Tuesday Best

You know what's the best?

Sharing a laugh with your kids. 

Today, baby Vivie discovered her tongue. 
How long it was, how she could stick it outside her mouth and curl it up at the tip.
 Most of the day, if you looked at Vivie, she had her tongue fully extended. 
It was the silliest of sights, the sweetest of discoveries.

And me and Elizabeth and Maren couldn't quit giggling. 
I had a moment where I rose above myself, the room, and I could see all four of us laughing together, and it was... 

Rainbows, Ponies, Keanu, Virgin Mary

The latest story is brewing in my brain, consuming all my energy for words. I've been a royal crabapple to everyone but the kiddos. It was all I could muster to share a few strands that tied our weekend's adventure together. Ah, (hand to forehead) to be a struggling, wanna be, I'm nobody, writer.

I took the girls last Thursday night and we drove to home to Wisconsin.  Under a rain cloud that travelled nearly every single mile with us, actually.  (Downpours, traffic jams, snow storms: read I miss my husband The Driver. ) Thankfully, rainbows kept popping up in front of us, good distractions when traveling with little girls and no DVD player. The silly fantasy that I might really be headed to a pot of gold, which is currently trading at $1622 a share on the stock market, was diminished when just LaCrosse was at the end of the rainbow.

The next day, my girls played with horses.
I was left with a few hours to myself. 
What's a girl to do?
Right out of the gate, I found some scenery parked a few feet away 
from one of my favorite haunt's front door. 

Sadly, Keanu was not inside getting his antique fix on.

I did spot this.
If it weren't for the Coca Cola all over her face,
 she'd be striking on some big white beach house wall. Maybe?

This would be good for rocking your babies in the beach house...
with the white glossy floors and potted fig leaf tree.

I love me some bark cloth. 
But it always looks a bit too loved by its previous occupants.

If it weren't for the fact that I completely get squimish about the sport of boxing and didn't think Winona, Minnesota was sort of a creepy town, this would be cool. 

The gal who wore this dress was friends with Laverne and Shirley? For reals?

POC: Pop of Color. Storage too, which would make it POCS!
Before Keanu, there was Carlos Imperato. And he was at the antique store, go figure! 
Yes, get outta here, that's him below the "F", arms crossed.
I showed this picture to my mom, good Catholic. 
"Isn't this strange? Why is there a woman under Mary's robe?!"
"Lifting her up, Jen."

Let's take another gander at Keanu, shall we? 
Happy Monday.

My Own Personal Jesus

My sister Sarah and I, November 1998. Arizona.

Someone I knew in college is in hospice, nearing the end of his life.  We were friendly, in the same, unusually tight knit major in a smaller Midwestern university.  Many of us had our sights set on gracing the airwaves of television or radio or of making movies. It was a special kind of place and time and even then I recognized that our group, traveling together toward adulthood and careers, was unique, our experience so entirely different from that of my psychology, business and PE major roommates. I knew each and every single fellow student in my major, we all did, from sophomores to seniors. We would see other in class in the morning, later in the master control room or television studio, renting equipment, in the edit bays in the evening and then at the bars at midnight. 

Tom was athletic and tall, kind, he had a great smile that always seemed to have a chuckle dangling from the end of it, he had a swagger.

From the pictures, I see that he has a beautiful wife and three little boys. And he's losing a battle to brain tumors and cancer that he has been fighting since 2003. 

My sister Sarah died in 2001 at the age of 24. Because she was my baby sister, I will always see her in pig tails, and she stayed pretty, she modeled,  she had the most wonderful smile that always connected to a sparkle in her eyes. She fought the demon epilepsy from first grade on, when an ambulance came to our elementary school and rushed her away. Seizures interuppted everything she ever tried to do from that day forward.

Six months before she died she told me she wouldn't live to see age 30. I feel asleep with her in her bed that night in the big city apartment in the big city life she was determined to live all by herself.  I didn't want to leave, I told her she was wrong.  

She wasn't. Now, eleven years later, I can't remember the sound of her voice.

