Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Now this is important stuff

Okay. So according to a report in the Durango Herald this morning, this is one of the house bills our legislators in Denver have been working on:

"House Bill 1147 would designate the Western tiger salamander as the official state amphibian – not to be confused with the official state reptile, which is the Western painted turtle."

Wow. Wonder how much time, effort and money was spent on that.

At least they didn't choose a newt.


Friday, January 20, 2012

A Note on Newt

The British have a less-than-eloquent expression for describing someone who's blubberingly drunk: Pissed as a newt. And while I'm not sure if newts like to party that hard, I know for a fact I would never name my child Newt. What were the Gingriches thinking?

Especially as people have a tendency to live up to their names: Our Acacia loves to climb trees; Cayenne is our chef; and a newt is a slimy salamander.

This occurred to me last night during a political discussion over dinner with friends. We were talking about Newt's ex-wife's revelation that he'd asked permission to have an open marriage. That doesn't make him slimy. It was a private conversation with his spouse in which he admitted to being monogamously challenged (something she should have known, come of think of it, seeing as she was having an affair with him while he was married to his first wife. But I digress.). Whatever the issue, it was a personal one between him and his wife.

But then it was pointed out that Newt (whose full name is Newton - to be fair - but still, this is America which means the name was guaranteed to be chopped) led the charge to have Clinton impeached, while he was having an extramarital affair himself.

Now that's slimy.

Just sayin'.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Time Passages

Pat grew her wings today. She spent her last week at Carl's place - her home away from home - hanging on long enough for her other son Michael to come up from Texas, and the rest of us to have lots of time with her. She outlived her siblings and contemporaries, but still died surrounded by family and friends.

It was very peaceful. Carl had told her it was okay for her to continue her journey and she whispered, "Thank you, Carl." That was a big deal. Even though he was aware that at 103 she would be facing this sooner than later, this week provided proper closure and he's very thankful for it. She was being a Mom until the very last. You did good, Pat.

Marjorie "Pat" Darnell  (1908-2012)
Captured here in a very natural state - laughing - by family friend Steve Peterson.


Happy Birthday, Mom!

Three quarters of a century ago in the verdant flatlands of Freisland, a little girl was born who would become my mother. Seventy-five is young compared to Pat, but I'm learning what you fit into life has nothing to do with numbers.

(Truth be told my Mom would hate this photo because her hair isn't done as she used to do it. But I love the way it captures her happiness. I look at it and can hear her laugh.)

My father brought her a dozen roses today, as he's done on her birthday for more than 50 years, and a cake which was enjoyed by 30 people at her home.

I know my mother would not have chosen to be unaware she was turning 75. But I feel sure she is aware the person who comes to see her every day loves her deeply.

Happy Birthday, Mom! ♥


Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Circle of Life

"That's the most beautiful Christmas tree I've ever seen!" Pat exclaimed. I admitted that it was a fake, because although I understand both sides of the environmental Christmas tree coin, it still makes me cry to cut one down - so the whole family has to live with Mom's neurosis and have the same tree every year.

"Doesn't matter. It's still the prettiest tree I've ever seen."

This was a huge compliment because Pat has seen 103 Christmases. Yup. One hundred and three. And, I would like to add, she loves my eggnog too. She gulped it down as though it didn't have rum, bourbon and brandy in it - or perhaps because she knew it did. A woman after my own heart! 

That was three weeks ago. Yesterday Nick, the girls and I had the privilege to spend time with her as she prepares to leave this world. A few days ago she suffered a massive stroke and although she can still think and understand, the paralyzing effects of the stroke make it extremely difficult for her to talk. As Cayenne and Acacia held her hands and I stroked her hair, I thought about how important everything happening in that room was: For Pat to have constant physical contact, rubbing her knobby thumb along those young little fingers holding her; for the girls to come face-to-face with the circle of life, and to witness someone they know completing it with dignity; for me to be reminded of the responsibility I have, currently straddling the generations, to guide the younger one and learn from them both; and for her son and our friend Carl to be surrounded by support right now.

It was a sobering contrast to the previous evening, but somehow they fit together, both marking life cycles. On Friday the 6th we celebrated The Birthday That Almost Wasn't (as one of you dubbed it). Now that Nick's passed his test of survival, he'll probably live to be 103 too, if his family's genes are anything to go by. So on yet another gloriously sunny and warm January day, Nick turned the ripe old age of 42. 

Just a Spring chicken, right Pat?


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

My New Year's Resolution is to add sass to my voice. Not Marilyn Monroe sass, but pre-teen what-do-you-want-and-why-are-you-bothering-me sass so the girls can hear what it sounds like. It comes quite naturally to me - you'll be surprised to learn - which tells me I was probably pretty good at it at the age of ten (and 11, and 12...). It also means there's a chance they will, eventually, leave it behind. Maybe. Hopefully.

Seriously? You mean we're spending the first day of the year skiing?? On our last day of vacation? (I have to remember to inject some whine into it. And then to inject some wine into me until the teenage years pass!)

And skiing was a hoot. It's been in the 50s (10*C) for ages so it was like spring skiing, and it's got to be said, the whole family had fun. Even the tortured ones.

The first of the year means my Month-o-Nog has come to an end. This is always a bit of a sad realisation, although my heart would probably disagree: I wonder if my cholesterol level changes at all after a month of devouring fresh eggnog. Have you had homemade nog lately? Not the gelatinous super-sweet gloop from the grocery store. I mean really, good, eggnog. If not, click on the recipe link on the right and whisk away those memories of the yellow slime of yore.

Another thing I've realised is this here blog has been viewed nearly 10,000 times. So to all you wonderful people in here in the US, Canada, France, Denmark, the UK, Portugal, the Netherlands, Qatar, Russia, Mozambique, Italy, Switzerland, Indonesia, Angola, Namibia, Australia, Malaysia, South Africa, Kenya, Germany, The Caymans, Sweden, Mexico, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand (phew! that list makes my heart sing!!) - thank you for tuning in. I love the feedback you've sent via email and the comments section. I usually don't reply because blogspot doesn't let you know when I do that, so I figure you probably won't see it anyway. But I enjoy them, for sure.

To every single one of you: Happy New Year, from my family to yours.

(This is the inside of our Christmas card this year. Please don't be offended if you didn't receive one in the mail, as I sent to family first and forgot how big my family is! Ran out of cards quickly.)