Everyday Update and Warning Signs

Bill is working hard to support our family. He bought us a house. It’s so beautiful. When I look at it, it makes me want to cry. It’s unbelievable, really, and when I walk through and feel its sturdy bones, I feel sheltered and protected, something I haven’t felt in a while. Anxiety levels have been on maximum since Teo; how I love him so.


A patch of orange hair grows fuller by the day, glistens gold in the sun. He is the colors of desert earth and stone. People remind me, when they approach and rekindle their own babies, how quickly he will grow. It’s remarkable, truly. In the morning, he wakes up resilient, shining and bright, and makes a lot of noise. He moves his arms, and kicks; sometimes grabs my nose and hair: pulls chunks of it from my head. I kiss him. His breath smells like slightly soured milk.


Our home sits near a river. The neighborhood seems diverse, although most of the people I’ve met remind me of  ‘Up North’.

I met the woman who lives across the street. She is exactly my age, raising twins: a boy and a girl.

“I’m exhausted,” she said.

“How do you do it?”, I ask.

“You just do,” she said.

Her adorable children recline on a large bean bag. They stare with big eyes.
Each holds a bottle of filled with apple juice and they’re watching a cartoon. It looks glorious.

New Neighbor is organized; well kept. I like her. Unfortunately, she’s moving. There’s a thing going on with her landlord. Sounds like they were once close and something fell through. Too bad, I think.

I met New Neighbor’s landlord the other day. She spotted me coming out of the house. She had on neat sweater and matching hat, and approached as I made my way down the front stairs. There are things I notice about her that remind me of the confusion that surrounded my mother when I first noticed her decline. When I see New Neighbor again, I mention it:

“It’s dementia,” I say.

New Neighbor is not convinced and shakes her head in disapproval.

“It’s too bad,” I say, “She will need a good friend, soon.”

Then there’s the other neighbor, a man named Linda, who my friend M. pointed and stared at through a window, asking me over and over again, “His name is Linda? He’s a man! I’m serious, come over here and look at him.”

“I know, M. Please stop! He can probably hear you, and I’m certain he can see you.”

Our house: there is a garden that needs to be tilled and many leaves to be raked; floors that need to be sanded; lots of work actually.

My baby awakens. Until next time…

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Inner Voice


So much has happened since I last visited with you, and life has moved in fast forward. I asked my father-in-law about life moving faster and faster with time.

“It’s true,” he said.

“That’s scary,” I said.

“It is,” he said.

My father-in-law worked as a tax attorney for many years, and now enjoys what seems to me a very enjoyable and comfortable retirement, but every once in a while I hear him jokingly grumble about why in the heck he chose to become a tax attorney, and about how horrible it was dredging to work every day. I asked him what he thought he should have done instead.

“Nothing,” he told me, “I have no regrets.”

In the time we’ve been apart dear reader, my inner voice has grown shy. I guess having a baby can do this to you. My inner voice belongs to someone who floats on whims and believes in magic, and babies need something more solid, like shelter and food.

There are people I’ve met who’ve had similar “inner voices” as my own. They have pointed out the cancer that they can’t afford to treat, the aching bones that they can’t afford to retire. It frightens me, as I don’t want to end up in those situations, but at the same time, I don’t want to end up grumbling about how horrible life was before retirement. Are you beginning to see my dilemma?

How does one create balance: be fair to both the sensical within yourself and the magical. Is it possible?

I caught the tail end of Dr. Christiane Northrup’s talk last night on public television. She had enormous crystals all around her.  Anyway, the parts I caught made me believe that it is possible to fuse together a life that holds both logic and magic. Coming from a life that has mainly been guided by passion, I’m finding this balance very difficult to perceive.

Do you tend to follow your head or your heart? Where has either one led you?

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Toalla Babies


On the first day, it was peacocks, which were eerie to me because of the curve of their necks and beaks: like cobras ready to strike. I had to tell Billy that the “chicken” on the table was really his towel, as he searched for one to take with him to shower.

“Really?” Billy asked.

“Yes,” I replied. “You have to either unroll it or do without a towel.”

On the second day, it was puppies, which reminded me of my dogs back home, and made me miss them: their floppy ears and perky butts. I quickly dismantled those to chase away my homesickness for them.

