Monthly Archives: June 2014

Grief: Think of the Living


My mother told me numerous times when we would talk about death or when someone in the family “went to God” that her own mother used to say “think of the living” when trying to figure out how to manage the myriad complex emotions, drives, urges, repressions, and crap that goes on in a person upon hearing the news that no one ever wants to hear.

“The living are the ones who are in pain. The departed feel no pain, they are in Grace,” Mom would explain. Grief is exhausting.

Last week, I wrote about my parents-in-law, and the day I first met them and tried to encapsulate the nearly quarter of a century I have known them. I wrote that post on Sunday, it went “live” online Monday. My sister-in-law read that post to her father moments before he was trolley’d off to an MRI. An MRI that would be his last, as Fate has it, and a singular and final moment of cogent consciousness they would share before he departed this earth.

That afternoon, my house phone rang with the news that Daddy-O was in a radically new and grave condition. My husband rushed home almost four hours by car, from the camp-out he had just begun with our youngest son the day before. He arrived in time to join his siblings and mother for his father’s final hours. I was teaching a yoga class, a restorative one, when I received a text from my husband to call him for an update.

After the class, I went home to check on my sons and headed to the hospital, for the end was near and I wanted to be with my husband to help him through it. I also wanted to bid farewell to an amazing man, one who showed me time and again how he embodied gracious living, kindness, patience and true gentlemanliness. True to form, Daddy-O lived that way until he died.

How did he do this? He simply waited. He waited until his beloved was ready for him to leave. He waited until she was taken care of: her feet, back and neck propped and rested; her form nestled in and under blankets in that frigid hospital room. Her hand holding his in a defiant and loving way, never truly “ready” to say goodbye. His passing was glorious and awful at the same time. I wept and shivered with sadness, sapping myself from the reality of what just occurred while at the same time praising God for my father-in-law’s legacy and many kindnesses.

There were no wails or outbursts. He wouldn’t have withstood it anyway. It wasn’t that emotion was not allowed, because he was a very emotionally available man. It was that grief is … exhausting, and the long and weary road to his final days had taken a toll on its own. I know he would urge us to conserve, to breathe and to accept. That’s who he was.

Are We Ever Ready?

I can think of a million things I need to do before I let myself relax. Walk the dog, sort the mail, fill the trash, wipe the counter, feed the kids, read a book, write a lesson plan, call a friend, write an email, check in with my father, fold some laundry.

Yesterday, we went sailing with longtime friends. Before we drove off to meet them, the house was in disarray (somewhat more than usual due to the flurry of life and death in the last few weeks) but the dogs were fed. I did not do my usual, “one more plate!” into the dishwasher and pressed Start or wipe down the counter before leaving. That could wait.

These friends — we were with them the night before my husband and I were engaged (and they knew the whole time, the stinkers) and we’ve been together for many of life’s huge moments. We are godparents to each others’ kids and we were in each others’ weddings. She was my first call when Mom died. She was my first call after Daddy-O passed. Our husbands often wax rhapsodic about taking off in a Winnebago one of these years to tour the nation, so it was absolutely the norm that they celebrated my FIL’s life at the Mass and later at the reception. Being on the water, away from terra firma and all her gravity was so satisfying. My shoulder and back pain of late completely evaporated.

It was a busy day in the harbor. The weather was spectacular and once we broke from the shore points and land masses, the winds picked up.

Floating on the Chesapeake Bay with absolutely no expectations other than a slight nagging in the back of the head forefront of the mind about the kids and their safety, but overall: nothing weighing us down, was exactly what we needed.


“The parts of you that are not touching the ground, that’s when outer space, the sky begins, isn’t that right?” my youngest asked last week.


School of Life and Death

My children have looked back on this academic year that has passed and they sneer. The day before school began, they lost their grandmother Mimi (my mother) and the day before school ended, they lost their grandfather Pop-Pop (my FIL).

“What we learned this year, did not come from books,” my middle son said, stretching his arms overhead and looking at the floor.

