Monday, March 28, 2005


There's a slant of sun on my gray carpet that's highlighting something new, smelly, wiggly, adorable. His name is Sparky, and he's lying most comfortably and cutely in the sun. A Jack Russell. He was a gift to Cody from an aunt who raises dogs. I meant to say no. But, the sight of the big loving smile, the pup in arms, the hope ... might as well've said no to apple pie too. So, now, he's here. I smell him. I've been squirting carpet cleaner after him. But, he did his business three times under the tree in the back yard, and so we've been applauding him like he's the next best thing to waterparks. The cats are miffed. My hubby adapted and now holds him like a baby in his rocking chair.
We need pleasant things in our home. Seems like the gray weather has snatched all of our moods and made them stretch over the house in a form of snarly suffocation. We've all been complaining lately after the last grey week. My daughter and I especially, complaining about each other. Big things, though, are in the works here. Things that I can't even utter because of sadness and disappointment and mishandling and criticisms ... Well, well... time to suck it up and take the next move which will be a type of shedding, even of good things. Sentimentality will strike at some point to double me over, but for now, I'm moving ahead trying to piece it together in the way that I can. The best way? Doubtfully, however, seems like it's a season to suffer as the parent of a teenager. Lord, help me not lose the pearls from the past by casting them into today's turbulent waters. Amen.
The day is beautiful! A little bit of study, and then we're off to be active.
Take care.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


We could hit a tennis ball over the trees to land in the schoolyard where Cody used to play with other students. But, we're not there. We're on the courts, trying to break our record of 12.
Almost after every unsuccessful volley, Cody declares his hate for himself. There's lots of crying and anxiety is wrapped around his sweet 10 year old face.
But, the hawk is flying like a kite over our heads; the sun is shining kindly; and, I'm running off a few winter pounds. I feel like twirling my tennis racket like that old high school baton. So, it just happens and the bright blue swallows it for a minute. I feel lit up and healthy and glad to be outdoors.
But Cody can't get around his not being McEnroe-like, and he's mad and anxious and is a freakin' loser whom he hates. I get a momentary swell inside, of frustration, of anger, that Cody can't escape a sinister mental shadow even in the most cloudless of days.
"C'mon -- let's do some tryin' instead of cryin'!"
"Put those emotions in a box for right now! Don't let 'em control you!"
I must say these or similar words about fifty times through the course of our hour and a half tennis session. But, the day is beautiful, and I love to be sporty and athletic.
Maybe tomorrow, we'll get to 20, and maybe Cody will be able to stiff-arm his inner assailant. Maybe he will learn through motor activity to toughen up. Maybe tennis is the answer .......

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Formscape proclamation

Today, we return the truck -- it's big, it's white, it's my shining knight. Tomorrow is return-to-van day in which the wheel-rear auditorium echoes, and I feel compartmentalized appropriately (rebellion suppressed). My mother-in-law loaned us her truck because in our little snippet of lawn, I've managed to plant dried stalks of almost everything to create the appropriate winter-form-scape. (That's my artsy-lazy self talking. But, really, if we would've had much snow, it would've created wetlybeautifullyclumpily smacks of beauty on the outlines of all things-lovely in the summer. Darn.) As it was, my husband drove home the truck, and then he went whackin' around outside. When he goes whackin', he's as indiscriminate as as the verb whackin' suggests (whirlwind of twigs and testosterone and anger and seed pods, etc). For instance, my white buddelai is now cut down to its core. Okay, it was in its third year and looking a bit droopy and wind-whipped (and who really knows whether you prune the bush or not), but still it contrasted well with the maroon hibiscus nearby. Albeit the hibiscus was cramped because the white buddelai barked at it to scoot. Yet, I will miss that buddelai because she took me back to a former friend named Vikki, whom I miss, but don't wish to recover. In that same bed, I've recently noticed the russet thrusts of tree peony shoots which bring me back to a contraband exchange. See, how each planting needs to be left alone in space, in memory, in time? I whine, but I was inside while the whackin' whirlin' workin' (whistlin'?) was happenin'. I just didn't know he would be feeling all those emotions toward my formscape plantings. I whimper.
Okay, my white knight awaits. I must go cleansed and appreciate the fact that he's available any time to recreate a buddelia free-for-all if mentally and artistically and butterflyishly needs warrant. I proclaim abundance in the summer. I proclaim plantings. I proclaim scrunched hibiscus and blackberry lily and beebalm and half-dead tea rose and lovely indigo. And, lastly, I proclaim a kiss to my husband for making room for the new abundance of amazingly scraggly shapedwinterforms.:)

