Thursday, June 30, 2011


(Pre-Script: This post is paired with the song, "Uncharted," #39 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

Recently, I went to a friend's house and she had pulled out oil pastels and large pieces of paper for drawing. I sat down and started drawing with bright, vivid colors. I drew hearts and stars and said "I am angry. I didn't realize before I started drawing that I am angry!" So I drew some more hearts in vivid red. And then I wasn't angry anymore, I was at peace. And then I felt the need to draw a fish.



Lately, I have been drawing fish.

It goes like this:

I call the children to the kitchen table. I turn on some music. I say "Time for art class, kids!" and we pull out the crayons and paper and we color pictures. We do this because after I drew that first fish, I said "I like this fish; I feel like I am a fish, inside." My friend said "I like your fish, your fish is free." Then the children and I went home and I was not done drawing fish, so I gathered them to the table, and told them to draw whatever animal they felt represented themselves, and I called it "Art Class."

(This is one of the benefits to having children is that you can call "Art Class" at any time, and they will not say, for example, "why are we doing art class when it is the middle of out summer break and we should be doing anything BUT anything called "class," we should be languishing in our boredom like everyone else."

At least for now, my children do not say that yet.

But I digress.

Ahem )

My fish are my own; they look exactly how my inner fish would look, if my inner fish could pop out of my self and show itself. The fish I draw have neat round bodies and large red lips. They have big green eyes and purple eyelashes. They have large round blue tears dripping down from their eyes.

I told my friend, "My fish are bright, deep, dark, passionate, vibrant colors, because that is what I am, inside; I am deep and passionate; I am not pastel." And this felt like the truest, most satisfying thing to realize.

But after two weeks of this, I had just finished drawing a gorgeous large vibrant fish when I felt the need to draw a small pink fish up in the corner of the page. This fish had a lavender colored eye, and still the large bright red lips. I told my friend about the pink fish. I told her "I think I had to draw all of those bright fish before I could find the pink fish-" But I was careful to add that "It wasn't soft pink, it was salmon colored pink." She laughed at my distinction, but the distinction was important in my mind.

The distinctions makes all the difference in life.

Art class has progressed.

I now play music, call the kids to the table, and they start to color while I read a passage of the bible. My only instruction is to tell them to draw whatever comes to mind, and not to compare their art work to that of anyone else. This is all I will say, for how can I tell them what lies on the inside of their own hearts and minds? They have to show me in their own way and time.

Ethan's drawings are often puppy dog dragons or bunny rabbits with large eyes. Natalie's often involve cutting and gluing other pieces of paper onto the picture she has already colored, so hers have an element of surprise. Kristina likes to say that what I read to her makes no difference whatsoever in her drawing, but then her pictures betray that. And Jeremy? He often just sits and chats with us while we draw. Actually, he usually asks a very deep, insightful question about the passage I have just read, it has clearly disturbed him,

and then he says,

"Mom, can I watch TV?"

And I say,

"No, we're listening to music. It's Art Class time."

And he says,

"Well, what about if I watch it in the other room?"

And I say, "no, it's ART time."

and he says,

"You're just saying that because..."

And then I hear a new reason why I am just saying that because, and then he settles down and creates some type of castle with working doors and drawbridge or somesuch thing which reminds me that my children have more bones in their bodies than I do.



Yesterday during Art Class, a strange thing happened. I sat down to draw a fish, but found, instead, the need to draw a bird. Not just one bird, but a page full of bird after bird after bird. Not just one page, but page after page. I am still drawing birds. Somewhere on each page, I have the need to write "little yellow canary." I have no idea why. My birds are neat and stylized. They are rounded, with their wings at their sides, not flying, but resting, and I will never apologize for my drawing style. My birds are me.

I told the kids,

"For some reason, I now have a need to draw birds."

Jeremy said,

"You are saying that like it's a big deal, but it's not, it's just you drawing birds."

He is right; I am just drawing birds; I did not tell him that some of the biggest deals in the world are the ones we don't understand yet.

Just then, Natalie leaned over and outlined what I had just drawn, as if to emphasize my point.


Friday, June 17, 2011


(Prescript: The prescribed background music for this poem is "The Chain," #31 on the playlist, so go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

Picture in your mind a time when the pendulum swung
all the way one way,
all the way the other way,
and rested finally in the middle.

A breeze might push it,
a breeze from the other side might push back.
Whichever breeze is stronger will determine to which side the pendulum will swing,
or if it will swing at all.

