Saturday, November 28, 2015

Photo Journal | 365 | just put away the decorations, and here we go again we're singing Nat King Cole

022/365 - Saturday 21 November 2015 | I sat in the car with Mads and Ella waiting while Wolfman ran into the grocery store for a quick, easy (read: frozen, processed) dinner. As we sat, I watched a small blonde woman standing among the Christmas trees on the store's patio. She seemed to be enthralled, sniffing and petting, fondling each tree. When Wolfman returned to the car he said, "I think that woman is on pills." As he passed her on his way out the store, he heard her exclaiming, "Oh my gawd, they're soooo pretty." When we drove away it looked like she was trying to bear hug one tree, or possibly pick it up and carry it home pressed against her chest. I don't know that she was necessarily on something. I get it. Trees are special.
023/365 - Sunday 22 November 2015, Day Off | Both Wolfman and I have tried in the past, unsuccessfully, to read Mads Where the Wild Things Are. This week, though, suddenly, he plucked it out from his box of books--I think because, this week, he is suddenly a Wild Thing himself. He's been in trouble a lot this week, for kicking at the dog, for throwing things. And punishing him is a little demoralizing for Wolfman and me. It's hard to be so stern to a creature we're so in love with.
023/365 - Monday 23 November 2015 | I watched this little stripper garden gnome at Spencer's for nearly a year, waiting for the price (an entire $17) to go down. I loved her the moment I saw her, but nearly $20 was just too much for me to spend on a novelty knick-knack, for myself. (I did consider, briefly, buying her for my mother-in-law, and then decided she might not think that was funny.) Though he doesn't quite get the appeal, Wolfman gave her to me for our anniversary. She's been posing on top of a table in the living room until the weather warms up. I can't, in good conscience, send her out doors in this cold, wet weather. She can do her dance in the garden once things start blooming again.
024/365 - Tuesday 24 November 2015 | Been spending much of my work days at the buying counter. Perhaps because of the holiday we've been a little backed up with drop offs, or maybe this is just the new norm. After a few hours at the counter, everybody's clothes start to look the same--just a blur of Banana Republic, Ann Taylor Loft, Talbots, Chico's. I'm always thankful for little surprises, whether intricately beaded vintage statement jackets or the teeny, tiniest little leaf stuck to the back of a cardigan.
025/365 - Wednesday 26 November 2015 | Currently Reading. I meet people sometimes, at the mall, at the flea market, in delis, who tell me they recognize me from the bus. I was a frequent traveler of the Triangle Transit Authority--big fan of public buses. I don't often recognize in return the people who stop to reminisce with me about our bus riding days; these encounters always leave me a little baffled, flattered, guilty (I once thought of myself as an observant person). But, maybe I don't remember these faces because I always had mine stuck in a book. In fact, that's part of what people remember about me, that I dressed wildly and read prolifically. It takes me months now, not days, to finish a book, and that's if I even bother to finish. I'm liking this one, though, my first PG Wodehouse, plucked out of the Free Little Library box on Salem Street during the summer.
026/365 - Thursday 26 November 2015, Thanksgiving | I get very few opportunities to spend any time alone. It's hard enough just to use the bathroom alone as a mother of a toddler, forget meditation. But, every once in a while I do steal a moment to do a quick card drawing, lately with my Vintage Wisdom Oracle deck (my newest deck of cards, an out of the blue gift from Grandma). I've drawn this card, Centering, twice in a row, a week apart. It's not an infrequent occurrence, my drawing the same card from a deck over and over. I always take it as a sign that something's working as my shuffling skills are on point.
027/365 - Black Friday 27 November 2015 | For a couple years, I worked part time at a gas station. It was just supposed to be a month while I was on furlough from my real, government job, but a couple years came and went with a view out the front windows of some stunning sunsets. Now, post time-change, I'm witness to some pretty amazing skyscapes once more. How glad am I that I don't work in the windowless interior of the mall, but in a big, airy space with an open floor plan and a wall of window. Black Friday is the absolute worst. But, this sunset was nice.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Photo Journal | 365 | across the black prairie

