Monthly Archives: September 2016

Wild Mama

Every mother, no matter how devoted, experiences moments when she yearns to … go wild.

 I should have known on a day when I dared sleep in, trouble would soon follow.

Sleeping in was unknown luxury during my years as a young mother, a fairy-tale fantasy that inevitably dissolved in a shower of Cheerios and the wiggles and jiggles and messy, precious kisses of my preschoolers.

Sleeping in existed in a different solar system — or perhaps in a different galaxy far, far away.

But that knowledge evaporated as I lay in a bed I wouldn’t have to make, savoring the ecstasy of a quiet — yes, quiet — 16th-floor hotel room.

My husband already had left for his conference. I went wild and indulged in forbidden pleasures:  a cup of real coffee (double cream) in bed, steaming hot from the first mellow sip to the very last; a television program in which most people already knew how to count to ten; and a long, sinful bath filled to the top, with no Mr. Bubble or rubber duckies in sight.

After bathing, I ignored my ratty plaid bathrobe hanging on the hook. I didn’t decide what to wear. Instead, I wandered around the room, carefree and content as Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Prolonging my wild mama fling — unhampered by diaper bags, car seats, nap times or must-have blankies — I pondered how I would spend an entire day without children or Happy Meals.

Intoxicated with my liberty, I forgot my mother’s advice to always close the drapes and faced the room-sized picture windows. The panoramic view of city streets and smaller buildings far below dazzled my eyes, my soul. Embracing the endless, azure sky, I sang, “I’m free! Free!”

helicopterChuk-chuk-chuk-chuk-chuk! A dragonfly the size of a 60s Cadillac suddenly hovered by the window.

I hit the floor as if attacked by enemy fire. I yanked the bedspread (Too late?) across my prostrate, naked form.

Had he seen me?

The traffic helicopter pilot waved.

Then he and his mighty machine swept off to corners of the universe where other derelict mothers in need of reform might lurk.

How about you? Ever have a day when you morphed into a wild mama?

 

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer

coffeesheepO my God, thank You for coffee, my fragrant, snooze-busting joy any morning, but especially at 4 a.m. Thanks for my tea-drinking hubby, still buried under covers. And OMG, thank You that despite different brews, different views and different clocks, together we have coffee, tea, and Thee.

A Ballgame-aholic Confesses All

My name is Rachael, and I’m a ballgame-aholic.

Football, baseball and basketball rivet me to the small screen.

But Mom raised me with a Midwestern work ethic, scoffing at grown men wearing silly clothes who played with balls and sticks. When she hid the newspaper’s sport section and dispatched Dad’s recliner to the roof, we kids got the message.

My husband’s family, though equally industrious, considered viewing ballgames valid — and Indiana University basketball sacred.

Consequently, Steve requires fewer rationalizations than I, but he sometimes borrows from my vast collection.

Our favorite: we accuse each other of working too hard, then prescribe couch-potato bliss as a mutual health measure. “A little R & R will keep our blood pressures down.”

If this fails to stem coulda-shouldas, we add respectability with semi-productive activities that don’t detract from the loafing so essential to sports viewing.

We count our money.

Okay, that sufficed for three seconds. What next?

  • I clip coupons, which borders on constructive. However, I’ll lose the coupons in my black-hole handbag, only to have them magically reappear in an underwear drawer — one day  after they expire.sockscrazy
  • We fold Hubby’s brown and black socks. He does this on autopilot, and I rarely bother to separate the two, so we can focus on the game.
  • My husband polishes shoes. If the score is tied in final quarter, the difference between black and brown also escapes him. But my flip-flops look really shiny.
  • Dead-heading plants qualifies as a mildly useful ballgame pastime unless I translate the teams’ picking off passes to picking off flowers. I enjoy getting carried away, but my bald plants do not.
  • Manicures, pedicures and ear-hair-trimming sessions also work — with a similar warning.
  • Steve and I sort through cassette tapes and vinyl albums. We cannot part with any, resulting in pleasant diligence without actually accomplishing anything.
  • We made jelly — once. With all the washing, sieving, and stirring, this pastime lurks perilously close to true fruit-fulness. But if we, mesmerized by attempts to steal home plate, do not add enough pectin or sugar, we risk producing 47 jars of thin, pucker-y grape ice cream sauce.

steverachaelsportsOur best rationalization? Steve and I snuggle, cheering our teams on, snarling at referees, consoling and/or celebrating with hugs, smooches and buttery popcorn.

After 41-plus years of viewing ballgames together, we know how to do quality time. And it’s the best ballgame-watching rationalization ever.

Okay, what’s your favorite excuse?

 

 

 

 

 

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer

Three generations of Cubs fans

Three generations of Cubs fans

O my God, 63 years ago, neither this guy nor I had any idea how our lives would intersect. Or that we would celebrate his birthday weekend with our son and his son. OMG, You are so good! (What fun!—even if the Cubs played their worst game of the season.)

