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Two Sickles and a Dung Bomb

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Elle is forever picking up pinecones and adding them to her “collection”. She says that she just collects pinecones, but her pockets are often full of rocks, twigs, and other small bits of the outside world that she longs to bring in.

I’m OK with the pinecones. She’s developed enough awareness, that she no longer requires every pinecome she sees.

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A Rambling Story About Love

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Prologue

I sing to Ellie every night as part of an evening ritual that my mom did with me.

  • Get jammies
  • Brush teeth
  • Read stories
  • Nighttime singing

It has always felt to me like observing vespers, only without the Latin canon. I cried the night my mom stopped singing to me. It felt like being forced to grow up before I was ready. But that’s another story for another time.

This one is about Elle.

Those who sing, pray twice ~  St. Augustine

When singing to Elle, I like to try to personalize the songs. “All About That Base” has become “All About Her Face” and I even have a version of “Goodnight Ladies” from “The Music Man” that my opera-singer of a college roommate has praised me on.

I have tried to make “Mary Had A Little Lamb” all about my girl and her current favorite stuffed animal, Lamby.

One time, Ellie listened, and then told me: “The next time you sing it, make sure you say she because Lamby is a girl.”

Someday, there will be a reckoning and it won’t be about the gender assignments of toys, but rather about the very nature of Lamby.

This is Lamby.

Lamby

Note: not actually a lamb.

Lamby has been with us since before Elle came into our lives. A gift from Mr. Pirate’s grandmother on my birthday, the white stuffed kitten first resided on my dresser and then later, when we moved out of the apartment, into a box. While cleaning, Mr. Pirate and Elle found her and Elle struck her claim.

I don’t know where the name Lamby came from, but she’s called it Lamby ever since she vocalized that the critter is hers.

Lamby has gone through the wash machine a couple of times and has had the subsequent experience of hanging to dry out on the clothesline. She’s ridden in Ellie’s bicycle basket and has made forays to preschool where she only gets to come out at nap time. Lamby likes to fly. She tries to sit at the dinner table. She is, for all intents and purposes, exactly what Ellie wants her to be.

She’s just not actually a Lamb.

Maybe someday, that won’t be a big deal. I just worry  that it will be like the revelation of the Easter Bunny or of Santa Claus and I’ll be taking away from her some essential part of her innocence. But we’ll see.

Today, on the drive to preschool, she told me that Lamby sometimes says “Meow.” We talked then about how maybe Lamby is bilingual and that she speaks two languages — cat and lamb.

Maybe someday it really won’t be that bad when Ellie realizes her lamb is actually a feline. It’ll be a gradual realization much like how we are constantly redefining ourselves throughout our lives. I’m still the sixth grader who wrote about losing her nightly songs, but I’m also the mom who is aware that kiddos are going to be who they are going to be.

I’ll try again to sing Ellie off to sleep with my rendition of “Mary Had A Little Lamb.”

Maybe it will go something like this:

Ellie had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb.

Ellie had a little lamb and Lamby was her name.

Ellie and Lamby

She is always in motion.

~*La!

Not In Colorado Anymore…

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When you travel, there are lots of little ways that tell you that you are far from home. It doesn’t even take a house falling on your head to give you a heads up, but sometimes, that helps.

I am traveling solo for a roller derby clinic and thrilling in the ability to just explore. It’s novel.

Wait, I don’t have to ask a certain pre-schooler if she has to go potty before we leave the hotel? WHAAAT?

Today, I plan to walk my feet off. I intentionally arrived early so that I could just visit a new place. Yep. Utah is a new place, y’all.

After leaving Georgia, I think I started taking for granted the fact that other states actually sell alcohol on Sundays. And anywhere outside of Boulder, lighting a cigarette on the street is normal.

Here in Salt Lake City, the way I’m going to have to at least temporarily reset my expectations is in how I cross the street.

One way streets are no big deal, I can handle those. But Salt Lake seems to actually have a functioning and accessible light rail system running through it’s heart. As such, even the road implores you to check for traffic.

My light rail conductor even slowed down the train to open her window and holler at some folks walking along the median between the two sets of tracks to get out of there. She reminded them that apparently it IS rocket science to safely cross the street. And then we passed this billboard. No joke.

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Art imitates life? Or the other way around?

I feel like the 1920s image of hopping on and off trolley cars is not a nostalgia that they hold truck with here.

Another local thing I’ve noticed is the way you ask whether you’ll dine in or eat out at a restaurant. As in, “Will that be to go, or stay in?”

Maybe it was a one-time thing and not a Utah thing, but I like to think of it as a local color observation.

Let’s go explore some more, hmm?

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Mountains on the east…not on the west…got it.

 

~*La!

