Baby Therapy


Ahhhhhhhhh.

There is nothing on earth quite as therapeutic as rocking a little baby.  The silky cheek resting against yours, the sweet powdery baby smell of his skin, the impossibly delicate brush of his fingers on your neck.

Life goes flying by us, zooming beyond the speed of light or sound or love or thought.  We hold a tiny one in our arms, closing our eyes to breathe in the tenderness, and before we can even release that breath, the baby is a woman, tall and strong and smart. Married and ready to hold a baby of her own.  We cuddle a toddler close to our chest, one hand on his sturdy little back, another feeling his velvety curls.  We rock and we dream and when we open our eyes, he is a man, independent and solid and standing on his own two capable feet.

We’re left off balance, blinking in surprise.  Didn’t I just fall in love with that little one?  Wasn’t it only a day ago that I first held her, kissed her, tucked the softest blanket around her?

As my children have grown, I have begun to wonder if I’ve lost my place in the world of babies.  If perhaps I have lost that special loving touch that once made me the only comfort for those I loved so much.  I started to feel that I’d been passed by, and that it was simply no longer my turn to rest my cheek on the head of a sleeping baby.

I remember a day, almost eleven years ago.  A young colleague of mine brought her new baby boy to a meeting at school. I took him from her arms, and settled into a rocking chair in the meeting room. As the baby relaxed and turned his head to rest against my shoulder, I felt all of the tensions and worries of the day drain away from me. My arms still knew how to cradle him, how to rest one hand under his bottom and one behind his warm head.  I rocked and I hummed, and the little baby boy settled into the comfort of my touch.  I felt renewed. I closed my eyes, and breathed in his sweet baby smell, and I felt his tiny fingers reaching out to me.

But time has passed swiftly once again.  Now that beautiful baby is a tall handsome fifth grader with a mischievous grin and the brightest blue eyes.  He is in my class this year, and I am getting to know him as a student.  That sweet baby memory is something that I have to keep as my secret, so that I can be his teacher.

Its been a long time now since I have held and rocked a baby.  Oh, every now and then I get a few minutes with a grand niece or nephew, or with the baby of a colleague or the grandchild of a friend.  But I have been feeling myself getting rusty once again, wondering if I would still know how to comfort and soothe, how to snuggle and hug, how to hold a baby in my aging loving arms.

Today my friends came to visit, brining their beautiful three month old son.  He fit right into my arms, and my hands and wrists knew what to do. My back knew how to curve around him, and my cheek was drawn to his hard, smooth head as if by magic.  My body remembered the rhythm of baby rocking, back and forth, from right to left, from foot to foot in a gentle, intuitive dance.

I closed my eyes, and breathed in his sweet baby smell. I felt his tiny gentle fingertips, so lightly brushing my skin.

There is nothing on earth, no pill, no drug, no wine so potent as the therapeutic effect of rocking a little baby.59

It isn’t fair.


It just isn’t fair.

Life, I mean.

It isn’t fair at all.

Great good fortune comes to those who have done nothing to deserve it, while sorrow and pain come to so many who have done everything right.

This weekend finds me puzzling over the random effects of fate.  I find myself swaying back and forth between sadness and joy.

Life is just so unfair.

On Friday afternoon, I found out that one of the students from my very first classroom died unexpectedly at the age of 17.   I was shocked, but not surprised.  I didn’t know him well. He was a part of my life for only nine short months, but he made a huge impact.

He was a boy whose intellect and mature vocabulary set him apart from his fifth grade peers, but whose heart and soul made him just like every other child.  I remember him as argumentative, assertive, defiant.  I remember him as tender and caring and sad. I remember that he was struggling on many levels, to find his place in the world.

He once brought a huge bag of popcorn to school for his snack. “People like popcorn,”, he told me seriously. “They’ll like me if I give them some.” He was so eager to find friends. He simply didn’t know how to go about it gracefully.