Sunday, March 13, 2005

My apologies

My Apologies

These small lines stare
like a juice glass with
They taunt me like
last year's stalk-
chompin' rabbit.
They stare with
incrimination that
I left them long ago
and baggaged them
so with other
What reminds me
then of your tiny
scant glance?
That endtable book?
That lyrical hope
a friend has followed?
Yesterday's Missouri river
rush received up close?
A need like prayer?
A desire?
Poetry pushes upward
to Light a reason to
fertilize its flow.
Again. After absence.
After avoidance.
After my apologies,
I'll take your invitation
quite slow, but
with full-eyed,
late night, imagistic
growths of hope.


Flinging books

Although I cried intermittently through the night and morning about C's situation, today was a better day. CJ and his dad went out. I spent the afternoon with my daughter, learning about the IPod and how cool it is to collect all of your songs in one small box (I want one!). We shopped and laughed and talked. Ah, that felt good.

But, this morning, I made a note to take action, so now I have books from Amazon flinging toward our door to help with future challenge and reward. The winnng books are:
1"Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome: A User Guide to Adolescence"Tony Attwood;

2"Parenting a Child With Asperger Syndrome: 200 Tips and Strategies"Brenda Boyd;

"Can I Tell You About Asperger Syndrome?: A Guide for Friends and Family"Elizabeth Newson;
"Choosing Home: Deciding to Homeschool With Asperger's Syndrome"Stephen Shsore;

5 "Homeschooling the Child With Asperger Syndrome: Real Help for Parents Anywhere and on Any Budget"Lise Pyles

Yes, my extensive list spells desperation with possibility of finding answers and hope. I'm excited and can't wait for the doorbell to ring!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Expressive bones

My bones have been screaming lately too; after church, on the drive back, we hear the customary Asperger Syndrome wails from our 10 year old son: "They think I'm a freak! No one likes me! Why? Why did God make me this way -- a stupid loser? I'm a freak, I'm a loser! Why? I'll never have any friends!" It's a very typical response after being together with kids in the children's church. It always takes our intense counseling efforts to subdue his resulting heightened anxiety. After hearing him tonight, though, I kindof lost it and buckled down into the seat with my hands over my ears to let his dad do the consoling work. It makes me so sad and helpless. So, my bubble therapeutic read tonight was "Pretending to be Normal." A woman from church whose AS brother committed suicide last August gave it to me from his collection. The writer, Liane Holliday Willey is an "Aspie" who writes what's in my heart tonight in this passage:

"My deep dark fear, the one that makes my bones scream, is that there are AS peple in search of friendships who will never find any, no matter what they do, solely because of their AS. With those people on my mind, my heart breaks, for I know the reality that will wound them as they stumble forward, deeply lonely and ever more estranged from others."

My son needs resources. I need to dig for them; why do I feel so immobilized and helpless in the face of this huge wave? I will keep reading this book for a new weekend start.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

