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Leaf Raking

I like raking leaves. I love fall. I love the crisp air, even if it's infused with a little smoke from crop burning. I can't get enough of the gray skies, and it's freaking awesome that I can look at the sky without all those summer bugs swarming around my head and the front door, where they wait for that race where we see who gets out and who gets in--them or me. But back to the leaves...

I love it that the cool fall breeze blows the leaves off every tree in our culdesac into my yard. It's sort of like having a leaf blizzard. And it's so cool to rake and rake forEVER and compete with the wind to keep control of the leaves long enough to get them into those heavy duty bags that the crows won't rip apart. I laugh when the wind wins, and my freshly raked pile flies all over the place so I have to rake it all over again. I shake my finger and I say, "Ha! You won that one!" And even better--I'm fortunate to have the largest yard in the culdesac. "All the more leaves for me to rake," I say. I'm so lucky.

I am, I'm lucky. 'Cause if I didn't have that blanket of leaves on my yard that might mean I don't have a yard, and all I have is a balcony. It could even mean I don't live in a beautiful place with four seasons and colorful, rustling, shady trees. Some of the trees flower, it's the prettiest thing... Or, I could be in this gorgeous place with all these pretty trees and falling leaves but not have any arms. Then I'd have to pay someone to have all that fun, and what if I didn't have any money?

It's good to have arms, and to live in this place, with all four seasons and pretty trees, and the biggest pile of leaves I've ever seen in my life right here in my front yard. In bags now. Because I beat the wind.
              My husband is deploying and I’m dreaming about war.  It’s interesting because I haven’t talked about his leaving hardly at all – only when people ask me about it directly, and then usually not very deeply.  This is the nightmare I just woke from:

I was training in some sort of military group.  We were out in the woods, staying in a couple of large cabins.  There were two teams.  The teams were getting ready to go out into the woods and play war, only it didn’t seem like play and I was terrified.  I was scared I’d die and worried about what would happen to my daughter since my husband is away.  (I don’t know why my son wasn’t present).
            My leader was telling me I had to go, and I was crying.  Some people had already died or were wounded out there, and others had come back and were already milling around (outside even) playing cards and talking to each other.  I carried on to the leader – I was truly scared.
            It bugs me that I can’t remember who he is, because he was someone I trusted in real life, or at least someone I knew and in the dream I would’ve trusted him, but I can’t.  I only know there was a sense of comfort when I looked at his face.  He told me to just go out there and get it over with.  It had to be done.
            I crouched low to the floor and peeked out the doors and windows.  I saw people hiding in the woods, but I knew I wasn’t seeing everyone.  I took my weapon, which appeared ancient, and began trying to load it with bullets that didn’t fit and bent nails.  A guy (again someone I know but can’t place now) helped me the best he could.  I cried more for my daughter, who would be left without a mommy.
            Eventually, I ran out of the cabin shooting wildly.  It was panic, of course.  I ran clear around the cabin shooting into the woods, not knowing at all if I was hitting everything.  The rest of my team was truly gone by now, off enjoying a little R&R.  I could hear shots other than my own and a bullet grazed the pad of my index finger.  I did make it back to the cabin though.
            Inside, I cowered in a corner sobbing again.  I was even more afraid than before, and my trusted leader was reassuring me, but telling me I’d have to go back out to do it tomorrow.  Some of my team was inside, hanging around on their bunks.  To my horror, I noticed one of the other team members leaning into our back door under the guise of a fellow trainee, just looking to see if anyone had an extra towel.  While she had her head in the door, she scanned the room, counting beds, and taking stock of what she saw.  There was another girl from the opposing team looking into our window.  My leader thought this was funny.  I thought we were doomed.
            He took me outside to talk to me.  I was finally calm and no longer worried because the “battle” was over for now.  But someone, or a few someone’s, grabbed me up from behind as we were speaking.  I realized at that time that this leader was actually a leader of both teams, not just mine.  I felt so let down by this trusted person.  He protested, but not very forcefully.  The people that had me were all from the other team and they rushed me off into the woods as prisoner.  At this point I woke up.  I’m glad I didn’t sleep on to learn what they would’ve done to me.

            So here I sit now at 1:11am, writing out this nightmare because I just knew I’d forget it by the time I woke in the morning.  A couple of thoughts came to mind.  My husband is away at training and will soon leave for _________________.  My daughter has “needed” me much more than my son during this deployment.  It was the other way around the last time Dad was gone.  I’m not going to read into the rest of it.  In fact, I’m going back to bed.

I went for a really long walk today...

I had my earphones in, my player in my back pocket, and took off in no particular direction.  I tried to stay somewhat close to home because we're supposed to get thunderstorms today.  I just can't tell you how good it felt to be out in the fresh air, moving.  I spend too much time inside behind my laptop.  

I sang along to Cindy Lauper's 'True Colors' as I walked, aaaand a bunch of other songs.  My point?  It made me really happy.  :)


I love mint, chocolate chip ice cream.

 I love it, I love it, I love it.  I'm happy as it melts on my tongue.  I like how my whole mouth feels cold and fresh when I'm done eating it.  It is very, very good.  I APPRECIATE mint, chocolate chip ice cream.  I really do.  I seriously should have taken a picture of it before I ate it.  Damn.  Next time.

