Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Probably what enthralled me the most was Dee Thompson's vivid descriptions of Khabarovsk, Russia. I've neither read much about it, nor ever considered it on my long list of places I'd like to travel to someday. She made a cold, hard place seem downright enticing.
Her adoption plans, initiated in a dream, fulfilled surprisingly quickly as she immediately and literally met the specific girl in her dreams, and then slowly succeeded against all odds in adopting Alesia.
Adoptive parents often fall in love with a potential child through adoption photolistings of waiting children or babies, yet nearly every time, the parent is immediately discouraged by experienced and well-meaning social workers to not get their hearts set upon a particular child, as there are often formidable roadblocks in one's quest.
Added to the struggle equation was the cold, hard, stark reality that no American had ever been able to adopt a child from Topolevo.
Not ever making the reader feel as if this were a pie-in-the sky dream, instead Dee Thompson literally embarked upon a crusade, a single-minded mission to get this one particular older child, Alesia, out of a bleak orphanage with few options in her future.
Weaving in stories about her own life back in Atlanta, the challenges of being a 40 year old single woman with the obvious need to support herself and any future children, and a bit of a love life, readers will find themselves devouring the story, hoping and praying both for Dee and Alesia to be reunited and living together in the United States at some point, to begin their life together, as it truly seemed not only inevitable, but absolutely necessary.
I've had the unique opportunity for the past several years to be peeking in the windows of Dee's home that she now lives in with her two children and her mother via her blog The Crab Chronicles. I knew how the story would end, yet I was breathless with anticipation for Dee to return to Russia in order to bring Alesia home to Atlanta, where it seemed she was destined to live someday, if this headstrong woman had her way.
It made me think about how many more children could be adopted, or how many more orphanages could be helped, or how many more adoptions could be financially facilitated if more people would follow Dee's lead and pour themselves into some sort of a mission somewhere.
A motivating, feel good book with a happy ending, however once fraught with difficulties this journey seemed to be filled with along the way.
Adopting Alesia is a powerful read and can be ordered here.
Living in such an alternate universe will make re-entry into normal society difficult for me someday. My splashdown won't be pretty now that I'm so banged up. When my kids are grown, when I can put something down, returning later to find it untouched and undestroyed, will seem alien to someone who has lived under extenuating circumstances for far too long.
I hold out my eventual freedom in front of my face like a candle, giving me a reason to continue, knowing these dishonest surroundings are not forever, the promise strengthens me each day as I wade butt deep through the absurd, the ridiculous and astonishing lack of reasoning abilities that I encounter like others experience oxygen or water. Sharon's post illustrating a similar glimpse as well.
I have a pile of very normal children also, who I hope learn from the mistakes they see around them 24-7, or that my grandchildren come out unscathed by the utter lack of logic swimming constantly in every direction like berserk amoebas on a bad acid trip.
Just as policemen learn to trust no one, to think everyone is a suspect, similarly I must also ponder that others don't live like this? Or do they? Is this normal? But that can't be true, as I do have faint memories of how life used to be.
Lately though, I'm finding myself with more grandchildren than children surrounding me. My grandbabies are so beautifully normal and well-adjusted, as if combining with each other to further fill my life with sunshine.
Tossing whole wheat pasta with olive oil and sea salt, fresh basil and a ton of chopped tomatoes from the garden, the last of my Fire Hot Pepper Sauce as an adornment, we gobbled down every bite last night. Martin asked for black beans tonight, while he still had his mouth full of supper, "I wanna put tomatoes with the beans," he stressed...like we wouldn't?
Fresh tomatoes make everything better.
I'd taken the last few dollars in my possession, 24 hours before my retirement check hits the bank, since it was Jack's birthday, Sarah was babysitting, so his birth sibs, CW and Lily, joined us at a relatively new ice cream parlor for huge and extravagant chocolate dipped cones stuffed with the ice cream of choice. "I'm already regretting this," CW moaned, holding his belly, halfway done, not one to pig out on sweets at all, passing it off to Jack to polish off.
Six county sheriff cars slowly cruised past the window there, Jack who notices everything, wondering aloud if they were checking on us, my truck parked out front.
Most of my more violent kids now grown, either Jack's become paranoid now, or I'm blitheringly oblivious, neither concept likely, as all six cars eventually circled around and parked across the way at a restaurant, while Jack, with his large and gorgeous eyes, watched very carefully, licking his two cones, nearly making me gag, as I personally don't find ice cream appealing. Too heavy of a syrupy feeling for a hot day, too thick, too sweet, not filling at all. I prefer frozen yogurt, but it was truly way too hot to eat anything at all.
I, too, learned of yet another grown child of mine being arrested for speeding and reckless driving, shaking my head and wondering if the brain synapses will ever merge successfully within their minds? Like Sharon, I don't bail them out. What would that then teach them? Do what you want and mama will fix it? I don't think so. But I truly do feel sorry and regretful that they cause themselves so much pain and sorrow. Fines they can't pay, charges they're ill-equipped to deal with, and failures that they seem to attract...even though everything is an obvious choice.
Adding and subtracting, budgeting, maintaining even a minimum wage job, not breaking laws all combine to frustrate them so easily. A reader had recently mentioned that her grown kids constantly lie to her and she can't trust much of what they tell her. Mine do too. They'll often just say what they think I want to hear, never backing their words with the truth...which is the absolute only thing I want to hear.
And yes every part of me eventually becomes very glad to not continue the day to day battles. When they are grown, they can choose to rebel against everything that makes sense. I've done all I can possibly do for them.
And from when I arose this morning before 6...until right now at 7:30, I've been dealing with a gut-wrenching dose of pure-T idiocy that only God can help me undergo. I'll blog it later when my blood pressure isn't shooting out both ears, setting sofas on fire and smoking up the house.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Please keep praying for my beautiful Vanessa as she makes some good decisions and then seemingly immediately usurps them with idiocies at times. Two steps forward, one step back crashing into, "What were you thinking?' screeches from me.
My first thought this morning involved Theresa's daughter, Erica, and her liver transplant surgery.
I'm of the believer mode that when God wakes one up, inexplicably in the middle of the night, it is solely and obviously for prayer, and God'll put in your mind who you need to pray for right then. Maybe this is peculiarly Southern, possibly a pentecostal thought, or perhaps just another eccentric oddity of my own life that I believe strongly in at all times.
For me, it's simply difficult to deny when it happens, two nights ago though, right around 4 a.m., it was clearly obvious to me that I should pray specifically for Cindy Adams, Linda B in Athens, and an older couple in my church where the wife now has a hospice nurse. Does this mean that those folks were right that minute desperately needing prayer?
Nope, it just meant I was called to pray right at that minute. I'll never claim to understand prayer, nor even how it works. I've predictably struggled with the fact that since He is God, why would He even need folks to pray? He already knows how everything is gonna turn out, etc. But even knuckleheaded folks like me finally understand that they'll never have the answers, just that they need to be obedient to His ways.
My seven kids who'd been on the retreat all weekend were too tired last night to even begin to make sense, telling me about tossing a football in Wal-mart at midnight with Pastor Bronson, and swimming at one in the morning in a nearby pool while thinking about how close to home they were at the moment. "Ya missed me?" I teased Allen, knowing he totally did, while JoJo pushed him, as utterly exhausted as he was, to the brink with his own annoying antics.
And if I see anymore young folks dying unexpectedly such as Billy Mays and this man, I'm going to become paranoid regarding my own age as I'm tantalizingly close to 55 now. Two men from my teen years, recently deceased, adding to my grumblings. I'm truly feeling I'm only at the halfway mark here in my fifties. Let's keep healthy y'all, which reminded me of an email last night from Jane regarding a movie I've both wanted to see and to discuss with Sarah.
We're already halfway through the ten weeks of summer vacation from school and still have a long litany of to-dos yet to go. Our rain chance dryly blew by me yesterday, my gardens are parched and listless. I'm reading Annie's Garden Journal: Reflections on Roses, Weeds, Men and Life and snickering constantly at this transplanted New York City girl living in California with an attitude, talking about no matter how hard she works, her gardens still look like Hell. Oh honey, can I relate to that one.
I will never, ever catch up, much less keep up, even when the kids are grown, and it's nice to know that others are over-worked and swamped with unfinished garden chores.
We're hauling in a great deal to eat, while the weeds, not needing water to flourish, are marching forward, no they're bounding forward, hysterically laughing at me, the garden warrior who simply can't begin to keep up, but who will keep on trying, as if that's my sole purpose in life.
But go back and watch this movie trailer to see why I feel it's so important on so many levels to grow food organically. I'm a political conservative, a Republican church lady, who is as radical as they come regarding food politics and nutrition. As a Christian, how can I quietly allow another generation to eat the crap that is passed off as food? How can I not teach my children to recycle? To use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without?
To live simply? And happily? Close to God and to nature? How can I not do that?
