Friday, February 29, 2008

making up for lost time

I just couldn't stand it and had to update AGAIN because I just know you've been missing me. I have a million things I want to write about, but for now, I've got this:


You have to get into your car by climbing into the passenger seat and scaling over the center console because you can't fit into the space between the driver door and the car parked next to you.

People who have previously been eyeing your belly and (let's be honest) your BUM with a very critical eye, probably thinking something like hmmmm too many donuts are now approaching you with gleeful abandon as they exclaim WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN and you smile politely and say NINE MONTHS AGO, MS. OBSERVANT MCJUDGEY PANTS.

It's your last day of work, your feet are swollen over the tops of your mary janes, and you could really care less that the entire front of your shirt and belly are covered in granola bar crumbs.


typhoid carrie, larry, and mary

I really haven't dropped off the face of the planet. Really. It's more along the lines of this: I had my very bestest girlfriend in town and it was an awesome trip full of Kitchen Aid mixer purchases and some MENDHI that ended in something I'm calling The Dark Side of Henna and then there was this thing where the three of us were laughing so hard about these fishsticks in my freezer that I nearly passed out and there were various shopping trips to Target and Babies R Us and even Joann's for flannel and there was also this mad dash for The Wife to sew burp cloths on my sewing machine --- and then came Sunday, when The Wife became Typhoid Carrie because she was very sick from a Virus of Unknown Origin and Size (VUOS) and then she had to fly out the very next day much to the consternation of Chip and Whimsy. And THEN there was this whole thing with me training my replacement at work all week long leaving NARY A SECOND to update my blog (can you believe that?). And then Chip was the second to fall to the VUOS as he became Typhoid Larry (even though it looks like FLU over in Burnstopia, the doctor verified on Tuesday that Chip doesn't have the flu, just that pesky VUOS which apparently still feels like DEATH. Yours truly was the last to falter - and really, it's only been a small falter, as I have adopted the name TYPHOID MARY. I have some sniffles and some sore-ish sore throat issues, but nothing more.

Baby Bean still safely ensconsed in womb? CHECK.
Baby Bean still decidedly breech? CHECK.
Chip slowly recovering from the plague? CHECK.
Whimsy nearly passing out from the sheer exhaustion of training someone to do her Very Important Job? CHECK.
Teeny tiny baby clothes washed, folded, and bedded down in Bean's lovely red dresser? CHECK. (Dreft detergent smells like heaven, by the way.)
Whimsy drinking more juice and consuming more vitamin C than humanly possible? CHECK.
C-section scheduled for 8am Monday morning? CHECK.

I'm doing pretty well. Chip is slowly coming out of the fog. WE'RE HAVING THIS BABY IN THREE DAYS, PEOPLE.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

thursday tips

It is inadvisable to eat The Best Granola In The World while hunched over your computer keyboard. The exact same keyboard you VACUUMED just last week to remove any previous, um, food debris.

When your ankles are actually larger than what was previously the widest part of your foot (that part just before the toes) - it is probably a good idea to stay off the feet for a while. Continuing to toddle around the house like an engorged Weeble-Wobble (Weebles wobble but they don't FALL DOWN!) will only anger the ankles. Angry ankles are not our friend.

There is a directly proportional relationship to the amount of time and energy you spend to direct your husband how he can best make up the spare bed for your Best Friend (THE WIFE!) who is coming into town the very next day and the likelihood that one of the cats will claim the newly made-up bed for their very own.

Over-exposed floating head me, telling it like it is.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

the phoebus and sister fergusina mcstripeypants

What?! You're actually expecting CONTENT today? Like I have the mental capacity to think beyond babybabybabybabycomingin12days and workworkworkwork Ihavetogetmydeskinorderinlike6days and ohmyohmyohmyTheWifeiscomingtovisitTOMORROW... you have way too much faith in me, Internets!

