Schmida was an immigrant. Jewish. German. A Holocaust survivor. She spoke Yiddish and fed the neighborhood children alongside her own (the way mothers everywhere do.) When one of those children asked her to teach him, she willingly and enthusiastically handed down a recipe that he would later use to win the baking competition at the county fair. A recipe he would later hand down to me. —Cherity Cook
As Cherity makes a special birthday cake for her dad, she can’t help but remember how much immigration has been mixed into our stories.
I spent part of this evening cleaning up around the house.
As usual, I couldn’t really stay on task. I wandered. Washing sheets from one room. Picking up in another. I clean like an ADHD squirrel, bouncing from room to room, lacking cohesion and getting distracted by each new corner. I once set out to dust my bedroom and wound up reorganizing the entire contents of my walk-in hallway closet instead. The bedroom went undusted. The closet turned out wonderfully, and I’m still not sure how that happened.
All of this to say, I didn’t set out to throw away wedding memorabilia today, but somewhere in the process of cleaning up my guest room, I stumbled upon my one-time treasures and decided that it was time that they stop taking up space…in my home and in my life. Unity candles are a lovely metaphor, and you never expect to see the day come that you toss them aside, but their meaning is lessened once the pair they unified sever all the ties the flame represented. I took out the ceremonial objects and unceremoniously dumped them into my trash outside next to the dirty cat litter. Continue reading “Why I Paid an Artist to Cut My Wedding Dress into Pieces.”→
My commute to the office usually takes about twenty-five minutes. It’s two-lane, country driving the entire way along one of the Illinois’ River Roads. My landmarks as I drive are a railroad crossing, a bald eagle nest, and a couple of roadside picnic benches. There usually isn’t much traffic, but you do have to watch for deer. Especially during the rut.
This time of year, I watch for turtles. So far, I’ve stopped and given a crossing assist to five of them, parking along the roadside with my hazards flashing. (Only one peed on me…but that’s a different story.) Continue reading “Take Me Home Country Roads”→
I just found hay in my hair, a memento from the time I spent in the horse field this afternoon lying on my back in what remained of a round bale. It’s sixty degrees. Just a few days ago, there was snow on the ground. Spring is like that here.
I’ve started this blog post three times. Each time, Amelia, one of my three dogs, shoves her nose under my elbow and nudges my arm, asking for attention. Each time, my fingers lose their space on the keyboard; I backspace and start over. One of those times, my puppy, Rose, joins in, but in her poor “puppy” form, she makes the mistake of grabbing my hand in her mouth (albeit gently), resulting in a reprimand.
I read a book once that pointed out that life tends to divide itself into befores and afters.
It’s true, when you think about it. Some are obvious milestones: Before high school. After high school. Before college. After college. Before and after your first job. Births. Deaths. We, all of us, all our lives, are just a mess of befores and afters and how they changed us from one version of ourselves to the next. We have ceremonies to celebrate or mourn the changes. Matriculation. Funerals. Christenings.
Sometimes, even though one day you’re a person of before and the next day a person of after, it feels like little has changed. Some befores and afters fade into one another like the colors of the sunset meld from one to the next, and suddenly the sky has gone from blue to orange to purple without you noticing. The easy changes are like that. You don’t realize things are changing until they have, and then, before you know it, you’ve made your way from a before to an after.
Other changes fall like a sledgehammer. No matter the slope into it, no matter the warning or preparation, the change will always be abrupt.
I felt my rubber muck boot catch the bottom wire of the horse fence. My ankle caught the strand that I had strung there this summer. My knees hit the snow. The five gallon bucket I had been filling at the spigot fell forward out of my hands and spilled into the stark, white snow, soaking my hands through my gloves, emptying in a mockery of the small task I was trying to accomplish.
I was wearing too many layers to injure myself in the fall: my legs were insulated against their snowy landing spot by two pairs of pants and a pair of heavy duty coveralls. Rather, the -15 degree windchill made the possibility of frostbite through my wet gloves my most pressing concern. I stood up slowly–the only possible way to stand in coveralls–and, swearing at the wind or the weather or my own clumsiness, began to refill the bucket. Ponies need water. It is my job to make sure they have it, whether the process for getting it is pleasant or not. Continue reading “Living the Dream”→