Thursday, May 31, 2007
Monday, May 28, 2007
This post goes out to all the people who said that once I had my baby, I'd lose all my spare time, my plants would die, I'd never sleep again, bake bread again or have the time to keep kniting. This photo is proof that balance can be achieved with a little juggling, help from family, and inspiring play time with my new friend, MilkFace. So! You're looking at an almost finished pair of beaded fingerless mitts. The pattern came from Interweave Knits. Knitted with machine washable varigated sock yarn and strung with a certain number of beads before you begin the pattern, you're all set to go. As you knit, you move the beads along and slide them into place for certain stiches. This pattern also features a "dropped" stitch - where you wrap the yarn over two or three times before knitting each stitch, then when knitting the other side, simply drop the extra wraps and you get this lacey long stitch.
These are soooo comfortable. Snuggly and tight. Look out Fall - here I come. Next I better start knitting a winter cap for Anton.
PS. All my plants DID die, but I made new ones to take care of. I DID lose sleep, but now take naps with Anton when I can, so I'm getting plenty and he's now sleeping a full 11 hours at night. SUCH a good boy. AND I still bake bread. Not every week - but enough to keep those extra pounds I gained intact. :)
Sunday, May 27, 2007
~:R U T H I E • G I R L:~
I have some very sad news about Mom's doug Ruthie. Mom and Dad went to Chicago over the weekend and boarded Ruthie and Dad's dog Alice Faye. Ruthie was handed over with specific instructions for a dog with diabetes. Mom pre-loaded all her shots and left them with the kennel. Somewhere along the line, communication about Ruthie's special needs was compromised. Instead of giving Ruthie her shots, they gave them to Alice Faye. I bet both dogs were feeling badly.
Ruthie got sick. So the kennel sent her to a vet hospital WITHOUT her loaded syringes of insulin and without passing on any information about the fact that she had diabetes.
Ruthie died last night. Everyone feels awful. I hate it that she was scared and in pain and was alone, without anyone who loved her to comfort her. I keep thinking that had I been there to visit, I would have caught the error.
Thank goodness, Alice is a large enough dog to not have the insulin she was given harm her. Alice is fine. But we're all hurting today.
Mom got Ruthie shortly after Tommy died, so she was a great deal of comfort to her. She lived for almost 10 years and gave us all a lot of joy, comfort and laughs. She was a good girl. And we will all miss her. We like to think of her in heaven with all the other Dusenberry pets, jumping fences and playing together, waiting for us to return home to play again with them. Gretle, Arthur, Rosemary, Roxie, Gabby, and Ruthie. We love you.
Please spread the word to any pet owners you know and especially to any who board multiple pets. You never can be too careful when trusting their care to someone else. Even the nicest folks with the best intentions can make mistakes.
If you send a comforting word to Mom, I'm sure she'd be grateful.
A little good news is that Dad is really starting to feel better. We can all be grateful for that.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Big picket, small picket, big picket, small picket. This long weekend we hope to be able to finish up the fence. It is looking lovely and I couldn't be more pleased. Doug finished digging all the post holes today and I've got a little over half the pickets up. Yay! "The fence" has been the anaswer to alot of questions here at the Elser house:
What'd you spend your tax refund on?
Whatcha doin' this weekend?
Working on the fence.
What happend to your knuckles, Anne?
Banged em up on the fence.
What's for dinner, honey?
In other news, Bjorn's second bladder stone has been confirmed and he's scheduled for surgery a week from Monday. Poor little monkey. I feel so badly for him. He's on the strictest of diets now. We'll see if that makes a difference. He'll be wearing a cone for 14 days again. I'm thinking of getting one for all of us so he feels less alone.
Feeling ever so thrifty since the arrival of MilkFace, I've decided to give growing plants from seed another whack. I think I've done it! The back porch has become a greenhouse and I'm having a blast. I have turned into a thief though. Walked into Lowes the other day looking for plants to propagate. I know. I'm bad. Very, VERY bad. I only had the guts to take an African Violet leaf that had already been severed. I mean they were going to throw it away, right? Then I took one more from its neighbor. So that's my big confession. Spank me!
