Sunday, November 29, 2009
It was raining--again. The leaves left imprints on the softened earth. They traveled slowly in the wind and on bottoms of shoes until they were left deposited in her entryway--rusty red, burnt gold, every kind of brown. As she hit her alarm for the fifth time and rolled out of bed she could see to her right the window, shining harsh and cloud-filtered in the morning light, lined with the rain she did not want to face. She was already late. This was not the right way to start a day, wishing yourself back in the bed you so recently left, knowing that the mess in your house will be lurking all day, waiting for the right moment to make you feel supremely guilty.
The quiet in the house, the creaking floors, the soft dripping of a faucet gradually left as the cacophony of morning sounds crashed upon her--baby crying, toddler shrieking, dishes clanking, husband yelling goodbye, school-bag grabbed, lunch forgot, lunch retrieved, ending in the long sigh of the school-bus engine, shifting into gear and grinding away to its next stop. She turned, took a miniature mittened hand in hers-, and led smaller galoshes than her own down the street and to the left from the bus stop, back into their house. Someone had left the milk on the table. She sat the active little hands down with some coloring books, and tried to get the littlest one left down for a nap.
As she rocked the tiny eyes drooping, sweet hands clasping a long lock of her hair, the house was once again filled with that momentary peace. Only happy chatter from the kitchen, soft baby breathing, and raindrops gently tapping filled the room where she sat. This--this was right. As she leaned over the crib, slowly lowering a sleeping child she heard an unsettling noise, and then a voice.
She squeezed her eyes tight, her brain telegraphing with her might don't wake up the baby don't wake up the baby don't wake up the baby! . . .
She heard small, awkward footsteps approching.
"Mummy come ri' now tda doggy, da doggy bad. Bad doggy sick."
She pressed her lips together, and let out a frustrated sigh as small cries broke out, right hand quivering, fluttering, grasping for a hold on her sweater.
"Baby, what happened?"
"Bad doggy Mummy, da kitchen bad."
She took a deep breath, trying to prepare herself for what she could only imagine was left lying in the kitchen which would bring a three year old toddling down the hall to find her. Baby in arms, little one in tow, she peeked around the corner. Small curls bounced towards a mass in the middle of the floor.
"See, Mummy? Bad!" Right index finger pointed, as sternly accusatory as a wee one could muster. She stared, horrified. Fridge door opened wide, the prepared dinner ready to stick in the oven before she left to fetch Maggie from her music lesson, all that effort now strewn, broken, mashed, paw marked, apparently eaten, and promptly vomited. All on her floor. Right on top of her wallet which she must have accidentally knocked off the table in her hurry to get the youngest down for her nap.
The finger stretched harder, pointed at the ghastly sight. "Mummy, Yuck!"
"Don't touch sweety. Mummy will be right back. Don't touch!" She found a binky, turned on the ipod docking in the living room, placed baby in the swing, ook the important rings off her left hand, set them on the mantle, and rolled up her sleeves. Hair swept up out of her face, tied back, leading curious eyes and still pointing fingers out of the catastrophe that was previously her kitchen and found some new books from the library. "Read to Lily, ok babe?"
"Ok Mummy! I read!"
Happy babble, newborn squawks, raindrops marching right left right left across the window pane, unhappy puppy now left on clean towels in the laundry room, small whimpers from time to time as that collosal tummy ache had time to settle. And she had time to clean. Still two more hours until nap time, and all she wanted was to sleep. Blissful, uninterrupted sleep. The weight of her fatigue settled heavy on her as she reached to the left of fridge, gingerly stepping through the minefield of food and vomit, fingers stretching for the broom handle and a roll of paper towels. She stood there for a moment, right in the middle of the madness, holding the towels, and wishing that she was the little one reading stories about dragons and princesses in the other room, and not the Mommy. Not the one that hadn't slept in how many months, not the one that had to clean up the mess.
Suddenly she was sitting on the laminate, face buried in the paper towels, crying. She didn't have the energy to clean it up. She didn't have the energy to make another dinner. She didn't have anything left to give.
And then she felt little hands around her neck, patting her wet face. "Mummy? Mummy here. I hep Mummy." She felt an awkward rip, and then one tiny hand started smearing potato curry and vomit with a corner of towel. And suddenly, all was right.
She grabbed those sweet eyes and chubby cheeks in her arms and gave him a squeeze. "You know what, baby? I think this is a Daddy job. What do you think?"
"Daddy? Daddy help right!"
