Archive for the ‘Blessed and possessed’ Category

Losing heart: don’t do it, don’t you dare!

June 24, 2021

I was so taken aback, my jaw dropped. Just me? Has any of you ever found this kind of fortune in your Chinese take-out?

losing heart

Losing heart. What the hell?! Who gets a fortune like that? First of all, that’s not even a complete sentence. Secondly, …okay, I’m sorry, I’m back to what the hell?! again. It hits a little close to home.

I’m trying to remember that no matter how many times I have to climb the mountain in front of me, it’s going to stand there until I get past it. It’s my mountain, and it’s just my luck. Some people have their houses burn down. Some people lose their children, or lose parents at an impossibly early age. There are so many different kinds of trauma or hardship.

My mountain is my mountain. Sometimes it’s easier, sometimes it isn’t.

Don’t lose heart, Katie-girl. You can do this.

My best life apparently includes ALL the wildlife.

June 17, 2021

Today was a rough day. Like, almost throw up from the stress of it all kind of rough. Because no one likes surprises. Especially stressy, tough surprises. And not those surprises over and over again.

Honestly, yous guys, I feel like Wile E. Coyote a bit, because just when I feel like I’m getting back on track, rebuilding my best life, feeling great about who I am and where I’m going (except for one or two pins I need to fall into place), and then… KABLOOEY!!!

But! When I woke up this morning, I pulled up my Girl Scout socks and told myself that anyone who can find a bald eagle in the wild – a bald eagle nest, even! – doesn’t have anything to worry about. She’ll manage.

Of all the inspirational things I tried to tell myself, that was the one that actually stuck to the wall.

Because you know what? I DID see a bald eagle – a bald eagle nest, even! – in the wild! I’ve seen a mature bald eagle, majestic, breathtaking, damn near miraculous honestly. And I’ve seen two fledglings still in the nest (…who i maybe thought were part of the tree at first. Shhh! -don’t tell!). The fledglings were ginormous; nearly the size of their mama. They all just sat there, occasionally preening. Not much ado about anything.

How crazy is that? I’m a city girl. I didn’t roam out of the city…well, maybe a little towards the suburbs as we roamed the Langolier pole path, and sat by the sides of swamps. By “we”, I mean one of my uncles took me. He used to be an avid hunter, and for the past 15 years or so, he’s changed fields and now photographs (and sells prints of) New England wildlife. I had gone to his house to vent to him and my aunt about the newest surprise stress, and after I finished unloading, my uncle asked: “Wanna go look for some eagles?”

“Uh – YES!!!!!” was my reply. I think I had my shoes on before he finished turning around.

I’ve been asking him him he finds all of these animals; I know there are tracking methods I could just study, but my uncle’s talents are beyond that. He just happens about all kinds of things, like he’s a woodland magnet, or maybe a Disney animator with a magic wand.

Whatever it was, we saw the mama (or papa) eagle with the two fledglings at the first pond. Then we went to check out the owl tree – sadly, nothing doing there. I’m glad we went though, because he’s been telling me to look in the tree in the town center. I drove there and there are twenty trees in the little triangle of park! The owl tree he meant? Is across the street in front of someone’s lawn. But he made up for it – we went rambling down backroads, seeing the squirrels the size of cats; a deer ran in front of our truck thankfully when we were crawling along; there were red-wing blackbirds; crows the size of eagles; an empty osprey nest; and then my proudest moment: I asked what the bump on top of a telephone pole thingy was, and it was an Osprey sleeping! Mrs. Monopoli would be so proud of me!

At the next place, which was next to an adorable old-timey cemetery a few towns over, one I’ve driven past a hundred times!, we saw osprey in their nest with wee ones; Great Blue Herons stalking fish in the shallows; other Great Blue Herons in nests (like apartments) with fledglings; paired swans; Canadian Geese; duckies; and even muskrats swimming around! And then, as if that wasn’t enough Disney wonderland to lift anyone’s spirits, he pointed out a doe that was walking through the woods on the opposite shore. See what I mean about how he’s a woodland creature magnet?

