Heaven holds a sense of wonder….











{August 28, 2010}   Echoes of a time past

I wish I was more handy with a sketchpad and watercolors than I am. I’d love to paint this afternoon…

We’re in a creek bed, almost completely dry except for a few foot-deep pockets. Rocks and stones piled up everywhere keep the mud from sticking to our shoes. Roots jut out of the walls as the tree branches, bedecked in their emerald glory, filter the light of the sun on its way down to us; mottled splashes of light intermingle with the stones and puddles.

Just in front of me, a huge rock plunks into the foot-deep puddle, splashing me and my two children. On the ledge above us to my left, our rottweiler rests, panting and grinning, watching in curiosity. Down below, in a patch of mud immediately next to me, an earthworm lies, exhausted after the children’s explorations and exhortations. “Can we take him home? Please, he likes me!” On my right, my daughter stirs the pool with a two-foot-long stick, telling me she’s making chicken noodle soup. She tosses in the “ingredients” – small rocks and pebbles – casually, like she’s done this a hundred times before. She chatters to herself and anyone who will listen about the task at hand. Further to the right, a little ways down and around, my son sits on a rock, perched lightly, cooly tossing large rocks in and admiring their loud plunks and fountain-like splashes.

He looks so big today. He’s not the baby I remember holding in my arms a short while ago. His deep rusty hair glows in the sunlight, almost seems to draw the light towards him. He’s been talking about a mohawk when fall comes, but for the time being, he’s got a beautiful shag any little skater kid would be proud of. He’s wearing long grey bell-bottoms that wrap themselves around his flip-flopped feet. Maybe they’re just a little too long, but he wears them well. An oversized pink t-shirt proclaiming in big block letters, “Live and Let Live,” cooly drapes itself over his shoulders, complimenting his hair nicely. His new Harry Potter backpack hangs out behind him; forgotten, but not neglected. He looks so mature, so casual and at ease with life.

At ease with life…. this life I gave him? The life that his father and I made for him, made so many mistakes with? How can he be so secure, so calm and confident, and so young? He’s five, but he carries himself like he’s ten….

And his little sister, so much like him and so different. She, too, carries the same confidence and sense of being a little wise beyond her years. Not so sure she has the same sense of security, ease with the world; she’s very demanding of comfort and reassurance. She’s also three, I feel better knowing that she still feels like she needs me. But today, she’s confident and relaxed. She’s making chicken noodle soup, and nothing else matters – not even the mud making its way onto her overalls, normally a cause for alarm. Even now that we’re home an hour later, she hasn’t insisted on changing her clothes. When asked if she wanted a bath, she replied she would take one tonight, before bed. This is the girl who has to change her clothes if she gets a drop of ketchup or a little water on them. Now, she’s content to pretend she’s a cat and lie on the couch, purring.

When I suggested to their father that we meet at this particular park to do the hand-off, I had no idea what was to come. I expected that we would be at the playground, the kids would frolic and caper while Dad and I discussed their week and talked about the parenting plan. Failing that, I expected the kiddos to ask to watch the kids at the skate park, something that fascinates both of them (though I’m not sure which of them will be the first to actually get on a skateboard). When I arrived, there they all were, sitting in the bleachers, watching the skaters go by. One guy fell off his board, and my son loudly groaned, “Oh, MAN! Wipeout!” A few minutes later, another guy wiped out, and my daughter empathized vehemently: “OUCH! Mom, did you see that?”

It didn’t take long before the kids became restless; an adventure to the creek behind us was in order. Little girl led the way with her dad, I followed with the dog, and Big Red followed us with the stroller. Next thing I knew, their dad had jumped down into the creek bed (no small feat, I found out later), and was helping the kids in. I stayed behind with the dog (who, fearless as he is otherwise, is afraid of heights), while they wandered a few feet down to explore. When they came back, their dad climbed out while they commenced to throwing rocks; we finally had a chance to talk about the week’s events.

My son fell into the river standing on a rock at the edge and nearly lost his flip-flop. Obviously he’s fine, and so are his flip-flops. Dad was right there next to him to catch him. I’m relieved. My daughter… wandered away from the house and crossed a somewhat busy intersection, and was about to cross a definitely busy intersection before her dad caught up to her. She was going to Dolphin Island. Hey, she told her dad where she was going, and he told her ok… he just didn’t realize she wasn’t playing pretend like she does all the time these days.

Where is Dolphin Island anyway? We live in Kansas….

The whole idea of meeting in a park to hand off the kids to one another started because we needed to touch base with one another about the week’s developments in regard to the children. Dropping off and taking off was not working. There was no communication. So we agreed to meet in neutral territory.

