Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I once was an only child

Yes, that is the truth. For nearly the first decade of my life I was not only the only child, but the only grandchild as well. For a time in my early consciousness I had eight living grandmothers, in varying degrees of great-ness. It was an almost deliriously blissful beginning, and was constantly reassured by my mother that it was a fairly firm circumstance. Then, around the time I was moving from childhood I found myself dragged into sibling-hood. I had early high hopes for the condition, but soon learned the crying red blob of humanity my parents brought home from the hospital was no use at all as a playmate. My "sister", as they called it, lay drooling, staring and crying on a pallet, surrounded by the toys I had hoped to interest her in. The early days lacked luster, as you can no doubt tell.
Then, as said sibling settled in to our home, and into my heart, I started finding real joy in my miniature motherhood. I loved changing diapers, helping with baths, and rocking to sleep. As she grew slightly older, and morphed once again from chubby crawler into cherub cheeked toddler, my job changed to official baby chaser. "Laine, catch your sister" was a refrain heard for years on end. I crawled under locked dressing room doors, ran up the down escalator, and searched through stuffed circular clothing racks more times than I can actually count. She moved from her crib into my bed, where she firmly planted herself until I revolted at about fifteen years of age. That is when the true changes began-teenagers have little time for children, and small children that live in their home and get into their things are even worse. By the time I moved out to attend college my sister was little more than a blip on my radar screen, I'm sad to say. But then, after college, I moved home again.
Early adulthood is a difficult time for everyone, and I found extreme comfort in once again being home, and once again sharing a bed with my "baby" sister. By that time she was an early teen, and instead of fighting over stuffed animals at night we stayed up giggling over boys and secrets. My baby sister started morphing from sibling to friend. The difference in our ages seemed to be waning. By the time I married at 23 my sister had firmly established herself as my most trusted confidant. She was my maid of honor in 1996, and I was hers in 2001. By that point she had become my "person"-you know, the ONE person in the world that I could literally say anything at all to, and not worry about censure or judgement. The one person who I knew would be there for me in absolutely any circumstance, and would be beside me until the end of my life. The person to whom I go when life just gets crazy/overwhelming/crushing. She's the one who picks up the banner and rides into battle if I'm threatened. And of course, the reverse is true. You do not want to see me when someone hurts my baby sister. There is fire in my eyes, and smoke coming from my nose. Yes, I have a husband that I adore more than any other person in the entire world, but there is just really something enormous about the sister/sister bond. My sister and I fully intend to live into ripe old age, with both our hubbies in the attic, surrounded by a collection of toy size dogs.
Two years ago my sister gave birth to my niece, Audrey Laine. Having never been able to have children myself I watched her pregnancy like a mother hen. Our first trip to Italy was cancelled when 'Little Miss' decided that she might just go ahead and get herself born about three months early. Then, due to sisters hubbies queasy constitution I got to be the official 'birth coach'. I was the one helping her breathe/push/breathe, and at the same time keeping her from decapitating my mother who got a wee bit hysterical in the delivery room (sister had heard that women who commit murder while in delivery are always acquitted). So now, my 'baby' has had a baby of her own. She's given me the joy of being a grandmother without ever having to be a mother myself. Once again, she's the source of some of the greatest joy of my life.
So yes, I started life as an only child. It was a blissful state, while it lasted. However, I cannot count the reasons I'm glad I won't end life that way.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I'm allergic to fall