“This year sucked,” said my oldest, with no shortage of disgust.

They had to grow up a bit faster this year. My oldest ended up telling my brother of our mother’s death. “That sucked big time,” he said and will likely say for the rest of his days. When he learned that his Pop-Pop was nearing his own journey, he said, “I’m not telling anyone anything this time.”

Between the “bookends of madness” a friend called it and continued, “were these pockets of life crap that you had to endure,” she said, alluding to the weirdness of friends who’ve fallen away, bullies at school, as well as some other stuff. “What a shitty year,” she said.

It has been shitty. But it’s also been great. I have to allow the truth of this: we had good moments peppered in this year too.

It hasn’t even been a full 365-day year for us yet but it has been layered with beautiful growth and moments filled with opportunities to enrich the lives of the living. Even though we severed ties with some people, we deepened and enriched our ties with others. That’s where death is completely amazing: it cuts through the garbage for you and you learn to put not only your own life first, but you learn to put first that which matters most. My husband and I each have fancy letters we can put after our names now as he earned certification in project management, which is a nice boon to his resume and I finished my yoga certification and started teaching. In fact, I just wrapped up my first 12-week session the night Daddy-O died, so that’s a bittersweet moment for me.

“Do you actually earn money by teaching yoga?” my mother-in-law asked sincerely a couple weeks ago. She and I laughed at the question, and I said “Yeah. I do. It’s not a ton, but it’s ‘mad money’ — I use it to pay for the kids’ haircuts, treat them to Starbucks or light car repairs or maybe buy a nice thing for myself…”

“Mad money, Tom… do you remember that?” she said, smiling as she leaned into my father-in-law. He smiled too.

“Oh yes! I remember it.” He said, leaning in to her, that small gesture speaking private, untold tales.

“We still stash it away, Daddy-O,” I said with a wink. Not that my husband has ever given me a real reason to stash away funds for the moment I decide in anger to split the scene.

So I think of the living. I am one of them, as are you. We struggle at times, don’t we? We don’t have to be grieving to struggle; but sometimes we don’t recognize we are grieving. It doesn’t take a death of a human in our lives to shake us to our cores and have us hole-up and cocoon for a bit.

I think of my mother-in-law and her children and grandchildren for whom this loss is so deep and profound.  Despite the fact that Daddy-O’s illness “prepared” us and we had the advent of time and health occurrences and complications to ease us into this most unpleasant of states, we were not really ever “OK” with it.

I have had two distinct — I feel like a cad for even mentioning this, for every life and every death is so completely unique and to be revered in its own space — experiences with losing a parent. My mother went suddenly with cardiac arrest and felt no pain (this is something I learned this year — I didn’t know the difference between cardiac arrest and a heart attack) but I knew intuitively that something was changing in her. My father-in-law passed quietly, peacefully, surrounded by loved ones in a hospital bed.

There is no “preference” for me. They both tore me apart. With my mother, I was able to tune-in to the intuitive messages I was receiving weeks before and I could spend some time with her on the phone and we could have some nice chats. With my father-in-law, I was given the gift of time and medical knowledge to help ease me into those final moments. I was able to actively grieve before him and accept (with great defiance) what was happening. Not everyone has that opportunity.

My mother showed me that death shows up no matter what. My father-in-law showed me that even though it happens no matter what, we can face it and let ourselves let it happen despite our many objections.

So if the point of life is to live it, that means feel all it — the ups and the downs, then live it we must. I won’t say “good” or “bad” anymore (or I’ll try to stop saying that) because what I’ve learned is that what I think might be good, could be seen as bad for someone else. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Humor Beckons


I decided yesterday on the way to the Bay to read Tina Fey’s memoir, Bossypants and I’m so glad I did. She is one of my favorite writers and performers. She is reminding me, even in her passages about her scar on her face, that not all memoir writing needs to be deep and intentionally profound. That when we just let life roll-out from us, when we sit with kindness and objectivity (as much as possible, some moments are easier than others) and when we actually learn from someone else’s perspective (that they are totally deluded or just have a kinder spin on things) that we can tell a more whole story.