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Paloma's pudgy arms here wrapped around last night's haul into the house, getting this much each day, yet so far it's all been eaten, none left to can. They're small tomatoes, non-hybrid as I prefer heirloom varieties, but so tasty one never craves dessert.
I have looked forward to tonight all month long. A local church was hosting one of my favorite country gospel groups and I'd meant to call down there and find out what time...6 or 7 pm...I'd worked out which kids wanted to go with me, Grandma and Pa here with the remainders. Couldn't find anything on the web site of either the church or the group, so I just drove all the way down there only to discover I'd just missed it. "Oh honey, it just ended," an elderly lady informed me.
It was an afternoon concert.
Wonder if I should beg 'em to run their bus out to my house, we have enough audience for a concert, just a fleeting thought.
The Forward '09 kids brought home a Jentezen Franklin CD and have watched it several times already as it's even too hot to go swimming. They're too tired to sleep after three riproaring days and nights at this conference. Most of my young'uns rededicated themselves. Call it brainwashing, if you have no faith, but Lord knows most brains in this world could use a good washing out.
Empty lives all around us, depression is rampant, who's not looking for the emotional security that I've found in my very deep faith?
My kids can grow up and choose to reject it if they want to, I feel driven to make sure they've been well taught first.
I've been thinking about an article Cindy Adams sent me sometime back as it's hitting my Fabian on the head. He has it in spades.
In today's AJC was this bummer about mental health, blaming the tar out of Georgia when, in reality, I'd say across the board it's a problem throughout society.
No answers until the end, faith is where the rubber meets the road, usually its all I've got left at the end of each day.
And it's still my first choice.
Sarah's husband, Preston owns a heating and air business, repairing two of my systems a couple of days ago just before our temperatures skyrocketed. I have a difficult time adjusting between the outside air and AC, but not so in the winter when I come into a heated house. An attic fan in a rural setting, where one's property is surrounded by trees, gives a way better, heavily fragrant effect and I woke up sweating in the AC, feeling trapped again, missing the wind tunnel that the fan provides.
It is hot here and dry as a bone, not good for a gardener at all, but I was outside last night, admiring one of the new garden beds where I'd dumped at least a foot of fresh compost all over the surface area. Watering with a hose, it was like watching a sponge absorb the liquid, so efficient that I marveled aloud, transfixed and happy.
It's the little things that thrill me and make me feel as if my life makes sense. Returning vegetable scraps to the ground, via the compost process, hunting down sources for wood chips, leaves, or manure literally cranks my heart to pumping doubletime, as does standing in the gardens and eating until I'm full, blackberries all over my t shirt. A simpleton at times, but whatever, if it leaves me feeling fulfilled, then I'm ahead of most of the population.
Of course, the birthday cake Yolie made yesterday also did the trick, again I can be swayed at times off my non-rigid course of nutritional perfection. A Sonic Hedgehog theme, CJ turning 4 and Jack'll be 9 tomorrow, I swear the years are racing past me, but I'm OK with that as well.
Unable to resist reading some lurid Michael Jackson news reports, I'm thinking to myself that fame and fortune must be a curse, this man needed God in a very big way, but truly, folks must all struggle with the 'why am I here' riddle, Ecclesiastes in action, and older folks all the more I'd venture to guess. Why do we get up, work, go to bed, get up, work, go to bed, get up, work, go to bed...until we just don't anymore?
No wonder Rick Warren's book was so successful, a bunch of heart-hungry multitudes scrambling all over the earth. I get it.
Today I'll get my seven Forward '09 children back home, exhausted, but hopefully on a spiritual high. Spoiled brats now, kids in an AC house full of food with computers and Nintendos to play on, bills paid, mama doing 90% of the work, closets full of clothes while they Facebook their friends. Must be nice y'all, but it ain't the real world.
Vanessa had called to again point out I was right about the real world, she'd also facebooked Yolie needing reassurance. It's a tough world out there, you best learn some inner strength and discipline while you live here and are know-it-alls.
As annoying of a know-it-all as I am, I've obviously struggled aloud here about pointlessness and uphill battles, but hey that's my point I suppose. Finding one's inner joy, an inner reward system that the world can't touch, stepping stones to peace all combining to keep one on as even of a keel as is possible. Is that the point?
I dunno, even self-proclaimed bossy women know-it-alls don't know it all at all.
That's what God is for.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
I thought I'd broken a bone in the base of my thumb the other night, pain shooting up my arm, as I was washing dishes. Later, hardly able to sleep, I waited until the next day to call an orthopedic person, get it checked out, get a babysitter here in the form of Grandma, and trot to town, hoping not to return in a cast. It wasn't my gardening hand thankfully, and there was so much pain involved, I simply had to have it seen to as soon as possible. Heck, just jam it back where it needed to be, let me get on with everything.
The world doesn't stop for me; laundry multiplies and dirty dishes fester. "Learn how to delegate," I'd recently and unhelpfully been told. Unnecessary pot-shots bouncing off me.
I know how to delegate, the kids don't know how to not be dysfunctional...we're slowly working on it though. Me, with the sad knowledge via experience, how long it will take. I'm still unreasonably frustrated that outsiders don't get it. Shaking off my consternation, as it uselessly bogs me down, knowing it's just easier to keep on keeping on. Somehow, someday learning some new cliches if possible, I just constantly pick up stuff and work to stay ahead of the ever approaching tide of boring chores.
Paloma, my shadow, tagged along with me, evoking compliments even from the pharmacist where we get her prescriptions filled, "You're looking lovely today." she was told, "I can even see the change in your eyes," eliciting shy smiles from the one who'd only grunted and snarled on all of her previous visits there.
"Well x-rays show no broken bones," the orthopedist announced.
Scrambling to get my flip flops back on, smiling with relief, I was nearly reaching for the door when he shot me down cold, a verbal bullet in my back.
"You've got osteo-arthritis."
I whirled around and stared back at this impertinent youngster, thinking 'You talking to me, boy?'
"If a tire has several hundred thousand miles on it, it's gonna wear out from over-use," he unhelpfully supplied, possibly implying I'm a little over-worked? Rode hard and put up wet? Wet asphalt that's been stomped on? Ten miles of dirt road? A sack of spit?
All I could think to respond was, "You have no clue how much I need to work. I have to use my hands, I have to haul butt each day." As if the hand bone is connected to the butt bone? I sure can get off track in my bouncing brain paths.
"I have a lot of kids," I lamely finished up, staring at my offending thumbs, realizing that I had noticed pain in both thumbs for quite some time, just not as debilitating in one of them.
Hands don't fail me now, I willed them to be strong.
Explaining my options, one that involved out-patient surgery, several osteopathic possibilities, and/or a shot of cortisone that would allow me to power through the surprisingly strong amount of pain, I chose the 'shoot me up' route, grimacing, squeezing Paloma's hand like the medical sissy I truly am, too late comprehending that the dern shot hurt worse than the original pain, trotting home to tell my mommy what the mean doctor had told me.
My favorite brother-in-law later telling me not to learn to depend on the shots...
Am I just gonna fall apart piece by piece? Get old in spite of my best efforts to remain strong and energetic?
Nope, I'm gonna fight back, power through, and come out on the other end grinning like a nutbird.
Nice try devil, this won't keep me down either.
Friday, June 26, 2009
I don't even want to start my day discussing the passing away of celebrities, although I was shocked and saddened, this is an adoption blog for the most part, and, as such, after both JoJo and Jonathan refused to go to their appointment with a psychiatrist yesterday, that they both obviously needed, and then suddenly and surprisingly, I became happily and immediately un-estranged from a grown child that has had her head where the sun don't shine for far too long.
Standing there with her baby on her hip in my living room, I was genetically, eventually unable to resist reaching out for the grinning child. Well, duh folks, I forgive certainly, but, over the years, I've been more reserved, more reluctant to be drawn into conflicts, preferring a life of peace. I just don't want to squabble, folks with issues...work through it...it was a predictable rite of passage, sparked by the death of a birth mom, misdirected resentment overflowing at the one visible, uber-obvious target.
You wanna be mad at me for nothing? OK, I give you permission. Let me be. I've been in the I'm Out mode gratefully, digging away literally my many frustrations, out in the gardens, where I swelter happily in the peace that I greatly prefer.
My 7 older kids are all at Forward '09, leaving ape boy to holler, as he looked around, "I'm NOW the man of the house!" when he realized, at 12, he was the oldest child at home.
"Nope, not with that attitude," I reminded him. "That's not very manly." A kid refusing psychiatric treatment, whining, "I'm not mental, I don't need to see her." Guess you do. I'll be the man.
12 out of 19 grandkids here yesterday, not bad for non-planning, Grandpa continues to improve, to get stronger.
I truly want to ask everyone that will to join me in prayer for Cindy Adams and her family, specifically for her healing as she faces some very daunting challenges. Her bravery is impressive, but as a strong woman my ownself, I know that no one can undergo all this without being under girded by God's strength and I've never faced what she's up against.
