Sunday, November 13, 2016

Do Over


To enlist. To slam the door impulsively on the past, to shed everything down to my last bit of clothing, to break the pattern of my life - that complex design I had been weaving since birth with all its dark threads, its unexplainable symbols set against a conventional background of domestic white and schoolboy blue, all those tangled strands which required the dexterity of a virtuoso to keep it flowing - I yearned to take giant military shears to it, snap! bitten off in an instant, and nothing left in my hands but spools of khaki which could weave only a plain, flat, khaki design, however twisted they might be.
Oh, how this quote speaks to me. I am certain that, at least on some level, this is why I enlisted in the military at 17. I enjoy moving, not only for the new experiences, places, and people, but because I have the constant opportunity to remake myself. I can, if I so choose and have the discipline, toss aside the flotsam and detritus that is floating about my personality and life.

Note: I think that one of the wonderful things about starting an active reading practice is that I'm also creating the practice of journaling in a conscience way. I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?

When I was a young mother, after Gabriel was born, but before Xavier was born, I had a weight problem. My weight problem was that I was too skinny. No matter how much I ate, I couldn't gain weight. I was skinny in the way that causes you to have to get a weight waiver for being underweight, even though you have DD breasts. I was skinny in the way that you could buy the smallest size clothes in the store and still have them hang off you. I have a child like that, 6 feet tall and 135 pounds.

Anyway, I was complaining to Nonnie, my maternal grandmother, about this weight problem. She told me that Grandma Cat, her mother-in-law, had hated being skinny. People made fun of her for it. When she put on a lot of weight, my Grandma Cat refused to lose weight because she was so happy to not be skinny anymore.

You might ask yourself where I'm going with this story, but I suspect you already know. Before I got pregnant with Xavier, I weighed about 95 pounds. After I had him, I weighed 120. It was glorious. I weight a lot more than that, now, but I'm not unhappy. Certainly, I'd like to get back in better health. After my hysterectomy in April, my get back in shape train got completely sidetracked. But, honestly, I'm happy carrying a little extra weight. I hated being skinny.

So, why did I think of this? I have just started reading A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas, recommended to me by a friend. I love it when friends know what I like to read. The main character absolutely adores food, and she reminds me of myself in that regard. I adore food, love it almost as much as I love my family. I like all kinds of food, and like to try new foods. In fact, if you want to prove your love for me, the best way to do that is to give me food. So, when the main character is described thus, "And Charlotte, whose one true love was food..." I fell in love. How can I not love a character who is both extremely intelligent and loves food?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Geek-A-Long

Knit-A-Longs are very popular in the online knitting world. Some yarn stores and knitting groups host them, too. Lattes and Llamas hosts a very special knit-a-long to please the geeks in the knitting world while helping Child's Play Charity I discovered the geek-a-long in 2014, close to the end of it. I started to make the 2015 blanket, but found that the blocks didn't interest me enough. This year, when I found out the theme was going to be video games, I decided to make a blanket for each of the boys. I started out well, staying on top of the blocks as they were released. Then, I had a hysterectomy. Then, we started getting our house ready to sell. Then, we moved... You get the picture. I'm a little behind. Here it is November and I'm only halfway done with a year long project I had planned as Christmas gifts. Ah well. I think I can still get the blocks done in time for Christmas, but they'll have to wait until after Christmas to be joined. We'll see. I thought I'd show you some of my favorite blocks.

We're big fans of Plants vs Zombies here.

Isn't he adorable?

Mortal Kombat

Who didn't die of dysentery during the '80s?

Batman- need I say more?

This is what I have done of Xavier's blanket so far.

All the blocks I've completed.

I'm working on Duck Hunt, now.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Decisions

As I said in yesterday's post, Gary and I are both returning to school full time in January. Our younger two boys actually started public school in September. With Gabriel in college as well, this means that our entire family will be in school full time come January. Also, it means Gary and I will be college sweethearts.

But... It means I have to finally make a decision about what I want to major in. I am considering a liberal studies degree because that would allow me to pursue more than one path. I may even do that and add another major. We'll see.

Right now, I'm debating between Art Education, Native American and Indigenous Peoples Studies, Spanish, Art, English Communications, and adding Sociocultural Anthropology minor.

I think I can throw the Art Education, Spanish, and English Communications into a liberal studies degree. I can't be sure until I see my advisor on the 21st. In the meantime, I have to figure out all the choices I have and prioritize them.

I once had someone tell me that students shouldn't be allowed to skip grades because they were to immature to decide what they wanted to study in college if they did so. This, because I skipped a grade and dropped out of college because I couldn't make up my mind. The Navy was the right place for me at 17, though. And, obviously, my varied interests haven't reduced in number. Well, I'm not looking for a degree in accounting anymore. I did add art ed, which I'd never considered before a couple years ago. I'd also love to get a degree in fiber arts, but my school doesn't offer it. Maybe, after Dominic graduates from high school, Gary and I can go get our Masters degrees somewhere that offers fiber arts. ;)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Quote of the Week- A Separate Peace

I read A Separate Peace by John Knowles my freshman year of high school. I absolutely hated it. As a move to expand my mind, I decided to revisit it. So far, I still hate it. However, I can appreciate parts of it now that I could not then.

