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Archive for the ‘Mothering’ Category

Lately we gone from rain to ice; from tropic to frigid…over night or in an afternoon. The wind kicks up–warm and soft…gathering the last leaves, colored coins, and scatters them on ponds and puddles that freeze and thaw. Winter has a softer palette. Pale wheat, burnt umber, the cedar green, long angled afternoon light. Mornings are pink before the gray clouds gather. The cold, when it arrives, penetrates–needle sharp; takes my breath away. Right now, snow–a glittering gift from the night sky.

It’s cookie time. The first batches of pecan puffs and shortbread are cooling. Sara calls from LA and I answer, “Cookie Central.” She says, “Perfect. I was just thinking about trying my hand at a small batch…the easy ones, please…I’ll need a cookie coach for the sandtarts!” Generations of women on the Keithline sideĀ  have made these cookies. My mother and her two sisters and her mother and her grandmother kneaded the shortbread dough for twenty minutes (the handwritten recipe says, “no cheating”) and then passed judgement on whether the cookies were light enough. These same women struggled to roll sandtart dough paper thin (I mean paper thin!). I like to make cookies late at night with Christmas carols blaring and candles blazing. The house smells warm and buttery. I can’t wait until Dashiell is old enough to have a little Gold Metal Bleached Pre-Sifted Flour, butter and sugar! Christmas just isn’t Christmas without cookies.

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I simply enjoyed being Nana. In every way. Emails, phone calls, work…pretty much came to a screeching halt. Instead, I did what I absolutely love the most. I got up early with Dashiell; I cooked and spent time with my dear daughter and son-in-law.

Here’s a glimpse…

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Every morning Dashiell and I got up early, made Nespresso and read The Very Hungry Caterpillar…we talked about apples, plums, strawberries and how that hungry caterpillar eats up everything in sight. Then we would go outside and look for that hungry caterpillar while we sang our Hungry Caterpillar Song–hungry caterpillar, hungry caterpillar, hungry caterpillar, hungry caterpillar…nibble, nibble, nibble, nibble, nibble….

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I watched this beloved boy growing right before my very eyes…standing, cruising the furniture and mastering his pincer grasp. He’s a legume lover–lentils, kidney beans, black beans, cannellini beans…he’s enthusiastic! Not to mention that he patiently indulged and endured our re-creation of Halloween…

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And made my day every day. I miss him and love him more than words can express!

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Dashiell, native of Los Angeles, didn’t know about thunder storms. He was here for the hot and steamy days of July and like his Mama, he loves the sound, the smell and the feel of summer rain.

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Over the course of the last week, I’ve been in a state…somewhere between frantic, overwhelmed, delighted, excited, afraid and just plain busy. By the time yesterday rolled around, I was literally making lists of my lists and, frankly, having missed several yoga classes, I was totally off center.

Imagine sending your 23 year old daughter halfway across the world to a cyclone ravaged country during monsoon season where she will be traveling with complete strangers and have no phone connection for two weeks. Okay, okay, let me re-phrase:

(A) I’m not sending her…she’s going of her own accord.

(B) This is a phenomenal opportunity and actually I’m very excited.

(C) Notice that although I took my camera with me to bid her farewell, I couldn’t bear to take any pictures!

Some people hate the “empty nest” thing. It’s not that for me. For starters, with one son left living at home, I’m still waiting to experience it. Some people freak when their kids go to college or camp or wherever. That’s not me…they’ve been to Cuba, Prague, Paris, Italy, Costa Rica–I love that!

This is different. It’s an understated rite of passage. It’s a whole-body letting go in the biggest way. And I haven’t been very graceful. Somewhere along the line, I made a decision that I don’t work well under pressure. When I am stressed, I loose things, I forget things, I make mistakes and small problems on the front end, morph into massive problems later on. So, of course, I do my best to get out in front of it all–it’s a little control strategy designed to quell my fear, which, I must say isn’t workin’ all that well for me.

So, I helped to gather flash drives, memory cards, Cliff Bars, insect repellent, Pepto Bismol tablets, gauze pads, Duck Tape, Shamwows, XXL Ziplock bags, iodine tablets, stuff sacks, Airborne, silica gel packs, Sharpies, Tylenol, TSA locks, luggage tags, unmarked bills, sunscreen, adhesive tape, band aids, moleskin, scissors, lip balm, wick dry socks, kleenex, hand sanitizer, Panda Red Licorice, almonds, guide books, spare batteries, cables, DVD’s, etc.

Knowing it was all organized and packed last night did not prevent me from sitting bolt upright at 4 am and giving up on sleep by 5. My first big sigh of relief came at 7:16 am. when Grace called to report that her bag weighed just under 70 lbs; second sigh of relief came at 7:32 am when she called to say she was at her gate; third sigh of relief came at 4:39 pm. when she emailed from Heathrow…tomorrow, hopefully a call from Bangkok or Myanmar…

Learning…slowly…to let go…surrender…pray…AND CELEBRATE!

…Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming down
Perhaps a better world is drawing near
And just as easily it could all disappear
Along with whatever meaning you might have found
Don’t let the uncertainty turn you around
(the world keeps turning around and around)
Go on and make a joyful sound…

– JACKSON BROWNE –

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Twenty-four years ago this month, my daughter Grace was born at home. Dear friends Ross and Deb celebrated by bringing a small Red Ramblin’ Rose bush to plant in her honor. We dug a deep hole, placed her placenta at the bottom and planted the rosebush on top.

Years later, when that house was sold, I dug up irises, peonies, bleeding hearts, columbine, and, of course, Grace’s rose and transported them across the county to put down roots here by the Hudson River. Each year, her rosebush has gotten bigger and bigger and it now has completely taken over one side of the garden. This year, the blooms were spectacular–ten feet high, arching out over the pond.

I think of this tonight as I read the Packing Checklist for her trip to Myanmar. This girl who loves to travel will soon be a world away–far from cell phones, internet, blow dryers, ATM machines, subways. She’ll need Iodine and Neutralizer Tablets, Loperamide, Cipro and Malarone. It will be Monsoon season and the light will be incredible…she’ll have her camera and her eye…she’ll be learning, living in community and becoming a world citizen…she’ll be blooming.

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There are moments in life…so precious…so tender…so achingly sweet…words cannot express. Dashiell Henry was born on March 7. He lives in Los Angeles. I live in New York. I am his Nana and it is unbearable to spend time away from him.

I’ve been in LA now for ten days. Timeless time…basking in his beingness. His buttery skin, his new baby smell, his smiles, his crumpley face before he cries, his amazing repetoire of facial expressions. I can’t imagine going back to New York!


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Tonight, I got my first Dashiell fix with a webcam! On Friday, he will be one month old and already, he’s sooooo big. His Dad put him on his belly on a sheepskin rug and immediately he picked up his head and tried to get his little knees under his body. I wanted to reach through the screen and pick him up!

This is a picture of Auntie Grace holding Dashiell at 18 days old. I miss him!

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