The romantic in me has always loved candlelight. The realist in me knows that is simply not practical on a daily basis just from a safety standpoint alone. I like to burn one large candle for scent in the fireplace where it is protected. Once there was this horrid stench and it turned out the cat singed her tail from the candle I had been burning on the coffee table. Not only was I worried about her, it definitely negated the pleasant smelling atmosphere. Then I discovered these realistic looking candles that flicker but do not burn. They are the same “candles” used at the Disney theme parks. I have three sets of taper “candles” (silver, blue, and orange) plus a set of green pillar candles. They stay on and bring me an immense amount of pleasure. Plus I never have to worry; they’re completely safe and battery operated. I have always liked gas lights on the outside of homes and they have just come out with electric “candles”!!! Now either side of our front door flickers and we’re not harming the environment! And I also have them in our entryway chandelier! I just love them. The Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist Edith Wharton once wrote, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” I think that’s lovely. It reminds me of the Christ candle at church. He is the light of the world and Christians are called to carry and spread that light as well as emulate Christ’s actions in the way we treat others. Maybe we cannot always be the candle, but we can certainly strive to be a reflection of its flickering flames.
This afternoon the little one and I went in our local jewelry store to have the chain on her necklace fixed. It broke during recess. While we were waiting I noticed this bobble headed ring holder. At night I take my rings off and usually put them at the base of this tree lamp on my night stand. But then the darn cats bat them around because they like shiny things, and they’re mischievous. So I was delighted to discover this wolf to hold my rings! He’s not just cute; he’s useful. I found myself thinking of the first breeding wolf pack in 100 years they have just discovered in Australia; ONE HUNDRED YEARS! The wild gray wolves have, somewhat miraculously, returned to California for the first time since the 1920s! And 30 years after the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl wolves are thriving in the radioactive dead zone. I cannot say enough how vital wolves are to this planet; witness the return of Yellowstone. But man must stop killing them at every turn. It sickens and saddens me. I tell my little one often that good always wins. Saint Mary Magdalene was commonly believed to be a whore for centuries. Recent history has revealed the vicious lie and she has been absolved, although many remain unaware. In much the same way, I believe we have a long, world-wide, misguided history of hating and destroying wolves, once man’s best friend. I pray they, too, are on their way to being vindicated. The American writer Will Durant said, “Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.” Just last year a new species of wolf was discovered that had been hiding in plain sight: Africa’s golden jackal. I was thrilled to learn this and fervently want our wolves to be allowed to not only survive but thrive. I live in hope for the discovery of more wolves: both in places and in species. Right now I am elated with my own new discovery … of a ring-tailed wolf.
The British preacher Charles Spurgeon is quoted as once having said, “By perseverance the snail reached the ark.” I really like that. I can remember being little and announcing I was seven and a half. I always wanted to be older because I thought that’s where “IT” would be. You know, the elusive “IT” that means life is at its greatest. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve already lost “IT” with the deaths of my much beloved parents. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve finally achieved “IT” with being married and having a child. I’m not saying that’s for everyone, by the way; I just always wanted to have a family of my own. And doesn’t it seem as if summers lasted forever when you were young? I know it did for me. Life was full of endless possibilities and was going to be even better when I reached “IT.” At first “IT” was getting into college, then “IT” was graduating, after that “IT” was buying a condo, next “IT” was at last finding The One. I thought the final “IT” was having my daughter. Now I realize I have so many more “ITs” to go. I feel as if life is a roll of wrapping paper letting itself out slowly but going faster with the passing of each year. My little one keeps asking if she’s a kindergartner instead of being in Pre-K. I want to tell her to it relish “IT” as long as she can. Time is such a precious gift and how we choose to spend it says a lot about where our heart is. Mine is with my cherished miracle child and my impossibly handsome husband. “IT” is simply too dear to be rushed. Now I just want “IT” all to move as slowly as a snail.
Canadian author Charlotte Gray once said:
“After scolding one’s cat one looks into its face and is seized by the ugly suspicion that it understood every word. And has filed it for reference.”
