Today I milked a cow! It’s not technically the first time. I tried once when I was about 16, but it just didn’t work. I somehow thought that all you had to do was pull! But today I tried again at Prophetstown State Park and it worked–what a miracle! There were lots of barn cats of various ages running around. There was a whole gaggle of little girls who were oohing and aahing over the cats, so I didn’t get a chance to pet the kittens. There was a cat named Michael, who went right up next to the milking pail and waited until the “milk maid” squirted some right into his mouth.
Liz didn’t want to try to milk at first, but I made her! She thought (quite rightly, I think) that the teats looked a bit dirty! They had washed them off, so I really think it was just their natural color. Makes you think about whether you should really have that next ice cream cone!
Liz and I went for a 3 mile walk first, and it was so pretty outside, and warm enough that I took off my sweater. We only saw one person on the whole walk–a man in a Cubs cap who was taking nature photos. I stepped right over a little garter snake who had been sunning himself in the path. It was such a beautiful day!
Greg was born 27 years ago today. He came with authority–he weighed 9 pounds 3 ounces. Greg was loved immediately by his family–Liz and Mike literally doted on him. He had the best smile I have ever seen on a baby–he would just grin–and most of the time he was a very happy little thing. He has brought me so much joy, and I’m so proud of him.
Greg has such an innate sense of right and wrong, and is such a moral person. Once someone (who had talked with lots of teenagers) told me that Greg had the most highly developed conscience of any child he’d ever talked to. Another time when Greg was about 19, I remember there was a magazine on our table that had an article entitled “Living a Good and Honest Life” and Greg told me with tears in his eyes that was all he had ever really wanted to do.
Greg, you fill me with happiness–you are a great person, and I hope I had a small part in that! Plus, you married a really great woman, so you’ve also got really good taste!
Parabéns p’ra você,
Nesta data querida.
Muitos anos de vida.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my own mortality–which is not necessarily a depressing thing to do. In a way, recognizing that life is fragile and fleeting can increase the enjoyment of very simple things. I thought I’d list 10 things that made me happy today (and not list any of the frustrating things that made me crazy!)
1. The sunset tonight–it was so deep and orange it made me ache with pleasure.
2. The smell of laundry as it’s drying (I can get a high just walking past the Union by the laundry).
3. Greg (it’s his birthday tomorrow and he’s so smart, funny and talented!)
4. Rachel–she is so centered and good–and smart to boot–she’s such a good partner for Greg!
5. Liz–she makes me laugh and she works so hard!
6. Mike, who looks so much like Buddy Holly and can do karaoke like nobody’s business.
7. Laffy Taffy. The jokes are just so bad they’re great. Here’s an example: Why did the potato go to France? Because he wanted to be a French fry. Some kid must have made that up!
8. My new glasses. I can see things I’d forgotten about, like little veins on leaves.
9. Steely Dan (thanks, Greg, for introducing the music to me–it’s so good!)
10. Thoughts of my dad, who told me such good bedtime stories–I didn’t know other kids didn’t get to hear Shakespearean plots!
I really would just as soon do without the painful stuff, but remembering all the good things makes the hard things bearable.
I just got back from a retreat in Ohio and I feel energized and spiritually renewed. It was a great trip–Judy and Liz in the car, cinnamon bears, diet coke, a great time. On the way home we stopped at a rest stop and there were a couple of “little people” there with their baby. They were sitting on the grass with people who were not little people, but were obviously the grandparents. There we were, at least a hundred miles away from home, and it turned out that Judy knew the father of the baby (he had gone to high school in our town), and I had been the advisor of the baby’s mother. Neither parent was much over 3 feet tall, if that. I could tell that the baby was obviously a little person (since she was only 18 months old), but was also going to be a “little person” as she grew up. We stopped, chatted, I found out where they were living, what kind of jobs they had, what their baby’s name was, and was just amazed that we had happened to meet so randomly.
After we left, as I drove, I found myself thinking things like, “I wonder what the genetic chances are of little people having “normal” babies?” “I wonder if they struggled over whether to have a baby or not?” “I wonder how their life is more challenging than mine?” Do they have special things in their house to help them cope?” and on and on and on. And then it just hit me so strongly that life is a wonderful thing==and isn’t it better to be alive, with challenges than never to have existed? I’m sure some would disagree with me, but I just had this infusion of joy about how blessed I am to be alive, how wonderful the world can be (at least some of the time) and how much I want to love and care for other people who are part of my life. Pretty cheesey, but it’s just how I felt–I can’t help it.
Every once in a while something really makes me think. Not too long ago I had to go to Orlando on business. I was going with two other people from where I work–and I was really ticked off because they had gotten there late, I was on time, and they got upgraded to first class. So as they sipped Evian, I was stuck between two fat men and in front of a child who alternated between kicking the back of my chair and squealing every time I started to doze. I was getting more and more irritated–I had no place to put my arms because men always assume both arm rests are theirs, and this kid behind me was constantly misbehaving. I wanted to turn around and give the parents my best dirty look. It was the look that said, “I can’t believe what bad parents you are. I, myself, am a parent of grown children who never did any of the naughty things your children are doing.”
I thought thoughts like this for a couple of hours as I waited to get to Orlando. Although I was traveling on business, everybody else seemed to be waiting to have fun. That only put me in a worse mood. Finally we arrived, and I couldn’t wait to give my patented evil eye. I stood up, turned around and saw that the parents and child were wearing matching t-shirts–that said “Make A Wish Foundation.” I felt about two inches high. Funny how a shirt can change everything. If only people had shirts that told you how to treat them–“I’m sad today,” “I have a friend dying of cancer,” “I just lost my job.” It might help.