Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Feeling So Loved

POSSLQ has been out of town for nearly two weeks. I miss him something terrible. Over the weekend, I slipped into a sad place, and started to feel really down.

We've started a new chapter in our life, and part of that change has been a complete turn around in the way we communicate. We've always been pretty good at reading each other's feelings, but expressing what is causing those feelings has always been hard. On Sunday, when I was feeling really low, I was able to articulate how I was feeling and why.

Shortly after that, I got the first of what is probably now close to 1,000 text messages. It was just a little uplifting message, but it started a cascade of conversation that has been almost constant since then. For nearly four days, I've been showered in 'round the clock sweet things, heartwarming notes, and, most importantly, BIG BIG LOVE.

It's amazing that someone can be so far away, but feel so close. I miss the little touches, glances, hugs, and kisses, but I can feel that love just oozing out of his beautiful words.




Monday, July 29, 2013

As July Draws to a Close...

... the garden grows even more bountiful.
The tomatoes are finally getting a little touch of red.
The pumpkins are turning a beautiful yellowish orange, 
and a furry little watermelon has popped up.
The herb garden is starting to fill in a little, too.
I've got marigolds!

And just for good measure, a little boy caring for his chicks.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Quick (and Outdated) Pop Culture Reference

To help pass the boring hours between E's bedtime and my own (which, admittedly, are not very many hours), I've been re-watching Dawson's Creek. As a teen, I identified strongly with the characters, and I used to set my alarm for 2:45 AM in college when the WB dropped the show, and we could only get it locally at 3 AM. When POSSLQ and I first started "courting," he would sit and watch episodes with me after he came home from work in the mornings.

The other night I was watching the episode where Joey breaks up with Dawson. She basically says that she doesn't have a definition of herself outside of the context of him, and that scares her. She needs to figure out who she is without him, so she breaks up with him to find herself.

I was struck with a sudden realization - THIS is the difference between women of the Dawson's era and women of the Twilight era. At a critical time in our development as adolescents, we were given very different examples.

For those of us who can now see age 30 in our rear view mirror, Joey showed us that we must find our own way before we can be happy in a relationship. Only once we have become strong, independent women can we let ourselves become part of an "us" definition.

In stark contrast, the main character in the Twilight series, Bella, completely loses herself in her boyfriends. She has very little definition of self, and crumbles to pieces when Edward leaves, feeling that she is nothing without him. I remember reading the series and becoming more and more enraged and disgusted by her behavior, especially as she moves away from Edward, and instead of getting to know herself, immediately begins to define herself in terms of Jacob.

I must say, it was brilliant on the part of the author to create Bella as a blank canvas. She is incredibly easy to relate to, particularly for the teens and young adult women who were the target audience. I've heard many young women comment, "Oh, Bella is just like me!" Because her only true characteristic is her clumsiness, she is a blank screen onto which any reader can project herself.

Unfortunately, I feel Twilight has given many women in their early twenties a very distorted view of relationships. These women see the men in their lives in an unhealthy way. They lose themselves in their love, will do nearly anything to maintain the love, and collapse completely when that love is lost. My hope is that most young women will eventually learn how to be in a relationship without this happening. That they will learn to cultivate healthy images of themselves and grow into independent women who are with a partner because they choose to be, not because they need a partner to define themselves. In the meantime, I see many young women whose lives are falling apart for very little reason, other than the role model they were shown at a crucial stage of life was (in my opinion) seriously lacking in integrity, self worth, and confidence.

The Power of...

Vinegar!

I'm often surprised when I hear someone doesn't have vinegar in their house. I'm not really sure how a household survives without three ingredients: coconut oil, baking soda, and vinegar. We use copious amounts of all three around here. I could spend all day extolling the uses of white vinegar, but today I'll just talk about one: restoring cast iron.

I found a cast iron pan outside a friend's house recently that was left by the previous renters. It was in terrible shape - covered in rust and dirt. I did some trolling on Pinterest to see the best way to restore it, and was saddened by the frequency with which I was reading "oven cleaner." I won't even use that stuff on my oven, so I'm certainly not going to use it on a pan that will be in direct contact with my food. I finally ran across a blog which suggested soaking the pan in white vinegar. I put it in and let it sit, and suddenly it started fizzing. A few hours later, I could see sheets of black yuck lifting off. When I took the pan out of the vinegar, the rust came right off with a wire brush. The following pictures show my progress over the past week or two. Most of the information I gathered from a blog called www.biscuitsandsuch.com.
The pan after letting the first area soak. The top is how it looked after I
scrubbed the loose, flaky rust off.
Wow. 
Still needs a little work, but it's pretty amazing for a $3 gallon
 of white vinegar and very little elbow grease.