And I remember him on a class field trip.  I had been stricken with my first bout of vertigo a few weeks before the trip, and had been struggling to feel secure in my footing ever since.  On our field trip, this little eleven year old boy noticed me running my hand along the wall to feel more steady on my feet.  “Put your hand on my arm”, he told me seriously. “If you hold onto me, you won’t feel dizzy.”   I remember us walking the streets of Concord, Mass, looking at each historic site. I was explaining the history to the kids, keeping them engaged and organized.  And all the while, my left hand was resting on the forearm of this defiant, angry boy, who stood like an anchor for me, keeping me on my feet.

Now he is gone.

I don’t know why.  I never spoke to him after he left my classroom and moved out of state with his Mom. I have no way of knowing what difficulties he faced or what struggles he endured. I have no way of knowing how he came to such a terribly early end.

I just know that life is NOT FAIR.

Last night, after I came home from school and talked about the student who left us far too soon, I curled up in my bed and fell asleep.  An hour or so later, I was awakened by the sound of a text coming in on my phone.  I reached for my glasses, and propped myself up on an elbow.

“Mom!”, I read, “I got a free ticket to the Freshgrass show in town tonight! And your favorite band, the Duhks, is performing!”  It was a message from my son, a boy as tender and caring as my student. “Thanks for showing me such great tunes!”, my boy enthused. “Love you!”

Life is so unfair.

Today I went to my mom’s house.  We were planning to have lunch with our former neighbors, our dear friends from many years ago.  The mother of the family is one of my Mom’s oldest and dearest friends. Her daughter is one of mine.  My sister was joining us, and we were all geared up for a “ladies lunch” reunion.

It was wonderful. We laughed, we reminisced, we told funny stories from all of our lives.  We talked about the days when my friend and my sister and I were very young.  We remembered birthdays, and Halloweens and funny Christmas decorations. We laughed about our fixation on the Beatles, back in 1965, and our crushes on the local high school athletes.

We hugged and we smiled and we got a little teary.

On the long ride home, I thought about what it means to be a 58 year old woman who is blessed enough to have had lunch with a friend from first grade. I thought about what it means to have lived as long and as well as I have. To have a husband who is healthy and happy and still by my side. I thought about my children, so happy and whole and safe in lives that they love.

And I come back to my original thought.

It just isn’t fair.

Me, Joanne, and Liz. Three lucky women.

Me, Joanne, and Liz.
Three lucky women.

I am blessed. I am lucky.  I am not in any way deserving of the good fortune that continues to find me.

And I am sharply and sadly aware that others are not so lucky.  I don’t know why some of us are here for such a fleeting time.

I just know that it really, truly, isn’t fair.

September


The first cool day since May.

The sun has been shining all day, but the blue sky is covered in lacy clouds.  I can smell the leaves, the dark brown warm smell of them on the damp grass.  The only flowers left are the cheery black-eyed-Susans and the soft pink “Autumn Joy” sedum.

The last few cherry tomatoes are still ripening, and a handful of carrots still rest in the garden bed.

It was cold last night. The air that snuck in the window was crisp and sharp. We pulled our blankets up.

I can feel the winter out there, ready to pounce.

It’s mid-afternoon.  The sun is as high as it will be.  I am out on the deck, thinking that it is time to put away the hummingbird feeder.  I sit with my feet on an empty chair, my elbow resting on the outdoor table.  Soon enough, we’ll fold up the big green market umbrella, wrap it in vinyl and store it in the shed. Soon enough, we’ll fold up the chairs and put them away safely for the winter.  We’ll cover the kettle grill, and move it closer to the house. Soon the tiki torches, citronella candles and mosquito coils will be stored in the basement until next spring.

Soon.

But not yet.

I sit outside, in the bright sun’s light.  I tilt my chin up, to feel it on my cheeks and neck. I feel it as much as I see it through my closed eyelids, pressing gently, caressing and soft.

The breeze is cool, and the air smells of leaf mold instead of hay.  But I can still feel the sun, feel it pouring over me and coating me in light.  I sit very still. I roll up my sleeves.  I wait.