A night's wind

Life has a funny way of nipping your Augustine withers (that nipping/wither phrase comes from the book "Smoky" by Will James, a regular cowboy drawlin' book. Cody and I are reading it and re-enacting the characters during drives, shopping, sitting, etc. Nicker! Nicker!, etc).
I mean tonight I was sitting at Cody's basketball practice trying to burrow into my new read "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress" by Dai Sijie. If I burrow deep enough during times like this, I don't have to 1) talk to the dad next to me, and 2) hear what's happening with Cody on the court.
However, Cody was going crazy. I mean he was hyper. He was playing defense like a fourth of July sparkler. Not only was his body moving, his mouth was doing its customary REM. He was screaming, he was yelling, he was overboard in a whirlpool of his own creation. Then, he would get angry suddenly and throw a ball at a kid close-range. Or, he would tell the coach to shut up because he encouraged him and made him feel like a little kid. Cody's face would go from elation to scowl in a matter of seconds.
The parents next to me commented on his small size.
I gripped my book tighter, looking up to give him admonishment.
And it just struck me that I have been pretending on a couple of things, making them seem glorious when in fact they are subterfuge coverups. Homeschooling is going very well, yet within it, I can pretend that Cody is normal, that things are okay. At the one outing we do, it comes back to me quickly: his issues are severe. How will he ever assimilate into a homeschooler's group, into school, into a healthy existence within society? I feel shaken and exposed and scared to death for him.
Okay, Saint Augustine now. Of course, he's a well-known mysogynist. I know ... think of culture at the times and what was proper then but not now. I know ... consider his virtues. Yes, I am enjoying his writing, but sooner or later, the truth comes out that he left his mistress and son for the political position of bishop in the Church. He chose what was best personally over what was best for others, at least that's what it appears in today's culture. Later in his career, he rails against women because obviously he feared their allure. Sigh. Exposure tends to shake my faith in even what I praise and admire.
And, tomorrow Kevin takes his mother to a funeral of an older couple who committed suicide together on Monday. They were sick, and they decided to sting their children one last time with the worthless experience of life. They planned their funeral on paper, left their front door ajar so they'd be found by the neighbors in a nice, timely, nonsmelling manner, and took some pills.
Why is the deconstruction of nice ideals and concepts quite prevalent? We grip onto one thing, and it tears apart to leave a hole.
Yes, there are believable platitudes to shield; however, at times, things feel quite dark and exposed and shaken.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Augustine at the table

While Cody performed repetitive math beside me, I poured into my "Confessions of Saint Augustine." Book Four amazingly has remitted a kinship tie between him and myself, one of journey in which experience, desire, longing for love and knowledge and deep friendship rolled up into a ball on a similar route. It makes me so happy to know this! I am loving his analysis on the true 'essence' of things and how that becomes uncovered to the searcher, or the found, or the redeemed. I feel like I've been on a similar journey to him. Some of the things in Book Four just make me smile in recognition. Yes! I've put everything into a person before, into friendships, into a timeframe that the body senses, into the temporary. Into the Grecian Urn always running and never catching beauty that saddens. Into the wretched doom of the fleeting good moment. Into the ballgame. Into the conversation over wine.
Good things, but they rend the soul with "pestilent longings" and a desire to "repose in the things that are loved." Things that are loved can never offer longlasting repose, though. We're always faced with their end, except in the concept/ideal/reality of God whose eternal hope outshines and remains untarnished for the person who agrees to give up falsity, or brief inherent-hope in things that don't last. Oh, that last statement would be unpopular to many I know and to the old me. Yet, honestly, why not enjoy both -- what God has created to be good (friendships, conversation, etc) and His eternal reaching for us to become whole in Him who offers "serene rest"? The decision to face Him, though, comes first, and then the rightful enjoyment that is not unbalanced.
We need him badly in our psyches. Our psyches beg for the care of the Other-reality. Wholeness.
Anyway, as you can see, I'm excited about Augustine. He talks the Everyman in a lovely, intelligent, experienced way.
Clutching the book and the hope in Missouri,

Deeper cultivation vs distraction addiction

May not the inadequacy of much of our spiritual experience be traced back to our habit of skipping through the corridors of the Kingdom like children through the market place, chattering about everything, but pausing to learn the true value of nothing? In my creature impatience I am often caused to wish that there were some way to bring modern Christians into a deeper spiritual life painlessly by short easy lessons; but such wishes are vain. No short cut exists. God has not bowed to our nervous haste nor embraced the methods of our machine age. It is well that we accept the hard truth now: the man who would know God must give time to Him. He must count no time wasted which is spent in the cultivation of His acquaintance.

AW Tozer in The Divine Conquest

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Why not Iowa?

