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Category Archives: life ehgo

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!

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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!

Skeletons in the Backyard

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My parents will soon move from the house where I grew up and I have mixed feelings about the whole endeavor.

It’ll be good because  they’ll leave Virginia and move closer to me, but in doing so, will move farther away from my sister.

They’re having a new house built ultimately so that they can age in place, but I have a hard time visualizing them in their new space.

Back in the spring, my sister and I jotted down a list of all of the nice features of that old house. Skylights in the kitchen — one car-garage (in a neighborhood that does not have garages at all) — well-maintained year-round garden. But there’s other things about that house too that not everyone will love nor any potential buyer will ever know about.

Things like the guinea pig skeleton in the backyard. Scooter, a hand-me-down calico colored guinea pig, died the night before we were going to take her to the exotic animal veterinarian. I remember checking on her periodically throughout the evening and then going in to find that she wasn’t breathing.

We’d had other pets die before, but Scooter was mine. She’d been my responsibility since a neighbor kid couldn’t take care of her anymore and she came to live with us. Her grief was mine to carry and deal with. I emptied out a shoe box and we buried her the next day in the backyard. Every year when my parents go to till up the soil in the garden I think about where she’s buried and wonder how much evidence of her would be left. I wonder if whomever buys their house will ever find her tiny skeleton in tact or just dig up her bones one at a time and know them for what they are — a memory of child-sized grief.

 

Making Friends

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Ellie is having her first ever play-date on Saturday and I envy her ease at making friends.

Granted it’s with Sia, her best friend since they started in the infant room together at day care, but still. She’ll engage with other kiddos at the park and just instantly start playing with them as if they’ve always been friends.

I wonder if it’s the same for dog parents and if secretly, introverts have children or dogs in our lives as a way to force us out of our comfort zone?

Oh, you don’t like talking to other people? Here, teach this little person how to talk and play well with others.

Need to keep your social engagements to a minimum? Puppy needs to go for walks and everyone likes to talk to you when your pup is so dang cute.

This evening we had a picnic dinner at the library park and Mr. Pirate and Ellie were playing on the rock structure when a younger kiddo came up and started playing with her. Without much else to do, Mr. Pirate and I eventually wandered over to where the other girl’s parents were sitting. We talked a little, about the girls and their ages, about the fact that they’ve only recently moved to the area and then about the weather. By then, I was pretty much tapped out for conversation. I just don’t know what to say to people beyond that.

I think I’ve always felt introverted although my mom insists that I’m not. She’ll tell you that I’m out-going, and I can be. But I also reach a point where I’m ready to retreat inside myself and want to be left alone. It’s a balancing act though. One thing I have learned about myself is that there’s only so much social isolation I can handle – four months maternity leave was almost too much. I like people, just in moderation.

Maybe I just need to take a page from Elle’s book and play with people whether they want to be my friend or not.

In other news:

  • Camp NaNoWriMo was a slog this summer. I need to get back to writing in a very large way. My spelling has fallen off and ideas and thoughts don’t come so easily to my soggy and tired brain.
  • SO MANY BUSES! We took delivery in June of 10 new buses. Because they will be assigned to my terminal, I’ve been assigned to checking them in. That’s been an adventure. More on that later.