I grew up kneeling next to my mom in church every Sunday. I can recite "Our Father" and "The Creed" - We Believe in One God - prayers, the words spill out of my lips in unison with a church full of people almost subconsciously. Since adulthood though, for reasons so many or not so much, I only attend church on Christmas Eve or when I feel the pull to the Place or the symbolism of the candles in times of need.

Any God I ever found in church, I brought in myself -- Alice Walker

When I need clarity, I pray to my Grandma Zora, she who may have subtly taught me that Alice Walker philosophy on religion,  sitting on her front porch or in her corner rocking chair overlooking the backyard, making priorities all seem so simple, You don't need much Jenny, you really don't, hardly much t'all.  Her presence tells me to relax, to laugh, to snap the dead tips off the petunias. 

When I seek direction, when I need to lead, when I need confidence, I pray to my Grandma Charlotte, beside me at the wheel of a blue Plymouth Duster, with a wand of mascara and a tube of red lipstick and a party platter of sandwiches. 

Sarah, with Weaver's Needle in the distance. 
When I need a friend, when I'm feeling weak, when I'm lost and when everything is okay too, I pray to my sister Sarah, playing beside me as child, walking beside me as an adult, on an Arizona trail.

No, I can't hear her voice, the sound of it. But I can feel her,  she's always right here with me, every second of every day.

My own personal Jesus.

So, Tom, old friend from the past, I am praying for you, for a miracle, I am praying to my Gods like Sarah, Zora and Charlotte, I am praying for those who know you still and love you,  that you be well, so you don't have to leave so soon.
Miss you, Sare

That's So You

(Ping Pong table, Chateau Marmont. Photo by David Swanson)

I was pinning. He saw me pin this image. He said, "That's so you."

This is one for my Scenery department, a visual prop that I will weave into some story, plop a handful of people into...or just a couple...

Their eyes met, and he gestured at the table, had a ball in mid air aiming at her before she could take her position.

"Ah! Hey!" Her drink sloshed, held up in defense. She giggled. "Hold on, hold on..." Another sip. "Hydration. Okay," she set the drink down, picked up a paddle, nodded, got serious. 

"That was a foul ball, according to international table tennis rules."

He laughed. "Just warming up."

She thought about that, knotted her hair with itself into a bun at the nape of her neck.

"I believe talking is also a violation of the rules." She squinted, struck a dramatic pose, laughed again.
Under her breath, "Not that I'm one to play by the rules. Ready?"

Summer Vacation

The hydrangea blossoms are bobbing softly in the breeze.  The cedar trees swaying like a day dreaming 6 year old, content, thoughts dancing around in their head, to a far away tune.  Damp, sweet and musky perfume rises from the forest floor. The maples, the birches, the oaks clap lightly every now and then, their response to the most perfect breeze coming up off the lake.

The fields are alternately the color of gold or green, strong corn pushing through, and bursts of red punctuate the cherry trees.

The sky isn’t quite blue, not quite grey or white, but that hazy July 6th color that comes with this heat.

And the heat, it isn’t a pest, because the Great Lake beacons, always just off in the distance, shiny and sparkly and blue, calming everyone. Its okay, you’re at the Lake. Good thing we’re at the Lake, hate to be in the City I heard it was 105 downtown. Just jump in. Oh... there’s the breeze.

My clan and I have sun kissed cheeks, nose tips, shoulders, and an ease that comes with frequent dips in the water and ice cream and lemonade and bonfires. At days end, their little toes and knees and fingers are brown and sand castles with seagull feather spires at the empty beach waste away.  Pockets of sand unfurl from damp bathing suits into the car, onto the bathroom floor, the tub, into our sheets at night.  Oh my goodness girls, look like how much sand is in the tub.

When I drive, I can’t help but roll my car windows down, my left arm and hand stuck out, greeting the road ahead, a mast and sail, pushing foward, protecting the past.

Hey this day, this life, my world,  my family, Summer, I love you.

I want to live forever, I’m going to do nothing but work on that.  

But when I die, I hope it is Summer Vacation in my Heaven.  All the time.