After all the scrubbing and soaking. 
I put some oil in it on the grill to help remove the last of the rust in the corners.

Sitting next to her new buddy, just after the first seasoning.

Happy re-birth day, cast iron!


Monday, July 22, 2013

Truth

Truth is a fickle thing. It's hardly absolute. It can change for someone as his or her perception changes.  Truth seems open to interpretation. Two people involved in the same situation may have very different truths. Neither person is right or wrong, since truth is influenced by emotion and circumstance.

This is something that is seen a lot in police work and in psychiatry. When police arrive on scene, they rush to gather factual information before our brains have time to put that information into the context of our life. Once we have time to process, the truth is tainted by our experiences. What we were certain about, we are suddenly unsure of. Psychiatrists see this truth-bending in the forms of repression, false memory, and escapism. Truths are so ugly or painful they need to be retold in a different way, or simply forgotten.

Sometimes in painful situations, your version of the truth must change to protect yourself. For your healing, your sanity, and your peace of mind, your truth morphs. The truths you never before saw suddenly come to light, and truths you knew for certain fall away, becoming lies or just plain forgotten facts. Treading through the remains of a painful situation means picking up partial truths and lies told to protect. It means traversing an emotion-laden battlefield and trying to piece those truths and lies together. It means reliving sad memories, and learning that happy ones now look like a farce.

Treading through the remains of a painful situation is a journey I'm done with. The future looks bright, and I'll keep my eyes there. The truth is, the past is the past and you can't take it back. No point in wasting energy there.

The Little Things

Whenever POSSLQ is out of town, I miss him terribly. With every thing we've been through this past month, we've drawn closer than we've ever been, and I miss him something fierce already. I miss his presence, but it's surprising how much I miss the little things. Those things that almost go unnoticed until they aren't there anymore. Those things that make you love a person all the more, without even realizing it.

Because E still nurses to sleep, I take care of bedtime by myself, though POSSLQ often comes up just as E's eyelids are sliding closed. For some reason, I often get quite thirsty at bedtime. Whenever I ask for a glass of water at E's bedtime, POSSLQ brings me a glass stuffed full of ice and a straw. I love it. It's so much more than a glass of water - it's a reminder of the early days of nursing, when he was constantly at my side with a glass of ice water. It's a loving gesture that's existed for the past three years, not quite a night time ritual, but definitely a thoughtful action at least once a week.

When E is playing by himself, sometimes he says and does really hilarious things. I know I can look up and catch POSSLQ's eye, and we will share a smile over this funny little person we created. It's amazing how much a glance can convey. Even when we are in a bad place, E's antics can bring us together and make us laugh. He has a talent for diffusing a situation with his silly little boy humor, and when he plays alone he doesn't even know he's being funny - he's just being himself.

When we are driving in the car, POSSLQ will often reach his hand out and place it gently and silently on my knee. It's something he's done for years. I can't remember exactly when it started, but I know how it makes me feel, and he often reaches out even when we've been arguing. It's not exactly a peacemaking gesture in that context, but more of a "this too shall pass." It's a comfort, and often melts my frustration away. His hand rested on my knee most of the trip to the bus station on Friday, and my knee felt awfully cold on the drive home.

POSSLQ has a knack for knowing exactly what I'm craving at the grocery store. He'll go to get dinner supplies, and come back with my favorite ice cream. Right now there's a box of ice cream in the freezer, but I know when that is gone, I'll have to remember to treat myself, or be without ice cream until August.

Often I come home from work and the dishes are washed, or the living area tidied. Many mornings, I come downstairs and the toys that were left strewn about at bedtime are all in their proper places. The last few days, things seem to be exactly as I left them - messy.

After E falls asleep, POSSLQ and I often lay in bed together cuddling or talking. This is a new ritual for us, and I'm missing it now. When we first started dating, we would lay in bed for hours and talk. Somewhere in the middle, that stopped, unless we were arguing. But now, we've reclaimed bedtime for sharing thoughts and experiences from the day, insights into our relationship, and exchanging funny anecdotes. He usually takes care of locking the door, turning out the lights, and switching our bed lamp off at night. The past two mornings, I've woken at 3 AM to see the lamp still burning, and crawling across the empty bed to turn it off makes me a little sad.

