Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Poetry

Sometimes I find myself wanting to write poetry again. I say “again”, but that is silly. My small teenage attempts were amateur and somewhat immature and not really ever truly poetry. And, to be honest, poetry sometimes kind of makes me uncomfortable. It is complicated and often vague and difficult to grasp. I sometimes feel about it the same way I feel about the game of Chess – that it is simply too much mental work to play it well, or, in the case of poetry, understand it well. And, sometimes, I even associate it with a whole way of thinking and viewing the world that is too artsy, too foreign, and too unlike sensible get-work-done me. Still, now and then, reading a bit makes me feel like something is pushing hard against the insides of my chest and welling up behind my eyes – even when I don’t understand it fully. Even then, I sometimes still feel it. And I sometimes think poetry is . . . absolutely beautiful.

I recently read these small lines from an Emily Dickinson poem:

“When suddenly across the June
A wind with fingers goes.”

That sense of something beautiful – something true that was captured in surprising words and metaphors – struck me. I couldn’t even put into words what it meant, but it felt like time coming and snatching up and taking away spring and innocence. Or like the sudden realization that things are different than they were.

Mike’s grandma passed away this weekend. Maybe that is why those words burned themselves onto me a little more strongly than they otherwise might have. I kept thinking of her life: of having met and married her Frank, raised her seven children – sending them all to college, etc. even though they were small town farming folk. I thought of her having lost a baby. I thought of the innumerable large family gatherings, of the mission she served with her husband, and of what it might have been like to see her husband lose most of his eyesight and leave this life without her.

It made me think of how all my little struggles and trials will actually truly pass by. I will have done and learned whatever I might with and from them. I will have raised my children, and become a grandma, and fulfilled my church callings, met and influenced (and been influenced by) ever new people, and gained new insights and talents and knowledge. And, eventually, I will be done. I will have lived my life out, and, I am certain that looking back it will have seemed so short – like those Dickinson lines. Like a sudden wind has raked past this stage and carried me to old age and death, and what continues from there.

These thoughts made me want to write a poem. Made me want to think of words that felt magical and like a piece of my soul was saved on paper in small letters. As I was out running one morning my mind kept thinking of Mike and I living our lives together. I kept struggling and trying and finally coming up with several different starts that all went something like this:

I know now
that we will grow old.
Time will plow steady and deep
through us
Leaving furrows outside and in.

And then I thought that was maybe too wordy and that poetry is hard for me because every word seems like it needs to count. And I wondered if I should say:

I know now
that we will grow old.
Time will plow its steady and deep furrows
through us. Outside and in.

I kept rearranging those words and how to say them in my mind, and I had no more to add at all – try as I might. Every sentence threatened to sound silly or trite or like something we’ve all heard before. How does one come up with similes and metaphors and words all their own? I hoped my plowing was uniquely my idea, but wasn’t sure it was. I felt that something could be done with the ideas of planting and harvesting and the furrows outside being signs of physical aging and that more could be said about what the furrows inside would be – experiences, knowledge, trials, heartache, losses and gains, etc. But it was beyond me to do it, and the more I tried the more I was certain it wasn’t working or that I was slipping back onto overused expressions.

Still, there is something in the trying that feels like it stretches me and like some small thing is trying to grow inside of me and get strong enough to push its way outside – reaching beyond my own self.

As I worked on my few paltry lines, I thought about the things we’ve come up with to express ourselves – music and song, poetry, novels, art, etc. I wondered for a minute what things we haven’t been able to come up with yet. Does that sound completely crazy? I wondered if there were even more perfect and beautiful and refined ways of telling things than we have yet created with our limited human capacities.

Once, when I was only in middle school, I had a strange dream/experience. I had fallen asleep on my parents’ bed. I was not really dreaming exactly. I wasn’t seeing anything, but I was hearing something: I was hearing the most beautiful soul wrenching music in all of the world. I don’t remember how it sounded. I only know that when I think of it, I get that same feeling I talked about earlier – like something big is pressing on the insides of me. Only, I began to wake up, and, as I did, the music started to deteriorate a little and change quality a little – bit by bit – until, at last, my eyes were open and I realized that all I was hearing was the wind blowing loud and strong outside my parents’ bedroom windows. I stayed still for a long while – listening to that wind – willing it to turn back into the music. It didn’t of course, but something about that experience has always stayed tucked inside me – has always made me wonder what incredible things we may have heard before coming here, or may yet have to hear when we leave this place. It makes me excited and makes me hope that, eventually, I won’t be limited in what I want to convey and express by the abilities I still lack or even by words and means and tools we currently have to work with. Until then, I will keep plunking along here and there trying to get down the things I can.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I’ll love you forever,


I’ll like you for always.

