Being John

Most of the time, the Angels’ general words of wisdom fall first on particular ears, ones that need to hear the messages loudly. That would be MY ears.

Today, I continued on with my efforts to put into practice Calabash’s advice to remember that less is more, to just say no, and to generally stop the bleeding with some judicious scheduling choices.

Hint. If you want to read a tale of effortlessly synthesizing Angelic wisdom into practice, stop here.

I started my day assembling two baked goods for a staff breakfast gathering. I was so impressed with myself that one of the items, spinach and feta filo triangles were actually ready in advance. I had, however, left my other contribution of a pie to the eleventh hour.

The pumpkin pie I made at dawn was a little strange. This was because I belatedly discovered that the pumpkin I cooked up was almost entirely seeds with no pulp. As I had already put all the other ingredients in the blender before I made this discovery, I made the pie anyways, hoping that hint of pumpkin would somehow be bracing enough to carry the day.

After the breakfast gathering in which no one remarked on the odd pie, I did a sink of dishes, because every other hand was needed on deck in the office to actually do what we do which is get Flower Essences launched to you.

With the last dish done, it was time to pick up William from school to take him to the orthodontist to get braces put on. This was an appointment I was told could only be done during the school day.

William’s appointment was an hour and a half long which in another age or were I a man would have meant that I had an hour and a half to leaf through tattered and stained magazines in a desultory manner. But because I was ignoring the Calabash Angels, I spent the hour and a half going to the grocery store to pick up supplies for tomorrow’s birthday fiesta for Jim.

I had a detailed list of ingredients needed for Jim’s birthday dinner choice of Pasta Puttanesca and Creme Brulee. I also had a list of food requests from Emily in Maine, and items for a birthday food basket for Lizzy who has a birthday just days after Jim.

As I stood in front of the capers section, (an aside here, if I may- Can you believe we live in a world where there IS a capers section in the supermarket?????)

Anyways, as I examined the thirty different options of capers before me, an old friend walked by.

John was wearing a jaunty hat over his ponytail and looked as if he hadn’t a care in the world. Because my overstuffed brain was a female one, I remembered that his eldest daughter is due to get married in a few weeks at a destination wedding on Maui.

I asked him how things were going and if he needed to go out early to help get things organized. He reported that lots of people were coming, but his only job was to show up.

Perhaps the book should not have been Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Perhaps a better title would have been, Women are from Earth, Men are from Another Galaxy. And I do not say this critically. I want to go to that galaxy, right now, this afternoon, only I know I would have to buy the tickets and pack the bags and that bogs me down a bit.

In any case, John from another galaxy got me laughing about life’s absurdities there in the caper section and then he moved on past a befuddled me, still overthinking my choice of capers.

I decided with a stomp of my foot, that even if I couldn’t go to John’s home galaxy, I could pretend to be him for a few hours. It sounded so restful. Imagine. Your only job at your child’s wedding is to show up.

So I asked myself, standing there before way to many caper options, ‘What Would John DO?” and I grabbed the biggest jar of capers. I did not cost compare. I did not think about the difference between dry and wet capers. I did not indulge myself in a concern that Jim’s birthday meal could be harmed by my choice of capers.

I supported my choice with quippy thoughts about wild mountain capers versus the cheap ones I had picked. I knew John would have a quip about this, one quickly formed by his less harried brain.

I chortled my way through the rest of my shopping, invoking my inner John. So what if Emily’s request for food from home included ramen, spaghetti-o’s, instant maple and brown sugar oatmeal, sugar cubes, but NO PIES MADE BY MAMA? So what if I had to circle back on my route six or eight times because of items I had missed my first half dozen times up and down the aisles. Being John was FUN!

With minutes to spare and a face relaxed from so much free wheeling joy in the supermarket, I returned to the orthodontist’s office to add a big chunk of change to our home equity debt. I coughed up a small fortune, then further signed my financial life away until 2010. My inner John wondered, “Was it really necessary to have me sign several places on every page?”

Yes, I am prepared to refinance my home at least once a year until this child in braces graduates from college!

And about that revolving mortgage? What crack did my inner John have for that? “I like thinking of my mid eighties as the time I will finally rope in the mortgage.”

And then there was the seventeen pound bag of information for parents that William handed me as we left the office. There was something about the bag’s smarmy slogan “Smile Under Construction” that made me want to bite someone.

As William and I read the enclosed 8″X4″ refrigerator magnet , we looked to our inner Johns. The perky list of foods William was not supposed to eat for two years included gum, candy, apples, carrots, nuts, popcorn, bagels, pizza crusts, jerky, hard pretzels, and ice cream.

Will’s mouth was already puffed in reaction to all the new metal. As we read that ice cream was a no no, Will began to look a bit teary eyed as well.

It was time to let go of John from another galaxy. When someone says no pizza crusts, bagels, or ice cream to a thirteen year old you know they have lost touch. You know they are from a galaxy far far away, much farther away than even John’s galaxy.