These celebrities? I don't know them. I do know Cindy, and others in my life, that have been, or are now facing tremendous ordeals. My attention should be, and certainly is focused on them.
Some remarkable prayer warriors here that read my blog, please join me in praying specifically about the gamma knife - Cindy's words "Specific prayer requests are that I will be accepted into the Gamma Knife Clinic, and that treatment does not drag out and interrupt my chemo."
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Claudia's post yesterday led me to the first chapter of James. I've probably read it a billion times over my life, as I boldly over-exaggerate about my Bible reading time. And can one even over-exaggerate, or is that also redundant? Was the also necessary or is the word 'redundant' enough? When one has gleaned much of one's vocabulary from constant book reading, further muddled by the many ridiculous Southern sayings and syntax, one often questions one's own ability to master a language, even English. Studying French for ten years, only to abandon it totally for Spanish, when it became glaringly obvious to me that it would be prudent to learn what my own children were then telling me down in Honduras, has left my poor head spinning.
I often retreat to the Bible for comfort, especially when I'm downtrodden, exhausted or wondering why all this seems so pointless. Exhilarated yesterday, since all was well, I read with different eyes, and came away with yet another level of comprehension regarding my own life and extenuating sets of circumstances.
As I often do.
Sorry, Lord, to say duh about the Bible.
In their second fistfight of the evening, Javy was attempting to pull Paloma away from Jonathan, but somehow she got snagged into her cyclical pattern of non-thinking, where she reacts with stubborn, blazing anger and cannot be reasoned with at all. Dr. Mandy had once explained it to me as Paloma's neurotransmitters being disregulated, which I understand, to some degree, as I've watched the detonations with horror at times.
I had bragged about Paloma yesterday to Miss Kim from DJJ, as a mom ought to do when the kids are doing well, versus complaining or pointing out areas that need to be fixed when necessary. This morning we have an appointment with her psychiatrist, Dr. C, in which I'll also brag and suggest that we not change anything at all right now...Jonathan however being a totally different story.
So last night when it appeared there was a fight ring in the front yard, Mayra was hollering for me, as I yelped for Javy, I somehow stepped right in the middle and convinced Paloma to not act out, to not explode since she'd been complimented and praised yesterday. It's a common underlying theme where a child doesn't believe that they deserve any praise and will make the praiser pay for it. BTDT, but it's been years and years of this, may we please now break the cycle and move forward?
Within five minutes, Paloma surrendered, threw her arms around my waist in a hug, and promised to 'Man up," for me while Javy looked on in utter surprise. Chuy had separated the combatants the first time, standing there flexing again, ready to tackle one, while Javy drug off the other, if need be.
Back in my worn out kitchen at dark, finishing off the last of the 275 pounds of melons in a 24 hour period, Chuy doing the math, "What a bunch of puercos," he pronounced to everyone, then pigging out in the room, my compost pile groaning with delight at the rinds to digest, plus I'd carefully, nearly nerdily, spread a layer of grass clipping (nitrogen) over all the carbon matter right before it rained the other evening, bringing smiles and high fives within our family.
One of my readers, Nancy in Iowa, had mentioned a prayer need in the comments section regarding a horrifying incident in her community that immediately made national news, hoping it was OK to bring it up there. Well, yes, of course it is.
Similarly, a dear friend messaged me on Facebook about another teacher's health battles, both women have been long time blog readers here, and this reminded me how much I get so drawn up within my family's struggles, isolated as we are, down this long dirt road, to where my mind gets wrapped around only us, forgetting the other billions on this planet, and my issues here are no more valuable nor important than those of any others. I need to be reminded to get out of my own emotional selfishness, and to think and to pray for others as well.
James 1 was percolating in my thoughts all day long yesterday. I've returned to an older Bible of mine, one I'd used throughout the 80s and underlined and highlighted so much, as I was then coming out of a decade of Godlessness in my life, the predictable rebellion of a Preacher's Kid, who was very swayed politically by the events of the 1960s, yet determined to change from within, not comprehending at all, that it'd take a lifetime of missteps, miscalculations, misunderstandings and mistakes...but eventually becoming very comfortable within one's own skin and realizing that life is a long, tough journey for everyone. I'm so thankful to have guideposts and a path to follow as I seemingly muddle along.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
A big mouth rarely pays off, and a hard-headed woman learns slowly. Only one kid has ever been foolish enough to toss me in the pool and he'd tackled me from behind one Spring morning, a running start and catching me unaware, Edgar had landed in the bottom of the pool with his intended target...me.
Funny thing, last night as he was either texting or emailing, wondering how to cook pinto beans, "I sure do miss your beans," and later, "never mind, I found it in your blog," as if that were the only impression I'd made on him in the few short years we had here at home. Thirteen years old when Edgar'd arrived, holding JoJo, then 3, in his arms like a scared silverback gorilla (JoJo that is), moving out at 21, that's just not enough time for a parent to teach what a child needs to learn, top everything off with the violence and trauma Edgar had absorbed while trying to protect his six younger siblings, even I remain staggered at the thought of mere survival.
Last night, it all happened so quickly that I don't remember exactly who the culprits were, Chuy and Javy certainly, but they'd bumrushed me, picked up the pool chair in which I was sitting, and ran to the edge of the pool before I realized I could simply hop down from my perch and escape the splat I'd have made in the water. This after good-natured threats towards both Yolie and I, that we should be their next targets, "yeah, like anyone's man enough," I'd smirked, remaining dry.
Blowing off steam, doing so in the late evening, as even the pool water is some kinda hot on a summer day in Georgia, several nights of swimming to calm everyone down, but that just means the kitchen will get trashed once again, hours after supper and wild swimming.
"Wait for it," JoJo suggested, then blasting folks with smelly evidence of what beans will do for you, good-naturedly taking the retaliatory pool throws and attacks. Most folks can bend in half, but I swear that JoJo can bend himself in about a dozen odd ways, making a spectacle of himself constantly, amusing the tar out of me, even while usually being the fight-provoker around here.
We were given 275 pounds of cucumbers and cantaloupes yesterday, I double-dawg guarantee, we'll have devoured it all by tonight, a 24 hour feast.
I'd gone to see the assistant D.A., at his request, regarding a pile of charges against Jonathan. "I hate to see an 11 year old charged with this many felonies," he hesitated, knowing the law and the burden of proof, also knowing our family and the many issues. It's sad when a kid, such as my Pepe (Jose), attacks family members and then others in a therapeutic setting, still not comprehend cause and effect, consequences, or even empathy in that one should not hit people.
Paloma, CW, Martin and Javy were all with me for this meeting as we had several errands as well. Well-dressed, polite, curious and respectful, the four of them made a good impression, even Paloma who has angrily faced him in court before, hugged him as we left. Mr. John gave Javy some thoughts about his future, complimented Martin and CW for their attentiveness, and encouraged Paloma to continue on her positive trek forward. You just can't buy the support we've sometimes received from so many unlikely places. DJJ has continued to be a positive experience, a negative aspect that has helped instead.
At the moment, we are hauling in tomatoes by the ton, with me eating at least a half a ton a day, my blackberries are out of this world, and they've made me wish that all city dwellers would plant in their backyards, Navajo blackberries, just to experience such lusciousness. As a kid, living in town, there were still enough wild areas where blackberries shot up their brambles like rockets, arching high over other bushes, laden with fruit for the taking, sending me down the path to addiction, where nowadays I crave, with all my heart, a table full of fresh, chemical-free, fruits of all kinds, now growing strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, figs and pears.
Full of nature's bounty, happy at a day of no fights, no turmoil, grateful that my Dad dodged a bullet and is now amazingly back home with us, I fell asleep happily reading Bill Boyd's hilarious book that I splurged a quarter on at a yard sale some time back. The attic fan on, instead of the AC, nearly making my house feel absolutely cold after a 92 degree day, and my over 50 hot-natured, lack of an internal thermometer, the smell of the last gardenias lingering in the air, newly mown grass releasing its special and intoxicating scent, and a day of little pressure all combining to make me carefree enough to sleep all night. I could very easily learn to live like this.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Fuzzy garden pictures, the best I can do I suppose...
I'm finishing up my fourth year of blogging and am amazed and astounded by what all I've endured and survived in those 48 months. But in just 48 more months I'll have very few children left at home, and will have an impressively different existence by then. I remain focused on what I need to do in the meantime, but having my freedom so close, after so long, is tantalizing to me. All this blogging has served as discipline for the book I'd always thought about writing.
Yesterday's skies remained overcast all morning, allowing me four blessed hours of non-sweltering garden time, stuffing myself silly with enormous blackberries, picking a ton of peppers and tomatoes for my lunch later, surprised at the no-kick-at-all Czech Black Chile Pepper, no flames, but they're so beautiful in a salad with my variously colored sweet peppers and a chopped up raw yellow squash, that I'll likely add them to my grow forever list.