Instead of thought-provoking posts you get the following pictures pulled off my phone:

Sister Fergusina McStripeypants

The Phoebus

And then there's this:

It was some cereal that Chip & I were totally laughing about at the grocery store. See, it's GORILLA MUNCH? But look at that shape, people, if I'm not mistaken, it looks a bit more like Gorilla Poo Pellets. But that could just be me. I'm thinking a lot about poo lately.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

like grown-ups

Yesterday we found out the approximate cost of a c-section. There were smelling salts and cold cloths involved. Holy mackerel. Thank goodness for insurance, but even then? ASTOUNDING.

This was one of the blips in a rocky sort of day. I had a series of unpleasant conversations with my least favorite patient coordinator (let’s call her Ruby) at my OB’s office. Dear Ruby doesn’t like her job. Either that, or she likes it (and the POWER involved) a little too much. Not the most welcoming person, and I had the opportunity to speak to her three times in a single day! (Incidentally, I found out today that Ruby, dearest peach, only passed on one of my messages... and never told anyone that I called back. SWEET!)

After the rockiness, Chip picked me up to head home. This isn’t a common occurrence, since usually I take the bus – but because of the holiday bus schedule, I knew I’d miss the last bus out of the city. We had some good time to talk in the car and share our feelings about what’s been going on. There has been a lot of, um, STUFF. As you can imagine. Tears are very close to the surface. Tears of joy, tears of sorrow, tears of gratefulness, tears of frustration, tears of exhaustion, tears of every rainbow color and shape.

On the way home we stopped at the store for the Very Best Granola in the World (okay – maybe it’s not quite called that, but it’s close). It’s sold in those bulk bins and I can never seem to get enough. I haven’t had this granola in eons because I didn’t even realize we had a purveyor of the stuff in our neighborhood. But we DO and so we DID (buy the granola). Coming in from the parking lot, Chip looked at me and at our clasped hands and said, “We’re so grown up. Look at us. Dressed in dressy work clothes. Holding hands. Walking into the store to buy granola.”

These are the moments I want to fix in my memory. These are the moments that protect us in times of strife. These are the moments that quietly come and just as quietly fade—only leaving an impression if we notice them enough to ask them to stay just a second longer, to fix them into our memory with so much tape and glue.

It would never make sense to anyone but us that our favorite time is when we're wearing our dressy work clothes and we're walking hand in hand through the grocery store parking lot at 7pm to buy granola.

Monday, February 18, 2008


That crazy nonsense writing piece from Thursday? THAT was my 100th post. I had hoped I would put something together that was, um, a little more TOGETHER, you know? Oh well. As I've found myself (BARF) saying a lot these days: it is what it is.

What the heck IS that? It IS what it IS? Does that even make grammatical sense? I think it's our new-fangled way of saying that life isn't simple or easy, that whatever lies in front of us is the thing we have right now and we might make something of it, we might make nothing of it. It is our own doing regardless. I'm guessing it's the adult version of "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit". There's a certain fatalistic bent to IT IS WHAT IT IS that makes me feel unsteady. Like I'm accepting a less than stellar situation because I'm too tired to change it.

I guess I can't go back and post a different #100 - but I'm doing a darn fine job of making #101 STELLAR, don't you think???

This is what I get for coming in here with nothing on my mind other than the thousand things that are bouncing around in my noggin like so many ping pong balls. And you've already heard about those at least a bajillion times already.

Happy #101, my dears. May #102 find us all in a more focused frame of mind.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


That pesky perspective thing just keeps biting me, and I've got to just give in to it: I GET IT. THERE ARE THINGS THAT ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE LESS THAN SAVORY STATE OF ORGANIZATION IN MY KITCHEN CABINETS.

I spent 25 minutes listening to a woman SCREAM at me about the fact that she bought a whoozit that didn't match the pair of whatzits she also bought back in December and she couldn't believe that no one told her they didn't match exactly and by the way THIS IS THE END OF THE WORLD. (I would have put that whole paragraph in CAPS if I had the energy, but I didn't want to pass on the ANGRY because really, it needs to stop somewhere and I'm choosing me.)