Fey’s book is making me laugh out loud. She’s my age. Her recollections of style, music, popular culture and news are taking me back, moment by moment, to those crazy grisly days of prepubescence, full-on puberty, teenagerdom and I guess on to the rest (which I haven’t arrived at yet because I just started it).

I mentioned some of her humor to my husband this morning and he asked me, “Do you have any humor in your memoir stuff?” and I said with great relief, “Yes. I wrote extensively about rolling around unbuckled in the back seat of my grandparent’s car, a US Navy destroyer called the Oldsmobile Delta 88. My grandpa would take these sharp turns at 25 which would slam me into his black wooden canes or one of my brothers when we would kill time waiting for Mom during an appointment…  And how its upholstery made my thighs itch when I wore shorts.”

I also wrote about when I must’ve been in fourth or fifth grade when NY State law changed to allow “right on red” and how we as children were thrust head-first into a public awareness campaign as pedestrians and the defenseless because the law had ushered a new death threat from the driving populace… my grandfather a robust member therein. Ironically, it was his wife who told my mother to “think of the living” which is something he likely didn’t do much of while taking those hard turns in his land yacht…

It’s all of life, and the living, that we can keep in the forefronts of our minds when remembering our dead and how much they affected us when they were alive and truly living.

Thank you.


Budweiser from the Can, Red Beemer in the Driveway, Buoy in the Storm, 20 years


My husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary last week. The time has flown. We were talking during our dinner date about the day I first met my eventual parents-in-law.

It was a sunny late August afternoon in 1990. They had recently returned from a month or so at their summer house on the Indian River inlet in Delaware. A little town called “Dagsboro” to be exact. For the first 10 of my 18 years visiting that retreat, I’d not known that locality’s name. I just liked the people there.

I drove my beat-up 1981 silver Honda Civic hatchback (the car my parents let me and my brother destroy share) up the long driveway to the house. I parked far away from the feisty and red BMW 325i convertible gleaming in the sun and entered the house through French doors leading to the deck held open by my then-boyfriend.

His mom was in the kitchen, putting away the deli meats and cheeses from the lunchtime sandwich station. She offered me a drink or a bite to eat. I took her up on the cup of water but I demurred on the sandwich. For me, I had decided I would try to just be … friendly and unassuming and friendly (did I already say that? I can feel the nervousness all over again!). But not overly friendly, because parents can see right through that crap. While I’m incapable of Eddie Haskell-like obsequiousness, I also tend to clam up if I’m not entirely comfortable. A cup of water would give me something to hold, but a sandwich: I could choke on a sandwich. She joined her husband at the table with her red Solo cup of water, “MOM” emblazoned on it in black Sharpie. Her hair was a super cute pixie cut: short and blonde, like Shirley Jones’s when she was in “The Partridge Family.”

His dad was sitting at his kitchen nook’s table beneath the room’s skylights in a ladder-back chair reading a copy of the Wall Street Journal’s Money & Investing section. His hair, a thready version of a balding-man’s delusional “combo-over” was silvery and gold, both reflecting and accentuating his golf course tan. Tortoise-shell reading glasses perched on his slightly puggish nose, I remember him in his red polo cut shirt, buttercream yellow shorts, cordovan Sperry topsiders and navy / red D-ring grosgrain belt. He was the image of every dad I’d ever encountered at the numerous country clubs and yacht clubs I’d frequented as a kid. His mom was wearing pearl stud earrings, a pink blouse with lace trim covering a modest v-shaped cut-out on the front, light blue twill bermuda shorts and white keds. She was also tan; I don’t tan. I splotch. The ceiling fan slowly whirred, wafting a lace table cloth on the table below.