On the third day, we came home to toalla babies, which I couldn’t bare to dismantle, until finally, the little one’s head toppled off in the wind.

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What Makes a Friend a Friend?


I met her by the poolside my first summer in college. She looked like a friend: long dark hair and a perfect bikini: black and white paisley with a vintage cut. She carried a bag she must have picked up from an import store. It slung over her shoulder and hung down past her waist. I spotted a pack of cigarettes fall out of it. I had just quit smoking. A long-haired guy followed closely behind her. He had a slight hop in his step.

Sometimes I feel like the least likely person to walk up to a stranger and introduce myself, but I surprised myself that day. I remember her smile when I asked her name. She pushed herself off the side of the pool and arched her back gracefully through the water before answering, “Christina.”

Later I would learn she was studying dance, and to my disappointment, that she didn’t smoke cigarettes, but was carrying them for her boyfriend, the long-haired guy with a hop in his step.

I pointed out my apartment.

“Stop by anytime.”

And she did, and I was so happy to have her as my friend, until my boyfriend , Manny, had a thought:

“It’s obvious. Come on! You’ve got to be blind not to see it.”


“Your friend’s got the hots for me.”

“What makes you think that?”

Manny laughed at me like I was a naïve child.

And so I avoided her; didn’t go to the pool when I’d see her swim from my window. Didn’t answer the door when she’d knock.

Manny and I ran into Christina and Long-Hair-Hop-Step shortly after classes started up again in the fall.

“I haven’t seen you at the pool lately.”

“Been working a lot. We haven’t seen you either.”

“We’ve been working at Ren Fair.”

“Was it fun?”

Long-Hair nodded.

“Yea. He’s still wearing the hat,” Christina said sarcastically and rolled her eyes.
I had noticed the fluffy flamboyant velveteen hat Long-Hair was sporting and was glad there was an explanation for it.

After that, Christina and I became friends again. It didn’t take long until I felt comfortable enough to ask her if she had ever been interested in my boyfriend.

“You thought I was interested in HIM?”



“I don’t know, Manny kind of thought that too.”

Christina looked horrified, “Wait, what? He thought this too? Why?”

It would later be revealed that Manny thought all my friends had the hots for him, hence the end of my relationship with Manny.

Despite the distance and time, whenever I see Christina again, it’s as if we’ve never parted…and on an exciting note, she’s moved to Milwaukee for the time being.

Things are different now than they used to be. Instead of planning to go out dancing, we think about it and then say, “Well, maybe. I’m usually tired by the time we normally head out to dance,” as we sit on a curb that overlooks a parking-lot and eat frozen custard. Two scoops. Afterward, we shop for groceries.

I’m proud of Christina. She is true to her heart and has never given up on her dreams. She has worked hard to become who she is today: a dancer and an artist. This weekend she’s displaying and selling her work at the Starving Artist Show. Although I’m usually opposed to any event that carry the words “starving” and “artist” in the same title, I’ll loosen the reigns on my principles and visit her booth.


I missed having Christina around and will be certain to cherish the time I have her here before we part ways again, and the cycle will continue between two friends who met at the poolside at the prime of their youth, and the at trailhead of the path towards their dreams.


What makes a friend a friend? How do you know one when you see one?


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China and the Coming Storm


Mom asks a lot about her ‘things’; the china cabinet and china mostly. Over and over, I see the disappointment in her face as I tell her that they are gone, and that there was just too much for me to keep it all. I did the best I could, saved what I thought was important and left the rest behind.


I dream nightly of going back to collect what I’ve forgotten. I sneak around what used to be our home. I also dream that a storm is rolling in and I am searching for Mom to make certain she is safe. I find her the way she always has been: independent, stubborn and angry. She doesn’t want to come with me to safety, and I refuse to leave her behind.

Do you have anything you regret leaving behind? How do you think it effects the life you live today? 


It doesn’t have to be an object, that thing you left behind.

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Martha’s 99th Birthday

I was out for dinner with family that had traveled in for my grandmother-in-law’s 99th birthday when I looked down at my phone and saw it glowing. Someone had messaged me. I held it just within view underneath the table, and opened a message from Mollie Morningstar, a psychic medium who was offering me tickets to her event the following evening.

Mollie and I have a mutual friend who introduced us because we both love hula-hooping. I had attended one of Mollie’s readings before, and I follow her on social media. I adore her posts.

