Blogs

The Family Tree of Life … wait, what?

The Family Tree or The Tree of Life … whatever you call it the symbol is deeply embedded in religious and spiritual beliefs. You will find it popular for genealogy and history buffs, elementary school home projects and with artists of all kinds.

The definition is as wildly varied as is each tree. Rarely depicted in exact form or feature. A basic Google search brought me the following definition:

“In this way, the tree of life is a symbol of a fresh start on life, positive energy, good health and a bright future. As a symbol of immortality. A tree grows old, yet it bears seeds that contain its very essence and in this way, the tree becomes immortal. As a symbol of growth and strength.” unknown

I’m sure you have heard the joke about the family tree being full of nuts. It’s generally the absolute truth and is especially for my own. A few weeks before my epic trip up north my mom sent me photo which would make a permanent mark on us all, literally.

My phone was blinking with a message waiting as it often does, only this time it was my mother. Some people might roll their eyes or sigh seeing another text from mom but not me. I love them. I guess after years of not speaking little blinking lights seem to have the positive power to keep all the old darkness away.

This time she sent a photo.

She had found a piece of jewelry online, or I think that was what it was. I have since lost the texts, little did I know such a simple thing would turn into a worthy story. I don’t remember the words but I complimented the piece. I had just purchased something similar while on vacation. I had hung it in my kitchen window days before our conversation. An interesting coincidence. The symbol she shared was a Triple Tree of Life design.

Whether it was she or I who decided it would look amazing as a tattoo I do not recall. I will give her credit as she is the visionary among us.

She decided we should all get this tattoo of 3 trees and set about to sketch it. She proclaimed her tree to be the middle and my sister and I would be to the left and to the right. Her image came to live in a circle and she began to add leaves separating each mature trunk and expansive branches. She asked what leaf shape I preferred and I chose the hearts. My sister would be assigned the scroll shape leaves.

And so it was shared and agreed, we would get these trees symbolically tattooed to our individual bodies to represent the true roots and togetherness despite growing into separate entities.

That would be that except for the fact that now we needed an artist willing to do the same design on separate occasions and for a reasonable price. Oh, and a tiny detail, I happen to live in another state, they each in separate cities. I was going to be in town for a short window so my appointment had to be scheduled in advance.

Like a true champ mom had her appointment first. I wish I could have been there but alas the miles add up and I wouldn’t be there for weeks.

Second my sister got hers, a little larger than ours, much as she does everything. She laughs louder, is a little taller, and has bigger chickens. (It’s not a competition, sis.)

When it was finally my turn I hobbled in, limping on a broken foot with the fam. Mom, Dad and my sweetheart in tow. For the record I didn’t know the foot was broken at the time, not that it would have slowed me down any more than it did. I didn’t need the entire clan for support either but I won’t lie … I did enjoy the entourage.

Mom introduced me to the artist as the daughter from out-of-state and reminded him she promised to bring me in. Now here I was. She was so excited, proud even to be presenting her family to the man with the needle gun.

It’s a special gift she has, to walk into an establishment and become the official honorary host. She takes charge in the mom-est way ever and she does it so well. She shows us off and takes ownership even though we are moms ourselves and tower over her in height.

It might also be a red-head thing. It’s sort of endearing.

I was invited into the artists chair and I happily plopped down, arm up on the rest and head back taking it all in. There was a glass case to the left against the wall with piercing jewelry in it. On top of the case was an entire brown bear skin with yellowed teeth and claws. The bear skin seemed shockingly out-of-place yet so at home there perched menacingly about 8 feet in the air. I didn’t ask about the bear but may next time.

My eyes shifted to a back room which I suspect was the piercing room. I suggested mom get her nose pierced. She didn’t miss a beat and declined. It was hard to rattle her.

We continued to chit-chat with the artist about my current ink, where I got it and that it was unique. My mom, from her seat in the corner, pipes up with a question. Asks what the oldest person the artist had ever tattooed.

Good question.

Guy covered in ink and wearing purple gloves continues to gently press into the skin on my arm and pauses before he shares his reply.

