Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Self Storage

I have been only the latest in a long line of pack-rats in my maternal family line. Everything that I come into contact with, I feel an overwhelming desire to hold on to. The fact is, I don't find too much difference between the "Hoarders" TV show and where I am capable of going except for the fact that I have been motivated by, "Clean House" and and my love of my family, to turn off that road about a year and a half ago.

Clutter no longer rules my home. And it did. Once I even threw my wedding ring away, because my husband dared to try to throw away the pile of clutter that had accumulated on out dishwasher without letting me go through it first. Yet last August I had a two day yard sale, then donated four pick-up truck loads to charity and took another three loads to the dump and am still going strong.

What made the difference? As flylady says, it is learning to Finally love yourself, and to give up on perfectionism. The main thing for me was the simple point that I am not getting rid of the memory, or the person, by getting rid of the item that they gave me, or wore or touched.

My problem started the day My Mom ordered me to clean my room, and then cried because I had thrown away a valentine card with a flocked grey kitten on it. It was from her, "Don't you love me?" and from then on, I was afraid to throw anything away. Now, She lives in a pack-ratss dream, next to the packed house of my Grandmother, and there are several, cousin's, aunts and Great-Grandparent, homes that went the same way. It is easy to see, even on a short road trip, my relatives are the ones with bags and cartons tucked around our feet in the floor of the car.

The biggest cure in my life is my digital camera, and a scrapbook that I named "Self-Storage." So I can always find Myself.

I took pictures of the clutter, and then wrote poems or paragraphs about why those items stirred my memories. Then I could lose the clutter without losing the memories of the people, and the places that I loved. That scrapbook was little more than a concept and two pages before my teenagers were interested - yet I know that if I had left the piles of old t-shirts and motel soaps and grade school art projects, they would have eventually been forced to throw them away for me, and been angry and frustrated, and clueless to the rich history that I can now share with them.

The things I keep now, the best things, are no longer saved for special occasions, because no time is more special than now - while my family is all still here, to chip the good china, and laugh at the memories when they see that chip later.

For Olyhiker

From me to Jeremy


I sense a disturbance
in the force tonight
as a thousand voices around the world
cry out in protest
then are silent
waiting for your one voice
to answer
but it is lost in the silence.

In the silence
a candle flickers
another joins it
the lights a river of sparks
stars winding through the darkness
leading you to where the campfire glows
Warm and welcoming.

Warm and welcomed you join the group
lift your guitar while prayer flags dance
dance in the music filled breeze
that ruffles the stream
where the salmon spirit returns home one more time.

Find peace JER,
It is here.

Jer sent me the rock for christmas, but he painted salmon many times too. And after the panic when he was missing turned to grief I did the other picture in response and hope that he will find the peace he was looking for.

But the fury is very real too, D@mn it Oly, you were my friend and almost the only one who followed this blog. I wish you good things, but I am so angry. So I also wrote the following Rant, to help me understand the anger.

"Why would you want to leave a world with Orcas in it?"

Selfish, greedy
bastard pig

YOU couldn't
"take the Pain"
so YOU
multiplied it
sent it out into the world

You can't find Peace
by avoiding life, someone said
and their tweet arrived
the day I heard you had died

Fuck no

YOU didn't die

it didn't happen to you

You caused it
you embraced it

and in closing your eyes forever

you filled the eyes of the world with tears

if you were going to end this way

why did you get in my mind
promise me friendship

wake up my creativity

send me gift that made me smile every time I entered the room

and now only make me cry


and if you could see all these tears

You'd know

Too late

Your life wasn't meaningless

but a great gift

and should never have been tossed on the lake shore

like so much trash.

I'm sorry if my anger hurts anyone else. That was never the intention, and after writing this, I felt peaceful enough to draw the orca picture above.

Life goes on, just lonelier now.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Reading to our Babies

When I look back at nearly 17 years of parenting, and 23 years of teaching, I find that the best choice I made, other than to be a Wife and Mom in the first place, was to spend time reading to my children and to nearly every other child who ever entered my life.

Babies are never too young to read to. At first you snuggle that baby on your shoulder and you can read anything out loud. The baby is getting the bonding comfort of your voice and while you are reading, you too, are bonding with your child in moments of heaven you will never forget. You think the book is what you are sharing and obviously the baby can't understand it, so why bother? What you are really sharing is time and contact, and while you read the book, your baby is reading the book of your face. Every expression and glance from you is where that babies eyes will be focused.

Then as the baby grows, the book will catch his attention, then you go for simple board books with big, contrasting images, repetitive wording and interesting sounds. At this point my baby loved "Goodnight Moon" and an animal book that made me moo and oink, and the three little kittens where I meowed and said "Hush Hush." I also made our own 8 page board books with family Photographs and laminated them and sent them to daycare with the boys so they could always have a bit of home with them.

A little later we snuggled side by side on a bed or sofa and read picture books, still repeating a lot, and Dr. Seuss and Jan Brett and Patricia Polacco filled my book shelves. We loved the old "Look out for Pirates" with its tricky and clever manipulation of the bad guys. One son was "Captain Jim" for almost 6 months.

As they grew and started reading to me, we used to take long road trips. All our family members lived close to a thousand miles away. We read all the Lioness books from Tamora Pierce, all the Harry Potter and Narnia and Little house books while on the road. I wrote my own novel about a boy who has CP and survives a school shooting and ends up in another world trying to get back to his sister who was shot. Maybe "Duffy Barkley is Not a Dog" will never be read by wide audiences, but I read it to my boys as we travelled through Idaho and Wyoming and their enthusiasm was one of the highlights of my life. Later I read it to a class of 7th grade students who begged for more.

Now one of my boys is a reader and the other one will tell you he's not. Still, when I find the rare book that catches his attention he stays up all night to finish it, usually a C. J. Box book or a true outdoor story. The one who is never without a book is into the Harry Dresden series for his third time through.

Still, a reader or not, both boys have impressive vocabularies, both are great travelers, and both have experienced a lot of closeness with their Father and I as we shared the stories and adventures in the books.

I realize that my love of books began on my own parents laps, and snuggling in beside my grandmother, demanding the 100th repetition of "Chicken Little." Still caressing the pages of that book brings back the sound and feeling of my Grandmother's presence. I can hope that long after my boys are grown and away from home, when they remember Mom, it will be with the knowledge that I loved them enough to spend hours reading to them.