Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Welcome Camden

I have become a grandmother to three as of last Saturday. The most amazing part of these grandkids is just how much you love them. After having Colby, I wondered if I would be able to love other grand kids as much but having added Taylee two years ago and now Camden, the shocking part is you can actually experience this much love and not explode. It's fun to see your own kids become parents. My son who will always be my baby even towering above me, holds this tiny boy and I know the love and wonder that he feels. There is also so much love and appreciation for the beautiful girl that my son fell in love with, that she would go through all the pain and discomfort of a pregnancy to make this beautiful boy for all of us to love. They will be such fine parents just as my daughter and her husband are to my first two grandkids. I do feel so blessed to have the opportunity to grandparent these incredible children. I'm glad I had the best grandparents who showed me just how it is done. I hope I can do as well.

Each year at Christmas I write a Christmas poem. I was a little slow getting it done. I usually send it in my Christmas cards to my sister, my dad and my aunts. So I will post it here since they are my primary readers and it's fitting for this topic.

Christmas Gifts 2011

Now there are three,
growing in various stages of new.
Each resemble a memory of the past;
the dimple in the chin of one grandma,
violet eyes of another, peaked lips,
soft absent eyebrows puckered, lifted, frowning
in such familiar ways.

Colby arrived almost nine years ago,
wide-eyed and unexpected,
shaping the future by making each of us more.
He borrowed features of a childhood face,
the slim body of my father,
along with his gift of social escaping from every pore.
Breathes an ease of interaction that amazes us all.

Taylee grows like an appendage to her mother,
stealing her very looks from the blue eyes
to the hair curling down her back.
She worships her big brother
while he encourages her outside her shy self
to dance in his warm shadow,
teaching her all the words she will need to know.

Camden, baby of my baby
arrives on this day of a distant grandfather
who surely must have chosen him from the rest,
appearing to an audience of adoring family,
round cheeks and rose petal lips,
he sucks on hands and fingers,
entertains us with his magic
while his father becomes more the man
he knows this boy will need him to be.

I have it all dear Santa
each healthy little being
along with the gift of another year
to watch them grow towards who they will become
occupy a place in my heart so big
it feels like I will burst trying to contain
all this expansive love,
a love I could not have imagined
until they became mine.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


This poem in progress was provoked by a writing prompt by Nancy Takacs at the Cliff Notes Writing Conference.


My right hand smells of basil
from sitting on my heels in the garden
picking flower heads from leafy shoots.
Someone told me to do this so the plant energy
could focus on growing more scented green leaves.
The smell is heavy on my fingertips.
I should be able to taste it
but there is only a flavor of dirt,
slightly salted and August sun.

My left hand smells like the dog
I have shooed through the garden gate twice.
She waits until my head bows,
my squat so close to the ground,
she thinks I am hers. She tastes my left hand
which must be warm whipping cream on her tongue.
My grandson wanders through this garden,
squatting his own few inches from the dirt
while he breaks pea shells to release round bb’s of green
to his tongue while his words circle peas.

My hands disappear into those of my grandmother,
her same age spots and wrinkles as they pushed deep
into raised white bread dough, heels of her hands
pressured into the table. Flour-dusted fingertips
glide across smooth loaves, like her hands
on my six year old calves as she helped me
pull on white cotton socks, folding back the lace edges
around my ankles. I reach out my hand to hers,
wanting my fingers protected inside the soft apricot of her fingers
so neither of us is afraid; her fearing my return
to a city she does not know, only a mother to protect me.
Me, afraid my father, her son, might not need me now.

