Thursday, October 30, 2008


Today's word, generated by the internet's Random Word Generator Plus, was: LIFETIME.

I had my carry-on swung over my shoulder, and the flight had not been too long, so when our plane pulled up to the last gate in the terminal furthest from Baggage Claim, I planted my vision straight ahead and commanded my feet to engage. In the nearly 5 years since they were briefly paralyzed with GBS I have mourned the death of the child in me; the one who used to run up the street, take stairs one foot at a time, and kick her way through amber layers of crispy-downy autumn leaves. But the other day at the airport, for the first time in this many years, I actually felt my legs sort of move when my brain told them to move. It was so compelling I pushed harder and harder, never risking both feet being off the ground at once like when I used to run, but still! So when I arrived at the moving sidewalk I kept up the pace, stepping onto the fluid metal ribbon of floor with history behind me, knowing that it would not respond to my weight in any negative way; knowing that without breaking a sweat I would achieve my human objective with superhuman timing. Is it a comment on my simple life that such a thing gives me a rush? I just love those moving sidewalks. I feel light and able. I become conscious of the air against my cheeks, of the slight rise in energy exchange as I pass the people on solid ground. I whisper to my brain that this is heaven and in just 19...18…17…16 seconds we are going to hit the earth. I remember thinking once that this was going a bit too far, analyzing the moving sidewalk, and I reprimanded myself for making everything too symbolic. Take things at face value, I’d tell myself, and try to focus on what gate we were aiming for, or where all the kids were, or what time the flight was leaving. But this self talk always backfires on me and I am caught mid-thought when the sidewalk stops moving and I hit solid ground, and I cannot…CANNOT…not think about being born. “That was Heaven” I say as I lift my heavy legs and double my effort to cover the same ground with twice the work… “And this is birth!” Inevitably I imagine myself jumping from a swift moving cloud into my lump of flesh. My angel hands me a satchel of lifetime and reminds me to spend it well. Dipping my hand into the bag, I pull out an hour-sized chunk and rub it against my gown. I glance down and notice the shine. It’s a good one, with something magical coming up. Spreading my fingers out I hold the hour in my palm and watch it fizz away, leaving just a slight trace of purple smoke and the faint scent of baby sweat. The satchel, though lighter now, still swings from my side. I hardly ever notice it any more. I only ever think about it on the moving sidewalk, or when Anna Bella giggles and I know that the next time I see her her giggle will have changed. I look for everyone else’s satchels and they are invisible. Most people don’t even know they have them. But I am reminded of my handful of lifetime every time I go to the airport. It’s good I fly now and then.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


October 22, 2008 Today's Word of the Day is: pet tricks

Back when my mother was my sister and my husband was my brother, before dog spirits got dog bodies, I think I struck up a conversation with Sally. Sal, who would be our lethargic but cute Basset Hound when my other sisters and brother became my kids. If I don’t force the memory too hard I can find it, and I think it came out something like this:

Me: So you’re going to be a Basset Hound?
Sal: Guess so. How bout you?
Me: I’m going to be a girl and I’m going to be beautiful.
Sal: Well good luck with that.
Me: Hey, you wanna be my dog? I can fill out one of those silver request cards and see if you can get your goods when I get mine. I’ll be sure to take care and feed you and bathe you and play with you and you can do cool dog tricks. Wanna?

So I guess I must have submitted the request because sure enough Sally appeared under our Christmas tree one December morning via my sister, Libby and a pet store somewhere in Salt Lake City. Cute she was. Darling, even. All cleaned up with those sad brown eyes and those soft floppy ears. She curled up in Kate’s arms and was content. Then Kate went to school, and so did the other kids. Sal did not know how to be an indoor dog. And I did not know how to be an outdoor girl. And I did not know how to make her into an indoor dog. So I researched dogs, and dog training, and I found out that the Basset Hound is historically one of the hardest dogs to train, even if they have not spent the first year of their life in a kennel. So Sal and I had another conversation, after the kids left for school:

Me: Sorry about losing my temper.
Sal: Sorry about the puddle. And the mess. Can’t help myself.
Me: Yeah, I know. But you know what this means don’t you?
Sal: Uh. No.
Me: Well, it means you are an outside dog. We’ll build you the world’s largest and most expensive running grounds, with a nice iron fence around a big grassy space. And we’ll build a nice big dog house that has a door that leads right to the garage, which we will heat in the winter. But…well, I’m not sure how to put this…you sort of leave a trail of slime wherever you go, so about coming in the house…well, we’ll have to do our pet tricks outside. Hope you’re ok with that.
Sal: Whatever.

So for 13 years we watched Sal through the kitchen window, weaving her way through the yard, making tunnels with her low lying belly in the winter, curling into herself under the Hornbeam tree by the back gate in the summer. Gram fed her Cheez-Its every day, throwing them through the fence to her. Dave faithfully gave her ½ can of puppy chow when she got old, because that’s what the vet said to do. We scratched under her chin when we had enough time to go back in the house and scrub up. Or shower. When the back door was left open and she got in the house we played catch me if you can until she found the light and headed back outside. It took towels and warm soapy water to clean up the slobber mess. She would swing her head back and forth, her ears flapping like paddle balls, her jowls scraping the floor and her lips like a spigot leaving a trail of slimy drool. Good old Sal. Sally the Slobber Dog. Never, in all those 13 years, did she ever even once attempt to do a dog trick. Never even turned her head to see the stick that went flying. I’m not sure if it was real or if she was just playing dumb. “Sit” might as well be “stand on your hind legs and twirl” or “Just lay there Sal”. I think “Just lay there Sal” was the only command she ever followed. No pet tricks. Then again, I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain so well either. In spite of what appeared to be less than adequate care, Sal lived a good long life. Doc White said he had never seen a Basset Hound live as long. It was a mournful day when Sally went the way of all the earth.

Someday I’ll have another conversation with Sal.

Sal: Well, hey. So you’re back, too?
Me: Yeah.
Sal: How is everybody?
Me: Good. Maybe a little sad, but they’re all good. Hey, you look great! How do you feel?
Sal: Sheesh, so much better! Hey look what I can do.

At that moment Sally the Slobber Dog stands on her two very happy and healthy hind legs, reaches her paws up into Heaven’s Heaven, lifts one leg to the side and twirls just like a ballerina.

Me: Wow Sal! A pet trick! Who knew.

That’s when Sal lowers her paws to the ground, turns her hind quarters in toward her snout, lays her fluid sparkling head on the ground with her cheeks spreading out like a wedding dress and winks at me.

Sal: Yeah. Who knew.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


8 - number of eggs in the batch of chocolate chip cookies I made last night

0 - number of cookies that are left

2 - wedding receptions we attended Friday night

24 - relatives who came to stay with Gram and Libby and us for one of the weddings

37 - number of Alaskans squished into our entry hall and living room for song sharing

8 - non-Alaskans in the same rooms (who knew both verses of the Idaho State song)

3 - am. the time we sang our last song

7 - am. the time the littlest kids woke up the next morning

25 - approximate number of rounds of speed scrabble played at the kitchen table

2 - number of rounds of speed scrabble that I won

1,867 - number of times we laughed in the last 4 days

19 - approximate number of hours we have slept the last 5 days

1 - fabulous family!

Happy Ever After, Rebecca and Rory. Thanks for facilitating a grand gathering and some great memories!