On Love

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

~Kahlil Gibran

……

The sun in shining high in the cold blue winter sky. I woke up in one world today, and i will fall asleep tonight in entirely another. The clothing and shoes I chose this morning are still upon my body, but they mock and bely the world that seismically shifted. The forms are the same- I wander around my quiet house, looking again at memories held in every object… and the tears overflow the edges of my eyes and drop gently onto the floor.

Hello heartache, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.

You catch me mid-story. The tale is not yet entirely mine to tell, and I know not yet how it will end, but for today, my heart is as swollen and red as my eyes. Even so, with the uncertainly and fears that hammer softly at my bruises, I would not change a thing.   Hope springs eternal in the human heart, and in spite of myself, I look forward to the time I might– just might–  lay my weary, battle-scarred self down in the fields of soft clover and poppies, and exhale. I have faith. I believe.

Kittyhawk

I always have a backup plan. It might be a result of the forest-fire that roared through my life a few years ago, but I suspect my need for a backup plan predates that by many years. It’s kind of funny, actually- since I’m not much for front-end plans- I wing a lot of things in my life, and am usually okay with that.

So I’m scheduled to graduate this June. It’s been an intense two years, but it’s been worth it, and I’ve been looking into different grad schools and programs with an eye towards a PhD. Yeah, I know. Crazy. Who’d have ever thought? I still wonder sometimes if I can pull it off, but that it’s even a legitimate possibility now is amazing.

So the thing is, this week my University is dissolving dissolved my program. There was a chaotic few days of racing around, trying to get in with advisors and professors, and yes, it’s true, the program I had always considered my backup plan is now gone. Poof. Utterly gone. I had guaranteed admittance- and while I was hoping and praying for some of the other, higher-end schools, in the back of my head, I knew I had plan B. And that made me feel safe.

Now I’m hanging out in the breeze, and I have to find, apply, hold my breath and pray that some other schools decide I’m worth admitting and taking a chance on. Oh, yes, I know I should be able to find at least one- but that doesn’t change the fact that I find myself without answers, or even any certainty on where me and the kids will be living come fall. That’s a little unnerving.

Then I step back. Perhaps this is precisely what I needed- I was playing it safe, knowing there was a guaranteed spot for me in a mid-level state university. It’s possible that knowledge was a bit too much of a cushion, and I wasn’t necessarily risking what I needed to risk to find where I really need to be. I don’t know. But that’s how I’m going to look at it.

Now, the only thing I’m certain of is that the kids and I will be moving from our comfort zone here in eastern Washington, where we’ve lived for nine years, have gone through deaths and rebirths and landed in Little House, where we’ve healed and tended our wounds. Its time to leave the safety-zone, my friends.

It’s time to fly. Here’s hoping my wings are ready…

Making Soup: The Results

So here’s what I did tonight instead of studying for the GRE or writing one of three papers I have due…

Vanilla Butternut Squash Soup

  • 2 pounds (or so) of diced butternut squash
  • 2 small onions, or 1 mack-daddy onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • water or stock to cover
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon good quality real vanilla

In a stock pot, saute onions in olive oil until soft and fragrant. Add diced squash (no need to bake first) and cover with enough stock or water to just barely cover. You don’t want too much liquid, or the soup will be too thin when you puree.

Simmer over medium heat until squash is soft- 10-15 minutes worked for me.

Remove from heat and puree with a stick emersion blender or in your food processor/blender until creamy smooth. Add vanilla and cream, and stir together. Top with chives and/or a tiny drizzle of cream.

Making Soup

I’m stuck right now. I don’t know why, but it seems like I have so many balls up in the air, so insanely many things that need my attention and care and intellect and all of my brain power, that I find myself standing like a deer in the headlights. For example, take right now: I have three papers due. I have applications to work on. I have GRE studying to do. And what am I doing? Laying in bed, looking at recipes, thinking about making a pot of soup, and taking a bath. It’s as though, since I can’t do it all, my brain has taken a sabbatical. I know its ridiculous. And I know I have to tackle the beasts before me. And I know I will. But probably not tonight. Odds are, Im going to make some soup.