I feel myself pulling in the last lingering energy of the summer sun.  I will try to hold onto it, to store it deep inside me, in the marrow of my bones.  I’ll try to commit it to memory, so that I can pull it up again when I need it.  When I need it in January, as the cold winds blow, and the icy rains fall.  As I wrap myself in wool and fleece and try to get through the long gray days.

September is a chance to stock up on everything that is good, and to store it away for the dark days.  Tomatoes and carrots and apples and sunlight and the sound of ocean waves.  Weddings and hugs and happy charcoal smelling dinners.

September sunlight is a gift. The trick is to capture it, and to keep it.

A peaceful world.


Sheesh, what a week.

I teach fifth grade, and this was the first full week of school.  I bet you think my “sheesh” has something to do with my class, huh?

Well, sorry, but you’re wrong.

It’s actually the entire rest of the world that is giving me “agita” as we Italians say.  I wish I could put the entire rest of the world into my “morning circle” and maybe life out there would make more sense.

Let me explain what I mean.

My class of ten year old children spent a good part of the week writing our “expectations” for the year.  What do we expect of our classmates, of ourselves, of our teachers?  The children created a list.  It includes things like “be kind”, “be gentle”, “be forgiving”, “be honest”, “be respectful”.

We have talked about how to tell a classmate if your feelings are hurt.  We’ve defined “swears” (“words that someone isn’t comfortable hearing”.)  We have talked about how to make a good choice when we decide where to sit in morning circle, and how to ask if you can play, and how to step into the line.

This was the week of the 9/11 anniversary, an event that occurred before these children were born.  They discussed it. They asked questions. We talked about it for a half hour. In the end, I tried to reassure them, to give them a sense of control over a scary world. “If you want the world to be peaceful, you have to live a peaceful life. Be peaceful in your friendships, and in your family. Be the change you want to see in the world.”  They were somber, and serious and thoughtful.

They are coming to terms with the idea of personal responsibility, and of personal choices.

They are ten years old.

What in the world do they think when they watch the news? “We must destroy ISIL. We will bomb them, but we won’t send an army in to fight them.”  We are stronger, so we can anonymously kill them from the air.  I know, I know. Don’t lecture me: they are bad guys. I get it.

But how do I explain this to children who I’m trying to teach to be respectful and kind and not to use superior strength to hurt those who are weaker?

And then we come to the horrific mess that we refer to as the “NFL”?  We pay millions of dollars to men who can throw or catch a ball. That’s all they can do, but we make them heroes.  And we ignore the fact that they use their incredible physical strength to beat those who are weaker and smaller. Even when they say that they “love” those people.

To make this all more upsetting for me, I have asked my class to look into the future.  We are doing our first writing/art project of the year.  We are looking 20 years into the future, following the prompt, “What would you want to be doing, if you could have absolutely the coolest, most exciting, most awesome career in the world?”

I find it incredibly depressing to see how many of them want to be professional athletes.

Tied to my routines.


Its funny.  When I am in the middle of a school year, all I can dream about is the freedom that will come when I am not longer a slave to my daily routines.

I imagine blissfully uninterrupted sleep, with no fear of the impending alarm.  I fantasize about lazy mornings where I can choose to either complete or ignore the list of chores on the whiteboard.  I dream, with a deep sense of longing, of afternoons spent strolling along the streets of town, obedient dogs at my heels.  I dream of freedom.

I am clearly delusional.

I will never be free of routine. Ever.

First of all, by the end of my first week of summer vacation, I invariably find myself making careful lists of “things to do”.  I cross each one off as soon as it is completed, no matter how simple it may seem. “Take shower”. Check.  “Make coffee”. Check.  “Drink coffee”.  Check, check.

On those sultry summer days, I won’t let myself relax into the Adirondack chair until I have swept up the dog hair, done some laundry and weeded the tomato garden.

I am a slave to routine.

