And a dog,
And some chickens.
Okay everybody, wrap your brains around this:
My daughter’s school celebrated Martinmas by making paper lanterns, sticking real candles in them, lighting them with real fire, and then taking a twenty minute walk on uneven trails through a rhododendron garden in the inky blackness while singing songs about light.
No one caught fire. No one broke a limb. No one had to sign a waiver. We all were treated to an honest to goodness experience that didn’t involve LEDs or cell phones (except when I took this photo in the parking lot with my cell phone — but I did it for you!).
It was beautiful. Just beautiful.
The story of Michaelmas has a few different versions. In the version you tell to older kids, St. Michael slays a dragon with a sword. In the younger kid version, the dragon is “tamed.” Less gruesome, right?
No, just confusing. Nora has heard both versions, and she says, “If something is tamed, that means it’s dead.”
Please, no one tell my dog.
People? I hit the jackpot in the in-laws department. Larry and Debbie are smart, funny, literate and thoughtful. They are faithful readers of this blog and sharp enough to alert me to typos. They have mailed Nora a story book every single month since her birth. One time? They came all the way from Minnesota to visit and painted our chicken coop while we were at work. Go ahead. Be jealous.
Last spring, I featured a guest post from my mother-in-law where she told the story of my husband’s birth. So, since I’m looking for help this month while I write a (bad) novel, I asked my father-in-law to guest post for me. And Larry is a terrific writer. A few years ago, while riding his bike across the country, he wrote some compelling prose about the experience. He also writes a mean Christmas letter — one you would actually want to read. So let’s see what he has to say about little Nora…
“Nora, do you know we love you so much that we have a picture of you in every room of the house except the bathroom?”
“Why not in the bathroom?” she replied.
Okay. Now there is one in the bathroom too, so we can see her pretty face as we floss and brush.
As for all the other pictures around the house, we call them “Nora shrines” — little clusters of pictures of our Princess of Portland — arranged on living room tables, the kitchen counter, next to the computer, beside our bed, and of course, on the refrigerator. I just wandered from room to room and counted. Twenty-six pictures. Is that excessive? In some states that would get us arrested for stalking.
Our computer has over 6000 pictures stored in its bowels, 90% of which are of Nora. Whenever we spend time with her I take hundreds and hundreds of pictures. Literally. I always intend to edit them down to the best dozen or so, but it would be a sin of the highest order to delete even one image of that angelic face. So we keep them all, even the blurred ones, saved forever.
Being long-distance grandparents is not for the feint of heart. The time between our visits is sometimes as much as five months. An eternity, believe me. But our pictures of Nora help fill the void. And the pictures and iPhone videos that Ben and Sue send us are like precious jewels to be treasured. Photographs and memories get us through until next time.
Were you ever at home alone, enjoying a head cold and some peace and quiet, when you watched a video of your daughter in an elephant costume scarfing down a cupcake with Dancing Queen playing in the background, and suddenly, you must go pick her up early because you can’t stand how much you love her?
Yeah, me too.