Excited, I interrupted the conversation at the table, “Anyone want to go with me to see a psychic medium tomorrow?”

No one immediately answered. I thought I was going to have to search for a date outside of my dinner company until Barbra, my sister-in-law in from D.C. answered, “I’ll go.”

By the time I finished work the next day, I was ready for an evening on the town. Barbra and I were almost the last guests to arrive to Mollie’s reading and took a seat in the side wing, next to, we would come to find later, three sisters that cried tears of joy when their father’s spirit came through, demonstrated by Mollie dancing a Southern Jig that their father once used to do for them when he was alive.

Mollie did this for many people in the room, not dance a gig, but gave them something familiar and exclusive to their tie to the spirit communicating to them.

I watched and noticed why they were all there, the audience members: they were all missing someone dear to them and were looking for a glimmer of knowing the spirits of the people they loved were still with them. Most everyone seemed hopeful with anticipation, and the audience came to know each other’s stories as messages came through, creating what felt like to me a beautiful bond between strangers. Barbra described the experience later as one where, one minute the audience is laughing and the next, everyone is in tears or trying hard to hold them back.

Towards the end of the session, I wondered who if anyone would want to come through to me. I couldn’t think of anyone who would. I was going to ask Barbra if she could think of anyone who might come through to her, but I didn’t because I was fairly certain Barbra was skeptical. She didn’t say anything to make me believe she was, but she had a look on her face, and cracked a few jokes about the various topics the spirits decided to bring up, like paving a driveway. But the more Mollie connected the audience with their loved ones, the harder it was for us not to believe.

Then Mollie asked if someone was celebrating a birthday. Three people raised their hands. I couldn’t help but think of Martha, born 99 years ago in a farmhouse in Eagle River, Wisconsin, but I didn’t raise my hand. Then Mollie mentioned the name Art. I faintly recalled that was the name of Martha’s husband, but wasn’t sure.

I nudged Barbra, “Isn’t that Bill and Mike’s (Barbra’s husband) grandpa’s name?”

Barbra nodded.

“Art has left someone behind that he loves very dearly, his wife, anyone here associated with the name Martha?” Mollie asked.

Warm chills surged up my spine. Interestingly enough, two other people in the crowd connected to an Art and Martha. I didn’t raise my hand to make a third because I was afraid that I would be stealing another person’s ghost away.

Mollie continued, “He acknowledges that there’s been a lot of cleaning going on and he says it feels good to breath again.”

The audience members who had connected to an Art and Martha didn’t connect with that part of the message, it didn’t pertain, but my husband had just finished cleaning our apartment for guests coming in to stay with us for Martha’s party, and we had just completed spending almost two weeks cleaning my mother’s home so we could put it on the market. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to raise my hand.

Lots of people clean all the time, I thought, and there are lots of people named Art and Martha and have birthdays.

Mollie continued, “I’m getting another name connected to Art, a William or Bill?” Mollie looked around the audience for some takers. Bill is my husband’s name, short for William, still, I was reluctant to claim the ghost of Grandpa Art. After all, I had never even met him.

I listened to the message, making mental notes, in case I would find later that the spirit named Art was in fact communicating to us: create a budget, hold out for the right one, he loves his wife very much, but then I began to worry that Art wanted to say something very specific to us, and because I was too shy to stand up and acknowledge him, he would miss his chance. That’s when I tried to communicate to Art directly.

I said in my mind, “Okay Art, if you’re trying to say something to me, you have to give me a bigger sign so that I’m certain it’s you. I don’t want to steal a ghost away from someone else if it’s not really you.”

And that’s when Mollie said, “I see that Art did very well for himself. He’s dressed in a suit and I see him writing checks.”

As silly as the next part of this story sounds, that’s always how I imagined Art: in a suit writing checks. Only I know this. You might ask why this is how I picture him, and it’s because in the pictures I’ve seen of him, he’s wearing a suit. The checks are because we receive them from Martha on birthdays and Christmas. They’re a big deal and are generous checks. These checks make it clear to me that Art worked hard to do great things, and that’s why he and Martha can be generous to their family and loved ones. So that was it, that was the sign. I raised my hand and claimed him.

Mollie came over and stood closer to Barbra and I, “He acknowledges a double wedding, did you two have a double wedding?”