But the thing is, even if I could manage to free myself from the chains of daily expectations, I would be hounded into following a daily routine anyway.  Literally hounded.

By this guy:SONY DSC

For reasons which completely elude me, this “not quite Mensa material” hound dog is able to recall and demand a daily routine as rigid as that of the best boot camp commander.

He wakes up when I do. He stretches, yawns, then lies down outside the bathroom door as I shower.  When I come out, he races down the hall toward the dining room, where he whines and woofs until I open the doggy door.  And then, rain or shine, ice or no ice, this aging, arthritic old boy goes charging out the door into the morning. He barks with gusto, announcing his presence to every passing squirrel.  He flings himself down the deck stairs, barking all the way, then races around the perimeter of the fence, and only pauses to do his morning business.

By that time, I have made my coffee and popped down my toast.  He runs back inside, and hurls himself at my legs, his long pink tongue lolling from his mouth with joy. Its as if this was his very first morning adventure, and he is overcome with delight.  He has done the same thing every morning for the past nine years.

When I come home from work, he and his “sister” greet me with howls and moans and yips of joy.  They bound down the stairs, rub their big warm heads against my legs, and wiggle their entire bodies with delight.

The beauty of dogs is that every homecoming is greeted as if I’d been away for five years.  The unexpected joy of seeing my return!!! The magical surprise of seeing me come home at the exact same time that I’ve come home for years!! Hoorah!! My dogs make me feel like a warrior returning from battle.

And yet.

Although they act as if my return home is a surprise and a delight, as soon as I have finished my dinner and put the dishes in the sink, they return to the routine that guides our lives.

As soon as Paul sits down to do paperwork, and I begin my preparations for the next day’s lessons, my big old hound dog begins to whine.  He lies down on the living room floor, his chin at rest on his paws. His warm brown eyes are fixed firmly on my face. He licks his lips in anticipation.

It doesn’t matter to him, or to my other dog, that I have a lot to do to get ready for tomorrow. It doesn’t matter that I’m tired. It doesn’t even matter that it’s raining, or thundering, or icing or that we are in the middle of a hurricane.

It is now “after dinner”, and that means, “Time to soak in the hot tub”.

The dogs don’t actually come into the hot tub, of course.  But they rush out onto the deck when they see me in my robe.  They bark and jump and rush around for one minute.  Then they sit down silently, until I have soaked away all of my pains.

And we come inside.  Where they are rewarded with a nice big delicious “Dentastix” to chomp.

This is the routine.  They are bound forever to it.  And through them, so am I.

I will never be free of routine.

And I guess that’s OK. As long as it comes with some doggy delight and those wonderful tongue lolling hugs.

Perfect.


SONY DSC

Today was a perfect day.

I didn’t plan to write about it, but as the day draws to a close, the perfection of it all demands to be heard. Words are bubbling up in my brain so quickly that if I don’t write them down, something up there just may burst.

It was that kind of day.

This was the first weekend of the school year.  I came home on Friday, after a mere 2 1/2 days of teaching, completely exhausted and thoroughly exhilarated.  It’s still early, I know, but I get the feeling that this is going to be one of those years when I just fall in love with my class.  I can’t really explain how or why it happens, but there are certain collections of children (for lack of a better word!) that simply reach right out and touch my heart.  This group seems to be that way.  Already.

So I came into the weekend with a lot to do, but a happy soul.  Yesterday was mostly errands and chores around the house.

Yesterday was also the sixth day in a row where the temperature went almost to 90 degrees and the humidity was nearly the same.  It was an uncomfortable, breathless, sweating, nasty day to be shopping and cleaning, but I did what had to be done.  In the evening we weathered a tornado alert and a huge, torrential thunderstorm, and I went to be praying for the stickiness to dissolve.

And we come to this morning.

I woke up at 7 to a cool breeze.  I went into the living room, trailed by my faithful doggies.  I stepped onto the deck and into a world of golden beauty.  The trees were drenched, but as they dripped, the sun shone through every drop, as if they were coated in diamonds.  The breeze blew, and a shower of sparks came down through the woods, lit up from within with a rainbow of incredible fire.

