No Greater Expectations on Mother’s Day

We have a quiet Mother’s Day, my son and I. He came down with a terrible head cold on Saturday which means that, by Sunday, he is a hacking-wracked ball of phlegm and we can’t go visit grandma as planned. I call to invite her to come to our house instead–at least, to the outside of it. (She is immunocompromised–so masks and open air are her best friends.) The weather is perfect for an alfresco get together to chat and exchange Mother’s Day gifts. We agree on 1:00 pm and I hang up. Ordinarily, I’d leap into frenzied action, but it’s Mother’s Day and I make a different choice. A better one.

Anytime someone is going to come over, I usually have to engage in a massive disaster relief effort–the kind of clean up that happens after a storm has threatened to wipe a town off the map and leaves a ton of broken things to be hauled away. Only in this scenario–I am the tornado. Things are thrown down the laundry hamper. The dishes are piled into the dishwasher (or out of the dishwasher to make room for the newer, dirtier dishes.) Books are stacked as if they might, just might, get back to the library some day. Maybe.

As a rule, I make an attempt to provide plausible deniability that I am not, in fact, a borderline hoarder. Stuff gets shoved into rooms with locking doors. I am not a cleaner, so much as I am a denier of filth crimes. A hider of clutter. A shover of just-one-more-thing-into-the-junk-drawer fanaticism. Things get tidied because otherwise I fear someone might just call social services to report me for my lackadaisical housekeeping standards. Dammit.

But with the kid home sick I’ve had no help since Friday. I had a big mailing to finish for work which took priority, and the house shows it. With only a few hours until Grandma stops by, addressing the mess seems futile. Not to mention, since we are meeting out-of-doors, kind of pointless. Unless she needs to use the restroom.

With the kid coughing up germs left, right, and center–sometimes directly into your face–it seems prudent to at least try to minimize Grandma’s risk of contracting whatever plague he has. I douse the bathroom in a bleaching chemical bath and spray the faucets with antibacterial Lysol, change the towels, and call it good enough.

Outside, I drag the not-entirely-non-oxidizing-metal yard furniture in place and scrub to get last year’s bird poop off as best I can. I put the umbrella up, but I can’t drag the heavy base from the garage to keep it stable. So the furled edges flutter slightly whenever the warm air lazily passes by–nudging the ribbed canopy, fluffing it like a dancer’s skirt. I zip a circle of plastic with a felt backing around the center pole–an umbrella-friendly tablecloth with giant watermelon slices and what might be flip flops–or maybe pineapples?–scattered in glaringly bright colors across the surface. It too flaps frantically whenever the wind tugs it. It is a minor inconvenience. Sitting near the budding maple tree, shaded from the warm sun, drinking a cold beverage, it is probably as close to perfect as a day can get.

There’s only one not-so-small problem. What to do with the kid? Leaving him in the house likely means returning to an even bigger disaster than I already don’t want to face. Bringing his projectile coughing near Grandma runs the risk of making this our last Mother’s Day together. Even though he can wear a mask, it isn’t entirely reliable seeing as he wears one at school and still managed to catch whatever virus he’s got.

My solution? I drag a green bag up from the basement and hastily construct an A-frame tent we used to go camping with when the boy was much much smaller than he is now. There are a few holes and stains in it and the elastic that holds the poles together is stretched out of all helpfulness–but the design is simple perfection. It is the classic triangle tent depicted in all those Beetle Bailey cartoons and the kind we actually used in basic training, though they were made of canvas and not this water-resistant, windbreaker material. (Not washing machine resistant, as I discovered, but that’s another story.) It’s taken a beating, but once all the poles are in place, it holds its shape.

Grandma arrives, carrying a portion of angel food cake baked with pineapple and topped with whipped cream. I grab cans of diet cherry coke and we chat between interruptions from my son. Apparently his participation in this celebration requires him to drag every single one of his stuffed/plush toys and blankets out of the house and into the tent. This is no small task. A parade of Frozen, Paw Patrol, and Trolls character march past stuffed into a mound with his blankets. And then, once that’s done, he asks for lined paper and a popsicle before settling down to write calendars in his mobile green kingdom on the lawn.

Presents are exchanged. My ‘son’ gives me a new set of cornflower blue Rubbermaid food storage containers and Grandma gets a gift certificate to Kay Dee’s Garden–a greenhouse where she can buy a flat of pink and white cosmos to fill the flower pots outside her home. We talk for a while, but mostly we just enjoy the understated beauty of a sunny day with no greater expectations.

This may not be the most exciting Mother’s Day ever recorded, but being outside after weeks of gloomy, wet weather, and enjoying a conversation with my mom is about as close to perfect as these things ever get.

So, to all the other mothers out there who would rather sit and relax on Mother’s Day–I salute you! And I hope that you too enjoy a day being a Good-Enough Mom that might otherwise have been wasted trying to be a Perfect One.

A Close and Uncommon Book

Look, I don’t generally do book reviews on my blog. It just isn’t my thing. But if you’ve missed me at all in the blogosphere, know that it was in pursuit of relearning to love reading and battling my way through painful transitions of my own. This book gives me hope that life is worth living. Maybe you need a reason to keep on going too.