His dad’s smile was wide and eager, his dark brown eyes twinkling with mirth and not a little bit of impish appeal betraying any sense that this was going to be an important and serious meeting. His son and I had been dating for about three weeks. I guess it was time we all met one another. His mom on the other hand was more reserved; her sky-blue eyes more diplomatic. She was pleasant and polite but … y’know … who is this girl? -about things. Dad might’ve been totally charming about it all, but she was no flibberty-jibbot. Now that I’m a mother of three boys, I totally get it.

His dad stood up to greet me and pulled out a chair for me to sit in. When he folded his copy of Money & Investing and placed it on the table beside him, I saw a sweaty can of Budweiser next to a dish with some potato chips left over from his sandwich. Despite the fact that my father-in-law is a man who does not eat off of paper plates if he can at all avoid it (a habit his sisters and wife have lovingly referred to as a remnant of his “snobbish” upbringing from his hard-won Georgetown Prep, and Georgetown University days), he drank his beer from the can. He always has.

I can’t recall much of the conversations we shared that day, but I remember we all four talked for about an hour or two, or long enough for me to drink a second cup of water. (I dislike straight water… did I ever share that? It has to have something in it.) I know we spoke about where I am from, what I was up to, who my parents were, where I lived and probably why was I still in college. There were no Nicholas Sparks-esque “Well, I love your son very much and I hope to marry him…” professions; I think they were just genuinely curious about the gal who’d kept their son out so late so often and if I was up to snuff.

I do recall we hit it off, his dad and I especially. They had a Hobie cat boat, I had sailed for years as a child. I was preppy, he was preppy. I was a rower, that was preppy. Somehow we started talking about swing and big-band music which was experiencing an updated renaissance in those days with the release of the movie “Swingers” and the Brian Setzer orchestra. Maybe a Benny Goodman tune piped in from the stereo in the other room… that commonality set off a string of conversations about that music, the gorgeous fabrics and glamorous style of those days. I remember my mother-in-law talking about Andrew Lloyd Weber and then Roger Whitaker and her favorite music too. Sadly, I’ve never been a Roger Whitaker aficionada, but I could talk a good bit about “Phantom of the Opera” … just not the musical until a few years later. She loves her Andrew Lloyd Weber. I think I ended up staying for dinner: she made pepper steak on rice. It was tasty. It was a world I was unaccustomed to: people sat at a table and spoke together as they ate a meal.

That first meeting went well enough for my eventual husband and I to tie the knot four years later. In the breadth of that time, now 24 years since we first met, I’ve been welcomed by this family and its commanders-in-chief with broad arms, big hugs, and tender, free-flowing, vulnerable love. I’ve been to costume parties where we dressed in the garb from the roaring 20s (complete with violin cases and feather boas), thinly veiled volleyball tournaments and horseshoe challenges which were actually summer-house close-down weekends (where legendary family stories were born), Georgetown Hoyas games, Redskins games, and corporate Christmas parties replete with recording booths and family Christmas parties where the children and adults dress up to perform a family Christmas pageant, complete with songs and scripture readings. (When I first attended the family event, I was told that I had to sing “Feliz Navidad” or I’d never be allowed back. I sang it. It’s been a long-running joke and only the coolest people fall for it…)

My father-in-law has been the one to read from the Bible during the Christmas party; it’s been his shtick for years. To say that he has a lot of energy is an understatement. Everyone knows however that a man like that can’t possibly exist well however without a buoy in the storm. That buoy, his wife, has become a sympathetic soul for me. She’s a tender and clever woman I’ve affectionately referred to as “Mamacita” … (I borrowed the moniker on our first married Christmas when the 60s hit “Mamacita Donde Esta Santa Claus” by Augie Rios played on the radio). When we first married, she invited me to call her “Mom” but I could never completely take that on so I’ve flipped between Mamacita and Mom. Either way, she’s a centering gem. Since my own mother’s death, I have absolutely cherished the ability to call her “Mom.”

