28 November 2011

Rolling In the Deep

On December 16, I will turn 47 years old.

This is fairly inconceivable to me. I am in denial. I have forbidden my children from telling anyone I am older than 45, the age I have chosen to remain for the foreseeable future. Yes, I am aware that in the past I have sworn to fight ageism by always, always telling my true age. But I think I might bail on that plan for a few years, because I'm a little freaked out by how quickly time is passing.

The other day, the Captain asked me when I started writing the blog.

"January twenty-third."

"Huh," he said.

"Yes," I answered testily, "I'm aware that I've been writing the blog for almost a year, and the book still isn't fucking done."


This triggered my internal year-in-review, which happens before every one of my birthdays. This one dovetails nicely with my recent penchant for brooding and introspection. Although I am already beyond middle-age because it is unlikely, though not impossible, that I will live to be 94, I suspect I may be experiencing a version of The Mid-Life Crisis.

I've been thinking a lot about what I want. Not merely in an acquisitive way, but across the board. What do I want physically, spiritually, and emotionally, for me, and my family?  If I can answer any of those questions quickly, than how do I get what I want? Or, if the answer is more elusive, how do I define those goals? Am I even goal-oriented? Or am I just getting through each day, deferring what needs to be done to move forward, until I'm failing as a mother, a writer, and a wife? Because that's how I've been feeling. Like I'm treading water, and my arms and legs are growing heavy.

I'm going to try and take what I know about myself, and what I think I want, and really examine what I'm doing. Or not doing, for that matter. Because I've got to get out of this spot before I drown.

Do you know what you want?

24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I will have thirty-nine people in my house today. I've been preparing all week. My foot hurts and I think I'm getting viral conjunctivitis.

But it's going to be a great day, because most of the family will be here. The little cousins will dress up in the costumes we keep in a trunk downstairs, and bounce on the beds. There will funny stories from the past and present. We will eat too much.

We'll be grateful for the time together, and miss the sisters and brothers and parents that aren't with us.

I wish you love and peace, and the gift of family and friends on this day of thanksgiving.

21 November 2011

Deep Thoughts by Megan Coakley

I've been struggling.

With what? Good question. I'm still trying to figure that out. Often, when I feel overwhelmed, I can easily identify and break down my issues into bite-sized pieces. Other times, I embroider, elaborate, and encompass, until I am examining every feeling I've ever had about every issue in recent history.

This is one of those other times.

I'm not even sure what triggered this latest crisis of navel-gazing. Probably the power outage. That was a week of treading water, when I had real tasks I needed to accomplish. There is always too much for me to do, so to lose all those hours was very frustrating. The anxiety just snowballed from there, until I was practically hyperventilating. By this Thursday I was contemplating the relative benefits of Xanax to Klonopin.
Not with a doctor, of course, because that would mean I asked a medical professional for help. Pshaw.

I prefer to do all my deep thinking alone. It seems silly to pay someone to listen to me while I sort it all out. It's just so much more efficient to let me do the dissecting, and if I can't think of a solution on my own, then I can contract out. However, I can see how this process might seem exclusionary. Especially if you're married to me.

Which prompts more ruminating--about my behavior, how I want to live my life, the kind of person I want to be, the reality of my dreams, my goals for my children, and on and on and on.

So, instead of keeping it all in my head, I'm going to share it here. Maybe not all of it, but the parts I can articulate in some fashion right now. It might be a messy, jumbled journey, but you're welcome to ride along.

11 November 2011

Off to Greener Pastures

Cobie is on her way to Indiana.

In  September I reached out to the rescue division of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America. I knew that we weren't going to be able to keep Cobie as part of our family, and I wanted her to be with someone who understood the breed. The chairperson, a lovely woman named Nancy Butler, told me it might be a while before we could place Cobie, because the foster families in my area were busy with other dogs.

I didn't mind waiting, because I kept thinking we could fix Cobie. We made real progress with her, but each time I reconsidered giving her up, she usually messed in my house for no reason, or ran away. Twice. Finally, I decided I could not take care of my children, have my mother move in, and train a needy dog. It turns out I am not actually Wonder Woman.

It took about six weeks, but a spot opened up with a foster family in south Jersey. Connie and Charles are in their late 70's, and they've had Wheatens all their adult lives. Cobie and I drove to meet them early Sunday morning three weeks ago. The Captain had offered to take her, but I needed to finish our journey together.  It was a  sunny day, there was no traffic on the Turnpike, and Cobie slept the whole way there. I couldn't have asked for more.