I stand, the smell of basil everywhere in the garden now.
My grandson digs trenches next to pea plants.
I wave the hand that looks like my grandma’s at my grandson,
place her fingers on my lips and blow him a kiss.
Wait for him to come to the gate
where I will hold his hand deep in my palm
before releasing him to a city I chose to leave,
his mother finding the dad there to complete his family.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I'm Back

You may have noticed that I quit blogging last spring. I thought I was punishing one of the two people that I know read my blog. I actually thought they were the only two reading my blog and I was sure this blogging was taking time away from my actual, real writing. An amazing thing happened in my non-blogging fit throwing, I didn’t write anymore than while I was blogging in fact I probably wrote less and I also had two other people ask me why I wasn’t blogging anymore so there were actually four people out there with enough time in their day to check into my blog on occasion. Of course my usual pleaser personality kicked in immediately and I felt that I had in some way disappointed them. So I’m back, at least for today. I’m hoping I can provide a moment of entertainment or escape for my four fans and that I don’t piss them off too much with what I choose to write. I’m also hoping this act of writing will spill over into the rest of my life. Winter is coming and I’m feeling very compelled to use this winter of my quiet solitude to write something meaningful or at least write enough so it is easier to call me a writer than to call my husband a writer who faithful writes in his journal every day. I should at least try to accomplish an act of writing daily and see what happens.

I was incredibly inspired in the creative generally and the written word specifically at our recent Cliff Notes Writing Conference held each fall here in Boulder. It does something to the soul to just hang around creative people for days. It causes my brain to act in ways I’m not able to direct on my own very well. I begin to see the world from my right brain and feel very compelled to put what I’m observing down and see if the words can in any way match the observation. I wander through my day seeing everything as a writing assignment because there have been so many great ones shared during the conference. So what did I gain from this conference?
1. A writing prompt can be an excellent tool to get the writing going when the left side of my brain is resisting and suggests that I write a grant, clean the house, do something more productive than writing words that will mostly be crap.
2. One of the most important things I learned from Craig Child is I always have time. He gave prompts and then gave us 5 minutes or 2 minutes or 10 minutes. Surely I can find that kind of time in my busy retired life. In fact it seemed that I got to the heart of the writing better with this kind of time limit. Where was this message when I had kids, I could have gotten a lot of writing done with that kind of schedule.
3. I also loved his beautiful journals. I need to figure out how to have journals serve me. I did steal from his journal. I hope I find a good place for the words taken while he was busy teaching.
4. The reading of the written word is incredibly beautiful especially when it is rich in observation and authentic voice. That would include all those who read at the workshop. We need to keep reading our work outloud to one another.
5. I was reminded that I may have some ability to write. Thanks to Dave for proofing my poem and providing feedback which reminded that I can write and maybe someone will notice. From this experience, I am committing to sending a few pieces out this winter and see what happens because of his words and suggestions.
6. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the photography. I had recently had a discussion with my sister about this creative avenue as well as my pottery. I wondered if photography and pottery were truly creative enough because there isn’t as much wild abandon in these forms of creativity. They seem to just happen, the photo is what you pointed at, the pot is what the clay becomes before I really screw it up. But this workshop helped me to understand that photography is internal and external. How we choose to frame the scene in front of us is the internal creative just as the pot becomes more and more internal with each step of the process.
7. I especially learned a lot about drawing and our landscape at the workshop we set up for the elementary students. I’m ready to try out some of the skills they learned that day in capturing my own landscape.

I recently read Soulcraft by Bill Plotkin, a book I discovered in such an unusual way and then found I had actually met Bill, I just didn’t realize it was this Bill. After reading this book, the search through the creative process to determine the soul seems so much more important. I have even dabbled in sketching and painting since reading the book. I think I always believed I was not very artistic but maybe I have just been a bit afraid of venturing into the realm of my own creativity. I’m probably still afraid but it is time to journey to my own creative. I am dedicating my winter to this journey. It will be interesting to see where it leads me. I’ll keep the four of you posted.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Farewell Aunt Margie