015/365 - Saturday 14 November 2015 | Woke to temperatures in the 30's, so Wolfman built our first fire of the season. We waited longer this year than usual because this Autumn has been a warm, wet one so far. Our wood pile has suffered in all this rain. Saturday was a big one for me, if a quiet one. I accepted a management position at my little shop. I knew the offer was coming, but did not know this was the day, so it seems sort of serendipitous that I happened to snap a self-portrait of myself in the morning, one I did not delete (usually, I delete them). Here I am in the morning, sitting in front of a fire, before walking into work and receiving a promotion.
016/365 - Sunday 15 November 2015, Day Off | There have always been Chinese restaurants. The one my grandparents used to order from when I was a very little girl was the most glamorous, with tanks full of exotic fish in the waiting area, the furniture gleaming, embroidered red silk under plastic. I remember always asking for (and always receiving) little paper drink umbrellas, which I would use for my Barbie dolls. A surly woman worked the counter at the Chinese place we frequented when we lived in the Newlywed Bungalow. We got take-out Chinese our first night living in that house. Now there is this one, China Chef. There's nothing particularly special about it or its food; it is just our nearest and dearest strip mall Chinese place, frequented, if at all, by Mexican men in work boots on their lunch breaks. Like all strip mall Chinese places, the menu photos are sun bleached. Sometimes the ponzu sauce tastes better than other times. I think that's a good sign, a sign that it's made in-house.
017/365 - Monday 16 November 2015, Day Off | Two days off in a row, and I hardly know what to do with myself. Nothing productive, that's for sure. Just soak up the company of these two, my menfolk. I've missed them.
018/365 - Tuesday 17 November 2015 | Every Autumn I must take at least one photo of the sun rising through the trees in our back yard. When Mads was a newborn, those first couple months laying in with him, I rarely turned on the television or radio because I thought it bothered the baby, and maybe it did. We spent most of our days nursing and sleeping in Bob's easy chair. Sometimes I would read aloud to Mads from my books--Rosemary's Baby, Garrison Keillor's Liberty, that Junot Diaz book I can't remember the title to. Sometimes I would bounce him on the yoga ball and we would look out at the back yard, watch the leaf show as summer gave way to Autumn. That time with him is what I think of when I look out our back yard these days.
019/365 - Wednesday 18 November 2015, Grandma's Birthday | I think I raise my voice more--to my kid, to my dog, in general--when I'm attempting to clean the house than any other time. (That's a good enough reason to give up cleaning entirely, right?) I didn't spend the day with Grandma for her birthday as I should have. I had to work in the afternoon. So, instead, I hung the masks she'd recently given me to add to my collection. I cleaned the kitchen, and while I did so, Mads made a paste of cinnamon and water on my bedroom carpet, and then a phone conversation with  the birthday gal about upcoming holiday plans turned into a misunderstanding and hurt feelings--you know, the usual disasters that accompany my attempts to clean house.
020/365 - Thursday 19 November 2015 | Mads greeted the day by peeking out the living room window at the digger parked across the street, and he greeted me by telling me about his yesterday. "I ate a choc-chip cookie and saw a backhoe!"  I'd worked the closing shift the night previous and came home with aching legs and glutes to Wolfman rolling a cigarette in the garage. His first duty these days when he sees me is to tell me of Mads, everything I missed. According to Wolfman, our baby fell asleep chanting, "Kill the witch. Kill the witch," (ParaNorman) which we both agreed is creepy and adorable. And, before that, he had spent a good hour sitting on the front porch, eating a Daddy-made oatmeal cookie and watching the digger across the street at work, "biting trees," and grinning happily.
021/365 - Friday 20 November 2015 | I requested it, and my beau made me a big pot of collards. His recipe is the best one--he cooks them down with a ham hock and a little apple cider vinegar. I ate a bowl for dinner Thursday night and then packed some in my tiffin box for Friday's lunch. Wolfman's collards have ruined me for all others--I order collards in barbecue restaurants and am always disappointed. I want to write Wolfman's simple recipe on napkins and leave it for the kitchen staff.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Photo Journal | 365 | wrap it all up in a pretty red ribbon the day after Thanksgiving