This is the second week we’ve done this. I’m noticing additional benefits. Dad wasn’t there long, but it was long enough. The kids know it’s safe for them to have fun with Dad when Mom’s around; they see us talking when they are playing, and they visibly relax. It makes the transition from Dad’s house to Mom’s house much easier. The discipline issues I used to have when they came home from there are not nearly as prevalent. So far.

Walking home from the creek, my son took responsibility for his sister. Since I had the dog, Big Red buckled her up in her stroller and pushed her the whole way home. On the home stretch, he grabbed my hand and put it on the stroller handle with his, and said, “Hold hands with me, Mom.”

For all I know, that may be the last time he ever does that. He’s 5 going on 10, after all.

I was smart. I kept my mouth shut and did as I was told.

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Don’t get me wrong, roses are pretty no matter their state. We have scores of dried roses all over the house.

For the last couple of months though, we haven’t had any fresh roses. Neither one of us can afford to buy them for the other.

Oh, it’s so frustrating. I’ve got a new job, and the money’s going to help TREMENDOUSLY, but that first paycheck seems so far away. In the meantime, Pickle has missed a ton of work over the last month because her car has been in the shop – worn CV joints caused the shaft to go bad, and the clutch went out. Basically three major fixes all rolled into one.

I choose to look at the bright side – we didn’t know the clutch was going out. So when the shaft went bad, we got to fix the clutch too. Even if we didn’t have the money. And then, before he wasted his time putting the car back together completely and test driving it, we had our mechanic check the boots, and sure enough, the CV was so bad he commented, “I’ve never seen one that bad before. That’s probably what damaged the hell out of your shaft.”

Three fixes at once. $240 in parts. $180 in labor. $420 total.

I’m pretty sure my kids have sensors that enable them to tell when I’m trying to think or do things. They’ve been quietly entertaining themselves for an hour and as soon as I sit down to do this, they burst out of their room clamoring for attention.

Anyway, our mechanic is being very generous to us, not charging a whole lot, because with the heat and his work schedule, not to mention all the new discoveries, what would have been a one-week long adventure is taking a month.

I have to focus on the good things… that I have a new job and still have my old job. That our mechanic is awesome. That our landlord isn’t hounding us for money, but actually trusting us to get rent paid when we can.

If I don’t focus on those good things, then I start to slip and think about how when we finally do get rent paid, we’ll have to pay rent again. I have tuition for my daughter’s preschool that is three months late. I need new glasses and contacts, not to mention new hearing aids (that’s a long term goal). The kids need haircuts and won’t let me touch them.

Pickle needs to breathe and relax. She needs her medication that keeps her ulcer at bay.

When I start thinking about what our needs and wants are, the words of Shel Silverstein creep into mind: “Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

I’m naturally a positive thinker. A hopeless optimist. What does a girl like me do when her positivity and optimism does little more than keep her head above water long enough to take a breath before she goes under again? And when her life partner is a cynic who wants to be an optimist but can’t quite figure out how?

Affirmations, man. I live by ’em. It’s corny, but Pickle likes them too. And if it comes from someone-not-Me, she’ll actually pay attention to them.

So right now… I need to affirm our ability to withstand anything, any blows that come our way. I need to affirm our ability to pull out of this financial hole we’re in. (We are $60 over budget. And we can’t cut anything.) I need to affirm the power of my friendships and support networks. I need to affirm my ability to take charge and get things done.

So I’m gonna dig real deep here, maybe get a little corny, show a little of my soft underbelly… and affirm.

I am a strong, capable, energetic woman. I have the power within me to make things happen. I set my sights on a goal, and press forward until it is realized. I close my eyes, visualize what I need to happen, and open my eyes to see results before me.

I am creative, resilient. When one “solution” does not work the way I anticipate, I find another. Negative words go in one ear and out the other – I know I have the power to make miracles, as long as I believe.

I am full of Love. In the end, Love does all the work for me. I am only the vessel through which She works. I experience Love fully, passionately, without inhibition or reservation. Regardless of any setbacks that make my journey more unexpected than I’ve planned, Love sees to it that my travels are well worthwhile.



My parents have given me something new to think about. They’re moving to the Missouri-Arkansas border. This weekend, they went down to scope the place out and fell in love with a house. Thirty acres of land, three ponds, a three-bedroom house in which the smallest bedroom is larger than my living room. They fell in love with the town. Met a local shop owner who sent them off with more than $100 worth of merchandise, hopped from Farmer’s Market to Farmer’s Market.

Mom called me up yesterday to rave about the place. Dad’s been texting me pictures left and right.