Random Crap: Snow, Teeth and Halos, Raise Hell

I just thought I would drop off the face of the earth there for a few just for fun. How were things while I was gone? Criminy, that’s what the first week of school will do to a mama. Still trying to find my sea-legs with my new profs. It’s always bumpy navigating what each prof expects at the beginning of the quarter. At first I’d go for overkill, but I’m over that.

Speaking of, what the heck with a prof who doesn’t show for the first class, when class is only once a week, and then the following class is on a holiday? It’s 12 weeks of classes, and it will be week three before we actually see him in a class. I’m a little miffed.

Abby lost her first tooth! She then promptly lost her first lost tooth. Tears aplenty were had by all. Said tooth, tiny little thing it is, was miraculously recovered the next day on the floor near her bed. Tooth fairy shall be arriving shortly. With any luck. The boys don’t even try anymore. They just put their teeth on my dresser. Mom FAIL.

Looks like winter finally decided to show up. Snow is fun for about an hour, then I’m ready for spring.

Jeffrey went snow-shoeing yesterday for a field trip at school, and the poor boy was in tears this morning when he got up his legs hurt so bad. Next week they go cross-country skiing, and he’s already fretting- I sent him to school with a motrin and a pep-talk.  Fifth grade is hard.

<Sshhhhhh, be very very quiet…> Bean is doing well </quiet>

I watched my first and only presidential debate thus far this year- and aside from finding Newt Gingrich to be one of the vilest, foulest, most reprehensible excuses for a candidate I’ve ever seen, it was great.

So earlier last year, I lost a ton of hair. It’s good that I had a ton of hair to loose- because I really did drop probably half my hair. Thankfully it appears to have been just stress-related (because that’s FUN!) but now, my new hair is all growing in. Which means, much like a dog in the winter, I’m getting my undercoat. I have a constant halo of short 3-4″ hair all around my head in a constant stick-up and misbehave riot of unruliness. I’m still glad its coming back.

Speaking of- on my to-do list today, I actually wrote “Raise hell”.

Yesterday I accidentally ate some gluten, and while I was going to say rats gnawing on me would be preferable, I decided that was too gruesome, so I’m going to go with “I was very uncomfortable.” Better? See, I’m always thinking of others. Anyway. Gluten. Yeah, bad bad bad. Vomit, cry, handful of Benedryl, wait and see if a trip to the ER is necessary. Restaurants really need to be more careful about where they hide their %$#& flour.

Bubble baths are my new favorite way to get warm in the evening. It’s also easier to shave my legs without cutting myself to shreds if I do it in the tub. Just as an aside.

I am utterly addicted to Words with Friends. I know, I’m about a million minutes late to the party. And I really really suck at it! But its so fun! Reminds me of when I was a kid and my mom and aunts would play Scrabble and my mom would throw the board at someone. Only I’m miles too far for anyone to throw a board at me. It’s fantastic. What? Because I needed another time-suck? Shut up. <dandelionmama> Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone!

My Favorite Things at this Moment, Subject to My Whimsey

  • I adore Marc Jacob’s OH LOLA perfume. The girls in Sephora keep giving me samples. Love!
  • Steaming hot chai tea. I’ve given you the recipe before… now where is it?
  • MAC lipglass in the neutral quad. Oh my stars, Boy Bait is my new favorite.
  • Palm trees. Every January I miss California with an aching in my heart…
  • Sweet almond oil. Someone asked my secret to nice skin, and I got this tip from my friend Annie: after you cleanse at night, skip the expensive moisturizers and just gently massage some almond oil into your face. It works amazingly well.
  • Homemade hummus. So simple, so easy, and so very very good.
  • The color cobalt blue. So beautiful, and so elusive.
  • I wish there was a park with long swings close by. Or that I could swing on My Swing down in Morgan Hill.
  • And last but not least, and utterly out of my reach-  pretty pretty precious…

Random Crap: Tidbits

Not sure if it’s a function of Facebook and Twitter, or if its a by product of the chaotic and frenetic pace of life right now- but I can’t seem to flesh out anything into anything resembling a decent essay. It’s all tidbits right now. So there it is.

