Tuesday, November 30, 2010

monkey boy


Ephraim is starting to look like a tiny baldie monkey.
My mama has been taking some new watercolour classes & she came up with this beauty of my little boy.
He has hopeful eyes.
His tiny curious hands are constantly exploring, and his drooly little mouth is always tasting...
He laughs when he's done nursing.
He falls asleep seconds after i lay him down.
He crawls a million different ways; like a worm, like a tiny puppy, like an armadillo... and he's fast, and into everything.
He loves mama best - and everyone else has been a very very distant second lately.
He holds up his arms to daddy, but cries if daddy takes him away from me.
He smells like cookies...
and we can finally see the shape of his sweet little neck, after all these months.
i like him.
a lot.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ever Feel...

invisible?
i do.
and sometimes i like it & i relish the feeling of my secret superpower as i feel myself to be...
unseen.
& then there are other times -
where i want to be seen -
noticed -
as my Father walks along the mountain path,
and i grow - a wildflower - along the path's rugged edge.

Pluck me from this rocky soil, Jesus -
Carry me as i drink in your Goodness -
take what small amount of fleeting beauty i have -
and
see
me.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

back, but not really back

My computer has been on the fritz for a few weeks now. i limped through nanowrimo borrowing Neil's or my littles laptop, while the computer shop kept telling us, "one more day, one more day" - for days and weeks in a row...)
Funny how i miss my little oasis of online friendships :)
So, i'm finished my novel - but i won't *really* be back to blogland until i have my own little uninterrupted space to blog to my hearts content.
i hope my computer gets back from the shop soon.
So, j asked if i'm proud of myself.
i am kinda.
i read my whole novel after i finished it - & i was so glad that i felt like it expressed what i wanted so badly for it to express when i started it.
i firmly believe that any changes that we want to see in our country's laws - need to come from hearts that are softened...
i wanted my story to talk about the beauty of life - & the aching delicacy in it's tender beginnings - endings - and all that lies between.
i hope that it's not lame...
*lost my train of thought 'cause i had to stop to clean up a gallon of puke - i am, after all, a mama... ;)*
Anyway - i guess i was thinking that i hope that it is another gentle reminder that points to the Author and Finisher...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

y'know what i think?

We were at the table doing our morning homeschool, like we do every monday- friday from 8ish-9ish am, when those words tumbled out of my mouth,
"Y'know what i think...?"
As soon as i heard them, i stopped - & i tried to shovel them back where they came from, but it was too late...all those little bright eyes were on me, wondering why i paused so suddenly.
i wasn't going to share some massive historical fact with them...
i was going to give them my counter-culture opinion - on a tender subject...
and when i started to speak, i remembered how much loneliness some counter culture ideas have brought me over the years - and in a sudden reflex, i realized that i didn't want my littles to grow up to be lonely.
"What mom??!! What do you think??"
Carefully, prefaced with my favourite two words, "what if" - i shared with them my opinion, making it clear that this was only my opinion - and explaining that it sure isn't an opinion that many would share with me...

God, if you will give me the courage to speak when i should speak,
will you also be faithful to sift my words for the sake of my little ones?
Loneliness is a worthy sacrifice for what just may be *truth*.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

today, i got to collect...


My prize.
Yeh, i know - it's pretty nice.
i'm reading through my rough copy now - & clarifying or fixing little things that are glaring. i don't know how to do much more than that :)
So far (i'm not quite halfway through) - i have added a couple of hundred words - (& taken some out too i guess) - & my word count for nano was just over 56 000 - but i'm sure that will change as i finish reading it through for my first time.
i don't know what i want to do with it.
My mom says i should publish it on lulu so i can get copies for my littles, but i still feel kind of shy about it... it's a lot like music in many ways. Maybe i will sit and let it simmer for a bit - and then see what i feel like doing in a few months...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

has neil read it...