Paul woke up and we started the day with a long soak in the hot tub, breathing in the cool, crisp scent of almost-fall, and drinking our coffee as the steamy water eased the kinks out of our backs.

I had a lot of school work to do, but I was excited to be doing it.   Right after breakfast, I jumped into those tasks. I scored some math tests, prepared tomorrow’s math lesson, read some student folders and started a vocabulary sheet for our first science unit.

As the day went on, I realized that I was also determined to enter the upcoming week as fully prepared as possible.  I did all of the laundry, thinking that I would need enough clean clothes to see me through to Friday.  I washed the floor and cleaned the bathrooms: I knew I wouldn’t be doing that on a Wednesday morning any more!

And I cooked.  The coolness of the day, and the adrenaline of the new school year, combined to push me into full on Italian-woman mode.

I boiled six eggs for easy breakfasts; they were local eggs, but were two weeks old!  On Friday I picked up 2 dozen fresher chicken eggs as well as six beautiful duck eggs.

I marinated tempeh for this weeks lunches: we’re trying to cut down on the meat, but I am determined that its still going to taste good! Marinated tempeh in spring roll wrappers it is.

And I cooked down ten fresh and gorgeous tomatoes, adding spices and wine and homemade meatballs. Dinner for at least one night this week!

When everything was done, and tonight’s dinner was still waiting to be started, I sat outside on my deck, turning my face to the sun.

I am acutely aware that very, very soon, my afternoons of sunshine will be gone.  My garden-fresh foods will disappear under a layer of ice.  My casual soaks in the hot tub will be replaced with a frantic run between the hot water and the house.

Everything comes to an end.  Even this wonderful summer.

And so I am stocking up on everything I need to get through another long, cold New England winter.  I am stocking up on love for my class and on jars of fresh tomato sauce.  I am freezing fresh and local peppers and corn, and making refrigerator pickles out of those crisp and delightful little cukes.

And I am writing down the memory of a perfect September Sunday, so that I can pull it out in February, when the winds are blowing and the noses are running, and when winter feels as if it will never ever end.

 

A woman’s touch.


hamsa2

A long, long time ago, I was an exchange student. I went from the safe enclave of an upper-middle class American town to the exotic and slightly scary world of Tunisia.

It was 1973.  I knew nothing about Tunisia, or about Islam, and I found myself thrust into an absolutely exotic and entrancing world, filled with mystery and wonder.

Luckily for me, I went very quickly from the world of “Casablanca” to the world of “Nice middle class family”. Although I was inspired and amazed by the sounds and sights of the Minarets, by the beauty of the ancient mosques, and by the exotic perfumes of the jasmine blossoms, I was also made aware of the universality of familial and cultural love.

While I was living in Tunisia, I noticed the prevalence of the “khamsa” symbol; a hand held up in benediction, bringing a wish for love and peace.  The khamsa is a woman’s blessing.  I was told by my Islamic Tunisian friends that the symbol represented “the hand of Fatma, the daughter of Mohammed”.   I loved the idea of the holy woman, bringing her gentle guidance to the people with her upheld hand.  When I came back from my summer in Tunisia, I carried a “khamsa” decorated dish, which I have proudly displayed for 41 years.

A few years after my trip to Tunisia, I worked as an interpreter for Jewish Russian immigrants.  To my great surprise, I noticed the image of the upheld hand, with its five fingers splayed, in the world of my Jewish friends.  I asked what it signified, and was told, “It is the hand of Miriam!  It means a woman’s blessing.”

I thought that was pretty cool.

I have since read that the “khamsa” is a symbol that was recognized by very early Christians, who called it “The hand of Mary.” Amazing.

As a mother, I absolutely love the idea of the woman’s blessing. I love that it transcends the so-called differences between the great religions.

If I ever had a “totem”, this would be it.

