Friday, September 30, 2005
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Miles and I pulled out of Meadowlark Resort last night, just before seven. I had my old and well-loved "Surfacing" album from Sarah McLachlan providing a soundtrack to a sudden and unforeseen upsurge of melancholy. I wept my way through the first hour, tossed my cookies in a gas station bathroom near Wausau, and then practiced a little emotional stability. I know, I know...me and my glamorous life. I don't mean to make you all feel so uninteresting in your own lives, but ah! Such is the price of greatness!
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I thoroughly enjoyed my morning routine there. The bed was slightly less than comfortable, so I wasn't good for sleep much beyond four. I'd pad out to the living room in my unitard and complete an hour of yoga before jumping in the shower. With the coffee brewing and my banana bread oatmeal bubbling in the microwave, I would open my laptop and just write. It was a quiet, reflective time that I cherished. I watched every sunrise over the lake and felt a keen connection to the life and breath of Mother Earth. Words seemed to flow from me ungoverned by daily complication, and I caught a glimpse of Heaven.
There is a genius to be found in the simple. There is a wisdom to be found when the thinking stops. After nine months of feeling unsure of where to call "home", I found it in myself this week. I only wish my "hello" wasn't so blurry in the backdrop of "goodbye".
Thursday, September 29, 2005
I retrieved the pack from my pocket and tapped it forcefully against my opposite palm. Two emerged and I grabbed both, admitting that I would need the second in no time at all. My mother looked on, disapprovingly.
"You're hitting those kind of hard today, aren't you Sweetie?" I was the only in the vehicle who had this particular craving, so it was only natural that it should make them uneasy...or, so I told myself.
"I've cut back a little," I soothed. My habits, though none of her business, ought not to cause such concern. "I'm down to a pack and a half a day." It was apparent almost immediately that this information soothed most inadequately.
"I just don't know where you picked that up!" she huffed. "It's such a disgusting habit...people just throw the ends wherever they happen to be at the time, with no regard for the rest of the population!"
"I always take care with my disposal."
"OH? You never throw it out of the car window while you're on the highway?" Busted. She's seen me do that.
"Just once in a blue moon...settle down."
"No, I'm concerned. And do you know that there is nothing more offensive than hearing somebody do it over the phone? I HATE that! It makes me want to smack the person until it falls right out of their mouth!"
"I'm not much of a phone person."
"Don't get smart with me—I just don't understand how you developed such an addiction! Your father doesn't do it! I only do it socially!"
"Oh, Mother, please. Enough, already. I have no plans on quitting. Besides, it helps me keep my weight in check."
"Laura, Laura, Laura..." she sighed, defeated. She cringed outwardly and expelled her exasperation just loud enough for me to hear. "GUM!"
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Toward the close of a beautiful day, my family sat beside the charcoal grill as hunger-inducing aromas billowed from beneath the reflective black dome. I sat with them, enjoying the last of the evening's sun, when a frisky bee took interest in my reposed form. He flew close to my ears with a miscreant's zeal, trash-talking his game in an immature buzz of speech.
I ignored him for the most part as he zoomed my head in patience-wearing constancy...but then he got personal. Really, really personal. His attention turned elsewhere on the map of my body while my legs clamped together in response, and if you can't guess where his attention was newly focused then I guess you're just not thinking hard enough.
I bit my lower lip and whimpered. Debbie looked over and laughed at the bee's rapt attention. No good. I looked at Mom, my eyes darting between her and the now fiendishly cackling bee. "You must be sweet," she surmised on a grin. I blinked rapidly and smartly declared to my audience, my audience who clearly did not understand the severity of my plight, that I did NOT desire a bee sting, much less a bee sting THERE. They all giggled and and made merriment of my situation. The difficult part to accept in this story of seeming cruelty, is that I think they were all perfectly sober at the time.
"Must be that damn honey mask..." I muttered in jest, and more to myself than anyone. Laughter halted and the small voice of my aunt Debbie asked why I would apply a honey mask THERE. I looked at her like she was mad, had grown a second head, and was doing cartwheels in harlequin dress. "I wouldn't!" I cried with indignation. I could feel the blush burning across my face, even though I was joking about the honey in the first place. Seriously, though! Honey...THERE! Why, it's terribly absurd!
Then, my embarrassed haze thinned and my thoughts rang true, on course. These poor sober fools have no idea the discord of my mind, the inequity between a thought pattern and its verbal mate. "I would have applied it to to my face," I clarified. From the perplexed looks, I could tell this was strike two.
Obviously needing the dots connected, and who wouldn't, I finished, "...and I practice Yoga?"
Brenda barked her laughter to the tree tops, trying to cloak a snort, as she rocked hyper-actively in her chair. My mother made to hide a smirk of her own and forced decorum as she snickered, "Too much information." And yet, for it being stated as such, the topic did not drop all evening, and certainly not by her hand.