I happen to subscribe to that theory. And so when I came upon Soleil and Elgin lounging together in what is supposed to be my spot on my bed I did absolutely nothing. Well, except for take their picture. And even then I had the feeling I would pay for it. They looked perturbed and simply sat back. I decided I could remake the bed later when they’d moved on to their second lounge spot of the day. Cats are very civilized creatures and ours are outgoing and friendly as well. Cats are also quiet and clean, but mischievous. Elgin eats my flowers and Soleil chews my phone chargers; both of which are maddening. And cats, like women, hold a grudge. If I scold them Elgin gets even by shredding things (Burk refers to this as “interior decorating”) and Soleil scratches my pleather furniture. The last two just make me want to weep. People who do not love animals cannot understand why those of us who do endure it. The simple answer is we do it for love. We bear it for our love for them and for their love for us. NOTHING for me beats being curled up with a cat in my lap and a good book. So yes, our house has some cat hair here and there and we have had some “interior decorating.” But their fur has absorbed my tears, their purrs have lulled me to sleep, and their meows greet me every morning (admittedly to wake up and feed them). For as much as I have rescued them they have rescued me. And the cats sat back.
They had a sweet event for the kiddos after school the other day: popsicles on the playground. Despite the fact that the heavens opened RIGHT as school let out and it poured did not seem to dampen any spirits — or the pleasure of enjoying a good popsicle. (Gluten free; God bless them!) We all huddled together under the Parish Hall awning since we could not go on the playground. My water baby of course was out jumping up and down in puddles already forming from the deluge a small distance away. Bright colored rivulets trickled down sticky little arms while a torrent of rain rushed through the church’s downspouts. I was looking forward to playing with my little one on that playground. She was going to show me what she did at recess everyday. I confess I did not mind missing the sandbox. The only type of sand I like involves sun, ocean breeze, and a drink with a little kick to it. But I really was genuinely looking forward to being able to just play with her in that special space belonging for such a brief time to her and her classmates. American author and philosopher Eric Hoffer said:
“It is the child in man that is the source of his uniqueness and creativeness, and the playground is the optimal milieu for the unfolding of his capacities and talents.”
Selfishly, perhaps I will have another chance to fight battles, fly horses, and dream with her there. I sure hope so … before she leaves these sweet years of popsicles on the playground.
Welll we all survived the first week of getting back into a routine. I got my little one to school on time, her uniforms were different each day, and I packed her usual vegetarian gluten free lunches with varying fruit, honey peanut butter sandwiches, and some type of cheese. I brought snacks and got her to karate twice right after long days at school. This is the first time she has not napped and I have allowed her to have apple juice before martial arts classes to make sure my karate kid girl was able to keep going. When I got her after school she smiled her angelic smile up at me and then asked where her snacks were. I explained that we were just going home and that she could relax; karate is Monday and Wednesday and swimming wasn’t until tomorrow. “But way-os my SNACK?!” she asked with indignation and outrage. “At home” I replied. And then she proceeded to completely freak out and had a total meltdown. “How COULD you?!” she cried. “You knew I needed a snack because I’m SO hungry!!” she wailed. Now red faced, “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU HURT ME LIKE THIS! I have no SNACK!” she shrieked dramatically. She proceeded to flail around as I was trying to buckle her into her car seat. It reminded me of a cowboy trying to ride a bull just out of the gate. On the short drive home my head began to pound mercilessly. I gave up trying to talk to her because she wouldn’t stop screaming. Finally she managed to wear herself out and I noticed her eyelids drooped. Poor baby wasn’t intentionally trying to torment me; I think she was just exhausted after such a big week. When we got home and I’d gotten her strawberries and cheese she meekly said, “I’m sorry I flipped out Mama.” “That’s OK honey” I said as I began cracking open a bottle of wine at 4 p.m. I sat my glass down, lit a candle for serenity, and snapped this picture. I think if it could talk the Native American would be saying, “What was all the commotion?” while the peace loving wolves would be running in the other direction away from all the noise. In typical cat fashion Le Chat Noir would be fed up while wise St. Francis seems to simply be pointing the way to my much needed wine. One of my favorite actresses, just as lovely in person as she is on screen, Jane Seymour, said, “At the end of the day, I let myself have a glass of wine.” As for me, I decided it was w(h)ine o’clock somewhere.
