About a month later, I got a cold. And an ear infection. They never went away. At a ward social, I mentioned this to him, without knowing that he was an enthusiast in the area of natural remedies. That evening he came over and gave me a little sandwich bag full of echinacea, vitamin C and olive leaf pills. He also fixed my modem.

He came over every day that week to see how I was doing. That was his excuse. That friday night, I was on edge-- I knew that he typically spent the evening with friends. Would he invite me? Or was he just being nice to me, extending a freindly helping hand?

He called me and invited me over. I sat next to him on the couch. We cuddled.

And the rest is history.

All that summer, he brought me tomatoes from his backyard apartment garden. A new bag each week, full of red-and-gold tomatoes. He brought me apples from the tree in his backyard. I sat in the bishops office and watched as he nibbled down leaves of Romaine lettuce and chuckled to myself.

Last year, on our first anniversary, he prepared a picnic. It included a salad of various greens, tortellini, grapes, and sangria which we both have a fond nostalgia for.

Today I packed him two sandwiches-- avocado, tomatoes, red peppers, lettuce, sprouts on whole wheat bread. I added cantaloupe, and salad of course.

And, at his request, I put in a chocolate cupcake, frosted with fudge frosting, sprinkled liberally with those little flower-decor sprinkles. It was leftover from our little daughter's first birthday party yesterday.

The tomato plants in our backyard garden grow a little taller each day.