Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Pancake Bites

Today I made pancake bites.  Pancake bites with bananas and blueberries.  I had surgery 2 weeks ago tomorrow and this is the first thing that I have cooked or baked since.  Sure, it was only the gluten free mix and a cup of water, but I did add fruit, so that must count for something. I have made a sandwich, I have poured a bowl of cereal, I have warmed food up in the microwave, but today, I feel like I have conquered something.  Pancake bites.

In these past two weeks, I have read two books, watched 4 documentaries and watched maybe 6 movies. (The best being- Woman Walks Ahead.) I have edited 10 articles, written one article on Comfort Foods for an overseas website, and started proof reading submissions for a journal that I have been asked to serve as guest editor for the flash fiction section for the month of April. I have also taken 1482 naps.  I am so tired.  I have no energy whatsoever.  I am reminded daily that the exhaustion is just my body working very hard to heal itself.  Well, I would like some more healing to happen quickly. 

I also should tell you that I had to take a nap in between paragraph two and three while writing this blog post.

Each day I set a goal. Someday's it is practical things like,  shower before 10 am.  Or eat more protein. Monday, Tuesday and today, the goal was to try to figure out how to lay on couch without causing any pain.  That will also be my goal for Thursday since it hasn't happened yet.  I am also going to add -figure out how to load the dishwasher and front loading washing machine.  (I am not joking.) 

Every day, I try to do a little something.  Separate three loads of laundry with Lily.  Play a game with Zach.  Load the dishwasher.  Change the tablecloth on the dining room table.  Just something.  There are a million other things that need to be done, but I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I do any of these things. Today, it was pancake bites. Breakfast for tomorrow has already been made.  Done.

Tomorrow, I might even wow myself.  Dust the mantle. Read another book.  Watch another movie.  But by Sunday, I want to have driven the car at least around the neighborhood.  That is my new big goal and I am sticking to it.

Check back with me next week. I might have even gone and made some actual pancakes by then. Probably not.

Friday, February 1, 2019

The House In Maine

The House In Maine
By: Kelli J Gavin

My husband asked if I wanted to take one last look  One last look at the house,
the remaining contents, everything I was leaving behind.  I wasn’t sure I could.
Could I walk back into the home where I grew up and not be blasted by every
beautiful, every breathtaking, every heartbreaking occurrence that took place
within those walls?

The trailer was packed, so was the car. Only enough a room left for the two of us
in the front seat.  I sifted through everything in house as quickly as I could.
Leaving donate piles, garbage piles and clear instructions of what furniture should
be sold and what should be loaded onto the the trailer that would return to my home.
I carefully packed keepsakes and treasures myself.  I located the wooden crate in the
back closet next to the fireplace in the living room which contained my grandmother’s
journals which she had begun keeping at the age of 10. That crate would be loaded
into the car. I found her beautiful costume jewelry and scarves and handbags and pulled
a special few to be packed away for me.  Treasures of which I had used as a child when
I liked to play dress up. Such a simple time. When all that mattered was that my
diamond earrings sparkled and that my handbag matched my shoes.

My mother and I moved in in with my grandmother when I was 7. Mom said Cancer
in her bones would take her within the year and she wanted to make sure that I was well
taken care of.  Where would this cancer in her bones take her? I didn’t understand but also
didn’t ask any questions. I had never met my grandmother before. She lived in Maine.
What was Maine? I was told it was state very far away from Chicago where we lived.  
My mother never spoke of my grandmother and only mentioned her name when I asked
mother is she had mother. She smirked at me, “Vera, everyone has a mother. Some are just
better than others.”

We arrived at the worn down home in this odd place called Maine that smelled of fish and
mold. Everything seemed dirty and boots were needed just to walk outside as the rains had
turned the ground to thick mud that you would sink into if you didn’t keep putting one foot
in front of the other. Grandma, or Gran as she requested to be called, was short and thin with
beautiful white hair.  She wore sweater sets with matching shoes and brooches and pearls.
Gran looked exactly like what my 7 year old mind thought a grandmother should look like.

