The Master and the Apprentice

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In honor of my 100th post I am going to write in honor of the person I know that lived closest to 100, my great-grandma. As it is Flashback Friday it’ll be tied around a photo from a day that I regret not remembering much about.

They talk about things skipping generations. I am nothing like my mom, my mom was nothing like her mom, her mom was nothing like her own mom. But boy was my mom like my great-grandma. It was something I recognized even as a young girl. Great-grandma was my momma’s kindred spirit. In the kitchen especially.

A lot of memories simmering in my mind about my great-grandma involve her mean, gorgeous, live to be 22, white Persian named Princess. What’s left is taken up with her garden, her homemade bread, canned jams and jelly, the origin of crap cake, and a multitude of delicious concoctions.

Great-grandma was old as long as I could remember. Hunched over, but as sharp as a tack even if she couldn’t see as sharp as she used to. My mom realized the diminishing capabilities of my great-grandma’s body (but never her mind, she continued to surprise us for many, many, many years after this day- must have been the daily shots of Jagermeister). So mom mandated a “teach me how to make it” day must occur.  There were no recipes, not a measurement in sight. Master to apprentice was the only way.

I remember not caring to learn about these things that my great-grandma was so patiently teaching my mom.  I remember groaning as I had to help clear out the kitchen of furniture so she could shuffle around and not run into things she couldn’t see so clearly.  I remember her softly scolding my mom when she just knew, somehow, that my mom didn’t take enough flour, didn’t knead hard enough or soft enough, or threw in a little too much butter.

She didn’t need to see to know. She felt it. She sensed it. The master Hilda taught the apprentice Xenia well.  Looking at this picture today, I am filled with regret. Wishing that I could go back to my adolescent self, take her by the shoulders and say, “Kimberly, pay attention! This is important! This is a moment you want to be a part of.”

While I might have missed out, Maddie will not. The skipping has taken again. She has a kindred spirit in my mom, her grandma. I can already see a “show me how to make it” day in her future. She won’t be looking back with regret. The master will teach her apprentice.

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As Seen on Tv

Growing up, we were a tv household. Mind you, not a marathon binge watching tv household. Just your average football Sunday, cartoons after school, primetime Dallas kind of household.  As our family of five grew in physical size, busting the seams of our house, we added some of those magic boxes.

The lazy boy and helmet head Bears good luck charm got some primo lounge time. The head of the household got hooked. Hooked bad. On infomercials no less. As Seen on TV was the new king of our house. In all his three easy payments, best thing ever glory.

I don’t even remember most of the failings. I just remember that most of them ended in some lackluster way. Forever the optimist, more found their way in.

I entered into my relationship with my husband our first year in college. He lived at home. I lived at the As Seen on TV mecca that I called home. It never really came up. Then we moved in together. And I discovered that I could not escape it. I happened to marry a fellow soul addicted to that glorious promise of so easy, so cheap, so not worth it.

Most of these failings I remember clearly: the pet fountain, the slinky hose, the egg cooker, the turbo pot, the Snuggie, and the list goes on. There is one standout: The Sham WOW. The Sham WOW pretty much has saved my marriage and defeated it in one fell swoop.

I’ve previously sliced about my water-logged house. Enter the Sham WOW in all is resplendent grandeur. It sopped up and like a desert in drought, drank up enough water flowing in through the cracks in my basement that it saved my marriage in that we didn’t kill each other out of sheer frustration. It also has defeated me. Because all it takes is one success for the As Seen on TV addicted. Just one. And we are back to square one. “This is gonna be great honey, just remember the Sham WOW.”

The Second Time Around

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The Slice of Life Story Challenge is being hosted by The Two Writing Teachers blog.
Join in the fun at www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

The first time, I had a need to stay in and he had to go out.
The first time, I needed him and he needed life.
The first time, I lost so much and he didn’t know what to do.
The first time, I had my dreams. And he had his.
I and he.

It was like being a part of an endless boxing match. Each of us trying to measure our opponent from across the ring. Retreating to our corners. Many advances, no uppercuts, no right hooks, nada. It’s what happens when an extrovert marries an introvert. We knew so little, but faced so much. The introvert got stuck in her shell, big enough for two, and the extrovert didn’t get the space constrictions. He did what those extroverts do. He pushed, prodded, and poked.

So we measured, and approached, and retreated. Over and over again. Only to give up the fight; we left the ring with not a victor in sight. We let life defeat us. Sign, sealed, delivered, it was over.

Time passed and we both trained in earnest. We entered fights in which our opponent was a reflection in glass. When you fight a reflection, you learn all of its moves.  We weren’t together but we had hearts you couldn’t really separate (cliché-much?) When we entered the ring again, we were ready. Older and wiser, who knows? (cliché-forgive me) We learned to stop throwing them and instead to roll with the punches that life threw our way. The second time is different.