I’ve long admitted a crush on Anthony Bourdain, and his new show “The Layover” combines for me not only his acerbic sense of humor, but my own loves of travel and local food. He was in San Francisco tonight, and I was wicked homesick, and loving it.

Today was my first day back to school. I had one four-hour class. The prof was a no-show, and his grad student showed long enough to pass out the syllabus and tell us all to go home. I’m all for a free night, but the first class? And when it’s only once a week and next week is a holiday? I wasted a sitter, one of my parking passes, and the time and effort to get to campus during commute time. Not very happy.

I have deep-midnight cobalt-blue travel mug that I utterly adore. Only every time I use it, I try and sip from the wrong side, and pour tea all over myself. Tonight was no exception. The color delights me so I ignore the drips.

There was an alignment of the stars today, and my student loans funded, I got hold of a real person at DSHS, I paid my bills, and Costco had running shoes in my size that fit perfectly and were less than $40. Not looking a gift horse in the mouth, and being grateful.

Eating super healthy and seeing the benefits in my skin before I see it anywhere else. I have to be so neurotic about avoiding gluten for the small inconvenience of anaphylaxis. But now I’m giving up diet Coke. and diet Dr Pepper. I know. Weep for me. But my skin is so happy. And I’m vain enough to navigate withdrawal headaches for a few days for my skin to glow.

Speaking of, go to Smitten Kitchen and make the carrot ginger soup. Here’s the recipe. Just trust me, no matter how much you like it- don’t eat three bowls. That’s about a pound of carrots right there and your tummy- er, MY tummy- wasn’t quite prepared for that much carroting. But DO pickle the green onions- super yummy. And easy.

Need to write my thank-you notes for Christmas. If you’re waiting on one, I promise it’s coming.

I’ve decided to finally renew my passport. It’s not like I have any looming international travel plans or anything- though I do have this fierce desire to go to Brazil. (despite Newt thinking us Welfare Mom’s can buy vacation packages with our foodstamps, I haven’t figured out how to manage that yet) But I do think someone who loves to travel as much as I do should have a valid passport.

I love arugula.

Running Start

The new quarter starts tomorrow, and I’m trying very hard to take slow, measured breaths and not let the waves of panic overtake me. In the pre-dawn haze this morning, unable to go back to sleep, the to-do list grew (as it always does in the wee small hours) to monstrously looming proportions. The only thing in my power at such a ghastly hour on a Sunday morning was to grab a pen and paper and make a list. Somehow this always, at least somewhat, takes the damned demons down.

Stress does not do pretty things to human beings- yes, I know, Biology 101 says we need certain amounts of stress to function properly, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest the last five years were more a dumptruck load, rather than a delicate dance of tension and give.

So with the quarter starting, the one thing I’m committed to doing again is running. It’s the first thing I cut out, because hey, it’s just for my health, and it sucks, and I hate doing it- and it makes everything else bearable. Tire those muscles out, get the endorphins flooding, keep the stress in the sweat and make my sleep that of physical exhaustion rather than just emotional.

So in the next few weeks, when I have to take the GRE, the PRAXIS, and a math placement test for my final quarter so I can graduate, when I have to write the rest of my 150 page+ Senior Capstone and keep up on three classes and three kids- remind me, my bloggy friends, that I need to be running my ass off, not pulled my hair out.

Tracy & The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day

So. Yesterday sucked so bad, I couldn’t even wrench myself to my keyboard to write about it until tonight. It wasn’t the IEP- that was the easy part of the day- nevermind that it was at 8 am and I had all three kids up, fed, dressed and to the school with me  by then, and all the way through the IEP. Yeah, that was the easy part. So the Cliff’s Notes version, for posterity:

Bean’s IEP was pretty simple- only its been a three years since his last full official evaluation, and we’re going to do another one. That’s fun. It means piles of paperwork, and him being observed by people who have their degrees in the same thing I’m working on. They’re professionals, but I’m his mama. I have to say, his team is great, and IEP’s don’t actually stress me out the way I know they do so many parents. I know the lingo, my rights, my son’s rights, and mostly the team is very good. But it’s still a draining process.