“No,” I answered, “but we probably should have.”

I was shaking with excitement, so Barb had to take over and explained to Mollie, “We married brothers and we were all friends first before Anna and I married into the family. We lived together in the same house, and pretty much did almost everything together until we moved away.”

“Well Art acknowledges this and he wants to say ‘Happy Birthday’ to Martha, who he loved and cared for very much.”

I was so excited, until I thought about telling this to Martha and worried about how she might react.

I envisioned the scenario: Hi Martha, happy birthday, guess what?  Barb and I went to a psychic medium last night and got a message from your husband. Sorry, I know you’re Catholic and might not believe in this stuff, please don’t think I’m weird. And I hope this doesn’t make you sad.

Then Art reassured me, right away, almost interrupting those thoughts that were already making me hesitant to deliver the message to Martha.

Mollie said, “He says to feel free to tell Martha this and that she will be very accepting of his message,” before she told us, “but Art is a very polite man and he doesn’t want to take up any more time because there are many spirits here who want to get through, so he’s excusing himself now. He knows everyone is at peace with his passing.”

Then Mollie told us to bring the beautiful flower arrangement that stood at the center of the stage to Martha for her birthday, which we did.

The next day at Martha’s party, the flower arrangement sat in the middle of the dining-room table. Martha thought it was beautiful and wanted to know who it came from.

I don’t know how to make a long story brief, so I offered the task to Barbra, “Do you want to tell her?”

Barbra politely declined. Not knowing what to expect and how Martha would react, I felt my face turning red as I told Martha what had happened, how Art’s spirit came through.

I couldn’t see Martha’s face, because I sat behind her, at the ‘kid’s table’, but everyone who could see her said she was smiling and the story brought tears to her eyes.

I wrapped up the story with, “So really Martha, even though Mollie was nice enough to send these flowers to you, they’re from Art too.”

Later on in the evening, I also found out that Art’s middle name is William, and that a lot of cleaning had taken place at Martha’s house that week as well to prepare for the party.

It also turned out that Art is an old pro at communicating from the other side. One of Art’s daughters and his only grand-daughter have both received messages from him through a medium as well.

And Art was right, Martha was open and happy to receive the message. She didn’t think it was weird at all. I was glad I had the courage to speak up and claim his messages, after all the hard work Art had to do to get through, from placing the thought in Mollie’s head to offer the tickets, to bringing Barb in from D.C. so she could help recognize him and verify his name. What a clever man Grandpa Art is. I was also honored that Art would use Barbra and I as instruments to send a message and some flowers to his true love, Martha, on her 99th birthday.


Martha, two of her three children, and flowers from Art and Mollie.

Have you received messages from loved ones that have passed? Tell me.
Martha and Art

Martha and Art

Oh, and while Barb was in town there was dancing. Wherever there is Barb, there is always dancing.

Oh, and while Barb was in town there was dancing. Wherever there is Barb, there is always dancing.

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Things That Help Write Your Thesis

1.) The day off with nothing planned BUT writing your thesis: A friend or two may try to tempt you, not intentionally of course, to wander off track. Stand affirmative that you will be writing and that come May, you will be better able to accompany them to Target or attend kirtan.

Crochet Shawl: Mom's crafting days, Hippy Puff Blouse: SalvationArmy, DesertShorts: T.J.Maxx, WhitePuffWarmers: ValueVillage

Crochet Shawl: Mom’s crafting days, Hippy Puff Blouse: SalvationArmy, DesertShorts: T.J.Maxx, WhitePuffWarmers: ValueVillage

2.) Lucky outfit: A lucky outfit consists of attire you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing in public, but you love wearing in the comfort of your own home. Pajamas do not work, because they will make it too easy for you to sleep. It should be an outfit that will double as both a way to frighten the UPS man when he comes to deliver a package, and a way to keep you where you are dedicated to stay for the day, at home. I have many of these outfits.


3.) Yerba Matte: A nice pot of it that you can brew several times over.


4.) Bubble water and trusty companion: The companion will make certain you go out for a breath of fresh air at least every couple of hours when they have to do their thing. The bubbles in the bubble water will rise to your brain, bringing to you feelings of euphoria because it is more interesting than drinking regular water.