The second time, I have a need to stay in. So we stay in.
He gets the space constrictions.
The second time, he has to go out. So we go out.
I get the need for life.
The second time, we have lost so much and we know what to do.
We get the need to lean.
The second time, I need him. And he needs me.
We get each other.
The second time, I have dreams and we celebrate them.
He helps make them happen.
The second time he has dreams and we celebrate them.
I help make them happen.

Together. We.

The Pink Princess in a Land of Green

Monday morning. This momma of dark,Irish, Rosemary O’Toole roots, got up and got dressed. Paying homage to the Irish in me, I donned some green attire and a sparkly “thanks to Maddie” green necklace. Proceeding with our morning, Maddie snuggled on the couch watching a cartoon clinging to the “you can’t get rid of me sippy cup” before facing the big, bad world of school.

“Maddie, five minutes till I find your feet. (code for we WILL get dressed in five minutes, you can’t hide your feet in the blanket any longer my dear) What would you like to wear today? Everyone will probably wear green.”

Wrong words if my intent was to have my wayward fashionista wear green, right? Lucky for us, never is it my intent to orchestrate certain ensembles. I don’t care if she wears a clown costume to school as long as we get out the door and she is happy. St. Patrick’s Day be damned.

So in predictable fashion, my almost always pink princess donned a lovely pink concoction and pink zebra socks. I thought nothing of it.

Until we got to the sea of green school and heard,
“You’re dressed wrong! You have to wear green today!”

Until I saw my pink princess’s face crumple in sadness and confusion.
“But I wanted my pink dress, mommy.”

Until I saw the cutest act of love wrapped in the hug and words of a friend.
“Maddie, I love your dress.”

My pink princess was then smiling and accepted because of a little angel adorned in green.

Green Grass- Poemy Monday

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The Slice of Life Story Challenge is being hosted by The Two Writing Teachers blog.
Join in the fun at http://www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

Today’s Poemy Monday is inspired by the color on so many minds this seventeenth of March.

You’re always warned.
But you find yourself saying…

The grass must be greener over there,
the flowers sweeter, the sky bluer.

Precisely.

Until you get there and encounter
the bees that sneak out of the flower to sting,
and the clouds that creep across the sky

You get there and discover
that green, green grass

is filled with weeds

So what do you do?

The Possibilities

She finds herself racing to the end of the driveway each day to collect the mail. It’s funny how the unspoken creeds of childhood follow you into adulthood isn’t it? The inexplicable to the unknowing and hard to explain quirks that you only possess due to some long ago experience that molded your young impressionable mind.

Someone I know has to sort through the Sunday paper and no one is allowed to touch it until she is done. Even if there are parts she isn’t going to read. There are piles people. Someone else I know (might be the same person, might not) folds every piece of cheese into four even little squares. So they are bite-size, people. The first quirk followed her to adulthood, but only in her own home, never her former. The second quirk was safely executed in all places, to the rolling eyes of her husband who cringes at their daughter now doing the same.

Which brings us to another quirk she possesses. It is a drive, a need, a prerequisite to happiness if you will. The Monday through Saturday Santa Claus makes a visit on those favorite days. He deposits goodies of all kinds from his sack to the box outside the front door.  As a young child she waited and waited each day for him to arrive. She would pace back and forth with the four-legged guard, who would burst forth with ferocious barks meant to scare him away. It never worked. Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail, nor furry “bark is worse than her bite” dog, would keep him away. He would come. She would collect. The day that followed would be a giant letdown after the 11 o’clock on the dot mail party.

Today it remains much the same, but the universe smiles down on this quirk. For the Monday through Saturday Santa comes at 5:00 p.m. on the dot now. There is a whole day of building anticipation. He kindly comes before anyone else can arrive home and collect. Except her daughter.

Which is precisely how she finds herself racing each day to collect the mail. Sometimes she wins.

Sometimes she stands and watches the wonder in her daughter’s eyes at the possibilities in the box at the end of the driveway.

 

My Writing Well

I keep notes everywhere for potential slices. So I can’t say the well is running dry. But I can say that the inspiration to get water from the well is, let’s just say, waning. Add in that fact that I am shadow free this weekend and sitting with my feet up and voila! I am sliceless. I have ideas but no words.