We(eds) Are the Champions!

Our September Garden of Weedin'

Our September Garden of Weedin’

In our September garden, we grow the best weeds in the Midwest.

The hubs and I nurtured this elite crop all summer. Yet — can you believe this? — no one awarded us a grand champion ribbon.

Last spring, my husband, risking vitality and vertebrae, rented a tank-like tiller to prepare the soil. We planted the highest quality vegetable seeds and plants. Why? They attract the highest quality weeds.

I fertilized the garden, nurturing early weed development. Hubby shoveled mulch between rows, providing moisture.

With this year’s bullying June rains, I feared our weed crop would float downriver. But despite such watery adversity, they grew strong.

Our garden in June

Our garden in June

At first, the dastardly efforts of vegetables and flowers were winning. Rain morphed scrawny tomato seedlings into scary green monsters. Lettuce, carrots and peppers crowded out crabgrass and ragweed. Berry bushes actually produced berries.

Insidious squash vines crushed the life out of purslane and poison ivy. Squash — a fitting name for such invaders, don’t you think?

But squash aggression could not match barbaric cucumbers that wound deadly vines around helpless clover and cockleburs. They even turned against their allies, the zinnias, hanging fat-bellied cucumbers around the zinnias’ skinny necks like fifty-pound pendants!

Cucumber reproduction surpassed that of rabbits. I fled through nightmares in which thousands of cucumbers chased me, finally pickling me in a giant Ball jar.

Fortunately, other allies supported the weeds. After record-breaking rains, July drought sucked out the vegetables’ fighting spirit. The brave weeds, however, persevered.

Area animals also came to the weeds’ rescue. Deer sacrificially forsook hundreds of acres of wild food to munch our garden’s green beans, tomatoes, and peppers. Bunnies wiped out berries, saving us from the sad necessity of eating them. Squirrels stole cherry tomatoes. As they could not carry Big Boys in their mouths, they contributed by taking one bite out of all they could reach.

I did question the knee-high weeds’ newest allies: chiggers. But what are a few thousand itchy bumps compared with the joys of paying high prices for store-bought vegetables that taste like Styrofoam?

Despite trials and tribulations, we weed-growers will never give up. When hostile vegetables and flowers multiply, we enjoy the deep-down satisfaction of giving our all to cultivate the finest crop this side of Green Acres.

Even if we receive no purple ribbon — not even a participation one — to hang on our wall.

Even if we never see our picture in the paper.

We will not lose hope.

There is always next year.

 

Which won your garden battle this year? The veggies or the weeds?

 

Living in God’s House

If asked my address as a six-year-old, I would have answered, “I live in God’s house.”

After missionary service, my family lived in two back rooms of our home church. We children didn’t know we were homeless and nearly penniless. Jesus, our invisible Best Friend, had invited us to stay with Him, like we did with cousins. Boy, were we lucky!

My mother, who made a home for us, no matter where we lived

My mother, who made a home for us, no matter where we lived

Our mother, having recently delivered her fourth child, might not have regarded this sojourn in God’s house so positively. Her life consisted of endless hundred-yard dashes to the restrooms located in the church’s foyer, kids hanging from her skirts. We took baths at sympathetic neighbors’.

My parents and baby brother slept in one room. The other contained a tiny kitchen, table and chairs, and a built-in wooden bed, where my preschool brother and I slept. Our toddler sister slept on a sofa pushed against it. The sofa’s curved back made a great slide. Every morning my brother and I zoomed down upon our sister in a glorious tangle of arms and legs.

Church trash cans hid treasures. After a wedding, my mother found discarded blue netting and made a glamorous dress for my doll.

“We’ll just steal this,” she’d said, laughing. She thought no more about it — until I told wide-eyed parishioners we stole church stuff.

The sanctuary proved the best perk. Our parents forbade us children to linger there after bathroom runs.  But exploring the sanctuary alone, we gained a kindergarten sense of the holy.

Sometimes I sat quietly and watched sunlight streaming into the huge, echo-y room. God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. Though I didn’t know the Bible verse, I absorbed that truth in those serene, stolen moments.

The sanctuary gave us creative ideas. “If we filled up the baptistery, we could take baths there,” I suggested to Dad. “It would make a great swimming pool, too!”

He disagreed. But unknown to Dad, my brother and I walked along its narrow edge, pretending we were tightrope walkers.

We also discovered mysterious, shiny tubes inside the organ. I spread small hands gently over the piano’s keys, imagining myself playing God’s songs, like Mom.

We found free chewing gum stuck under the pews! Sadly, Mom did not recognize God’s miracle of provision. She made us spit it out.

My own children did not live like gypsies. My kids experienced unborrowed bathtubs, doll clothes that weren’t swiped from trash, and soft gum imprinted with no one else’s teeth. As a mom, I am thankful for such blessings.

Still, I would not trade those irreverently reverent days living in God’s house.

 

How did where you lived as a child influence you?