Monday, March 30, 2009

Try not to puke

This is the beat of a heart: the way my family expands and contracts in rhythm with the week. And it's making something good into something even stronger.

Huck and I separate during the week, each to our own lives, our own selves, our own decisions and spirit's ways. And when we return to each other on the weekends, we are more ourselves together and less absorbed by the entity of family. The time away allows our time together to remain fresh and growing. The ruts don't last and each weekend we have an opportunity to create new paths of relating.

And now more than ever, when we visit each other's space we are more appreciative. He comes to Wenatchee and I thank him for cleaning "my" kitchen. I visit Spokane and he thanks me for cleaning "his" kitchen. The obligation to do our chores in our space disappears and we are simply thankful to have the other person here and helping us in our obligations.

There's certainly danger in this wide and flat elliptical orbit. Will one of us slingshot back into space, back on to our own distinct path never to return?

The first few hours of our weekends together usually involve the re-establishment of the pack order with some bickering, nipping, and barking. We soon settle into our latest version of our relationship and then move away again to do our own thing.

I thought I'd hate this. And there are things I definitely don't like about it. But it's been interesting to observe ourselves in this dance between having and have not-ing of each other.

What a shmultzy little blog entry! I hope no one pukes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Silly Parent

Something happened with the blender today. Sheesh, you turn your back for one minute and all hell breaks loose! I dropped soft tofu into our smoothies in the blender and thought it might freak the kids out. So to make sure it was REALLY blended, I left it blending for one second while I turned around to wipe/pick-up/trip-over or otherwise "mom" it up. And the thing just spun itself into oblivion. And suddenly there were several cups of blueberry tinted goo around the kitchen.

Blue has been begging to go fishing on the lake behind the orchard. Ever since the last ice chunk melted, the lake's been ringed and spotted by fishers. I understood Blue's longing, as I really enjoyed fishing up until I was 8, at which point my father threw all the fishing gear into the Pacific Ocean (something about an unruly knot in a line) and that was the last time I went. Our landlord gave her a pole yesterday. And I took her to buy bait today:
"You know you have to skewer the worms on to the hook, right?"
"Then I don't want worms."
"Why not?"
"I don't want to hurt anything."
"You realize that the whole point of fishing is to actually KILL a fish, right?"
"But worms are different."
So she picked out bright green, stinky gop.

And then we went fishing. We caught one hand about 8 inches long... and it hurt. And we caught a millfoil. The wind kicked up and we returned home, empty (and scratched) handed, THANK GOD! I don't know how to clean or cook fish. I envision myself shuffling around the neighborhood in search of someone to show me how to de-gut our flopping, gasping fish. I hope it never comes to that.

Everyone was starving when we got back and I set straight away to making another gourmet dinner for which I am well known: burritos. And now here's the surprise: the kitchen was covered in a strange purple goo! I was actually surprise, "What going on here!!" Upon close investigation it appeared to have emanated from a blender in the corner. Suddenly, I remembered it, only it was stickier than when I last saw it. I must have forgotten about the entire thing almost as soon as it happened, and just trotted off fishing! What?! How?! Who does that?!

So, it was a late night, by the time the kitchen was cleaned and then messed up again. Sometimes when the kids get out of hand, I have them meditate. But they wouldn't. Blue wouldn't even sit, she insisted on laying on my bed with her eyes closed. And Coyote wouldn't sit still. He kept running off into his room. And I kept yelling, "It's only 3 minutes! Just come back for 3 minutes!" It was probably the least meditative 3 minutes of our collective day.

