Monday, December 26, 2005

SPT: Reflective Surface #4

To avoid putting up my reflection in an ornament, because it's almost come to that, here is a nod to Kath Red with a little of my own wander lust.

I'm in Salt Lake City. Beth's driving. It's snowing and we're stuck behind a plow trying to catch the tail end of the kids' ski class.

We didn't make it in time to see them coming down the bunny hill. However, Chloe was all smiles, bouncing up and down showing off the stickers on her button. Tomorrow we'll check into a lodge for a few days of skiing before meandering south. Hopefully, all in one piece.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I arrived about 40 minutes early for my doctor’s appointment this morning. I was grateful for the opportunity to wait. There is this hat that I’ve been working on that I looked forward to completing. It has been started and unraveled several times from when the first frost came until today.

At the beginning of November, Chicago turned from unseasonably warm to unseasonably cold all in a day. I scrounged the house and was disappointed with what hats I had remaining from previous years. How do I get through the seasons with such absurd fashion ensembles? Every time the weather changes, I am baffled at what I wore the previous year. But I’ve never been up-to-date or stylish. Walking into a store to purchase the latest trend seems more uncomfortable to me than it is to wear a goofy hat. The scrutiny and disapproval of the salespeople is intimidating enough. But the selection? How do people have the time to scour all those stores to find just the right thing? It feels soulless.

The amount of time it would take to shop for just the kind of hat I want, I could probably make several. Except I don’t have a pattern, nor could I read one. I only know very few stitches. But I set to work, experimenting, unraveling, experimenting, and unraveling some more.

It’s a strange shape, the new hat that I’m working on. It will have a pointed top (I’m not sure with my height and long face if that will be attractive) and flaps over the ears. I’m working on the flaps. If it were just one flap it would be simple. But to make two shapes where I decrease at the right rows, with the exact number of stitches, well, I lack patience to keep track. It’s a good experiment at best.

Back in the waiting room, I thought that I was only a few rows from completion, when a boy interrupted my thoughts and asked me if it was “fun”.

“Huh? Come again?”

“That.” He points to my stitches. “Is that fun?” I heard a Harummph from a large man sitting next to me. He must have found it amusing that this 13 year-old boy should be interested in crochet.

“I don’t think I would call it fun. I find it relaxing.” The doctor I am waiting for is a psychoanalyst. Today is the second time I will see her. Yesterday was the first. I sought her out for my anxiety.

He stood up and moved next to me, a little too close. My stomach lurched as I realized I was under examination. Panic. I looked into his face, took a deep breath, and asked if he’d like to learn.

I’ve never taught anyone to crochet before. It’s just something that I know how to do. I’m not even sure if I could remember learning it – probably at a Young Woman’s class at church. It was one of those essential Mormon life skills that trumped financial planning or safe sex instruction.

I didn’t realize how difficult it was to keep the yarn in the right place with the right amount of tension to make a simple chain. With an extra hook and a small ball of yarn, I held his large hands to direct his movements. His slow, deliberate attempts calmed me. The yarn failed to stay put. His knots were too tight to slip over the hook.

He kept trying, his hands fumbling with the thread. My hands touching his. I thought for a moment that someone might find this inappropriate, me touching a stranger’s hands. A kid, no less. Where was his mother? Father? He was here, waiting for a doctor, alone. All eyes were on us, me and this boy. But we were focused on the loops, the knots, the hook and the wool.

“How long would it take to make that?” He pointed to my hat.

“Well, if I didn’t keep taking it apart, probably about three hours.”

“Can you make one of those?” He pointed to a statue.

“No, I’m not a sculpturer.”

“I mean his hat.” His eyes were twinkling. It was a bronze bust of a bishop, or cardinal or something. It wore a skullcap. Hmmm, it looked similar to a yarmulka.

“Yeah, I suppose I could.”

“Could you make one for me?” He asked.

“Oh, no, I’ll be leaving in just a few moments. But you can have my yarn, and the hook. Maybe you can find some good instructions on the Internet.” At that, my doctor came through the door. “Good bye. It was nice to meet you.”

In her office she asked if I was feeling the same tension and anxiety as I did before. “No,” I smiled, “I really feel much better.” And I did.