Both of my in-laws’ patience seems ever flowing. I’ve seen them gravely serious, but never in a foul mood. I didn’t grow up with them as their child and so I am aware of the tendency to glaze over the peaks and valleys of our relationships with our parents. This couple, however, has never given me cause to ever doubt their kindness and generosity of heart, or of spirit. If ever there were a want or a need, and they could satisfy it, it would be done. My father-in-law has shown me what a gentleman is; my mother-in-law has shown me what steadiness and generosity are; neither of them have ever been reactive in my presence. They inhabit and demonstrate a gorgeous emotional control and pacing the likes of which I’ve never seen in my own parents. The age of our relationship has tipped the scales: I’ve been blessed to have them in my life longer than out of it.

It pains me to say that my father-in-law is unwell. This man, who was once a trim and fit 5′ 10″ and a robust, keenly competitive athlete, this impish, elfish man whose aura has been as broad as the sky and as bright as the sun, is in the throes of pancreatic cancer. It has metastasized. The last time I saw him, about two weeks ago, was likely the final time he would be cogent in my presence. We had heard, as a family, that the cancer was a threat about four weeks ago. The doctors reports have been very frustrating, but all the data indicates this will be his undoing.

My cousin is a physician and I called him as soon as I could once I saw the results of a PET scan. My cousin said to me, “Don’t think in terms of ‘how much longer?’ Think in terms of getting him to the next goal. Getting him to see the World Cup, getting him to the vacation at the beach in July … getting him to the Masters … and when he has had enough of the goals, he will know and then he will let you all know… but the goal is to get him — and all of you — to think of goals and comfort. Not of making ‘this go away,’ but of keeping him — and all of you — comfortable.”

This whole thing is really hard for me to write about. I’ve been dancing around it in my head for weeks, obviously. I don’t want to betray my family-in-law’s privacy, but I also know that I have my own relationship with my father-in-law. Enough time has passed though that I feel I’m ok in expressing myself here. 

When I saw him, about two weeks ago, I took a moment to tell him what he meant to me. I told him that he showed me what a man could be. That he graced me with my fantastically stable and loving husband who has blessed me with three beautiful and mostly predictable, loving and fiercely loyal sons. I told him that he is a model to me of fearlessness — not in the brawn and bravado that so many men confuse with courage —  because he seeks and speaks from his heart; he has never been afraid to shed a tear from a schmaltzy and openly manipulative Hallmark card. He showed me that when you connect with people, you fully live.

Naturally and true to form, he blushed and smiled and said I was too kind. He said he was unworthy of the praise and that he was just the dad and he also could not suppress his loyalty to his beautiful wife, “Without whom, I am nothing,” he said as he looked over at her. She quietly sat there and let it all wash over her. “She’s the boss; she keeps me going,” he added, with a little tap on her hand, to lighten the mood. I get what he means, and he’s right. My brother has always gently joked and likely not without some awe and envy about my in-laws’ creation of a dynasty. They have six kids: girl, girl, boy, boy, girl, boy and they all have at least two kids. The grandsons vastly outnumber the granddaughters by 2:1.

When I met my husband, I gained … gosh … a whole bunch of built-in friends! His daughters, and my other SILs, are these pillars of panache and strength and love and his other sons are truly brothers to me. We were joking the other night when I last saw my in-laws that we don’t need any outside friends in a family this large because we already have them built in with the marriages. That’s what I want for my sons: built-in friends.  The family has been treaded by the relentless acceleration of the disease and the marked drop in Daddy-O’s (that’s what I call him, a little nod to the big band days) health. Right now, my husband is camping with our youngest with his cub scout pack. Life goes on.

The symptoms of the ravage started the day before Easter after Daddy-O played a round of golf with his own sons. They went to the grill for lunch and he just wasn’t feeling well, hadn’t been feeling well for several days. He complained of an upset stomach and indigestion. As time marched on, the indigestion continued which created what we thought was a psychological food aversion / fear cycle, but which led to weight loss and then more stomach upset and then tests and more tests and the ominous results. Then some complications from the disease and further stays in the hospital. That’s where he is right now.

