Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Jack's backpack, which he carried from preschool until fifth grade. I tried to toss it in the trash, but the Man was appalled I would even consider such a thing. And you wonder why decluttering my attic is such a problem.

I need to make this quick. I have a haircut appointment in forty-five minutes and I mustn't be late, especially since I cut my own bangs last week and did a remarkably bad job of it. It's become hard to look in the mirror.

It's 10 o'clock on Tuesday morning. The Man has gone to work, and Jack and Will are still asleep. This is the first summer that Will has slept in. As we know, sleeping means growing. It won't be long before I'm the shortest person in this house.

Right now, I'm trying to fight off a cold. I'm supposed to go visit my mom tomorrow, but she has approximately ten white blood cells right now, so I can't go if I'm the least bit sick. Will had a cold last week, and I can feel it coming after me, so I'm drinking lots of tea and taking zinc lozenges every two hours. I feel like I have 1/8th of a cold. I'll probably put off my trip until Thursday, just to be safe.

So, my mom has had one round of chemo and is home from the hospital, though she could go back again if she develops a fever. I'm very sad to report that after some initial good news, we got bad news--my mom has Stage IV Lymphoma, and there are cancer cells in her bone marrow. There is still hope the cancer can be tamed into remission, but it will be a hard fight. Please keep praying!

In the midst of all of this, life, to nobody's surprise, goes on. People get haircuts, boys spend too much time on the computer, dinner gets made. On Saturday, the Man picked up Jack from camp. Good thing Jack called on Friday to ask what time he was getting picked up the next day--we had planned to pick him up Sunday. We can't figure out why, since every bit of documentation says clearly Pick Up Your Child on July 27th and Not a Second Later. We're old; we get confused.

So Jack arrived home an inch taller, relatively clean, nails recently clipped (I dreamed a couple of weeks ago that he never clipped his nails at camp, and when we picked him up they were like Cher's.) It's clear he had a great time, because he actually told us stuff that happened. He actually shared with us. Amazing! And then he went upstairs and we haven't seen him since.

Will is getting over his cold, and I hope to take him to the pool today. It's beautiful outside, sunny and in the low '80s. A good day to swim, and if you're me, lounge in the shade, fight off a cold, hope that everyone gets well soon.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A List for a Post

Will's friend Jackson going off the high dive.

Things I've been thinking about, in no particular order ...

1. Theologian Sam Wells says that if you can't make it happy, make it beautiful. I can't be happy about my mom's cancer, but I can knit her soft, peach-colored socks and send up prayers of gratitude that she doesn't feel sick in spite of the chemo, and that her friends, family and church folks are gathering around her. I can call her on the phone every day and tell her that I love her.

2. My mom could live to be ninety-nine, and I'll still be sad when she dies.

3. I hope my mom lives to be ninety-nine.

4. A question I need to ask myself every day: What feeds me? I've been going to Weight Watchers, and a couple of weeks ago the meeting leader asked us, "How many times have you eaten something and then thought, 'That wasn't worth it'?" For me, the answer is: too many times to count. I've eaten junky stuff just because I wanted the comfort of food, and then realized that junky food doesn't comfort me.

But a sliced homegrown tomato with basil leaves, mozzarella and a splash of balsamic vinegar? That feeds me.

And it's not just about food. I'm trying to get better about not surfing the Internet when I'm bored, and picking up a book instead. I'm always complaining I don't have time to read, but maybe that's because I waste too much time checking Facebook or Pinterest or seeing if any interesting articles have been posted on Slate. And afterwards I feel the same way I feel when I've eaten a stale supermarket doughnut. Undernourished. A little bit ill.

What feeds me is good talk with friends or the Man, walks with Travis, poetry, time in the garden, good books. And homegrown tomatoes, of course.

5. I'm ready for Jack to come home.

6. There's a part of my driveway where the trees on each side form a canopy with their branches. I don't know why this makes me so happy, but it does.

7. I know the Royal Family is mostly make-believe, and we have no idea what these people are really like, but the pictures of Kate and William holding their baby are so lovely, you can't help but feeling like a tender aunt, wishing them all the best as they start their brand new family.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Summer Report

 Watching the Durham Bulls from the Press Box.

Mostly this summer had been good, but it's been weird.

Summer, in my book, is almost always weird.

Right now the weirdness lies in the following things:

1. My mom is undergoing aggressive chemo as of yesterday. She has leukemia. Formerly, she had Chronic Lymphatic Leukemia, but now she's got the acute kind. The good news is, her doctors think that she's got a good chance of beating it. The bad news is, well, she's got cancer. If you're the praying type, please pray for her!