This lady? Screaming bloody murder lady? She puts things in perspective. When she's all WHAT IS THIS COUNTRY COMING TO about a whatzit? It's just so asinine as to be HYSTERICAL.

So I'm taking back the night, so to speak, and am gosh darn it going to be FINE with things. Fine. Also - how can I not be fine when I have amazing readers like you?

There is a list running around in my head of The Good of Today and I've got to share because maybe it'll make you smile too, even though it's really an all-about-me list.

Here we go:
- The assistant manager at our on-site catering company came by and gave me a lemon sour cherry coffeecake from Macrina bakery today. Just because.
- The manager of the cafeterias and the catering company in our building bought me lunch today. Just because. (I'm thinking I must've looked particularly pathetic yesterday for both the manager and the assistant manager to do something so sweet - then again, they're really really KIND people.)
- My mom called today to tell me how excited she is to come and help after Bean is born. We can drive each other a bit crazy sometimes, but I do love this woman to death, and she makes the most AMAZING chocolate chip cookies and homemade bread and jam - and maybe maybe maybe we can entice her to do some baking while she's here... oh it will be heaven.
- Mom's major point about helping after a baby is born is to come and help with the laundry and the cleaning and the cooking and leave good baby-bonding time to me and Chip. This is MY KIND OF WOMAN.
- Chip & I had the most wonderful time with his mom at our house last night. It was really, really good.
- Bean received some amazingly generous gifts today from some of the people I work with in my building, as well as a group of folks from Oregon.
- Chip's sister G is also coming to help after Bean is born. She's amazingly capable and very selfless.
- Last, but certainly not least: THE WIFE IS COMING TO VISIT HERE IN 7 DAYS AND I'M SO EXCITED I CAN HARDLY STAND IT. I can't even promise coherent posts while she's here. Maybe some photos with partial captions like "us laughing". There might be a lot of those.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

facing the breach

Or breech, as the case may be (and is).

The American Heritage Dictionary defines breach as "1a. An opening, a tear, or a rupture; b. A gap or rift, especially in or as if in a solid structure such as a dike or fortification. 2. A violation or infraction, as of a law, a legal obligation, or a promise."

Our friends at American Heritage define breech as "1. The lower rear portion of the human trunk; the buttocks. 2a. A breech presentation or delivery; 2b. A fetus in breech presentation."

I definitely find irony in all of this. I'm trying to find the humor. Give me a bit of time, I'll see what I can come up with.

For now, I feel as though the last months have torn me open, made a hole in my solid structure. I have always believed that pain and loss and trouble break us into pieces - and it's what we build with these pieces that tell the story of our life.

What does it mean that wee baby Bean is breech? In the medical sense, it means I'll be having a c-section in two and a half weeks. It means that I'll be in the hospital for 2 days instead of 1. It means that we'll face the arduous recovery from major abdonimal surgery that I had so wanted to avoid. In the ephemeral, spiritual, emotional sense, her being breech-- I'm still not sure what it means. I had so wanted her to be the one to cross the physical divide in hard labor. I had wanted to feel her body dig into mine, a physical passage for both of us into the mother/daughter relationship that we've begun. I wanted to feel her enter the world through a doorway only I could provide. I worry that the Bean is in breech postion because she is afraid to enter the world head-first, with her eyes open - that I've been too tightly wound to give her confidence in this earthly realm.

I know how selfish all of this sounds. There is nothing wrong with c-section, I know. We have so much to be thankful for in modern medicine - the fact that Bean is healthy and safe (and just wants to see the world from the easy chair of my uterus); the fact that I'm healthy and safe. The fact that the whole procedure will be done in an excellent hospital - and at least we know now, at least we can prepare, at least I don't have to go through painful labor only to have the c-section at the last minute. I am grateful. Chip is grateful.

But I'm also a little sad for the scenario that was, the scenario that won't be. I'm a little sad to not have the option. In the meantime, my dears, we'll be doing everything we can to flip this little topsy turvy girl into the right position. (I have a feeling we're going to find a good dose of HUMOR in these attempts.)