I'd really planned to weigh all the produce, if only to impress myself with my own industriousness, but everyone eats so much outside, what am I gonna do? Put the scales at the entrance to the garden, weigh everyone going in and back out to see how much they ate? Get supremely anal-retentive about it, or just be happy with the satisfied smiles I see on everyone? Blackberry stained T-shirts illustrating the deliciousness of these thornless Navajo plants that I've grown for a very long time. I'd even dug them up and moved them twice since the 80s.
Nearly every time Chuck walks in the door, either a kid or myself, asks him to look at something else that's broken. Re-attaching hanging cables yesterday from the TV to the DVD player for the kids, he was telling me he'd drawn up his future house addition plans. The man's an architect, a landscape architect, with an impressive artistic flair and has designed a jacuzzi to be added later.
"Well, y'all better knock first on your own door, 'cause you're going to have a tough time keeping me out of it," I warned him. The beach place we're headed to next month has three bubbling hot tubs that sooth my over-used muscles like nothing else.
When my kids are grown, I've promised myself I'll build me one made of stone, out in the Big Back Garden. Then no one will be hollering for supper. I have a stone table already out there, I'll likely never come back inside again, especially since I also want me a sleeping gazebo out there as well. Don't think I won't do it. That said, I've had to put even more plans on hold after the orthodontist hit me with some staggering financial news regarding Martin's extensive needs.
Asking me if I can swing it? Like I'd not take care of my handsome son? The doc does not know how many sons I have, I don't walk around telling folks, it'd make me sound stupid. Or stupider.
Martin, now 15, was just out of his toddler years when he moved in with us, no front teeth at all back then, no explanation given. "Either knocked out or pulled out," I'd been told, "His adult teeth will grow in someday," I was reassured about what little I'd been told, while Martin walked around like an elderly toothless man for years, needing speech therapy soon enough. So heck yeah, I'm gonna take care of this sweet guy. Duh. This ain't rent-a-kid, this is my son that I love dearly.
We didn't swim last night until after football practice for CW and Chuy, the bullfrogs setting up a racket and a half, the nature night sounds are deafening, yet soothing to my shot nerves, the boys were way silly last night, no coolness involved at all, as they swam and horse played until bedtime. Right at suppertime, we'd had an impressive downpour, seemingly rewarding me for working so hard that day.
We stuffed ourselves with tacos, laughing at my mom who was eating in a Mexican Restaurant in Atlanta with my baby brother, Jimbo, who'd driven all the way up for one night from Tallahassee to check on Dad. "Homesick, Mom?" I'd asked, as she loves taco night here with us. I let her know that we had TV connections once again as Charter showed up around noon yesterday, the same guy who's often come out here. "Y'all's dirt road spooked or something?" he questioned me. "I've come out here several times to fix poles."
Well we ought to be fretting over the poles, JoJo keeps yelling that he's the dominate primate around here, although he pronounced it prime-a-mate, we get the picture. Swinging his long arms, bounding all over the pool area, whopping and hollering, wrestling with Allen, "Can I throw him in the pool?" he'd asked me. I beat him to it, surprising Allen, who toppled like a toy building into the shallow end, his burns already healing right in front of our eyes.
Grandpa also has done amazingly well, possibly coming home as soon as today, thanks to the huge prayer covering he's received.
Monday, June 22, 2009
The Augusta Burn Unit is a frightening place for a cringing medical neophyte like myself. Allen had overheard a countryfied guy in greasy overalls whine to a nurse, "I've had diarrhea since Easters," in response to a 'take your meds' suggestion. Suppressing his grin then, it's all we've heard since, finding the statement to be hysterically funny, Allen's repeated it over and over and over ever since, and yes Easter was plural to the original thought.
This statement only serves as a jumping off point for all the middle school boys within my family who then take it to a new level of never-ending bathroom humor complete with interesting mouth noises. I should talk, all high and mighty, when I've been cracking up as well everytime Allen returns to this comic relief.
Besides adoption and gardening, several thoughts meander through my writings with regularity. I'm obsessed with food, nutrition fascinates me on every molecular level, as does every single new research article, when it boils down to simply one thing. Eat right, the best you can.
My time crunches lately has all but eliminated garden time and, in my beloved Deep South, a day away can cost you to have to hack through a jungle the next day. I'm still eating well, enjoying its bounty, but my yards and gardens look abandoned. I see beautiful blooms on precious perennials pushing through the advancing weeds that are joyfully bursting their seed heads and scattering next year's problems every whichaway right before my bugged-out eyes.
I suppose with Allen's injury and Dad's sickness, the camps, my schedules, and the constant battle here to simply keep caught up, while also refereeing constantly, it's just been crazy and I crave some peace, or at least for Charter Communications to fix one simple problem for us. We've not had internet access nor TV for several days, fortunately Grandpa uses another internet company and I can take my laptop to his side of the house.
It's just one of those months when everything I touch either falls apart in my hands or breaks in an sparky explosion, leaving me wondering how the planets have conspired to collide with such annoying frequency as to succeed in taking out so many appliances and attitudes in such a short burst of time. Maybe it's our astronomically high temperatures during the first official week of summer. At least I've not been hard on our plates or detonating within. I've been right calm in response to a high level aggression wave-length.
Pastor Bronson called me last night, we're firming up plans for Forward '09 that's coming up this weekend, and I'd kinda unloaded on him about Javy. I felt better but it took Bronson by complete surprise, as he sees a different side of Javy than do I. Yeah, buddy, it's all about the birth mom issues being dumped upon the adoptive mom. Bronsons is clearly cool in the eyes of my teenagers, and he truly is, whereas I'm the authoritarian who doesn't want anyone to have any fun apparently. Well kids, I'm not your friend, I'm your mama, live with it.
Mayra'd awakened me, just as I'd slipped into that deep sleep stage that rejuvenates me, "Mom, Sabrina is crying," so I came downstairs to deal with her at midnight, my head fuzzy with the need for sleep, then, of course, couldn't go back to sleep, which sets me to thinking too much, when I'd really rather bury my oblivious head in a pillow and escape at times. No TV to dull my racing mind, I picked a book from the stack of unread materials, duh Cindy you once were educated, wanna lose it now? I see it slipping away day by day, IQ points drifting out both ears at the same time.
On the Emory campus yesterday, all sorts of ideas I'd once had, came flooding back to haunt me, as now all my ambitions rotate around a very small piece of real estate, a 53 acre site with 34 family members in four different homes...if I counted right. And then there are all the ones who call me and live nearby, further shrinking my world and realm of influence. But hey, I just wanted to sleep right then, not do any thinking.
That's kinda why I work so hard, it frees my mind.
With everyone dressed for church yesterday, JoJo again melted down resulting in the entire family missing Sunday School and arriving late for big church, Victory in Jesus, Pastor Tony called it an old school song, blasting happily in the sanctuary, an all time favorite of mine, it kinda calmed the inner beast within me, as I was fuming and aggravated with JoJo again. Someone had given Hazel a Krispy Kreme, she saw me coming in the church doors and practically hid it so she wouldn't have to share it with me. Silly girl.
JoJo again flared up his obnoxiousness after I'd driven a hundred kids, it seemed, to Atlanta to see Grandpa in the hospital. As we galumphed through the mazes of hospitals hallways and he acted the fool, I abruptly turned heel and snapped, "Just FORGET about it, let's go home, I don't even wanna be seen with y'all."
Shocked eyes upon me, everyone slowly turned around, not having gotten to see Grandpa at all, following after me silently back to the van. Fortunately for everyone I ran into my cousin, Debbie, and we bear hugged, which calmed me down enough to quickly forgive my children's deep seated fears that resulted in crappy behaviors and we finally found Grandpa's room. Grandpa looked amazingly well for someone who'd been knocking on Death's Door last weekend, hallucinating about Martians visiting him at night. Probably he was just afraid it was my kids, as bad as they've acted lately.
Yet for all their acting out, they love Grandpa and they were fairly wide-eyed and silent in the hospital room, too afraid something would happen to him, unable to process their fears and feelings because coping skills are rare in traumatized children.
The ride home was better because JoJo feel asleep. I marveled loudly and rudely at the amount of Atlanta traffic on a Sunday afternoon. Don't folks ever stay home?
I'd dumbly put a new CD in my truck after church, I don't know where my head was, we'd had to obviously drive the 15 passenger van, so the kids listened to older country gospel all the way there and back. Nando had melted down at the thought of Grandpa in the hospital, opting instead to go with CW and Lily over to Cristy's house for the afternoon. Jack handled his fears pretty darn good there at Emory while Grandpa told funny stories while hooked up to oxygen with needles stuck into both arms connecting him to tubes, wires and Mars.
Grandpa might even be able to come home later this week, seven days past when he should've returned home from a routine procedure, but returning home is all we want him to do. Then Allen can tell his Diarrhea story over and over to Grandpa.