Fairly recently I got a stool I have been eyeing for a long time. It is made from reclaimed teak wood and each is unique. This one hadn’t sold because it has a natural small split right in the middle of the base. They even gave me 20 percent off! I really liked it and thought it had character. After bringing it home I was thrilled to see it was a perfect height for our kitchen “bar”/counter area. And I could not believe my husband would wind up loving it for when he reads the paper and has coffee in the mornings. Our little one climbs up to have her after school snacks there. It is so nice to have my sweet family in the kitchen now talking to me while I’m cooking! The stool is seriously the most comfortable seat in the house! I had no idea when I got it how well it would be used. American actor Milo Ventimiglia said:
“I’m a homebody, I’d rather be in the kitchen cooking than hanging out in a bar.”
I am the same way. Only now I have my own little place where my two favorite people in the world can come to hang out, talk, eat, and belly up to the bar.
I just wrote about our entryway the other day and here I found something else I never noticed. This time I was coming in and was struck by the beautiful blue light streaming through the window in the afternoon sun. I go in and out a lot every day between dropping the little one one off at school and picking her up, taking her to karate and swimming, having physical therapy on my mending broken shoulder, my rounds which are at all hours, church, and countless errands. But I cannot recall a time when the light has been so beautiful. It reminded me of stained glass, for which I have an intense passion. When I was eleven I wrote my first book on Christian Symbols solely because of my lifelong love for stained glass. It made me wonder if I have missed anything else in my rush to hurry here or there. The Dutch theologian Desiderius Erasmus once said, “Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.” I think God gives us these moments to slow us down and see everyday things in a new light.
A few years ago our microwave finally gave up the ghost. When we got a new one I never ordered the trim kit to finish it out. After two unsuccessful, frankly hellish attempts I FINALLY got what we needed. The first time they sent me something for the inside of the microwave; the second time it was the wrong size. I won’t mention the scratchy connections, dropped calls, and accents that could not be discerned. (I have a really good ear and can understand just about anyone so that is really saying something.) But hey at last I got it and I took it out of the box to assemble it. In typical cat fashion said box was dutifully inspected and then turned into a romper room of sorts. Pouncing on the screws, I hid them before the gatos discovered them. I am handy, but I do not own a drill. Weighing the cost of said drill versus trying to procure a reputable handyman who wouldn’t charge and arm and a leg, I opted to find a handyman. That way I could also get the lightbulb under the breakable glass dome way up high in the laundry room changed. It has been out since last spring when I broke my shoulder. And I could get the door knob in my office reassembled after I had to systematically dismantle the darn thing with a toy screw driver. The little one thought she was helping by locking it — from the inside out. Turns out a drill is needed for that as well. After multiple tries ranging from snotty to disinterested, at last I found a place and the legit handyman was able to accomplish all three tasks while being sniffed/kissed by the wolves. Through it all he managed to keep a calm patience and maintained good grace. Now our kitchen finally looks properly finished out instead of having our microwave sitting swallowed up in a yawning, cavernous hole in our cabinetry. Even my husband came home from work and appreciated it! American football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” I cannot say I was able to actually perform the tasks, but I CAN say it took a whole lot of work to get to these minor-but-major successes. So go ahead — check out the new grill.
New shoes, new socks, trying on clothes and not particularly loving it; ah the joys of going back to school. But my little one said she was “nervous and excited” to be returning to her Montessori school where she will be in the same classroom she had last year. She will already have some friends she knows from her first year. This is her second. Her school has three “grades” in each class: primary students in their first year, second year (Pre-K) and third year (kindergarten). I only attended private school for kindergarten and first grade and we had no uniforms. I LOVE that she gets to wear them and frankly I am glad to see some public schools adopting the practice as well. I got made fun of in junior high mercilessly by a rich girl for wearing the same clothes a lot. (If she only knew I’d gotten them at the Goodwill.) At the risk of sounding somewhat socialist — which I most definitely am not — uniforms bring a sense of communal equity and also a feeling of being on the same proverbial team. I think they are wonderful. From a mother’s point of view there is no battle over what to wear each day and it puts the focus where it belongs — on learning. I know my little one is proud of her school and loves her plaid. The wee bit of Scots-Irish in me is proud she has her own plaid as well. American author Tom Bodett said:
“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”
She has so much to learn. But for today, I am just glad she had a “great” first day of Pre-K.