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
~:L O S S:~
I have been thinking a lot of Tommy lately. Don't know why. The anniversary of his death comes in August. When the weather gets warmer each Spring, he comes to mind. Every year.
It's a good kind of pain to feel. To miss him. To be mad at him. For leaving in such haste, for leaving us out, for saying goodbye with a sneer.
I think suicide gets a bad rap. It doesn't get the respect it deserves. I think each case is different and I don't have any choice but to accept his decision to leave us. Even if it meant hurting us. I have no right to judge his choice. I don't know the depth of his pain. I wasn't him. I don't even know if he had the power to change - like I think I do.
I read Sylvia Plath in bed last night. I can only take her in little bits. She's so heavy. So acidic. So beautiful. She's masterful. I think of the gift she left before she succeeded in taking her own life. Tommy tried several times, too. But made sure the last was what he really wanted.
I think he was tired. He wanted peace. I think he deserved that. Everyone deserves peace. He just never found it here. Could never hold onto it as long as we manage to. At 34 he felt ancient. Bitter and wounded. Caustic. Toxic.
Sylvia left a legacy. Her work will live on forever. Who am I to judge her departure when she did such a beautiful job of expressing her pain. I have to respect her. I can learn from her pain. There is value in pain.
Tommy left a legacy, too. He burnt a lot of bridges, yes. But for as many ways there were to hate him, there were more ways to love him.
There is a gift in loss.
There is a usefulness in every bad thing that happens.
The lessons to be learned are the ones I let touch me.
I Am Vertical
But I would rather be horizontal.
I am not a tree with my root in the soil
Sucking up minerals and motherly love
So that each March I may gleam into leaf,
Nor am I the beauty of a garden bed
Attracting my share of Ahs and spectacularly painted,
Unknowing I must soon unpetal.
Compared with me, a tree is immortal
And a flower-head not tall, but more startling,
And I want the one's longevity and the other's daring.
Tonight, in the infinitesimal light of the stars,
The trees and flowers have been strewing their cool odors.
I walk among them, but none of them are noticing.
Sometimes I think that when I am sleeping
I must most perfectly resemble them—
Thoughts gone dim.
It is more natural to me, lying down.
Then the sky and I are in open conversation,
And I shall be useful when I lie down finally:
Then the trees may touch me for once, and the flowers have
time for me.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
~:L I V E • I N • T H E • M O M E N T:~
My good friend Tina sent the below to me the other day. This is beautifully written and the message so true. I told my Mom the other day that I am minding dirty floors less and less these days. I laugh deeper, I live more in the moment. I have less time to worry about things because Anton keeps my attention on him, rather than the little things that used to bother me. Read on and tell me if any of the below applies to your own lives as well.
by Anna Quindlen, Newsweek Columnist and Author
All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief.
I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.
Everything in all the books I once poured over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories. What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations --what they taught me, was that they couldn't really teach me very much at all.
Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything.
One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout.
One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2.
When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome.
To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow. I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.
Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the, "Remember-When-Mom-Did Hall of Fame." The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language, mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, "What did you get wrong?". (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?
But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night.
I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.
Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That's what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
~:Y O U N G • F R A N K E N S T E I N:~
Well my hands are killing me and I can barely type - having screwed in a third of the fence pickets today. I must say, the fence is looking splendid. It's taking a lot longer than I had anticipated. It adds a lot of charm to the house. And I am loving doing such physical work. We've built this with our own hands. I'm really proud of my work. Happy to remember I'm not in the hospital anymore. Yes, that thought pops into my head every day. STILL!
