Monday, December 31, 2012


I frowned with two steps left to descend, already craving coffee with cream, when the flickering flames cast moving shadows on the walls of the living room.  It's not like Mom - who stayed with me after Brother and the Ones departed yesterday - to fail in her shut-down-and-lock-up bedtime routine.

I cocked my head and blinked a couple of times before moving toward the kitchen to start coffee, pausing when Sprout wound around my ankle in a bid for kibble.  I was nudging him away so I could place his full dish on his placemat when I heard retching.

I straightened with increasing concern as he scampered away from the noise.  I hurried up the stairs, calling for Mom and taking a second to panic when her bed remained made and upstairs bathrooms were empty.

Jogging back downstairs, I found her in the powder room on the main floor, inquired after her and waited until she finished to help clean the mess as she returned to my comfy couch - a mere 3 steps away - and covered with the pretty chenille blanket I gave her for Christmas.

She has rested under that blue blanket all day between trips to the bathroom while I watched with concern, taking a short break only to try to nap away a migraine.

"Coke," Aunt instructed when I called her and reported our 12 hour long struggle.  "A spoonful every 15 minutes.  It may come up, but keep having her drink."

So I have dutifully spooned soda between her parched lips, watching twice more as she shuffled to the bathroom to make miserable noises.

I finally sat on the ottoman to pray over her, placing one hand in hers and the other gently on her sore tummy.  Head bowed, I asked God for more comfort and healing and rest.  To take care of Dad - who we miss so much despite his lack of efficacy when dealing with illness.  To care for our loved ones, though we avoided seeing them on Christmas.  To help us in our sadness and illness.

I'm not sorry to see this year end - it's been my most miserable collection of days thus far.  Yet my heart has healed a little bit, I think.  I face 2013 with a new MacBook Air so I can attempt to blog more.  I want to dance - looking terribly, breathlessly silly in my living room with my Xbox for company.  I have good goals at work.

And perhaps January 1 will be free of vomit and migraines.  Here's to hope.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

With Cornflakes On Top

Mom keeps putting her purse in the dining room.  We've not used it otherwise.

We have, however, cooked.  Or rather she has.  Casseroles from my childhood, two of them topped with cornflakes for extra crunchy goodness.  We go fetch a plate when hungry, resettling in our places on comfortable living room furniture rather than setting a table.

The phone woke me this morning - Brother called on his way to work just after 6AM and Mom clomped down the stairs (louder than a herd of reindeer) to wish him a merry Christmas.  I rolled over, patted Chienne as she remained huddled under the covers, and sighed before descending the steps.

I listened to her conversation while making coffee, returning from the kitchen with 2 mugs and the cordless phone.

After hanging up, Mom and I glanced at each other and shrugged.  So I treated it like most other days and turned on the news while we sipped coffee.

"I would like to open a present," she decided.  So I went to fetch one of her packages - decorated in dancing penguins - and bestowed it upon her.  Wrapped in her new chenille blanket, she pursed her lips and selected a gift for me and one for Chienne, who blinked at the gift sleepily before her tail reached maximum wagging speed while she tore paper away from her new toy.

"Thank you," I grinned upon opening my new Xbox.  It is the Disneyland edition with Kinect - suggested by Brother when I decided I wanted to dance around my living room and collect a multitude of points.  Instead of dance-dancing though, I spent a couple of hours puzzling over the admittedly-simple connection and set-up.

"I can probably figure it out when I get there," Little One offered when she and her sister called.

"I'm almost 34 and have a doctorate," I told her sternly while Mom smiled.  "I will do it myself."  And - after a little more time - I announced victory and began to explore Disneyland by flailing my arms like a crazy person.

"Excuse me," I muttered repeatedly as I crashed into animated people, trees and fences.  I dutifully waved at characters and completed tasks - finding Donald's hat and Minnie's autograph book and Ariel's dinglehoppers.

"Oof!" I yelped when I crashed into buildings while flying with Tinkerbell.  Or tumbling down the rabbit hole for Alice.  My avatar went transparent a lot.  A lot.

But Mom giggled and offered advice and encouragement and I laughed breathlessly at the photos of me attempting to navigate my game.

We opened a few more gifts - I'll admit I'm relieved we went easy on our typical holiday excesses.  Instead, we talked and jumped and danced in front of the television and fireplace.

We had egg salad on freshly-baked bread.  Then connecticut beef supper with cornflakes on top.

It was merry.  For which I'm grateful.  And so I'm wishing you much merriment as well.

Monday, December 24, 2012


"Don't forget to bring suits," I told Mom when she indicated her sleigh was filled from floor to ceiling.  "Swim," I clarified.  "Though I guess snow wouldn't hurt either."

My landscape (dirt and trees and bushes, etc.) has - at long last - been coated in a layer of fluffy white.  My house seems to be located just at the edges of the blizzard that pushed through, leaving a friendly couple of inches rather than the daunting feet that fell nearby.

I had prepared, shaking my head at the idea of storing my snowblower in the shed until late December, but pushed it up the hill and through the gate and into the garage where it stood ready to clear sidewalks and driveway.

I emerged into a chilly morning, carefully filled it with gas and coaxed it to start.  Breathless after several minutes of fruitlessly yanking a chain, I sighed and murmured to Dad that I didn't know if I could do this.

Then, with a spark of the motor and cough of smoke, the machine roared to life and puttered happily while I blinked back tears and set to work.

I found myself frowning at my meager pile of gifts on Saturday while Chienne whined impatiently at the door, not awaiting Santa but her grandma and cat.  They arrived and I offered a grinning welcome to Sir Sprout before he sprinted from the much-hated car to house-bound safety.  Then I clung to Mom for a moment, nudging away the sadness this season has brought us.

We unloaded the car, my penguin-paper-wrapped offerings soon disappearing underneath 50+ much larger gifts.  We arranged the baby carriages we had assembled at her house and I'll admit to a bemused shake of head when we arranged dolls and blankets in them.

"I told you I have the welcome letters for our trip, right?" I asked Mom and she nodded, confirming that she had swimsuits to wear in the hotel pool.  She and I are spending Christmas at my house - the first time I've ever been away from home - sans tree or decorations apart from a nativity scene.  (Fear not - the fireplace and pile o' presents add some happiness to the decor.)

Brother will fetch his girls en route to Aunt Katie's and they'll arrive on the 26th.  We'll be here for that day and the next before proceeding to our post-Christmas trip at a not-too-far-away mecca for dolls.  That are girls.  From America.  Going all out, I've reserved two rooms at a nearby hotel with a special doll package.  Doll beds and cupcakes with sprinkles and a free movie and space for each of them to spend with either Grandma and Aunt Katie or Brother and his longtime girlfriend.

I'm actually pretty excited about it.

And will likely post photos.

Until then, I'm wishing you snowblowers that start, laughter with family and friends and a really lovely Christmas.