People keep asking me that.
Short answer is no. He read the first 3 pages (it's over a hundred now), and he thinks maybe one day he'll read it - when it's finished.
i want to tell you what i see in Neil not reading it, because i think people assume that this hurts my feelings; it doesn't.
i feel like he trusts me.
Obviously, since he read the first pages, he recognized some of himself in the character of Jack - but he didn't get all fiercely obsessed with what words i would write.
i like how he's confident, and he expects me to be too.
He doesn't fall all over himself to make sure that my ego gets stroked, he just encourages me to do the things that i'm passionate about - and wordlessly affirms me when he sees a strength.
Such a strange balance in each unique marriage, isn't it?
It's a fun treasure hunt to see the sweetness hiding in each and every one...

Monday, November 22, 2010

one goal down...

one more to go.
i hit 50k last night before bed... now to finish my story... and then read it.

this last bit....

is delicate.
i'm trying to be patient and tell the story gently.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

what a month...

and it's not over yet. i'm at 44 000, and i still have more time to write tonight, but my eyes are dried up little burning embers, and my brain is fudge.
a month is a short time to write a novel, but a very long time to go at something so doggedly.
i'm tired.
On top of the enormity of the task at hand, my computer died last week, and has been in the shop for over a week. i have been sneaking neil's computer, or my girl's computer, but suffice it to say that it has been very bad timing to be without a computer.
i hope that i'm not just wasting my time writing a little book about the value of life, but even if it only serves to solidify some of the ideas that i want to pass down to my littles, it's a month out of my life that i'm willing so spare.
So, there's my little blog entry for my lonesome little blog.
ps - radar (link sidebar) is killin' it doing 'nanoblomo' - blogging every day for the month of november - in support of me writing my novel in the month of November. Everyone should go comment on all of her entries. It's very entertaining stuff.

Friday, November 19, 2010

42 000 "and if not"

The finish line is in sight. Here is a small snippet. I have been kind of embarrassed to share bits because there is no time for editing or revising this month, but i'll post this bit today anyway.

Monday, April 21st 2008
We’re leaving tomorrow for our trip. I was kind of glad that Jack had to work today so that I wouldn’t have to miss my writing class.
Mr. Henry brought a short story that I’m sure I have heard before. It was the story about a bunch of British soldiers who got trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. They managed to send a three word message to their leaders, who wanted to save them, and who had sent them a message of hope and resolution. Their three word reply was, “And if not...”
He told us how at that time, the people of Britain all recognised the phrase and understood the words referred to the bible story about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who faced the fiery furnace for refusing to bow down and worship King Nebuchadnezzar. They said that God could save them if He wanted to, but even if He didn’t, they still weren’t going to bow to him or any idol.
We talked for a long time about having a shared frame of reference with those who would read our words.
Then he placed the sheet of paper he was working with gently beside him, and turned to us, “How would you finish that sentence, ‘and if not’?”
I had to think hard about that.
Those soldiers were hoping for a best case scenario – being saved from their enemies as they lay trapped on the beaches. And if they were not saved – they made clear by their message that they would choose the fire over bending to what their enemy wanted to make of the world.
When my best case scenario is held hostage, do I have the courage to peek at my ‘and if not’?
I find that I want to uncover my eyes – and take a good, long hard look at what I believe because if it changes with my circumstances, then it’s just not good enough.

