When I bought this Boston Fern several years ago,
I wasn’t really expecting for it to last as long as it has.
“Careful,” the woman at the hardware store told me on my way out. “They’re very temperamental. Better not touch it too much, don’t let the fronds rest on anything (they hate that, and will probably die), just hang it somewhere out-of-the-way and keep it watered.”
“Those are hard to take care of,” my friends told me. “Try not to let the fronds touch anything,” they said.
Since my track record for plants succumbing to a slow and painful demise in my presence was pretty much 100% I was pretty sure it was only a matter of time. After all, consider the Peace Lily–mine neither complains nor weeps, yet after five years with me it’s an anemic nervous wreck.
Apparently, Peace Lilies are practically impossible to destroy. Which is why they’re considered the perfect plant for the ‘houseplant challenged.’ Which is also why there are some things about my life I just don’t get.
Since I figured the fern’s days were numbered anyway I subjected it to the usual abuse and neglect: days without rain followed by the requisite drenching downpour. Just the conditions Peace Lilies are supposed to thrive under, by the way. I plunked it right on top of my hutch and let the fronds fondle the edges.
I shake it out when I notice brown leaves and fluff it up when I get the whim. I take it down regularly and give it a thorough soaking and shaking, then plop it back on top again–all the while letting its gorgeous green talons brush up against walls and countertops, and not to mention, me. And what do I get for it? It loves me!
In fact, most of the pot is completely overtaken with amorous feelings (and roots) and it’s still thriving. Maybe ferns are just sick and tired of people mollycoddling them. Maybe they want to be treated like everybody else.
And that has me thinking about some of the relationships in my life. Maybe I’ve just mollycoddled the life right out of them. I just can’t figure out where I went wrong, but, thank God I’m surrounded by so many finicky ferns flourishing despite all the shaking they get sometimes. And, I still have those gorgeous Ivies.
Guess that’s the thing about relationships–sometimes it’s not about how careful we are to keep them from dying. Sometimes it’s all about just letting them be.
silent stalker of delectable delights
sitting before the refrigerator door
monk at the altar of a grudging god
beggar at the gates of the callous affluent
piously awaiting that blessed cornucopia
trove of tuna pâté and salmon Quiche
dribbles of leftover fried chicken and Alfredo sauce
so much like me
so often sitting on the steps of sumptuous expectations
silent stalker of dreams just out of reach
sister in the habit of having the door close in my face
vagrant wandering the back roads of my own ambitions
devoutly devoted to that blessed belief
elusive illusion that somehow
abundant fulfillment will shower me
the next time that door opens
there it will have been all along
When I walked into the kitchen last week and saw my daughter baking a cake, I was like one who dreams. Had she been bungee jumping from the ceiling I would not have batted a Maybelline encrusted eye lash; but here she was mixing and measuring–and I knew something had to be up, something was going down. It was a Boston (shudder) birthday cake, a surprise for her good friend. A gang of them walk over from the high school every Wednesday for lunch and she was getting it ready for the next day.
My beautiful beloved daughter. If she didn’t look so much like me and cock her head to the side when she’s intently listening to something I would have to conclude she somehow got switched at birth.
She likes thrill rides, whitewater rafting, mud bogging, quadding and hunting. I like reading about bungee jumping and whitewater rafting–imagining I was courageous enough to try them. I like cooking and baking and planting pretty flowers in the front yard (plants used to play dead when they saw me coming just so I wouldn’t mess with them, but now that they let me near I don’t miss an opportunity to plant, prune or take pictures).
When she was little I would try to put her hair up in fancy braids, but I’d have to hold her down with one hand as she wriggled away. I used to put her in pretty dresses until she revolted and walked around in track pants and T-shirts for two years. I tried instilling a deep and abiding love of poetry into her but she’s just not into reading.
I once forced her to take piano lessons until dragging her there each week with bribes of Tim Hortons afterwards was not producing any degree of musical appreciation and huge ruts in my pocketbook, and I wondered how it could be that someone who had sprung out from within my own body could be so totally unlike me in every way.
Not that I mind, though. I rather like it. She somehow came out of the womb ‘organized.’ I’ve been a ‘piles’ kind of person most of my life–letting things accumulate and then shifting them around now and then. Only as I am getting older am I truly appreciating the logic behind being organized. I hate to get rid of things and she will just tell me, ‘Throw it out, Mom.’
When we moved a year and a half ago, after disregarding her many pleas to throw most of the stuff in my basement out, I had to let other people in on my aboxaphobia problem. Why throw out a perfectly good box that might be needed some day? I couldn’t bear the thought of someone pounding on my door in the middle of the night (for that heavy corrugated waxed one to transport an organ or severed body part in a pinch), and me–having carelessly tossed it into the recycling bin only days earlier.
Because of my daughter I can appreciate my mother in a way I never could before. My mother has always been the practical, no-make-up-wearing, sensible type. We didn’t have fancy ornaments all around the house waiting to get knocked off coffee tables. She dressed me in hand-me-downs and those jeans from Sears with reinforced patches glued into them. I walked around school practically inciting people to kick me in the knees.