It is much too soon to be blogging another memorial but I do want to acknowledge the passing of my Aunt Margie. The loss of her is painful on many levels. She is the aunt that looks most like my mom and is also a lot like her in their work ethic and business savy. Her passing brought back all the hurt of losing my mom so many years ago. It is also losing a future of really great conversations with my Aunt Margie. Engaging in a conversation with her could take you to a deep discussion in so many areas that are off bounds in most circles. Just last fall at the writing workshop, Steve and I were at the town hall getting coffee ready for the workshop participants at 7am. Between 7 and 7:30, we had quite the discussion about homosexuality, not like who is or isn’t, or is it good or bad but where does it come from, why does it exist and on and on. With Aunt Margie, if you weren’t trying to better understand family members, you were discussing religion, politics, sex, or some other taboo topic. I loved these conversations and the opportunity to think way down deep. Her passing also reminds me that my other aunts are near her age and I may not have them forever. I really have been blessed with incredible women in my life and my aunts have been right there at the top. They have made me think and they have helped me to believe in myself. I can do anything I choose to do because they said so and showed me in so many ways that I could. The loss of Aunt Margie is also tough because I know what her children are now experiencing and I love Camille, Karen, and Gaden like sisters and brother, so it is a sadness at their pain and loss as well.
I have gained so much from Aunt Margie. I thank her for being the strong woman that she has been throughout her life. We are all so blessed that she chose the medical field. She has kept us better informed on our own health. In this regard, I would also thank her for her influence on my daughter, who chose nursing because of Aunt Margie’s influence. I only hope that my daughter will also take some part of her way of nursing to become an even better nurse. I thank Aunt Margie for her directness even when it stung a little, it was always shared for my own good and if I decided not to accept it, that was ok too. I still haven’t bought that new bra yet. So goodbye Aunt Margie, you have lived this life well. Give my mom a hug for me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Together We Can Help Old People By Colby Rothstein

When I was three, my great grandma lived with me. We played games together like puzzles. Sometimes she would make me mad because she didn’t understand what I was saying and we would fight. I learned she had a disease where she couldn’t remember things. When I moved to Cedar City, she moved to a senior citizens place where they helped take care of her. But I still would visit her every time I came to town. She always had a treat saved for me. When I would see her she was always excited to see me and the other old ladies always were excited too. They would want to give me hugs and kisses. Her memory has gotten worse and worse and now she has to live in a place where they can help her a lot. She doesn’t remember people very well. Sometimes she thinks my grandpa, her son, is her brother. Sometimes she thinks my grandma is her sister. But when I come to visit her, she still gets excited and remembers who I am. Maybe she remembers me because we did a lot of things together when she lived with me. Everyone should still visit old people even if they are sick or have a bad memory. It helps them have a better life and be more happy.

Remembering Fae

I have been neglectful of my blog the last little while but I thought today might be a good time to post so I can memorialize my mother-in-law, Fae Barraclough Wright Cox Stubblefield; the woman with the name almost as tall as she was. Fae was born on November 1, 1924 about 30 minutes after her twin sister Fern. She grew up poor since her father was disabled and there were six kids. She slept with her two sisters Fern and Loraine in a double bed until Loraine got married. She loved telling stories of how her and Fern would trick dates and teachers pretending to be the other one. Fae married early and had two boys. Their father raised them. She then married Steve's Dad. They had and raised Kenny, Geniel, LeeAnn, and Steve. I first met Fae almost 36 years ago at Steve's graduation from college. He introduced me to her as his "friend". I was offended not realizing he had a long term girlfriend that Fae knew much better. In fact she called me that girl's name for the first year of our dating. I didn't get offended at that, she's called all of us by the wrong name over time, including being called a dog's name every now and then.

Fae has always been an important part of our lives. Steve took on the role of caregiver from the time his Dad died and that role never ended. In the meantime, we had lot's of benefits of having her around. She was always very willing to tend our kids and she bailed a working mom and dad out on a regular basis. My kids enjoyed the opportunity of having a grandma around always. She also invited us to Sunday dinner every week and she was a great cook. She would ask where I wanted to go on my birthday for dinner and my request was always her chicken and potatoes with milk gravy. I'll never get the milk gravy right. She was also a pie maker and in recent years as her dementia increased, I had to pick up pie making and that too will always be lacking. Fae never missed one of Geneya and Geoff's events (unless we didn't tell her so we could sneak out without her and that was rare because she loved it too much we would feel guilty). She sat through several versions of "Indian Boogy" at Mrs. Tunbridge's piano recitals. She was their biggest fan at every sporting event. She didn't care much for the referees and there are probably many of them that still remember the fiesty gray-haired lady in the stands. But she thought Geoff could do no wrong. She did worry at each game because the other team was always bigger than our boys and there were always more of them but she didn't plan in their secret weapon, her in the stands. My favorite story, though not at the time, was when we were planning Snow Canyon in basketball when Geoff was a freshman. The gym was fairly empty and Geoff and Brock Sargent were doing their usual wrangling under the basket for the ball. Of course Grandma thought Brock was fouling Geoff so when they finally called a foul on him, she yelled across the gym "They finally caught you, you little jackass." I turned to her in total embarrassment and told her she couldn't call the kids jackasses. She said "I just did." Ohhhh and only about 8 more years of sports to go with Geoff. It was an interesting ride. We always tried to sit behind Nancy Topham at the basketball games because she said she thought Fae was cute. Steve and I would sit on each side of her to protect the rest of the audience and we would try to locate among fans and not too close to parents who she might want to comment on their boys playing ability.

