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missing (almost) the stinky diaper pail

November 11, 2012

I have the gentlest of sore throats, the kind that earns me all day couch-lounging rights while accepting deliveries of soup and reading material, and without actually feeling so awful as to not be able to eat the venison enchiladas which are bedding down in red chile sauce as I write.

View from kitchen window: Even during a storm, apparently in Colorado there’s enough sun to produce a rainbow.

I’ve been thinking about how November is National Prematurity month and how Col is turning eight in two months. Both of these things make my heart lurch. I didn’t want raising children to go so fast. Tonight (on the couch) I scanned through the archives of the newspaper column I’ve been writing since Rose was 9 months old, looking for what I may have already said about prematurity.

And wouldn’t you know, I got sucked into my own stories about the kids as toddler-babies. I read them outloud and we all laughed at Rose “decimating an alleyway pear with 7 chompers;” or her whispering to me and Dan at 2, “Col is my dude;” or Col, at 3, wondering where Rose was when he was born. “She probably be in Daddy’s belly,” he surmised.

Butternut squash still life.

This one column I wrote about being at the park with Col, 3,  and Rose, 18 months, when a pack of teenagers rolled in like thunder, particularly struck me. Particularly this paragraph.

From August 2008:

“I’m so locked in my box of parenting kids 3 and under, that I can barely imagine the day we buy our last diaper, let alone live in a house where everyone speaks in complete sentences. When our kids are scowling teens whose rooms reek of body odor and weird personal hygiene chemicals, I’m afraid I’ll miss that stinky, overflowing diaper pail.”

And then, damned if their friends Kayleigh and Zoelle didn’t show up at our door 2 minutes later to walk with Col and Rose to a party at the UU church on our street (where they’d be meeting K and Z’s mom, Tara). Both kids pulled on jackets and boots and were out the door, leaving Dan and me like empty nesters with nothing more than our own enchiladas to drown our sorrows in.

Haircutting house-calls; Joanie is fabulous (and caters to wives who like long-haired men and their husbands who have to be “presentable” at work). I can give you her number.

I don’t understand time, how it’s perfectly solid in the moment, as tangible as a square on the calendar. But, looking back it’s as slippery and bendy as an amusement park slide. One minute you’re at the top of the slide, dropping a stinky diap in the bucket like every other day for the past 1460 days, and then, whoosh, that ride’s over and you realize your last diaper change was so long ago you’ve stopped even joking with the kids about popping a package of diapers in the shopping cart at the store.


But this post is really about books. Books! Couldn’t you tell? I don’t know how long my petite ladylike throat disturbance will go on, but as long as I’m on the couch, I need some good book suggestions. What are you reading? What have you enjoyed lately?

Love you all. Hold those babies close.

32 Comments leave one →
  1. April Young permalink
    November 11, 2012 4:32 pm

    One of the most beautiful novels I’ve read lately is Peace Like a River. It leaves you feeling like everything is ok.

  2. Kara permalink
    November 11, 2012 5:05 pm

    I love the evocative prose, as always. This entry struck a particular chord as we live now with only one of the two once-little ones, and he’s at the hormonally-challenging (stinky) time when he clears his throat all the time to get rid of pending voice change and eats his body weight for a “snack.” The other no-longer little one, though, sends me reading ideas from college, including Aquamarine, which I enjoyed not least because she was reading and thinking (and writing) about it, too. In Hovering Flight is another recommendation. I also liked Beatrix and Virgil (by author of Life of Pi), but some find it either too dark or too self-conscious in its allegorical construction. On the non-fiction side, I enjoyed with the pleasure of a cheesy mystery The Professor and the Madman about the construction of the OED.

  3. Jamie permalink
    November 11, 2012 5:27 pm

    Sigh. Being sentimental can be hard sometimes. The fast/slow growth of children is my biggest decider in (not) having a third. Mostly, it is too late for that now. But sometimes…..

    Letting go, being in the present, and enjoying what I have is something I struggle with daily. Posts like this get me nearly to tears with the bitter-sweetness of it all. Thank you for being able to put into words what I can’t even hardly make sense of.

  4. Kristen permalink
    November 11, 2012 5:30 pm

    An oldie but goodie, A River Runs Through It.

  5. November 11, 2012 5:33 pm

    I hope you feel better darlin’

  6. Anonymous permalink
    November 11, 2012 5:39 pm

    I enjoyed reading “Half Broke Horses” by Jeannette Walls recently. I heard her other book – The Glass Castle – was good, too.

  7. Heather permalink
    November 11, 2012 6:04 pm

    I second the recommendations for both of Jeanette Walls’s books. I enjoyed both of them!