He begins the story with how he had to help an elderly lady into the tattoo chair. A frail, tiny old woman. He might have said she had an oxygen tank or a walker or something, painted the picture of tiny sweet grey hair granny type. He got her into the chair and she advised she wanted a touch up tattoo. Not kidding. She wanted to touch up the roses on her earlobe. He described being scared to break her, being so gentle as to not hurt her.

She was a champ.

I can only hope to be that bad-ass someday.

Mom was intrigued. She asks if it is harder to tattoo old people skin (yep, said that) and she mentions something about being worried she might be too old for tattoos. It is possible I guess she was fishing for a compliment. I don’t know. Forgive me, Ma, if the words are wrong there but this story is as I recall it. Also it happened.

She got good news however you look at it, she wasn’t the oldest he had ever tattooed (he laughed at her for that) and she was in the fairly young range of people who come in for ink. I think she blushed but it was hard to tell from the reflection in the glass case. I was still concentrating on the insanely large teeth on that bear skin.

He went on to say with plenty of moisture skin will be good for tattooing for a long time to come. She is probably sitting somewhere with some Skin So Soft right now. I know I have upped my moisture game. Old lady skin be damned.

It was over quickly and I marveled at how beautiful my new tattoo was. We paid and tipped well and made our way back for the party that afternoon.

We ate and drank and took pictures and ate some more. We showed off our new ink in singles and in triple to anyone willing to smile and nod.

Our tattoos are a symbol of who we are. Joined at the root but each branched to our own. My mother with her leaves, which symbolize for me life and change. My sisters scrolls symbolizing what I see in her as great wisdom, boundless intelligence and strength. Lastly my hearts, which for me represent love unconditional with a notation on some limbs a barren place for broken hearts for which I am grateful to never forget.

*Thank you to my mother for designing such a beautiful tribute to family, forgiveness and bond. Also for feeding us constantly when we visit. Those baked beans though … yum.

*Thank you to my dad who has kept us safe since we were wee girls. That’s what dads do. They also make safety videos so you don’t hurt yourself playing in the yard.

*Thank you to my sister for being ever-present in my life even when we don’t speak. Also for the moonshine that tasted like paint thinner. You’re the best sister I’ve ever had.

Advertisements

Big Balls and a Broken 4th Metatarsal

Knocker ball, bubble ball, human hamster ball … whatever you call them they look so fun.

Fun. Fun indeed. Also dangerous, in a hilarious way.

This past weekend we took a road trip from North Carolina to Ohio. A quick but jam packed trip from Friday to Sunday. It was a long drive and I was feeling restless when we arrived. We hugged, chatted a bit and then suited up for a game of back yard ball.

By suited up I mean we climbed into giant blown up clear balls that were outfitted with shoulder straps and handles. The ball top sat above my head and well above my knees so I looked like a giant clear soccer ball with legs.

I squared off with my teenage son. We pranced around the beautifully landscaped lawn totally out of place and sweating like wieners on a campfire. Each of us taking a slow step forward and back getting the feel of these giant bubbles and sizing the other up.

Then someone screamed “GO” from the sidelines and I got in a few strides before I felt the force. All 138 lbs of boy muscle wrapped in a vinyl bubble coming at me like an deranged rhino.

For a split second I second guessed how fun this really was and I feared for my safety.

I felt my feet come out from under me and I bounced onto my back. All was fine, I could see the green of the tree leaves and a bit of blue sky with puffy white cloud. I didn’t die.

I tried to hoist myself up with no success. The only free moving parts were mid thigh down and my log legs wouldn’t respond like brain was desperately signaling.

I was thinking I would just stand up. Just pop right up. You know, like a gymnast after a flip. My brain pictured it but my body simply did not compute that kind of movement.

Have you ever seen a bug knocked on its back and watched it struggle to get flipped back?

That was me.

I was laughing too hard to ask for help and I’m not sure anyone knew how to get me upright. I had to roll to my belly, slide out of the harness, stand up and put it back on for round two. Thankfully no cameras were catching any of this nonsense.

I strapped in, took off my yoga sandals and faced the other bubble direction. The boy was gonna get it this time.

We charged again and this time I decided I wasn’t going down. I dug in my heels and shifted my weight to pummel him but it was too late.

He got me.

I felt the ball around me take flight and then hit the ground. I felt the heat of a thousand fire ants at my ankle. I would have grabbed at it but I was stuck in the chamber, strapped in and crying for some kind of merciful, quick death.