Everyone has a moment in history which belongs particularly to him. It is the moment when his emotions achieve their most powerful sway over him, and afterward when you say to this person "the world today" or "life" or reality" he will assume that you mean this moment, even if it is fifty years past. The world, through his unleashed emotions, imprinted itself upon him, and he carries the stamp of that passing moment forever.
For me, this moment- four years is a moment in history- was the war... American is not, never has been, and never will be what the songs and poems call it, a land of plenty. Nylon, meat, gasoline, and steel are rare. There are too many jobs and not enough workers. Money is very easy to earn but rather hard to spend, because there isn't very much to buy... The war will always be fought very far from America and it will never end. Nothing in America stands still for very long, including the people, who are always either leaving, or on leave. People in America cry often...
There are just tiny fragments of pleasure and luxury in the world, and there is something unpatriotic about enjoying them. All foreign lands are inaccessible except to servicemen; they are vague, distant, and sealed off as though behind a curtain of plastic. The prevailing color of life in America is a dull, dark green called olive drab. That color is always respectable and always important. Most other colors risk being unpatriotic.
It is this special America, a very untypical one I guess, an unfamiliar transitional blur in the memories of most people, which is the real America for me.

This passage, and I left some of it out for brevity's sake, hit home to me today. My grandmother always said that a person reaches a certain age and never grows older in their mind. I thought that John Knowles did a spectacular job describing that phenomenon. Then, as he went on to describe the world of the main character, it felt as though he was describing America today. Certainly, not the lack of goods and other things to spend our money on, but the never ending war, the idea that we are not all that we claim to be.

And, perhaps this is just my perception of the America that we live in, as he says in that last sentence. Today, Gary turned in his active duty ID card in favor of a retiree's ID. In August, we left Kentucky to move to Colorado. Our world has been turned from a sedate olive drab to a kaleidoscope of color. There are no more leavings or being on leave. There is only us, immersed in all the colors that exist in the world. I can only hope that my moment in history is yet to come.
 
 
 

Monday, May 2, 2016

It was a Hail of a Storm

Yesterday, we had a fantastic thunderstorm. It was here and gone in 5 minutes, but it left a large amount of hail and flooding behind.


If you've never been to our house, it's hard to appreciate the flooding. Our driveway, to the right is flooded. Water is pouring over the driveway because it's not fitting in the storm drain. This is the first time in 9 years of flash floods that's happened. Our trees to the left were swamp land. In the background, you can see the aftermath of the storm, the 'steam' coming off the wet ground. Again, this happened in approximately 5 minutes.



In hail storms, our deck always collects a lot of it. It just pours off the roof onto the deck. This time was exciting because it was pouring off the roof, and blowing from the other direction.


All dogs like to eat ice, right?


Have you ever really looked at hail? It's quite beautiful when it's not causing damage. It looks like geodes. Gary brought these in for me to see. If you watch the video below, you can hear him explaining to Dominic how hail is formed. In this picture, you can see the multiple layers representing the many times those ice crystals were thrown back up into the clouds.


video

And then there was Bear. She loved the hail. When she was younger, she was terrified of thunder, but seems to have gotten over that fear completely, for which I'm thankful. We have a lot of thunder storms here. Perhaps that's why she's gotten over it. Who knows. Anyway, she loved snow, and seems to think hail is pretty fantastic.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

On Forgiveness

When I was 13, I became a peace loving hippy. That's what Gary calls me, a hippy.

But, in 1999, my older brother drowned less than a year after getting out of prison. The pain and grief was immediate and inconceivable. In 2000, we moved back to Oklahoma, and that pain and grief expanded as I realized that the church I had grown up in was making it impossible for me to re-integrate into my family.


Then, 9/11 happened. That grief and pain exploded into anger and fear. And for eight years, I rode a wave of grief, anger, and fear. During that time, I had my remaining three grandparents die, my father died, and a year after him, a beloved uncle died.

We moved to Kentucky, and my best friend, the love of my life, began to travel. He was gone as much as he was home. And during his first deployment after moving here, he was gone over the month of April. The April that was at the end of a line of Aprils in which close family members had died. My emotions took over, and subconsciously, I wrote him off as dead. When he came home, I was already in the depths of grief. I didn't know how to turn that around. Of course I was thrilled that he was home, but I hated him at the same time. And that, that hatred for the man that I loved more than life itself, that broke apart the shell of grief, pain, anger, and fear that I'd been living inside for ten long years. It allowed the light that had always been present, but buried deep beneath the darkness to shine through once more.


It truly was a breaking. I had to work hard to stitch together the pieces of my soul. I had to reach deep inside myself and find that light and let it shine again. And then, after all that work to repair myself, to remember who I am and what I believe, I had to forgive myself. That may well have been the hardest part of all.

A friend recently asked the question, "What would you tell your 21 year old self?" She got many answers, most of them about dreaming and believing in yourself. At 21, I was one of the biggest dreamers I've ever met. If I could tell my 21 year old self one thing, it would be, "Don't let fear and grief change you. Hold on to yourself. And, if all else fails, forgive yourself in the end."

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