As long as I’m living

My baby you’ll be.

I am so glad we get to keep this baby that we got from the “hodispool”. Jesse often talks about how much he loves the hodispool  where we got our baby and how great it is that we get to keep our baby and not give him back to the hodispool and mostly . . . how great that bed at the hodispool was with the buttons that made the head and foot of the bed raise and lower, and, wouldn’t it be wonderful if I went back to the hodispool soon so he could visit me and push those buttons on one of those beds again?

And, what on earth is going on between these two boys anyway?

Especially the faces Jesse is getting out of Anders in those last two pictures! It is kind of wonderful. Also, when I think of the next few years of little boys together, . . . kind of terrifying.

And, speaking of babies: remember when it used to be that you could manage to grab and pick up about anything when using your whole paw-like hand, but when given some small Cheerio-type item, an item that required more the use of thumb and index finger to grasp, it became very VERY difficult? Remember how you would try so hard, but keep kind of missing it and accidentally getting it into the middle of your palm where it would sit – in your tiny clenched fist – as you contemplated how to get it from inside that fist to the inside of your mouth? So, you’d just hope for the best and put your whole fist by your mouth and open your little fingers, but then, more often than not, the Cheerio would slip out and land in your lap – or maybe on your highchair tray -- where you would then start the whole process over again? Those were hard times – times when figuring out the old pincer grasp was so complicated. Life is much easier now. . . . And also . . . much harder.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Who Needs TV?

After all, it’s raining. And what better to do than watch the rain from one window:

And another:

At one point Jesse must have wandered away from “the show” because I heard Penny call, “Jesse! You just missed a lightning!”

And Jesse grumble back, “Aww. I’m always busy when its lightning!”

And lest they seem too perfect watching their little rainstorms and the like, I will add that, at one point during all of this rain watching, one of them managed to shatter an entire glass bowl full of Cheerios all over the floor.

I don’t necessarily love gray drizzle, but I do quite love a good hard rain storm like this.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Jesse, Abe, Penny, . . . Chicken

The other day, Jesse walked in from outside with his hand absolutely covered in mud and dirt.

“Jesse!” I exclaimed, “Why were you playing in the dirt again?”

“I wasn’t” he unconcernedly assured me.

“What’s that on your hand?” I asked.

“Oh that?” he said, looking calmly at his filthy hand. “That’s just nothing.”

And with that he wandered back outside.



Also, Saturday Mike came home from dropping Abe off at baseball practice carrying a small personal size cooler in his hands. You know the type: you can carry them like oversized lunch boxes and push a little button on the lid to slide it back. He’d apparently stopped by a garage sale and found it there. “I thought Jesse might like to mess around with this” he told me.

I shrugged and nodded my head that yes, maybe he would, and the cooler was left on the kitchen table.

A few minutes later Jesse came in from the back yard. He immediately zeroed in on the cooler and exclaimed, “Mom! What’s THAT?”

“Oh, it’s just a little cooler,” I said, “Would you like to play with it?”

Jesse spent the next few minutes figuring how to open it and taking out the small Tupperware-like containers inside before closing the lid and carrying it off  with a parting, “Mom, can I play with this . . . forever?”

When I returned from my run an hour later he was still hauling around his little cooler only he had gained some extra information about its contents from Mike and was telling me how he could put a little drink in one container and ice in another and bread in another and how then, if he had those things, and found it necessary, he could “take a little break” and eat them so his “tummy wouldn’t be hungry”.

Can you see why it is that Mike is left in charge of so much of the birthday and Christmas shopping around here? He’s good. He deserved far more than my shrug and nod.

Also, there is Abe. Here he is hiding in a closet with Jesse.

I thought it deserved mentioning that a big to-do was made over him at school last week for being the only kid in the ENTIRE world to read eight billion Newbery books this year. Actually, it was the only kid in his school . . . and it was 25 Newberry books. Still. The librarian has her special little shelf of Newberys and she encourages the kids with all her might to fill out an entire Bingo sheet of 25 squares with finished Newbery books. Abe faithfully read the Bingo sheet full – acting as if it was no big thing, having me sign each finished square, mentioning now and then how many Newbery books were actually not very enjoyable to read (judging from what I read on the back covers I kind of agreed – those Newberys seem to love to be about serious and glum things). There was a moment of panic when the end was nearing – two days left and two books to read – when we thought one book wasn’t a Newbery, but, in the end, all went well and his sheet was finished. It was only when he came home afterwards that I realized what a fine accomplishment and how very pleased the librarian, principal, teacher, and school at large was. An announcement was made over the school intercom (letting all the students know that Abe had bested each and every one of them), and the principal came to his class to make a little presentation and to offer him his certificate and ultra super giant candy bar. Two years ago Abe won a bike at school for all his reading. It was a drawing, but the number of times your name was put in the box correlated directly with time read, so I have no doubt Abe’s name was in there quite a few times. That kid likes to read. . . . Or maybe it is just that we keep trying to insist he keep with his younger siblings bed time . . . which is probably too early for him . . . which might give him nothing to do but read. Hmm. Well, poor fella or not, I sure love that boy.

