Who Would DO That?!

Our neighbor S. has two new 8 week old kittens. Her two older cats, one of whom she’d had for almost 20 years, I think, both left this earthly plane over the last year, so the kittens – two little brothers – are a big step for her.

Last night she invited us over to meet “Sunny and Bert,” and although I frequently describe myself as “not a cat person,” that’s kind of just me being a dramatic curmudgeon because I’m a major animal person in general, have always had a cat, and am pretty much smitten with kittens.

And oh my gosh! Sunny & Bert are possibly the cutest kittens ever. They are classic orange tabbies with ears that are way too big for their wee faces. I think this one is Bert but I’m not entirely sure. At least S. can tell them apart.

(Sorry these pix I snapped are so fuzzy, but at least you can get the general gist of The Cuteness.)


And they are super mellow for 8 week old kittens, happily letting C snuggle with them on her lap, just sort of flopping over and purring ’til she put the back down.


I was just sickened when S. told me where the kittens came from. Her sister in law heard meowing and kitten noises in a parking lot, followed the sounds, and found the kittens inside the wheel well of a truck.

Just the two kittens. S.’s sister said there was simply no way the kittens got in there on their own. Some very warped person put two 8 week old kittens inside a wheel well on a truck.

I’m not sure of the details of the rescue, but she got them freed, and took them to the vet, and then brought them to S. And these two little guys don’t even seem to be holding a grudge against us humans despite what someone did to them. They’re already all, “forgive and forget and move on.”

Who DOES that? That wasn’t someone just trying to dispose of two unwanted kittens. There are far easier ways to do that even if you are not willing to do the right thing and take them to the local animal shelter. This was someone with some serious problems, and that person is still walking around among us, and that’s more than a little disturbing.

The Most Dizzying Five Years Imaginable

Five years ago today, I was the mother of three beloved children – my two sons – ages 15 and 9 years old – and my sweet little girl, who was 11.

Five years ago today, I was very pregnant with the new baby girl we were excitedly expecting – an idea I was still getting used to after being the mother of only my three monkeys for so many years, and having totally assumed I was done having babies.

Five years ago today, as I tried to wrap my head around the concept that I’d soon have two sons and two daughters, I had no idea that only five days later, I would give birth by C-section to this gorgeous little girl, who arrived a full month before she was supposed to.


Five years ago today, my father was very much alive, and there was no reason to believe that at only 64 years old,he wouldn’t still be with us to celebrate my new baby’s 5th birthday just a few years down the road.

Five years ago today, my grandmother – the person whom I am most like in the world, and whom I could always turn to for comfort and unconditional love – was still with us. I could still snuggle up next to her on her bed in my grandparents’ house in Bell Buckle. I could still call her and talk for ages about everything and nothing several times a week. Now she’s gone, and so is the house. Strangers own it these days.

Five years ago today, I could still “go home,” and so could my children. Now that house is also owned by strangers.

Five years ago today, I had not an inkling that by the time my new baby daughter’s 5th birthday rolled around, there would be yet another beautiful, blond, blue eyed little girl in our family – a teensy lightning bolt of a human who would somehow manage to arrive just when we all needed her the most.

Five years ago today, I was the mother of a beautiful, funny, brilliant, silly, shy, musical, adored 15 year old boy, and I could not imagine a world in which he would die before leaving childhood fully behind, yet I would be left behind to somehow try to live and breathe and sleep and eat and exist without him. He was my firstborn, the baby who made me a mother, my love, my heart… He was their beloved big brother, oldest cousin, nephew, grandson… And five years ago today, I imagined him this half decade hence, home for the summer between his sophomore and junior years of college – maybe tossing a lacrosse ball around the yard with his little brother, catching a movie with his teenage little sister, and playing guitar at his baby sister’s fifth birthday party.

Five years ago today, so much was different. And in a million years I would not have believed that by the time my much anticipated new baby turned five, so many fundamental pieces of my existence would have shifted, shattered, disappeared forever, emerged joyfully, leaving me still reeling, dizzy and disoriented – ripped apart and somehow tentatively begun knitting back together with a new shape and a still tender, jagged scar.

So much can change in only five years…

Yes, I Still Plan To Re-Christen My Blog


Just an update to let folks know that YES, I still plan to rename my blog, and to set up the reader voting tool, and all of the stuff I discussed in my post week before last. 

I just haven’t had a chance to do it yet.


I hope to get the blog post with the voting widget published here sometime during this coming weekend if I can squeeze it in between getting everything ready for C’s 5th (!!!) birthday party on Saturday, and then hosting the actual party on Sunday. I am really eager to see which suggested new names for my blog get the thumbs-up from readers.



It’s Getting There…

Here’s a snapshot of the original Henry’s Garden bed that I took early this morning, before I left for work. It’s really starting to take the shape I want.


Eventually, I’d like to have expanded this bed so that fully half of our small front yard is converted into a happily jumbled melee of a cottage garden, complete with a little stone or pebble path meandering through it – a joyful celebration of Henry that we can all enjoy together year after year. But for now, this season, I’m pretty excited to have bumbled along to get this original bed to this place.