They also had this amazing argument:
C "My Great Grandma is dead now," (laborious sigh) "God made her die."
B "That's absurd, God doesn't make people dead." I thought she was an atheist!
C "He does too."
B "He does not."
C "He does too!" The height of theological discourse.
B "Well, maybe, when they're really old. But if they die in a car accident or something, that's just an accident. God doesn't kill people like that. Cars kill people." Very diplomatic olive branch, don't you think?
C "God kills everybody."
B "No, only if they make it to old age."
B "He doesn't, right mom?"
Me: "Listen People, I think we've really over estimated my omniscience here." These kids may not look anything like me, but some part of my brain is embedded in them!
C "Tell he-e-e-er!"
B "HE doesn't," looking at me to get the Okay,-let's-just-go-along-with-the-twerp-to-keep-him-quiet look. But I don't give it.
Me "Some people have faith one way and some people have faith another way. But nobody REALLY knows." How unsatisfactory an answer is that!?
They didn't like it either.
Me "In the way that god is in the series of mysterious and amazing events that brought each of us individuals in to our unlikely existence, then god is also in the series of mysterious and amazing events that will remove us from existence, at whatever point and however that happens."
C "But mooo-oom, tell her: god kills everyone!"
B: major eye roll

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dutch enough for you?!

I'm having a biological/genetic/demented need for heifers right now. Maybe it was all that Dutchness from this past weekend, at my grandmothers funeral, that's re-infected my bone marrow like a relapse. Or maybe it's that with all this moving I haven't yet formed a good group of girls to hang out with and I must be thinking that a herd of cows is a logical substitute (although I was just out with 'the' girls). Who can explain it? I need heifers.

Our home purchasing power severely diminished over the past year. It's sort of depressing. In Spokane, it looks like we can get a refurbished, brick Victorian mansion in our price range, but on a .11 acre lot. Or we can get a pile of rotting shit on five acres. I've always wanted to live in a fancy old house, but now that I get my chance, all I can say is, "Where will I put the heifers?"

Some times I'm not as Dutch as I look. The Dutch have a word "Schone" which means both clean and beautiful. It's a genetic need to scrub and clean and make it all perty. And I have this gene, sort of. I think that's why my house sold so well. And then... well... let's just say we're at the single-style-parenting stage where I am just f-ing sick of cleaning the kitchen and my love for picking up the same damn toys 50 times a day is starting to wane. I lay awake in my bed every morning creating a time emergency, because I know that my list of things to do that day is the same as the day before and probably goes something like:
1) fold the same f-ing laundry I folded two days ago,
200) clean the kitchen twice then vomit in the sink with boredom,
1798) pick up toys before something (toy, foot, mental health) gets broken. Occasionally, I mix it up with a few extra chores, like car tire-ing and food crap. What's hard about this stay-at-home-single-mom-ish (SAHSMI) schtick is the boredom, the pure, unadulterated, tear-jerking BOREDOM. (But I love my kids, and spending quality time with them, and blah blah blah)

But my point is that during this past visit to American-Dutchness, I made a joke to some folks, who will remain nameless and may or may not be related to me, about having to clean my kitchen 365 times a year. It was a joke. It wasn't a very funny joke, I'll admit. These Dutch women did not intentionally make their disapproving, shaming faces, I'm sure. But accidentally, it happened. And then one said slowly, as if I were the village idiot, ", right?" And SHE wasn't joking.

I felt like such an outcast, such a freak. My sister slurred me this weekend with the term "hetero-normative". However, I was not feeling very "normative" right then.

Tonight I went to S's house for her daughter's birthday, and then we mom's had an after-party. But the point is that S's house isn't very, um, Dutch. It's cute it just isn't "Schone." And I suddenly felt "normative" again. I hated being labeled "normative" but then I didn't love feeling shamed for not being a real mom, who LOVES to clean. (Is that really normative?)

I just bought red tulips and I want heifers. Isn't that Dutch enough? I have to be constantly, cheerfully Schone too?

UPDATES: funeral was fun, or rather the after party was. With 31 cousins there's always someone to play with, and always someone to piss you off too. I did read my poem, revised while driving there, (and now revised on the post too). I cried more than I thought I needed to. Nothing is permanent in this life and you think we'd all be used to that. The only thing that is permanent is death, so you'd think we'd all like that by comparison.

The sermon was amazing. I don't even know if I'm ready to talk about it yet. But it had to do with bodies being buried so that when they are raised from the dead they face east. You think, if God could raise em from the dead, he might be able to get them facing the right direction too. But the only image that came to my mind was a battalion of worms, rising up from the astro-turf-ish Lynden lawn, and dancing in the sunshiney dawn like a sea of intestinal cilia. I enjoyed his gross mis-characterizations of unbelievers as materialistic and shallow. While he asked, "Where, oh death, is your sting?" my sister wondered what that sting would be, and I knew that the sting of this particular death was actually his sermon. There was also a near-miss with an altar call. But in the end, all 300 of us gathered could agree on one thing: grandma would have loved it.