The liver biopsies have been inconclusive, but the tumor marker tests have been very conclusive. Because the biopsies came back “benign” the doctors can’t treat it. But because of his age, the doctors can’t treat it. And because there is no coming back from pancreatic cancer, the doctors can’t treat it. So while I know that it’s there, I’m sort of saying it’s not because … well, it’s untreatable, so why give energy to something that can’t benefit from it? It’s all a lie. My personal screwed up coping tool.

I believe pancreatic cancer ultimately took my Alshee, my great aunt who was like my grandmother. It’s an aggressive disease and the more advanced in age you are, the more persistent the journey. I haven’t read Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture, and I don’t know if I’m about to at any point in the near future, but I did look up some quotes, and I think this one best personifies my father-in-law:

“When we’re connected to others, we become better people.”
― Randy PauschThe Last Lecture

I guess I’m writing about this now because it has been on my mind for weeks and I love Daddy-O. I respect him, his privacy, his beloved wife of almost 59 years, his fortress-like children and his legacy. I want to shout from the rooftops about what an amazing man he is and what an amazing couple he and his wife have modeled for me; how he is quietly humble but makes things happen anyway. How he is gracious and sweet and flawed like the rest of us. How he forgives us our trespasses. How he loves and lives fearlessly. How he means so much to me, “Good Golly, Miss Molly!”

So this is my rooftop. This is my shout.

Ora! (“Pray!” in Latin.)

Thank you, Daddy-O and Thank You, Mamacita.

Regeneration, Anniversaries and Magnolias


I have been struggling to write of late.

It’s not that I don’t have things to say; I have plenty. It’s that some subjects are ones that I’d really like to kick to the curb (like the bullying thing we dealt with) and another subject is too overwhelming to share, so it’s been blocking me from saying anything at all.

It was shown to me this morning though, as I went out to visit my “little gem magnolia” tree that I bought for my husband for a wedding anniversary / father’s day gift a few years ago, that life is about tending to ourselves and loving as best we can and that its moments — the good and the bad — are evanescent.

We had the tree in the front (north) corner of our home. I love to garden, but I hate the technicalities of “needs full sun” or “partial shade.” I can’t be bothered with those details. So when I planted the tree a few years ago in that corner, beneath  an eventual canopy of oaks, weeping willow and shade from houses, I sort of knew but denied that the tree was doomed.

I didn’t have the heart to plug it into our backyard, which I knew was shaded once the oak, birch, cherry and poplar leaves filled in.

So a couple years later, I moved it to a southern corner of our house which gets a fair amount of morning sun. It thrived there. The only problem was that it was just beneath an eave, so it was a matter of time: either the tree or the roof.

I loved that tree. My husband loves Magnolias. I knew that a Great Southern Magnolia tree on our property was out of the question as they are massive and well, dirty. But on the day we were wed, twenty years ago tomorrow, the magnolia blooms were abundant outside our little Georgetown church.

So I moved the tree again this spring. We took the slide off our playground set (why any of us buys swing sets is beyond me… the kids just want to be with the parents, our boys have outgrown it. Little kids who visit always end up migrating to the front of our house where the action is) so the tree is now taking up permanent residence in a nice spot which gets at least six hours of sun every day.

Here is a picture of how it’s dealing with its move:

I know it's common for these guys to shed, but this is about 50% of its foliage.

I know it’s common for these guys to shed, but this is about 50% of its foliage.

I’ve been very concerned about it. So I’ve taken, in the last three weeks, to giving it one gallon of water every morning; “slow and steady wins the race” as they say and while I’ve been slightly frightened of the dropped leaves, I have been absolutely amazed by the ability of this tree to get its crap together and rally.

Socrates said it best:

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

It’s like us. If we concentrate on what needs to happen, if we stop thinking about what happened to us and remember our goal: thrive and grow and learn and bloom, then we will be ok too. I’ve been so distracted by the bully stuff and old patterns in my behavior that I’ve forgotten the point of all of it: to rally to learn and to stick to myself.

