Saturday, April 25, 2015

2 (!)

 We Bentz gals (and Grandpa, Wolfman, and Mads) celebrated the littlest Bentz gal the day after her actual birthday, which she spent with The Goods, eating way too much sugar (as one should, though sleep that night did not happen easily or at all, according to her mother).  Ella may have been suffering a bit of sugar hangover when we saw her on the 20th, or perhaps she just couldn't wait to test the Terrible Twos waters.  Whatever the reason, Ella was less interested in opening presents and eating cake than hoarding animal cookies and, in general, not following suggestion or direction (even when those suggestions and directions would've led her to lots of fun!).  Ella was frustrated by the suffocating guidance of adults, Sierra was a bit frustrated with Ella's transformation into the Cookie Monster, and I was frustrated with my camera because photographing two constantly moving toddlers is asking too much of it.  (I cannot manage to get a picture of either of these kids these days without at least a slight blur.) And, this has nothing to do with the party per se, but Wolfman warned me my new striped tent-dress was unflattering before we left the house ("It makes you look big," he said, "and you're not big"), but I either didn't believe him or didn't care until I saw the video and photos from the day.
I hope I don't sound like I'm complaining.  I'm not, exactly.  My family's inability to ever pull off a good party is something I find kind of charming about us.  We always mean well, but never quite manage to make something seamless and beautiful and unforgettable.  Maybe on Ella's 3rd?  Mads had fun, at least.  (All those balloons!)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ella Lois

 Dear Ella,
You are two years old today, I am astonished to say.  You'll get tired of me telling you this one day, but I saw you born, and because of my particular view, I may have been the first person to see your little face.  I sobbed, because the moment was so intense and you were so precious and so here.  You were the most spectacular thing I had ever seen, and I felt honored to be in the same room with you.  Since that moment, you have given me a whole heck of a lot of firestarter looks, you've ripped up a few of my books, and you've even slapped me a handful of times, so you may be skeptical when I say I still feel the same way about you, but it's true.  I am honored to be your Aunt, to have you in my life.  You are special.  You are funny and weird and singular and beautiful beyond words--like, seriously, hands down the most gorgeous little girl in all of existence.  It is safe to say I am a big fan of yours, and I will continue to be in the years to come.  You and me, baby girl, we are going to have so much fun.  And, also, there will be a few more firestarter looks from you to me, I'm sure of it.
I love you.  Happy Birthday!
Aunt Mimi   

Monday, April 13, 2015

It Takes a Laundromat

We had a full day yesterday.  In the morning, got laundry done, and I daydreamed quite a bit while at it, as I do.  Laundromats make me dreamy.  I pictured Mads as a young man, doing his own laundry at a laundrette, because he's too sweet to make me do his laundry, too helpful to his Mama, though I hope, I think his home base will still be with us--with his Mom and Pop and Grandpa (because Bob will still be around)--between travels, that is, and classes, and whatever adventures he might be having.  Anyways, he's at the Laundromat, this very same Laundromat, with an open book, but he's not sitting in the dim back corner as is typical of the good-enough-looking young men with books at the Laundromat. He's up front, in the sun, so he can get the door for people coming in with heavy loads, so he can smile and converse and harmlessly (never aggressively) flirt with the pretty Mexican girls who come in, in Spanish, because I'm sure he'll be, at least, bilingual.  Maybe Francesca will still be working there; maybe she'll be the one who, over the years, helped him perfect his Spanish, and she will think of him indulgently and sweetly and admirably, because she watched him come in with his parents Sunday after Sunday, until he'd grown into the man before her, and because she'll know that she had some part in the character of that man.  I want Mads to have little aunties and little mothers everywhere.  I want him to be the community's greatest project, better even than a well-organized garden.  ("It takes a village" is a thing I believe.)
Of course, that requires Wolfman and me to be a lot friendlier, a lot more sociable.  I already smile at people more often, for Martigan as much as myself or those people I smile at.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Mighty Other