Also, I'm taking my kids to a pro hockey game tomorrow. I don't know why. But it beats washing the damn dishes again.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

One Quarter Evelyn

I am one quarter Evelyn (Hollaar) V*n B*v*n.
I am one quarter (at least) North Dakota farm girl.
I am one quarter oldest of 12.
One quarter one room school teacher.
One quarter tall, graceful, American-born Dutch woman with a wide smile.
One quarter bride to Lloyd.
One quarter on the party line, a thousand miles from my sisters.
One quarter mother of 12 myself, born in rapid, painful succession.
One quarter mother of 10 living, and two grown men gone before me.
I am one quarter grandmother of 31 and gifter of 31 Christmas pencils.
I am one quarter gymnasium Christmas.
I am one quarter red beans and yum yum salad. To be honest, I need to say that again: I am red beans.
One quarter, at least, root beer float.
One quarter cucumber slices in vinegar and pepper.
And one quarter Olive Garden bread sticks in my purse.
One quarter Dutch enough to eat burnt toast in the morning, but not Dutch enough to do it twice.
So I am one quarter: buy my son a working toaster in the afternoon.
I am one quarter "God grant me the Serenity."
One quarter Hymn-sing Sundays.
One quarter lilacs: purple, thick, fragrant.
One quarter snow ball flowers.
One quarter neat and high stacks of clothes on the ironing board.
One quarter Pond's cold cream, so that when everything else fails and deteriorates, the cheeks remain pristine, smooth, radiant even.
I am one quarter, "Love you," and a kiss on the cheek.
I am one quarter waving from the steamy kitchen window.
I am one quarter can't say goodbye on the phone.

I am one quarter ailing in old age.
One quarter visits and care and love from my family.

I am one quarter resting in peace.
One quarter dust to dust.

And I am,
"Loved you, too."

Friday, March 6, 2009


The week was so much easier than I imagined it would be. At first, exhilaration at the ease of being a stay-at-home-single-style-mom (without-dating-privileges!). Then disappointment: no challenge, no mountain to climb, no parenting cliffs to scale. And then: sleep by 8:30, it was enough work after all.

What didn't help is that I bought a new kind of tea. It looked black. It didn't say "no caffeine." So when I took a couple of accidental naps, I assumed the obvious: cancer, MS, deep depression with suppressed emotional symptoms. Lo and behold! Careful reading of the label found that if my regular tea is 5/10 on the scale of caffeine, this new stuff was 1/10! Why? Why make such tea? No medicinal value. No caffeine. What's the point?

I think Huck had a fine week at work but was surprised by how much he missed his family. Ahhhh. We'll trek to Spokane this weekend to reunite!

I hired a babysitter twice for evening events. Both meetings fed my soul full. Worth every penny of the babysitter's price.

For however backwards Wenatchee can sometimes seem, it's got some amazing people and one killer Unitarian Church.

I tried to join the PTA here, but got de-listed when the leaders found out I might not be around forever. These were nice ladies that befriended me during the summer. But when the "shit hit the fan," they told other PTA organizers to take my name off the things I'd volunteered for because I didn't know if I'd be there forever. They were compassionate, but not helpful.

Another person that I befriended early on was very clear that she did not want to be friends with people whose lives were unorganized. She was too delicate and just couldn't handle it.

I want to kiss and thank these people. Because of their attitudes about life and stability and their delusions about their own life certainties, I can appreciate the maturity of others all the more. The others, the UU friends, all seem so comfortable with the messiness of life, with questions that lack answers, with open-ended situations. They recognize that the moment is all any of us have.

And not only did they accept my chaotic life, they asked me to join the church in relevant ways. I was honored to speak about winter solstice and gave a children's story.