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008
Believe it or not, it was snowing again when we left this morning.
I almost thought we should cancel our trip, but Jack scoffed at me, so I decided to just trust him. I brought my blanket and pillow and wore my yoga pants so I could sleep in the truck. When I woke up, it looked like we were driving through a blizzard. We decided to stop for an early lunch and see if the weather would clear a bit.
It did clear a bit after lunch and we got to mom and dad’s in time for supper. I was so exhausted I didn’t feel like heading out again, but Jack really wanted to go see his Grandma tonight, so after supper, we headed out to the hospital. It’s only about 10 minutes from Mom and Dad’s and we got there just as Grandma was finishing her supper.
I couldn’t believe the change in her in only three and a half months. She has lost so much weight, and it makes her look so different. Her usual prim little perm has grown out, and her white hair rises in a feathery cloud around her face.
She smiled when Jack walked in the door, and I could see the mild paralysis on the right hand side of her face.
Jack, being Jack, took off his snowy boots and climbed right into her bed. She chucked as he put his arm around her and asked her jovially, “So, Grandma, were you lonesome for me?”
We had to listen carefully – her voice sounded higher and thinner; not as bright and clipped as it used to be.
“I have been lonesome a lot in this past year, Jack, but I discovered that loneliness is only the invitation of God, and so I decided to accept.”
Jack grinned and said, “Well then, that’s a better offer than I can give you.”
Grandma laughed, and suddenly I was so glad Jack made me come. I found a seat beside the bed and made myself comfortable as Jack helped himself to the tiny bowl of caramels that Grandma kept by her bed for just this type of visit. Even now, she was ever the hostess, making sure that her visitors were welcomed taken care of.
He told her all about work, and the course that he was hoping to take in the fall. He told her how our baby looked like an alien on the ultrasound, and that he didn’t know what colour to paint the little room that we were preparing. And then, he turned to her and asked, “And what about you, Grandma – are you doing okay?”
She turned to Jack and said, “At first, I was frustrated when this body,” here she picked up her twisted right hand with her stronger left, “suddenly became so disobedient. But, when I talked it over with my Father, I came to the conclusion that he brought me from infancy to the independence of adulthood. If it should be in His plan to take me back to infancy... Who am I to question Him?”
She spoke slowly, deliberately and intentionally.
“Jack,” she touched his cheek with her left hand, “I’m so glad you’re my grandson. I was afraid at first to lose my independence, and to be alone and broken. But now I realize that I am far from alone, and that my Father, knowing the days and hours allotted to me to live on this earth, is encouraging me for the sake of the generations to come; to finish well. I hope He gives me what I need to faithfully, gratefully persevere, even in this present difficulty.
Neither Jack or I knew what to say to her. She seemed so purposeful, poised and confident.
Suddenly, the image of the soldiers trapped on the beach flashed through my mind and it was as if I heard Jack’s Grandmother’s fervent prayer for health – and the three words of faith that would follow it.
And if not...
We didn’t stay too long because we were tired from our trip. We promised Grandma that we’ll go see her tomorrow.
Now, I’m about to fall into bed and I hope that the tiny one inside will sleep too.

Monday, November 15, 2010

rounding the bend...

i'm more than half way to 50K, but just rounding the bend in my story lines... i think this will be the tricky part - to tie together the pieces that in real life aren't neat and clean. i want to be fair... and gentle...and truthful...
The more thoughtfully i can put things together now, the less re-writing i'll have to do in December, right?
on another note, i'm tired. i'm forgetful. i'm a little blue.
i feel a little foolish :) always.
i'm tired of that feeling.
Neil says that he was attracted to my confidence when i was 13.
Must be in there somewhere...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

passed halfway... 26600 the dream

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008
Mr. Henry’s assignment won’t leave me alone.
I had a dream last night.
I have been dreaming constantly in recent months; mostly shadows and imaginings – nothing clear and tangible – until last night.
Last night was different.
I dreamed Jack and I were parents to a tiny army of children, just like Les and his wife. I dreamed that over the delectable years of our marriage, we added sons and daughters, each one bringing the joy that I saw on Les’ face as he described the arrival of his tenth child. In my dream, it was night, and all was dark and quiet, and I held our youngest, a little boy – in a room with dim lights and a tiny cradle. His eyes fluttered and faltered, and I knew that as just as he was perched precariously on the edge of sleep, so too was I perched precariously on a single grain in the sands of time, and that it was about to slip from beneath my feet, in the beautiful, merciless twist and tumble that time has about her. I knew that as his eyelashes fluttered – and his chest began to rhythmically rise and fall – that that precious bit of time would in another breath be over, and that grain of sand after it’s hurtling fall through the hourglass would land; mixed and jumbled with the other moments of these precious years in the sands below. I tried desperately to drink in the tiny one – as his mouth pursed and sucked the air, his hand, once waving, now paused in midair as he began to drift. I memorized his features and breathed in his baby scent – the longing of my subconscious being sustained for a moment by the baby of my dreams.
When I woke, I got up with the image of the babe of my dreams fresh in my mind, and wrote my imagined tale of motherhood.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

