Saturday, September 27, 2008

Nut-Brown Grandmas

My mom read my last entry and said, "Anne, you will never be a nut-brown grandma. You are too fair-skinned."

She is right. In fact, she is actually the nut-brown Grandma. See her picture?

She is still chic. Great hair, great skin, somehow eternally young-looking in her khaki shorts and New Balance tennies.

And truly, we all want to look good, you know, in our 30s, 4os, 50s, 60s. We dress attractively, we spend time on our hair, and put on muted make up when we go to church. We wear heels occasionally. But there comes an age when, aside from working to be healthy, it is time to just be comfortable.

My mom thinks I will be a pink Grandma one day when I am old, because I am fair. So, below, I will amend my Grandma statements accordingly.

I do believe in my 70s or 80s I will become a soft, wrinkly pink Grandma with some freckles, and some face powder, a flowered dress, and pale blue cardigan, and very comfortable shoes with rubbery soles and laces. I may wear red lipstick because a person gets to do whatever they want at that age, and red is pretty and cheerful. Or I may wear pink pearl lipstick! or I may wear no lipstick.

I intend to maintain my health by briskly walking! I have good role models for this. My own Navy grandma was a great example, walking the track briskly every day to keep herself strong and fit. But also I expect to become a bit squishier around the middle, so that when grandchildren lean on me, it is soft there. I will let my hair be simple, I will wash it with a nice, fruity shampoo, brush it out until it is soft, and not think about it again.

When I was growing up, my red-haired Iowa grandma always had fragrant lotions on the little tables in her bathrooms. So I too will wear lotions from the Avon lady, choosing all the ones that smell nice to me.

I will invite the Avon lady in the house to visit and sit and listen to her, and buy some of her products, and I will take my time smelling them all while the cookies I made with real butter cook in the oven. No Smart Balance for me anymore, when I am 70! I will keep little tubes and bottles around the house for all of my granddaughters to rub on their hands and arms, and dishes of costume jewelry for them to play with.

I will keep my wedding rings and give the other nice jewelry to my daughter and daughters-in-law. The young women should have diamonds and gold, for I intend to wear a short strand of fake pearls every day because I like them, and when I am in my 70s, it won't matter if that is appropriate for the grocery store any more.

I will invite Mormons in the house and give them tracts and make a deal to read their tracts if they read mine. And they'll get cookies, too. Cookies for everyone!

There will be strawberries and blueberries at my house for breakfast, and I will eat 2 eggs every morning. Like my Iowa grandma did, I will have little cut glass dishes of gum drops around for grandchildren.

In my 60s I will take grandchildren on trips to interesting places. But in my 70s I might go to Africa, once I am an older Grandma, and be a missionary at a village with AIDS children who need to be loved, or I might go to an orphanage in Asia or Romania and hold orphaned babies all day if they'll let me. I might have gotten a nursing degree by then, and I might go to South America and help children who need healthcare and a nice, loving lap to sit on. Or I might stay right here in America and sit with very old, lonely people stuck in their wheelchairs and listen to them. They can tell me whatever they want to tell me for as long as they want to tell it. I've got no where to be!

I will carry a big bag with inside pockets full of lifesavers, gum, tissues, a deck of cards, and crayons and paper for children who need to be amused. I will learn how to make fun things out of a simple handkerchief. Also in my bag I will carry McDonalds dollar coupons for homeless people, a good book, and a dollar to give to children I know sometimes. I will ride my bike to the grocery and walk around the block every evening. I will have a cat, if David lets me. (He'll be working as an usher at a baseball stadium when he is 70; taking tickets and talking statistics.)

You know, there is a lot to look forward to, when you grow older!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pregnancy Revisited

Just for fun, here's a re-posting of two of my essays on pregnancy.


Drawing Room

It seems to me that babies are sprouting forth in other families all around me, so here I sit thinking about babies and pregnancy, of all things.

I am thinking, pregnancy is masculine. This is only right, for after all, a man is closely involved. The womb is New York City, it is a large, rumbling construction site of vessels and muscles and belly, swollen with doings and slow traffic and shut down for days, months, longer than predicted. All kinds of activities and such re-routed, things grind to a standstill, then a rush of activity.

Mom at Work! There should be orange Detour signs, No Traffic Today, Not This Month, Not This Summer, Expect Delays! Go the other way! Ok, Stand and Watch, but Stay Back behind the tape. We should all be wearing hard hats and giving cat calls and surveying the scene with our thumbs in our pockets. The baby finally emerges and looks like he has been in a brawl, red and blue and puffy and gasping and clenched.

But, of course, pregnancy is also feminine. It is, as the Psalmist says, like knitting.

There is fine needlework being done deep down in the womb -- a genteel drawing room, private and hushed. There are delicate, tiny, original stitches... the infinite, infinitesimal, industrious click-clicking of molecule upon molecule weaving and fitting, a little friendly gossip between the soul and body, the DNA taking tea.