So I shamelessly give you a solid preview of slices that may or may not find a home next to that little worm on a hook over there. Here’s my writing well as it stands today:

Crumbs– among the many things my dear significant other does that drives me to lunacy
DVR Love Letter- How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Our short separation helped save my marriage (Thanks for the idea Janski!)
Sharpening Your Saw– I read about it in a blog about keeping your professional knowledge sharp- no idea what to say about it as of yet
Dark Hair Betrayal– Oh the demise of my blonde head and new-found love in brunette-dom-which I loved and found most did not
OCD in all but the hair–  Maddie and her hatred of all things detangling
Having that kid that knows the words to songs by Pink, Katy Perry, and the like
Expressions of Love – a morning shake in the basement and a magical car that moves itself
The silence of solitude just a thought that is not working to its potential. Yet.
Halfway through reflection– from four walls to many
To save my marriage the second time around- see above along with a few other compromises
As Seen on TV– from my dad to my husband
Xmas Eve ugly blouse– it’s so bad it’s good
Gnarly trees– no idea how to put it into words when others have done so in such an eloquent way
Getting mail– It brings me dorky joy every day I can remember- even as a grown up.
Being happy with change– I just can’t. I’m a creature of habit
Beyond the canvas– something I heard someone say- it stuck

So many ideas. So many thoughts. My brain just won’t cooperate.

I’m a writer with no words this fine day.

A Crafted Legacy- Flashback Friday

slice picture 4It’s 1982, maybe 1983. Imagine walking down the steps on Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa’s house to discover a giant, many times the size of you, sheet covered mass that very closely resembles a house. Imagine the excitement that results in two cousins bouncing like ping-pong balls around the room until they were able to pull those sheets off. Only to pull those sheets off to find nirvana for a four, maybe five-year old. Our. Very. Own. No siblings allowed. Play. House. Just. For. Us.

I adored that house. As the youngest in my family, never to own my own, I’m pretty sure I slept in it. Behind me I am pretty sure I notice a mountain of my very own friends in that house. I note the dress and tights and blonde, blonde hair and height that requires ducking under the frame of that door. That self of mine might remind me of another four, soon to be five-year old.

My new favorite place in the world was a gift crafted from the hands that carved the cradle my sister, brother, and I slept in. That crafted the cradle that my dolls slept in and the high chair I fed them in.  That crafted the medicine cabinet my grape Tylenol came from. That crafted that shelf you see on the edges of this memory. That crafted the step stool I used to reach my highest bookshelf.

I used to sneak down the stairs around the corner of the laundry room down the dark narrow hallway that would have normally scared me. But I knew what was at the end. A wonderful world of sawdust in the air and on the floor. A wonderful world of smells and tools and the wonderful man who created and crafted in that world. From that workshop came the best memories of my childhood.

The house was long ago disassembled and tragically warped in a garage leak that somehow managed to ruin all chances of re-assembly. I’m sad when I think back about the memories and sheer exhilaration that house brought to my life, that the craftsman’s great-granddaughter does not get to experience the same. Then I take a look around my life.

I remember running my fingers along the intricately carved finials of the cradle that sat next to my bed for three months. I smile at the image of an already tall four-year old needing the step stool with the carved “Kimberly” to reach the extra tall sink. I rock the baby doll and lay her in the cradle adorned with a faded teddy bear blanket while we sing her a lullaby. I dispense cherry Tylenol from the still hanging medicine cabinet. And on that shelf in the corner of a room not far from the one above, sits pictures of the craftsman and his greatest loves. His family.

All around us is his perfectly crafted legacy.

Not Ready

I was 23.
Decisions to be made, beneficiaries to be named, authority to be given, affairs to be put in order.
I didn’t need to be ready.
She was there.

I was 30
Decisions to be made, beneficiaries to be named, authority to be given, affairs to be put in order.
I wasn’t ready
But she needed me to be.
He wasn’t there.

I am 35
Decisions to be made, beneficiaries to be named, authority to be given, affairs to be put in order.
I’m not ready.
But they need me to be.

So I’m ready.

Except I’m not.

 

 

Winter Won

Upon waking this morning there was a beautiful winter wonderland outside my window. My perspective of this March phenomena is one that allowed me to have a lovely morning thus far. Spring put forth a valiant effort the other day, but my winter came through as champion this morning.

Since winter won, as I woke I heard the plop of the snow as it hit the roof from the snow-covered masses outside our house. Their branches sagging under the white weight. In spring, I hear the caterwauling of the feathered demons as they try to wake me long before I am ready to wake.

Then the light was out at the major intersection between our abode and our destination. That’s okay because in winter we enjoy the bumpy ride to the light when Elsa freezes the snow to the street. In spring, we hold our noses as the assault on our senses takes over courtesy of a stinky black and white springtime awakener.

In winter, as we drive down the streets to work and school we revel in the beauty of those snowy white covered branches straining to reach the sky. As winter fades and spring tries to beat it down, we have to slush through the dirty gray streets instead.

Then a song comes on the radio to which we have no choice but to be happy. You know the one.

So we sing and bounce and bop and slide our way into our day.

I’m so glad winter won.