jack's gramma -24 600

There was something about tonight that is sketched in watercolour across the back of my mind. I don’t want it to ever fade, because the picture of it so moves me, and it reminds me why I fell in love with Jack in the first place.
When Grandma answered the door, fumbling for the doorknob for what seemed an eternity, and then slowly opening it and leaning on it for strength, I think I was frozen at first - stunned to see her standing looking so dishevelled and incoherent and exposed. Jack didn’t need time to let that information sink in. He wrapped his arms around her and said, “Oh, Grandma – I’m so glad we came.”
Gently, he took her hand, and led her into the house – whispering into her ear and gesturing for me to phone Julie. At each step – he calmly explained to his grandma what was happening, and why we were calling for help. She clung to him with her left hand and he wouldn’t leave her side – even for a minute. I almost felt like an intruder – with my bumbling efforts to help.
Jack normally isn’t soft or compassionate – but today, when he saw his grandma, so needy and insecure, he held her so delicately and tenderly that he gave back to her – even in her confusion – the dignity that sickness had taken away.
As we waited for the ambulance to arrive to take her to the hospital, suddenly I remembered how Jack’s mother had prayed for me – and I told Jack I wanted to pray for Grandma too. I took her hands as tenderly as I could – and kissed them. Then I gathered my courage, and with words that were bolder than my spirit felt – I began to ask the One I love to watch over grandma. My Father – who comforted me in my loss, Jehovah Rapha – God, our healer met with me as I reached out to Him in desperation. As I spoke, I found I didn’t feel like a stranger in His presence. Simple words tumbled from my mouth as we heard the wail of the ambulance arriving. I stepped back and Grandma reached for me. She was trying to tell me something. The EMT’s started talking to Jack and it felt like the peace of the preceding moment had been shattered by utter chaos. I strained my ears to hear and tried to catch what she was saying as her eyes locked on mine – I’m almost positive I caught the words, ‘thank you’.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

22 222

just a number... tired.
Feels like at times when you get gum on your hands, and the more you try to get it all into a safe little wad, the more that it seems to multiply in great sticky strands, until you've got threads spreading from both your hands, to your favourite sweater, and the tip of your nose...
That's not from the book.
But maybe it will be.

Monday, November 8, 2010

19 896 - the mother in law

Jack talked to his dad for what seemed like forever before he broke the news, and at the word “pregnant”, I heard their cheers as Jack pulled the phone away from his ear. His parents were so excited, and they wanted to know every detail; how I had been feeling, when was the due date, did it look like everything was going well this time?
Aside from Tuesday, this little baby will be the first grandchild in both our families. I think they had been holding their breath, not daring to say a word, but hoping that soon, we would find solace in the hope of another baby. Jack was laughing and his accent was getting thicker all the time, and then after a bit, he handed me the phone. He said his mom wanted to talk to me.
I have always liked Jack’s mom. Even though I have only met her in person four times, she emails me every single week, and she’s always so warm and steady – just like my Jack.
“Congratulations, Anna!” She said, and before I could respond she quickly added, “I want to pray for you.”
She paused, and I thought she meant she was going to be praying for me during my pregnancy. I was grateful and I started to tell her how much her prayers would be appreciated, but then she really started to pray. Right there on the phone. I felt my legs give way beneath me as I crumpled to the couch and her warm voice continued over the phone. The tears streamed down my face as I held the phone up to my ear and listened to the words of blessing flow from the other side of the world, penetrating my clich├ęd expectation of a trite offer to prayer, with the sincerity of a Saint who knew the Father well enough to storm His Throne on my behalf.