Did you know, the face forms itself from the outside in? It meets in the middle and leaves it's little calling card, which is the dimple and bow of your upper lip. In a child born with a cleft lip, like my boy, Ben, you can see where the face did not meet, the introduction wasn't properly made, and there was a scandal. And always the placenta pours the precise mix of blood and vitamins in, the little toes and hands grasp and push away the cup. There is the clink of saucers, a polite chuckle, a murmur. Then -- shhh -- the baby is sleeping!


An Inch and a Universe

I write this on an old spiral after a day at dog obedience school, clearing out branches and logs from the storm, and shuttling to and fro the repair shop... the flotsam of suburban life.

I look down at my belly, untroubled by improvements and besotted with metaphor. It is Greek Hestia's belly, or the Victorian "Angel at the Hearth," or the Hearth itself where babies are warmed, a Garden where babies are grown.

In college it was tight and brown and good to look at, good for tanning and pink bikinis. But it has been about more important business since then. Now it is good for holding babies. It is good Rx for scraped knees and stubbed toes, a pillow for tired brown heads in church, a place to bury your face when you feel shy or afraid, a warm and friendly place.

It is stretched and functional, criss-crossed with the lines and shiny stretches of 3 babies and some surgeries. It bears the haphazard tic-tac-toe of gestation and trauma, the hard work of hammering out and making people. My dad remarks (a military man), "Your Marine friends would be jealous!" But surely if I hung out with Marines, I wouldn't be showing them my belly!

William, once and years ago you were a baby inside, elbowing my abdomen, forcing me to take up your desperate agenda. One inch of skin separated me from you. One inch of skin and womb between mother and son, and it may as well have been a mile. There was a human pressed to my heart and kicking my ribs, and I had never met him. I hadn't met you.

I'd seen many strangers and never you. And there would be no hurrying our introduction -- that grand introduction. The brutal miracle, this labor of desire, forged by your father's heat and shaped in your mother's lap -- and you, a different soul, separate from us, little squawking man. And now my tall and lanky brown-eyed boy, catcher of baseballs, reader of science encyclopedias, eater of large cookies... irrevocably you.

God's creation. Holy to the Lord. Never early, never late. I wait.

"As it is written, 'Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord.'" Luke 10: 23

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Preparation for Sunday from the Book of Common Prayer

Holy Eucharist: Rite One

....Almighty God, unto to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Exhortation from the Headmistress of Highlands Latin [Classical School] in Kentucky

The following address, given to the children and parents of a Classical Christian School in Kentucky, succinctly gives a "treeline" view of the classical focus and approach in cooperative education.

Highlands Latin offers a unique education built on a strong and lasting foundation: a foundation of three universal languages, Latin, mathematics, and music; a foundation of reading the classics to develop wisdom and virtue, and the foundation of a living faith.
In partnership with parents, and guided by the Gospel, we are committed to helping your children develop their academic gifts to the highest standards of the classical tradition. We are committed to character and faith formation. We are committed to helping your children grow in knowledge, wisdom, and the love of Our Lord, so that they may more ably use their gifts in the service of others, and for the glory of Christ and his Church.
A classical education has the challenging goal of giving our youth the kind of wisdom that it takes a life time to gain on one’s own. This wisdom has two sources, one human and one divine. For it was God’s providential plan that human wisdom should come to us through the Greeks and divine wisdom be revealed to us through the Hebrews. We owe so much to Greece and Rome - philosophy, literature, law, government, geometry, science – all the subjects that children still study in school today. We study and honor our classical heritage and thank God for it, just as we are grateful for all of the good gifts of life.
And as Christians, we especially give thanks for Greece because by setting the standard for human wisdom, she points the way to divine wisdom. For the Greek philosophers who used reason to establish the foundations of learning, were unable to conceive of a god that could satisfy both the human mind and the human heart. But the revelation of God in Jesus Christ satisfies both. The Reason of the Greeks and the Revelation of the Hebrews, each stands out in sharper contrast when seen together.
And as Christians, we especially give thanks for Rome because she teaches us that Christ is the Lord of History. The invincible spirit of Rome created an empire that haunts the memory of mankind. But this empire, born in blood and violence, was itself conquered by a kingdom born in love. The Romans who conquered by force and the Greeks who ruled by reason were themselves conquered and ruled by an unreasonable love. And thus the prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled, the meek did inherit the earth. The foolishness of God was wiser and stronger than the wisdom of men.
Students, we hope that you have a good year. We hope that you persevere in your studies and never give up - like the Romans. We hope that you develop an unquenchable thirst for truth and wisdom - like the Greeks. And most of all we pray that you add to those natural virtues of Greece and Rome , the Christian virtues of chastity, charity, humility, faith, hope, and joy. Students, soon your school year will begin. Remember: always honor your parents, respect and obey your teachers, and be kind and helpful to your classmates.