We were welcomed quickly, ushered in swiftly and tucked into our quarters immediately.  
I do not believe that Gran was slow at anything. Everything was done in haste as if there
were bigger and better things to do next. Always something to be done. Something to be
accomplished. Gran never sat still.  She polished silver, she organized the china hutch,
she folded and re-folded linen napkins. She applied lipstick and smoothed her skirt that
didn’t need smoothing. She smiled larger than necessary and poured more tea even when
it wasn’t requested or had already been refused. Gran a was nervous force to be reckoned

My mother slowed down quickly after we moved in. She began to request meals on a
tray be brought to room two weeks after we arrived in Maine. Gran and I were happy to
oblige. Constance, the housekeeper arrived every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning
at 8 a.m. sharp.  She cleaned and cooked and did the laundry and often left me Butter Rum
Life Savers if I helped hang the laundry on the lines. She was kind and sweet to my mother
and hummed Hymns as she worked.

Mom died 6 weeks after we arrived in Maine. She passed quietly in her sleep.  I laid next
to her for half a day before going with Gran to the kitchen. My grandmother arranged
everything with her local church and funeral home. The funeral would be in a couple days.  
I sat with tears in my eyes looking at Gran as Constance poured us both a cup a tea.
“What happened with you and my mother? Why didn’t I know about you until now?
Why have I never met you?”

“Vera. I loved your mother very much. She was my only daughter. I hurt your mother
a number of years ago and she was never able to forgive me.  I told her last night that
I loved her and how sorry I am that we wasted all of these years away. I told her how
enchanting you are and how I was learning to quite enjoy being a Gran.  Vera, I am sorry.
I will love like you are my own daughter. You can live here as long as you like. When it is
time to go to college, everything will be taken care of. This is where you can call home.”
Gran leaned over and gave me an awkward kiss on my forehead.

My young mind couldn’t figure out how Gran had hurt mom years ago.  I thought about it
for a number of years but then I eventually stopped caring.  Gran and I developed a great
relationship. She enrolled me school, helped with my homework and encouraged me to
get involved with extracurricular activities. She had Constance drop me off at church on
Wednesday nights for Youth Group, and a local mom brought me home. I made friends,
I enjoyed school, and I learned to like living in Maine.  

I always missed my mother. Nothing could fill that void in my heart.  I started writing and found
that stories of my mother and Gran were what I enjoyed the most.  I went to the local college and
majored in Creative Writing. I received my Masters in English with a focus in Literature. Gran
couldn’t have been more proud.  She begin to decline in her later years and Constance had passed
away when I was an undergrad. Lucille came to clean our home and take care of Gran. I would go
home on weekends. To visit and smile and read to Gran. Our time together was nothing short
of magical.  

When Gran passed, I found it difficult to return home. I should have rented the home out. But
couldn’t stand the thought of anyone else living there.  I married the love my life and we enjoyed
living in New York City. My husband told me it was time to sell the home as it had fallen into ill
repair. We hired a team and it took us three days. The project was complete. And the final clear
out enable the home to be put on the market as is.  I prayed for some amazing home improvement
lover of broken homes to come along and restore the home to its original glory.

After walking the perimeter of the home, I went in for one last look. “Are you leaving that
chair ma’am?”  One of movers asked as I was startled.

“Oh yes, just for a few minutes please.”  I approached the chair next to the fireplace and gently
sat down in Gran’s chair.  Gran had always liked this chair. It wasn't particularly comfortable.
But I am came to find out it had been her father’s chair. Gran said felt close to him when she sat
in it. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply.  I could swear that the house still smelled like Gran’s
perfume and Constance’s chocolate chip cookies. I savored these smells, these memories and wasn’t
sure I was going to be able to remove myself from the chair anytime soon.

I heard a heavy shuffle of feet behind me and a gentle placement of hands on my shoulders.
“I have made a mistake.  I need this chair to come with us, honey. Can you find some rope and
figure out a way to strap it to the top of the car? This chair can’t be left behind.”

My dear husband.  After I finished making my rounds of each room of the house, I found him
outside with rope in hand securing Gran’s chair in place on top of our car.  I smiled as tears poked
the corners of my eyes. Yes. Now I had everything I needed from the house in Maine.

I Know What That Means- By: Kelli J Gavin for Writers Unite!

I Know What That Means By: Kelli J Gavin After my family moved to Minneapolis three years ago, my parents refused to visit us in our ne...