But sometimes if it swings to the right,
or to the left,
a child or passing stranger might get knocked over,
even if he was paying attention,
that's how unsuspecting a motionless object suddenly moving can be.

Do not put your trust in the strength of a pendulum, even one
that looks particularly strong, for though
it will take something fiercer than a breeze to blow it this way or that way,
when it does swing,
it will hit heavy,
hit you hard, knock you down, maybe
(especially if you had been of the mind that you could take shelter
in it's shadow.)


Thursday, June 16, 2011

The distance not too far

(Pre-Script: This poem should be read as the song, "Closer," #6 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

The distance not too far
looked something like
a hummingbird that hovered
so close you thought you could touch
it if only it would not cause the
perfection of the moment to
crack and shatter-
and then swift, she was gone,
that jittery perfection,
and it made you wonder
if you'd ever seen beautiful like that,
if you'd ever seen green.
and it made you wonder
about shivering and nesting,
about unseen wings that never stop,
but hover like it's effortless-
made you wonder
if you'd ever see it again-


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Beach Combers

(Pre-Script: This post should be read as the song, "Mysterious Ways," #5 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

I didn't make it to the beach all of last year; it's sort of like wherever you live, you take it for granted that you can go to the places near you which attract tourists any day of the year, so you never end up going to them.

But what never changes is the Ocean, and when you are standing on it's shore, it has a roar that sounds like peace and consistency, and will lull you to sleep if you stop to lay down and close your eyes. Meanwhile, it deposits secret clues of all that lies hidden within it on the shore. So today, Natalie and I got as close to the water as we could without actually going in, to look for treasures or any secret clues that might have been left there.

Over the years, I have gotten choosey of what I will pick up and put in my treasure bucket. My children are much less judicious; they'll pick up whatever rock or broken sea shell they find, and they are quick to marvel at the beauty of each one. I want to call out "don't just pick up any old rock, your bucket will get heavy." But I am quiet; there is no such thing as "just any old rock" to them. When Natalie's bucket got too full, she did something that hadn't occurred to me; she simply dumped it out, and put back in anything that she wanted to keep. This, I think, is not a bad way to live one's life.

I could have continued combing the beach for hours; I hate the thought of just barely missing something that may be right in front of me; but Natalie is 4 years old. When she got tired, she said "Mommy, I'm tired," and "will you carry me?" So I put down the rock I had been examining and picked her up instead. She laid her head on my shoulder and I walked away from the shore. In my arms lay a mystery of oceanic proportions with her own secret clues yet to be uncovered. But this treasure did not emerge from any ocean; she emerged from the sea of me, deposited upon my shore with her own secret humming, and I need not understand her roaring or her lullaby; I just need to keep listening.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

On Multitasking (AKA, I was a...Oh, never mind.)

(Pre-Script: This post best read as the song, "Cornflake Girl," #8 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

So in a parallel universe, I was a stay at home Mom of four children, a long distance Runner, a Weight Lifter, a Writer, a Personal Stylist, a Makeup Artist, a Sociological Genius* (*in my own mind, and I believe I have a good mind about such things), and an original healthy recipe creating Ninja Chef and Baker with a knack for treasure hunting* (*of various types of treasures) . Oh, and I grew my own flowers and vegetables, too.

Oh wait, that is still who I am in this present universe. I forgot for a second, because hello, I have a lot on my plate. I didn't even mention that I home school my own children? That's because I don't.

Also, the flowers and vegetables are metaphoric at this point; I have so far never grown anything but human beings, but since I rather like the number "four, " I feel it's time to move on to growing lesser things. Not to insult the vegetables and flowers, but what they lack in quality, I hope they can make up for in quantity. AKA, I value the children higher, but I will have no qualms about growing many more than 4 vegetables and flowers. You see my point. But now this brings to mind the old saying, "you are what you eat," which would, philosophically, put the children and the vegetables back on the same level playing field, value wise. This is assuming that said children actually eat said (still metaphoric, completely imaginary, as I have yet to so much as aerate the soil with my high, high heels) vegetables.


In the parallel universe I apparently inhabit, I also had a propensity for yes, wearing high, high heels and painting my fingernails bright red. Lest you think these attributes clash with the life of the gardener I am becoming, (in my mind) I would argue that first, go back and re-read the last sentence of the previous paragraph, and that second, red is the perfect nail polish color of a gardener, for it will surely hide the blood when my green thumb starts to bleed from toiling so long with the soil.