But first Grandpa has to do his business, prove his intestines work, and he'd told the kids a chocolate pudding story, his own brother had deposited it in a hospital toilet once, to prove to the doctors he was ready to come home. My kids had all sorts of interesting ideas on that subject.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
My niece Lauren, down near Hermosillo, Mexico for half the summer, on break from William & Mary, wrote this status in her Facebook, “ Lauren slept on the floor with a 6-year-old in each arm and woke to the neighbor’s rooster – THIS is Mexico (though strangely reminiscent of Aunt Cindy’s house…)”
She’ll be here in early July, absorbing the changes since she was last here at Christmas. I used to see her way more often, but now as a 20 year old with a very busy schedule, it’s less often, but no less joyful for our family.
Grandpa surprisingly rallied strong yesterday, after a very bad night, the next morning had scared us all, several of my grown kids called him to check, and Sarah and Preston took Hazel and Ray to visit him. Grandpa is a fighter, not an elderly man that’d now decide he was tired of the battle and ready to go on to his reward. He’s my son, Jack’s, very best friend and they’re planning on rescheduling their intended cruise to Alaska. Heck yeah, I’d allow such an intelligent kid to miss school for a trip like that.
Somehow today, the good Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise, most of my kids here, and I, plan to go surprise him on Father’s Day in his hospital room in Atlanta.
During a routine colonoscopy that should’ve determined why a man way over six feet kept losing weight, he truly is nothing but a scarecrow now, at 129 pounds. A polyp was found, a hole was inadvertently formed, and he went down in pain while coming out of the Recovery Room. Hooked up to drugs and massive antibiotics, his already emptied, since he hardly eats, intestines did not spill out waste into his internal organs, likely saving his life.
He’s on some heavy-duty drugs, probably telling the nurses he has 62 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and they, thinking he’s delirious, have upped his drugs. “Yeah, sure you do,” someone has likely crooned at his side and today I’m gonna surprise him with more than a dozen of the more rowdy ones. Hopefully there’ll be neither fistfights nor wrestling matches there for him to view with alarm from his hospital bed.
My cousin, Debbie, my running buddy from childhood, is trying to drive up from way south of Atlanta to meet me there.
I’d walk Jack there if I had to, he’s desperate to see Grandpa, my tears and fears did nothing to help calm him yesterday.
I threw myself into a flurry of house-cleaning and laundry in order to stay occupied. The temperatures soared towards one hundred, not getting quite as high as predicted, but I turned on our AC for the first time, and spent all day reminding kids to shut the dern doors. We all then felt trapped and irritable, breathing each other’s carbon monoxide and canned air. This morning I awoke very early, not breathing fresh air that is usually much colder, due to the attic fan, and way more fragrant, it felt stifling and still.
Constant work yesterday and very little to show for it, as the kids undo it as fast as I do it, my own frustration and inability to help Grandpa increased steadily. JoJo apologized for his raging butt-headedness, but didn’t clean the hall until nearly ten p.m., screaming that Allen ought to help him.
“Allen didn’t throw all this stuff out here,” I none too patiently snarled.
“Yeah stupid,” Allen none too helpfully piped up to his very favorite brother on earth that he fights with constantly.
“You’re stupid,” JoJo glowered.
“You’re stupid,” Allen retorted, and this went on for another hour, with neither kid upping the ante into at least a stupider insult, nor any resulting violence at all.
Javy is still not speaking to me over his refusal to not sweep on Friday. Such maturity. You think that hurts me kid?
CW’d gone with Cristy to help at her house, returning to cling, worried about Grandpa. Chuck came and knocked an hour off the internet schedule, now all the computers automatically shut down at 8 p.m., instead of nine, since some yo-yo visited a questionable site on you tube. The X-3 Accountability Programs he’d installed feeds this tattletale report into emails to Yolie, Chuck and I. A “You’re busted,” moment.
Yolie was very beside herself with anxiety over Grandpa, nearly wringing her hands while helping me, all of us simply trying to remain busy, and leave little time to fret over his condition.
An infection had set in, as indicated by his white blood cell count that soared, but then receded significantly. Yeah, we know the man is nearly 80, but even with his unexplained pulmonary fibrosis condition, his massive weight loss, and now this setback, he’s strong, helpful and a gardener, still playing a very critical role here in our family, and we desperately want him to fight back and come home to us again.
Our internet is down; I’ve typed this on Word and hopefully can take my laptop to Grandpa’s side of the house to connect to his system. Lagging behind in hitting Publish yesterday, as I’d been distracted by phone calls, sweet Ms. Carr emailed my Blackberry, worrying about us. With this many people in our family, so many chances of catastrophic events, again illustrating our need for constant prayer covering.
Grandma stayed in Atlanta last night, I relayed Dee’s very generous offer to her, but she’s sitting glued by Grandpa’s side at Emory. Fifty-seven years of a loud, very over-opinionated marriage to him, a nearly 60 year history between them, Grandma had even worked there in that same hospital while she was pregnant with me while Dad was then a student at Emory University, working on his master’s Degree in Divinity. I later followed him, in the late seventies, earning my own Master’s Degree there at Emory, and my daughter, Gina, a student in the 90s, at Oxford College of Emory University, making it a third generation thing. OK CJ or Ray…no pressure there on the fourth generation…
Two of my best friends, Janet and Emily, had both called me early yesterday and Yolie’d later coincidentally run into both of them separately at Kroger while picking up Paloma’s Abilify that has done wonders. Sarah and Preston had encountered horrendous delays in traffic, sitting on I-85 for more than an hour where it was surely 100 degrees as six lanes of traffic sat not moving.
I paced, slung the broom around, picked up mounds of crap that multiplies and started early this morning with a phone call from my other cousin, Aven, as we try and let our extended families know of dad’s condition.
We finished last night with a swim past dark pool time. I never let them swim without me as a life guard, even though they’re all strong swimmers. That’s just not the point. They’re rough and rambunctious, even with me by their side, imagine how much so if I’d walked off, back down the hill to the house. I don’t think so.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
All of your many comments and emails indicating you were praying for Allen, so many emails I've yet to answer, as time heavily compresses upon my head and hands like you wouldn't believe. My phone beeps with each incoming message, except for three that were diverted to my Spam folder for some unfathomable reason. Realizing I'd not seen, nor answered one, as it became glaringly apparent later, forced me to wade through some spam doozies, lemme tell you.
My own gmail, when going into the 'k12.st.ga.us' mailboxes of teachers has occasionally been diverted to spam, leaving me to wonder why I'm not being answered, especially since it is so important for an adoptive mom to document so much in order to receive so few resources for such severely troubled children. But don't even get me started on that today.
In the Augusta Burn Unit, Jack and Allen were occupied with Nintendo DS, while I was happily lost in Russia and in Dee's letters to and fro, across continents, between she and Alesia. It struck me, that unsentimental fool that I am, I've not saved any letters over the years, I've shredded voluminous paperwork that has burdened me by its very existence, and I'm gonna be sunk trying to remember everything someday for a book.
Medical personnel gathered excitedly around Allen as they peeled off his nasty, stinking bandages, Jack's big eyes glued to the scene, while I swayed in a corner, near a sink, praying I'd neither faint nor barf. "Will you take a look at this!" the medical team exclaimed with joy.
Not on your life, I thought.
Crowding around Allen's stretcher bed, a half dozen folks oohed and ahhed over his near miraculous recovery in just one week, attributing it to a porcine skin graft patch or something. I could hear their voices, but was processing little, they were distantly fading from my eardrums, and I was fairly sure I'd soon hit the floor with a gooey splat. Oh well, at least I'd look good, as I'd just had my hair done that week.
When I did gather my wits, glancing perfunctorily, "Don't faint, Mom!" as I was told, as if I had any say in the matter, I recoiled inwardly, because it didn't look very pretty to me at all. I wanted to holler, "EEEEEUUUUWWW GROSS!"
"Will he ever turn brown again?" I asked, aghast at the nearly fuchsia pink legs before me. Allen is a dark shade of brown-gold, he has beautifully smooth skin and a great deal of vanity.
"Oh certainly and his legs'll be hairy again too," we were reassured, drawing snickers from Jack.
When we'd first entered the room, the nurse had remarked, "Guess we'll be seeing you every Friday for quite some time," making my heart sink with the load of finding babysitters, when really only Sarah and Yolie are capable of managing my bunch for long.
Re-wrapping Allen, with something now resembling compression stockings, surgical hose for burn victims, we were gaily informed, "See you in six weeks, keep doing whatever you've been doing, he looks great."
I wish I could claim credit, and holler about the virtues of vegetarianism or organic garden eating, but with six kids gone, we've been slack about meals, still eating good, but not perfectly. Scrambled eggs for two nights in a row versus different meals with variety. Allen balks at swallowing pills, so vitamin therapy was out. Yes, he had the new AUBAC patch or something similar, hard to hear medical terms and acronyms with one's ears ringing and an empty stomach churning...but y'all know where I'm going with this one, as I'm a fairly transparent woman.