5.) Thai Lime & Chili Cashews: They sting with enough spice to make you feel alive, and please you with enough nut butter to help you write with passion.


6.) And lastly, the Squatty Potty: Has nothing to do with anything other than it’s funny. I’m laughing right now knowing it’s in my bathroom.

Do these things really help with writing? -you ask: Absolutely not.

If you have a lucky outfit, tell me what makes it lucky. If you own a Squatty Potty, I’d be interested in knowing about that too.

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Adventures In Basement Cleaning


Over the span of twenty years, I’ve dedicated entire weekends to organizing my mom’s basement. I’ve packed its contents into boxes time and time again: three generations of old toys, old clothes, old everything Mom insisted we keep, only to find the boxes opened up a few weeks or months later, their contents strewed all over tarnation.

The implements that helped us see.

The implements that helped us see.

I theorized Mom had forgotten what was in the boxes and that’s why she would take everything out again, but after so many times of packing and repacking the basement, I decided not to do it anymore.

The toys we loved.

The toys we loved.

I remember rejoicing when the sub-pump malfunctioned and flooded the basement, leaving half the stuff down there unsalvageable. Regardless, the basement still grew into piles of junk. It loomed over our conversations every time Mom and I spoke to one another, a topic I found as pleasurable as sucking on cardboard. It was a suffering chore that needed to be accomplished before our lives evolved to be the kind that spent its time wandering through rolling hills of leisure.

I knew this and would yank at my psychological harness and scream to myself, “How come I have to be the one to clean this *&#@ up? Other people contributed to this mess too! Not fair.”

Once, I wrote my dad and E. a ransom letter, hoping they would help me with the insurmountable task:

Come and get what’s yours at Mom’s by [‘x’ date and time], else I will throw it away .

Neither responded.

I stepped it up and called Dad, “So, you know, that spooky clock that looks like it came over on the Mayflower, I’m going to throw it away unless you come get it.”

Supposedly it had been in our family for generations. Legend was it chimed 12 times whenever a Stone Family member died no matter what time it was, wound up or not. None of that mattered.

Dad suggested, “Why don’t you put it up in your place?”

“No room Dad. No room.”

I didn’t want a haunted clock. I wanted him to come get it and then help me clean the basement.

“My obligations are here,” he told me, and his words rolled off me like rocks.

Obligations. I know all about those, the basement being one of them. It sat there, still messy, still waiting to be tidied, and with the sale of Mom’s home, the realtors pinned a deadline to the task.

I felt cursed by the basement, an evil magnet that drained my time and energy. Resentment triggered my actions to be harsh as I burrowed through it with haste; there was no time to be sentimental about any of it. Bye-bye dear toys I grew up with, Grandpa’s dentures (why did we keep those?), and chests full of baby clothes Mom cherished and saved. I put them all in a pile to be taken away.

When I came to the darkest corner of the basement, the one I saved for last, I moaned at the stacks of expired cans of corned beef Mom had intended to send to the Philippines that needed to be hauled away. Underneath them, I found sealed boxes I never noticed before.

I squealed with heebie-geebies as my brave husband dragged the boxes up the stairs for me, imagining all the spiders, centipedes and silverfish slipping from their moldy homes in the boxes to scurry over his bare hands.

There were seven of these boxes. The enormity of them panicked me as they sat perched like large cocoons on the living-room floor. I was almost tempted to throw them away without looking to see what was inside.

I opened the first box and began to sift through years of homework assignments, greeting cards, letters, pictures and newspaper articles: artifacts my parents decided were sacred enough to carry with us everywhere we moved.



Baby E.


Baby E. and me in the truck in Montana somewhere. I did not like bugs or nature back then. I still don’t like bugs.



Great Grandpa


Mom and her boss.


A stranger.


Grandma in her garden. Missoula, Montana

My feelings of resentment and entitlement that I should be doing something better with my time subsided once I began to take my time with the contents in the boxes, and soon I found myself absorbed in them.




Sister-Dog helping me sort.

For three days, I had the pleasure of waking up, brewing a pot of tea, setting up a cozy seat with a trusty sister-dog before surrendering my thoughts and time to pictures and letters of my both my family and people I had never met before. As I read and sorted, I came to know a family and its members that have been long forgotten in a different way. They became more dimensional beings to me, with relationships and travels, heartaches and successes. They were young and hopeful, fell in love and fell away.