Baby, I wish I could have recorded your grandmother’s prayer for you. She covered us in blessing, praising God for the miracle of your tender life. She prayed for me and your daddy, for us to have peace and strength and patience to wait as you grow. She prayed that you would, even now, have a tiny heart that longs to please God and that you would grow in wisdom and stature and favour with God and man.
And with just the slightest quake in her voice, she prayed for you to live.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

18 296

i'm writing while they sleep; waking up early, going to bed late. Sometimes it is a desperate slog to get a hundred down - sometimes a thousand come without a pause. i don't remember working so hard on anything for a long time.
i'll see if i can find another snippet for tomorrow...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

despair - 13 173

It's hard - and long.
It's more like the marathon i described it as in the beginning than i ever imagined. i have not read in one sitting all that i have written. i went back and read 2 pages, and it cost me over an hour, and i ended up adding an extra 500 words - *just* to make it coherent - and that was only 2 pages.
but it's fun too.
peck, peck, peck...

Friday, November 5, 2010

17 pages

Is that more fun than how many words?
If i end up with something that halfway makes sense, then maybe i'll try to do some proof reading, edits & revisions in December - if not... maybe i've wasted quite a bit of time. For now, it's barelling through, trying to get a lot of the story line down...
My sister read the first 15 pages & said that i'm writing neil... & yes... i guess i am. Here is a taste of Neil/Jack for you...

I’m heading to work in 5 minutes. I can’t button my pants. Not because they don’t fit, but because any pressure feels painful. Brushing my teeth has become my most hated chore causing dry heaves at each and every attempt. When I looked at my face in the mirror today, I hardly recognized the exhausted face that looked back at me. I have dark circles under my eyes and the crease from my pillow seam snaked across my cheek. My hair is brittle and disobedient and my face is pale with more blemishes than I can cover up.
Where’s my pregnancy glow?
I told Jack I feel ugly and he said he couldn’t hear me over the sound of my boobs expanding. Nice.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

7999 - skipping ahead a few pages... 'essa'

Monday, September 24th 2007
It has been angry, grey, wet and rainy all week. It’s the perfect weather for sitting inside sipping tea in my pyjamas crying all day. I took the whole week off work, even though by Thursday I felt better physically than I have for a month. I phoned work on Friday and Megan answered. I told her that I’ll be in on Monday and she sounded relieved. She said that Essa has been signing my name constantly. I should have known that Essa would worry about me. She’s my little shadow at work. Right now there are 8 residents at The Manor, (the elegant name of the group home that I work at). Essa is unique because she’s non verbal. Everyone has different gifts and challenges, but I can’t help but love Essa the very best. We’re about the same age – and especially since I lost Tuesday – her silence has been about the best friendship a person could ask for. I haven’t told her I lost a baby. I didn’t even tell her I was pregnant. Megan says that Essa lacks the capacity to understand my situation. She told me to just leave it alone – but when Essa looks at me with that disquiet in her eyes, I can’t help but acknowledge that it seems deceitful to keep it from her. I had kind of decided before I went to work this morning that if the right opportunity arose, I’d tell her today.
I got to work - to the familiar din of the breakfast dishes being cleared. I was working the 7-3 shift – getting off just in time to get to my first writing class. When I took off my coat and turned around, I found myself wrapped in the warmth of Essa’s little arms. Essa has Down Syndrome and physically, she’s really tiny. She understands every word I speak – and it seems, even more of what I don’t speak. She has brown hair cut in the sweetest little bob, with perfectly straight bangs framing her gentle face. I noticed that her fingernails were pink and chipped when she took my hand and led me to the couch.
She looked at me with those almond eyes – and I wished for the millionth time that she could speak. I read in her file that she used to have some limited speech, but that she had quit speaking after her last stint in foster care before coming permanently to the Manor. It makes me ache for her to know that someone, or something - circumstances I’ll never know or understand, took that away from her.
We sat on the couch – friends – and she laid her brown head on my shoulder and put her hand on my stomach. I was so surprised I didn’t move. She started rocking – and making crooning, weeping noises as she pressed her tiny self against me. Suddenly, I was too hot. I was overcome with the sadness I had been carrying. My chest started heaving, and my little friend became like a mother to me. She soothed my distress and eased the anguish of my loss – her low moan, a lament as she held me in her capable arms. When finally I pulled myself from her, she smiled her impish smile and stood to leave.
Then Megan came around the corner and told me that breakfast was cleared up and she was finished her shift and ready to go home.
When we were done talking, Essa had already slipped away to another corner of the house where she was working on some baskets for the farmer’s market, and I didn’t get a chance to talk to her – or thank her – for grieving with me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