Yep, it was prayers for healing, pure and simple. The 150 prayer warriors Miss Ellen had immediately called upon, the thousand ones of y'all, too many of you darling women to name right here, who pray specifically for our family members by name...all of this provided the incredibly quick healing for Allen. Burn victims just don't bounce back like this, within one week of the accident and resulting surgery. I'm speechlessly grateful to you all, and also deeply and profoundly cemented, in my mind again, that prayer is all we need, and our need for it remains tremendous.
JoJo had hoped out of the church van, upon his return home from camp, immediately and suspiciously asking Sarah, "Where's Allen?" in that accusatory tone that illustrates his deep inner fear of constant and impending loss. As if, during the weeks he was gone to church camp, I'd simply quit upon a son or two. Made good on my ridiculous threats to run off with handsome beach bums.
We were home from Augusta by early afternoon, grinning with pure relief and sheer delight, Allen and joJo - the Bozo twins reunited - falling all over each other. JoJo, so glad to be home had pursed his lips and kissed me happily, only by nightfall did we find ourselves with me trying in vain to pin Allen against his own bedroom wall shouting, "Boy, STOP IT! You're still injured!"
He was crying, hot tears running down his cheeks, mumbling murderous threats and railing at joJo who had, of course, sparked the entire uproar by inexplicably throwing everything he and Allen own, out their non-existent (since they'd destroyed it) bedroom door and into the hall, where the rest of the kids ignored the mayhem and stepped over the piles as they unpacked from camp.
Javy did not come to my rescue, since I'd angrily shut off the computers when he wouldn't sweep for me. A five minute job, all I'd asked of him that day, he stalked off furiously, but Chuy and Martin ran to the room to help me, upon hearing the racket. Sarbrina'd gotten there first, and went to tackling JoJo down, while I tried to calm Allen which took the next hour.
JoJo, emotionally spent, finally fell asleep, so Mayra and I could unwrap Allen, as he needs Lubriderm-ing as often as possible. Oh yeah, like I helped? I barked orders as I washed the ten thousandth load of dishes, preferring the nasty unending pile of food-caked crap to even one millisecond of medical duty. CW, Chuy and Martin, looking on with shock and awe at the bright pinkness of his burns down both legs and on one arms, me reassuring them he'd heal perfectly fine. The nurses told us to apply sunscreen. We didn't even own any, except for the girly face creme I sometimes remember to apply about once a week whether I need it or not, Thus the sun damage to every part of my body that stays outdoors for hours on end.
Because our pool is salt water, Allen can swim in it, but only with sunscreen on his burn areas. I'd stopped on the way home and got him SPF Infinity, sparking a ton of 'you must not really be a Mexican' jokes from all his insensitive brothers all evening, questioning his masculinity, along with his ethnicity.
A goodbye you've been a good boy gift to Allen from the hospital, in the forms of coupons for ice cream at Sonic Drive Through, provoking Jack to nonstop beg me to stop there, as it was on the way down the road from the hospital.
"Ok, OK," I relented, knowing one fake emulsified, chemical-laden, milk product wouldn't undo all the garden nutrition I provide for my children. We pulled up into their parking lot, me tring to figure out how the entire setup functioned. I'd never been to Sonic, a stranger in a strange land, and I can list the thousand other fast foods I've never been tempted to consume. It just doesn't appeal to me at all, repels me actually, but I realized I'd lost weight again due to the medical stress over Allen, and I looked at their garish menu, realizing I instantly craved onion rings, advertised as "cooked in fresh vegetable oil!"
Yeah right, like even if that were true, it's still not good for you. Me, imperiously only using olive oil at home, trying to protect my often pounding heart from having a flat out heart attack at such a young age. But ya know what? I ordered them for me anyway, the boys wanted fries with their ice cream, and I gobbled the rings down uncomplainingly, impressed actually, wondering if they'd used Vidalias, so sweet were those delicious onions, knowing the grease would likely make me even queasier than the hospital ordeal had done.
A food snob at Sonic, I am, a refined sugar avoider, who'd greedily eaten an entire dish of delicious creme de menthe Brownies this week and Krispy Kremes, a recycler who'd wasted two sheets of hospital paper towels, covering the bandages in the garbage can that were making my stomach lurch...such are three of the many inconsistencies within my life. Well, that and dangling participles, run-on sentences, exaggerations, and temper tantrums over undone chores...and more.
Allen slept all the way home, greatly relieved about his strong, athletic legs, while Jack and I sang along offkey and happy in my Nissan truck that's 12 years old, to The Kingsmen and the Gold City Quartet CDs I'd brought along, right with the world, unencumbered for a few hours, until the DA's office called me about Jonathan's impending charges, and I dwelled on and thought through the case of Big Joe's mistaken identity the other day, when he'd been called to the court that wanted, not him, but Joey. Five Joses within my family. I don't name 'em, I just raise 'em and this post is long enough without me going into those two cases right now.
I have too much work to do that my lazy kids won't help me with...I'm begging y'all to keep praying for Grandpa. He rallied well, but isn't out of the woods yet, likely will remain in the Atlanta hospital, where I'd been born nearly 55 years ago, for a week or so. A huge stress on my 79 year old mama as well, as she commutes the 75 minutes each way each day.
My dear friend, Allison, flying from her home in Chicago to Atlanta, then on to South Carolina for her own mom's memorial service, where Dad should've been preaching today, somehow getting to the hospital to visit him the other night, when here I am, within a short driving distance, trying to figure out the logistics, which I've now planned carefully as Father's Day is tomorrow.
Indeed after yesterday's medical stuff, the fistfight that I'd prevented by bodily throwing myself onto the one who was least likely to hurt me, and my fears over my dad, I'd cried into Nando's newly earned All Sports Camp T-shirt last night, odiferously noticing the funk of little boy sweat stink, better than smelling salts, nearly knocking me out, so I got a grip and just prayed about Dad.
Just prayed? Do you hear yourself, girl? Praying is da bomb. Prayers had miraculously tended to Allen, and resulted in a hilarious, happy first thing in the morning phone call while i was driving yesterday plus I eventually ended my looooooooong day, falling asleep while praying, that's ok, falling asleep in the presence of God...what better place of soul protection and fulfillment?
ALL the kids are upset over Grandpa, I might be the only one here capable of simply grieving, rather than acting out over the situation. I need to demonstrate that crying is preferable to fist-fighting. Yet my kids find it threatening when I cry.
It ain't easy being me sometimes.
And I'd not hit publish over the last several hours as I'd been getting some alarming phone calls. It's now 10 a.m and Grandpa needs prayer. I'll proofread another day.
Friday, June 19, 2009
A year for frogs to thrive, I suppose, as our bug population has skyrocketed due to increased rainfall? I've always had over-turned clay pots, toad abodes, scattered throughout the garden areas, like I must've superciliously thought toads couldn't have survived before people arrived on the planet to crap everything up? CJ's holding one he'd caught.
No news throughout the night from Grandpa which is the best news of all. I'm fixing to wake Allen up and haul my truck east of here for the day. Jack, unnerved over his best buddy Grandpa's surprising take-down, is clamoring to accompany me. "Honey, you will be B-O-R-E-D with a capital board, sitting all day in a hospital."
Knowing boredom is the least of his worries, he wants to see Grandpa who is an hour or so to the west of home, I'm allowing Jack to hang around with me on this trip, knowing he needs comfort. Thankfully Sarah is taking over here at the house today.
There'd been a quietly planned Alaskan cruise, tickets already purchased, for Grandma and Grandpa to take Jack with them, as he turns nine next week, for a week long trip out west. The surgeon last night pooh-poohed their plans, we'll see if Grandpa can rally in time to go.
I'd ended my night with a call from Yolie regarding two strange trucks with out-of-county license plates parked up on the dirt road, halfway concealed in the woods. Hmmm, that ain't right.
Javy and I went to investigate, time to lock our gate for the night anyway, but with Chuck not yet home I didn't want to leave Yolie and the kids up there alone. I'd called Dewayne, here on our property in the double wide, to keep an eye out.
Both trucks were empty.
Having already had thug problems from a Hispanic gang member wannabee that afternoon, yeah way out here in the boondocks, Atlanta folks have used our county's dirt roads as dumping grounds before. I was a tad iffy over this particular situation, not frightened, but rather annoyed at the intrusion.
I called the sheriff's office, they sent out two deputy cars and within minutes they found the truck owners who were not up to any nefarious plans, but rather innocent environmental workers traipsing through the woods, with business cards to prove it.
I was relieved they were white guys.
That meant they weren't grown members of my own family coming back to harass me, as my peace had been threatened earlier this week.
By then Chuck was home with Yolie, Javy locked our gates, and I spent our last night without my middle school campers that'll arrive home today, courtesy of Pastor Bronson, exhausted with tons of dirty laundry. One had texted me late last night, overcome with the positive emotions of a revival camp meeting, apologizing for her thoughts, actions and mistrust issues towards me. First thing I saw this morning, making me grin with delight.
