Monday, May 27, 2013

Going grey

I'm a little worried about these grey hairs. Up to now they've been rashly persuaded into a different color by the likes of peroxide, ammonia & co. Certainly, these short views were themselves alarming (hence the rapid intervention), but the brevity (of the view and the hair) kept hysteria at bay, or perhaps gave a feeling of control. Now, though, I am forced to watch them grow millimeter by millimeter as they seem to inspire the growth of further hairs of similar hue, a party of like-minded age barometers toasting my 40 years.

Then again, these new hairs are not mousy blond, so that is something to celebrate. I suppose we will have to wait and see what the future brings.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Totally thrown, obviously.

Curve Ball

Out of nowhere
A vibration
A burning
A pull.
Have you ever felt your atoms dancing?
You should.

It doesn't kill.
The old remains
Stronger than ever.
Deeper than before.
Because we are more than atoms
Dancing on air.

Still it begs the question:
What is love?

I say
It's a creator.
A crayon.
A cement.
That binds us all.

Friday, January 25, 2013

How to preserve those lovely fall leaves: puzzle glue

I wanted to create tree costumes with real fall leaves. So I looked up how to preserve leaves. I found several  websites/blog posts that described how people did this, such as


I was apparently too late for the glycerin, where you allow the leaves to suck up the glycerin, thereby dooming (or deeming immortal) the leaves to perpetual natural beauty. I thought laminating would give an  artificial look. Dipping them in wax sounded, logically, difficult, as liquid wax is, necessarily, HOT and destructive to fragile tissues. So I decided just to press them in books for a start and then decide after how to continue.

Into the books they went, for about two weeks. Then I pulled them out and they looked wonderful. Flat, unbroken, not yet brittle. Seeing them like that, I decided go for what sounded like the most natural-looking result: wax them.

I went to the trouble of getting waxed paper (they seem to not have this in Germany) and proceeded to iron them between two pieces of waxed paper. With this method, you leave the leaf between the two sheets of waxed paper and cut around the leaf. This looked like crap: the colors were muted and the feeling of the leaf was lost. So I removed the paper and discovered that the wax left on the leaf from ironing was enough to preserve it (albeit for an unknown period of time). And since I was left with just a leaf, it looked completely natural, as if I had picked it directly from the tree.

However, since it was going to have to live a little as a costume, I wanted to give the leaf a bit more strength. After wandering around my house a few times looking for inspiration, I thought of the puzzle glue we had once used: it was a milky liquid that dried clear and flexible. Sounded perfect.

And it was. Quick and easy, with the natural-looking result I wanted. Everyone complimented our costumes - some people even thought our trees were REAL TREES!

Just kidding.


A new year, a new post. I guess I figured I've got 12 months in this "new year" - so why hurry??

I just told my daughter that if she practices singing with the karaoke player, she'll get better. WHAT AM I THINKING??!!

Just kidding. I love it that they want to sing. Those voices will not frustrate me. The screaming and fighting voices, though, I could do without. So I will support the lesser evil.

No, this post will not be about the lesser evil. Although, it's true, I've got that "gun guntrol" post that I am working on/haunts my brain, and I'm sure there's a "lesser evil" theme in that one somewhere. But it's not even CLOSE to being finished yet.

Hmmm...So what will this one be about?

Rambling nonsense. Could be a good goal. Should probably keep it brief, then.

That's it. I'm still alive. Still writing. Schimpfwörter on my phone for the gun rights people, mostly. But writing.

So you'll hear from me soon.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Death of a birthday

Yesterday was my mom's birthday. Or, more grammatically correct, had been my mom's birthday. She died 10 years ago.

So she's gone. That person who raised me to be a strong, independent woman is gone. She gave me everything she could, and when she was finished with her life, she left. She is not here for me to call when I'm lost, she wasn't here when I didn't know what to do with two babies screaming at once, she won't be here the next time I'm so frustrated with life that I barely know how to go on. She's gone, but I'm still here and I will go on.

I AM sad that she's gone. I'm crying right now thinking that she never met my fantastic pain in the ass kids, or my husband and his great family. She never saw Germany or my home or the Christmas hearts I made with Chloé yesterday. She never read my blog and she never ate Gaetan's cheese soufflé with a glass of Bordeaux.

A few months after she died, I went to Venice to celebrate my 30th birthday. We took a boat to the cemetery island, and seeing all of the candles in the church, I realized that this would be a good place to leave a piece of her memory. I didn't have a grave to visit or ashes to put anywhere, only my own memories and grief that had to find a place in the present. I thought a piece of her spirit would like to live there on that sacred island. I feared for a moment she might feel trapped there, but I decided she would love the foreignness of it - and when she was finished there, she could take a boat to anywhere else in the world or beyond. So I lit her a candle and watched it sparkle and glow through the tears for a while, and then Gaetan and I went for a walk before catching the boat again.

I often feel I'm expected to be more sad about death. Like the death of someone means we the still-living have to suffer. But I can't. They are gone, these dead people, and we can do nothing about that. The only thing I can do is remember her: remember the good things and the less good things and the sweaters she made and the words she spoke and the smiles that lit up her face. I realize that for some people this is also done by remembering their birthdays, and death days. But not for me. I DO think of her birthday as December approaches, and then December 3rd comes and goes and nothing has changed. There is no one to wish happy birthday to.

