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Daily work plus commute: 14 hours
Nightly sleep: 7 hours
Basic personal hygiene: 1 hour
Household maintenance (meals, cleaning, pet care, laundry): 1.5-2 hours

Very small margin of error, that. Good thing Acorn’s perfectly willing to shoehorn in some quality time, forcing me to multitask time spent with him while doing everything but the first item on that list.

But you’ll notice writing’s nowhere on that list. No time. Or energy either. I’ll return after things slow down a bit at work.

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Last night, I rang in the new year with one of my preferred ways to celebrate the occasion: pretending to be an imaginary person, and rolling dice to determine how the imaginary person I’m pretending to be interacts with the imaginary persons populating the rest of the room. Loads of fun.

Eventually, I came home and slept. Woke, spent time with Acorn, heard all about the wonderful time he had with his grandparents (they saw fireworks, his favourite thing in the world), visited my own grandfather. Came home again, started the final few preparations for starting back to work tomorrow. Needed to hem my new slacks, so I laid them out and brought out the sewing machine.

And the case for the sewing machine came open while I was carrying it. And I dropped the whole thing on my foot.

If this is to be a portent for the coming year, I prefer “Wear shoes in 2008” to “Your best-laid plans will go horribly awry.” Thank you in advance.

Poke. Poke.

“Acorn, quit poking the cat with your baton.”

“I not poking her. I teaching her. I helping her learn.”

“Oh, really? What are you teaching the cat?”

There passes a long moment filled with frantically rolled eyes, a twisted mouth, and several “um”s. At last, he comes up with an answer he thinks will be acceptable.

“I’m teaching her about Jesus!”

I am a participant in Holidailies 2007.

I.

Acorn carefully lays his little doggie down in her fluffy dog bed. She immediately jumps up and starts running circles around him again, so delighted is she that he’s home again after two! Whole! Nights! with her boy not here, absent while he was gone to his daddy’s house.

So Acorn picks her up again, and carefully places her fleece blanket over her, tucking it in on all sides until she is only a furry tan head disappearing into a pink mass. “Good dog,” he murmurs. “Good boy.” She waits for him to move away, then bites at the blanket with puppy-play growls until she has defeated it.

“Mommy,” Acorn says to me, “my doggie won’t stay in her bed.”

“She doesn’t have to stay in her bed,” I tell him.

“But she’s being wiggly!”

“That’s because she’s a doggie. Doggies are kind of wiggly.”

He looks thoughtful. “Well. Her could stay in her bed if she wanted to,” he concludes.

II.

Time has passed. Bedtime. Acorn gets his doggie to sit on my lap and pats her. “Aw. She needs her Mommy Doggie and Daddy Doggie. But they’re in bed.”

“They’re in bed?” I ask. “Where?”

He glances around, and finally shrugs. “I don’t know. Somewhere else.”

Leaning down, he pats the dog again, and speaks softly, comfortingly, into her ear. “Aw. Poor doggie. You need your Mommy. You miss her. But that’s okay. I will take care of you now.”

Lately, I’m loving shopping. No, not going to the mall and browsing. I’ve always hated that (except on certain rare occasions in good company). And certainly not buying things.

But I’ve been looking at the unsolicited catalogs that come in the mail and the random web sites that are having a Big Sale.  Combing through them page by page. Picking out what I want, what I need, the things that will surely, somehow, make my life better. Easier. More beautiful.

I hunt for bargains. I reject things on a whim: too expensive. Too beige.  Not enough cashmere. I load up my imaginary shopping cart with hundreds of dollars of goods, things I not only can’t afford but wouldn’t really want if I could buy them, things I wouldn’t have room for or make good use of. But I don’t think about that, only about what I like.*

Then I close the browser window. I throw away the catalog. I don’t buy a thing, and I go back to my ordinary life, having feasted my eyes on the array of colors designed solely to appeal to them. I am reassured and reminded that I have no material need unfilled. I am refreshed.

