Sunday, January 17, 2010

Forgive mothers-to-be a couple idiosyncrasies

Our oldest son Quinn and wife Heather are expecting their firstborn. They sent out the "bun in the oven"postcard in November 2009. The ecstatic news sent me rummaging through columns I wrote when Quinn, now 32, was a child and I was expecting his brother, Chris, now 23. Times change but some things don't, and a wanted pregnancy is a time like no other. I wrote a lot about both boys during those incredible child-rearing years and will post a rerun column occasionally with notes about what I've learned since.

Grants Pass Daily Courier
April 2, 1986
Forgive mothers-to-be a couple idiosyncrasies
The woman was well into the third trimester of pregnancy before she could bring herself to write about it. Pregnancy is so, well, common, and maybe no one cares that she's getting close to being fruitful and multiplying. Pregnant women often secretly believe they're the center of the universe, forgetting that birth is as routine as spring, as ordinary as tulips. In philosophical moments they identify with the earth and how it is the medium for unfathomable growth. Seeds draw nourishment from it, and every spring the miracles repeat, renewing the landscape and replenishing hope.
The baby grows in her, but she does nothing. She has a vague sense that making a baby is the most important thing she can do, yet it requires no effort, no creativity. The egg that produced this baby was formed within her while she was still in her own mother's womb. At conception its physical characteristics were determined, written indelibly in genes.
Pregnant women think about such things and feel important but humble They can be dull company if they often share their thoughts, or if all they can discuss is the activities of the unborn.

The pregnant woman does not wish to bore anyone with incessant accounts of her past several months, but hopes she can be permitted some reflections. She periodically tries to ignore the whole process, turning her mind to matters of greater interest to he companions, but sooner or later, a keen sense of caring emerges. It is difficult to ignore the fact that a highly visible part of her anatomy is gradually being overtaken by someone who already has a functioning brain, and who can hear her voice and music and maybe even the songs of the spring birds in the orchard.
If for a moment she forgets her condition, the becoming person will energetically stretch or flex or roll. She suppresses the urge to call attention to these gymnastics, instead resting her hand on her abdomen and trying to visualize the small but growing person exercising its muscles, cell by cell building toward birth.
She is overwhelmed by curiosity about this person with whom she shares her body, her food, her moods, her thoughts. Sometimes she addresses it as "she," and sometimes as "he," not having a strong preference either way. She sometimes believes she may be the only expectant mother over 35 who doesn't know the sex and confirmation of her unborn child. She wants to know the baby is all right, but she knows she couldn't "do anything about it," as her doctor put it, even if it isn't. So she waits, sometimes impatiently, as the baby prepares
itself for life on the outside.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Quick cat update

Thanks to all who offered counsel regarding the Christmas cat moving in with my mom, age 93. Your advice, except for one (my wise sister, Monette who said no way!) was "sure, bring it on!" more or less.  Then it all fell apart because 1) my mom took another fall in her apartment, and adding even the slightest risk would have been irresponsible, and 2) that whore of a cat disappeared for almost a week. He materialized  on our doorstep last night, visibly more sleek and well fed than the last time he was here. i went right into slave-to-whore-cat mode and whipped up his favorite meal—baked chicken drumstick. Sometimes you just have to go with the status quo and call it good.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

To cat or not to cat—petting the elderly

My mom, 93, likes cats. The "Christmas cat" I mentioned in an earlier post likes her. He is a mellow guy, prone to long naps. When mom's here, he nestles into her lap and she strokes him. They both purr. She asks about him when he's gone. "Is everybody accounted for?" she inquires, looking for him when entering our home. He spends hours in her lap. The question: should this cat be her apartment mate? The arguments pro:
  • The elderly are often lonely and bored  and pets help give them purpose and companionship. I can hear her talking to him as I write. She coos, "Oh, so you do move every once in awhile. Nice kitty."
  • Cats are silky and responsive and nice to touch and feel. The elderly get precious little of "touchy, feely."
  • Her residence encourages small pet ownership.
  • She's open to the idea, but worries that she "can't take it outside," not realizing many cats are house cats only. Our cats, the only felines she's known as far as I know, have been inside/outside beings with a come-and-go-cat door. The last one, Rowdy, our favorite for about 10 years, disappeared one summer night. After sad and fruitless searching, we figured he was eaten by an owl, a coyote, a raccoon, a fox, or a cougar. Country life is not always kind to pets.
  • Provision for litter-box clean-up, which is beyond her, can be arranged.
  • We could always take the cat back and continue to share him around the neighborhood.
The primary argument con:
  • The cat is black, especially difficult to see in the night-lighted darkness by a visually impaired elderly person. Cats are a tripping hazard. My mom is increasingly prone to falling. Cats are notorious for slithering around ankles and being in the way.
Since I started this post, I've witnessed the usually docile cat in manic mode, outside, flinging himself from tree trunk to tree trunk in our small orchard. He rushes one trunk, grabs it with all fours, clambers up, drops, and flings himself onto the next tree. We've also noticed carnage—a mole's head, long front teeth intact—in a puddle of slime on the back porch. Is it fair to ask an inside/outside neighborhood cat to convert to inside only? Or would we be doing him a favor by providing him with reliable warmth, companionship, and food?

But really, it's not about him. It's about her. Does the safety issue outweigh the pleasure of having a pet? What do you think? Many readers have expressed frustration when attempting to leave comments. (Why is that, Blogger?) Try my email: Facebook friends, you can weigh in via our fave social network.  I appreciate your thoughts.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Things that make me glad in bleak mid-winter

Geraniums glowing in the solarium. 

A box of winter greens. 

Wild turkeys alongside the road during a December bike ride.
Grandma LaVone enjoying grandson Chris'  adventures via the Kokotat blog.

PK's dried serrano peppers awaiting marriage with garlic and vinegar for superb chili garlic sauce.
 My first senior ski pass: Mt. Shasta, $15 a day!

Resolutions I have kept- and one for 2010

I thought I'd given up on the New Year's resolution  exercise, but I see not.
Why? Because despite my resistance, the topic compels me. I can't help it. In the recent past, I have made resolutions that I have actually kept, and some corrections in my trajectory transpired.
Here are some resolutions that worked. 
1. I bought nothing new for one year. (Not that difficult for somebody already attuned to Goodwill shopping, but it required some discipline. I still adhere in general, but respect and recognize the preference for unsoiled undergarments.)
2. I ate something from the garden every day. (So easy when surrounded by garden 9 months of the year. Pepper flakes, dried tomatoes, and lots of frozen corn in lean winter made this a snap.)
3. I kept a daily food journal. (Incredibly boring, but I will revisit for an occasional inspired recipes and periodic insights.)

No big deal on these. But they beat losing (and regaining) the same 10 pounds year after year. And they required daily thought and discipline.

Despite advancing age, I'm still figuring things out and recognize the role that resolutions fill in setting direction. Ta da! Here's THE 2010 resolution:

Figure out the difference between what I have to do and what I want to do and make necessary adjustments.  This has to do with juggling familial obligations and pleasures, volunteerism, paid work, and self-centered stuff—such as writing this blog and going for walks and bike rides and doing yoga and taking up art and on and on. Stay tuned.