I was laying in the grass, as flat out as one can being that they are shoved mid thigh in a big ass ball. I heard a gasp, maybe it was my own. I heard my mom’s voice I think, asking if I was alright. No idea because I couldn’t see anything but trees and blue sky. The voices were a little muffled but I knew this was probably bad. Real bad.

I don’t recall getting out of the bubble but once my hands were free I reaching for the ankle. Sprain? Broken? Faking injury to take down the unsuspecting kid? Nobody knew.

I got help to stand up and the pain spread. I was sorta laugh hobbling to the nearest seat. The ankle was swelling. This was extra bad.

We went about the weekend, I ignored the pain and limped from the chairs to the food table and back numerous times.

No ace wrap. No doctor. Nothing to see here, just a sprain soaked in a bucket of ice. Dipped in off and on, keeping the swelling down. There was plenty of ice. Lots of good food and family and alcoholic beverage. I was going to be fine.

On Sunday (now 2 days from “the incident” and still no medical attention) we stopped halfway to do a little shopping.

The pain. Oh my goodness the pain.

I cried. Real, hot, terrifyingly uncontrollable tears rolled down my face as I watched my foot swell like a giant sausage in my shoe. I yelled at my indecisive family in the drive thru. I got frustrated with our geriatric dog for not being still in her bed. I was in so much pain the thought of chewing off my own leg crossed my mind.

Just after the tears incident I found myself apologizing to the family for snapping like a lunatic. We decided I would be dropped at the ER once we reached our home town. no more questioning whether this needed medical attention.

Fast forward to Xray viewing. I wish they had provided popcorn at least. The suspense was killer. I didn’t hear her clearly when she said it was broken. She had to repeat it to the blank faces staring at her. Broken? She pointed out the break in the screen. It started to make sense.

I repeated again how it happened. We joked the doc sees the danger in everything and never the fun. I see her point as I sit here in the splint. Soon I hope to be able to be weight bearing. Those balls will never look the same to me.

Some how, some way I didn’t completely realign the broken bone while limping about all weekend. It should fuse without surgery. I’m feeling lucky in a way but equally wondering if I would have less pain had I just chewed it off in the car.

For your viewing pleasure I’ve attached some photos of others playing over the long weekend.

For your own safety please don’t try this at home. If you don’t die laughing you could get hurt otherwise.

If you must try them for yourself you can find your own set on Amazon.

Follow-Up Safety Video. Thanks, dad!

Weekend Road Trip

The time had come. After a few years of awkward isolation I took the family to Ohio for a visit with “my side” … the mom and dad, the sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles and family friends. It was a wild ride.

Here’s how it started …

Thursday came quickly and without warning I was slammed with a migraine of epic proportions. I left work early, tried all the magical fixers to little help. I dread the 8 hour drive on a good day. This day it seemed like an extra dose of torture. We had planned for this trip weeks in advance. I was about to scrap it and make a new plan.

I booked a room for half way, I figured if I could break up the ride and sleep it would be better than 8 full hours of migraine misery. It worked out pretty well, she drove the first half way and we slept a few hours. In the morning I felt like a new woman.

I was ready.

I was pumped.

I was driving the rest of the way.

It started off great, we left in time to beat big city morning traffic jams and we were on our way.

I was flying.

We crossed the destination state line and traffic seemed to cone into a 2 lane slow down. I noticed the state trooper facing the south bound lane and carefully watched my speed as we passed. When we were clear I tore out of my choked lane and took that open 3rd. After all we had passed the trooper car, we were in the clear.

Except that, no, we were not.

It took maybe 10 seconds before I realized the gray sedan coming up quick in my rear view had a light bar. Damn. I got out of his way to the middle lane. He followed. The lights came on. My stomach sank. Damn.

I said “he got me” out loud. Like in an old western where somebody gets shots and falls dramatically to the ground. Except the only thing falling was my hope to get to the destination anytime soon. I pulled over and waited. Embarrassed yes but mostly curious to know what he clocked me at. We just bought this car in May and I have yet to stick the gauge to the point it bounces. Not that I would do that. (I would totally do that)

The nice man in uniform and spiffy matching hat with dark shades greets my open window with a “good morning.” It really was a beautiful day till he showed like a ninja behind me. He says the reason he pulled me over was for speed. He asks me if I even saw him. I reply I did not.