4761 - and the first bit...

Thursday, September 6th 2007
I’m not even pregnant.
I got home from work tonight and I found this package – from Jack – sitting on the table. He wasn’t home. I knew he was working night shift tonight, but he left the lights on. Every single light in the house was burning. He has a hard time telling me he loves me – in words - but he knows I have begun to hate the dark and that I would laugh when I saw the whole house lit up like that. So, I’ll take that ‘I love you’ and I’ll tuck it in my pocket along with the thousand others like it.
He left the stew bubbling in the crock pot and a wrapped package on the table. When I opened it, I found this pregnancy journal... and a box of my favourite black pens, the ones with the fine felt tips.
I feel bereft of words. I’m incapable of expressing where I have been – and where I now find myself. I feel odd writing in a journal with a picture of a rounded belly on the cover – and the words, “40 weeks” inscribed beneath. I have always been the wordy one – finishing Jack’s sentences if he pauses too long, writing him long love letters and filling his ears with chatter the moment he walks in the door. He told me he ‘misses my noise’. Part of me feels like laughing at his teasing and letting myself fall back into our normal patter. And yet, I feel like it would be the most offensive lie to try to act like I’m the woman I was, when I know I’m just not her anymore.
So, I’ll write. I’ll write for the husband I can’t speak to.
I have been a mess lately and I know it. I can’t seem to get my feet back under me. Jack knows I’m lost, but he seems a little lost too and in this darkness, it has seemed impossible to find each other. Silence winds around our evenings till it’s so thick, we turn on the television to escape its stifling oppression.
I lost our baby.
Even writing that, I feel the shame flood my body and my leaden hand finds it difficult to even pen the words. I know that Jack gave me this journal as a sign of hope. He keeps saying that we’ll try again – that we’ll have a baby... and while there’s a part of me that believes him, there’s another part that just doesn’t want to let go of my first baby. The baby I feel like I failed. The baby I lost.
It has been two months. Two months and I still don’t know how I’m supposed to act. Sometimes it amazes me that I can be walking around, going to work, coming home, cleaning house... continuing on like nothing happened – when my womb became a tiny coffin. Seems my body doesn’t quite know how it’s supposed to act either. I have been avoiding going back to the doctor, but I’m starting to wonder if there’s something not quite right.
Kind of adds a great big sigh on a sea of sadness.
So, there it is. The first pages of my pregnancy journal filled in. A journal that should be filled with expectancy has begun in sorrow.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

3414

i skimmed my hammered out first pages yesterday for a snippet to share with you & i was overcome with shyness.
It seemed a little - silly.
Did i tell you my synopsis?
My novel is the pregnancy journal of a woman who lost her first baby & is now pregnant with her second.
i'll see if i can find a tiny snippet to share with you tomorrow...

Monday, November 1, 2010

october has dwindled away...

& now here we sit -
on the eve of november.
Suddenly i feel a little cowed by my new years resolution.
i feel a little foolish -
But i'm too stubborn to give in to my insecurity.
& so, i'll put on some slippers - & give my cold feet a chance to warm up.
November is here -
clickety clack... my keyboard calls.

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