Connie met us at the door, and when Cobie jumped up to meet her, she said, "Oh! It's a Wheaten greetin'!" I knew I'd brought her to the right place. Charles took her around their yard, and then for a walk in the neighborhood. Connie and I talked particulars, and I met their sweet, older Wheaten, Noelle. When Cobie got back, I hugged and kissed her good-bye. She acted like one of my teenage boys, throwing me a cursory tail wag as she sniffed at Noelle.

I was a little sad on the drive home, but I knew we'd made the right choice. Mom's furniture and boxes moved in the  following Wednesday, and we lost power that Saturday. It would have been impossible to manage Cobie in the midst of the chaos.

I spoke with Connie after our power returned. She said Cobie had done a great job of adjusting, but she was still a little high maintenance. Charles walked her often, and they took her with them on all their errands. I thanked her for her efforts.

"No; thank you!" she said. "We're so glad you didn't take her to a shelter. She's sweet, but she needs a lot of attention. I don't know how you did it."

She told me Cobie's new mom was driving 700 miles from Indiana to get her.  The woman had lost her husband, her son, and her dog all in a short period of time. She was tired of death, and she wanted to share her life with a young dog.

That's how, and why, we did it. For Indiana.

08 November 2011

We Didn't Kill Her, So We Get To Keep Her

My mother, known to you all as MomMom, has officially moved in with us. In theory, Pappou has as well, but he's spent most of the past two months traveling for business, or moving small items to the condo in Florida. He'll be back before Thanksgiving, and then they will both retire to warmer climes for the winter.

Since my mother came to stay, we've experienced two devastating weather events. The first, Hurricane Irene, produced massive flooding in our town, and knocked out our power for four days. This time, a freakish pre-Halloween snowstorm dropped a foot of snow, and we were in the dark for a week.

Coincidence? Or is some nefarious outside source suggesting my mother geetttt oouuuttt?

My money's on Pappou.

Oh sure, he says he appreciates our hospitality, but he hasn't stayed here for more than three days in three months. And those days were quite pleasant, weather-wise. He was conveniently absent for both Irene and the Halloween Horror. And he has mentioned how he'd be perfectly happy in Florida all year long...

Well, we're not giving her back! We're having too much fun, except for the times when we've almost killed her. When she's home, Mom's tethered to an oxygen concentrator that we've named Bertha. Bertha is a large filtering system that sucks in air, and produces pure oxygen for Mom's fibrotic lungs. Bertha runs on electricity. You see the problem.

We knew Irene was coming, so we made sure we had plenty of oxygen tanks, which can be used without power. We weren't quite as prepared for the Halloween Horror, so we had to call the oxygen supply company the day after the storm. The boys carted all her empty tanks up our steep driveway, and we laid in the new supplies. We didn't trust how long the oxygen would last through the night, so I got up at 4 a.m., and snuck in to check the meter. It was about 58 degrees in the house at night, so Mom went to bed in the Captain's flannel pants and hoodie. All I could see was her nose. And her breath. Yay for oxygen!

Two days into the outage, the Captain had the brilliant idea to call a friend and borrow his generator. More than anything else, we wanted to plug Mom back into Bertha. When the generator rumbled to life, we found Bertha, a space heater, and a lamp. Everyone flocked to the living room, and we basked in the glow. The little boys fell asleep snuggled under the blankets on the couch, with MomMom in the middle. Right where she belongs.

07 November 2011

Trees: Friends AND Foes

Merry Christmas!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Halloween???

Two had to do a science project on the element Oxygen. He mentioned how trees are our friends, converting our carbon dioxide into life-sustaining oxygen. 

Unless their colorful autumn leaves catch twelve inches of snow. Then they do this:

This is a picture of the two huge branches dangling from the trees at the top of my driveway.
The Captain assures me that they will fall into the woods when they finally lose all their leaves.

I don't believe him. Because trees are the enemy.
Although my house is surrounded by large, leafy, deciduous denizens of the forest, I had not previously considered them a threat. Now I can't drive down the road without noticing every limb that menacingly dangles above me. I speed under them, convinced they might snap at any moment.
The trees are out to get me.
Or, worse, my power, which has been tenuously restored. Until the next big storm.

Tomorrow in the Diary: I think it's my mother's fault.