About ten years ago, I came home from work one day. I pulled into my driveway, grabbed my bag of school work, and stepped out of the car.

At my feet, I found a tiny, perfectly shaped, rubber “khamsa”.  I picked it up, held it in my hand, gasped in surprise.  Where had it come from?

I had no idea.

I placed it carefully in the front window of my house.  It stayed there for a very long time. A mysterious and powerful message of love and peace and blessings.

Two years ago, on my birthday, my daughter bought me a beautiful silver “khamsa” necklace.  It holds my birthstone in the center of its palm.

I love it because Kate gave it to me, but I love it more for what it signifies.  Each day of the Gaza/Israel war, I wore my khamsa.  I touched it over and over again, thinking, “You both love peace and gentleness! You both worship the guiding hand of the Mother. What are you DOING?”

I wore my khamsa to school this week.   I wore it because I love its message.

On the second day of school, I was standing in my classroom with about 12 kids who were heading home on Bus #3, my assigned “busroom”.  We were all lined up, waiting patiently for our ride home.

A tiny little first-grade girl, born in Nigeria, reached up to touch my “khamsa” with her fingertip.  “What is this thing?”, she asked, her bright yellow hair ribbons bobbing.  She was frowning in concentration, and her beautiful little face was filled with concern.

I told her, and the other children in line behind her, all about the khamsa.

“It means that there is a woman who is showering everyone with love.  She wants to keep everyone safe.”, I said. “She is giving a blessing.”

I stood still, thinking that this information was most likely beyond the comprehension of my smallest charges.

Then a little voice chimed in, “Oh, I get it!”, she cried with excitement.  She was a tiny little blondie, the friend of her Nigerian classmate.  Her bright blue eyes lit up, and her dimpled cheeks were stretched out with a smile.

She reached out one little finger, and placed it in the heart of my “khamsa” necklace.

“I get it!” she said again, “That lady is YOU!”

I was speechless.  I didn’t know how to respond to such a lovely gift.

And this is why I love my job.

Salaam, shalom, peace, mir, pax, etc.  May the spirit of the “khamsa” be with you and yours.

 

Old Dog Trey


Actually, the old dog is named Tucker.

So old. I can hardly walk.

So old. I can hardly walk.

He has a bad back.  And an arthritic neck.  We have to use a special leash to walk him, because we can’t use anything that will pull on his spine.

We take him for acupuncture once a month.

Every morning, he gets a glucosamine/chondroitin tablet wrapped in American cheese. At night, there is a dose of fish oil in his kibble.

He sleeps on an orthopedic dog bed. When he seems particularly achy, we put a hot pack on his lower back.

You get the idea.

Poor old dog.

Sigh.

The other day, I was out walking both of my old dogs.  We were coming along the street, slowly, sniffing and peeing (well, I wasn’t sniffing and peeing; the dogs were).  Suddenly, they both stopped, standing stiff legged in the grass.  They were both peering along the street, back the way we had come.

Oh, oh.  Was it a deer? A bear?  A flock of stupid turkeys?

Nope.  My neighbor’s puppy had gotten out of the yard, and stood at attention at the end of his driveway.

Now this little guy is Tucker’s absolute twin, only 8 years younger.  They both came from the same rescue shelter.  Both are hound dog mutts from Virginia.  The little guy, Ruger, was quivering with delight at the thought of meeting his big neighbors.

My neighbor, Ruger’s Mommy, came running up the driveway, and we spent a pleasant few minutes letting the dog’s growl and bark and sniff each other’s butts.  Then I had to go, because I was late for work.

But this morning we made a puppy play date, and took all three dogs for a nice walk.  Ruger pranced and danced and pulled his owner along with enthusiasm.  My old dogs walked sedately and slowly.  By the time we covered the entire block, Ruger was still dancing and full of energy, but Tucker and Sadie had their heads down and their tongues out.  We came back to our house, and let all three dogs into our fenced-in yard.  The humans sat down for a cup of coffee, and we let the dogs have at it.