So, I offer to you Becky Chambers’ A Closed and Common Orbit and a link to my Goodreads review.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4654661851

But, honestly, I suggest you just read the book instead. Any review is going to be a pale, anemic attempt to recapture the absolute brilliance of Becky Chambers’ writing. It’s actually a travesty that I tried.

WARNING–this is BOOK TWO of a series. You can read it without the preceding work–A LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET–but you will deprive yourself of joy and context if you do.

Breaking Bed

It’s TACO TUESDAY every day with my son’s foldable, soft mattress from Talsma’s Furniture.

Just over four years ago, Talsma Furniture sold me a Serta RestoKraft mattress with a five-year warranty. Apparently that warranty only holds true if your mattress has no stains. The fact that my son’s mattress can be folded like a soft taco is immaterial.

I’m vexed, miffed, and annoyed. And I have a blog.

If you want to give me an early birthday present–please share this as frequently and violently as most people share their political rants in an election year. Let the stuffing fly!


#SertaWarrantyFail

#RestoCrap

#TalsmaFurniture

A Tale of Two Lindseys

In a previous post, Another Woman’s Life, we met our intriguing heroine dumpster diving at a Goodwill depot center. (Wait…no… that makes it sound like she was doing the diving when actually I was in the dumpster…Sigh. Go read that post, it makes more sense.)

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Continue reading A Tale of Two Lindseys

What Does Not Kill You…

I know you are all breathlessly waiting for the follow up to last week’s post “Another Woman’s Life–The Sequel,” but I am breathless for an entirely different reason. No sooner had I clicked ‘Publish’ than I came down with a very nasty virus–not Covid, we checked–but honestly, it’s bad enough it deserves it’s own pandemic in my opinion.

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Continue reading What Does Not Kill You…

Another Woman’s Life

I like to go to secondhand stores–places like Goodwill, Mel Trotters, Changing Thymes–this gives me a chance to browse other people’s discarded treasures.

I sometimes post my finds to Facebook–things I find especially funny or ugly or both. But I recently went to a Goodwill depot to dumpster dive and I found something I have never seen before–another woman’s life up for sale. As I write this, I am uncertain of how much I will be allowed to tell you. So, this may turn out to be a bit like the hugely disappointing reveal of Al Capone’s Vault by Geraldo Rivera–a whole lot of nothing wrapped with a pretty bow.

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Continue reading Another Woman’s Life

Wordless

WORDLESS
by Kiri L. K. Salazar
The words hewn from my mind are forced into uncomfortable arrangements. 
Sentences with broken backs and incomplete endings. 
Things that dangle. 
A worrisome focus on grammar and clean lines—syllabication truncated to succinctness. 
When all I want to do is run through words like a child through a field of flowers. 

Wild and untethered, 
I would pluck the verbs that please me best and make of them a bouquet.  Smell the deep earthiness of adjectives that bite the tongue when you speak them. 
Crush the scented mint between lips full of prose.
Using adverbs sparingly so as not to overpower the taste. 
       Slowly. 
               Surely. 
                      And with great pleasure. 
 Carefully measuring synonyms by the spoonful.
 
But harnessing words is tricky business. 
Bringing them through the slip stream of consciousness and pinning them to the page is not unlike stabbing a butterfly after the ether withers them. 
Do they become inert things no longer filled with life?
Pretty facsimiles of something that once breathed?

If words are not my playthings, then what toys do I have left?
How to describe what lurks in the folds of my mind? 
If I cannot use them with abandon, are they orphaned? 
Are they lost forever in a void of never-has-been-ness? 
A not-being that sucks my soul into a black abyss. 

Am I then become wordless?

Autism in the Trenches

AUTISM IN THE TRENCHES
BY KIRI L. K. SALAZAR

There is a foe, I cannot see
Wired with hair-trigger senses.
Conflict borne in infancy
     Camouflaged in normalcy
My heart is sore, my soul fatigued
Fighting Autism in the trenches.

My Janus child walks a line between his world and mine
I cannot cross his no-man’s land, the battle never ceases.
Nor can he find his way to me
Along a treacherous path 
Where every wrong step may carve him to pieces.

Some days, the screaming never seems to end.
Severed nerves send SOSes.
Signals get crossed, get lost in transmission
It might be joy, but why take chances?

The silence is worse.
Laying traps of false expectation.
A minefield of hope and regret
With a route that daily changes.

I have waged war against tics and compulsions
Aiming for inclusion.
Making I.E.Ps into I.E.D.s
Is not an error in transcription
But a battle plan with no excuses.

I am tired of this war.
I am raw.  I am defeated.
I have forgotten, 
Who am I really fighting for?
If the one I love is the one who is bleeding?
I cannot fight it any more.

In the Land of Normal, Autism is the enemy.
There are no victors and no survivors.
Unless I surrender completely to the pain of what is
and make peace with what will never be.

Instead of making war on his differences,
I will raise the white flag
And embrace those moments of calm.
For, if all I know is war, how can I ever come home?

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The artwork entitled Autism in the Trenches which is based on the above poem was installed for public consumption at ArtPrize 2021. It has now come home and awaits installation on the only wall big enough to support it.

Search for Lot 90-70454

For more details go to this link: https://www.artprize.org/70454