  8. November 11, 2012 6:18 pm

    Prodigal Summer, B. Kingsolver. One of my favorites!! Also, love me some Mists of Avalon by M.Z. Bradley if you are more in a fairy tale kind of mood. And of course Edge of Taos Desert by Mabel Dodge Luhan. Feel better!!

  9. MRD permalink
    November 11, 2012 8:03 pm

    Try the Earth’s Children series of Mrs Jean Auel, I started the # 6 book in the series called the The Land of Painted Caves and I am enjoying every page! I am also reading the book called The Year Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour, it is a eye opener for the possibilities of gardening with low temperatures. I hope you feel better soon!

  10. November 11, 2012 8:18 pm

    Oh I know…. I know…. and then they’re taller than you. You’ll use that lamaze breathing that helped with heavy contractions sometime when they’re sixteen. I remind myself in the heat of the moment that it’s the peak… what comes up must come down and if I can breathe and get through this…. all will be well. Surprisingly enough teenagers can be *almost* as shiny and beautiful as new babies. In a completely unrelated whole other world sort of way. But books, this was about books?!? Right. So yeah. David Sedaris was suggested to me the other day. I’m smitten. That’s all. Hope you feel better soon~~

  11. November 11, 2012 8:45 pm

    all feeble ilg can say is…ilg bows in WOW of your Way of Being, Way of Writing, Way of Conscious Parenting, and…to Joanie’s Way of HairStyling (i know by direct experience)… hec, Dan is looking downright Corporate (well, almost) in that shot! xoxo

  12. Jan permalink
    November 11, 2012 9:10 pm

    I’m reading A Soldier in the Great War by Mark Helprin and loving it. He’s a fantastic writer. It’s huge, though. I returned it to the library because it was too heavy for comfortable reading. Ended up buying a Nook and getting it for that! Love both the book AND the Nook!

  13. Anonymous permalink
    November 11, 2012 9:40 pm

    I sure did just enjoy Bossy Pants by Tina Fey :). Also found Augusten Burroughs books quite enjoyable. Not deep and philosophical pics like the other suggestions but some good fluff if you want a quick read.

    • November 11, 2012 9:40 pm

      oops, suggestions made by Michele Magner, not anonymous ;)

  14. November 12, 2012 12:12 am

    They do grow so fast! (I know it’s cliche, but darn it, they do) I loved The Glass Castle. It will definitely make you feel better as a parent.

  15. November 12, 2012 12:58 am

    Love popping in here and sniffling with a bit of co-sympathy. So glad I get these by email.

    Books! Here’s what I’m digging right now:
    Four Elements, John O’Donohue
    The Return of the Feminine and the World Soul, Llewellyn Vaughan Lee
    Wolves and the Wolf Myth in American Literature, S.K. Robisch
    A Field Guide to NOW, Christina Rosalie
    The Responsible Company, Chouinard & Stanley

    Brandon just returned an eleven day trip to Rifle with no deer or elk meat, but having finished A Moveable Feast. Leave it to Hemingway to cost me my winter albondigas. I hope your throat feels better and your kids come home sober, sister. xo

  16. Tammy permalink
    November 12, 2012 6:59 am

    “Birds of a Lesser Paradise” by Megan Mayhew Bergman. Just came out in paperback. Megan is a neighbor/friend of mine here in Shaftsbury, Vermont, and you will love how she arranges her environmental & feminist messages within the layers of so many touching short stories about relationships in a very pragmatic treatment. I can’t possibly do justice to describing her gift. She just sent me the best essay to read, which she used to teach to her students at Bennington College, by E.B. White (“Death of a Pig”, maybe you’ve read it?) because she just had to put their horse of 30+ years down.

    Anyway, read it! I have it if you’d like to borrow it – I can send it to you there in Colorado!

    You’re probably getting so many suggestions that you’ll need a years’ worth of sore throats to cover them all, but some other great books I’ve read this past year have been “Goat Song” by Brad Kessler, John Greene’s “The Fault in our Stars”, and a classic, “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn” by Betty Smith.

    -Tammy in Vermont

  17. November 12, 2012 7:24 am

    I feel like I’ve recommended these to you before, but I can’t remember. I recommend them to every mother I know. “Hens Dancing” and Summertime” by Raffaella Barker – laugh out loud funny.
    I also adore Rick Bragg’s books about his family, start with “All over but the Shoutin”. His style is beautifully juicy and southern gothic, my favorite genre.
    If you want to stay glued to the sofa, start reading the “Game of Thrones” books. Warning – the first three are hard to put down.
    I’ve had that touch of a sore throat, which turned into a tiny cold, which turned into laryngitis, which means everyone has to stop and listen to me talk in a whisper. I may keep the whisper tone after my voice comes back, as it’s quite fun to make everyone stop and listen closely to me.