All of that buoeyed me today. I hope the thought of it helps someone else, too. I’ve given Uncle John a new list that includes pheasants, bobcats, and a black bear that’s a safe distance away. (If football has taught me nothing, it’s: be very, very specific with your requests to the Gods above.) Oooh, and pheasants – I should tell him there’s been an update. I can’t add porcupines or anything else until we check some off. But it’s okay – I’m keeping track.

And then it turned out the stressy thing went my way this morning and I have a month’s reprieve so I can show everyone that I really am trying to be the best Katie I can be. It just turns out that my action figure comes with a field guide and binoculars.

The girl went over the mountain…

June 14, 2021

It’s rainy together. Rainy and miserable. And to be honest: it’s kind of put me in a funk.

To be more honest, I started out having a bit of a Jonah day. I have some custody stuff that bubbled up over the weekend, and…. I keep making hard decisions and tough choices and wondering when the terrible, awful, no-good, very bad hurdles will stop showing up. I’m doing my best to build myself back up, but at some point… Man.

So! Because I’m having a bit of a moment, a bit of a day, I decided to post something that I did this week. Another thing that made me feel deep happiness: I reached the top of Mount Wachusett.

There are a ton of hiking trails, all of which I want to crawl into, and explore, and see wildlife. They’re the kind of trails that make me want to sing Girl Scout songs at the top of my voice. (But that would scare the wildlife and the hikers.) So I haven’t. Yet.

The pictures don’t do it justice; the views are phenomenal, even in all the haze. There are helpful signs at the top of the firepost-climby-tower thing. They show you which mountains are which, and where they’re located. Did you know that you can see Mt. Snow in Vermont? Or mountains and ridges in New Hampshire? Obviously you can see Mt. Manadnock. That bit that’s circled red in the picture? You can’t make it out as well as in person, but that’s the Boston skyline! It’s stunning!

I can make it over the mountain. I know, sometimes, that it seems like asking for help and getting things in order creates more of a problem that never seems to end. But this is the life I’m meant to be living, and if there’s a mountain in my way? Well, then there’s a mountain in my way. It only holds the power that you give it and allow it to have.

So I’m going to be sad if I need to be sad. But I’m also going to remember that I can go back to that mountain top at any time and remember that I can do it.

I can do it.

….the girl went over the mountain, because that’s what was next.

I survived the Shorter Way Bridge!

June 4, 2021

Has anyone else developed a fear fascination with covered bridges since reading Joe Hill’s masterpiece N0S4A2? No? Just me? Huh.

While we were in Vermont, we got to explore the area around a covered bridge, one which perhaps wasn’t the Shorter Way Bridge that inspired the novel, but certainly created some vibes. We stopped to hike around the area, exploring streams, dammed up pools of water (where kids were happily splashing and playing as their parents kept watch), paths, shiny rocks, streaks of granite, pine trees, and (sadly) a lack of moose and bears.

But scary bridges? They had those in abundance! And by abundance, I perhaps mean just the one. Ahem.

It’s pretty, isn’t it? for all of its malevolent vibes. Everyone else thought it was quite lovely. That’s okay: I’m quite used to everyone thinking I’m bonkers. And to be honest, I’m quite grateful that it’s for “normal” things now. Nataly and I ran around having a blast looking for things that made our hearts happy – dandelion wishers to make the perfect slo-mo video, shiny rocks with bits of mica in them, pictures of the magic bridge that might help us discover lost things…

It was a fun trip! A tiny little excursion in the middle of the most relaxing, jam-packed three-day vacation ever.

And just to prove that the bridge isn’t even what I feared it might be, the superpowers to help Vic find “lost” things wasn’t working on Wednesday; I didn’t find my sanity or my girls.

So then that‘s alright now, isn’t it?

The Sup-meh-bowl Rundown.

February 8, 2021

It’s such a weird year, this 2021. Still an upgrade from 2020, don’t get me wrong! I knew it wasn’t going to be like flipping a light switch. But I could still feel the pall over everything last night.

I was definitely feeling it, being back in New England for the Superbowl for the first time since 2001/2002 when we won our first ring. I was here shopping and preparing for my wedding that time, when our upstart back-up QB took over the team and began his run at the record books. This time…this time I’m staying at my parents’ house on my own, sad because my girls aren’t here, and because that QB abandoned the Pats and was leading a different team towards a ring.