We face these things, these troubles, as they come. We do our best to be strong. We do our best to have PERSPECTIVE, to place things in their right order of importance. To not focus on one thing more than it's size would warrent. It's just... sometimes this little structure feels like I've just started rebuilding only to lose a few more vital pieces.

Monday, February 11, 2008

sunday night, 6:30 p.m.

Chip wakes up as I walk into the bedroom.
Chip: How long have I been asleep?
Me: I don't know - probably half an hour. Were you still awake when I called my mom?
Chip: Yeah, I fell asleep right after I called your mom.
Me: Um, honey, you mean after I called my mom?
Chip: Yes, after I called your mom, I fell asleep.
Me: Let's try this again. I called my mom and talked to her. You were sleeping.
Chip: Exactly. I called your mom and then I fell asleep.
Me: Sweetie, you never spoke to my mom.
Chip: ......Oh. Yes. I see.

And not to let you think that he's the only one losing his marbles: later, we were getting situated in bed and I moved the remote three times. Each time poor Chip placed the remote within easy grasp, I would pick it up and put it at the foot of the bed. FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER. I didn't even realize I was doing it until the third time, when Chip started to laugh.

We are tired, yo.

Friday, February 8, 2008


The pink taffeta dress I’ve been wearing for the last 13 hours has been hung in my closet. I am standing in jeans and socks in the middle of the family room, yelling at my cousins and trying to pick up random bits of food, paper plates, blankets, pillows, and clothes from all over the house.

The year is 1988. It is the late night of my sister’s wedding day. Our house is filled to the brim with Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and other visiting dignitaries. My parents aren’t yet home from the church – they stayed behind with a few others to finish the reception clean-up.

I am quite literally LOSING MY MIND with the mess, with the disruption, with the chaos, with the sheer number of people in every room of the house. I can’t believe how messy and out-of-control everything is. I can’t believe that I’m the only one who cares enough to try to PUT SOME DISHES AWAY ALREADY. And I say as much, to some passing cousins. They are smart. They do not engage the RED FACED WHIMSY. They go upstairs to find an unoccupied television.

My Aunt Chris walks in, me mid-meltdown. She quietly ushers me into the front hall bathroom and shuts the door. I feel like a caged animal. I pace the bathroom. She stands there, blocking the door. I yell. I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT NO ONE UNDERSTANDS THE HORRID SHAPE OF THE HOUSE!!! WE MUST CLEAN!!! WE MUST GET THINGS IN ORDER!!! I continue with more yelling. More exclamation points than I’ve ever used. Aunt Chris is something of a master drill sergeant. She does not engage the RED FACED WHIMSY. She pulls me to her shoulder, to her chest. She forces me into a hug. She begins to rock side to side, back and forth. She tells me over and over and over that things are going to be okay. This is when I start to cry. She tells me that I’m not angry about the messy house or all the people in the house. She tells me that I miss my sister and I’m worried that everything is going to change. She tells me that it’s okay to be mad. She tells me it’s okay to be upset about the differences that are going to come. She tells me that I’m not losing my sister. She tells me that I will see my sister again and we’ll have fun and we’ll still love each other and it’s all going to be okay okay okay. It’s all going to be okay.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

blog bleurgh

I know that the entire universe is into blogging and everything, but it still weirds me out when I access the site of someone I know in a brick and mortar way (I love this term from Swistle) who has not personally invited me to their blog. It doesn’t make any sense, I KNOW. I should offer the caveat that these are MY ISSUES and MY ISSUES ALONE, unless, of course, you’re just as freaky as me. Rest assured that I welcome any and all visitors here to The Creamery, regardless of how they found me. I love it when I hear from people, period. I know that there are a lot of lurkers out there – and on many blogs, I’m totally one of them. And I don’t have a problem with someone lurking all the live long day. I guess I do sort of HOPE that folks will come out of the dark at least once in a while to comment and show themselves and let me know that they think I have a beautiful, sparkling wit and they just can’t start their day without reading something from here. Or, you know, whatever they’d like to say.