I'm allergic to fall. Now, don't misunderstand. I do not have fall allergies; I'm actually allergic to fall. This is a circumstance brought on by the fact that fall precedes winter, and I loathe winter. Note I did not say that I hate winter, rather, I LOATHE it. There are no redeeming qualities in winter. It's dark, it's cold, and it's miserable, roasting chestnuts and all. I am fairly sure that my loathing of winter may actually be a genetic trait, as my father feels the same way, but no matter from whence it came, my loathing is strong and eternal. I do not enjoy layers of clothes-coats and hats are the bane of my existence. I do not find snow beautiful, because I know that in just a few hours time it will be reduced to little more than discolored mush that mucks up my yard. And don't start with me on Christmas; I ADORE Christmas, and see no reason what-so-ever that it couldn't be celebrated in the lovely month of May (probably historically far closer to the birth of our Savior than dismal winter anyway). Therefore, I am allergic to fall. This condition creates in me a drowsy dread that lingers even on bright and temperate days like today. When the sun starts setting before eight o'clock I roll into my 'fall funk', from which I do not emerge until approximately February, when the days finally begin to lengthen and there is hope on the horizon.
For years we've said we are moving to Florida, the land of sand sun and eternal sunshine. It's a lovely dream, but one we've yet to make a reality. Every year at this very time we wake up and realize another year has passed, and we still live in the land of winter. Why is this? Why do we talk and talk about leaving fall and winter behind, yet never quite manage to make it happen? Maybe because it's good to have things in life that aren't perfection. It's beneficial to have as yet unmet goals. It's good to have falls and winters. Without them, would we really appreciate spring?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I have one friend

I have one friend...OK, so that isn't entirely the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have tons of friends. My hubby is my best and closest, my sister is my "person", my mom is my dearest, Robin is my best, and I have dozens upon dozens of people whom I love and who love me in return. I often think about how many people would be effected if at some juncture I was to fall over dead. There are those who would have to be locked in a padded room, those who would weep, those who would mourn for a day, and those who would say "oh, how sad". That seems a good barometer for friendship; how deeply would this person grieve were I to die? Morbid? Perhaps, but effective.
But back on topic; I have one friend. This person has been my "best friend" for 21 years. Now, mind you, we are absolutely nothing alike. Truly, we are about as dissimilar as two people can be, but for 21 years of my life I have depended on her to be an intimate part of my life almost as much as food or air or some other such thing, and I believe she feels quite the same about me. We passed notes in English class, comforted each other through breakups, stood up for each other at our respective weddings. I was there at the birth of her two children, and she comforted me when I lost my hope of ever baring any. And we know each other. We know each other in that soul deep way that only people who trust each other implicitly really can. We know all of each others secrets, be they good or bad, and know that those secrets are as safe with the other as they are in our own hearts.
My friend loves me, and I love her. A few weeks ago, my friend gave me the compliment of a lifetime. She told me she was proud of me. My friend is proud of me. This person who knows me better than almost any other is proud of me. That means there is a person in the world, one who isn't related to me or married to me, but one who really knows me, who is proud of me. I'd say that makes me a remarkably successful person.
I'm really really proud of her too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My husband calls me Ellie Mae