I finally found out why this plant – threaded coreopsis – is commonly called “tickseed.” It’s because growing wild in thick clumps, it produces sticky little seeds that will cling tenaciously to animals and people who walk through or next to it.

Here’s my own tickseed in bloom at the moment. Earlier this summer I thought I’d somehow killed this tickseed – it sure looked deader than a door nail – but I decided shear it off almost to dirt level and stick it in my favorite blue pot to just see what happened.

And voila! Six weeks later, this.

Although tickseed comes in different shades, I love the delicate yellow-orange flowers of this one, and the way they tumble off the plant.


How Do You Know When to Cut Bait?

When I realized earlier this evening that I wanted to write a blog post on this topic, I also realized only a few minutes later that no matter what disclaimer I offer, there are people who will read this and think that the “friend” I’m referring to (I’ll get to that part in a minute) is actually me, and that I’m in some way alluding obliquely to problems in my marriage that are leading me to ponder a break-up.

However, at recognized risk of sounding like that lady who doth protest too much, this post is not about me. Really, it isn’t. Pinky Promise. I don’t routinely gush in my writing about my relationship with my husband because I think that too much of that – even when it’s authentic – begins to strike a false, often hysterical sounding note, whether you’re a celebrity (Exhibit A: Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes), or just a regular person like moi. I do express my love and appreciation for Jon in a public way in small doses, and I sometimes kick it up a notch on special occasions now and again, but the state of my marriage (good) is not a routine topic of my writing.

I’m not arrogant enough to believe that my current situation could never change, but I hope it never does, because my marriage is – knock wood – really happy, solid and fun. And yep, I know exactly how lucky I am (in large part because I wasn’t always so lucky.)

But anyway, this blog post truly isn’t about me. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t relate to my life at all; just because I’m in a solid, satisfying relationship now doesn’t mean I haven’t felt stuck in a really unhappy relationship ever before. I suspect most of us have found ourselves in what felt like a really unhealthy romantic relationship at one point or another in our lives, and right now I happen to have a friend I care about a great deal (yes, I got her permission before writing this) pondering how to know for sure when it really is time to give up on her marriage and throw in the towel.

My friend has a deep religious faith that matters a great deal to her. Marriage commitment is sacred for my friend, and for her husband. There’s no clear “bad guy” in the relationship – no one is cheating or beating anyone or anything dramatic and easy to pinpoint like that. The discontent in their relationship is more subtle – desperately painful in its own quiet way.

My friend is increasingly, profoundly dissatisfied and unhappy in her relationship, has been for years now, and she feels very guilty that she can’t quite explain why. It would be so much easier, she says, if he did do something glaringly awful so she could leave the marriage for a reason that anybody could understand. But she’s afraid nobody would understand her wanting to end a 13 year marriage to a seemingly nice man – and yes, they are parents of a wonderful child together – just because she doesn’t find the marriage satisfying, and because, as she described it to me not long ago, she feels like she’s “withering up inside” due to her marital unhappiness.

He knows she’s not happy, and that makes him unhappy. So they fight more than they used to. They’ve been to several marriage counselors over the years, prayed about it, been to individual therapy, gone to marriage retreats sponsored by their denomination, and still….

Today she asked me rhetorically how anyone can ever know for sure that the time has come to rip the band aid off and walk away from a serious relationship for good… Or, for that matter, know when to stick it out.

She pointed out that most people thought Hillary Clinton “should” have left her husband when the Monica Lewinaky scandal broke, but that apparently Mrs. Clinton didn’t get the memo, and here the Clintons are, still married and still at least fond of one another, and respectful all these years later.

How did Hillary Clinton know not to throw in the towel too soon, when everyone else on the planet thought she should. And in contrast, my friend wondered, how could she know with any certainty that she should end her fundamentally unsatisfying relationship? Would she just wake up one day and know the right answer, she asked me? Would she get a sign of some kind? Should she stay or should she go? Is simply being REALLY unhappy isn’t enough, what is? What’s the acceptable tipping point when it finally becomes okay to end things? Does something truly awful have to happen before it’s okay?

As she ruminated to me on the phone, asking these things, I told her that I have absolutely no idea. In many ways, the process by which people become UNattached to one another is as mysterious as how and why we end up in relationships in the first place. The same kinds of questions apply.

At what point are we in love enough to make a commitment to someone else? How much love is sufficient to warrant giving a serious relationship a go? Do we just wake up one morning and know? Do we get a sign of some kind telling us that this person is “the one?”

Breaking up is kind of the same, I think. It’s mysterious. One person’s relationship deal breaker (think Monica Lewinsky) is another person’s bump in the road.

I wish I knew what to tell my friend. But I don’t, really. And I don’t think anyone else can give her any definitive answers either. But I do think that at some point, she will stop asking so many questions – of therapists and friends and self help books and her priest – because she will realize she already knows the answer herself.