She laughed. "Yes, Daddy help. But first, we are going to Grandma's this afternoon. You want to go to Grandma's house?" Big, exaggerated nod. "Ok. But first, you and I are going to make dinner." More nods. She reached for her purse on the table, fumbled inside for the phone, squinted for the right number from a coupon on the fridge, and dialed. "How does pizza sound baby?" This time, a nod and a giant grin met her tired eyes, and made her smile right back.
As she turned the key to the right in the lock on the front door, baby carrier in hand, rain dripping on their hats and mittened hands, the leaves silently glowing up at them on the pavement to the car, she thought of what she left behind, and what she was taking with her. And she smiled.
He entered the kitchen, fully warned, but not prepared for what his wife had left. It did indeed do justice to the horror vividly described in both her words and his son's animated gestures. He bravely ripped, stooped down, started scooping gloopy masses of goo and vomit, and promptly threw up his pizza on top of the mess.
He ripped off a new paper towel, wiped his face, walked to the sink, and rinsed his mouth.
He called down the hall, as softly as he could. "Babe! . . . I kind of need you right now!"
No answer came from the direction of their room. He tiptoed past the nursery, and down the hall where he had left her, watching the evening news in her yoga clothes, drinking tea. There she was, hair in a bun, sprawled out over half the bed, fast asleep. He leaned over, kissed her softly on her right temple, and tiptoed out of the room. He went down to the garage, found a mask from his woodworking bench, sprayed some of his wife's perfume on it, and went back to face the mess.
She was right. This was intensely disgusting. And someday, after the smell had faded, it would probably be hilarious.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I think it was a decent success.
My parents made a special trip up for Wesley's big day. So together with Randy's parents, we had a pretty fun party.
Randy did a fantastic job as the decorating committee.
Present opening was a big hit.
Thanks everyone for the presents, the cards, and all the love. This little guy had the time of his life!
Wesley, you are the sparkley, happy, wonderful part of my life. You are a constant source of joy and laughter in our home. You have the sweetest, most gentle spirit and we know you will be such a good big brother to the other children who will enter our home someday.
I love you, little pookie
And love you and love you
And love you and love you
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
On Halloween day Randy's brother Joe, his wife Mandy and their little boy Brady came over to hang out. Brady is five weeks younger than Wes, and it is so fun to watch them interact. It is the best being back close to them again--we lived near each other in Utah for about a year, and spent a lot of time together. Mandy and I went through the months of trying to get pregnant at the same time, and it was the best surprise when we both got pregnant two weeks apart. Now here we are, a year and eight months later, seeing our little dreams-come-true play together.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
1 3/4 cup plain yogurt
2 TB canola oil
1 large sweet onion, sliced
2 tsp ground cumin
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 qt veg. broth
2 TB chopped parsley or cilantro
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
In a soup pot heat oil. Add onions and cumin and saute 3-4 minutes. Add potatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer soup 20-25 minutes.
Puree soup with 1 1/2 cups yogurt and parsley or cilantro. Serve each portion of soup with a dollop of remaining yogurt and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds.
Side note: I skipped the pumpkin seeds and extra dollop of yogurt, because really when it comes to dinner and I have a little one in the high chair wanting both food and entertainment, who has time to be that fancy?
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Saturday Randy's brother and his family let us tag along as they visited a local pumpkin patch. It was so much fun, and I really appreciated having someone show us a good spot, since I am not familiar with the area yet.
Friday, October 16, 2009
At 10 months:
I am swimming across the floor with my right foot in the air, pushing off with my left foot. My favorite songs are Pop Corn Popping on the Apricot Tree and Old McDonald. I love all food except for fishy crackers. They make me want to puke. I am pretty shy, although as long as Mom is holding me I will flirt with old ladies at church or at the grocery store. I like to think that already I'm a heartbreaker. My first two teeth came in a few days apart--on September 12 and 15. I hate cow's milk but love soy milk, and especially love Grandpa Weatherspoon's whole wheat hazelnut bread.
At 11 months:
On my eleventh month birthday I decided that I wanted to crawl for real, and I popped up on my little knees. You should have seen the proud look on my face. I love to read, and the hymn books at church have pages that are especially fun to turn. I am pulling myself up on everything and toddling around the furniture. I like to look out the sliding glass door with Tiki, and go for walks. But I do not like it when Mom puts a hat on me. I grew out of my size 3 shoes and had to get new ones. I'm not so shy anymore, and I love to talk on the phone. I even put it up to my ear now! I clap my hands all the time, and still refuse to say, "Ma Ma." I'm making Mom work for that one. My favorite food is Life cereal, but I will eat anything off of someone's plate.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
NPR has a great article and a podcast of Morrisson reading the novel here. My copy is on its way from Amazon, and I am so excited to start reading and studying again. There are superficial readings, and then there are readings that help me change the way I think, open my mind to new ways of knowing, make me see the world and people in different ways.