My husband calls me Ellie Mae. I don't think he means this in a derisive way at all, nor do I think it's necessarily a compliment. I love all things fuzzy and furry; all things creepy and crawly. I'm fascinated by the natural world, it's processes and order. I'm not startled by snakes in the grass (unless they are of the human form) nor am I particularly disturbed by spiders (though those that make it into my home are another story). I simply love animals. At current count we have four dogs, but that number is open to change at any time. We've had to set a new rule at our home; no picking up of strays unless they are wearing a collar of some sort. Please realize this rule has been made due to our propensity to pick anything up and haul it home, and our inability to realistically house another animal...but like I said, numbers are open to change, as are rules. During our nearly 14 year marriage we have parented 7 dogs, two cordon blue finches, one green cheeked parrot, two flying squirrels, and a myriad of "sleep-overs" by strays. But now, I have a butterfly. Now, mind you, I don't actually have a little butterfly flitting around my home with a sparkly collar. Rather, my yearly attempt to lure a Monarch female to lay her eggs in my garden have finally come to fruition. For years I've planted milkweed in hopes that even one egg would make the journey from caterpillar to pupae to butterfly. Several years have passed with Momma Monarchs laying their eggs, and caterpillars emerging and munching on my milkweed plants, but not once have I had the privilege of seeing caterpillar suspend itself by it's back legs from said plant, shed it's skin, and transform into a magnificent Monarch. Sunday night I FINALLY got my wish. There he was, hanging suspended high in my milkweed plant, and by Monday morning there was a shining green chrysalis. I was ecstatic....sad, I know. Then, last night, we had a true nor-easter blow through. It was a HUGE storm, with the 150 year old trees that surround our historic home crashing down around us. Was I concerned about our roof?? No. Our cars? uh-uh. I was scared to death that something was going to happen to my butterfly. I even briefly considered going out and holding an umbrella over it. Again, it was a brief thought had at about 2 a.m.-not a time known for rational thought. And sure enough, when I went outside this morning, there was my milkweed plant smushed firmly under a HUGE limb from one of our old oaks. It was an enormous limb-one that would make a decent sized tree on it's own. And to make matters worse, wrapped around the limb was a high line wire. So, after hours on the phone trying to find out if there was anyone to come clean up the mess (there wasn't), and if the high line wire was dangerous (it wasn't) I went out to clean up the mess. I worked slowly and cautiously, but not optimistically. But then, after the tree was removed, I found the milkweed plant wasn't broken, just bent, and my butterfly wasn't gone, just hidden. It was hanging there tough and resilient, dangling by it's little back feet.This afternoon I can actually see the wings starting to develop through the chrysalis skin.
That, of course, got me thinking; I'm a lot like that butterfly. I've been crushed, hidden, and wrapped up in danger. And through it all, I have managed to hang on even if it was only by my little feet, metaphorically speaking. What has protected me is the same thing that protected my butterfly; my cocoon. I've surrounded myself by wonderful people, a strong faith, and lots of love. So, even when the world throws it's toughest and worst at me, I've been resilient. Thank goodness I have long toes ;-)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Random thoughts on beauty

So, yesterday, while at my favorite Mexican dining establishment, our waiter told me I look like Megan Fox. I laughed at him. NO, that is an understatement; I guffawed at him. I didn't chuckle, didn't chortle, I actually guffawed! I choked out something that sounded like 'thank you', while at the same time advising him to get his vision closely checked. He skulked off, and my mother looked at me horrified. 'Laine' she said, 'that was rude. You shouldn't have laughed at him'. I said 'But mom, he told me I look like Megan Fox...MEGAN FOX. You know, the most beautiful woman in the world, EVER.' Mom says, 'Well, to him you do look like Megan Fox. You should respect that.' Ouch. Morality lessons from my mom at the ripe old age of 36. Mind you, I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans, my hair was in a ponytail, and my makeup was at a minimum of eyeliner, mascara and lip gloss. But mom was right. Beauty is perceived differently by all of us. My truly gorgeous friend, Shannon Devine (and trust me, this one is TRULY GORGEOUS), and I were discussing this just a few days ago-that beauty is completely subjective, but that it is our job to respect every one's ideas and opinions of beauty. Due to early adolescent mind molding by my peers I've struggled with seeing myself as attractive at all, much less as anyone's idea of "beautiful". But there is one kind of beauty we can all agree on; inner beauty. That is what I really aspire to, because once my eyesight has failed and my jowls have dropped, that is what will remain. And there are times when I feel really beautiful; when my gorgeous hubby of 13 years looks at me first thing in the morning (while I'm sans makeup and messy haired) and says 'you are so beautiful', or when my mom says to me 'Laine, you are good people. I'm so proud of you'. Those are the things that count, and the things I'll remember when all the ephemeral compliments and all the hurts have passed. Knowing that the people who really know me, who know me in a bone deep, soul baring kind of way, think I'm beautiful is what really matters. Knowing that my husband thinks I have a beautiful soul, that my best friend of 20 years is still proud to know me, to know that my father is proud of who I've grown to be-those things make me feel beautiful.
I know many many physically beautiful people, but the ones I hope to know forever are the ones with really beautiful souls.

Here we go

I've decided, after some deliberation, that I'm going to start a personal blog. I want it to be a place for friends to come and share thoughts and ideas on the world at large, and for me to share with you a more personal side of who I am and what my life entails. So here begins a whole new journey; it's one i hope we both enjoy!