Wednesday, May 30, 2007

goodbye, my friend.

my friend david passed away a few days ago. maybe looking at the picture you wonder "isn't he kind of old to be her friend?" probably, maybe... so this is why i say that: i met david when i was 16. he had just moved from rwanda, in the aftermath of the genocide. i can't remember if i knew anything about it at the time - i assume i probably didn't? but one day when i went outside to the shop, he was there. he was hunched over in the cold working on his car (my dad had lent him some tools). i came out and brought him a piece of chocolate cake - not really sure why. i remember he looked at me with this slow smile and said thank you, and ever since then he greeted me saying "hello my friend!" (always with that smile that anyone who knows him remembers and loves.)

so that is what we always called each other. that was ten years ago, and since then i've heard bits and pieces of his stories (never had the guts to ask much of anything.) all i know is that he is one of the most compassionate, brave, strong, and generous people i have ever known.

upon arriving here, he could've laid low -- looked out for himself and his family, forgotten what he left behind. but he never did. his house was like a hotel of refugees coming and going. he gave them a roof over their heads, a hot meal. he helped them find work and get on their feet.

he is also one of the most forgiving people i have ever known. he didn't carry a heart full of anger or resentment, although he certainly would have the right to do so. he chose to forgive. he chose to live a life full of grace.

when i heard he passed away, i cried and cried, because the light he carried in him helped make this world a little less dark.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

my crazy somersaulting baby

once, when someone told my dad his wife just had a baby, my dad figured he didn't want to ask the boring questions: "what's the weight?" "what's the length?" "what color of hair?" and etc. he decided to be original, so what came out of his mouth? "what color is it?"

the guy got this shocked expression on his face and said, "WHY?? what did you hear?"

true story. :-)

anyway, i am writing to say that we know what we're having!

a boy!

matt is SO SO SO SO SO excited. (so am i, but he was really wanting a boy, more than i knew!) last night he stayed up 'til 1 am (which is quite a feat considering he starts his 10-hour roofing day in madison at 6:30 am. (thank you matty!)) anyway, he woke me up at 1:00 because he had just finished a song he had written for our baby. a lullaby. it is such a sweet and precious song, it made me cry. and he was crying too when he played it. sometimes life is too beautiful.

ps. i forgot to say, during the sonogram he did somersaults! he's crazy! definitely a lot of matt in him. :-)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

it was just too much

i finally broke and started saying "mero." just about as mexican as you can get, "ya mero this" and "ya mero that." i tried to hold off because it's like a person with a british accent suddenly saying "ya'll" all the time, while still talking british english. anyway, but in the end it proved too good a word to not use, so i throw it around left and right.

so here i was, thinking about how fun it is to be a fake-mexican, when my friend came in with a lunch for me. it smelled so good! i was so excited to eat it! at lunch time, i took it into the lounge and heated it up. she had told me it was "puerco y frijoles," so i was looking forward to some kind of chopped pork with beans. i opened up the tupperware and started scooping beans into my tortilla. i got to a big piece of pork, so i started cutting into it. "huh," i thought, "i don't see any meat here..." it was just bone and some kind of white stuff. i pushed it aside and dug down a little deeper into the tupperware. crazy! they were all the same!

just then, some other teachers came in. "ohhhh yum!" they said, "patas de chancho!"

"what what what?" i thought. "pig's feet??!" now i don't mean to be some kind of food snob but there are some things i'm just not used to eating. i scraped at it a bit with my fork and then decided to just wrap up beans in the tortillas and pretend i was eating the patas. (later that night, just thinking about it, i threw up... so i think it was a wise choice.) all this to say, though i may say "mero," i am still a mexi-can't.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

they say to never go. i never go.

they say one should never help a chick hatch from an egg, that it needs the struggle in order to get its little heart pumping enough for it to live. (similarly, a moth must fight its way out of a cocoon, Charlie must fight his way out of a cave...) anyway, what am i holding in my hands in the above picture but living proof that that's not true!