"...but Michelle,"

my imaginary reader interjects-

"...Michelle, your hands won't bleed from gardening; they probably wont bleed unless you plan to grow and pick cotton, but you live many, many miles from a plantation in the South, circa 1842, so this is highly unlikely."

Hm. You know, imaginary reader, I have to hand it to you, sometimes you are exactly the voice of reason.

"Thank you."

But now, Gentle Reader, what do I do with my red nail polish? Can I still wear it? How will it affect my gardening career?

"Well, Michelle, I can't say, no one knows yet, it hasn't been done."

Well reader, I have always been a pioneering trailblazer (OH! Forgot to add "Pioneering Trailblazer" to my list at the top...DOH!).
Give me bright nail polish, or give me death.*

*By "me," I just mean the part of "me" that dreams of becoming a gardener.


Amen, let's eat.

(Important note: At this point, it's still just imaginary, parallel universe food.)


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pancake Batter

(Pre-Script: This post to be read as the song, "Lollipop," #20 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

So there I was, mixing raspberry chocolate chip pancake batter for all the children of the world. For all the children of the world who at one time or other resided inside my womb. And that feels like I'm making them for all the children of the entire world...


(Random Digression [or R.D.]: Pancakes are one of those things I used to eat, but no longer eat, because I do not have an off switch once I start eating them. It's better if I abstain all together. End Of Random Digression [or E.O.R.D.])

..and it occurred to me that I could make this a perfect food. I could add spinach I had just whipped up in my blender complete with a couple of fish oil pills which I had squirted the insides out of into the batter. I could add a little protein powder. I could then go into the backyard and tap my own maple syrup straight from the maple tree that grows there. But then I remember that I'm not nearly that organic. I'm not nearly that close to living in an upper New England town near a lake or pond which is a natural habitat of Canadian Geese, for example. I don't have a backyard which contains even one Maple tree. In fact, I don't even have a backyard. And besides, Trader Joe's already bottled the Maple syrup for me. Which is a lot less mess than me and a bucket, standing there in my frustration, trying to figure out how to get the golden nectar from the inside of the tree, where I KNEW it was freely oozing, to the outside of that tree. It is also a lot less time consuming.


(Random Digression [or R.D.]: Remember when I was a kid, and kids used to eat cookies and candy without worrying about their rising cholesterol levels? 'cause then we went outside and ran around shooting each other with our fingers because play shooting wasn't a criminal act, just a bunch of kids acting out good guy vs bad guy scenarios like in the westerns out parents would watch on tv in front of us without worrying that they were traumatizing us because the particular movie was "unrated?" And we also didn't eat chemicals and splenda and activia. But I am getting ahead of myself. End Of Random Digression [or E.O.R.D.])



In the end, I didn't put any of that healthy stuff into the pancake batter. But I did create delicious chocolate chip raspberry pancakes, which turned the normal children I'd birthed into the happy, delightfully energetic normal children I'd birthed.

So there goes the neighborhood, and so on and so forth.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

National Football League

(Pre-Script: This post should be read as the song, " Undone," #40 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

I have a lot in common with the NFL. Most specifically, we share a middle name, which is "Football."



This is not literally true. My middle name is literally Louise, but I looked up the meaning of Louise, and it means Female Warrior. And since I am a middle child, sandwiched between older and younger brothers, it was my destiny to live up to my middle name, which in my case meant nightly games of tackle football on the front lawn after dinner. So being roughly and loosely interpreted, my name which I lived up to actually means Michelle, the football female warrior.
I appreciate this now.

I did not appreciate it when I actually was a football wielding, grass stained multiple body bruised girl child running catch me if you can fast across the (football field) front lawn. In those days, I wanted a middle name that sounded like a middle name I liked the sound of. The acceptable middle names were Elizabeth, Marie, or even Lynne. But my mother had some crazy notion to bestow upon my bony identity the middle name she herself had been given, and which she herself had always hated. I will never understand the logic of this. All I can come up with is that she knew me better than I knew myself, then.
But now that I am a grown up, I know myself fairly well, most days. I like my middle name. And while it's true that I have never met anyone else who actually likes the name "Louise," I know now that I really am Louise, with all of it's character and, yes, even charm. Louise is quirky and different. Elizabeth (Consecrated to God)? Marie(Bitter Sea)? Lynne(Beautiful Waterfall)?


And also, let me redirect your attention to the fact that Louise means Female Warrior. I don't care how you turn it, that's just straight up brass knuckles.