Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just Messing Around....

Pollen on a hibiscus:



Water drops on spiderwebs:



Brightening the day:



Webby lines:



On the rocks:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Irony?

First, thank you all for the kind words and prayers this past week. Things are slowly returning to normal, whatever that may be. Just when I think I'm doing okay, it hits me again and I break down like a little baby. Hopefully time will heal.

When I was home, one of the things we laughed about was my mom's inability to keep vases in the house.

She loved flowers but with eight kids running wild, her vases had a short life. It was funny because each time she got a new vase, one of us broke it. Once we were grown and out of the vase-breaking stage, her grandchildren took over the vase-breaking duties.


This afternoon I received a bouquet of flowers from a friend.

After thanking the delivery person, I went to the kitchen and started looking for a vase for the flowers. I dug through every kitchen cupboard and closet, but there were no vases to be found. I have at least half a dozen vases, but can't remember where the dang things were put when we unpacked.

For now, the bouquet is sitting pretty on my kitchen table...........in Destructo's airplane-shaped Lego container.

How ironic is that?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

An Enigma Wrapped in a Paradox With a Side Order of Sarcasm

My mom died last week.

It seemed somewhat unexpected and sudden, but in hindsight not so much.

She has suffered from severe arthritis most of her adult life, and at one point (35 years ago) she was given 5-10 years to live. Of course, being the Queen of Stubborn she completely ignored the doctors on that one.

In spite of the pain, she continued to get up every morning with a smile on her face and never once complained that life wasn't fair to her. The arthritis slowed her down and made everyday tasks more difficult, but that was never an issue for her. Anytime I called and asked how she was feeling, her answer was always, "Oh, I'm fine. How are the kids?"

Three weeks ago she began having difficulty getting out of bed and showering by herself. We (the siblings and I) began discussing assisted living facilities, with my mom's blessing. The decision was made that she should remain in her home, with increased assistance from my brothers and sisters who lived nearby. My mom was relieved.

This was approximately the same time she mentioned to my dad that God had told her she didn't have long to live, and she said she needed to finalize a few things.

Less than two weeks ago she was no longer able to feed herself, brush her teeth, etc. I spoke with her that Saturday and she said she was fine (and asked about the kids) but dropped the phone three times during the conversation because it was just too heavy to hold.

That Sunday we arranged for 24-hour in-home nursing care. My sister called at 3 a.m. Monday to let me know that they didn't think she would make it through the day. I talked with my mom for a few minutes. It was difficult for her to speak, so I talked about the kids. My sister said she smiled.

I spoke with her again Monday afternoon. She wasn't able to respond, but again she smiled.

Monday night she slipped into a coma and she died Tuesday night.

It happened so fast - I still can't wrap my mind around it all.

I've spent the past week laughing and crying with family, friends, and total strangers who came together to remember her. Interestingly enough, many of those who thought they knew her pretty well had no clue who she really was.

On the surface she was the tiny, frail woman who showed up for church every Sunday, brought her famous scalloped corn to potlucks, and loved going to her grandkids' Little League games and Christmas programs. She made handmade quilts for each new baby in the family and always had a supply of ice cream treats for any kids who may stop by.

Below the surface was much, much more.

She had a wicked sense of humor, and her favorite 'holiday' was April Fool's Day. I remember getting up on April 1st, getting dressed for school and standing out in the driveway waiting and waiting and waiting for the school bus to pick us up. At some point one of us would run back into the house to check the clock.....only to discover that my mom had set all the clocks in the house ahead by one hour, leaving us standing out in the driveway for well over an hour.

She was also famous for tampering with our April 1st lunches. Instead of our usual meat and/or cheese sandwiches, we would bite into our sandwich and discover cardboard, or cheese with the wrapper still on, or meat/cheese around the edges of the sandwich with the entire center of the meat/cheese cut out. If we opted for peanut butter and jelly that day, it usually had a creepy crawler inside.

With eight kids she had to be creative, especially with punishment. The usual spankings didn't work after a certain age, so she came up with alternative punishment. My favorite? The time my mom heard my brother say "Fuck!" His punishment? Stand on a chair in the kitchen and repeat "Fuck. Fuck. Fuck....." I'll never forget the look on my dad's face when he came home from work and found my brother standing on a chair in the kitchen saying "Fuck. Fuck. Fuck." My mom was standing with her back to him calmly chopping vegetables for dinner. That was priceless.

This is why it somehow seemed so appropriate when some visitors arrived at the funeral home with their 10 y/o son. The son, who has Tourette's Syndrome, took one look at my mom and blurted out, "Oh, that lady is SO dead!!!" I could almost hear my mom giggling from above.