Gotta go wake Allen up.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Friday is shot, gotta be in Augusta again with Allen at the burn unit, but my dad is in Atlanta in the hospital and has had serious complications from a procedure, so I've had to call my brothers and brother-in-law, line up possibilities should I need to be there, yakking on the phone to my longtime friend, Allison, since Grandpa was supposed to deliver the eulogy at her mom's funeral in South Carolina in two days.
Allison and I met in 1955 in the church nursery.
No wonder my kids think I'm old.
We'd had an incident this afternoon in which two sons-in-law, irritated again that a 54 year old ragdoll was having to again go up against some uninvited thugs. "Call the sheriff," Chuck had hollered on the phone to Yolie, but it had gotten resolved peacefully, while I was fielding a thousand other phone calls, or so it seemed. Big Joe precariously involved in another situation that also resolved itself, but Yolie and I'd been fretting over not hearing from him.
I'd gone down to the courthouse to make sure breaking and entering charges had been placed against Jonathan, only to run into a favorite deputy who listened patiently to me fussing about Joey calling me from the jail. A reporter who reads my blog and saw he'd been mentioned in it before, again suggested we'd make a good story for the newspaper, but thankfully respects the privacy I need in which to try and successfully raise my troubled children.
I'll be begging him someday to write an article promoting the book that I write.
We can't get a juvenile court date until August, the July one landed on my birthday and I've made important plans regarding my big 55th, the sweet Clerk of Courts changed it for me, combining everything for me to only have to make one trip down there. Another trip, of course, for Pepe.
Estrella literally fell asleep in the pool today, I realized I had seven grandchildren swimming and only four of my own children. I worked out the logistics of tomorrow with Sarah and Yolie, and am now eating a ton of blackberries and blueberries, trying to calm my growing concerns over Grandpa.
As my main focus, in blogging, is in regards to adoption, I omit a ton of events occurring around here, the second reason being there's not simply enough time to even live all my life out each day, much less record it. Sarah's often reminded herself, "It's an adoption blog," knowing it's not a birth child blog, yet she's mentioned here, as I'm daily involved with her and her family. Duh, she's a major player in my world. Nearly 36 years is a long time to know someone.
I wish I could remember how a commenter once wrote about how I weave my horticultural therapy within my adoption experiences, as I'd once feared that my garden writings amounted to simply a personal indulgence of mine, surprised at the fact that I get an equal amount of garden emails as adoption emails.
I'd asked Sarah yesterday about my overuse of commas and run on sentences, she pointed out that my mind must have wandered at times in such a convoluted manner as to leave out the verbs, making my readers possibly wonder about my intentions or actions after the lengthy descriptions. When I finally do turn this into a book, and I'm in no hurry to do so, I'll obviously need Sarah's very genius editing skills as well as her wry outlook on this life of ours.
As Yolie's often pointed out, "it never ends...that long arm of the birth mom," that reaches down into our lives for so many years, invisibly affecting decisions, choices, and even outcomes of everything they do. Big Joe accused Yolie yesterday, "You think too much," grunting as if it were a crime to ponder anything. Being so intelligent, as is Yolie, can also be a detriment, as she simply can't let it go, her outrage at times is paralyzing and surprising, even after all these years.
So after talking with Yolie about events I don't wanna blog as they're grown folk business: baby mama drama, break-ups, and my different sons and their new girlfriends - Big Joe came strutting in, allowing me to jump all over him regarding stuff I'd heard from various sources, fortunately much of it misleading, as he straightened me out with his version. Javy, of all people, knowing the newest girlfriend and her many cousins, standing up for Joe. She's a Mexican woman also from a large family...which reminds me of the most hilarious joke ever that Ms Carr sent me...I'd read it aloud to both Yolie and Cristy who'd fallen down laughing. Dee's joke as well kept me giggling.
Right after Big Joe finished cutting up, acting even sillier than I, which is a feat in and of itself, I took the kids swimming early, as the heat has been impressive, boiling the pool, and Cristy stayed with me, and we talked, as we've done for 20 years, about the same subjects. It's predictable, it's soothing, and it helps her cope...or try to do so. This is her vacation week.
Also finding solace and refuge in her gardens, her large fenced in back yard, she's mimicking what she's learned from me, our figurative retreating from the world that seems so oppressive at times. The fences giving us boundaries, the enclosures that we seem to need. Sarah has fence envy as well, admiring expensive fences she sees that would offer protection and land markings, but when one has acreage, the fences are costly. A family up on the paved road nearby has the best fences ever with large, ornate automatic gates.
Who doesn't want to shut out a potentially hurtful world? Maybe the Bodies are turtles in disguise. I often feel as if I've thrown my cards on the table and childishly yelled, "I'm out," fleeing back to my gardens for emotional comfort.
If Yolie, with all her obvious brilliance, struggles and has incredible coping skills...what about Big Joe? How can we expect him to function half as well? Daniel ignores his past, but in a healthy manner, he decided years ago that his past did not define him, granted he was so much younger, but I've slowly learned that age means nothing, as usually the oldest sibling in every single sib group situation had been forced to function as a parent in some capacity or another before they were adopted by me.
I, after all these years, still struggle as well to understand, thinking all day about Brenda's hard-wired brain theories that she's recently learned about in a conference.
I never expected to be so involved with birth families, never quite understood the ramifications in the adoption of older children, the internet allows connections we never expected. Birth siblings, that didn't grow up here, are on my Facebook with me, or they email me, but for that matter so's my former husband and his family. One of his daughters, Jenny, soon to have another child, making me wonder aloud if I'll be a Country Aunt or Step-Grandma or just Cindy...whatever...this child will resemble Hazel and Ray and will be related to those two children that I love more than life itself.
Javy was questioning me yesterday, realizing that he's related, by the marriage of one of his sisters here, to a kid at school who's now going steady with his own former ninth grade girlfriend. I explained the connection, look son, you're kin that way to several hundred folks it seems. I can't even untangle it all in my own mind, so over-loaded is it with all the emotional morass around here. I can't even get all my emails answered.
I'm not complaining, it's a very full and richly warding life, frustrating certainly, and full of crushing disappointments, so I'll overuse Pat's phrase that I love, about pulling up my big girl panties and moving on. I lost out on the paving stones I wanted, due to my own stalling, and waiting on an answer from God, but that was my answer. Travis had called, offering to help me drag the stones home with his big trucks, but I'd already blown my chances to buy them.
Oh well. I'll live, though disappointed, other opportunities will come my way. At nearly 55 years old, I certainly have to have learned that fact by now. Or I better get larger big girl panties and pull them slap up my back and way over my head like a tortoise.
I'd only alluded to Dee's situation the other day as it was initially so devastating. She was laid off, all the more reason for me to finish reading her book and review it. Hit the link and go buy it please, let's help her out. She needs to sell it, get it promoted, and marketed.
I'll say this much, there's not a bone in my body that's either drawn to Russian culture, nor do I have any sort of urge to even travel there, plus adoption is not on my list of future activities, yet with Dee's beautiful and artistic use of words, I've been drawn into this world she writes about, and it's a great read. I'm enjoying her adoption journey from my sofa. I can see Russia in my mind and am fascinated. Having read her blog everyday, and watched Alesia grow up from here, has increased my enjoyment.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I spent most of one memorable summer in Malibu, eventually deciding I wasn't cool enough for the outskirts of Hollywood, nor was I even remotely interested in maintaining a situation I'd been in, so I landed in New Orleans where I proceeded to have a wonderful time, the only year I worked in a public library versus school libraries, you know that whole love of books thingy of mine. I did however, return to Georgia that June, and I seriously doubt I'll ever leave my beloved home state again, except of course for travels someday when the kids are ever grown.
When I finally decided to enlarge my family by adoption, with no preconceived number in mind, no moment when God majestically drew the number 39 in the sky or anything, I'd by then traveled enough, dated enough, and explored my options enough to comprehend that I truly wanted to parent more children. By then I'd been quietly called by God, a question I'm often asked, "How did you know?"
I have no clue how God speaks to anyone else, how anyone discerns the will of God in their lives. I was positive I knew what to do then, it was revealed within my spirit to me by the needs I saw around me, the desire I had to do something about those needs, and the steps He guided me down, through, and by, on my rocky way to get here, where I now find myself much older, maybe wiser, likely sillier than ever, and certainly fulfilled.
The Director of the Adoption Agency has often told me, that while she's supportive obviously of large families, she's cautious and very deliberate in all of her decisions to approve or not, but she truly wishes folks would wait several years between placements of sibling groups. I'd echo that thought in that if you dive in thinking it's all that, while you're still in the delightful honeymoon stage with a bunch of kids...when the testing behaviors that are sure to come, start exploding, you really don't want to be in the midst of welcoming new members.
My family grew over a great many year span, a good 20 years, it grew large because some of the sibling groups were very large.
I'm clearly glad that I'm finished adopting, not at all finished with my job of child raising, but the adoption paperwork, the stresses of new children, the unknowns, and the new testing behaviors are all behind me now. As I've said over and over, I knew that I knew that I knew....each time, whether to adopt or not, and finally when to stop.