Oh, and for those that care, I managed to survive the evening unscathed, leastwise by bee.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
I sat at the table this morning, enjoying the steam rising from the gulf of my coffee cup. I leaned forward to let its tendrils curl about my face and heard the menacing growl emanating from my stomach. Dubiously, I looked to my oatmeal and knew the coffee would have to wait.
While I spooned the nourishing porridge between my lips, I had a brilliant idea—SPECTACULARLY BRILLIANT! They should make a coffee oatmeal! Coffee and oatmeal together! Get it? It's like having coffee and oatmeal...IN THE SAME BOWL. Talk about magnificence manifested! I eagerly shared my idea with Brenda, the words jumping one over another as they vaulted from my mouth, fresh ideas forming on the spot.
"...AND WE COULD CALL IT COFF-MEAL!" I nearly screamed.
Brenda, who had indulged my enthusiasm until that point, made a V with her eyebrows. "Eh..."
Ok...so the name needs a little work.
Miles has always taken issue with my storing of the baking stone in the cold oven...or the leftover cake in the microwave. I think it creative, and not a little efficient, myself. Where else would a baking stone fit in a sea of right angled bake-ware, after all? And cake...where else are you going to put it? On the cupboard where it will attract an insect audience? In the refrigerator where it will dry out? Or, in the out-of-the-way airtight microwave where it will stay moist and insect free? Besides, we rarely used the microwave.
He berated me from the get-go for these practices. In our very first home together, aside from the bizarre need of mine to scrub the kitchen clean every night, I had to go and store things in the microwave and the oven...what other atrocities would I inflict upon his home life!? In short?—many, but we'll save those nuances for another post.
I was firm on this subject, though. While his mind saw no logic in using the oven, the oven when not in use mind you, as a storage facility, mine saw nothing but. Being that I was in charge of the domesticity of our life, he's managed to live with his discontent for years.
In these years, I've learned that Miles can pick up a programming language just from reading a book. He can supply a fully functional finished product without the slightest inclination of how to start. His intelligence is well noted, even mind boggling. However, his common sense could use a primer...for it is in these years that Miles has never thought to remove the baking stone from the oven before preheating. Never. Not once. His argument begins anew.
And he is frustrated here in Wisconsin, here near my family, because he now sees how it is that I picked up this habit. In my aunts' kitchen, he desires the reheating of his forgotten coffee in the morning, but must set his mug down to pull the cookies or pie from the microwave first. In my mother's kitchen, he sees me lift the stack of cast iron skillets from the top rack before I insert my casserole to heat. He believes it to be madness...he is outnumbered. He is ignored.
I'll never change, being common sensical enough to realize that the day I take organizational advice from the messiest man alive is the day I need to find myself a comfy insane asylum to live out the rest of my days. What he probably doesn't realize, is that his children will grow up thinking that microwaves and ovens are everywhere-accepted as storage facilities in their spare time. He will always be outnumbered and he will never bend. It will be a very long marriage for my very stubborn husband.
Monday, September 26, 2005
This is what the pre-dawn light revealed at the onset of this day. I watched in appreciation from the padded seat at the bay window. "This is bliss," I thought as I sipped my coffee and inhaled the serenity of the sleeping house, the sleeping land. Morning is fresh and clean, and there is no better time of day.
The chipmunks chased one another, squirrels flourished their bushy tails, and soprano chirps filled the barren pockets of silence. I watched as a bald eagle flew over the lake, and so ran for my camera. Of course, by the time I got out there, the eagle was back in hiding, but I couldn't resist a picture of the ethereal morning.
Actually, it is Brenda's—but I've stolen it, you see. I first applied this scrumptiously aromatic bliss last February, and fought the urge to use a rubber spatula and my tongue to clean the beauty treatment from my visage. It isn't made for eating, but you could've fooled my nose...and she isn't so easily deceived.
I brought a bottle with me for this trip; the impenetrability of the hard water around here is legendary. Last night, I applied a layer as we watched Primal Fear. I situated myself on the couch, in plain view of my husband. Miles looked at me in a long and scrutinizing gaze and offered a dual comment/question, obviously unsure of which he wanted it to be. "You have a mask on...or something?"
I looked at him, thinking thousands of sarcastic replies all at once, but my heart wasn't in it. Not...really. "Nope," I replied, pretending to be unaware of the goop on my face. Meanwhile, my stomach growled at direction from my olfactory gland, which was channeling quite the articulate little description of the foodstuff thought to be imminent.
"If you don't have a mask on, you look a little sick," Debbie added from her chair.
Brenda looked over and added, "Naw, she looks fine. Skin like porcelain. Porcelain!" They all shrugged and returned to the movie. Five minutes later, I removed the mask and my tongue's temptation with the broad swipes of a soft cloth. I returned to my place on the couch feeling girlish and attractive after the skin nourishing treatment. Brenda lolled her head back over to me and cringed. "Do you have a mask on?"
