She lifts her face to the sun. To her, there are no shadows. Just warmth and light, and a soft place to lay down.
I am not sure where the week went. We went to Blacksburg last weekend which, of course, was awesome. We all came home with sunburns. You would think that after almost eleven years of raising ginger people I would get the fact that I need to apply sunblock. I failed.
Anyway, so we left Blacksburg early Sunday to get back in town for Will’s middle school basketball tryouts. And then we had two games. And I didn’t get the sheets changed. So on Monday I was doing laundry and sheets all day long. And then our house was void of all food, so Tuesday I went all over town and back again for food. It is becoming increasingly difficult just to keep the house stocked with food. Why do they eat so much??? And we had an audiology appointment and an ophthalmologist appointment, and then we had softball and cheer practices so I didn’t clean anything in this entire house. And there was a LOT of laundry STILL sitting in the chair waiting patiently to be folded.
Then it was David’s birthday, so I cooked a lot, and went shopping and got myself a couple of sweaters and some new jeans for his birthday. And I went to the home depot and bought him a new weed wacker for his present. (That is what he wanted.) And the laundry still needed to be folded.
Then it was Thursday and I cleaned bathrooms. And I finally finished folding the laundry. Kate had riding lessons and while we were there Ella spent most of the time on the tire swing getting filthy, eating popsicles and finding four leaf clovers. She found 21 I think. She spread them all out on the island and everyone picked two clovers to keep for themselves. Henry put one in his sock this morning for good luck on his test.
“Wish me luck on my test today mom!”
“My science test.”
“Did you study?”
“No. I forgot about that.”
Yeah, so he’s relying on the four leaf clover and his natural brilliance. Good thing he’s got the clover. And now it’s Friday. This morning, the old man forgot to turn off the alarm before he let Poppy out, so everyone was wide awake and terrified nice and early. Ella was looking at the clovers she pressed in a book, and left the book on the floor so Poppy came by and ate the clovers. Let me repeat that. Poppy ate the clovers.
“What’s Poppy eating?”
“I don’t know.”
“Where are my clovers?”
So that was great because then there were hysterical sobs. And can I just say that I had a hard time not smiling during all of the sobbing because Ella has lost one of her front two teeth and the other one is kind of all snaggly looking and she looked unbelievably adorable with her freckles and that crazy tooth and her eyes pinched shut and tears running down her face. She reminds me totally and completely of Ellie from Up.
So anyway, this whole clover eating thing was very, very traumatic because Ella had chosen the most special five leaf clovers that she had found and put them in the book to save them. And now they’re sliding down the dog’s intestinal tract, along with my sunglasses which Poppy chewed up on Monday, and the pencil she chewed up on Tuesday, and the gum and paper she chewed up on Wednesday. (When you come home from running errands and you find shreds of paper and thin strands of gum all over your front entry you know it is going to be a fantastical day.)
So after the clover incident everyone got dressed, and then everyone went to school. And at 3:00 I will pick them up, and that is when the bickering will begin. (I wonder how much Calgon it would take to actually take me away during the bickering…) But hey, I’m not cooking tonight, and there is going to be beer available, and I get to see my family. So there is always that to look forward to.
This weekend there is a softball game and two football games and three basketball games. Oh, and my baby brother is finally getting married to the most wonderful girl ever. I’ll be honest — I am probably going to drink some wine this weekend. And when I say “some,” I mean more than two.
The cool weather is coming. Leaves are falling. It’s the time of year in which I feel this incredibly strong urge to settle in…to add layers, and warm blankets, and candles. To make warm, rich meals, and sip cocoa or coffee or wine in the evening while I read, covered in the soft glow of a lamp. It’s a time to slow down, look around, and thank God for our good fortune.
It’s kind of amazing how you can live an entire week, not realizing how wonderful your life is, until you sit down to write it out in all its mundane glory. And then when you do, you see that even in the midst of all of the errands, and the work and the things the dog ate, there is so much goodness hidden in all that mundane.
The other night I sat in our room upstairs folding laundry. Ella was in bed, tucked snugly under her fluffy white comforter and humming along to the sound of Henry’s recorder. He played all sorts of tunes, and she hummed along. They often sit together while he plays. He does quite a good job with that recorder, though he could not sing a tune on key if his life depended on it.
I could hear the water running downstairs — David was cleaning the dinner dishes, William was reading, and Kate was on the computer doing some type of homework. And I sat folding another load of laundry. I can remember back to when everything I folded had tiny little snaps and zippers and never folded up very well into a nice little rectangle the way I like. And now I fold compression shorts, and football pants and slippery basketball jerseys, cheer uniforms, plus a LOT of socks. None of those things fold very neatly either, actually. I fold and I sigh a little…time does go by.