Anyway - the reason I've posted tonight is not to talk about the fence. But the above movie clip from an old Mel Brooks classic and one of my all time favorite movies, Young Frankenstein. Everything about this movie is perfect. The romantic lighting, the humor, slapstick loveliness - even the music is wonderful. My grandmother told me once that the only thing better than watching Young Frankenstein is watching ME watch it. I apparently laugh and laugh hard.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
~:T H E • W O R K • O F • L I F E:~
Life's pretty hectic these days at the Elser home. Bjorn has another bladder stone and will have to have surgery pretty soon. Poor guy has been acting out again and now we know why. We are switching vets from Pets Are People, Too to the Village Animal Cinic. PAPT's prices for the surgery were OVER HALF the price of what the other vet is charging.
We are still working on the fence. It's looking splendid but is taking a long time to complete. Above you see a lovely picture of DougieFresh digging holes in the ground.
Anton is sick as well with an ear infection. Poor guy. I'll take him to the doc today and Doug will come home to take care of him while I teach.
Kisses to everyone!
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Saturday, May 12, 2007
~:T A H • D A H ! !:~
So Mom and I put Anton on the kiddy potty the other day to get him used to the idea of pooping while sitting in a chair. Since he produces the most beautiful poops right after breakfast, we figured we could sit him right down and just wait. The potty chair we have requires batteries. The chair has a light sensor in the bowl. So when the good stuff drops down and passes the sensor, it sings a little magical, sparkly tune to congratulate you. "Tahhh Dahhhhh!"
Mom puts Anton down on the potty and waits. We hear several "Taaaaahhh Dahhhhhs" in a row. But there's nothing in the bowl.
"Hmmmm. I think this chair is malfunctioning!" Mom says.
We wait and it happens again. "Tahhhh Dahhhh!"
But nothing's there.
So we bend over and inspect every angle of the chair. Anton's just sitting there watching the two of us bend and rustle.
Then we figure it out. The chair is in perfect working order after all. The light sensor is not sophisticated enough to establish the difference between brown, yellow or pink. All along, it was singing to the sweet descent of Anton's little (or should I say big?) peaches in the bowl.
Tee hee!! Doug could NOT be more proud.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
~:B E I N G • Q U I E T:~
Why I love to be alone, to be quiet, to listen to my thoughts. Being alone renews me. Recharges my batteries. Gives me the need for people again. This is the gift of introversion.
So how do you do recharge yourself?
by Mark Strand
I have carried it with me each day: that morning I took
my uncle's boat from the brown water cove
and headed for Mosher Island.
Small waves splashed against the hull
and the hollow creak of oarlock and oar
rose into the woods of black pine crusted with lichen.
I moved like a dark star, drifting over the drowned
other half of the world until, by a distant prompting,
I looked over the gunwale and saw beneath the surface
a luminous room, a light-filled grave, saw for the first time
the one clear place given to us when we are alone.
Poem by mark stand. Painting by Andrew Wyeth.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Saturday, May 05, 2007
~:F I Z E N C E:~
Dear Readers! I have not abandoned you. Doug and I have been busy preparing pickets for a fence we're building inour front yard. I must be growing up, because this is what I asked for for my 39th birthday present. Not shoes, not clothes, not jewelry. A fence. And not a fancy storeboughten one. Something we can build together.
So I've been painting, Doug's been digging holes in the ground, Mom and Dad have come over to help. And we've all been passing Anton from arm to arm as we take shifts with him. It's been hard work but fun. Today was our first long day working on the project. It was forecast to rain (a 60% chance) and thank goodness it didn't!
We have just 5 posts in the ground and about a third of the wood painted. We're doing 2 colors: dark green for the posts and a lighter dusty green for the pickets. These are the same colors for the mailbox, our window trim and shutters. It's looking marvelous so far. So sweet and nostalgic. Anton will be walking in a few short months, and he'll be safely fenced in.
Stay tuned for more pictures.
p.s. I ran into another new mother I met on the HRP floor at Northside Hospital yesterday. She was out walking her twins with her husband. I passed her coming home from the grocery store and turned around to say hello. It was great to see her,walking around, not in a robe and slippers, but with a good man by her side and two healthy beaming babies. She liked my new mini-van and thought Anton was cute as ever. Nice to see her on the other side.
I am liking this new life.