She's not in this life celebrating birthdays and picking flowers and kissing her grandchildren. She has become finite here, and I assume that the infiniteness of her soul continues somewhere else. She's gone, but she goes on on her own path. Perhaps our paths will cross again. Whether I will know her then, I don't know.

Isole di San Michele (photo from 

Christmas hearts and bow

one of my favorite pictures of my crazy mom

Monday, October 22, 2012

Just another season

It's fall again and everything's dying. My favorite time to post.
I am inspired by the explosion of color of the fall. I can't help but take the pictures and rave about the beauty created by this end of a cycle.
I mourn this time of year. I mourn the end of the summer, since it has such a short, hazardous life here in Germany. I mourn the end of freedom to live outdoors without consideration of the weather. I mourn the shortened tour of the sun in our day. The sun feeds my soul.
Others mourn, too. They mourn their lost loved ones. They mourn the life they didn't have. They mourn all the things they can't do since the cycle ended a part of them.
On a day like today, with the sun shining easily through whimsically-placed clouds in a cyan sky, I have hopeful words for those struggling through the grey within themselves. But my words do not help them, nor do the whimsy and brightness of the day. I can only wish that they can one day walk - slowly, if needed - through this season, just another season after one and before another, allowing the tears to fall from their eyes and then rest on the ground like the leaves, a foundation for seasons to come.

Monday, August 20, 2012

How to potty train your twins and other fun** stuff: Some DOs, some DON'Ts and some anecdotes.

**or not

We're in full potty-training mode here. Mia and Aidyn, age (almost) 34 months (aka two months short of three years old), are learning to use the toilet. And I can tell you, two kids learning at once is at least one too many. Fortunately, it happened that Mia caught on first, so we went with that and helped her before focussing on Aidyn. Not that we (the adults) have really made any choices here; in fact, I hesitate to even call it "training." My role is to help them practice and learn to do something we adults expect them to do but which we've "trained" them NOT to do for almost three years. Thinking of diapers and potties and trainees and trainers this way I feel gives me some perspective.

At first, I thought I could "train" them. Take the diapers off, give them a few days of peeing everywhere and they would learn. But two kids peeing everywhere is taxing to the soul, and the washing machine (I swear we wash towels every day), and all anybody learned was that they didn't want to go to the potty. I considered bribery. Candy, not so much: I can't give them candy EVERY TIME they go in the proper place. Aidyn pees about 1600 times a day! So I bought stickers. In the store, "YES! YES! We want!" At home, with the potty association, no interest. Hmph.

I felt completely powerless. How were we going to get this done??

Well, we're not done yet. But every day brings more and more success, and perhaps more importantly: I don't care. This is not a problem I need to solve. Even if they're not diaperless for preschool, there's no law against it. I don't need to feel time or any other pressure. And by taking it out of my hands and putting it into theirs, maybe I've given them what they need to get the job done: control.

Here are my more-or-less concise points for your guidance, interest, or amusement:

You're not training, you're facilitating. Helping them to practice-practice-practice. The ultimate decision to take the diaperless plunge is theirs alone. Still, they're not going to do it overnight. They have to learn, and to learn anything, you have to practice. This we can help with.
--I remember always thinking this was bullshit when I read it in the books, but now I'm for it. You choose, you stress. They choose, you...clean up. But you stress less.

If one does it and the other doesn't, CELEBRATE! One is definitely easier than two. Embrace one-at-a-timeness.

DON'T tell them it's potty training, or they'll balk. How do we forget that we're talking about terrible twos here?! Just like everything else in their lives right now, THEY want to decide. Trying to force them will just bring on a tantrum or, more generally, the opposite of what we want - in this case refusal to use the toilet.

DO encourage them to go without a diaper, even if it's just for a few minutes. This is their practice time. They will build on it.

DO let them choose to put the diaper back on. I think this is part of the terrible two factor. Give them some control.

DON'T just let them pee all over the house. You'll go crazy and they'll just have fun sliding around in their own piss. I gave them half a day and then gave up. A couple days later, we did half a day again. And so on, with more frequency and longer as they wanted/could. I think this is the best practice and also gives them time to develop the resolve and confidence they need to complete the process.

DON'T believe that "pull-ups" are like underwear. They are diapers. You can take them off and put them back on like underwear, but for kids they are diapers that they can pull on, pee in and take off like underwear. We HAVE used them for their ease of peeing in and out of, but don't expect dryness while they're wearing them.

DO give them underwear. Either the sensation of being wet or the pride of wearing underwear seems to help - who cares which it is! I'm a big fan of nudity but that seems to encourage "pee anywhere" habits.

When they both scream "I pooped!" DO assume that both have pooped and not both in the toilet.

EVERY KID IS DIFFERENT. Your first and second, your twins, my kid and your kid. They will all do this and lots of other stuff in surprisingly varied ways. But some things, maybe small, maybe big, will correlate, and our experience will overlap.

That's it for now. If I think of anything else, I'll let you know.

Good luck, to you and your kids!