But that’s alright. I got to shovel some snow, which was good to get in a workout. And for five inches of snow, at least it was the wicked light powdery kind; you couldn’t even make a good snowball outta it. I got to use my fancy new snowboots, and my new neon green shovel. That shovel isn’t getting lost in a snowstorm any time soon! I was surprised those magic snowboots didn’t work – I figured since I plonked down so much money for them [snow boots are expensive, dude!], it wouldn’t snow all winter. But I didn’t mind, since I had volunteered to shovel so Joey could finish making crunchy chicken. Nom nom nom.

So mayyyybe I had three giant Kodiak-size drumsticks and a thigh while watching the game. Maybe. Heh. It was delicious, but only momentarily distracted me from having my girls there, arguing over who “should” win the squares in our family Superbowl pool.

What did a better job of distracting me? Amanda-freakin’-Gorman!!! Who would have thought the country would get this excited about poetry recitation at The national football game?! I am so flippin’ excited to watch her career. She’s the real deal. She’s gonna change lives, and possibly the trajectory of our country. If we’re lucky.

The Weeknd killed it at the Halftime show. The decoy intros, the explanation behind all the bandaged faces, the fucking annoyance that so many people were Not-Social-Distancing. I laughed my booty off during his meme-able run through the gold mirror maze. I sang along to Blinding Lights like there was no tomorrow. I wished the entire frickin’ thing that I could hear his voice better. So amazing, yet so thin and tiny. Still – such a better show than they usually have.

The commercials…god, not many stand out. I wanted to punch the NFL in the face when they lied their butts off about being pro-active about social justice. I understand that Kaepernick refuses (rightly) to be in anything having to do with the NFL, but how can you honestly publish that commercial when you have only 3 black head coaches; 4 black referees and less than one-third of game officials who are people of color; 10 black quarterbacks (which I think is a dramatic increase from where the percentage usually sits); and ZERO black owners. 70% of the players in the NFL identify as people of color. Don’t believe the hype, you guys. The Four Seasons Landscape commercial surprised the sheep outta me! That might have won hands down. The Michael B. Jordan Alexa video was…ahem…pleasant to watch; however, I have serious issues with everything thinking that sort of video is okay. It objectifies good-looking men. If it was gender-flipped, most of us would be losing our minds that it was even made. I love me some Michael B. Jordan, but I’d much rather (casually) watch him reading a book on the subway. Daveed Diggs and Sesame Street was up there for me because I love all a them! …But honestly all I could think about was the DoorDash fees they were recommending. Bad sell, guys. No Way, Norway! was of course delightful. The Jeep commercial urging us to forget that abusers were anti-compromise for four years, and just wants us to forget it and meet them where they stand – nah, didn’t do it for me. To put it mildly. And the Cheetos commercial with Shaggy bustin’ in with his classic “It Wasn’t Me” had me bustin’ a move. But we’re gonna forget that his song hit #1 freakin’ 21 years ago!!! How old are we?!

One guy wasn’t feeling the passage of time last night, and even though That Guy ceased to exist the moment he defected from my team, I guess I’m happy he got his 7th ring. I know I’m in the extreme minority. But with Peyton getting into the Hall of Fame this weekend, and him having won a ring with two teams, I wanted That Guy to keep pace with the QB who was his main competition for so long. I’m glad Bruce Arians got his ring. I’m not glad that Suh and Antonio Brown and freakin’ Blaine Gabbert got a ring. I’m glad the Chiefs’ assistant coach who killed two children and left another in critical condition because he was driving drunk – I’m glad he didn’t get a ring. I’ll be furious if he ever returns. I’m not glad that such a vocal supporter of Trump’s politics got a ring. That sword cuts both ways, I guess. Watching #12 throw passes only to former Pats players, I have to admit that was amusing. I couldn’t help but smile watching Gronk and That Guy reignite their magic once again.

I’m tempted to say there was more good than bad, but…I’d be lying if I didn’t say I didn’t miss my girls every time my heart got happy. This is gonna be tough.

Even on a Monday.

November 2, 2020

It’s Monday. I’m trying to re-adjust to having time and space being a constant, definable construct for how I am in the world. …And so of course it so happens that it’s Monday.

Of course. I remember Mondays. I’m familiar with Mondays.