It's the little things that make us fall in love, and the little things that keep us in love. It's the little things we miss most when our beloved is away, and the little things we treasure most when they return. I can't wait for the day he returns home - his warm hand on my knee on the car ride home, sharing a smile at some adorable action from E, trading hours of adventures while cuddled with our sleeping boy next to us.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Distraction

In just a few hours, I'll begin my first two week stint as sole parenting figure. Each year, POSSLQ heads north to work and play at a medieval event. For the past six years, this has meant saying goodbye on Saturday, missing him for a week, and eagerly awaiting his return the following Sunday. After E was born, I started providing myself with distraction - the first year, we traveled to Arizona while POSSLQ was in Pennsylvania, and last year, we headed up the road with him and took some time to visit my extended family.  This year, he has the opportunity to attend for two weeks, which I'm glad he's taking advantage of. However, the event sneaked up on us, so here I sit at home, trying to figure out how to entertain myself and my little one for half a month. Thankfully, my sister has moved home, and some of our best friends are here and will help keep me occupied. But my main source of occupation will be knocking out my extensive to-do list.

I've always found that making a list for everyone to see helps me actually accomplish the things on the list, so here goes:

1. Finish the duck enclosure. This is a three step process - finish their house, complete the fencing, and add a drain to the pool. I want to be able to drain the swimming water into the garden eventually, and adding a hose hookup seems pretty simple, I just need to get to the hardware store to do it.

2. Freeze excess veggies. I'm overrun with certain vegetables from our garden right now, and I really need to take the time to freeze them before they go bad. I really dislike wasted produce, especially when I grew it.

3. Finish the bathroom. I'm just going to hang my head in shame and say, it's been six months and there's still blue painter's tape in our bathroom. I need to knock it out, it would only take a few hours.

4. Work on lesson plans for Montessori. I recently started working with a few children E's age, and have been introducing a Montessori inspired school day. I need to work on some of my materials to build vocabulary and engage their minds.

5. Complete some sewing projects. I have a few projects that need to be started or finished, but sewing this time of year is difficult because my sewing closet exudes a heat that rivals the fiery gates of hell. Hopefully I can spend some early morning time working, and maybe some late nights when the heat finally relents.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Turning It Around

Some days, just a few words or actions can turn my whole day around. I tend not to be a person who lets a few negative things turn me sour for the day. I've always tended toward happiness, and I usually find myself more happy than sad. Just like everyone else, though, I have my sour days.

Today was shaping up to be one of those. It's warm and humid, my least favorite weather. I had the worst grocery experience of my life this morning. Long lines, not finding everything on my list, and forgetting my credit cards were the fuel, E tossing all our items out of the cart and carefully dropping our checks one by one on the floor were the ignition. By the time I got us out the door and into the car, I was fuming.

As I walked in the door, arms full of grocery bags, I saw the dishes had been washed while I was away. I chattered on to POSSLQ about my terrible grocery trip while he started putting the food away. E wandered back in, and asked for some "O's" cereal. As I pulled the box from the cabinet and finished up my angry story, E interrupted to say, "Mama, thank you for buying O's at the grocery store." It was so sweet, and made me stop what I was doing to bend down, hug him, and smile. You're welcome, little wise one. How did you know I needed to hear that?

A few moments later, I opened my Facebook account to see an uplifting message. Just two sentences, but in less than two dozen words, my day was turned around. I didn't even realize those words had been missing from my story until they were written. It takes a great deal of character to overcome anger and hurt, to issue an apology, when you have been wronged as well. The situation is complex, and those few words won't heal me, but they certainly help. I hope they help heal the speaker as well. A month ago, when my world first started to crumble, I ran across a quote one day that spoke to my heart. "Forget what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you." 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tokens

Shortly after the bottom fell out of my world, when I was just starting to pick up the pieces, I spent the morning completing a purge of sorts. I gathered up all those things that existed as evidence of life before the change. Photos. Letters. Cards. Journal entries. Trinkets. Gifts. I put them all in a paper bag and labelled it, then set it in the attic to be forgotten. It seemed very symbolic. Like I said, a purge. If I could get all the past out of the way, the future would be apparent.

A day or so later, it became clear that objects only have what meaning you assign them. Putting all those things out of sight didn't really change my perception of my world, my situation. It didn't make some memories less painful, didn't make any truths more bearable. It certainly didn't erase nearly a decade of living and loving. Now, nearly a month later, I'm certain those objects are only objects. They are not symbols of anything, unless I make them so.

What jumpstarts healing is not a purge, but a change of mindset. A determination to show love and compassion and understanding, to be gentle and kind as much as possible, to be true to yourself and your situation. Healing will take a while, I know that. But I won't travel that road alone, and I won't be haunted by the things that are just that, only things.