Sunday, April 26, 2009
"The first time I ate a potato right from the ground I cried," Charlotte said as she helped me plant some runners.
We talked about compost and putting up a fence while barefoot children ran beneath the orange, setting sun.
"My mother-in-law's carrots are as big as my fist," she said clenching her dirty fingers and shaking it through the cool night.
"My mother-in-law's tomatoes are known to make grown men weep," I countered.
I mentioned seeking out rotten horse manure and she did a little dance.
"Mix it in real good," she said, bending over to turn an imaginary shovel, "Real good."
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Come, let us worship and bow down
Let us kneel before the Lord our God our maker.
For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture
And the Sheep of His hand.
The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection, circa 1898
Artist: Eugene Burnand
Friday, April 10, 2009
An old hymn for Good Friday:
O Sacred Head
O sacred head, sore wounded,
defiled and put to scorn;
O kingly head surrounded
with mocking crown of thorn:
What sorrow mars thy grandeur?
Can death thy bloom deflower?
O countenance whose splendor
the hosts of heaven adore!
Thy beauty, long-desirèd,
hath vanished from our sight;
thy power is all expirèd,
and quenched the light of light.
Ah me! for whom thou diest,
hide not so far thy grace:
show me, O Love most highest,
the brightness of thy face.
I pray thee, Jesus, own me,
me, Shepherd good, for thine;
who to thy fold hast won me,
and fed with truth divine.
Me guilty, me refuse not,
incline thy face to me,
this comfort that I lose not,
on earth to comfort thee.
In thy most bitter passion
my heart to share doth cry,
with thee for my salvation
upon the cross to die.
Ah, keep my heart thus moved
to stand thy cross beneath,
to mourn thee, well-beloved,
yet thank thee for thy death.
My days are few, O fail not,
with thine immortal power,
to hold me that I quail not
in death's most fearful hour;
that I may fight befriended,
and see in my last strife
to me thine arms extended
upon the cross of life.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Why did Scientist Biologist So-and-So have to name the prehistoric creatures such complicated names ("anatosaurus, ankylosaurus, pteranodon," etc., etc.)?
I realize "c-a-t" and "d-o-g" were already taken but what's wrong with "y-a-r-f" or "l-o-p" or "m-i-g?"
Do you know how much easier my life would be if while stirring a steaming pot with a baby tucked under my arm I could answer my son's "What's that?" with a:
"Dup" and a pat on the head.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
It rained for days and today it snowed.
And so I take back all I said about digging.
I'd gladly take it up even if tomorrow promised no squash [BTW: Does anybody really like squash? I mean really like squash?].
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Here's my latest column at Blue Mountain Moments. I also pasted it below. Enjoy!
[note: Mary and Martha did their best posing for the above shot; as always, Martha's a bit ticked]
How a Neighbor Helped Welcome my Special Needs Son
Around this time last year, when March was skipping out like a lamb, the stork dropped a bundle in my arms. I remember catching my third son and my breath at the same time – overwhelmed by his newborn perfection. So you can imagine my pause when doctors pointed out that Simeon had “indicators of a genetic syndrome” – low-set ears, down-slanting eyes and a short neck.
I brought my baby home and while I was joyous in those early days, I was still “pausing” -- as if I had suddenly found myself on a ship for mothers with special needs children but had yet to grow sea legs. It was in those early days a kind-hearted man stopped my way to help unload my groceries. This good soul, who I later came to know as Michael, also has low-set ears, down-slanting eyes, a short neck … and a smile like the summer’s sun.
I remember taking note of Michael’s features the day he offered to not only carry my groceries but to paint my fence and to take out my trash – he’s a handyman by trade, he said, but he wouldn’t charge me because I just had a baby. You see, Michael’s heart is pure goodness, but before I talk more about him, let me tell you about my son.
In addition to being perfect, I soon learned Simeon was born with Noonan Syndrome – a condition consisting of the physical symptoms I already mentioned as well as short stature, a heart defect and, oftentimes, slight mental retardation. While I had no prenatal warnings that Simeon would have such challenges, I spent the early days of his life in the state of “pause” I mentioned -- grappling with the idea of raising a child who would be “different.” The acquaintance of Michael helped shape my heart on the matter.
Shortly after I met Michael, I saw him and his mom at the market. He’s about forty and she must be in her sixties. They were laughing and discussing what to have for supper. I remember glancing down at Simeon in his car seat then back up at them. Simeon’s cheeks had the same flush as Michael’s mom’s – hot pink and full of life. The cashier let Michael fill the bags, and his mom walked behind as he steered the cart out the double glass doors.
Since then, I’ve seen Michael around town. He’s always on errands. He talks to me with boasting pride about his work as a handyman and asks if I’d like him to mow my lawn or help plant tomatoes. I keep meaning to take him up on the offers.
You see, when I consider Michael, when I think about his mother’s glow that day in the market, I am filled with hope. I look to a future where raising a child with special needs is not burdensome but a joy. I still hear the echo of his mother’s laughter in the freezer section, playfully arguing with the son who never flew from her nest. I still see the pride in her eyes as she watched Michael bag the groceries – not because he was accomplishing something extraordinary, but simply because he was her son.
And while I plan to raise my Simeon with every advantage possible and refuse to label him less than his abilities, I have peace about raising a child who’s “different.” So many factors contribute to this peace – my faith and my family’s support are, of course, pillars. But Michael, a kind-hearted soul with a knack for helping out, has quite unknowingly, given my peace wings.
To learn more about Noonan Syndrome, visit http:// www.noonansyndrome.org/
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
There is work
There is play
And as shovel cuts sod, I see what's to come
Better days and tomatoes,
pumpkins and a glass half-full
Of at least 300 zucchini, acorn squash and melon
with black seeds and flesh pink
all the way to the rind
Half-full or better,
better or brimming
Brimming or buckets spilling down to the floor
and running down streets and sticking to ceilings
like the mud firmly crusted on my knees
I dream of bounty --
a bumper crop of butter
or I'd drop this shovel
and cease to dig