the 17th my chicks were due to hatch. when i came in the morning, there were 2 little chicks already walking around the incubator, stumbling over the other eggs. by noon, we had five little chicks and one on the way (or so we thought!) number five was stuck in his shell! he only managed to get his beak out, and was bleeding profusely through the little hole he had made. my kids were all sure he was doomed. we waited a few hours and i said we'd have to decide if we should break him out of the shell or wait. when they went home, i started peeling him out. he bled and bled and bled! he was barely breathing! i made him a little nest and put him back in the incubator to rest. a few hours later, i put him under the heat lamp so that i could take him home. and as i opened the incubator, what did i hear but "pio pio pio!"

i looked around - he was fast asleep, so who else could it be? then i discovered that one more egg was chirping! the hole it had made in its egg was the size of a pin prick! i figured if i didn't get him out soon, he would probably die. so i peeled back a little bit of his shell, but he didn't move at all! oh no!

eventually i peeled back the whole hard shell, and found to my amazement that he was still tightly wrapped up in another layer of soft-shell! (you know how when you crack an egg, it has that thin film inside it? well apparently it gets a lot thicker when a chick is growing...) he was so weak he couldn't even get out of that! so i started to peel that back, and like his brother he started bleeding and bleeding and bleeding. i started crying of course.

i finally got him out, and my hands were all covered in blood. i put him in the nest in the incubator and waited a while. he was still egg shaped! a perfect oval! i picked him up to give him some water, but i couldn't even really tell where his head was. then i discovered he was under yet another layer, this one was kind of a gooey hood that was holding him in place! i peeled that back (and he kept bleeding more) and then gave him some water. i tucked him into his nest and waited more.

finally i had to go home... i put him under the heat lamp and loaded up my chickies in the car. he was a fragile little mess! i checked on him all night (both of my weak little babies, that is) and gave them water.

in the morning, they were all fluffed out! and walking! and drinking! and eating! and cuddled up with the other chicks! if i hadn't noticed the markings on their heads i wouldn't even know which ones they were! it was so awesome.

anyway, my kids all want a chick so they can fatten it up and eat it, but i think those two little guys might have to stay with me. :-)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

for two lovely ladies:

mamita --- i will tell you all this in person but i wanted to say, so that everyone can see, that you are the best mom in the world. there's that phrase "i wish i could be half the person you are." i used to think that was terrible - who would want to aim to be half of anything? but i understand it now, as i grow older and try (try!) to be like you. you are amazing and lovely and all i want is to be half of what you are. i mean that a thousand times.

betsy --- i am so very blessed to have you as my mother-in-law. you are a lady through and through; soft-spoken and gentle and gracious and charming - and with a very quick wit too! i admire the way that you raised matt (i'm kind of crazy about him) and i'm so happy to get to be a part of your family.

i love you both. happy mother's day!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Apparently I know no lullabies!

I was talking to my friend Irene the other day about how much her baby (Jose Guadalupe! So cute!) laughs. I said "Are all babies like that?" and she said no, but it helps if you sing for them when they're in your belly, and it helps if you talk to them a lot. Then, later that night I was talking to my grandma Lola and she told me the same thing! So, that night as I waited around for Matt to get home, I thought I might as well sing for the baby. The first thing that came to mind was "Pretty Connie" (Ahh, pretty Connie, pretty Connie my cow... For Connie will give no more milk to me now.) Then I realized that although the melody is pretty I didn't want to sing to the baby about a dead cow -- maybe something more upbeat right?

So what came to my mind next? Another one of my dad's classics, "Eleven cent cotton." (Eleven cent cotton and forty cent meat, how in the world can a poor man eat? Flour up high and cotton down low, how in the world can he raise the dough? Well water low, nearly out of sight. Can't take a bath on a Saturday night! No use talkin' when a poor man's beat with his 'leven cent cotton and his forty cent meat!)

So after singing this with gusto several times I remembered all the advice to talk to the baby, but I couldn't think of anything to say... So, I figured, well, I might as well explain the song right? So I started talking about the Great Depression and food rationing and how you used to have to mix in yellow tint to the fake butter and about how people used to only take baths once a week and etc... Then I realized that was a kind of strange for my first ever "conversation" with the baby. So I just kinda stopped, mid-sentence, and went back to waiting for Matt to come home. Hopefully when the baby arrives I'll be better at this sort of thing. :-)