Holy rejuvenation!  Ruger was absolutely 100% determined to play, to goad the old folks into chasing him. He ran up the deck steps, down the deck steps, in the doggie door, out the doggie door, around the yard, under the bushes and back up the deck steps.  To my total amazement, old Tucker kept right up, barking the whole time.

I haven’t seen my gimpy old guy run full speed for two years, but today, he raced around like a kid.  He barked, he lunged, he chased, he jumped. He pushed the puppy down, then ran away while the puppy chased him.  He tussled with Sadie, and they both chased the puppy up and down the stairs.

Finally, after about an hour of full-out play, my old guys started to get grumpy.  They began to growl when Ruger approached.  The tried to hide under the table, only to have him find them there.  They went inside, and I closed the screen to keep the puppy out. They clearly needed a rest and a chance to recuperate.

But guess what?  Within a minute, Tucker was at the door, whining to come back out.  I opened the door, and he went right after Ruger. And of course the puppy pounced, ready to play.  Tucker barked once, hard, bared his teeth, and tried to push the pup  away.  The humans all decided that it was time to end the visit, and Ruger and his Mommy headed home.

The messages from Tuck were both mixed and clear.  “I love being around you, youngster! You bring out my most energetic and youthful self!  Whooo-hooo! Let’s play!” and “Give me a break! I’m exhausted! You kids just don’t know when to settle down and give it a rest!”

I understood him completely.

I feel exactly the same way about going back to school.

I am so crunchy and healthy……


I am SUCH a crunchy granola aging hippy!  I tell ya.

I recently wrote a post called “Abbondanza” where I wrote about how excited I was at the incredible bounty of fresh foods at my farmer’s market.  I was thinking about the fact that pretty soon it will be the dead of winter, and we’ll be reduced to eating canned tomatoes and frozen peas.  Yechhh.

I saw this.

I saw this.

So this morning I woke up and thought to myself, “I’m an Earth Mother type!  I should buy and can a whole bunch of tomatoes!”  I was overcome by the image of my healthy woman self whipping up a delicious lasagna in February, using those vibrantly delicious tomatoes, onions, basil, garlic and oregano from the summer.  Mmmmmmm, good!  I could just picture my grandmothers, great-grandmothers and great-great grandmothers nodding in approval.

And I pictured this.

And I pictured this.

I was psyched!

I headed off to the local farm stand.  I was about to grab a whole bunch of fresh, perfect tomatoes.  I smiled at the farmer, and announced “I’m going to can tomatoes!”  She looked at me like I was insane.  “You can’t use THOSE!  You’ll go BROKE!”  She hustled out the door of the stand and grabbed a huge box of slightly imperfect tomatoes.  “You want THESE.”, she announced.

Oh.  OK.  I quickly chose a bunch of other ingredients and grabbed the big box of “canning tomatoes”.  I was so impressed with myself!  Heading home to “put up” vegetables for the long winter!

“Bring back my box!”, the farmer called as I pulled out of her driveway.  I waved in response.  She’s a little scary.  I’ll be bringing that box back tomorrow.

I got home, and spread out all of my treasures.

Holy healthiness! Look at this!   I was so excited.

I breathed in deeply, smelling the golden late summer air.  I felt just exactly like “Ma” in “Little House on the Prairie.”  I thought about putting my hair into a long braid, or a nice little bun at the back of my neck, but I had just had a hair cut, and it was only about an inch long.  Still, I felt pretty wholesome as I wrapped myself in my organic, sustainably raised cotton apron.  From “The Kitchen Store”.

I began by chopping up huge piles of veggies.  I’ve done this before! I hummed to myself, thinking of the millions and millions of women who have come before me, seeing the incredible richness of summer as a time to prepare for the long, cold winter.

I decided to get myself fully into the mood by listening to some old folk songs.  Just like all of those women in those healthy olden days, I thought that music would ease the burden of all the hard work ahead of me. Feeling one with my ancestors, I popped my iPhone onto the dock and booted up Pandora.  Bluegrass music enveloped me as I dropped the chopped veggies into my Cuisinart and hit “high”.