The point is that we write and we share publicly for a REASON and if anyone doesn't want to be public, they can certainly hide their blog or make it invitation only or whatnot. Seeing as I'm not one of those private-y people, I take what I get in terms of visitors.

As far as my weirdness goes, I have this entirely peculiar and funny feeling about reading the blogs of brick and mortar friends when they don't know that I know that they're there (Are we following me? I'm not sure if I'M following me.)

Case in point: Recently, via the site of someone else I know, I stumbled upon a couple of blogs that belong to brick and mortar folks. Folks that I know – folks that I see on a regular basis – folks that I’m friendly with, but not friendly enough to be all – HEY HI I FOUND YOUR BLOG AND I’M NOW OFFICIALLY LOOKING IN ON YOUR LIFE. WOW. THAT STORY ABOUT THE MEXICAN RESTAURANT? I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU ATE THAT ENTIRE BURRITO. I wouldn’t ever say this or any amalgam thereof. Instead, I just go around not saying anything and feeling like a Grade A Prime STALKER. Why is it that I feel this way? Do you go through this ridiculous weirdness? Is it really JUST ME? Why do I feel more comfortable commenting on the blogs of people who I’ll never conceivably run into at the grocery store?

I can't decide exactly what I want to do about this development.

So far, here are the ridiculous and nonsense rules I've made up for myself - keep in mind, as stated before - these are TOTALLY MY RULES FOR MYSELF. I know that there are a lot of you out there (I flatter myself – okay, there are a handful of you out there) who check in on me from time to time here at The Creamery, and you don’t follow Whimsy’s Rules for Weird Blog-Type Stalking In The Case Where It’s Someone She Might Run Into At Random. And that’s okay. As for me and my house:

-- If I keep looking in, I have to comment.
-- I can't wait too long to comment because there is a directly proportional relationship of HOW LONG I WAIT TO COMMENT to LEVEL OF WEIRDNESS. i.e. The longer I wait, the weirder it gets.
-- There are only certain types of comments that I deem to be acceptable for Opening Comment behavior. I have to introduce myself and let them know how I found their blog.
-- I do not out myself as a fellow blogger. If they want to follow a link from my profile or whatnot, that's totally fine. But otherwise it feels dumb.
-- Commenting in any form must be done with extreme caution. It feels very much like I'm butting in on a conversation between close friends who are clearly happy with their group. They have not invited me in. Do I really want to stick my nose in there?
-- Until some form of Cordial Connection has been made with the blog author, I can't comment too much, for fear that they're sitting back at their computer thinking DUDE THIS GIRL IS TOTALLY STALKING ME AND READING ABOUT MY LIFE AND I MIGHT SEE HER IN THE BATHROOM AT CHURCH OR SOMETHING AND THAT WOULD BE VERY CREEPY.
-- Under no circumstance do I discuss details about blog entries when I run into them in the bathroom at church. Or anywhere else for that matter, unless it is TOTALLY APPLICABLE. (Which, by the way, never happens.) This rule, in and of itself, is fraught with issues because how strange is it that I'm commenting on their entry about dog spit on Tuesday and then I see them at the grocery store on Friday and I don't even MENTION the dog spit? See - it's just dumb.
-- The only escape from the rule above is if the blog author brings up the blogging to me - and then we can talk about things in relative ease. It just can't be me bringing it up.
-- If I choose to not comment at all, I have to stop myself from visiting their blog.
-- Then the question becomes: Do I really WANT to visit their blog and read about dog spit? Will this make our brick and mortar relationship weird? Will it change things in a way that makes it embarassing to see them in a public setting?
-- Perhaps I should forget about these new blogs altogether and just go back to reading the stories of random (but TOTALLY FUNNY and TOTALLY WONDERFUL) strangers.

With all of this said – and these particular neuroses shared – what would you do? Do you visit the blogs? Do you comment? Do you mention it when you see them in person? And hey – even if you have no advice to give, I’m officially declaring that you delurk, just for today. Show of hands, tell me you’re here. I DARE YOU.