I carefully read the studies, I only submitted my own home study on sibling groups I was fairly confident I could parent, ruling out a large number of diagnoses such as fire-setting tendencies, sexual acting out behaviors, and pet abusers. I wanted school age children who functioned halfway decently in regular settings...and look at all the difficulties we've still encountered.
Some severe emotional issues mushroomed into mental illnesses, some minor behavior problems detonated into aggressive violence...a good bit attributed to the hormones of adolescence and the identity issues that all teens grapple with during those years. But a lot of it...you just don't know until you're day to day living with it all. I've never felt deceived or duped by the system, never lied to by any workers, just later I'd felt unsupported when situations became dangerous.
I never felt left alone by the agency director. I had the one in a million empathetic, intelligent, highly educated, and later baptised-by-fire worker who grew her own agency slowly by being the best there is in the business. I've been very blessed in that even when she was not my worker anymore as she'd advanced so much, she was still available to me 24-7 and I'm not kidding. And I have certainly needed the advice and the support.
The Adoption Counselor gave me some interesting thoughts in her post yesterday that I'd read from a wooden bench in a courthouse while waiting on my son, brushing away the lettuce that had fallen from the 12" veggie on whole wheat with extra jalapenos that I'd splurged on for myself at Subway, allowing Jonathan and Javy the luxury of choosing their own sandwich fixings there. I could've eaten two sandwiches, as I was hungry as all get-out.
Man I love this Crackberry. How'd I ever live without it? I'd had to google the courthouse address since there were no maps in my truck as I rarely leave the farm, and I was reading y'all's emails which mean oh so much to me. My invisible friends who understand and who pray, the comments to my blog I can instantly publish from wherever I am, the blogs I can read while waiting around, checking the rain radar, reading news clips, Bible verses, or trashy gossip sites...did ya think I'm a saint?
Lily's inviting her friend to come spend the day with us today, as I finally get to stay home and catch up on my several lost days lately. Bronson was able to fit my kids in the church van, eliminating my own need to drive them either way to camp which will free me up on Friday to scramble over to Augusta at the crack of dawn with Allen. Nando's been attending a Sports Day Camp this week with Ray, happy as a lark, while Tabby yanked out her other front tooth late last night, cutely smiling up at me with tiny blood smears on her lips, making me immediately wretch in response.
"Good golly child!" I gagged. "Rinse your mouth out right now." Immediately insanely glad that I'd just experienced the now double front teeth loss for the very last time. Like my silly grandchildren won't share this same joyful moment with me?
Between the voraciously aggressive mosquitoes that are even swarming around a stanky ole fool like me, the flaming hot temperatures, and stifling humidity blanket through which Southerners struggle to breath and not drown, my poison ivy and fire ant bites, I'm still inexplicably drawn outside magnetically each day to sweat, to gather produce, to weed, and to think about everything. Maybe I think too much?
I'd looked at the stones I'd wanted yesterday, the lady asking me, "Are you Joe and Monica's mom?" as she'd graduated with the two of them. It's a massive pile that I could use to make a patio within the Big Back Garden, make a floor on the inside of the shed, and finish off the areas around the greenhouses, still likely having leftovers for another project. I've been collecting windows in frames to build another greenhouse for years. I have way more dreams than any free time.
Javy looked at me quizzically, "I guess you think I'm going to haul these monster piles all by myself?" It had taken six forklift loads to get them to this lady's driveway, while I'm thinking I'm a gonna wear out my truck. Javy was still mumbling, "Chuy, Dubs and Lazy Jojo are gone, Martin's in summer school, Allen's a cripple, and you're old."
"Maybe your mama's old, but I ain't," I immediately snapped, as the mama jokes rain down upon me with ridiculous regularity, particularly the fat mama jokes about one's butt living in another zip code or something, since trash-talking is genetically embedded in my crew. Oh wait, he's trying to chump me into proving I have muscles. Almost out-smarted by a 15 year old?
I told the lady I'd think about it, if she had any other folks wanting the stones to let them have it...I always figure if God wants me to have something, He'll make a way for it to happen. I casually walked away from the stones I truly coveted.
"Mom, are you nuts?" Javy asked me, sure he'd seen me literally drool about it.
Since I spent all day yesterday driving, considering the stones, thinking and designing in my head where patios and pathways would manifest themselves, I eventually decided 100% that I did absolutely want those stones, even if she wouldn't negotiate the already very low price, which I'd not even attempted to do at that point. Cash talks, bullspit walks, and I'd not been to the bank. I don't ever keep cash around until Saturday morning yard sales.
So I'll call her this morning. If they're sold, then there's my answer. I really did leave my wants and my needs in God's hands. He truly fills my needs, not necessarily my wants. But sometimes I find myself extraordinarily blessed.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Pepe arrived at the county courthouse, tucked within the north Georgia mountains, the foothills really. Anyone who's seen the Rockies might call our land merely rolling in comparison, but it's Deliverance country, and we were already waiting on him. All y'all are probably too young to remember the 1972 movie that did nothing to boost Georgia's tourism revenue.
Pepe's counselor, Daryl, a large imposing African American man surprised the one who never thinks before speaking, "Wow," I mentioned, "I didn't realize you weren't white," as we'd talked on the phone often due to Pepe's many runaway situations, his assault on a staff member, and his usual non-compliance regarding every situation.
"That's my business voice," he explained. Yolie later telling me that clients are surprised as well when they meet Chuck for the first time, expecting a white man after speaking with him on the phone. What preconceived notions I must still have.
I talk to Chuck nearly every single day and simply haven't ever noticed if he sounds white or black.
The other man, the facility director, a Canadian named Chris, large, handsome and bearded, for once making me feel safe enough around Pepe, who was contrarily and surprisingly sweet and happy to see us; Javy, Jonathan and I. Both men were huge and muscular, maybe that's why Pepe acted so sweet. It was good to see him at any rate. He bear-hugged me as if he hasn't nearly destroyed half our family members at times.
The Canadian talked so dern differently, an accent never heard around here. I was transfixed. What is wrong with me lately? Too much bio-identical estrogen coursing through me? Get a grip girl.
As we all finished up the legal business and walked out of the courtroom, I noticed my silenced phone had five missed calls, several voice mails, and a text that said, "An ambulance was called for Sabrina at camp."
My heart thudded and pounded against my duct tape chest, which reminded me that Sarah had called, while I was driving up there, laughing her skinny size zero butt off, "Here's an offer you have to accept."
Her sweet mother-in-law, who works at Macy's, and had a coupon plus her employee discount had an offer to buy 2 bras, get two free. Laughingly Edith told Sarah she'd give me the other two, after reading my post this morning. Sarah, I'm sure, suggested she check the Teen Queen Training Bra section.
Trying to be halfway decent in polite company, I'm about to give up the ghost, give in to my inner slob, quit even trying to dress in anything, but soft and comfortable rags, which is what I prefer. Who'm I trying to impress? My hens?
I was dressed in a suitable go-to-court dumb outfit, Pastor Bronson was talking to the paramedics and relaying their info to me, finally deciding Sabrina didn't need to go to the hospital, she'd had a head injury and had stopped crying, was lucid, but shook up. They promised to keep an eye on her, get her out of the blazing sun, and the two nurses on staff would tend to her.
"Well, OK," I easily agreed, knowing next to nothing about medical stuff anyway, "But I'm an hour north of y'all right now and I'm headed down there to check on her," calling Sarah who had Nando and Scotty, Yolie who had Tabby, Grandma who had Jack and Lily, while Mayra tended to Allen and Martin, with Grandma in the same house supervising.
When I arrived at the camp Sabrina jumped in my arms, needing Mama, but not wanting to leave camp. The nurses complimented me on how well behaved my kids had been at camp every year, how they looked forward to such sweet children. Well yeah, no weapons are allowed there.
"You obviously don't read the police report in my county," I blabbed in surprise, since they were also dealing with Paloma and JoJo this week. JoJo had spotted me from way across the field and looked shocked to see me off my dirt road, or maybe just because I had on clean clothes and not those UGA Dawg butt shorts I've been wearing constantly. Comfort above all.
"Oh yeah, about Paloma. Does she have...um... mood swings?" the nurse asked me.
Doesn't the lithium and abilify dosage give it away? I wondered, as they'd been dispensing her drugs properly, but all I replied aloud was, "Yes, kinda."
As if on cue, a practical joke from God, my cell phone rang right that very minute with news that Joey had again been arrested.
I drove back home, relieved about Sabrina, with the Gaither Vocal Band blasting in my truck, rattling the windows and greatly lifting my spirits, arriving home and gathering together the only ten kids I have at home right now to go swimming. Within five minutes half had complained, "This is no fun with everyone gone."
Well it's sure fun for me sometimes. I stood in the baby end of the pool, reading Dee's book, soaking my poison ivy since we have a salt water pool, fairly confident we wouldn't have any violence tonight.