I'm so happy I got to sit and eat my ice cream after witnessing a crash on the highway two hours ago, and that I'm not stuck in a hospital or insurance nightmare instead.  I think it was a hit-and-run, but I'm not sure.  I was driving a vehicle I'm not used to driving and I couldn't find my flashers.  By the time I thought to call 911, I saw a police car with lights on.  It was really crazy, this van and this truck spun out from the slow lane all the way to the median where they sat for a moment.  Suddenly, the van pealed out and and nearly wrecked crossing the highway again.  The truck driver tried to go after the van, but his trailer was stuck.  Wow!  Intense moment.  I hope everything works out for those people.  At least no one seemed hurt.

Well, I just brewed a fresh pot of coffee...

 was my dinner tonight, and it was really, really good.  Makes me wonder why I often spend hours laboring in the kitchen for a meal that will be gone in 20 minutes.  Simplicity is great.

Read for MLK Day

If you're interested, the link will take you to "Letter From Birmingham Jail" by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 



Raging Anxiety

My lungs, fully expanded, can't get enough air in them to stop the restricting heat in my chest.  Exhaling slowly is the only relief and its much too brief.  If I go on like this, I'll surely pass out.  Maybe that would be better.

My body is still but I feel a shaking inside me.  It starts at the pit of my stomach and chokes the top of my airway.  I want to scream to get it out of there, push the vibrations out through violent but invisible soundwaves and then run before they can bounce back to me.  I hate this feeling.

No one near me is safe.  I hold the boiling in under a rattling lid as I try to make my voice calm and usher my children to bed.  My lips are so gentle on theirs and my hugs just the right amount.  But when I'm walking downstairs my skin feels blistered from keeping it in.  I look at my husband.  Don't make him a target.

Sit on the couch.  Breathe again.  It can't last forever.  The sweet ones are tucked away and he won't talk-he's been possessed by the TV.  I have my solitude now.  Let my head fall back on the pillow and close my eyes.  Feel it all, let it consume me and have its way.  Let the dark evil taunt me while I'm surrendered and passive.  Good.  More deep breaths.

I can open my eyes now.  How long has it been?  My chest still feels hollow but I'm too tired to generate the heat.  Oh, sweet peace.  Oh, sweet peace. 


It's cold.  Had to drive the kids to school.  Forgot to push the button on my coffee maker and had to wait for coffee.  And I'm tired.  I'm tired because I woke up friggin early to start getting back to a "real world" schedule.  :(  I hate schedules.

Oh look, Mark Wahlberg just walked on to Regis.

Something positive...must say something positive today.  Hmm.  I am ever so grateful for cold, gray days because it makes me appreciate all the things that keep me warm.  My house, my heated car, my clothes, my new leather gloves, my dog, and of course, my coffee.

Great day to all of you.  -Danielle

Old friends

Isn't it odd, that before this year nobody from the past ever contacted me, and suddenly this year four of my friends from WAY back have either emailed or talked with me on the phone?  One I haven't heard from in 17 years, another in 16, then 15 and finally 12 years ago.  I'm thrilled, of course, they are all people I was very close to.  And we're all in the same boat-we've moved so much its hard to keep track.  

It's just another reason for me to be thankful for the internet.  :P  None of that would have happened if we all weren't poking around online.   

My life is like my laundry?

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I had piles and piles of dirty laundry sitting in my laundry room.  At one time, I thought getting one of those laundry dividers with the three bags would help lessen the load due to shorter time separating clothes and stuff, but that did not happen.  Instead, my pile grew larger, as now I felt it okay to wait for all three bags to be full before I got down to it.

I went away on a little mini vacation to see my grandma and a friend, and my husband (who has not been a stay-at-home mom for the past seven years) caught up on all the laundry.  All of it.  Amazing.  Further, he said it was quite an easy task to do.  (But he didn't have to call in the prescription, make out a shopping list, meal plan, get the grocieries, update the family calendar or make school lunches, did he?  In fact, they had McDonalds two out of the three nights I was gone.  Am I picking?  No.  He did a wonderful job-he's a wonderful father.  Truly.  I just don't think he really gets what it's like to do this for seven years straight.)

But back to the laundry.  I used to be really anal about it.  I divided by whites, lights, darks, towels, sheets, delicates, etc, etc.  I put things in little mesh bags, used certain detergents for certain jobs, clorox bleach for whites and towels and sheets, pretreated, soaked, blah, blah, blah.  When I think about it, I really can understand why the pile got higher and higher and higher.

You see, I thought myself VERY busy as a mom--even when I did nothing but take care of the kids and the house (which is no longer the case).  But as the years have gone on, I've become busier and busier.  At every stage, I thought I couldn't possibly take on more.  My laundering habits have changed dramatically from the time that my son was one to now (eight).  The changes came slowly and steadily until I came home and stared at the bottom of my laundry sorter, which I don't remember seeing in a long, long time.  Determined to keep it that way, I made the final, most drastic changes of all.  Now, I wash all the clothes as either regular or delicate.  I no longer use clorox bleach, but have switched to using colorsafe.  And I throw the clothes directly in the wash rather than in my now (thank you hubby) empty laundry basket.  When a load is done, I put it away.  Easy.

What's the big deal?  I simplified.  I took out the extra steps.  Things so easily become overwhelming to me.  And so I think that maybe I can learn something about my life from my laundry.  I've always known I needed to simplify.  To cut out all the extra crap.  "Thin it down," as my husband would say.  All that excess isn't necessary and isn't good.  I've tried to apply it in a way by decluttering the house of all that extra unecessary crap.  But you know, the mess isn't just lying about the house on the bookshelves and behind closed closets.  Its also up in my head.

My new motto for 2008?  Stop thinking about it and just get it done.  My mother used to tell me, "If there is a hole - fill it."  Her simplistic ideas used to torture me inside.  But I get it now.

So...I'm off to fill some holes.  :D