Plus, it is a wonderful opportunity to spend "virtual" time with some of my favorite people in my little virtual coffee shop/bookstore that I have always dreamed about. Here are my literary companions (please check out their blogs, they are wonderful, beautiful, smart girls!)
1. Name: Krystal Nanette Downs (http://krystaldowns.blogspot.com)
2. Favorite place you have lived: Camarillo, California
3. Place you would like to live if you could: Can I pick more than one? Ireland. Southern California. Italy.
4. What do you do when you aren't reading? I WORK. Right now I have a full-time job and and what feels like a full-time internship. When I have the occasional spare moment, I enjoy swimming, riding my bike, going to bookstores (that doesn't count right?), dancing, listening to a wide array of music, laying in the sun, meeting new people, traveling, watching trashy T.V. shows, and going to the beach if I'm near one.
5. 3 favorite films: Right now they are: Fargo,The Hours, The Departed
6. 3 favorite foods: Sushi, fruit, Indian
7. Major, specialty in major if any: English. Minors: sociology and women's studies
8. Favorite literary time period: Post-modern lit/post 1950's.
9. 3 favorite books and why: 3 favorites! Well if I have to choose...
God of Small Things by A. Roy. I read this book a long time ago, and so cannot completely explain why I love this book so much. I always loved the fairy tale type storytelling that one find in Indian literature, so I know that is part of it. I remember this book touching me on so many different levels. It was one of those books that stays with you long after you read the last line. I love Roy's language that seems playful and tragic. So many simple phrases knocked me down with their power. She breaks all the rules of language in all the right ways. Her moral judgements on her characters are clear and brutal. And her judgements on her readers are unbending; not once was I allowed to break free from her words and the critique behind them.
Here is an excerpt: "Perhaps it's true that things can change in a day. That a few dozen hours can affect the outcome of whole lifetimes. And that when they do, those few dozen hours, like the salvaged remains of a burned house---the charred clock, the singed photograph, the scorched furniture---must be resurrected from the ruins and examined. Preserved. Accounted for. Little events, ordinary things, smashed and reconstitutred. Imbued with new meaning. Suddenly they become the bleached bones of a story." AWESOME!
Anna Karenina by Tolstoy
I took a Russian Literature class while at BYU and loved it. It gave me an excuse to read so many brilliant books. I had read Anna Karenina on my own before, but fell in love with it the second time around. The characters are all so hopeless; I wanted to shake them all and say look at what you're doing, ruining your life, for what? In this case, most of the characters are ruined because of love or at least what looks like love. My favorite character by far is Levin who is always searching for something, be it truth or love, and never can seem to find it.
His thoughts and speeches are so remarkably poignant, that when I was reading the novel I wanted to underline everything. That is how quotable Anna Karenina is.
Lolita by Nabakov
I know Alicia is squirming right now. I really do love this book though. Yes, the characters and themes are a little disturbing. But I love his writing more than almost anyone else I've read. I feel like each of Nabakov's sentences are words of poetry. He makes pedophilia, incest, and the most vile and disgusting sound and look beautiful. You can really see that he is a true master of language.
Just listen to his genius first lines: Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita. Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, an initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as many years before Lolita was born as my age was that summer. You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what the seraphs, the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs, envied. Look at this tangle of thorns.
Nabokov would always tell people that he thought in images and that letters and words for him were colored (literally). Not surprising considering language like the above, no?
10. How do you like to approach literature? Do you have a particular reading strategy you usually employ? My inclinations push me towards a feminist approach, although I do think that if one is a true critical reader, one must look at literature from many, if not all, modes of reading. I also have a deep love of Marxist criticism. Down with the man!
One of the specific strategies I like to employ is a kind of reader response. If I find something profound, I highlight it. If I have a thought that needs out, I write it down in the margins. These notations often help me connect previous concepts to current and future themes.
11. What does literature "do" for you? Or in other words, why spend the time? My love of books began at a very early age. I used to love to read simply for the juvenile pleasure of it. Now that I am much older and wiser :) books mean so much more to me. Books make the world seem smaller, they make the differences between people seem insignificant. Reading connects me to experiences and feelings I might not have felt had it not been for a book or character. Literature pushes me to think critically, to challenge norms, to question authorities and truths. Literature makes the small things big. It makes me and you and everyone significant. It makes us all beautiful.
