It's happened. She's a phenomenal cookie baker. I tried for years not to encourage this gift, but today she excelled on her own and made the best cookie I've ever had. Happy, proud, full, in serious trouble of not fitting into my winter pants.
The good news is, all of the ingredients were organic.
When she's not an awesome flycatcher, she snuggles me. Every night. She claws my belly until it's comfortable and then she shoves me down onto the pillow with her head and rubs my face. She is probably my soul kitten.
I was challenged to post 5 days of black-n-white photos (#blackandwhitephotochallenge). Thanks to my talented pal Arlene Brown (who is also one of the most supportive and positive people I know) for including me in this.
Day 1: This is my Celtic triskele, hand carved by a stone carver named Paul Haggins on the Aran Island of Inisheer. There are several interpretations of these triple spirals, but the one I chose is the maiden/mother/crone. The Maiden represents enchantment, inception, expansion, the female principle, the promise of new beginnings, youth, excitement, and a carefree erotic aura. Mother represents ripeness, fertility, fulfillment, stability, and power. The Crone represents wisdom, repose, and compassion. One would assume you move through time starting at the Maiden and eventually end up (hopefully) as the Crone, but I think I'm spread across all three at the moment, and I'm happy about that.
Anyway, we'd spent the day on the ocean. First under the Cliffs of Moher, and then we took the ferry to Inisheer (which was a little rough for my green gilled tendencies). I had some potato soup and soda bread at the Rory pub up the top of the hill to feel better, then Tom and I walked to the cemetery with the amazing sunken chapel that he wanted me to see. We lingered there among the graves a long time, as it had been one of Tom's favorites from his first trip to Ireland last spring. I stood in the wind with the tombstones to my back, mostly, watching the sea, thinking of all the families who'd stood there over the years remembering or saying goodbye.
From there, we toured around the small neighborhood a bit. I tried getting a horse to smile for me, but he wouldn't. We ran into a group of older women who insisted that we make the trek up to the ruins for their sakes, as the climb was steep and we all had a boat to catch in an hour.
"I don't want to miss the ferry, either" I told their leader.
"Oh, honey, we'll hold the boat for ya. Go on up! You've got plenty of time."
So up we went. We saw the ruins.
It's an enchanted island, I think. Something about it made me happy to be there, familiar, but also anxious not to miss our boat when it was time to go back. A feeling like something happens after dark, particularly to tourists.
So we hurried back at my insistence, though the lady was right. We had plenty of time.
Tom went up to the carver to pick out some meaningful gifts for people while I went down to the shore. I can't do justice describing the beauty of the blue that the waters held there, but I was transfixed for several minutes by the waves, bent down in a squat as the tide came in. If the island is bewitched, that seemed the safest spot to be, standing there on those Caribbean like sands that made no sense so far north in the world.
When I met back up with Tom, he asked, "Would you like one?" and pointed at the hand carved necklaces. I'd have said no if it'd been such a thing wrapped in plastic in a gift shop back on the mainland, but having the artist right in front of us with the tools still in his hands, I asked about the one symbol that I hadn't seen yet during our trip, the triskele. Mr. Haggins shyly explained that the swirls were once thought to be these three incarnations of femininity before Christianity swept through the Celtic lands, so I said, "I'll have that one, please."
On the docks, the lady from before took me by the arm and said, "I was looking for you. I was going to hold the boat, but you beat us back!" We smiled. I have no idea where she was from in the world, where she went after, but we were long time pals while inside those thirty seconds together that she held my arm.
A dog followed us all around the island, such that I'm convinced there had to have been five of the same breed, but if he was just the one, he was surely a trickster, adding to the magic of the place. He would pick a person to show an interest in, then run away just before a connection was made. We thought this was everyone's fate, and then he picked one man with long hair and face piercings, traveling alone it looked like, to throw him a stick. The rest of us unchosen watched as the two played fetch together, then fought over the stick upon the dog's return. We all laughed at this, then collectively gasped when the dog allowed his head to be patted by his chosen friend. The man with the piercings warmed up in front of us, grinning and pleased..
Then some asshole made a joke to him about throwing the stick over the side into the smashing waters of the docks. That unfortunate man received a hundred scowls. *People are sad sometimes, the way they miss what's beautiful. The idea of inflicting disappointment upon another being funny. It's tragic.
The first boat wasn't our boat. It was heading back to the Cliffs. Soon as Tom heard that, he took off for the pub, even though our real boat could be seen on its way from the second island. "Plenty of time," he said all happy. I stood my ground, watched him get further and further up the road, thought about how important it was for me to stay in line so that I didn't get stuck with a seasick seat, then finally gave up, ran after him, and the tricky dog smiled and started running alongside me, as if to say, "You're fun! Where we going??" Then he realized I was heading for the pub - a place he'd apparently been kicked out of - and he fell back, a little disappointed in my life choices, quite frankly.
Sure enough, Tom had a pint ready for me by the time I walked in the door. He'd already made a friend, said to the guy, "There's the wife!" and the Irishman nodded at me. We chugged together, the four of us (there was a quieter man smiling at us, drinking alone outside, where we'd gone to keep track of the boat). The winds picked up. The sun was leaving. The cemetery hill stood out below the ruins, giving off a feeling of sadness that we were leaving, the same way the Cliffs seem upset that no one ever wants to take a leap off of them and stay there forever.
Eventually we had to go. Our glasses were put down on the bar, mouths wiped by the backs of our hands, and off we ran, saying goodbyes over our shoulders, to meet our ferry just in time.
The sea was calm for the hour home. I fell asleep leaning on Tom's back, my triskele hanging around my neck.
It was one of those enchanting days you never forget.
The first thing I heard after I crossed the finish line was my 13-year-old, once misdiagnosed with low functioning autism son say... "I'm proud of you, mom." He'd run a half mile to meet me there after holding up a sign that read, 'I'm cheering for mom' at the 24 mile mark - right when I needed it.
I grabbed that boy and I hugged him hard.
I know you're still reading because of your MERLD babies.
And you're scared.
Some of you have lost your spouses over the stress. Lost faith in science, education, love, hope. Most have sought counseling for yourselves. I'm amazed I didn't. I probably should have.
We've all been on the brink of losing ourselves completely to this unnecessarily stressful mystery. We've all had the aching guts.
Don't give up.
They really need you not to give up.
There is a happy finish line where they will always know what you did. It's hard to imagine that now while it's so fucking hard that you've been crying from places you didn't know had tears, but it's true.
The toddler who couldn't say, "I love you, mama," turns into a beautiful young man, happy to see you. He says I love you without hesitation, and there's proof of it with every smile, hug, and proud look in his eyes that he gives you for being his hard fighting advocate.
He'll know what you did.
And you're teaching him how to take care of you right back.
The big hills are at the beginning.
Don't give up.
You get reimbursed for the pain with joy.