Let’s be honest, if I had we wouldn’t have been having that conversation on the side of the interstate.

He asks for the required documentation and it takes an alarmingly long time for my partner in crime to locate it. The dog is barking, the teenagers in the back seat are being awfully judgemental and nobody is pleased with my antics. The officer fills the time with unecessaty chitchat. He tells me he clocked me after I passed him at 90 and the speed limit is 70. He asks me if I knew that. I say yes. Then corrected myself that I knew the speed limit but didn’t know how fast I was going. I really didn’t but I knew I wasn’t doing 70. This was a bad time to admit it so I kept it to myself. He tells me I am definetly getting a citation and it should just take a few minutes before I can be on my way again.

We sat waiting. I took the opportunity to tell the kids speeding was bad. All the while I couldn’t look at the passenger seat. She was gonna burn me down with the fire coming out of her eyes. She was wearing sunglasses but I knew she wanted to burn me to ash because there was steam coming out her ears. She was not pleased we were going to be paying for my poor vision and lead foot. My bad.

I got my paperwork. Man in the uniform and spiffy hat tells me I can come back for court (not a chance in hell) or pay the fine (it’s how much?!) and it had to be done by such date and can be sent to said address. Alrighty. Fine. Got it.

Lesson learned? Don’t get caught speeding. Don’t trust there is only one cruiser. Break your long trips up but still expect delays. Finally … you will not be allowed to drive the rest of the weekend if you get a $200 citation on the way there.

So here’s the scoop on the new coop …

I once shared a story about a wicked little rooster outside a hotel room singing the song of his people in our direction all night. You would think such a horrific event would stop my pursuit of having a wee flock of chickens but no.

Back in the spring when we stopped by the TSC (Tractor Supply Co) for dog food we stumbled upon a “surprise” mess of fluffy little chicks in the middle of the store. I say surprise but let’s be honest, there was a big ole sign outside that screamed chicks were there and we probably didn’t even need dog food. It was an excuse for city folk to see the chicken babies. They were all huddled under warming lights and peeping their little hearts out. All yellow and brown with beady little eyes and funny little feet.

Needless to say we tossed a bag of starter check feed, a heat lamp and some bedding in the cart on top of the grain free kibble we didn’t need. The nice folks in red vests went to work trying to rustle up 4 of the smallest breed chicks they had available. It was so very exciting.

We took them home and put them in a box and cuddled them every day. The one tiny brown one came to be my favorite and the only rooster of the group. He would sit on his new friends and herd them about the box like a true leader. When everyone had fully grown real feathers and our little roo started to crow, we put them in the newly built coop. It was a proud moment.

A few days had past and our little flock of four seemed to love being outside. They slept on the roost and cuddled in all cute at night. Then one warm spring night the unthinkable happened. Something got into the coop by digging under and went to work murdering all but a single lone chicken. My favorite chick was spared but clearly traumatized. The unspeakable horrors of the nights events flashed in his little chicken eyes while he hopped carefully over the discarded parts of friends. It was awful. He suffered some lost tail feathers and had some damage to his newly budded comb but mostly he was just terrified.

We brought him inside again, cuddled and cooed at him. He soon forgot his woes and I am convinced he also forgot he was a chicken. As much as I would have loved to keep him inside and treat him as a dog there was just one little thing.

I have an aversion to animal poop.

I hate it.

He didn’t seem to mind.

received_2215439915136751351017525.jpeg

We had come to an agreement that he would need to return to the coop, newly lined for his safety and I would add in a few chicks to seal the deal. Yes, you are reading correctly, I made a deal with rooster weighing in at about a full can of beer.

I picked up 5 more chicks and set about life with fowl running carefree in the backyard. This time I was extra careful to secure the coop by night. All was well for a little while.

Fast forward … 3 of the little chickens we welcomed are actually roos. So for numbers sake we now have 4 roosters and 2 hens. This is not a welcome balance. Every morning they are all making various crowing sounds. They strain their little necks and stare longingly toward the back door for someone to come let them out for the day. As if we could ignore the ruckus.