12. The really big question--how do you know Alicia? I met Alicia my Junior year of college (Fall 2006) when I moved into the condo at Victoria Place II. She was my room roommate. I was constantly amazed that I had got so lucky; we both got along extremely well, and were both English majors. She would give me advice about what professors to take classes from, and was continually encouraging me to be and do better. I really enjoyed being her roommate for that semester.
1. Name: Megan Elizabeth Welton (let's pretend I wasn't named for a rather whorish character in a book my parents read and say I was named for one of my favorite Austen heroines).
2. Favorite place you have lived: The Avenues of Salt Lake City (followed closely by in the same room as Alicia and across the hall from Krystal).
3. Place you would like to live if you could. In Kate Winslet's cottage in The Holiday. If memory serves, it was in Surrey. Jude Law has an open invitation to stay whenever he feels the least bit drunk from a night at the pub.
4. What do you do when you aren't reading? I usually watch TV or go swimming or find something delicious to eat. I spend a lot of time reading though, now that it's my profession.
5. 3 favorite films:
6. 3 favorite foods:
7. Major, specialty in major if any: English, with an emphasis in technical writing and a minor in editing
8. Favorite literary time period: Early to mid 19th Century British Lit.
9. 3 favorite books and why:
10. How do you like to approach literature? Do you have a particular reading strategy you usually employ?
11. What does literature "do" for you? Or in other words, why spend the time?
12. The really big question--how do you know Alicia?
1. Name: Kristi Peters Millett (http://poetryinembryo.blogspot.com)
2. Favorite place you have lived: Williamsburg, VA (where I am now), though I suspect most places on the East Coast would work just as well--I adore the East Coast.
3. Place you would like to live if you could: London. No question. They have sarcastic window displays--show me a better definition of contentment.
4. What do you do when you aren't reading?: I handle scheduling, publicity, and a desk at the College of William & Mary Music Department. When not at work I enjoy attending performance events (Medieval instruments, Performance Art, a Jazz trio, Shakespeare, a Symphony, or Deathcab for Cutie--whatever really as long as it's well done), staring like a love-struck freshman into my husband's eyes, trying on clothes at Banana Republic, preaching the Gospel of Barack Obama, and not writing my poetry. When I don't want to think I watch HGTV :). David Bromstead is a magician.
5. 3 favorite films: Much Ado About Nothing (1993), The Incredibles, Stranger than Fiction AND (I'm a cheater) The Hours, The Matrix, Shakespeare in Love, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Beauty and the Beast (Disney), Pride and Prejudice (2006) ok I'll stop now :).
6. 3 favorite foods: 5 Guys french fries, real Italian chocolate gelato, most non-seafood Italian pasta dishes
7. Major, specialty in major if any: English with emphases in theatre and poetry (my first majors were Theatre and then Political Science before I found the one true path)
8. Favorite literary time period: oooh that's hard...probably American Modernism--good stuff, especially the poetry. I hope you're happy making me pick--I feel like I just flipped off Pablo Neruda...
9. 3 favorite books and why: I'm not really going to list anything particularly unique here--I've read many things that I've loved and thoroughly respected, but the following are the books that just kept me.
10. How do you like to approach literature? Do you have a particular reading strategy you usually employ?: I don't dig into novels as much as I used to--I attempt (attempt) to not dissect them too much on the first read through at least and just let them wash over me. When I do analyze, I tend to do so a bit politically with a lot of feminist analysis. I've also always enjoyed New Historicism. With poetry I re-read a lot, silently and out loud--there is always another facet or layer to a good poem--something I can learn.
11. What does literature "do" for you? Or in other words, why spend the time?: I couldn't do without it. I need the intercourse of ideas. I can think of no better way to converse directly with humanity. Often when we speak to our contemporaries we miss the larger context of who we are, but when we read and write we are at once speaking with those who came before us and those who will come after us. When we read we come closer to understanding the inscrutable private motivations of not only other people, but other times and cultures. I describe poetry as recreating an emotional moment inside another person, and that in essence is what the process of making literature is to me: step by step moving closer to perfect communication and understanding. It's fantastic.
12. The really big question--how do you know Alicia?: English classes at BYU! I might get this wrong, but I think our first one together was Kristen Matthew's 293 class? I just adored, Alicia: complicated without being needy, intelligent without being pretentious, she was well-read and an excellent conversationalist. We edited each other's work and helped each other through a few drama-full semesters. She was and is a good friend :).
Name: Alicia Johnson
Favorite Place I have lived: My favorite city is probably Portland, OR. It is absolutely gorgeous, you don't have to pump your own gas, there is no sales tax, and I love the cultural atmosphere. Plus you are like an hour from the mountains, and an hour from the beach.
Place I would live if I could: England. Without a doubt. I would have to ship my parents there as well, but definitely England.