Grandma's Dogwood, early in the day, before the gale.
Yesterday was lovely, no less so because it ended in a storm, lightning so close it rattled the windows of our house.  (If you've ever the occasion to ride Cary's little blue C-Tran buses, let me warn you now that they rattle and shake as though they may collapse if they hit bumps or potholes too fast--that is what I'm reminded of when our windows rattle.)  By the time I'd nursed the baby to sleep, the storm had dispersed some (though not totally), and we were serenaded by ten solid minutes of not-too-distant sirens.  Before he drifted off into the ether, though, Mads showed no fear over the light and sound of storm, the drum of rain, only joy.  He "wow"ed at the sliding glass door as our back yard strobed. 
Wolfman, as a pup, a teenager, tells me he used to stand out in the open yard during storms like this.  And I, too, have always been more attracted to than afraid of thunderbolts and lightning.  Summers as a teenager and in my early 20s, I'd sit on the covered back porch of my grandparents' house during storms and dangle my long legs, my long feet, over the side of the plastic lawn chair and into the rain.  Before that, in New Mexico, I remember my mother ushering us outside to watch storms roll in, lightning bolting down over distant plateaus; I felt close to my mother then.
We had dinner on Salem Street, La Rancherita, last night, and then stopped by the café to visit with Mark and enjoy some espresso (Wolfman's in shot form with sugar, mine as Americano without).  The rain had begun while we ate dinner, the noise and light began during our after-dinner cuppa.  Mads and I waited on the sidewalk while Wolfman ran barefoot through the rain to pull up the car.  As I strapped the baby into his car seat, lightning struck close, and I remembered aloud to Wolfman on the ride home the one time I got truly scared in a storm--when I was pregnant.
I felt physically vulnerable throughout my pregnancy anyways, more so than ever before (in that I'd never felt physically vulnerable before, ever).  During my pregnancy, I was working at an office in North Raleigh and commuting home in the evenings on the city bus.  My walk to the bus stop was around a mile-and-a-half, but I didn't mind, as I've never minded long walks, particularly as this was my only chance to exercise my swelling body after sitting all day behind a desk.  On this particular evening, a co-worker, Dottie, offered to drive me to the bus stop, but I politely declined--out of pride, partly, and also a lack of concern.  Midway through that walk, though, I got caught in the middle of an intense storm.  My umbrella was useless against the wind.  Thunder cracked all around me.  Pines swayed and danced violently.  The air was oppressive, the sky angry.  I'm not a talented enough writer to describe this storm without clichés.  I was out in the open, in the midst of a tempest, my belly out-to-here, my dress sopping wet and clinging heavily to my body, and I was afraid.  I began talking aloud, to the babe in my belly, as I often did while alone (because I never really was alone in those nine months), but also to something else, something Other.
I talked to Thor, maybe because my husband believes in Thor.  (But, if you like, you can replace Thor with the god of your choice as you read this.)  I spoke to Thor because He felt real, and He felt close, as real and close as the child I carried.  As I related this to Wolfman last night, it wasn't the Marvel Thor I talked to that day--this Thor was much bigger, meaner, uglier.  (Wolfman said, "Thor is handsome, maybe not as handsome as Balder, but..." I said, "Not as handsome as Chris Hemsworth," and Wolfman replied, "No, probably not.  No offense," and touched his fingers to his mouth, then the roof of the car as we drove through the downpour.)  I don't remember the exact words I said to Thor, but the sentiment was something like, "Do all the thundering you need to do, but please remember I'm here, and my baby's here.  Watch out for us." 
He did.  Or, at least I made it to my stop, an uncovered wooden bench outside a bank, facing a wall of trees with which I often practiced my pareidolia.  I stood under the awning of the bank, wrung my dress out as much as I could, said a prayer of thanks and held my belly, speaking happy, reassuring words to the both of us, until the bus arrived, and when it did, neither the driver nor passengers seemed surprised or concerned by my near-drowned state.  The air conditioning was cold on my skin.
I hadn't thought about that squall in a while, but having just related the story to Wolfman, when we arrived safe home, running through the rain and into the house, I immediately called my sister, to make sure she and Ella were safe and sound at her in-law's.  I knew they would be, but I wanted to make sure, and Sierra did not sound surprised that I'd called her.  Once we, their people, were home, the dogs slept soundly, and during a brief break in the rain, both cats appeared crying at the back door, their coats wet.  We kept the curtains open, to better keep tabs on the storm and better enjoy it.

Monday, April 6, 2015

March Joys & Favorites

Goodbye to Winter! Hello to Spring!
We spent a lot of time at Grandma's house and with Grandma this month.  Always a lovely time.
The time of living with Sierra, Bobby, and Ella is coming to a close, so I'm just soaking up all this cousinlove goodness between the babies.
Lil' babies! Our seeds arrived in the post the day after the equinox, and they were eager to grow, obviously.
This can't be considered a joy or a favorite yet, exactly, because we're all still adjusting.  But, Mads got his first big boy bed this month, and that's momentous if nothing else.
Favorite Beverage: Humdinger juices, made fresh, organically, cold-pressed, and (I presume) with love in Raleigh.  Wolfman particularly likes the Zinger double shots. 
Favorite Food Stuff - Firebud Brands Slap Sauce. We discovered this via free sample at Whole Foods.  The woman handing out samples told us something like, "this sauce is for people who really love mustard."  I am one of those people.  This bottle lasted maybe two weeks.  We put it on everything.  Everything.
Favorite Beauty Product - Moist Hemp Body Moisturizer.  Back in college, my roommate and friend Mckenzie had a big bottle of Hempz lotion, original scent, that I used perhaps too copiously.  (Like, seriously, to this day I probably owe Mckenzie a bottle of Hempz.)  I found this Moist Hemp lotion at a beauty shop for a good price and bought it primarily for the scent, which reminds me of being 21: sleepless and idiotic, but fairly happy and unencumbered.  It also reminds me of my friends in those days.  I have a rule, normally, that I don't put anything in my hair or on my skin that's not edible, so I don't use this lotion all over my body (I'm pretty loyal to my coconut oil).  I just keep it on my kitchen sink and use it on my hands when need be, and take a trip down memory lane.
Favorite Acquisition - Prayer flags! Early in the month, Grandma and I visited the Tibetan Himalayan Gift Shop in Cary, and she bought some prayer flags for me.  I've been wanting prayer flags for ages, and I can't imagine ever tiring of watching them billow on the breeze.
Favorite TV Show - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  Everybody loved Kimmy Schmidt this month, but that doesn't make it any less amazing.
Favorite Movie - The Boondock Saints (1999).  This wasn't only my favorite movie of the month, it immediately became one of my all-time favorites.  I plan on re-watching it next St. Patty's. Honorable mentions: Robocop (1987), Moonstruck (1987), Eagle vs Shark (2007, New Zealand)
Favorite Music - Young Dubliners.  Every March, I listen to Slacker Radio's St. Patty's station.  As far as I know, I have not an iota of Irish heritage to claim, but regardless, something about St. Patrick's Day speaks to me.  It is easily one of my favorite holidays (or, at least, it is my favorite minor holiday). The Young Dubliners popped up a few times on the station, and then they continued to provide the soundtrack for the rest of my month.
In case you missed it:
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