The action of “mewling and puking” as Mom used to say about our past troubles is what gives them life. If we just see them for what they are: feelings about an action, instead of the action or result, then we’re ok.

To wit, Eckhart Tolle:

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”

Every Single Person In Our Lives is a teacher.

I don’t care if it’s your spouse or your parent or your sibling or your best friend. Every single one of those people is here to teach you and to teach me — in fact maybe I’m supposed to learn something from you if you comment — how to live better. How to improve and to grow and to face fear and move on. Not shove crap deep away in some hole in our souls, to “man up” or crap like that, but to face it, own it, deal with it and learn — with great humility — from it.

In the case of the things that are bothering me, it’s not the results. It’s the feelings. The results are what needed to happen: self-advocacy, self-assurance, family solidarity, self growth. What the other people do with those situations I can’t be bothered with. It my attachment to an outcome or an expectation of an incident that gets me in trouble.

So back to the tree…

It's doing better.

It’s doing better. You can see the new growth at the “12 o’clock” position at the top of the tree. New stuff is coming in! It’s so exciting!

And so, we don’t have to think that growth can take a long time. For humans, it can be instantaneous and just as promising as that tree above. The tree would definitely not do as well if it weren’t for my intervention. It would get along and grow, but it would take a while.

For humans, it’s the same: we need each other. Even in the shitty, hard experiences, we need each other — to learn. To learn how to be more patient, to learn how to SEE THE OTHER PERSON, to learn how to deal with our own mucky crap, to learn how to press on and chin up and as Scarlett O’Hara did at that party Melanie threw after she was caught kissing Ashley (“oh! Ashhhlaay!”) we can hold our heads up high because why?

Because we are still here. And we must learn to go on.

So of course because it’s a plant, plants (trees, whatever) grow mostly at the top. I wasn’t sure of how the magnolia was going to respond to all those dropped leaves. But I do now…

Check that out! New buds are coming in where the old buds fell off... and soon, this tree will be unstoppable.

Check that out! New buds are coming in where the old buds fell off… and soon, this tree will be unstoppable.

I apologize for the out-of-focus nature of this picture. If you’re feeling nauseated, blame me. If you think you’ve had too much to drink this morning, blame the photo.

I’m so thrilled about this tree. I’ve made my husband come out at look at it at least once a week. He’s usually like this:

Oh cute >pat pat pat< honey, you’ve made a plant grow. >pat pat pat< I’m going to be over here doing something important.

Just kidding. He’s actually pretty into me.

But now these days, he’s totally excited because he knows how much this tree means to me that it means so much to him.

Look, our kids will be out of here in 20,000 years. We will be all alone. With the dogs. And the cats. But the tree will be here and we will have it to gaze upon while our kids are off being fantastic and ignoring us.

So remember what I said about tomorrow being our anniversary and that on the day we wed, the magnolia blossoms were abundant on the trees flanking our church?



Look who’s got some blossoms now y’all!

This tree has shown me: grow where you are planted. Grow any way you can. When you are planted in the best possible circumstances: light, sun, water and some dog poop to boot, you will do well. The dog poop, is not just a literal thing; it’s a metaphor as well: we only grow best when we see, accept and deal with the shit we are standing in.

Think of the shit you’ve had to stand in and deal with and muck through as your manure. Your manure to help turn you into the most amazing person. Because you are.

Thank you.



Bunny Wrangler


My son done caught a wild rabbit with his bare hands.

He can add “Bunny Wrangler” to his c.v.


He was mowing the lawn and out popped this little guy. Spared him from a Toro Tragedy, a Honda Horror. He’s resting comfortably under some bush or in his den with his mama.

As for the bunny…?

We just released him.



He took about 10 hops to a cluster of hostas and vanished from sight.

Have a wonderful weekend wherever you are.

Thank you.