2. Jack has been at camp for two weeks, and will be there for one more. I never know how I'll feel about things until they happen. Before Jack left, I wondered: Would I miss him? Would it be a relief not having him glare at me all the time? Would the house feel emptier without him? The answers: Yes, yes, and yes.

I'm happy to report that he's have a great time at camp. It's an academic camp being held on the campus of Wake Forest University, and Jack's course is Mock Trial. He says the kids are nice, the class (which meets Monday through Saturday, 9-4) is interesting, and the food is good. I'm pretty sure he'd be happy to stay there the rest of the summer, but we need him home, so home he comes next week.

3. One of my best friends, the oft-mentioned-on-this-blog Danielle, is moving. It's throwing me off-balance to think of her gone. Fortunately, she's only going to Charlotte, a two-hour trip, so it's not like we'll never see her again, but still. And to add insult to injury, she's taking one of Jack's best friends, her son Aidan, with her. So it's rocking our world a little bit.

4. I haven't been quilting very much, or blogging very much, if you've noticed, or doing some of the stuff that keeps me grounded. Mostly it's because I've got a lot of writing projects going on right now, including the revision of a novel and the documentary project I've been contributing to, Bull City Summer. Now, I love to write, but the Bull City Summer project is pushing me out of my comfort zone. In a good way, I think, but they keep making me go interview people. It's scary!

5. Just the general weirdness of summer, with its lack of routine, and funky weather (we've had tons of rain--I wish I could send some to my friends out West). Overall, Will's been doing well, but I think if school started next week, he wouldn't complain too much. Overall, I've been doing well, and I would complain if school started next week because I'm enjoying my slow mornings. But I'll be happy about the return of routine when it comes.

The good things: I feel good! No bad gut! I've tried some new recipes that have worked really well. I haven't had a bout of the summer blues (yet). I'm walking a lot. I've been hanging out with my dear friend Amy at the pool and having wonderful, long talks. We don't get to hang out a ton during the rest of the year, so our poolside chats are a real treat for me.

How's your summer been? I think I'll go read your blog and find out!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Back from Vacation!

I bet you didn't even know I was gone! A lot of times I post when we go to the beach, but this year I got very paranoid about letting the world know we weren't at home. Not that I think you, my dear friend, would spread the word to local robbers and bad guys, but sometimes robbers and bad guys read blogs. Okay, probably no robbers or bad guys read this blog, but, well, sometimes we're not entirely rational creatures, now are we?

Plus, I spent a lot of time at the beach napping. Or else rocking on the front porch of our rental house. Here's what my view looked like:

I like a beach house with a front yard. We were on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, on Ocracoke Island, and the beach itself, the part of it where you can actually hang out, is about a mile up the road from where we stay. The nice thing about Ocracoke--or one of the many nice things about Ocracoke--is there are lots of trees. There are also hidden family graveyards, and one really good bookstore, called Books to Be Red. We can't figure out why it's not Books to Be Read. Maybe they started out as a distributor of Marxist tracts?

Isn't that a great old tree? All the trees on the island get beat up by the wind, and are quite beautiful and spooky.

So, anyway, we had a nice time. There's always at least one day on vacation where you wonder why you ever had children, because this trip would sure be a lot more enjoyable without them, but for the most part the boys were friendly and fun. We played a lot of Scrabble and ate a lot of pimento cheese (well, not Will--pimento cheese is waaay outside of Will's comfort zone, as are most foods with coloration or flavor).

We came home Sunday to lots and lots of rain. Big floods over in Chapel Hill, The creek she's a-rising, Mama sort of stuff. My garden is looking pretty beat down, and the dang squirrels are eating the green tomatoes. Plus, the mulch around my flowers is starting to smell sort of bad. But the green beans are doing great!

And the rain continues. It's supposed to go away tomorrow, at which time I'm going to hang strips of fabric soaked in peppermint oil on the tomato cages. Will read that keeps squirrels away. From what I know of squirrels, nothing keeps them away besides a shotgun, but maybe we'll get lucky.

There was a statue of St. Francis in the garden of our beach house, so Will and I started making offerings to his little bowl. We found a couple of plastic gems and a snail shell, so we put those in, and on our last day we put one of the plastic red-eye tree frogs we keep in the car (because you never know when they'll come in handy while driving) into the bowl. We hope he'll still be there next year, as we plan to be there next year, too.