The two people who remained constants in the boxes: my parents. The artifacts served to tell their stories from before they met, up until their divorce, 18 years later.







By the time I found myself at the bottom of the last box, I was sad my time with them had ended.

The notes and letters: I decided to throw away, regrettably so as I try to recall some of the ones I read before slipping them into a garbage bag.


I ended up consolidating the seven large moldy boxes into five small newer boxes. As I stacked them away in my own darkest corner, I felt sorry for myself for just a second, wondering if maybe I was the only one in the world who cared about them. I saw myself forever harboring these boxes the way my parents did and I couldn’t decipherer whether the boxes were a blessing or a burden, another obligation.

I also wondered what would happen to the boxes when I was done caring about them as well.




Dad’s class picture from Forestry School.





Stranger. Naked one.


Me, Mom and Lola, back before carseats were the law.


Railroad workers. Strangers.


In a dream, I rent a place in the desert and invite my parents and brother to go through these pictures with me. We learn about and relive the stories depicted in them, in between long hikes and home cooked meals.


Baby Jesus a.k.a El Nino.

The things we ended up keeping from Mom’s house:

    • Pictures,
    • Mom’s collection of Baby Jesus’,
    • some furniture,
    • three boxes of clothes,
    • washer and dryer,
    • Mom’s car,
    • and her plants, which froze in the truck on the trip to Wisconsin. Now they sit in the south window of our apartment. I had been nagging Bill to throw them away until noticed tiny leaves sprouting from the once frozen hibiscus tree.

Maybe it’s a sign of the fresh beginnings that are on their way.

What’s the best thing you ever found in a basement?







Mom, always so dramatic.










Sister-Dog sleeps.Knack29_web

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What Makes A Home

The tiny details that made this a home.

The tiny details that made this a home.

It was the spirit of Mom’s home that made it a home, not the things, I’m realizing now.

In the weeks I stayed to take care of the cleaning, her home grew strange and beautiful to me. Before, it was neither, or had I simply failed to notice?

View from my bedroom.

View from my bedroom.

It was never my home. I would be reminded of this whenever Mom would kick me out. I can’t recall what used to make her so angry. Maybe it was that I wouldn’t come home sometimes, or she had found my stash. No one can scare the slut or pothead out of a daughter the way a mother can.

When I finally did, officially move out, it wasn’t because she was angry. Neither was I. I moved for no reason other than someone, a stranger, unbarred me from believing I had to stay. He freed me by reminding me that life was rushing by. I thought this stranger was Jesus at the time, a story I’ll save for a future post.

Mom stood at the door, pale as a ghost when I said goodbye. Maybe she knew it was for real that time. Her attempts to get me to move back after that made me sad, and I came close a few times, but tied roots down as quickly as I could to my new, close-enough-to-be-near, far-enough-to-do-my-own-thing-without-being-caught, judged or warned-about-my-evil-doings, home.

Mom and me, under the cherry blossom tree.

Mom and me, under the cherry blossom tree.

But I knew no matter what happened, I could always return. I could chance the impossible and land back at Mom’s if I failed. Regardless, I never took such chances.

What makes your home a home?

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My Husband Used to Live in a Tent

Mom’s house was on the market two days when it received an offer. We’re wrapping up the many things that have to be wrapped up when you sell a home, so occasionally, I still have to go back there, which I don’t like.

To me, being at that house feels like I have a stain on a favorite shirt that I can never get out, only more emotional. I love it, but I am repulsed and aware there’s nothing I can do to salvage it, and I’m better off throwing it away and forgetting about it soon as possible. Separation and disassociation are near.

We hired an estate sales company to help liquidate the items in the home, which was owned by a pudgy old man with a friendly voice and walrus-like facial hair. He came over to look at our stuff at the same time we had our real-estate agent over and the two immediately began collaborating and discussing a timeline.


The adventure of trudging through Mom’s stuff and home began, and in the middle of the process, the estate company called to say we didn’t have enough value attached to our stuff to run an estate sale. It turned out our family silver was fake.

Walrus ended up ‘cutting a deal’ with me, because, Walrus said, he felt bad for me. He was very apologetic, and agreed to clear our house of it’s items for $600. He would take Mom’s stuff to his barn/warehouse until he found auction houses to sell them to, then we’d split the proceeds after knocking off 20% of what it’s sold for at the auction.