If it were a single crowing bird I could almost forget them for a bit but 4? No.

Let them be free … to shut the hell up.

Today was my morning to spare them the day in the coop. I had an extra couple minutes before leaving for work and I decided to run down to let them out in my bare feet. Who needs shoes anyway. This is standard for me at home or basically anywhere it may be remotely socially acceptable to not wear shoes. Today the bare foot would be a bad choice, I just didn’t know it yet.

Picture it; early morning, dew on the grass, the sun barely up. The roos are crowing, they see me and they are dancing and fussing in clicks and chirps and song, urging me to move faster to unlock the doors. I was concerned about slipping in the wet grass but also about getting to them quickly. What I wasn’t thinking is that being near the coop means being near the poop. Chicken poop. That black mushy stuff that you don’t see in the grass. But you can feel it. You can feel it on your bare feet.

I opened the coop door, locked it up in the upright position and urged the dogs to follow me back to the house. We needed to hurry now so I could wipe my feet of the dew and poo mix. This ordeal had taken more time than I intended. I quickly grabbed some cleaning wipes and slipped on my flip flops.

Crisis averted.

I am basically feeling like Super Mom or a Goddess of chickens and children or something equally amazing. My morning routine is basically slayed and I am a rock star. I go to work with all the confidence in the world.

Then on my first break I look down to see there was a bit of poo dew I missed between my pinky and the neighboring toe. Like the tow jam you find mysteriously lodged in toddler toes at bath time. I was mortified, even though thankfully nobody else noticed. I have never been more thankful for a desk job in my entire life. I quickly cleaned up the mess and pretended like nothing happened.

Little did I know what the future held when I pointed out which little feather balls I wanted. What it really meant when I asked the staff to put my birds in the box that fateful day at the TSC. Who knew life would be such an adventure. I fear that I will have flashbacks of toe goo and both my roo and I will need to be put in a padded room for our mental health.

It’s been an adventure and we have only just begun.

All take and no give, a relatively dramatic take on life

I am bathing in negativity. I liken my current state to one of those Ancient Roman bath-houses where everyone you know went, literally every body in the same place, all bathing at the same time. Everyone washing their dirt and their troubles into the same water you have your toes dipped into.

Or in more modern day dilemma, I am surrounded by others peoples dirty laundry. It begins to weigh on a person like a cotton clothes line full of wet jeans in the summer. If only I had a tall stick to prop myself up like we did the line when I was a kid. Whatever to keep the freshly laundered wares from touching the dirt below.

3e4712fef5b6478b1f41eb5ce56c6e38--the-stick-mobile-home

So here is the story. I have excluded names and specifics to protect the innocent, including myself from even more drama.

 There are some people in our life, distanced by geography but not by the heart. Some of those people are also distanced by societal standards, measurable success,  and obvious happiness. I feel it necessary here to add that I fully believe in the power of self worth. I have truly believed my entire adult life that if you raise your children to believe in themselves, to be independent and if you teach them to not take advantage of others they will grow into responsible adults.

I understood that responsible parents would have responsible children.   Those who were not so much would be dealing with adults who were co-dependent leeches on society.

I was so wrong.  Amazing people can and do produce offspring which turn out to be unproductive, unwilling and general drains to those around them. These are the people in ancient times which would have floated their misery in the bath-houses to infect everyone else. Those who by simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time would come out more filthy than when they entered.

It appears that indeed a family can raise children which become so entirely different from one another that the drama and discord turn everything to black. The envy and cruelty become abundant as the differences become more apparent. It seems not that we can be happy for another but we should rather destroy what we can not / do not have. I stand utterly corrected and equally confused.

The more success and happiness one has the more separate and desperate the attempts become from others to destroy it. I loathe the phrase “he/ she thinks they are better than me/us” … if someone makes you feel this way without an outright just cause it is very likely your own insecurities. 

How can it be that we will hurt someone with the same blood in their veins simply for their willingness to put in the hard work to succeed on their own merit?

I do not understand how a family raised in the same place, by the same people could grow to adulthood as such different members of society. What I do have an understanding of is those who bully are generally those who feel their own self worth to be less. The fact still amazes me that those who feel less than worthy in their own right would not stand up to achieve what others have for themselves.