Now I'm going to take a nap. I'm very tired.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

strange attractors

Things continue to roll in the Whimsy universe, as they are wont to do. I've spent a few nights on my own in the past week, with Chip taking care of family business with his siblings and whatnot. His mom lives nearly 2 hours away from our place. Last night was one of those times of swinging singlehood – only without any WILD partying or eating popcorn for dinner. Instead it was me helplessly pacing the fabric aisles at Joann’s, stressing an indescribable amount because I couldn’t find just the right shade of fabrics for the Bean’s bumper pad and crib skirt-thing (Why the HECK do they call it a “dust ruffle”? I don’t even WANT a ruffle of any kind – I’m going for one of those flat panel thingies.). See, I haven’t gone off the deep end and done any sort of themey thing in Bean’s room, but I do have these beautiful Sam Toft prints that I love. And they’re done in these great chartreuse greens with lots of cream and yellow and amber and I could just eat them up. We’re hanging them in Bean’s room. So that was the starting point: those colors. From which I then jumped to doing her bedding in some really nice celery greens with a contrasting gray-slate-blue and a tiny bit of red, because her dresser is red and this sentence is way too long and drawn-out anyway blah blah blah… yes, my child’s room and the run-on nature of her bedding. So. I never found what I was looking for at Joann’s and I spent an HOUR there – I swear, I not only saw people leave for their breaks, I saw them come back. I picked up and put down the same bolts of fabric 42 times and then I finally decided to just STOP THE MADNESS ALREADY and escaped, feet swelling painfully over the straps of my mary janes.

When I finally got home, I was tired and hungry and a teeny bit grumpy. I grabbed some food from the fridge and went upstairs to numb my brain with some television.

And THIS is where we reach the point of this post. I watched TLC all night. Like, from 7pm until nearly midnight (I was brain dead tired, but couldn’t go to sleep… miserable). I watched Jon and Kate Plus Eight, and then some show about that family with 16 kids who seem very sweet but also strange… like the mom’s hairstyle (specifically, the whole bangs area that encompasses an entire front SECTION of her head – complete WITH WINGS) waits until she’s asleep so it can escape from the house and forage for squirrels and hedgehogs to eat IT IS THAT BIG AND INSANE. I was very concerned to note that this hairstyle seems to be perpetuating itself in the other 5 daughters. The baby is young enough to not yet HAVE any hair, but it’s only a matter of time before that monstrosity begets itself another follower.

Anyway, this is what I watched for nearly five hours. It got me thinking about other stressful or emotionally challenging times in my life, and the weird junk I've watched on television. I'm convinced there's a link.

A couple of years ago, when a very dear aunt was ill and then passed away - I spent the entire weekend watching High School Musical on the Disney channel. I’m so serious, and I can’t even BELIEVE I’m telling you this. I don’t think even Chip knows. (Hi honey – please say you still love me.) I don’t know why I did it. Or why I committed the act more than once over the weekend. Do I even have to qualify this and tell you that it was seriously AWFUL? That I was never once entertained by it? That to even call it “acting” is sort of offensive? That I was, at the time, a married 32-year-old woman without children, and probably the only person in my particular demographic that wasn’t being PAID to watch it?

There have been other times, too, when I was drawn to something specific and inexplicable. When my cat Stella was hit and killed by a car, I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation for WEEKS. When I was going through a bout of depression, I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the FX network every night. (This one only mildly qualifies as a strange attractor because I LOVE BTVS. I own every DVD. I can sing along to the musical. If you have a beef with Buffy, you have a beef with me. Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy, is a genius and I have an issue if you say otherwise.) The key is – I hadn’t watched Buffy before things got bad and weird, and suddenly I couldn’t get enough of it.

So last night I watched five hours of The Learning Channel, complete with multiple episodes of Jon and Kate Plus Eight (holy COW that's a lot of little kids and Kate seems mildly... off-putting); Little People Big World (I'm sure the dad is a lovely person and a great father but he strikes me as the type of guy who is all dreamdreamdream and forces his wife Amy to do a heck of a lot of workworkwork to make up for his laziness); and the crazy family with 16 children. I was perfectly content. And I don't know why.