I came home from the IEP with Abby in tow- she hasn’t been in school since December 16th- and dug out my financial aid paperwork and got to work on making phone calls for that mess. Most people know how much fun that is…

Once I got that done it was time to complete my Quarterly Certification Review for DSHS- only I’ve been trying to get through to them since mid-December. I couldn’t get through on the phone lines, then they were closed for the holiday, and now I’m up against the wall and my benefits will be cut off if I don’t “prove need”. Again. It’s not a problem to provide them what they need- but it is a problem to get anyone on the phone to actually complete the interview. Hundreds of tries- usually I get an “All circuits are busy, please try later.” message. Occasionally I’ll actually get in the voice queue and input my account number, but every single time thus far, I get “All operators are helping other clients, please call back later.” And it starts again.

Yesterday, after the IEP and Financial Aid, this just pushed me over the edge. I felt so helpless. I need (and sincerely qualify for) this aid, and I’m trying to jump through all the hoops I have to, but because of a phone queue that doesn’t hold you in line, I cannot make the deadline. I dissolve into ridiculously hopeless, dramatic tears.

A good friend has some inside lines, and happened to call me during my torrent of self-pity- and was able to get me an actual phone number- not the toll-free number- and rather quickly I was speaking to an actual human being. She couldn’t complete my certification, but she did give me an extension, so my kids are still covered and we get food this month. Small miracles.

By the time I got off the phone with the lady at DSHS, it was time to go pick the boys up from school, and Abby was moaning about being hungry. Second day back to school, and the kids have a half-day. 12:30 release. When I open the door, there is a turn-off notice from the electric company. Yes, I know I’m late, but my student loans fund on Monday and I can pay the bill then- only I don’t have that long. I shove the bill in my purse and hurry Abby to the car. The kids’ Christmas money will have to pay the electric bill. I can pay them back next week. The balancing and trade-offs you make in poverty are astounding sometimes. I won’t tell the kids.

I pick the boys up, and we have to head downtown to meet with a nutritionist. Their pediatrician wrote us a referral back during their checkups, hoping a nutritionist could help get Bean to eat something besides PBJ and just generally help everyone. Its a fine idea. In theory.

The first half hour went fine. She weighed, measured and did an analysis on each kid. Bean is surprisingly healthy for having never ever ingested a single vegetable that was not a french fry or ketchup. Jeffrey needs to eat more fruit and vegetables, and Abby is just fine. But this all took a lot of time.

At the end of the first hour, Bean started to unravel. I told her this was going to get ugly, and it did- faster than I can ever remember. There wasn’t really time for me to get him out of there, and he tipped. When he started throwing furniture, I had to lay on him while the nutritionist sat at her table with her laptop, watching in fascinated horror. I told her if there was somewhere quiet and dark we could put him it would help. She opened a cupboard and shoved everything out, and he climbed in and shut the door. He hit his head for a few minutes and vocalized, but in about 15 minutes, he came out calm and happy and started to put the room back together. The look of fascinated horror on her face never changed.

Two hours. We were there two hours. Bean skipped out as we left, happy as a lark, and asked to go to the cafeteria. He loves hospital cafeterias- they have a conveyor belt that moves the trays into the dishwasher. None of us had eaten, so I acquiesced. Bean got a peanut butter sandwich. Go figure. The others had whole wheat pasta. And I had a diet Coke and an Excedrin. Dinner of champions.

On the drive home, my back started to spasm. Once in a blue moon this happens, usually in conjunction with a massive tussle with Bean. Et voila. By the time we got in the house, I sent everyone down to play, and tried not to puke from the cramping spasms and shooting pain. I would rather be in labor than have back spasms- no joke.

Jeffrey got me an ice pack, and I took the last four Advil in the house. Laying gingerly on the bed, I closed my eyes and waited for the pain to subside. Slowly… slowly… I could breathe again.

I didn’t remember until this morning that it was my kids’ Nana’s birthday. We never even called her.

So how was your day?