Monday, December 19, 2005

SPT: Reflective Surface #3

Here I am, again, on a reflective surface. I had stopped for lunch after spending the morning at Marshall Fields on State Street. I should have been Christmas shopping, but whole process seemed overwhelming and insignificant at the same time. With camera in tow, I snapped up photos of some of the beautiful architectural elements while passing through.

Fields on State has the absolute best sales woman in the lingerie department. She saw right through my padded bra and sized me up perfectly, "Hmmm, 38b. Come with me, honey." And into the changing room she brought me along with 10 perfectly fitting bras. "Try them on, kid. Come on, let me see them." It's about like undressing in front of your grandmother. I so appreciate the true sales professionals. Unfortunately, it seems they are about as replaceable as say, the Fields' name.

I stopped here at Potbellies, for lunch and ordered the "wreck". Felt a little like one, too.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Some Whine with my Tea

This is my second cold/sinus infection whatever of the season. Blah. Yuck. Eh. I'm in my pink bathrobe and pajamas next to a pile of used tissue and cup of echinacea elderberry tea. All I need is some big, fluffy slippers. What's your favorite cold remedies?

I want to move to someplace warm and reserve the beautiful, snow laden trees to a vacation experience.

(Do people in the South get sick less?)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Narnia in Color and other Technological Wonders

Chloe is very excited to see The Chronicles of Narnia. We tried to get in last Friday, but of course, most of the shows were sold out. She was so very, very disappointed.

I told her that this weekend we will go see The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (she makes me say each word, abbreviating the title is not accepted). The anticipation for this is building into something greater than Christmas. Each day on the way home from school she asks excitedly, "Mom, is it the weekend yet? Are we going to movie today?"

"No, it's only Monday (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday). We have 5 (4,3,2) more days to wait."

Yesterday, after I put her off again, she burst into tears as we were crossing the street. "But, but Mom," her lower lip quivered, "it won't be COLORED then. Waaaaaahhhhhh."

??? "Huh? It won't be colored?"

"It will be old and turn to BLACK and WHITE!" she wailed.

Five-year-old logic, but good logic nonetheless. She's seen a black and white movie, asks where the color is, and I tell her it is an old movie. Therefore, if a new movie becomes old, it will lose it's color. And the tragedy is, which she really believed, if she doesn't see The Chronicles of Narnia right away, like TODAY, it might become old and she'll only get to see it in black and white. I could barely suppress my chuckles as I soothed her in my arms.

Imagine this, while our children may occasionally see a black and white film when their grandparents get nostalgic, they will never know of a time when the Internet did not exist. (Unless Armageddon really does come to bring about the end of the world as we know it - or worse - the Internet.)

Back in the day, my father was somewhat of a computer maverick. As a young girl I remember visiting him at work to see IT - an enormous piece of machinery the size of a New York City apartment that spit out punch cards. Today, my laptop the size of a notebook, has probably over 100 million times the computing power than that magnificent machine. "Big deal, Mom." I can imagine my daughter saying in about 10 years.

During his last visit, my dad gave me a beautiful memento - my birth announcement. It was made on one such computer. It says,

"It's true computers are here to stay;
and, Thea Jon (my sister) has found a way
for automation to help her say
her baby sister arrived today."

That was more than 38 years ago.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

SPT: Toaster

Marriage isn't always bliss. After working out at the gym, I sat on a stool in my kitchen and ate Pirate Booty (kind of defeats the purpose) pondering my marriage. I found it amusing to see how the distorted image of myself in the toaster reflected the anger that I should have been feeling.

Instead I felt depressed.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Big Truck

Originally uploaded by Dominique Alyce.
I was waiting for the light on Congress and Dearborn when this truck slowly approached. Two little dogs dressed in red and white santa sweaters were yapping like crazy at the window. He rolled down his window, smiled and waved as I snapped this photo. I'm sad it turned out blurry. Didn't have time to adjust the settings.

During the same walk I was experimenting with photographing reflections (for self portrait tuesday). A rugged guy (scary at first) approached, stopped and stared. After watching me photograph myself several times in the library window, he broke out into an enormous toothy grin. He stepped closer and began a series of amusing poses. When I turned my camera on him, he became shy and shuffled away.

