294. Leah

My granddaughter is a two year old spitfire picklebutt named Leah. She has been at the center of yet another Tusconic experience here in Arizona this past week.  From the first moment after her nap last Friday, she asked her mom in a tiny, whispery voice, “Where’s Wonka?” and then scrambled to my bedroom to celebrate being in the same space. (“Wonka” was her near approximation for “grandpa”, but it seemed to capture something more than the generic label for her mother’s father… and stuck.) She smiled her precious smile between her silky pink cheeks and it was on! Dancing, and arm waving, and chase, and babies, and puzzles, and books, and  the I-pad (thank God for Netflix).

Everything was alive with her energy but only for a few minutes at a time– jumping on the bed while singing “No more monkeys jumpin’ on the bed”, “The wheels on the bus”, “Ring around the rosey”.  A whirling dervish if ever there was, whirling through emotions like a roulette wheel. I kept hoping for red 17, but randomosity ruled.

Her dad Stu is in “Cow if fornya” doing his work right now. He flies Apache helicopters with the National Guard. When a jet would fly over her house, Leah would run out and wave and say, “Hi Daddy” in the general direction of the noise. She likes aircraft too. It seems to be in Stu’s family’s blood. Not many two year olds have a poster of a helicopter on their bedroom wall. Leah does, and she knows Daddy flies “Ha-pache copters”.

At her school there are many kind rules. “This is my work” means “I’m not sharing right now; go beat feet somewhere else.” “Too many  people” means just that. Someone has to go, but it hurts a little when you are the only other person and she yells, “Too many people, Wonka!”

Two days ago we spent maybe an hour playing the money game. We both happened to have shirts with pockets. Leah grabbed a couple of fists of coins from her piggy bank and dropped them carefully into my pocket one coin at a time. Then she scooped them out and dropped them into her shirt pocket. And again…”Do it again”, she said. I have no idea what she gained from this pocket money changing, but I gained sweet breath and tenderness that was worth every penny. Love makes simple things delicious and unforgettable.

Being two and highly verbal and strong willed, she puts on her bossy pants at least once an hour and commands or demands… “No, no, no” as she shakes a little empress finger at something or someone. Some kids get sugar highs; I think Leah gets power highs that have to be moderated with surgical precision. Time outs are readily available on the carpeted stairs where she wails about the injustice of the incident she has likely forgotten. Oh the drama!! Scarlett O Leah, “I shall always have Tara” ( and a thousand stuffed animals, books, Kermit the dog, a trampoline and blow up  pool in the yard, a kitchen set, a rocking chair, etc. etc.). She’s a hoot even when she’s pouty and attempting to rule the world tyrannically. When the time out is over and she demonstrates remorse, “I sorry, Wonka”, it’s all good again. Time for a fiesta for the prodigal granddaughter’s return. Blackberries are a favorite.

Five minutes later she wants to share something, a book or a carrot. “Make space” means slide over for her wiggle butt to snuggle in beside you. Now yesterday we had to ride up to the Guard airbase to drop off Stu’s car he’ll need when he gets back from Cow if fornya. I drove behind my daughter in the Prius with Leah. Grace tossed me a double CD of Raffi’s greatest hits. “Just put in the new Raffi and sing along, Wonka.”  Well, I engaged the CD as we got on to the I-10… but it wasn’t Raffi. It was some bogus fake  Raffi and a disc of Tchaikovsky’s pop hits. I couldn’t believe it. I felt like the folks at Times Square who buy a Rolex for $10 from a street vendor only to find out at Battery Park that it’s a fake and doesn’t even keep time. Fortunately the Baroness of Bossiness was content to sing her own soft songs all the way out to the airfield.

Once Grace rejoined us I registered my complaint. “You told me weed but you sold me basil.”

“What?”

“The Raffi was all wrapper and no Raffi.”

“Oh, sorry. Was it a disaster?”

“No, it was Wonkastic actually.”

And away we went to a lovely “rench raunt” beneath the Catalina Foothills. It was lovely despite the part time efforts of the Diminutive Despot to work her Mommy into a braided rug. Leah makes crow noises that warn of the terrors to come.  In just a blink she turns from a fuzzy domesticated puppy into a wild “Cow yote”, who can turn herself into a cooked spaghetti noodle when you try to pick her up and place her in another time out. She is a gamer, let me tell you, and would be in the Baby Hall of Fame if not for a few moments here and there… like Pete Rose. She sort of gambles on getting her way until you go nose to nose with her for the integrity of the game of parenting.

And then after her latest walk she brings a rock, an acorn and purple flower to document her adventure. They are still warm from the Arizona sun’s radiant energy and her little marshmallow hand. She shows me her knee boo boo which I kiss twice, and I realize I’ll miss her soft voice, her funny expressions, and her hummingbird spirit.  It’s all good like pure oxygen in my blood.