I watched him pull the objects and things I grew up with out of our home. It wasn’t as devastating as I thought it would be, though there is one object I’ve been obsessing about: a wood carved chickadee perched on a piece of driftwood that used to sit on top of the piano. It was a chubby little wooden bird. I never gave it much thought before, so I don’t know why all of a sudden it means something to me.

The things Mom obsesses about are the china cabinet and all her china.

“But that was supposed to be for you,” she says.

“There was no place to put it Mom, we’ll buy prettier stuff to replace it later,” I say.

Mom should have said something about that china cabinet before all of this happened. I never knew she cared so much for it or that she had intentions of giving it to me. That’s the hard part with Mom’s sickness, I can’t tell what she’s thinking, what’s real, or what’s a fabrication of the disease. Sometimes she’s okay with everything that’s going on with sale of the house and all her things, sometimes she’s upset and angry with me, and sometimes she assures me that although she’s upset, she knows I am doing the best I can.

I’d like to think the last of these variations of Mom is the most authentic to the way she is feeling.

The truth is, I have no idea what I’m doing and if I’m doing the right thing.

Before we left Mom’s to come home this past weekend, I caught Bill taking a picture of the hallway. When I asked him why he was taking that picture, he said it was because he wanted to remember the place where he first met my mom.

He was taking a picture of the same section of the house where I last saw my dad before he moved to Texas. It was early in the morning when he left, still dark. I woke up to the commotion of a sad goodbye and went out into the hall to see Mom, Dad and E. standing there.

Mom turned to me for help, “Anna, ask him to stay.”

I didn’t. I hugged him goodbye and went back to bed. I remember thinking he would come back.

This is also the same section of the house where the police officers stood when Mom would call them on me or E., for whatever reason it was at the time, as they talked on their CBs and filled out their reports.

Mom loved to call the police. I remember the first time she did was because I wouldn’t do the dishes. I was 12. The reasons for Mom calling the police became more extreme as time went on, until the day the police arrested Mom too.

Mom didn’t call the police again after that.


Bill’s Threshold Experience With Mom:

Bill and I had just arrived and were chatting with my brother in his room. Bill leaned his shoulder up against the doorframe and looked around. It was his first visit to my childhood home. Mom walked to the threshold of the hallway, caught sight of Bill and stared him down.

Bill, in his friendly way said, “Hi Mrs. Stone, I’m Bill, Anna’s boyfriend.”

Mom said nothing, only continued to stare before she swiped her hand down, shooing him, with a “pshh!” noise before she walked off.

We found out later Mom thought he was homeless, hence the death stare and dismissive “shoo” of her hand, not that that is any excuse to treat anyone, homeless or not. But on a scale, this was a good introduction to my mom. Ask anyone who knows, Mom was not nice to my friends, especially not to ones that look like drug addicts, who in Mom’s opinion, was everyone I brought by to meet her.

So, why did Mom think Bill was homeless? I had introduced Bill to my brother a few weeks before. I took him to Bill’s apartment which he shared with roommates. Because of a lack of walls, Bill had set up a large canvas army tent in the middle of the living room to serve as his room.

When Mom asked E. about his trip to visit me, he told her, “Great. I met Anna’s new boyfriend. He lives in a tent.” I guess Mom didn’t ask any more questions about Bill after that. She certifiably thought he was homeless and was pissed.

It took a long time for me to convince Mom otherwise, and now with Mom’s disease, sometimes she reverts to thinking he used to be homeless again. She pities me and tells me I deserve more than a homeless man. I usually try to explain to her again that Bill was never homeless, but lately I haven’t.  I’ve stopped because it’s exhausting. Also, I don’t get as angry about this as I used to. It used to be important to me that Mom knew exactly what was going on and how wonderful Bill is. Now, I find it easier to just let it be. Her thoughts run wild like boars and grow many versions and variations, like tusks. I allow her to think what she wants, within reason.


The house is set to close before the end of the month. It will be spring by then. Soon winter and the hallway will be a dream.

What seeds have you or do you plan to plant this year? I planted a seed that will grow into the wonderful truth that I will never have to clean Mom’s basement again. I hear it provides adequate shade in the form of time, good for relaxing with the ones you love and iced-tea.

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