Scout is it!

I loved reading To Kill a Mockingbird. I loved Atticus Finch and I loved Scout and I loved Calpurnia and I loved that tired old town and I wanted to be there living those adventures as the keenly observant Scout did with Dill to blame and Jem to shout at and Atticus to complain (without success) to. I shake my head at Lisa the seventh grader. I did not know that what I was reading then was a such a fine illustration of social mores and injustice and defined roles in our world. I didn't know then that there will never be as many Atticus's in the world as there should be. I only knew that a book could take me to a place in such a direct and unassuming way and make me want to stay. Later I taught To Kill a Mockingbird and watched hipper kids than myself get drawn in and tonight, I get to talk to adults who have only just read this book for the first time. I hope I don't cry. That's how strongly I feel about this book. It's the first introduction I had to thinking about life in someone else's skin. It's the first introduction I had to a world that does not treat everyone fairly and it's a lesson I have never ever forgotten. Who am I kidding? I will cry... but it's all good. I love that about books.

Sleep, babies, sleep.

I get it. I've gotten it for awhile, but this morning at 5:00 a.m. as I was creeping past their bedrooms to get some alone time, I peeked in at each little one and my heart just lurched and squeezed and stopped and thumped all at once. Those babies, my babies, aren't really babies any more. Sometimes their bodies are unfamiliar to me. How can that be? Two kids with legs that are longer than mine, the girl who is, umm...developing, and the boy who seems to grow in his sleep. They seem like imposters--someone has stolen my babies! But....the trick is this: you must sneak in late at night or early in the morning to be reminded. Sleep softens the blow and takes you back to the way they clutched their stuffy or thumbed their blankie and curled their mouth just so since their beginning. I can't stop the clock or turn back time, but sleep lets me revisit who they once were. It helps a bit. But daybreak always comes and with it, the challenge of becoming familiar with these new little people, my babies.


It's time to count our blessings. The pilgrims had it right when they decided after all the blood, sweat, and tears that they must take the time to pause. To celebrate. To give thanks for this new world that they worked so hard in creating. To feast upon the fruits of their labor- a feast so plentiful as to mirror the enormity of their gratefulness. I wonder what they would think of this new world now? Would they shake their heads in wonder, disgust, bewilderment, bemusement, or just plain shock at what they had started evolved into what we are today? I don't know. I think they just might jump for joy when they spotted duct tape. Just think of the problems that could have solved back then! Oh, sure, this technology has made many of us fatter and maybe even dumber necessitating that perhaps we hold back a bit on the feasting part. But really...they could not have even dreamt that we, bright and caring and perserverent Americans would create medicines to prevent and cure illness, roads easily travelled everywhere, and planes to take you to far away lands ( California) in less than 3 hours. This same America allows for Sarah Palin and Lady Gaga to coexist. Will wonders never cease? But this Thanksgiving, when it's hard to take in the enormity of what we have become, I like to look closer to my own home. And aside from those truly miraculous blessings of family and health, here are a few things I don't take lightly:

1. Coffee
2. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers
3. Modern Family
4. Colors and paper
5. The family table
6. Firewood

The list could go on, but it will be more fun for you to make yours.

Boomer, the traitor dog.

Granny is still on my mind. In her casket we included a bag of circus peanuts (she ate them until the end), a cross-stiched picture of a sheep, and a picture of her beloved Boomer. Boomer is a miniature dashchund that came into her life about a year before Grandpa died. Grandpa must have known his time was coming--he didn't want Grandma alone so he had my little brother search for a little dog for little grandma. Enter Boomer. Small he is, but he has an imperious gaze and rules whatever roost he lays claim to. He can make monster dogs quake...or at least retreat with their tail between their legs. At any rate, Boomer was Grandma's constant companion until she entered an assisted living facility and her heart broke to not have him near. Boomer went to live with my mom and that's when he broke her heart twice. Grandma was a good sport about it. Mom often brought Boomer in for visits but after suffering through the obligatory petting, he would hop off baby grandma's lap and sit by the door. Little snot. There he would wait patiently until mom left and baby Grandma shouted, "Good-bye little traitor dog. You'll be back."And he was. And they went through the same thing every time. But it delighted Grandma to no end just to see him. I know when Boomer passes he will get some more quality time with Baby Grandma. It will be when my mom passes that things will get really interesting....

Granny is gone.

My Grandma Gray passed away this past weekend at the ripe old age of 96. She lived a long, productive, lucky life. In her 96 years she lost her spouse only afer 68 years of marriage. She raised 4 children, watched 6 of 8 grandchildren marry, and enjoyed 9 great-grandchildren. She survived the Great Depression, welcomed a son home from Vietnam, and changed her long-held Republican status after the second term of George W. Bush. This she did at age 88. She was stoic and soft-hearted at the same time. She nursed baby kittens and lambs with such gentle care while chasing unruly boys with a wash stick. I don't feel sad, exactly. It's more like I am taking mental notes. I am looking at all these people whose lives were touched by her (some more figuratively than others) and thinking that I hope she knows she did it right. She didn't do it perfectly or elegantly, but she did it right. How do I knows this? Because we all have stories to tell. And a life well-lived is full of good stories. Thanks, granny, for being such a central character in my story.

Don't try this at home.

Wigs are for people who have no hair, who don't like their hair, or simply want a different look. Imagine my surprise when I was able to accomplish two of the three while trying to trim a wig that didn't seem to look right. Oh yeah. The wig was on my head while I was trimming it. The pieces that fell were black and silver and a lovely brown.......and my hair dresser is in Paris for a week!