As she got more impaired with dementia, we decided to move her into our house. We already had three generations with us, Geoff, Geneya, and Colby, a 4th couldn't be much more chaotic. And with two dogs, a third wouldn't make much difference. It helped to have so many people to keep her company and safe but the best treat for her was having Colby. They became best friends, playing together and fighting together. You had to keep track just so the fight didn't get too serious for either of them. He got a little frustrated with her because she couldn't remember things but wanted to make him behave. One day his frustration got the best of him and he whack her on the head with a little bat I had brought him from Louisville. I'm not sure he had that bat for more than a day before it was taken away. He did love her and even after she moved to Cliff View, he wanted to go see her and was willing to let the old ladies sitting by her on the couch in the lobby give him a hug. Theirs was a special bond.

She has gone. It's hard to believe that just a little over 3 years ago, Steve had her hiking to Grass Lake, a steep and rocky couple of miles. But then again he had Colby to help :). I'm sure she is having a great reunion with her twin sister, Fern and we all know she has probably already danced a few tunes with Pinky, Steve's Dad who has been gone just a few days short of forty years. That reunion should be incredible. We will all miss her, but she did leave us with incredible memories, lot's of great stories, and the consistency of having her with us for such a long time.

When I was a kid, my Aunt Gerry gave my cousins and I each our own guardian , mine was Rachel from the bible. I never understood why Rachel was my guardian angel until I got Fae and then I understood. I knew that where I was going Fae was going too. I don't think I ever realized until now just how lucky I was to have her. I love you Fae. Give my mom a hug for me.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Blessed Women

I spent my Christmas holiday falling head over heels in love with my granddaughter. She has been my granddaughter for almost a year and I have been quite smitten with her before this holiday but it become that crazy kind of love and I think she loves me back in a similar way. It is also a painful love because it is so much harder to depart from. I miss her before I even walked out the door. I recall in any moment her amazing blue eyes and pouty lips. I think about all I want for her in the future. Tonight at Women’s Council it struck me what I want really for her and for her mother and that is for both of them to have a whole bunch of incredible women in both of their lives. If they do not have sisters (sorry Geneya) then let them have wonderful women friends. Let those friends be the ones they choose but also let them find those friends among their family in their cousins, aunts, and grandmothers. I have been so blessed to have my life be full of the most incredible women you can imagine. It all started with my mother. My every thought went from my lips and through her good thinking and wisdom for the first 30 years of my life. I also had my heart grandmother and my work grandma to love me and to teach me. I now find my aunts have become incredible friends and great models for aging and thinking and creating. I spent last night at Aunt Ann’s sharing a task but also sharing conversations that truly matter. I was truly blessed with the most amazing sister anyone could have. I feel incomplete without my daily phone call. She is like my right arm. When she hurts I still cry just like when were little. I also have cousins that are some of my best friends. I discover regularly how much I enjoy being with them. I also have some really great girl friends. I thought this was what you get and then you nourish these relationships to extend to the end of your life but with my move to Boulder I have found a whole new batch of incredible women. It is such a pleasant surprise to find the opportunity for new friends with new practices and ideas for this next part of my life. So thank you to my women. You are why I am a positive person, why I believe I can accomplish most anything, why I have remained married for these thirty years, why my ideas and thoughts become even better, why I am blessed.