I was glad after all that I hadn’t gone to John’s galaxy or any other galaxy. While I hadn’t pared down or sorted out much that morning, I was at least, still here. And I knew what was needed by both of us in that instance. It was time to collect Will in my arms for a mother earth hug.

Seed Catalogs- Truly a Sure Thing

After Sunday night, I have reconsidered my idea of a sure thing.

I have settled on seed catalogs. All those gorgeous shots of plenty. Close ups of melons larger than small children and pumpkins larger than small trucks. People so pumped up by heritage seeds they are singing old time music out in their fields. Cherubic children walking through gardens with every inch of space awash in perfect blossoms.

It’s very restful.

No hint of late frosts, early frosts, too much rain, too little rain, too much heat, too little heat, things that didn’t germinate, weeds that germinated too well or pesky insects of any sort.

That’s all saved for later. That’s saved for game time when I am actually out in the gardens with whatever did or did not grow.

And somehow, when I get to be up to my elbows in earth, I find myself able to be more philosophical about the ups and downs, the crop glories and the failures. I don’t really care that my Cosmos don’t look like the ones in the Park Seed catalog or that I get two small melons versus forty five hundred like the photo in the Bakers Heirloom Seeds catalog. If one crop is meager, something else is usually flourishing. We get to wallow in turnips instead of potatoes.

And if everything was to go wonky, I would still get to smell the earth.

There’s a lesson for me in all this. Let’s just hope I can remember it next time something goes south in some other part of my life. (What do you guess? With UPS as well as computers in my life a window longer than five or ten minutes between some sort of glitch is unlikely.)

Anyways, back to the point.

Gratitude. There is always so much to be grateful for.

Even when the Patriots were on their slow march to defeat, Megan’s fried macaroni and cheese was bringing pleasure. And that awful book about the knitting club? My gyrations to avoid an unhappy book have me laughing still.

Onwards! Adventures ahead! Bring it on! But don’t expect me to chose a mid life career change to Vegas odds maker. I think I will retire from predicting sports outcomes right now………

Looking for that Happy Ending


From downstairs the Sheehan men could hear the noise. And they probably knew what was happening too.

I was throwing a book against the wall. Again.

In my effort to stop caring about things that don’t matter, aren’t real, and are not my concern, I have stopped reading books that demand a pound of flesh and six hours of my tears.

You would think this would be easy to do. All I need to do is find happy books.

Now I wonder, is ANYONE writing happy books?

Take for instance the book that hit the wall today.

It was about A KNITTING CLUB.

You’d think a book about a knitting club would be a safe bet for a happy read. It might be dull. It might be trite. But unhappy? How much violence, death, disease, heartbreak, and gratutious pain to the reader could a book about a knitting group bring? Apparently ALOT.

Three quarters of the way through the book, I thought I was home free.

All the members of the knitting club, a motley crew who had begun the book with their lives in knots, were experiencing improbable, but refreshingly happy plot twists. It was a very restful unravelling. Then the author pulls out the old “Love Story” land mine and blows the book and my heart to smithereens.

After I had fast forwarded through the last hundred pages in which the heroine dies unexpectedly after reuniting with the love of her life, I looked at the cover for hints that this book about yarn was going to hold such a cargo of angst.

Buried in the pages and pages of upbeat praise for this “impossible to put down” book was the clue I had missed that indicated this would not be a frothy romp about expensive skeins of cashmere or gauge mistakes made right.

“A Steel Magnolias for the twenty-first century.”

The old Steel Magnolias reference was a dead give-away and I missed it the first time I was vetting the book. I had only myself to blame, which is really why I threw the book.

And those listening to my book bashing? It was the male equivalent of a knitting club, a huddle of assorted men and boys draped over the couches downstairs, relaxing before tonight’s superbowl.

My irritation about yet another bad read did not phase them at all. After all, they have a venue for tonight’s game that includes a large enough TV to meet their needs, an apparently unbeatable team, and the promise of fried macaroni and cheese made by Ben’s girlfriend Megan to keep them fueled for however long it takes to get their happy ending.

They were in football la la land, the kind of la la land I was trying to achieve with my knitting club nightmare book.

Seeing them in a happy mass in front of the TV, pretending that they aren’t really planning to watch eight hours of pre game hype, I made an executive decision. Maybe they are on to something. After all, the Patriots and Tom Brady are about as much of a sure bet for a happy ending as it gets on or off the playing field.

Yup, I am watching the game tonight. I am going to pretend I care a lot so I can catch a bit of that happy ending euphoria they’ve all had during the Patrioits undefeated season. I only hope that my attention to the game doesn’t bring a freak twist to the proceedings.

Nah, I think we’re safe. I am sure I haven’t heard any of the sportscasters call the Patriots a bunch of Steel Magnolias for the twenty first century. Well not yet anyways.