*Well, because I’m me, I also think a little about what makes an item in a catalog or on a web site appealing, what makes it appear to fill a need I only have while looking at that page. How it’s pictured. What rhetorical techniques the sales copy has used. The layout of the page. The senses it’s appealing to. This kind of analysis is also a pleasure, for me.

…sitting in the backyard on a late summer afternoon, just watching my boy play.  With a breeze, in the shade, in a comfy fold-up chair on the patio.

Laptop and wireless internet: optional.  Swingset, iced tea, oak trees, toy tractors, and the remains of our summer garden: mandatory.

I was cleaning out this blog’s spam filter a little while ago, and happened across this gem:

There was once a short story written by an author named Shirley Jackson called the lottery. In most of our lives lotteries are wonderful things that can make us filthy rich with the investment of a couple of dollars and some luck. Even when we don’t win there is the fun of imagining what to do if fortune smiles on us and suddenly we find ourselves in a situation where investment bankers are sending us muffin baskets and kissing our pinky rings. In the world of Ms. Jackson, lotteries are a far less enjoyable experience that can result in a large number of heavy rocks being chucked at the person who has the winning ticket. I don’t know exactly where Shirley was buying her lottery tickets, but a more reasonable person would do their shopping elsewhere.

Followed, of course, by a link to some kind of lottery site. It reads like something you might expect to read from a poorly-educated seventh grader, but there’s a part of me that wants to give the spammer some credit for effort. At least this caught my attention, unlike the endless porn, DVD, and sex-enhancing drug spam comments that I normally have to sift through.

We later learned that he’d been hiding it for six hours before I caught him in the middle of an episode, before I heard him grasping for words and saw that only one side of his mouth was moving. We didn’t know that at the time, or when the ambulance pulled up scant minutes later, the first time I’ve ever felt relief at hearing sirens approach. My mother rode in the ambulance; I followed, and later learned that the patient — my father — was worried that I’d be scared for him when they turned the siren and lights back on as we neared the hospital.

It was a single blood vessel (the neurologist told us later), closing and opening repeatedly. It did no permanent damage.

The rest of it I don’t know how to write. The hours in the emergency room. Watching my father’s face contort as he had yet another stroke, not knowing whether this one would be bigger and more damaging than the last. Able to help only by being there. By bearing witness, and by holding his hand.

I don’t always use my time well. (“Really, Country Mouse?” you all chorus in my head, you unbelievers. “We never would have guessed that.”) If I could use my time more efficiently, I could certainly achieve much more.

But then, couldn’t everyone? Yes, as a matter of fact, at least in theory. No one makes 100% efficient use of their time. And so, while there are plenty of ways I’d like to improve my use of time, I’m okay with the way I use my time for now. I have finally, after a good 10 years, stopped beating myself up for the inefficiencies that result simply from being human. (Not to mention the ironic inefficiencies that result from said self-inflicted beratings.)

So, to the question. Where does my time go? It goes to job hunting and essay-writing. It goes to wilfing around while I try to coax my memory into conjuring up the subject I meant to search for. It goes to playing with my son and taking him to therapy appointments. It goes to running needed errands, and corresponding with Mr. X to work out the details of Acorn’s summer visitation. It goes to tidying again and again in rooms that will never stay tidy without a bit of underlying organization. It goes to chatting with my parents and playing games with my grandfather. It goes to grocery shopping and trying to create healthful meals for everyone. It goes to reading books and making things.

None of these, in themselves are bad things (except maybe the lack of organization). It’s a matter of keeping things in balance, getting done what needs to be done without getting bogged down in the details. The details have always been my downfall.

This post, in addition to being a way of reflecting on my habits for my own sake, is an entry to this contest on the Parent Bloggers Network, sponsored by Light Iris.

I’m not known for wearing dresses, but a few days ago I found a cute and comfortable skirt at an irresistible price.  Today I wore it for the first time.

“Mommy!” Acorn said, trotting up to me.  “You got a…” He paused, looking at the skirt, clearly trying to think of what to call this unfamiliar garment.

“Oh, that looks pretty,” my mother said to me.

“You’re pretty!” Acorn said with delight at having found the word he wanted, and threw his arms around me.