So long my Cow yote puppy.

 

 

122. Polar bears in a snowstorm

Image result for polar bear picturesThe blank page is like a white wall that must be adorned. Words and symbols and art need to fill the void, cutting a door or window through the opaque white fog of not quite consciousness.  Otherwise we’re all polar bears in a snowstorm, unconnected and hopelessly lost. The simple act of typing letters, then words, then sentences claims the void and brings purpose to the blank.  A horizon is seen and the brain can find itself in space. It seems to me that the empty page is comparable to a bare canvas for a painter or silence for a musician. It’s a space and time to be filled with expression.

I don’t begin with a destination or an agenda usually. It’s fairly apparent if you’ve read my blog for a while. I hop in, turn the ignition, and back out to the past or pull away into the present. Depends on the mood and circumstances of my life. Once I’ve gotten warmed up, I think of a destination. It works for me. I’m not an engineer of words or an architect. I just write like I think and speak; at least I think I do.

My day job, as you may have gleaned, is a counselor. I listen to folks for 8 to 10 hours a day. I enjoy it immensely because I genuinely like my clients. Very few of them have to be there in my office. They come of their own free wills and remain as free agents. They don’t have to put up with me. They choose to pay me for each expensive hour and believe that value is added to their lives by engaging in the counseling process. I find the whole deal to be very gratifying as well as highly accountable for me. If I don’t do my job well  (and this is completely subjective on my clients’ parts), I lose. No explanation is needed. The client just does not show up again. I don’t need a committee report or a state investigation to determine if I’ve done a good job. Clients return; it’s that simple.

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I try not to think of the high stakes of my business. I’m not much of a business guy anyhow. I can’t afford to expend the energy necessary to worry about things outside of my control.  Instead, I try to focus fully on the person(s) in front of me at the moment. I block out the phone ringing in the next room, the mailman popping in and out, the townsfolk noisily shuffling by my first floor window. There is always someone suing someone else, but I can’t worry about that either. If I remain focused with my client, I’ll be okay legally, morally, ethically, and financially. Why? Because I believe I will be and my life’s experience confirms my belief. I have been blessed thus far in life that the risks I have taken have not blown up in my face.

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Writing is an outlet for me, I suppose. Back when I was a teacher, I used greeting cards as a creative outlet. I’d spend an intensely absorbed two hours drawing and painting little greeting cards. It worked for me. However, I noticed that as soon as I left the stress of teaching behind, I had no desire to make my cards. In some weird way I suppose this blog has replaced the cardmaking for creative expression and resetting the psychic balance. Listening to others intently for 40 to 50 hours a week can turn your mind into a mushroom if you don’t push back with exercise, good diet and sleep, love and creativity. So this therapeutic alliance with words is at play behind the musings and wonderment of my posts. And sometimes it is just play, dodgeball with words and ideas, trying to hit some idea with the right set of words.

This week I’ve spent with my daughter and brand new granddaughter in Tucson, Arizona. Every day has started without any agenda. Newborns don’t permit agendas. They are for older, controllable folks. Newborns are iffy about sleep. Sure, they sleep more than cats do, but it can be two hours here and three there, and you don’t get to pick which hours. They eat and wet and cry and poop when they’re feeling it, not on your timetable. So it would be futile to maintain a timetable. Baby Leah took her first bottle last night, which was unexpected and somewhat magical for her dad. Her mother Grace took a picture and sighed a mom’s proud and sad sigh, “My baby is growing up!” Underneath that comment was perhaps the first sense of her separation from her baby. It’s an odd mixture of joy and loss, thrill and melancholy. A healthy person feels both; accepts both; and then focuses on the positive emotion.

All of us think about what is best for this eight pound glow worm. I guess that is the agenda after all. How rare it is to stay so focused on the needs of another for so long. But that other is nothing but needs wrapped in cute outfits. Something about her totally innocent clinging dependence reminds me of marsupial babies that live in pouches. But there is the glow worm body as well. Hmm… here is one of those dodgeball ideas. Imagine Lowly Worm in a pale green swaddling blanket tucked into the pouch of a soft bellied Velveteen Rabbit. Percolate for a moment. The little worm’s face glows, though it seems asleep or drunk on mother’s milk. Happy light shines out of slitted eyes. Put a wee little cap on her head– yellow and pink. Paint the whole picture with colors not in your paintbox– warm yawning lavender, snuggly nose pink dawn, dusty cheek rose. There you go. That’s better than a laundry line full of white sheets in a snowstorm.

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I’ll close with lyrics from Johnny Mercer’s “Glow Worm”. You can follow up with a visit to YouTube to hear the melodious Mills Brothers sing it.

Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer
Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer
Lead us lest too far we wander
Love’s sweet voice is calling yonder
Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer
Hey, there don’t get dimmer
Light the path below, above
And lead us on to love!
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