There is a large picture window in our room which overlooks the front yard. We used to be able to look out the window and see clear down to the end of the street. Now, in just ten little years, the maple tree is so large I cannot see past it. It’s green leaves ruffled in the breeze that night, making the setting sun’s light flicker through the shutters. What I see the most when I look at that tree is it’s shade. I can remember sitting with Coco in the tiny patch of shade it provided ten years ago…we had to keep moving to stay in that shade patch because the tree was so small. That was back when he was sick, but before I knew he was sick. He would just sit there with me. I thought he had finally, at eight years old, mellowed out. It turns out that he was dying. It still to this day breaks my heart that I didn’t even know.
But life goes on…time marches on even when your world feels like it has been jarred mercilessly into stillness. You look around at all the people, and they don’t notice…they don’t realize that your world has stopped because their world has not…
The day after Coco died, we spent a few hours at the pool. I don’t think I moved from my chair much. His death exhausted me, it consumed me — the memory of it, the pain of it. But when we came home and walked through the door, I expected him to be there. I forgot. I forgot he was gone. Sorrow has a funny way of torturing a person like that for a long, long while, smothering them at first like a heavy, wet shroud, and then slowly unraveling until finally all you feel are the shreds of grief now and then.
It will be nine years without that big, old labrador next week. And now I sit here, with another dog — a beagle — on my lap. Poppy.
She is a good dog. She is seventeen pounds to his 75. She is a lot like him, to be honest. Having her doesn’t stop the missing him, though. I guess that’s the sorrow…still touching me even nine years later.
Miss you old buddy.
I’m sitting here drenched in sunshine. Some days, it’s the only way I can seem to get warm. This is my favorite spot in the morning, here in the kitchen right across from the window. Sometimes I catch myself staring out into the woods…everything still gray and bare. Woodpeckers skimming up and down the trees and above them, a very large bird circles. Today it is breezy.
We are in the flux between winter sports and spring sports. Somehow our schedule doubled between last week and this week. That both thrills and concerns me. We have started spring basketball, and flag football starts next week. Unbelievable as it may be, there are very few practice conflicts and I think someone up there had a hand in this scheduling perfection.
Kate will be moving into the advanced riding lessons. This is both good and bad. Good because she is advancing. Bad because we are changing instructors and I have a particular fondness for her current instructor, and a particular nervousness about her future instructor. She kind of terrifies me. But she doesn’t seem to bother Kate much. Perhaps I am a bit of a weenie.
Ella could not be any cuter in her ballet class. Not even a pinch cuter. She’s still trying to get the hang of it…the straight legs are really throwing her for a loop. She continues to feign illness at school. It is humorous only because I know the look she can put on her little face that makes her look as though she is dying. She is quite a good little actress.
I tore the carpet off the stairs a couple weeks ago. Once the runner was off, and the tacky strips and the staples were all removed, they looked pretty good. They needed paint on the rises though, and I realized that the woodwork along the steps and up the walls also needed repainting and recaulking, so it took a few days but they look nice now. We had some wall repairs to make as well, so we spackled those up and when we weren’t looking, Poppy licked every ounce of spackle right off the walls. So we re-spackled and painted while she hung around, licking her chops. It all looks quite nice now.
When you think you have everything under control, and you’re just going to spend a quiet day doing laundry, your washing machine breaks. And not only does it break, but it breaks mid-load, full of clothes and soap and water. You would not believe how much water those things can hold. If your washing machine breaks mid-load, you will find out that they can hold buckets upon buckets upon buckets of water. I took the washing machine apart and ordered the part that is most likely broken (I don’t have a tester thingy to be certain) and tomorrow I shall fix the washing machine. Hear me roar.
Poppy is pacing around whining because normally during the day when she is not perched on the back of the sofa looking out the window like a cat, she is sleeping in the laundry room on the sunny patch on the floor. Only today, there are laundry machine parts all over the laundry room, and there is no place for her to lay down. It is very distressing to her. So she comes over and stares at me and whines, which is very distressing to me.
She has found a patch of sun in the kitchen now, right next to me, that did not pass muster the first time she tried it. She slipped into the laundry room again, and finding that the situation in there had not improved, has decided this spot is as good as it’s going to get, and has relented. Her feet are curled under and the sunlight bounces off her whiskers. Around me all I hear is her slow, deep breathing and the steady hum of the refrigerator.