And today’s not just any Monday. It’s the Monday before the election. A stressful, tense, hold-your-breath kind of Monday.

But even in all of this, even though I recognize every hiccup that might bubble up in front of me, there was this thing that happened that made me more grateful to be right here than maybe anything else.

The girls reached out and texted me something. A small blip of a something, but it was something all the same. A big something if you’re sitting in my shoes. And so when I journeyed to the post office to drop off all of my packaged-up orders, I swung by the House-on-the-Hill and dropped off some Halloween plates.

Just a small, teeny-tiny little momentito in my day. But one that has me smiling, Monday and all!

Where she stops, nobody knows…

September 2, 2020

Remember the tiny metal-and-air merry-go-rounds we used to ride at the playground?

Not the fancy ones you might be thinking of – not the ones made of horses and dragons, ones that would go up and down, and parents would take pictures, and a grown-up would take tickets for admission. Oh no. These were no-frills metal playground equipment all the way. A circle platform of sorts, topped with metal pipes that came out of the center and divided the merry-go-round into 8 pieces, or there abouts. If the playground was fancy enough (and the equipment was new enough that the paint wasn’t worn through), the different sections of the platform would all be painted different colors.

Yes – those merry-go-rounds.

I feel as if I just climbed off, and my brains are still scrambling around, shrieking just like the kids would. And just as my vision adjusts and I have my bearings…I stand up, turn 90 degrees to the left, and plonk myself down again.

My brain isn’t scrambling anymore; my heart isn’t scrambling any more. I feel so absolutely different. And…at peace.

I just wish I could tell them that I’m okay. This fundamental shift is okay.

The real reveal: Bee’s bedroom renovation!

June 18, 2019

Bee has been waiting such a long time for this moment. It crushed my mama’s heart every time Bee asked, and explained logically why she “deserved” a room renovation, and then I had to tell her we couldn’t do it right then, because I didn’t have the money. Saving up, pennies here and there, and finally being able to say “YES!” was one of my happiest moments as a mom.

Seriously. Bee worked hard. She was patient while she waited for funding to come through. She worked to keep her room clean for an entire month before I would commit to a renovation. I wasn’t spending all of that money and carrying out all of that work and have her entire wardrobe on the floor, mixed in with the contents of her closet. Not the look I was going for.

Finally, she worked hard with me to empty her room, bagging clothes that didn’t fit, and donating toys she has outgrown. She (and I) worked hard to get to this: a completely empty bedroom:

I shampooed and steam-cleaned that rug twice; even got out a pretty large paint stain that little Miss Craft Girl didn’t want to confess to Mom. Thank goodness I’m magic!

While that was drying, the girls and I unloaded 23,942 boxes from the back of the car, and IKEA delivered the other 6 huge boxes that contained the bed. My living room looked like a cardboard box city!

For an entire week, it was me and an allen wrench against the world. No joke – Bee’s loft bed nearly killed me. I could lean one side against one wall, but then I had to get the big I beam from the loft to screw into a particular place on the other side piece. The VERY HEAVY side piece. And nothing was working the easy way. So it only took me four hours. Doesn’t every first step of building a bed end at 2 a.m.?? But I did it. And thankfully, Gracie was soooo into helping me and arranging the room that she put together a lot of the bed after I got the frame hooked up. Finally, between the two of us, we had Bee’s loft bed all put together!

My favorite part is that the bed actually fits in the space. It ends just before the window. [Bee-Tween didn’t understand why I wouldn’t let her bed block the window, or why a second exit from a room was important. I was afraid she was just asking the universe to send a fire in her room. Geez!] The space at the top is a little tight, but as long as the ceiling fan isn’t on, it’s fine. It really only overlaps by three or four inches, but its enough that the person up there could sit up and get their head whacked.

I wish I had a picture of Bee’s mattress going up – I even thought to have Gracie help me put on the mattress protector and the fitted sheet before we hoisted it. Good god – that nearly killed us too. Why are bedroom sets so deadly??!! Golly! We added sheets, her white comforter. Bee was set for the night and so! excited! It was really happening! Wish I had a picture of THAT, too!

