Monday, February 22, 2010

dad winks at god, blogs about it

ok, so life is going pretty quickly; the soft rain is melting the last of the snow; even though it's still cold out, one can feel the thawing of the soft ground, and, on saturday, a bunch of kids came over, played frisbee and football, ran around in it, and burned a few old sticks, filling the house with campfire smell drawn in by the open windows. it was a celebration of a son turning eighteen, but lots of other things are happening too, and i felt that, in a way, it was a celebration of a group of teenagers having a place to hang out, be friends, relax, be outside, etc. i live in eternal gratitute that he's around, he's here, he's happy, and he's not going anywhere, until he feels like it.

then there's the baby, whom i call baby rose junior, whose mom is blogging about the quilt below, and for whom i sew the quilt, almost every night, maybe four or five triangles. i'm up to about 150 out of about 192 triangles, but after that i have to sew it all together, and put a back on it, etc. etc. and then somehow get it to her. of course i fantasize driving across the west with the main purpose of putting this quilt down beneath her, but she's not even born yet, and all my time is accounted for, from now until about 2020. the important thing is, i can set aside life, stop reading news, and just worry about her, occasionally pricking myself in the thumb, or cursing my stupid tendency to tangle the threads. milestones are in the path; they're blocking the path; they're tumbling down the mountain in a kind of landslide threatening to take me with them down the valley.

got a chance to hold a baby over the weekend; this baby is a boy and is about three months old, very mellow, fell asleep soon after he got comfortable in my arms. this was not easy as i'd failed to move the glasses out of my pocket, and the cell phone rang down in my pants causing me to squirm a bit and try to get it where i could use it. i did 'schmit schmit schmit' on his tiny feet just so i wouldn't forget it, nor him, and he fell asleep promptly. of course it was a work party, so he had plenty of other reasons to fall asleep, people were ogling him left and right. he was definitely one of the cutest people there, no question. folks in this town are a little nervous about that shooting down in alabama, so i brought it up, just for the heck of it. it's the back half of publish, after all, if you don't get tenure, it hangs over everyone's head like a scythe. we'd had a bert training, which is short for, get some preparation in case some madman doesn't like your grades & comes after you. it could happen to anyone, and already has, to some degree, even on the other side of this state. well anyway someone says, why did she sit through forty-five minutes of a faculty meeting before she did it, and i could imagine all kinds of things that could have set her off. but apprently someone said, because she was waiting for new business.

stray dog holiday came & went; they got the best of the garbage all over town, while people were confused about exactly which day anyone was supposed to come, & haul away the old pork bones. the grass shoots out green from under the dead stuff; the vees of gees honk above, reminding each other which way is north. we imagine them telling each other to stop for directions, or stop for a potty break, or don't go north so darn fast, slow down & take a break for god's sake. but they do as they wish, and i'm glad they make noise or i wouldn't even know they're there, half the time, i'm just focused on the potholes in the road, and the dead 'possums that got chased out by the rains. spring will bust out pretty quick here, and so will some other stuff that comes with this time of year: girl scout cookies, mardi gras, college basketball, tesol convention, ticks. i didn't say they were all good. i just meant, when you hear those geese, things are changing.

bombed the son's facebook for a while, a relentless attack, off and on, that lasted more than twenty four hours, and included songs, movies, pictures, and quotes related to being eighteen or whatever. pages & pages, in the end, but actually somewhat subdued, compared to other bombings in which we had better access to tools or more time to configure. subdued, a little, because i remembered bombing the older brother, just last fall, a sustained attack over the same span, roughly, and finding out, toward the end, about a friend who would never make it to milestone gap. you don't have children, it is said, they are just lent to you for a while, and then, if you're good, they remember. if, in their twenties, they come back still needing anything, you just keep it coming, i guess, indefinitely, it's actually kind of a timeless thing, come to think of it, considering my current relationship with my parents, which is actually getting closer; i'll see them for sure, in a couple of weeks, whereas i might not see that baby real quick at all, you never know. but to get back to the teenager thing, teenagers need parents kind of like a diver needs a hard rock cliff to spring off of; if it's soft or gives way beneath him, it's real bad timing. he'll be gone, independent, way off in the cool end of a spring-fed pond, yet, right at this moment, your solid presence seems to be required. so i say to myself, be still, hold steady, call out. let them know i've got their back.

was watching the youngest (4-yr-old) and his friend (3, maybe) when the friend suddenly teetered on a rock and fell, backwards, into a very cold pond. the kids had been poking at very thin ice with sticks, reaching out, but the rocks they were on were wobbly, and this young guy made one false move. he was wearing a jacket, which spread out, and floated him, so he didn't really sink, except for his legs which got very wet and very cold immediately. we were all shocked and alarmed, and we stood there in shock, for a frozen second, before we grabbed him out and rushed him inside where his clothes could be peeled. he went home in a dad's sweater, wrapped around him like a cloak. the grayish cold changing spring weather made everyone worry about him but he's young; he got out of it with barely a memory. my son will remember it for a spell though; he's a little nervous around very cold water, and when i tell him to stay off wobbly rocks like that, he simply complies, because it's easier, and he has some sense of what kind of trouble 'not minding' causes. it's time, i think, to take the whole lot of them out into the woods, walk halfway down the path, and see what kinds of southern illinois wildlife come crawling out the rocks to say hello. one year, i was walking on devil's backbone ridge, way up above the mississippi, overlooking missouri and the slow train that crawls up the river on the western side, when lo and behold, a snake came out of the bushes, frog in mouth, and scared a small trio of girls who were walking ahead of us. that's life: grisly, raw, even bloody sometimes, and it doesn't pay to be the first one out when it thaws, and everyone's hungry. that's probably what the back geese are telling the front geese, as we speak, and as they settle for a spell in the lake country, waiting for the northern climes to thaw a little more, before they set out again. we're just wayfaring strangers, stop for a bite to eat, look at the view, listen to everyone's accent, before we set out again, and get back on our paths.

a pair of folk singers was here, too, over the weekend, and i got to play with them a bit; they are called, appropriately enough, february sky. so, we were lucky - we got them in their own month, at their own time, and, spring broke here, while they were here and got to see it. back to chicago they went, sunday night, and in chicago, it could be winter for a couple more months, no matter what any groundhog says. it doesn't matter; it will thaw, sure enough, that's the promise god seems to keep most of the time; like the sun, it's pretty regular, and, like the sun, whatever light & blessing is given to you, comes your way, you eventually fork it over, it never was yours to begin with. but it's like the geese - when they call out, stop whatever you're doing, step away from the car, and take a look at the uneven kind of vee they're making as they squawk and lurch along. they know the wind; they know where it's coming from, how fast it is, and whether it brings moisture. i don't speak geese, but 'whoa' is just about the same, in every language.


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