Lastly, there is Penny. Last Sunday I was a bit surprised to look outside and see her rounding up our not-quite-fully-grown chickens and playing, what seemed to be, a game of “gather chickens and put them all in a big bucket”. I wasn’t so much surprised by the game as I was surprised by her ability to catch and bravely hold our chickens. I have maybe hinted at this before, but I am terrified of holding our chickens . . . and our guinea pig . . . and pretty much any animal.

Anyway, she must have gotten more and more bold because not long afterwards I heard Mike calling off of the back deck, “Penny! You can’t throw the chickens!”

Yes, something might, perhaps, need to be done about her grand chickening adventures. Fun as the “put the chickens in a bucket” game sounds, I am not positive the chickens themselves are loving this attention so much.

Here are some recent moments I have caught of Penny with the chickens.

Penny climbing up a ladder to take a chicken down the slide:

Penny swinging with a chicken:

Penny holding a chicken:

Penny singing to a chicken?

Penny putting a chicken on her baby brother’s back:

Penny putting a chicken on her baby brother’s head:

Penny putting a chicken on her own head:

And a few more . . . because its Mother’s Day and I can do what I want (even if it means putting into one post what should have been in three separate ones):

And, my favorite:

Umm. The end? I guess.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Summer and Kids–Two Great Things

Oh my goodness! I know I am always writing things like this – and I know that everyone already knows the crazy truth that time goes by ridiculously fast, but, as I said . . . my goodness! It was really truly just a tiny minute ago that I was sadly thinking about summer time winding down, about kids going back to school, about our care-free days gone for another nine months. And, it was only another second beyond that when that same summer had been just about to start: it was last May and feeling nothing like it because it was cold and wet. I was sneaking off for a week with Mike to AZ while Ashley tended here, and planning out what I would accomplish over the upcoming summer months to get ready for my end-of-summer baby Anders.

Yet, here we are again – back to that point: at the beginning of a season that I was only yesterday sad to see ending. . . . And, it makes me feel very happy (though realization of the quick passage of time does always makes me feel a bit of a panic over things I might not be snatching up and moments that might be zipping along too speedily to capture as forever memories).

It was the happenings of this past week that have made me realize summer is already nearly here: Mike giving me the best ever Mother’s Day gift of new soil for my front clay flower beds (along with the hard labor of digging up said clay), me pulling weeds and planting, the kids bringing home papers with the dates of end-of-year school festivities, and Penny’s play times with potato bugs.

Here Penny is with “Sweetie”. Sweetie entertained Penny for a long while this morning as I threw piles of dead clippings and weeds into garbage cans to finish off my early spring yard work.

We do get a nice routine and a healthy schedule going strong when the older kids are in school, but I look forward to having them home with me for the next few months. There is a little more chaos involved in most days, and there are quite a few more messes to keep on top of, but it is turning out, more and more, to be a fact that I actually really like having a small army for a family. Look at all of them (minus one). They are . . . hmm . . . I don’t know . . . just good and what life feels like it should somehow be all about. I am excited to have my world revolving more constantly around them (and around whatever we want it to be about as opposed to things needing done) for the next few months.

And, speaking of kids and liking them. There are some pretty great things to be said about kids. One thing I love is how they forgive and forget quickly and rarely hold grudges or harsh judgments for long. Take this messy little fella:

I don’t mind about him being a messy and trouble making little fella because he says things like this to me: “Mom, you’re my little buddy.”

But, that has nothing to do with forgiving and forgetting quickly. Yesterday, Jesse was forlornly crying about something Penny had or had not done and insisting that she was not just “bad” or even the “baddest”, but the “BADDIEST GIRL!” To hear him you would think no love could or would ever exist between them. Nevertheless, ten minutes more time found him sitting in my master bathroom on a big box of baby diapers – swinging his little feet, eating fruit snacks, and telling me, “Mom, Penny’s the best girl I ever seen”. True that, as adults, such constantly shifting views of others might be considered borderline bi-polar, but I love that no grudge or anger ever lasts long with little folks.

I am very excited about spending my upcoming summer with a certain six of these “little folks”.

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