I'm thrilled when total strangers ham it up to get their picture taken.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Dancing Dreamer

Originally uploaded by Dominique Alyce.
Today was Chloe's much anticipated ballet recital. It started with the three girls sleeping. One girl would yawn, stand up, dance about and sit down again. Then the next, and finally Chloe's turn.

The first girl's skirt was stuck under Chloe. She had to poke and nudge Chloe to get her butt off her skirt. This confused Chloe which got her irritated, but continued "sleeping". The next girl did her little dance and sat down. When it was time for Chloe to get up, her skirt was stuck underneath both girls. Oh the sadness and confusion. Finally she boldy stood up as her skirt was torn off. She grabbed it, ran off stage, got fixed up and returned quickly to finish her dance.

My heart nearly burst in my chest as I saw her panic. I remember when I was little and in a Montessori school performance. There was a big number when all the classes were combined. I got my turn on stage - right in front of the school. At one point in the routine, we were to stand with our legs planted firm as we reached into the air. My hands shot up as my skirt fell to the floor. I ran off the stage in tears. Someone's parent pinned me back together and pushed me onstage for it to happen again. I never forgot the embarrassment, but still continued to get on stage for various performances throughout my life.

In spite of Chloe's little faux pas, she completed her performance with all the smiles and grace of a bumbling 5-year-old. And again my heart nearly burst from pride and love.

Backstage, she was excited to see me. Only when we were finally alone did her composer melt as she sobbed in my shoulder. My sweet, sweet girl.

PS: I had to do everything to contain myself as the good Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, sat behind me in the audience. George was nudging me to go talk with him - knowing my great admiration for the man and his work. No. He was there as a devoted parent like the rest of us. Surely he would like to enjoy his family without celebrity.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Sunday, December 04, 2005

It's Coming.

This disturbing short article today in the New York Times reminds me of my Christmas angst. Shopping, wrapping, packing, sending, spending, spending, spending, spending. What the hell does all this have to do with the birth of Christ? I ask.

I am frustrated that I still don’t know how to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way. I had hopes that I’d have it all figured out so I can pass on some lessons and traditions to my daughter.

There are only about 20 days left until Christmas so I need to figure it out soon. The easiest way out is to simply sit down, make a list and go shopping. By doing so, I promote the aspect of Christmas that disturbs me the most. Crazy, huh? Yet, even when I've sent out that message in the past that I don’t want to play that game, I am met with harsh criticism and people insist that they are still going to give me gifts no matter what because they like to. This year, I’ve been in denial. I haven’t said anything. I haven’t asked what anyone wants. I don’t want to know. I don’t know what I plan to do. Which means that I’ll probably end up at the last minute rushing about in a frenzy because I don’t want to be the mean mother/wife/daughter/sister/aunt/friend/employer, etc.

What is most important to me is seeing my family and enjoying time with them. My family is scattered all over the map. There will never be one time to see them all so I try my best to space it out throughout the year. This year I’ll be in Utah on Christmas to spend time with one side of the family. I’m thrilled that Chloe will get a chance to bond with her grandparents, play with her cousins, and ski with the dad’s while my sister and I have some uninterrupted time to spend with each other.

Christ’s birth is important to me, but not at the top of the list. I am not a practicing Christian. Yet, I still find there are many rich and valuable lessons to embrace in some of their stories. That and Chloe is obsessed with baby Jesus so I try to teach her what my understanding of Christ is, rather than let the retailers, cartoons and commercials form her beliefs. Ultimately, I’d prefer her obsession over Christ rather than Santa Claus as long as she doesn't start thumping bibles. I’d rather talk about how Christ’s profound message to the world was about loving and serving others. Not going to a shopping mall, spend all your money on things that people don’t really need so you aren’t an outcast by showing up empty handed.

While I muse over all this, Chloe is outside playing in freshly fallen snow with one very good friend. This is what I enjoy most about this season.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Whenever my husband's family gets together, we always end up at a bowling alley.

This is Chloe's first time. I love her technique. And darn if she couldn't keep those pants above her hips.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Pillow Talk

He nuzzles into my neck.

"Mmmmmm, you smell good.
What is it?"

"I showered."