I was invited and re-invited to join groups at the church. I hesitated, sure that no one wanted to get involved with me, here for who knows how long or not, and now certainly leaving. But even with Huck in Spokane, P called me to ask me to join her group anyway. And so did L! And they both said, "We're just happy to know you and fellowship with you for as long as we can." I don't think they said this because I'm so spectacularly amazing. I think it reflects their understanding of life and it's flow. It's about taking joy and pleasure in other, here and now, not about forming 30 year commitments. We know and love people for as long as we have them, and we can't demand any more than that from life.

My writer's group is the same. When they found out I was leaving, they didn't assume I shouldn't make it to the next meeting. Instead, they asked how many more months they "got me" for.

There are people here, on this earth, that get it, get the moment, get life, get the sublime mess and perfect chaos of it all. And from out of this they bring forth and create love and respect and caring towards others. It's daring and beautiful. It's god-esc.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Spokane Chin

The weekend was spent moving Huckleberry to Spokane. His new apartment there isn't tops. It's a cute house and all, but if we were dating, it'd probably be a deal breaker. Actually, he was living in his mom's garage when I met him, so I guess I'm just blowing smoke when I pretend I was ever that picky about living arrangements.

It's kind of sad, this moving away of my hunny. It feels like something bad happened. But instead, something really great happened. I think we'll make it over this hurdle, easy. I can see my feet clearing it already.

It's no secret that I don't like Spokane. It's got benefits: some good food, more Victorian and Craftsman homes than any other NW city, and close proximity to the awesome people of the Palouse. But say the word "Spokane" and I am not carpeted by goosebumps of pleasure. It's okay. My not liking Spokane is very small potatoes. I'm open minded enough to eventually like Spokane, and if not Spokane itself, then some things about Spokane.

There have been other things in my life that I have hated and come to love eventually. Take my husband: example #1. We met as community organizers. The first meeting I attended where he was actually in charge of something, I walked out. He asked why I was leaving, and I mumbled something about having better things to do.
"Well, I'll call you about the next meeting."
"How will you do that? You don't have my phone number."
"It's probably around here somewhere. I'm sure I have it."
"I'm sure you don't."
I would NEVER give such an asshole my phone number, even if it was for a good cause. But because my friend liked him and I liked his friend, we ended up seeing a lot of each other. By the time my friend moved, my opinions about Huck were changing. That was about 9 years ago.

Example #2: Moscow, ID is easy to love: adorable streets, the awesome Co-op. There's nobody that doesn't want to live there. But we opted for Pullman, with in-state tuition and better schools, despite its strip-mall-ish-ness. Five years later, I LOVED Pullman. But Moscow sometimes seems like a special middle school for kids with gigantism (excluding my friends, of course, who are always the mature voices of reason and/or are WAY TOO busy to dabble in the social acne).

This is to say that I'm completely unconcerned about not loving Spokane. I always find my sweet spot everywhere I live. I'll find it there too. I'm not worried and neither should you.

The other thing people can stop worrying about is the fact that I don't really like my husbands new hair do. Really, people: I'm not that shallow! I can love someone and NOT their hair too. He's been scruffy and dreddy since we got together. I liked it that way. Now his field actually demands that he shave daily! YIKES! Apparently, when you are working with toxic spills, you don't want to bring it home in your beard. This is a fine reason to shave. But it's still not my favorite hairstyle.

Lets say I walk in to a bar. I'm not checking out the clean shaven baby face by the water pitcher. No. It's Chewbacca at the bar that makes we want to tap dance and sing out, "Lord! I wish I were a single girl again!" But, being a happily married woman I would not actually act on that impulse, and for that we can all be thankful.

Again, however, I feel the need to reassure my hand-wringing friends and family that clean-shaven is no Deal Breaker. I can still adore and treasure and cherish my hunny, even if his chin is a little over exposed, and even if that chin happens to live in Spokane. It's going to be okay. I still love him.

But if you need to hear me say it: "I LOVE SPOKANE! I LOVE HUCK"S NEW HAIR DO!" There, now you should be able to sleep.

In addition: I still don't have a voice! I thought this would be a detriment to my parenting. But it doesn't seem to matter. I'm sort of crestfallen about it. How could my kids still behave and misbehave the same as always without my instruction? They don't appear to need my verbal commands. It's kind of... well... sad.


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