The next day while Bee and Gracie were at their dad’s, I rushed to put together the drawers, the bookcase, and attach the two legs to the desk top. Bee had texted me and said she knew my back was bad, and if I had just done the drawers, she would help with one more thing when she got home that night. She didn’t know I was nearly done! I raced to finish the rolly-chair. I staged everything, added the fancy light and the iPhone holder. I anchored the extension cords with velcro strips. I plugged in the longest iPhone charger cord I have ever seen – Bee would definite be able to plug her phone in while she was up in bed. I anchored the mirror in the wall (using my new drill! yay!), and added a few things on the bookcase as a final touch.

My heart – when Bee came in and saw that I had finished her space….! I can’t even describe the happy that was swirling all over my crazy, fantastic, beloved daughter.

 

Wait – there’s one more bit! As kind of a check-in a few weeks (or just a week) after Bee’s bed/desk/office space was finished, just like they do on the home renovation shows, Bee and I looked at what we had done, and decided to add one more piece: she needed somewhere besides her closet to keep her clothes. The bureau she had didn’t match her aesthetic, so she nixed that. Bee decided to use the cubbies she had in her room before, I found some new fabric drawers that would match, and voila! The last perfect piece for Bee’s Magical Renovated Bedroom. You can see her new hamper, the perfect place for her full length mirror, and her body pillow that serves as seating. It’s all perfectly Bee!

Cubbies

Enjoy, Bee-girl. Love you with all my heart…love the way you fight for your funky little differences – like this alterna-drawers for clothes.

Keep being you!

Bedroom Planning 101.

June 17, 2019

When last we left our heroine, Bee-Tween’s bedroom was really, finally happening! I had given Bee her budget. (She nearly fainted with happiness; it was the adorablest!) She had permission. She just had to plan, go buy what she needed,…and then clean her room out. Meh, meh, meh. It was happening!

Bed1b

Bee didn’t even have to think twice about the bed she wanted. She had been hunting different loft bed possibilities for the past two years. This was the one she wanted; an IKEA model that would eat up a lot of her budget (and most of the space in her bedroom), but still leave a little wiggle room. In both senses.

I had to admit – it was really, really nice. Solid construction. Beautiful wood tone. The desk and bookcases looked gorgeous. The best part was that I didn’t have to pretend I could arrange furniture – Bee wanted the entire set, so I could just write down the model numbers and pick it up in one fell swoop! So that was our plan.

Except The Plan had a small little problem: the bed wouldn’t fit.

Bee-Tween had measured her room (three different times, to make sure) and brought the numbers with us. She thought it would work – on paper. I mapped out in her actual room back home what it would look like in real life. The real life problem is that Bee’s ceiling slopes on the side, so Bee would be smooshed in the bed.

As if that wasn’t enough, if Bee shifted to lay on the side of the bed (a queen-size) away from the sloped ceiling, the ceiling fan would be inches from her head. So her choices Bed2were claustrophobia or decapitation. Is this a bed or a torture device?!

But Bee was adamant. THIS was the bed she wanted. ALL of her plans were centered around it. I used this handy-dandy bold statement from IKEA that proved my point – Bee’s room was too small! Bee used it to prove the bed would squeeze in there just fine, and continued to have a knock-down, drag-out fight because she wanted the bed that bad!

I spent a lot of time measuring this way and that way in Bee-Tween’s room when she wasn’t in there. I finally found a way the bed might fit. It was going to be a huge leap of faith – I don’t think even IKEA would take back a mostly-built bed…and all the accessories that came with it that we bought because my tweenager wanted it and I wanted so badly to make her happy.

So I crossed my fingers, and said “Okay.”

Bee-girl isn’t the type to yell “THANK YOU!” or run up and hug you. But the girl sparkled and smiled her small little smile and I knew in my heart it was the same thing.

The very next morning, Bee and I got in the car, stopped at Starbs and the bank, and then hit up IKEA. The idea was to turn this into that:

…and I think we did a decent job. But we somehow packed the other half of the store into the back of my RAV, too.