My sister just called and came the closest ever to declaring her love for me: "But but but ... Alabama doesn't even touch Missouri! You can't move there ... it's too far away." Wow, that felt good to hear! I'm comfortably close to her which I didn't know before. Maybe it's because we haven't talked in a long time, but our conversation was the best this evening. We talked, laughed, complimented. My pretty, independent, brave sister felt like a good friend. It's excellent too in general when people say how they specifically feel. My mother-in-law is being evasive and quiet, like she doesn't care if we go or stay. My parents moaned a bit, but I think they're okay now. I've received :( sad faces in e-mails and looks from friends, but my own family is pulling through for me. They care and can be direct (although direct love declaration is next to impossible!). Have I told anyone lately how I hate the indirect? With some, it's expected, I guess, but family should be there judging or encouraging or moaning, and I'm happy to report that they did. Yeah! Oh no, that means it will be even harder to leave .... !

Monday, March 07, 2005

Late winter hope

We walked around our house and took the late winter hope tour. We found: one hyacinth, a small couple of rows of japanese iris, a beautiful clump of double-bloom daffodils, and a crocus croaking its last until it surprises again next February. But mostly, the beds look scraggly and bare, some already have the pesty weed ground cover springing up; there's lots of work to do before May. But, it's good work in warm wind. What could be better?

We're back on the cul-de-sac. All cats have been accounted for. A heater had been left on in my daughter's room for these past five days. My husband vacuumed already. I already have the green counters messy again with the makings of cream cheese brownies. Life is back to normal in Missouri.

I thought maybe when I returned home, I would feel nostalgic comfort. I feel good about being home but still excited about Alabama. Is God making the departure easy? Will we go? I would definitely miss my friends. We shall see.

I've been really enjoying St. Augustine's confessions, and they have confirmed my earlier confessions to a larger audience. An 'elder' church woman wrote me and felt that perhaps my friend co-speaker and I had shared too many intimate details to a group who may not have been ready for them. She speaks in safe gloss, though, and I have no apologies (even with uneasiness) about speaking plainly about my struggles in the past. If there's not a known contrast, then why bother at all to show the factor of grace.

The regions of the United States awaits to be explored on the living room floor with Cody, so au revoir, my friends!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Southern ground

Our last day amidst the hills, pines, houses on ridges, former boss' entreaties of acceptance, huge malls, ton of traffic. Confusion will follow us up north as we try to make our decision. It could be a couple of weeks, and we might think, "Heeeey! Go Auburn, go U of A!" However, from the sight of the large football stadiums on the high school level here and from direct statements, we know that we'd have to choose either Auburn or U of A. Do we wish to enter into that type of culture? I mean we don't have to choose the Chiefs or the Rams -- middleground is comfy ground in the Midwest. Here, they're a bit more strident about their food, sports, neighborhoods, family oil paintings, middle names, manners, Baptist churches, and furniture.
It is beautiful, though. And, I'm a change person which tempts me even against all that I would be giving up. Much. We'll see; it'll determine itself through hubby's view of new job and daughter's acceptance.
I'm a land person, though, and the sight of the ridges, foothills of the Appalachia mountains all around me, rivers is captivating me.
Okay enough of that. I am dying for a cinnamon roll and have been imagining it all night! Off to pack to discover!

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Vietta's daffodil that I plucked after closing the gate at my parent's farm is on this fancy, mahogany desk in this fancy Birmingham hotel. It looks a bit forlorn, like I should have picked two or left it on the farm, underneath the big oak tree that holds the nail to chain the gate. Maybe we're all out of place.

However, today is a day to keep mind and eyes open. Yesterday when we drove in, it again surprised me how pretty the countryside is here with its hills and pines. I wanted to know more about the inner life of the forest here. Does it look like my familiar and loved Ozarks with its rocks, patches of grass and moss, gravel, varied soil? I think I will have to check it out before even considering a move South. The warmth is nice. I see that annuals (albeit pansies) have even been set out already around the hotels.

I meet with an old 'acquaintance' today who will show me around while my husband is being ranked by the bigguys. Will I feel the materialism seeping all around me?

We shall see! My mind is back at my church, though. How did last night's meeting go? I truly wish that I could've been there, working with the people I know. Ah well, we shall keep our mind and eyes open here in Alabama.

Take care,