Sunday, September 25, 2005
We are there now, sitting across the table from one another. Miles is in heaven, slightly kid-in-a-candyshopish. I admit to my own rapture upon seeing the Google search screen illuminate my screen. The sad part? We'd scarcely been bereft of cyberspace twenty-four hours.
That first taste of internet-honey mellowed me, my shoulders rolling back in euphoric ease. This contained the symptom-set befitting a potent fix—oh the power of the world's information at your fingertips! It is a rush, to be certain.
Miles, obviously [only to me] less than content last night, took several, solemn, long walks. This is a stark change of pace for him...and forced relaxation when you have a million things on your "to do" list is almost never pleasant. Guilt rarely is...unless, that is, it tastes like chocolate.
He was brighter this morning, perhaps the promise of the World Wide Web ignited his enthusiastic flame, and he had a bounce to his step. Here we sit. We've been here over 3 hours, and they close shop in two more. I am bored stiff. The internet is tasting less like honey and more like stale pastry as the moments pass, yet, Miles is smiling. He looks lighter, freer...happy about the progress inflicted upon his task list.
So, I wait and hope that we aren't causing a rift in the plans back at the base, and let him indulge. Meanwhile, life's little quandaries have begun to occupy my mind. For instance, How do they tell caffeinated beans from decaffeinated beans?
Do the caffeinated beans jump around as if on a trampoline while the decaffeinated ones recline in front of mini TVs with bowls of potato chips balanced on their little tummies? I suppose I could look it up, but it is more entertaining to think of couch potato beans than to know the truth.
It's all about Fiber in my world. [Notice the proper nounage I granted the nutrient.] There are so many cancers that one cannot prevent, so why not focus your energy one the ones one can, after all? Take colon cancer, for instance.
Have you seen that commercial (I'm big on commercials these days) where the lady is eating (and quite unmannerly) small forests of broccoli, carrots, and apples just to get in her recommended daily value [25g] of Fiber—the message being something like "take my fiber supplement or be a glutton...your choice entirely"? It's b.s., all of it. This is one time, perhaps the only time in history, where I think a commercial was exaggerating in order to sell something.
Substitute half your white flour with whole wheat, for starters. Eat the recommended nine servings fruits and veggies a day—a serving is considered to be a half of a cup. There are wheat pastas out there, you know, along with brown rice—the difference in flavor is negligible. Choose whole wheat breads (and make sure that the first ingredient listed is 100% whole wheat flour!) instead of white, or better yet: rye or pumpernickel. Use ground flax seed in your recipes, and buddy up to oatmeal in the morning. Oh, and you must remember this last one until the day you die: FIBER ONE© CEREAL IS A SELF-SUSTAINING WONDER.
Have it as a cereal...with just a half of a cup, you get over half of the RDA of fiber. Sprinkle it on fruit parfaits, ice cream, and tarts. Add it to stews...it dissolves completely. Lastly, sprinkle it on soups in place of saltine crackers. It was in using the last of these suggestions that I received the all too familiar forehead pucker from Debbie. I was granted a similar look from her months ago when I added a dab of peanut butter to my oatmeal—I have my good friend Rhonda to thank for that idea (And it is delectable, particularly if you like peanut butter...and oatmeal.)—and my dear aunt has been suspicious of my eating habits ever since.
We had chili, deliciously beany chili last night, and, what goes better with chili than saltine crackers? I'll tell you what does!—Fiber One© cereal! Debbie peered down from the opposite end of the table as I made my addition and her face looked like it had a run-in with Picasso.
Brenda says that you can tell when Debbie's mad because her nose disappears in her contorted purple face...her looks of dismay are likewise noseless, but with less purple. I rolled my shoulders back and prepared to defend myself staunchly as Mom jumped in and patted her hand, intoning, "It adds roughage." I exhaled and nodded so vigorously to my defense that I think even my gray matter turned green.
Debbie looked bewildered, more than slightly disgusted, and said, "I've never seen that done before."
I was quick on the uptake with, "It's a serving suggestion on their website!" Because, you know, if it's published on the internet, it must be normal. Debbie dropped the subject and returned to her own chili muttering, bewildered, about the sanity of her niece. Her forehead looked ready for a kiss all evening.
It looked normal, relatively speaking of course, by this morning.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
I think Miles and I are the last of our party to hit the road, so we should manage to be fashionably late, as always. This vacation means to much to us...this time we have with my mother. This is time we weren't supposed to have. I appreciate the opportunity.
Also though, I appreciate the sacrifice that my husband is making, being separated from the digital world that needs so much of his attention...and yet he is doing this for me and for my family. He is a very selfless man.
So the toothbrushes are packed, always a significant sign of departure in the Phillips residence, and the gas tank is full. I think it's time for a journey Northward, don't you?
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