What do you do when you aren't reading: Change lots of diapers, wash and fold diapers, ha ha. I love spending time with my family, hiking and camping (when I can get Randy to come with me--he's afraid of the bugs and the dirt), knitting and sewing, writing (when I can get my brain collected enough to produce lucid thoughts)
3 Favorite Films: Roman Holiday, Emma (the Gwyneth Paltrow version), Casino Royale (Randy just came in and reminded me that I need a good extended-version Lord of the Rings fix about every year, so throw that on the list as well . . . )
3 Favorite Foods: really good chocolate, Pesto Gnocci with foccassia bread and fresh grape juice, Indian curry (I like lots of food--it's hard to narrow)
Major, Specialty if any: English literature--my emphasis was on women's ethnic literature (mostly black and Chicana)
Favorite Literary Time Period: My focus has been on mostly American modern and post-modern women's lit, although I also really enjoy the British Romantics (Austen, Brontes etc) and the British moderns (Yeats, Elliot) and Post-colonials.
3 Favorite Books and Why: The Oxford Complete Yeats. I am pretty much in love with Yeats--his poetry, his drama, his eccentric way of thought. He was brilliant and incredulous his whole life. He never stopped searching for answers and truth and beauty, and I really admire that.
Possession, by A. S. Byat. The text is beautiful, the characters' journeys are amazing. I couldn't put it down. Plus it was written by a literary nerd so it was full of theory and complexity, so I was in heaven.
The last one isn't in book form yet, but I hope it will be. I worked with a professor compiling the complete works of Lorraine Hansberry, and I completely fell in love with her. She is best known for her play, A Raisin in the Sun, but she wrote poetry, articles, and other plays as well. A tiny overview of some of her other works are found in the volume, To Be Young, Gifted and Black.
How do you like to approach literature? Do you have a particular reading strategy that you employ? I approach most of my reading through a Marxist/feminist lense, but I particularly enjoy American Studies approaches as well as reader-response. Certain books really call for certian theories (it is hard to read something like The Hours without using Queer Theory for example). But generally speaking, I go through the good old feminist approach.
What does literature "do" for you? Or in other words, why spend the time? Literature helps me understand other points of view, opens my mind to new ideas, helps me consider the world around me and my place in it. I think literature has great power for good in enabling us to learn in an objective manner that we might not otherwise be open to. As long as ones time is spent reading quality things, I think that one can gain a great deal of knowledge and compassion for people and the world in general. Plus--it is really fun to just get lost in a good story!
I am goint to alter the last question a little to suit me. What I love about Krystal, Megan and Kristi: Krystal is very bright, impassioned, knowledgable and compassionate. She is open to new ideas and tolerant of those who disagree with her standpoints. She is creative and one of my favorite people to talk to, especially about difficult subjects. Megan is so darn fun, I can't even stand it. She is a great storyteller- if you get her going she will make you lose control of your bladder. Plus she is very smart and has great taste in books and movies, so she is great to have around. Kristi is one of my few friends who doesn't believe that poetry is dead--which is a completely refreshing quality to have in a friend. I can talk to her about a wide range of the arts and she always has interesting things to say and new ways of looking at things. Plus she is tolerant of new ideas and has a sense of adventure that I really admire. She helped me get through a couple of very emotional semesters--a very good friend.
So, there you have it--the girls of the Bloomsbury Cafe. It would be wonderful if anyone out there reads along and joins in the conversation. We hope to publish on our blogs an article a month about the books we are currently reading.
Friday, October 2, 2009
. . . and go to the zoo . . .
and a very playful beaver!
and my monkey friend!
. . . and ride on a carousel!
Then it was time for the wedding.
(Funny side note: Randy and I were married in Seattle because the Portland temple was closed for cleaning. Ashley and Morgan were married in the Portland temple because Seattle was closed for cleaning. And our engagement rings and dresses were very similar. So that pretty much makes us twins, ha ha.)
We then moved back to Federal Way, WA (thanks for taking us in Mom and Dad Johnson!) so Randy can work as the community relations man for a small senior care business.
Wesley turned 10 months, which deserves its own post another day. Poor guy has been in upheaval what with all the traveling (which doesn't bode well for nap-time) and new people and teething. I'm afraid that some members of our family didn't get the best impression of little Wes--I promise he usually is a very happy little fellow who can play on his own! But he needed Mom a little more often this past month with all the change, and I don't blame him. I was sure glad to have my mom helping us on the move up here!
There are exciting things on the way--including a book club which I will be sharing on the blog. So look out! We are back in the realm of the living, breathing, blogging world.