For a girl who doesn’t like to shop, Bee did a fairly good job finding knick knacks and whatnots she could squeeze out of her budget. She didn’t want the two lamps that were included in the display, so she chose a different lamp, one that can charge iPhones and has a USB port at the bottom. She replaced the chair with a wicked cool round 50’s mod that somehow made the desk pop even more! A fancy trash can, a couple of white surge protectors, and a 20′ USB cord that would reach the top of her bed. Until we get a small ledge shelf that she can reach when she’s sleeping, she doesn’t have clock nearby; making her phone even more essential.

While Bee was thinking of all of that, I gifted her a new mattress. She was going to need one, since she was upgrading from two twins to a queen. I didn’t think that was fair to come out of her budget. We found a fancy memory foam one at an incredible price, so I added a new pillow, and she picked out a set of sheets.

Everything fit into the back of my RAV, except for the bed frame. That we had to have delivered, which they were able to do just a few days later! Everything seemed to be sorted out. Bee-Tween-Girl was finally getting her room! It was really real!

There was just one…more…problem.

The bedroom she left at home. Yeah. Maybe she should think about moving just a bit to make room. Meh, meh, meh – details.

When Bee-Girl got her room back.

June 13, 2019

You guys remember How Stella Got her Groove Back? That movie was a Moment for me. I was in junior high and seeing women empowered like that, encouraged to feel their feelings and act on them, to be who they really were and get other people to really see them – that was formulative. Discovering Terry McMillan right after that further fueled those feelings, and that Moment that my girlfriends and I had then turned into a Movement. It changed how we saw and interacted with the world.

Now I want you to tuck that bit of insight away, but not too far away.

Bee-girl is having a moment. She’s moving on up from Bee-Tween to a marvelous, majestic, empowered teen. [One who seems to be resisting a nickname, but that’s another story.] You know how she is.

She’s been planning and scheming her room renovation for more than two years. It was a fun distraction at first – measuring the room, picking out what kind of furniture she’d want, blackout curtains, colors, and whatnot.

Then her room became something more. Gracie got a room “renovation” a few years ago because she moved out of the girls’ shared room and we needed to actually build her a room in the former guest/craft room. [Great googly-moogly – I love our set-up now, but gawd I miss that space!] Two Christmases ago, two pivotal things happened that twisted Bee into knots. One: the new bed. Auntie Kim bought a new bed for that room because she visited a lot and that was her bed when she was here. (Gracie got bumped into the spare bed in Bee’s room.) Auntie Kim paid for the bed frame, which Gracie picked out with only a few vetoes; I paid for the super-awesome memory foam mattress that I kind of wanted to steal. Heh. The bed was one thing; the other was the new paint. Gracie had been begging to paint her room a different color, now that the room was hers. So Auntie Kim gave her a gallon of paint for Christmas. The accent wall is now peacock blue, and it’s lovely!

But it was also super-problematic.

Those two purchases made it seem like Gracie got a second room renovation. Bee hated her room – she felt it didn’t represent her style, her personality, everything was hand-me-down. She felt less-than. Two renovations less-than, in fact. And because sometimes life is difficult, and sometimes those twists and turns happen at the worst possible time, Bee didn’t get her promised room renovation for quite a while. I promised her $500 for her budget – the problem was finding time when we could afford that bit of luxury.

Finally, about a month ago, I finally saved enough to turn all of Bee’s schemes and Pinterest pins and mad-hattery ideas into motion. The sparkle on her face when I said Yes was one of Those Moments that you stockpile as a parent. A moment you’ll call up in the hard times to shore up your spirits. A moment when you and your daughter sincerely understand each other’s point-of-view. God bless therapy. And patience.

And, of course, IKEA.

I have so many pictures and stories to show you! The desk. The mirror. A rug. Curtains. A new drill and drywall patching kit to make curtains possible! Heh. An interesting wardrobe solution. More allen wrenches than this world really needs. And the bed. Oh heavens and stars, Bee has been searching the world over for the loft bed she had created in her mind. Thank you jeebus she found it! I just had to make it fit in her tiny, tiny room of dreams.

It’s glorious!

But this part is really my favorite part. This story about why Bee’s new bedroom was so meaningful. How she had transferred a lot of feelings into this idea, but then how she used her power to communicate that to me, and worked with me to make it happen. I’m really proud of Bee for doing that! Almost-13-year-olds rock pretty ducking hard, I’ll tell you what.

Bee-tween got her groove back. Just wait til you see!

Bee-tween