Why would someone actively make a choice not to work hard, in their education or career or even in their relationships? Why not put that negative ENERGY into following the path or patterns proven and demonstrated possible? What stops you from forging your own success story? Is it just easier to lean onto others and throw rocks at those busy building, exploring and developing a life well lived while you sit behind by your own choice?

All these options and still some have chosen instead to shade those who earned their happy place. 

While it would seem the logical thing to do is to ignore the drama filled water I am afraid someday we will be swallowed by the waves of cruelty and drowned by it. What I would much prefer is a harmonious existence. I will not dare ask for relative peace but if we could just all learn to get along, for ourselves and for the sake of others, everyone would be in a much better place.

 

 

 

 

Another lesbian love letter … happy birthday my love

My one, my truth, my reason for idiotic bliss. I cherish this, your birthday as I have the others who have come before with as much awe and honor as I ever have.

You never cease to amaze me as we grow older, year by year and side by side.

The first birthday we shared I brought you the wrong gift but with all the right intention. You were so sweet about it all, I was embarrassed but glad to be with you.

My crush weighed so heavily on my brain I could barely remember to wrap your gifts.

Since your last birthday we never spent a night alone. You were next to me for cake and ice cream, for laughing until we cried and for beer on beaches. For every sweet moment in between.

My crush still weighs heavily and at times I can barely speak.

Sometimes it is all I can do, I stare in wonder and amazement that you are here with me. No miles to distance us. No goodbye need ever be long.

I am honored to spend this day, the birthdays previous and the days to come celebrating you. Your laugh and your smile. Your kindness and your generosity. Your strength and your courage. I admire you.

I am in awe of your ability to tackle anything that comes our way with strength and wisdom. You surprise me each passing year with your passion and commitment to our little family. I am moved by your beautiful gaze and am transported by your touch.

 

 

My pride, my lover, my best friend and my destiny. I have never been more grateful to be in your company.

Happy 41st my love, my gorgeous. My darling wife.

I adore you more than words will ever say.

 

 

 

Mothers Day in a new light

Today is the first day of May.

Today is the first full month of 2018 that I feel somewhat less lost as a mother, as a daughter and as a woman.

I have grown children, and teenage children, and fur children. I have a wife who I have been accused of treating like a child on occasion. Nobody is perfect, judgmental Judy.

I even have feathered children (I love those little cluckers).

I know, I look way too young to have grown children, thank you for thinking it.

The fact is I do. The oldest are adults, adulting in a grown up world far from my nest.

In case you need a quick refresher note here is a mini version of my sorta-adult life:

A long time ago in a land far away there was a young “know it all teenager” who found herself pregnant and stupid. She married her boyfriend, bought a house with a white picket fence added in a couple dogs and had everything but happiness.

More ridiculous things happened in the middle. Blah, blah, blah …

Fast forward 20 something years and that stupid teenager is a self proclaimed wise(r) woman. She made mistakes. She fell down alot, skinned her knees and nearly broke her neck emotionally and mentally. Eventually that lost girl found her happiness. She distanced herself from her own mother for fouls of a personal nature for years but has since, very recently, found forgiveness. Her grown children are distanced now, not by spite but by miles and sparse communication.

For all of my woes there is a light in distance, there is a summer plan to bring all of my people to the same harmonious place.

By harmony I mean grass and lawn chairs, sipping cold beverages and cheering on a game of corn hole or horse shoes. There will be laughter and loud voices, there will be barking dogs and trash talk. There will be breezes to blow the smoke from the grill.

There will be a stillness inside me finally even in the midst of reunion chaos.

Mothers Day may come in mid May but I am celebrating a little earlier. For the first time in a long time I have something entirely and unexpectedly related to extended family to look forward to.

Something that isn’t a surprise pile of dog poo in the hallway in the middle of the night when I get up to pee.

Something not related to a bag of cheese puffs in the pantry with a single cheesy puff left in the bottom of the bag.

Something uncommonly good to look forward to. Something not at all like a field trip leaving tomorrow at 4 in the morning which I learned about the night before.

Nope. Something really, really good.

Something great is on the horizon. A Happy Mothers Day indeed.

 

Latest-Happy-Mothers-Day-Rose-Images