008/365 - 7 November 2015, Saturday | Another rainy day. Pulled this umbrella out of the foyer closet thinking it was my flower umbrella, but, no. This must have once belonged to my mother-in-law (it doesn't strike me as my sister-in-law, Leah's, style), though Wolfman says he doesn't recognize it. Every once in a while, cleaning and organizing in the house, I will unearth some artifact of my mother-in-law--a framed handkerchief, a cookie jar shaped like a plump girl wearing a red hood, the chipped stonewear mug with the sea shells etched on it from which I sometimes drink coffee, the sea shell stationery I didn't use enough of this summer. I can add this umbrella to that collection.
009/365 - 8 November 2015, Day Off, Sunday | Some of my greatest pleasures: watching laundry spin in a washing machine, watching clothes flap on a clothesline, watching the wind whip about my prayer flags.
010/365 - 9 November 2015, Carl Sagan's Birthday, Monday | On his second birthday, I gave Mads his first journal. I decorated the covers, front and back, in collage, using film photos of Mads and pages ripped from National Parks Magazine and stickers of wild animals and Disney/Pixar's Cars. Mads scribbles in it with marker (his favorite colors to use are blue and purple, I think because they're the darkest). I tried, at first, to get him to scribble on each page consecutively, so that I'd have some kind of record of any progress his scribbles might make. But, he had other plans. Little boys usually have other plans.
011/365 - 10 November 2015, Tuesday | It's full-on, full-time Christmas in the shop. I'm a tad of a humbuggy grandma when it comes to Christmas-before-Thanksgiving. It's not because I don't enjoy Christmas--the music, the lights, the wrapping; I just really love Thanksgiving. My favorite holidays are ordered the same in my affections as they are in the year: Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Yule. Thanksgiving is not just a precursor to Christmas. It's a completely separate holiday celebrating something completely different; it's a harvest holiday, an Autumn holiday. But, I must admit that listening to Christmas music in the shop is a nice break from all the Christian Contemporary music.
012/354 - 11 November 2015, Wednesday | Most work days, I have two hours with my son in the morning, and two hours in the evening when I get off work. When I'm good, I'm focused pretty intensely on being present and being Mads' mom during those hours. And Wolfman? He is like a satellite circling us, present but not always noticed. Life is hard sometimes. Love is easy, but all the other stuff is hard. Here is the man I love, early in the morning, before he drives me in to work.
013/365 - 12 November 2015, Thursday | This was Serena's buy, not mine, but I happened to be at the counter when the customer returned to the store to review her invoice. She was, obviously, disappointed with how little we were interested in buying from her, just this vintage suit and a little silk tank. But, she signed for her cash, gathered her declined items to take home with her, and told me she'd spent $12 on new buttons for the suit we bought from her (for about $4). "The buttons make the suit," she announced, proudly. This is my favorite and least favorite part of my job: the stories our clothes tell. Clothes mean something to most women, we remember the events to which we wore certain pieces, we remember where we bought certain pieces and how much we spent on them and why. Clothes for women are tied up in emotion and history and status, which makes my job so interesting and, at times, so difficult.
014/365 - Friday the 13th of November 2015 | Wolfman's mom sewed some pajamas for Mads, the fabric printed with dogs driving cars, trucks, boats. The shirt fits fine, but the pants are so big on him. I'll take a photo of him wearing them now, when they're too big, and then again when they fit, and again, years from now, when the hem of the pants rest at his ankles and the shirt is too snug.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Photo Journal | I want to see you dance again, because I'm still in love with you on this harvest moon

The day after Halloween, DJ's farm stand closed for the season. So, perhaps, before we all become too inundated with Christmas, I should post photos of some of the Autumnal things we did last month. Though not a proper pumpkin patch (the pumpkins don't grow out of the ground here), that's what we call DJ's in the month of October. We pass the farm stand on our way to and from Cary, and for the whole month squealed every time we caught sight of all that orange. Mads got to sit up in the antique tractor; he somehow instinctively knew to jiggle at the joysticks at his feet. I'd been thinking to myself, "How am I ever going to get him out of that tractor?" imagining removing him by force and the fit that would ensue, putting a damper on the whole event. But, when the shiny, green, new tractor pulled in to move around crates of pumpkins, Mads watched it for a moment then exclaimed, "Okay. I drive that one," and voluntarily climbed down from the antique.

I was so excited for this damn Harvest Festival. I requested the day off months in advance and had all kinds of visions, informed by Disney Channel original movies probably, of eating caramel apples and carving pumpkins and I don't even know what else. The day's disappointments started when I learned early in the morning as I re-perused the Parks & Recreation event guide that the Halloween dance the town was hosting, the thing I was most excited about and had most pumped Mads up for, was only for kids ages 5-12. Not only would Mads not be able to attend, but he wouldn't be able to attend for another three years. Color me bummed. The day was hot, the two-seat wagon I was carting the toddlers around in was heavy and cumbersome, and the festival didn't seem all that autumnal to me. It just seemed like a random gathering of people and vendors around a bouncy castle. I'm glad we went, if only because the teacher of one of the dance troops performing taught a Ghostbusters dance to kids in the audience who wanted to participate. Mads declined, but we couldn't have stopped Ella if we tried.
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