I pureed the entire box of tomatoes, plus two fresh onions and ten cloves of garlic.  I added in the organic basil and my own garden fresh oregano.  I let it all simmer on my electric stove, thinking of all the women before me, forging a new life in a new land, facing untold obstacles.

Even though I was pretty sure that I knew how to do this safely, I decided to be extra cautious.  After all, I am a Mother! This food will no doubt be used to sustain my family in the harsh winter!

I googled “canning tomatoes” and watched three You Tube Videos to make sure I was getting it right. Yup. Just like a Pioneer Woman. I knew what to do!

So here I am, five hours after I started.  A real, honest-to-God, back to the earth, all natural hippy granny woman. All I had were my hands, my local farmer, Michael’s Crafts for the mason jars, the internet, YouTube, an electric stove, a thermometer, a set of oven mitts, some “can grabber” tongs and my internal drive and innate knowledge.

I ended up with this.

I ended up with this.

I. Am. Amazing.

What a self-reliant, simple, back to nature woman I am!  I can’t wait to google some awesome recipes for all this deliciousness!

 

“Boom, boom, out go the lights.”


Uzi_of_the_israeli_armed_forcesI don’t understand.

I don’t get it.

It makes no sense to me.

How did our culture, our community, our society, our beloved country, come to believe that all guns are good, and that all people should be allowed to shoot them at will? How did we ever come to accept the bizarre idea that the more armed we are, the safer we will all be?

I just don’t understand.

I’ve written about this before.  I’ve written about the fact that I live in a rural community where many people hunt for deer, turkey, ducks, even black bears.  Most of the hunters I know eat the meat that they procure.  I get that.  I admire it. I even enjoy it when I get a chance to eat some fresh turkey or deer.

Guns for hunting= makes sense to me!

And I even understand those people who tell me that they like to shoot guns “for sport”.  Ok.  It doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun to me, but neither does bungee jumping or playing football or catching catfish with my bare hands.  If people want to go to a legally registered gun range or gun club and shoot a weapon at a non-living target, go for it.

Whatevah.  To each his own, right?

As long as “each” is an adult who understands the repercussions of his actions, that is.  As long as “each” shooter is old enough to give informed consent.

I mean, we live in a society that tells 19 year old men and women that they are not yet adult enough to handle a beer. We tell everyone under the age of 18 that he or she is not yet mature enough to consent to sexual activity, not matter how deeply in love he or she may feel. We tell them that they are not yet old enough to give informed consent to actions that we deem to be detrimental to their health.

So why, for the love of all that is good and sacred, do we happily put absolutely horrifically lethal weapons into the hands of our 8 and 9 year old children?  WHY?

I teach ten and eleven year olds.  I know very very well how illogical and how impulsive and how fragile those young people are this very tender age.

Anyone who believes that it is morally right to put an Uzi into the hands of such a little being is a self-serving idiot in complete denial about the purpose of such a terrible, lethal machine.

I am willing to bet that the parents who take their prepubescent children to the gun range and hand them an automatic weapon are also parents who make sure that the very same children have all of their shots.  I bet that those children rode in car seats and booster seats until they reached the proper weight to ride safely with only a seat belt.

I am willing to go out on a limb and wager that the majority of those kids wear bike helmets when they ride around the block.

So what the hell gives with the damn guns?

How did this happen?

How did well allow the NRA to convince us that it is “fun” to let a little girl put down her dolls and pick up a deadly weapon?

I don’t blame that poor little child, whose life is now irreparably broken. I don’t even blame her parents. I blame every single member of the US government who took a dollar (or a million) from the NRA and who looked the other way as more and more weapons were allowed to flood our streets.

And I blame every single responsible adult who doesn’t stand up right now and say that enough is enough.

If we really want to tell the world that we love our children, we need to outlaw these weapons of mass destruction. Or at least take them out of reach until the age of informed consent.