What's the strangest TV you've found yourself watching? COME ON - BE HONEST. Join me in my I WATCHED HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL AND THEN I WATCHED IT AGAIN AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS STUPID T SHIRT. Have you noticed that you watch odd programs when your life is less manageable, or is it just me?

Monday, February 4, 2008

. . . . . . .

Thank you to all those who have been commenting and emailing. Your thoughts and wishes and prayers make a huge difference.

Chip's dad passed away on Friday evening. He was surrounded by his family. We will miss him terribly: his love, his kindness, his sense of humor, his patience, his service, his great love for God and Jesus Christ.

We know we'll be seeing him again - and for this we are profoundly grateful.

Friday, February 1, 2008

the current

Long before Bean, long before Chip, even long before The Minions - I used to run. I know, I know - if wee little running Whimsy could just SEE my Nerpa-shaped body now, right?

One of my favorite running destinations was Sunset Hill Park. I lived close by, and I could do the 5-mile loop pretty easily (she remembers wistfully, as she is currently out-matched by a single span of stairs on the state ferry system). My favorite part of the run was the destination, of course. A tiny sliver of grass and a handful of trees perched on a bluff overlooking Elliott Bay and the distant Olympic mountain range. It was always such a welcome pause to stand at the edge of that cliff and look out over the water toward the mountains.

On a clear day, Elliot Bay is nothing but a sparkling blanket of deep blue-gray, stretching out out out farther than you can imagine – to the right, to the left, out out out to meet the Olympics. Occasionally I’d spend time studying the water moving 300 feet below – see the varied currents colliding against one another. I liked to focus my eyes to one wee spot, watch the lines of water cris-cross one another until it seemed impossible for a boat to navigate that watery chaos.

One day I stopped looking at any specific point on the water and let my eyes drift back and back and back until I was seeing the whole water – the whole view in unfocused simplicity. It was only then that I realized there was a grand pattern, a grand scheme to the water that created one whole current. There was no chaos. There was no struggle. There was only a beautiful curving swath of water following itself out to sea.

Tuesday morning found me thinking these thoughts. I was reflecting about Life in General and how it can seem so crazy, so convoluted, so compromised. I wanted to step back for some clarity, to see the grand scheme (even for a moment). Instead of a minute of quiet, I got a phone call.

My father-in-law had suffered a heart attack.

The past few days have been strange. They ahve been stressful. They have been exhausting. They have also been savagely beautiful.

This blog is my own, and I try very hard to respect privacy of those around me, unless they’ve given some kind of permission to be stripped right here on the old internet (Chip: this is you – don’t you LOVE ME?). Sometimes when something is happening in a family unit, it’s hard to identify where one person’s experience ends and another’s begins. So it is with illness and hard times. I am sharing my thoughts about this, not because I want to bare anything private about my family, but because this thing is also happening to me, and there are precious few things in my life that I don’t write about. I feel a compelling need to tell you what I’m learning to make it real.

I can only imagine someone else's pain, but I know my own - and I know it well enough to say what I've said before: pain transforms us in ways we can only imagine. Pain and sorrow carve deeply into our souls, making ravines and vast valleys that we can later fill with joy and laughter – and even sometimes tears.

I will not say "do not weep" for not all tears are evil.

The beauty of these last few days is the kind of transforming pain that gives someone a new face. That teaches us that holding on and letting go each require a different sort of strength. It must be hard to be the one who is leaving, but I think it’s even harder for the ones left behind.

Perspective is a gift we only touch for a second. We cannot hold it in our hands like a butterfly or a fragile bird. We are given that second to look out over the patterns of our lives and know that there is always movement – and if we trust, we’ll know that the seemingly meaningless eddies of chaos and turmoil serve a greater purpose. We can allow our days to stretch out out out into the greater ocean of heaven, of the universe, and know that everything is going to be okay.