  18. November 12, 2012 9:48 am

    you got sucked into reading your own baby stories??? oh, that NEVER happens to me!!! HA! isn’t it the best possible way to waste a few hours?! And then, poof, their big! i spent yesterday with max at the movies (i NEVER go to the movies, but love 007, he’s my childhood sweetheart…read every ian flemming book ever written by age 13 or so) and we revelled in chase scenes, lots of violent gadgets, and jolly old england…and it was awesome. that’s not a book for you…my reading lately has been disappointing…Lucky by Alice Sebold and that weird book by the Bloggess, which people thought I would like and I was all…whatever. a little taxidermy does not a good book make. Reading the other comments has been nice…LOVED a soldier of a great war, but it is a very serious read. Also love Rick Bragg, he reminds me of home…the deep south.Always love David Sedaris, just read Augusten Burroughs’ A Wolf at the Table and it was dark and sad. And Matt just finished a book that he says is life changing…Thomas Merton’s bio called The Seven Story Mountain. you have a lovely week, my dear!

  19. Abby Quillen permalink
    November 12, 2012 12:01 pm

    Have you read David Eagleman’s short story collection Sum: Forty Tales From the Afterlives? He presents all sorts of different (playful) scenarios we may encounter in the afterlife. In one of them, he imagines that in the next life, we’ll relive the events of our life again, but reshuffled so that all the activities that share a quality are grouped. For instance, “You spend two months driving the street in front of your house, seven months having sex. You sleep for thirty years without opening your eyes. For five months straight you flip through magazines while sitting on a toilet.”

    Ever since I had kids, life feels a lot like that. Right now, it’s still diapers, diapers, diapers for me. But I do distantly recall that several years ago, back in my twenties, I grew tired of writing alone in coffee shops and spontaneously meeting friends for beers because I did so much of that.

    I hope you feel better soon (after a nice long restful day on the couch, that is).

  20. teresa permalink
    November 12, 2012 1:06 pm

    hope you are feeling better today, lady! i devour any books by charles de lint in mere hours. he has so many published, your local library is bound to have some!


  21. November 12, 2012 3:41 pm

    I’ve ordered e-versions of “Bunch of Amateurs” as well as Annie Lamott’s newest, “Help Thanks Wow.” I ordered both on Election Day or the day before, as a cushion against my total loss of faith in American humanity, if the election turned out all wrong. I haven’t cracked the one that’s arrived. Been busy praying, in my own way, and amateurishly making or fixing things.

  22. Hilary permalink
    November 12, 2012 4:03 pm

    Beautifully written! You write about this sentiment with true and pure words. I’m currently reading the 19th Wife, very interesting book to say the least!

  23. Anonymous permalink
    November 12, 2012 5:04 pm

    if time is on your mind, try jitterbug perfume by tom robbins on for size if you’ve not yet read it

  24. November 12, 2012 7:15 pm

    Hope you’re feeling better. Loved the post (as always).

    I’m also reading a book by Mark Helprin (see Jan’s comment above)…”In Sunlight and in Shadow”…recently published. I’m finding it fascinating and beautifully written.

    Like Jan, I also love my Nook ereader and have downloaded (for free) and read over a hundred library ebooks on the Nook. But with this latest Helprin book, I had to get it from the library as an old-fashiioned book, because the libraries often don’t have brand new books.

  25. November 12, 2012 8:11 pm

    I love this. I’ve read about half of the recommended books. I will now write down the other half!
    I second the Jeanette Walls, and the Ricky Braggs.
    Am reading the new Barbara Kingsolver – is brand new though, my lib has it on the quick loan system – now sure if you have that, but it essentially means I pay so much in fines, it would be smarter to buy it. Oh well. Also, On Beauty by Zadie Smith is great.

  26. November 13, 2012 1:35 am

    I agree, Half Broke Horses and the Glass Castle. I’ll add Steinbeck’s The Wayward Bus and Alice Hoffman, the Red Garden.

    I really want to ask though, you mentioned that you were going to let your littles have free access to their Halloween candy, how is that going?

  27. carrie permalink
    November 13, 2012 9:06 am

    Agree with Peace Like a River. I’m always pressing it into people’s hands. Loved Glass Castle, have not yet read HalfBroke Horses. Unbroken is fantastic. Undaunted Courage is a must for a Coloradan.

  28. November 13, 2012 11:54 am

    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is fab, especially if you like books-in-letter-form. Also, if you have not read Jane Eyre (or if you have), that’s a great one. Plus, either of these go well with throat-soothing tea. :)

  29. November 13, 2012 1:20 pm

    I also think you would love Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. And have you ever read anything by Wallace Stegner? He’s probably my favorite author and I suspect that his themes would resonate deeply with you.


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