They want us to move down there with them.

Not with them, with them – not in the same house or anything. But they want me and my family close by. Pickle and I have talked so many times about picking up and moving away, starting over with a clean slate. We’ve dreamed of farm life, growing food and raising cattle and goats, living sustainably. We dream of a house out in the country – or close, so we can still be close enough to have access to the things and people we love.

If we moved to this place, we could have that.

We’d be leaving behind the drama with my kids’ dad and everything tangential to it. But we’d also be leaving behind old friends and connections that took years of effort to build. And we’d be letting some people down.

I’ve committed to my kids’ school as a board member for another year. It would be hard to find someone to replace me. Not impossible, but hard all the same. Pickle and I both have relatively new jobs – I’ll have been at mine for a year in August, if I stay that long. Pickle started hers in March. Both of our jobs were the result of friends pulling for us, and we both are close with the people we work with. Pickle’s best friend is wanting to open a restaurant with her in a year’s time. They’re trying to work out a business plan. If we leave, her friend will be crushed.

And we have a plan for where we are now. Pickle makes enough money at her job to only work one or two days a week. She wants to stay at home with the kids. The kids are thinking they want to be home schooled, and we’re both supportive of that. She’s looking forward to it. On the other hand, if they do choose to go to public school, we’re supportive of that as well. And once both kids are in kindergarten, or once Pickle feels comfortable enough in the role that she’s carving out for herself (or we’re all carving out together), I want to go back to school. I’m guessing that will be in roughly two years. I want to get a degree in small business management and accounting. Partially because I want to help with the restaurant – no one wants to do numbers – and partially because I’ve always wanted to open up my own boutique/café.

Pickle’s always wanted to open a drive-in movie theater and a family fun center, as well as her culinary endeavors.

The town that my parents are moving to don’t have anything like that. They have a building that locals want to turn into a movie theater, but no one has the time to do it. They’d love someone to come and do it for them. Kids in that town have to drive half an hour to the nearest larger community to find fun things to do. There’s a lot of tourism in that area, but not so much in that particular town.

Mom was also quick to share with me that I could be a substitute teacher in Arkansas with only my high school diploma. Nice. But that would open the door to questions about me going back to school to be a teacher. There was a time when I wanted to be a teacher, very badly. I’ve since learned a few things about myself. I love teaching kids, but not in the current system. I don’t like rigidity. And I don’t like being limited in the ways I can help.

My passion isn’t so much teaching, but making a difference. And I have so many ways I’m able to do that. I’m drawn to community organizing for that reason. I’m a resource-finder, a leader-finder. An organizer. I see what needs to be done and I find a way to work on a solution with the people affected.

I can’t help but think this might be a good arena for all these dreams. I’d have to put my organizing on hold somewhat, until I got to know the area and its history fairly well. And we couldn’t make every dream happen all at once; it would be a lot of hard work and planning. We’d have to re-evaluate finances (cost of living is way cheaper down there) and how we’d spend our efforts.

But are we ready to leave home? What keeps us here? We have so many friends whom we’re very close to, and our friendships have survived much worse than distance. We’ve also lost a lot of friends over the last year, people we realized probably weren’t worth calling friends in the first place, painful as that awareness was.

The kids have a life here – they’ve never known anywhere else. They have friends here they’ve known since infancy. If we move them now, it’ll be easier for them to adjust; if we wait until they’re older, those ties will be even stronger and the move would be even more heartbreaking.

Granted, we may be in Kansas, but there’s some semblance of culture here where we are. And we’re an hour away from Kansas City, where we can have a mini-escape when we need to. This town my folks are moving to is three hours from Springfield, five from St. Louis. That’s a long way to go for civilization. Pickle and I are both city girls, to a degree. We can’t live in the heart of the city because we need fresh air and green grass, but we need access to the excitement.

If we moved out there, at some point, I know I’d find myself blogging less than I currently do – because I’d be busy with my hand in every pot.

So much to think about. Cold comfort for change? Do we dare?



My brother calls her his brother.

My mother is still trying to figure out which one of us is the “man” in the relationship. Surely, it can’t be me, because I’ll actually wear a dress and look like a girl once in a while. But then again, it can’t be her, because she thinks and argues like a woman.

She calls me a “lipstick tomboy,” a badge I wear with pride because it does sum me up pretty nicely. I love to get dressed up – if I’m Dressed Up. And even in my formal, I won’t hesitate to get down in the mud and play ball.

This whole butch-femme thing is kind of silly. The idea that one of us has to be girly in order make the balance work.