The Bee’s Bruised Knees

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Elle and I are a lot more alike than either of us will probably ever readily admit. In the pursuit of being your own person, sometimes the driving factor is to show who you are not.

And yet, I see Ellie’ s banged up shins next to my own bruised legs and can’t help but think, “Yep. That’s my girl.”

Ok, so it's really our shins. Whatever.

We are not particularly careless, but we are not overly cautious either. I’m a mechanic and like a gardener, getting dirty is pretty much part of the job description. By Sunday, my hands are usually not too gray — unless I work on our cars over the weekend — in which case, forget it. However, my legs tend to bear the brunt of my work. On our smaller buses, the Type As (the rest of the world knows them as Short Buses), I remount the tires by resting them on my thighs and then lifting. Don’t judge. It works. So that’s the twin bruises on my thighs.

Then there’s the abrasion on the outside left leg paired with a two-day-old bruise on the inside. Inside is where I banged my shin after a test drive and outside is where I gouged it BEFORE the test drive on some sheet metal.

It’s cool. My tetanus shots are up to date.

Elle on the other appendage, is a complete mystery. I ask her, but I don’t think she always notices when she gets injured. Mr. Pirate and I have encouraged her from the get-go to dust herself off and pick herself back up again. She cries, but almost always follows it up with, “I’m OK.”

Maybe she’s been watching a bit too much “Paw Patrol” and has accepted the accident-prone Dalmatian, Marshall, as her personal hero?

Marshall the firehouse dog

He really is OK. He’s just still growing into his paws.

Regardless of the why, I think I’d rather she learn to be resilient and aware enough of her own body so that she knows when to sit it out and howl, and when to bounce back with a grin and a wave.

So for all of the Moms like mine who had semi annual visits to the hospital, thanks for letting us learn our limits. We’re out there raising up the next batch of cheerfully bruised kiddos, and I think we’re all better for it.

~*La!

 Fashionistas Don’t Fall Far From the Family Tree

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 Fashionistas Don’t Fall Far From the Family Tree

Learning things about your parents is always weird.

I used to think that the pursuit of understanding where you came from was a pursuit that only those who are adopted could truly undertake. That for the rest of us, it’s too easy. Our answers are right there if we only know what questions to ask.

We’ve had the easy path outlined for us in bright flourescent genetic paint. 

But then you stumble across a box of your mother’s old clothes and you find not only skirts she sewed herself, but also the type of shirt you longed for her to let you wear at age 14.

A sweet little baby doll shirt that she loved probably at the same time that I was still little more than an idea. I don’t know. Maybe she had it before then.

I remember being in 9th grade and wanting more than anything else to be allowed to shop in the juniors department. The 70s were only just starting to make a comeback and I wanted my T-shirts to be both tight and tiny. Nevermind that the kindest description for my body type was skinny or waiflike. I just wanted to dress like the others girls.

And maybe this is part of why she resisted. It wasn’t because the shirts were too short in the midriff. It was because the fashions themselves reminded Mom of a time when she was much older than my little teenage self. By the late 70s, Momma was already a college graduate, a mother, and effectively a world traveller. Her teenager in the late 1990s had no business dressing like someone that mature. 

It’s also weird to learn that now her retro blouses would fit me but absolutely not her skirts. I’m 33 and like her I’m a college graduate, a mother, and a sorta world traveller (she’s got at least two more countries on me). Unlike my mother at that same age, my hips are epic. Not massive. Epic. It’s a good thing though. I like my hips.

It just means that if I want to set aside any clothes for Elle, I’d better hope she likes vintage when she’s 14. Otherwise girlfriend is gonna inherit hips and there will be no hope of any of us wearing these skirts ever again.

Helping

“Momma, I want to press letters.”

And so we are. I remember being her age and sitting at my mother’s blue typewriter, tongue sticking out of my mouth as I poked away at the keys. The satisfying click and thunk of the keys striking the paper roll.

This morning she read the white letters on the STOP sign in one of her picture books.

“S-T-O-P. Stop. That’s a stop sign.”

Ellie might not recognize the connection between what she’s saying and what she’s seeing, but that’s OK.

She’ll get there.

“I holded it up and I holded it down and I banged my heart in weightlessness.”

Yep. That’s my girl.

~*La!

Slow burn

There are so many things that make me burn.

Injustice.

Intolerance.

Deliberate callousness.

So when I feel stuck on a low emotional simmer that I can’t explain, then I feel like I’m not doing enough.

Right now, I’ve tried for over an hour to put one word after another to form some coherent account of my brain space.

It’s really busy in there right now and there’s not enough oxygen to set my mind on fire.

The bottom line though is that I hope Ellie will never be called Honey when she is on the job in the someday future where she is an adult.

~*la.