Friday, December 19, 2014

The Nutcracker

     We hurry into the theater along with others in their Christmas finery, young girls in sequins and velvet dresses, ribbons in their hair, dancing slippers. Mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters, Aunts and nieces and friends.

   We settle into our seats, close enough that we can see the orchestra nestled into their hiding place in front of the stage. A beautiful cacophony drifts upward out of the pit as they prepare to tune their instruments, a sound that is like laughter. The lights dim, the overture begins, the curtain opens and the magic commences. They might as well have sprinkled us all with fairy-dust (which, in fact they do in this particular version).
         Once more we are transported into the warm glow of Clara's living room for the family Christmas festivities; presents, kisses, dancing, drums and dolls.  The children fight over a wooden doll and a girl dreams dreams of another world, a world where snowflakes and flowers are real and where sweets come to life and dance for her and the Nutcracker Prince.

      Ah, the Nutcracker, a beautiful winter tradition. The Arabian coffee is limber as a string, Gingerbread boys scurry out from under the huge skirt of their mother, the Sugarplum Fairy, she who watches over all the land of sweets, dances with her consort, elegant, beautiful, he lifts her as if she were light as a feather.

       This year we brought Aunt Audra along with us, as well as Jingleboy. Tracie and her friend joined us as always.  In fact, it is thanks to Tracie that we get such fabulous seats every year. She is one of Abbey's and our oldest friends and one of the most loyal. Thanks, Trace.
      Here we are, waiting for the lights to signal us it is time to go in.

       Every year I think I have seen this ballet enough times to last a life time, but once the music begins I am entranced once more.  The ballet is better than a book, better than a movie, because it is music and movement weaving a magical spell; the heart of the composer and the hearts of the dancers wide open and singing a love song together.

Hooray for our side

     I would like to state, with cautious optimism and hesitant, guarded hope, that the battle against the mice has turned a corner in my direction…at least for a moment.  I hear no scurryings or squeaks in the night; I have set out many traps and they no longer snap me awake at odd hours; the dreams of attacking mouse hordes have ceased.
       The reason? That is an excellent question, as they say on the talk shows. Poison! Plain and simple poison…..well... + a variety of snapping traps (all recommended by those who would know) + sticky traps + cats.  No, no cats. You can't insert cats into a formula which already contains poison and sticky traps or you end up with dead cats.  Cats and sticky traps alone can be entertaining on some highly  warped and sadistic level, but cats and poison is never a good blend. You think dead mice stink up your house? (yes! they do)Try dead cats. No. That's not going to happen.
    The cats patrol the perimeter and leave me little tidbits of rat heads and mouse intestines as enticement to come home more often. My niece says they think if they feed me I will be happier and come round more often.  They need to adjust their thinking. All their misguided gifts do is make me have to wash off the porch more often AND send nasty thoughts their way. CEASE AND DESIST!
     The downside of having the enemy on the run, with poison as your weapon, is that you then have to locate the stinking bodies and carry them away….or…you could live with the smell of death until it subsides I suppose. No, the search teams have been out in force and bodies have been located and tossed outside, followed by severe scrubbing of the area and general cleaning of the surrounding area of the house.
      I knew there was a dead one in the pantry somewhere so I set about cleaning it for the third time this month.  I found one, cleaned all around and immediately knew there was another hiding somewhere. Let's be honest, there aren't too many places to hide in there at this point. I have simplified, tossed out and/or put everything in plastic boxes or tins until, really, where could he be?
      Backstory:  A few years ago someone gave me a gift in a beautiful and stout box that had a tight fitting lid.  It was too lovely to give away, and since I came up short one plastic container for the pantry, I put all the chocolate chips, coconut, toffee….all the sweets used for baking into that box, knowing they would be safe.
      After much cleaning of shelves, moving jars, washing everything AGAIN, I noticed the lid of that pretty box had been pushed open. WHAT? Those dastardly mice had to have used teamwork, there is no way one little mouse could have opened that thing. I knew what I would find and sure enough, it reeked of dead mouse and all the sweets had to go into the trash with the little varmint.  I don't know if he died of poison or out of control blood sugar, but I know he died happy. Nirvana indeed.

   Now all I have to do is take another lap with the Mr. Clean and hot soapy water and we'll be good to go.