I’m not dating a man. I really have no desire to. So when my brother calls her his brother… something about that feels disrespectful. Even if she is ok with it, even if she does behave like a ten-year-old boy sometimes. Ok, a lot of the time.

But she has girl parts. She has a woman’s physiology. These are things I like. They are not her in her entirety, but neither is her ten-year-old boy persona.

All that said, I have to say, she does look good in her fedora and she rocks that vintage tie of hers that matches, and my heart flips a couple of times in my throat every single time she puts them on. I love going out with her, dressed to the nines, me uber-femme’d out and her all butchy.

I spent a very slow day at work yesterday trying not to think of her. Unfortunately, where I work is very queer-friendly and located in a high-traffic area, so we get lots of good-looking dykes walking in throughout the course of any day. And yesterday, there seemed to be more than usual. And every time a hot dyke would walk in, my mind immediately drifted over to Pickle. And wouldn’t leave.

I had visions of her in full drag (something I’ve heard stories about but not yet seen for myself), and private scenarios played themselves out in my mind, causing me to grin foolishly in a store full of customers, repeatedly waking from my reverie blushing and stammering apologetically to those looking on, trying to puzzle out what the hell was wrong with me. Couldn’t stop.

But honestly, six days out of seven (and probably more than that), those who know me expect to see me in cargo shorts and a ribbed tank top, maybe with a button-down work shirt thrown over it. Or jeans and a big hoodie. My hair is almost always pulled back out of my face, and if I’m wearing shoes, they’re likely to be her DC’s or my canvas Airwalks. I hate pink, and all my “girly” clothes (except for the really nice stuff) look like they’ve been worn by a girl who likes to play in the mud. And her uniform consists mostly of t-shirts or polos and jeans.

We both walk the line somewhere in the middle. She’s not a boy, and neither am I. I find her sexy regardless of what form she takes – as long as she’s comfortable and true to herself.

I’ve also been known to entertain visions of her slightly more femme-y (and even then, she’s still wearing jeans and a tank top), but I’ve seen pictures of her in a dress, and it’s not her. She looked pretty, but she didn’t look like Pickle, and it didn’t do a damn thing for me.

She might not be the girliest girl out there. Well, hell, neither am I. But there’s no man in this relationship, and my brother’s brother lives far away, and he sure as hell doesn’t share a bed with me.



{March 7, 2010}   All that she wants…

Pardon me for being so blunt.

I am a raging hormone machine. It can’t be helped. I want sex, and lots of it. Try as I do to distract myself, to spend my time pursuing other activities, my mind keeps wandering to sexy thoughts of my Sweet Pickle and the way she makes me feel.

I’ve noticed a bit of baby lust, too.

Has my biological clock begun ticking again?

I often find myself daydreaming of nursing babes again, holding little squirming bundles of smooth skin and plump cheeks. Looking deeply into big blue eyes, feeling the grip of a tiny palm with tiny fingers wrapped around my own mama-sized digits.

I think it has.

I’m about to turn 29 this month. I’m not old. I have, easily, another ten years of baby-having in me. The caveat, however, is that if I am to get pregnant, the only way Pickle and I can agree on making it happen, is if I essentially carry her child. In a sense, surrogacy.

She’s a bit older than me. Scientifically speaking, her ovaries are on the blink. If this were to work, we’d have to freeze them now.

We don’t have the money for that. Adoption would be more practical.

And, though my uterus is hollerin’ at me, “Now, Mama, now!!!” I know that, in all practicality, for sanity’s sake, I will not have any more babies of my own for another two years at least.

It’s hard to resist the call of the female reproductive system. I succumbed four years when I conceived my daughter. If I had the maturity then, the foresight I have now, I would have waited longer.

No regrets, though. None whatsoever. I have two beautiful children. Had I done things differently, the way I possibly “should” have done them, they wouldn’t exist, at least, not as they are.

Then again, if the me that I am now had been calling the shots five years ago – even ten years ago, when I met my children’s father, she would have said, “You know, I like you. You’re a good guy. I don’t really see lifetime potential with you, being that you have a penis and penises kind of scare me and I’m more of a t’n’a kind of girl, but you’ve got good genetics. I’d like to have your genetic offspring. No need to feel obligated to be an active father.” I bet he would have gone for it, too. He never really wanted to be a dad. I sucked him into it with my grandiose vision of the life I wanted: settled down at 18 with six kids and a zoo’s worth of pets.

The me I am now knows I could have had that without him, and probably would be much closer to that vision without him. But I wouldn’t have learned as much about myself had I gone that route.

So the me I am now is content to wait two years for another round of babies. She just wishes the hormones would quit throwing their fit in the meantime.



et cetera