My mom is so organized she actually cuts and labels the edges of the phone book–making ‘tabs’ so you can find numbers quickly. Maybe she got this from her mom, who had to keep everything in her head because she was blind.
I wanted Barbie dolls, knickknacks and flowery bedspreads growing up, but that wouldn’t have gone over well in the room I shared with two brothers. So, I tried to inflict my love of all things girlie on my daughter by buying her dolls and Barbie sheets and comforters and a pink rug. She didn’t like any of it–she’s a stuffed animal kind of person.
I wonder if God takes special care to sandwich the generations between each other–a divine trifle of sorts. Layering personality traits throughout the years like a living strata; the bedrock of being. Tucking us in between each other’s strengths and weaknesses for stability, and balancing our tendencies to teeter in our own directions.
Still, I do see so much of me in her, too. Just like I see so much of my mom in me. Some of those things leave me awe-filled and some make me cringe. Like our mothers, our daughters are an honest reflection of our own hearts–the good, the bad and the ugly. I wonder if any of us could truly appreciate ourselves, for who we are, without them.
As a believer, I love the Easter season. As a not-so ‘politically correct’ Christian I’m not so much into chocolate bunnies and eggs. Let me rephrase that: may it not even be imagined that I might be trashing chocolate in any of its many mouth-watering amalgamations–it’s just that they have no significant meaning for me in relation to having my sins forgiven and my life restored. Although, a therapeutic dose of chocolate goes a long way in alleviating many an ill. Isn’t that a proverb somewhere?
I also don’t expect most people to ‘get it’ the way I do. It’s up close and personal for me. You can’t really appreciate an oasis till you’ve been wandering around in the desert dying of thirst for a while.
As someone who really does believe the resurrection message I don’t think there could be a bigger picture of people coming face to face with Jesus, for the first time, in a tangible telling way than that of the two men crucified beside him.
Like most of us, they mocked at first. So much for a ‘no show’ God who never bothers to make an appearance when I need him most. What has God ever done for me? There was no reason for pretenses here. And yet, one man’s heart softened and repented, while the other’s was filled with disdain and loathing.
The rest were nowhere near comprehending this. Some were just in the crowd watching with genuine curiosity; even compassion. Some were walking right on by, and some were forced a little nearer than they wanted to be–like the man who was made to carry the cross.
Perhaps, like the two thieves, the most critical place to get to is ‘face to face’ with the cross and our own undoing. No more excuses, no escape plans, not even the remotest possibility of earning any favor. Just the opportunity to accept it . . . or not.
two men out of borrowed time
walk the green line, fulminate
railing bane on spittle chime
gawking crowds who love to hate
two men feel the twisted ropes
that tear through flesh and raucous screams
two asphyxiating hopes
sucking marrow from their dreams
two men who never learned to live
now required of them to die
raging criminals must give
payment for their crime
two hurl insults spewing hate
at a callous stolid god
his failure to abet, berate
the acrimonious swift rod
two are raised to hang and thresh
as silent from the ground is lifted
the hideous, grisly, shocking flesh
crusted, bleeding, seeping, sifted
and one would see a lunatic
and one Divine descent
one a monstrous casualty
and one the offering rent
one would damn an impotent being
and ask what of his claim
and one with comprehending seeing
would hang his head in shame
one would see in blood’s reflection
the filth encrusted deep
and hear in anguish’s inflection
pardon for depravity
and one would leave this cold world railing
not see the crimson ransom, dear
nor comprehend salvation’s failing
as the Father’s coming near
but one would suckle mercy’s breast
born of faith’s unfailing womb
and carried to eternal rest
be spared for ages come, the tomb
The Eiffel Tower:
The Taj Mahal:
The Roman Colosseum:
The Leaning Tower of Pisa:
Wait! Don’t go–I was going to spruce it up with a sprig of parsley and put it on a fancy plate beside a gorgeous table setting, but I only had a few minutes before heading out the door. Besides, it’s what’s inside that counts:
Cheese and bacon! It’s like the Big Mac of meatloafs–without the bun.
Here’s what people are saying about it:
“It’s good, Mom. It’s not the pyramids, but it’s okay.” (my son) Like he’s ever tasted the pyramids.
“Mmmm…” (my daughter)
“Meeoomoreooww. . .” (my cat) All right, I made that up. My cat snubbed her nose at it.
“Rrrrrruff!” (my dog)–okay, I made that up, too. But she did ask for seconds.
It’ll be all gone before it even has a chance of making ‘wonder of the world’ status so I’m just letting you in on what might be the best kept secret of the modern-day world.
If nothing else, it should conjure up memories of your mother telling you it’s what’s on the inside that counts; that you can’t judge a book by its cover; yes, you have to eat every last pea–and a slew of other clichés you thought you’d squeak by without.
I’ll try to get out more.