P.S. I'm leaving the traps out…and the poison, until I get word that my grandchildren are heading this way.  When you have mice on the run you have to keep fighting. Never assume they are gone for good.  They know what awaits them outside (cold, cats, hawks, coyotes, birds, dogs, foxes) so they are willing to take a chance on life inside where it is warm and where there might be toffee bits and chocolate chips for the taking.  Think again little friends.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

If Not Now, When?

     The poem Renaissance, by Edna St. Vincent Millay begins this way: "All I could see, from where I stood, were three long mountains and a wood." All I can see, from where I stand, is a long straight horizon of green wheat behind tawny fields of winter grass. 
    There is not a sign of a tiger anywhere. 
(I hope he's still running, but I am enjoying a rainy day which holds no agenda…at. all.)   sigh    
       During the months of November and December the news media has been all over, under, around and through the deaths of three black men at the hands of white policemen. They were in different cities and circumstances varied widely as well. I am not going to speak on any of the three because plenty has been said by people who know much more about the incidents than I do.
      I do want to tell you what I have seen happening in my own days, my own life, as a result of these events. I have heard people of many different ethnicities speaking about the deaths with voices and eyes full of sorrow, and not sorrow only for those who have died. Sorrow that this kind of thing is still happening in this country. I know, it is happening everywhere and always has, but must it always be so?  
      What I want to share with you is this: during these past weeks I have seen people looking into one another's eyes and giving a greeting, reaching out to shake a hand, pat a shoulder, more than I saw it happen before. All of us being actively warm to one another because we all know what has been happening and we want things to change. We want them to be better, and all we can change, as ordinary humans is the way we interact with the person right in front of us, right now, right here. I have felt a difference. I hope it continues, this grassroots movement toward compassion and understanding and standing with our fellow humans, whatever color our skin or eyes or hair. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tuesday update

      Dad is home from the hospital at last, in his own home now, though not back to full strength and not off oxygen yet…soon, we hope.  I know the path back from respiratory distress and ICU is long and frustrating but, as they say, it is better than the alternative.  Dad is very disciplined and will do the required work.

      There have been hours upon hours, early, late and in the middle, spent at the spice shop this month by everyone on the Savory Spice Shop OKC staff. What a bunch of worker bees! We are probably one man short of staff, truth be told, and when I had to be out for all that time when Dad was in the City it made everyone scramble even more.  We'll hire another person next year.  Our back stock cabinet is always full now and we only fill the jars that get below four on the shelf.  The fact that we have so much to back stock tells you that business is going well. Thank goodness we don't have the kiosk this year. We are "riding the tiger" and in the home stretch.
     That being said, I have retreated to the farm in an effort to get some mental, spiritual and emotional rest.  I let myself get too tired, pushed too hard….for me.  Then, on the way home, a deer ran out in front of me and smashed in the left front of my car. I was not hurt (the deer was killed) but today, after getting the car towed to the shop, having lunch with a friend and getting my rental car, I feel stretched thin and sketchy…held together with chocolate, as Tracie said on Saturday.  It did not help that some stranger cursed at me in the parking lot of the book store. I don't know what I did to tick her off but she was hot.
   Just what I needed.
   Merry Christmas to you too.
She was probably stressed too: everyone is fighting some kind of battle.
       I break into tears at nothing at all these days, random acts of crying.  That can't be healthful, especially when I'm not sad. Am I? Maybe.  Probably just sleep deprived and pushing too hard. I have stepped back from the front lines.
     Anyway, last night I had a dream, and in it Danny walked through a doorway, took me in his arms and let me cry, which is exactly what I really wanted to do, needed to do. He said he hadn't really been dead, just needed some time away.  Right. Wishful thinking if ever I heard it. It was good to see him again. Funny how we can remember every thing about someone we love, even when they have been gone for years; the feel and smell of their skin, the taste of coffee kisses, the sound of their beating heart.
     I rented some movies and plan on taking it easy for a few days, petting the cats and breathing in the calm that is in this space.  Able, Kari, Sam, Priscilla, Micah and Hunter are more than capable of keeping the spice shop up and running at full speed. Blessings on them all.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Pain and Community

I think I have mentioned, so many times that you are sick to death of hearing it, that I continue to be fed by Richard Rohr's book, Yes, And… . This is a quote from that book which found me this morning. Wanted to share with you.