Her funeral was very traditional. The church was packed. The choir sang. My brother and I assisted with readings. The priest had many comforting words for us. (Although he did say that my mom was never persecuted, except by her children.....hmmmmmm.....)

At the end of the service, there was one last bombshell for those who only knew her as the quiet, petite, church-going woman with the perpetual smile on her face. Waiting in front of the church was a handful of scruffy, bearded, leather-clad bikers standing next to their Harleys waiting to take up the tail end of the motorcade from the church to the cemetery. Yes, she was their friend too.

I'm going to miss her.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I Miss.......

Rain.

We haven't had a measurable amount of rain since we arrived. I miss rainstorms, and the rainbows that follow. I miss the smell of the rain. And, finally, I wish we would have a nice heavy rainstorm to wash off all those loogies off the pavement. Now I know why people wear shoes here.

The Aloha Spirit.

Especially on the road. Everyone we've met here has been genuinely nice....which makes me wonder where all the crazy drivers come from. I'm not used to drivers who cut you off just to get to the light first, who think nothing of driving 6 inches behind you at 65 miles per hour, and who interpret a turn signal (for a lane change) as "hurry up before this bitch cuts in front of me!!".

Kona Brewery.

We've found many hole-in-the-wall restaurants to replace those we loved in Hawaii, but I could SO go for a grilled mahi mahi sandwich with fresh, homemade kettle chips.

Good Friends.

No explanation needed.

(sigh)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Deja Vu?

You know that dream you have where you are back in middle school and you suddenly forget where your locker is? And you panic for a few seconds, then go ask the office ladies to help you? But when you try to ask for help, your mouth isn't working right so it comes out like, "Ecccusr m? I cadjjneajnflkdaksdfj." And the office ladies look at you like you are crazy?

Or the one where you show up for class and realize you brought the wrong book, didn't do your homework, or weren't even in the class? And when the teacher tries to tell you where you need to go, you can't understand what he's saying?

How about the one where you forget an important piece of clothing and don't realize it until you're in class, then just pretend nothing is wrong and hope no one notices that you didn't wear a shirt that day.

You would think that after all these years, it wouldn't matter any more.

....................

So, tonight was Back to School Night at the Wildcard's new school.

I arrived early for the new parent orientation, then began the ten-minute per class mini-schedule. First period went off without a hitch, as did second period.

I arrived at the Wildcard's third period and grabbed an open seat at the front of the room.

The teacher introduced herself, talked about her classroom policies, her expectations for the students, and parent involvement. Then she asked everyone to pull out their spiral notebooks and pass them to the front of the row.

I quickly glanced behind me and saw parents pulling notebooks out of purses, briefcases, and backpacks.

Okay, WTH was that?

Behind me were smug parents with the "See? I did my homework!!" look on their faces.

As they passed their spirals to me and watched as I passed them on to the teacher, I could feel their eyes upon me....

"OMG!! She didn't bring her homework!!!"

It was totally one of those middle school nightmares.

.................

The minute I walked back into the door that night, I called out to the Wildcard.

Me: Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm...............Did you forget to tell me something?

Him: The spiral, right? I pulled it out of my backpack just after you left.......

Me: And?

Him: Sorry?

Me: Can you ask your teacher where she gets her hair cut? Because it is really cute and I can totally see myself with that cut.

Him: Mom? That would be embarrassing.

I guess I'll just e-mail her.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Reality Bites.

The Blonde One is LOVING college. He loves his classes, loves his professors, and loves coming home to do homework.

He also loves being "the kid from Hawaii".

On the first day of his English class, the professor had them each stand up and introduce themselves, give the class some background, and tell them something interesting that they did over the summer.

The Blonde One introduced himself, discussed his future plans, then said he had just moved here from Hawaii this summer.

After class, half the students approached him and gave him a "you're cool" stamp of approval.

He was stoked.

His homework over the weekend involved writing an essay. He, being the cool kid from Hawaii, wrote about a bodysurfing experience at Sandy Beach. Sandy's is known for its treacherous waves, frequent drownings, and of course perfect conditions for bodysurfing.

When class time rolled around today, he was pumped up to share his essay and experiences with the class.

Unfortunately the professor had different ideas.

"Pass your essay to the person sitting behind you. They will critique it and we will discuss it as a group."

The Blonde One turned to see who was sitting behind him.

It was the 13 y/o brainiac who was taking college courses as part of her high school curriculum. He reluctantly passed his essay to the girl. The girl, I might add, is the same age as the Wildcard.

She. Ripped. It. Apart.

His writing style? Not so impressive. His grammar? Needs work. Content? Yeah, work on that too.

He said she was somewhat embarrassed as she passed it back to him.

She apologized.

He was flustered.

"Well........at least I am old enough to drive!!!"

Our family doesn't possess the "great comeback" gene, obviously.