"Pain teaches a most counterintuitive thing---that we must go down before we even know what up is. It is first an ordinary wound before it can become a sacred wound.  Suffering of some sort seems to be the only thing strong enough to destabilize our arrogance and our ignorance.  I would define suffering very simply as whenever you are not in control.
    All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain.  If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.  If your religion is not showing you how to transform your pain, it is junk religion…..
    If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become negative or bitter--because we will be wounded. That is a given. …"


     During this time spent in the hospital, caring for my Dad with all my brothers and sister, I have noticed one hugely wonderful thing.  All the people sitting in the waiting rooms, lounging in the halls, scrolling through their cell phones, walking up and down the stairs, squeezing into elevators,  ALL of us are holding someone who is dear to us gently in our hearts. We are all hurting and every one of us seems open to sharing with complete strangers so that we may all be joined in the praying for each other and our loved ones.  We have become family to all these strangers whose loved ones suffer in the ICU, hooked to tubes and, as the poem say, "…moaning for release".
       We are open to sharing, to the taking and giving of progress reports and encouragement, because we are all in exactly the same place emotionally. We lean upon each other, even though we may forget to ask each other's names. This is a community of love, born out of suffering and helplessness.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Ten on Tuesday 12/2/14

Hello, hello, hello again. A list on a Tuesday…perfect.

1.  Thanksgiving was wonderful. My sister, two of my brothers and I met up in Okeene and had a leisurely afternoon and a meal with Dad.  I was a complete slacker this year and did not cook for this dinner or for the one on Sunday, with my kids.  Ann and I went back to the farm and on Friday morning, planted gobs of tulips in my new gardens. It will be stunning in the Spring. We started for the City but received a call from Jim the Dad was not well, so we turned right at the four-way-stop and returned to our home town.

2.  Dad was in a lot of pain and we stood around all afternoon while they tried to decide what the problem was.  Eventually they took him to OKC in the ambulance for surgery: a hot appendix.
Here they are, loading him up.

3. I will spare you the details of the next few days but suffice it to say he is still in the hospital and getting stronger all the time. The surgery went well. I expect him to up and about in no time. Thanks to all of you have been praying for his speedy recovery and to those whom I forgot to call but who will begin praying now.

4.  Isn't this leaf lovely? Ann and I spied it from the back porch the other morning. Each scallop on the rim of the leaf was lit like a tiny diamond in the morning light. Beauty ringing a leaf that had already taken its final leap from the cottonwood. Love it. Those are sleeping water lilies in the background.

5.  The battle with the mice continues. I keep snapping them and they keep being around. There is obviously an entrance hole I don't know about. sigh.

6.  Christmas happenings are all around us. I was able to be there for the start of the Advent Calendars at the Richards house this morning. Lego themed and a favorite of everyone.  Last night I got to see all the decorations at Zane and Rowans house. Their personal elf, Gary, is back for the season and full of delightful tricks as always. Here he is, sniff  testing their spice collection.

7.  We watched our first Christmas movie of the season this evening as well; Polar Express, with Tom Hanks. Exciting stuff and a happy ending to boot.

8.  The Thanksgiving feast for my kids and theirs was on Sunday evening. Everyone contributed something….except yours truly.  I came empty handed but spent a long stretch of time playing with all or most of the grandchildren in the kids room.  We did some Panda research, I received medical attention for a broken knee, I had a baby (a Christmas miracle), had much needed brain surgery and had my heart fixed by magic wand. What a fantastic room, where anything you wish can be imagined and brought to life.

The requisite turkey and Pilgrim.

9. We helped Maggie plant her big bag of daffodils on Sunday as well (along with teaching Brendan how to adjust the chain on his bicycle).  He has mastered the bike now and speeds around on it, going all the way round the block alone. See, good things happen all the time, usually simultaneously, oddly enough.  I also have some Tulips for Abbs and Kari but I keep forgetting to put them in the ground and now it is 20 degrees, which is a mite cold for planting anything.

10.  I am back at the farm and caring for the birds and the cats (who like to eat the birds…ah, the genius of the food chain).  I realize the birds can find food for themselves but I like to watch them through the binoculars so I feed them close enough for me to spy on them a bit.  My cats like having them close too. Ha!  Three weeks and a few days until Christmas.  Hmmmm….seems terribly soon to me and I know it will fly by because there is so much going on at the shop and with family.  Hope your pre-Christmas days are full of joy, anticipation and song and that you have friends and family with whom to share the holidays. I should be doing a little holiday decorating…where to start?