March 2007


Sickness abounds here at Casa Izz. Woo hoo. Gotta love all the trials and tribulations that go with having a family…don’t get me wrong; I really do love them (well, sort of), I just wish they didn’t have to be so messy sometimes.

Two nights ago, poor Fin started with a fever. He was restless all night, and was apparently having strange dreams (judging from the fact that he kept yelling about one thing or another in his sleep). I wasn’t aware that this was caused by sickness until all of a sudden he screamed “ALRIGHT!!! We’re gonna go…one, two, three, four…..GOOOOOO!!!” and then ran into the bathroom. I had no idea what was going on, as I was quite abruptly awaken from a lovely dream (isn’t it always the way?), and was still quite groggy. I rushed into the bathroom to see what the problem was, and there was Fin, just going to the bathroom. He looked rather wild, but other than that seemed fine as he told me that he just had to go. Fine….after he is done, we both go back to bed. As I’m just starting to snuggle down again, all of a sudden I hear little feet running to my doorway, and then “MOM!!!!!! I’M GOING TO PUKE!!!!!!”. I sit up, tell Fin to run to the bathroom (no, he didn’t quite make it) as I jump out of bed to get to him. Poor little guy…but you can see what I mean now about trials and tribulations being rather messy. We clean the mess up, clean the child up (which in doing so, realize that he has a fever), and get him back to bed, tucking him in to make sure he’s warm (because fevers make you cold….oh, you know what I mean). I was going to get some Tylenol type stuff to help with the fever, but he seemed like he was going to go right back to sleep anyway….until he started to yell again. I run into the room (maybe sleeping in there would be a better thing?), ask him if he’s alright, to which he responds:
“I had a bad dream that Daddy was getting taller.”

Now, mind you, Mr Izz is hardly tall to begin with, so a bit more height might actually be a good thing. But apparently this detail was horrifying to poor Fin, who seems to prefer his father’s vertical challenges.

The rest of the night was pretty much the same. The fever did go down a bit, and he was able to sleep, although he was still restless. Poor little guy. But by the morning, he was fine. Back to his old self. Needless to say, I got very little sleep that night, but such is the job of a mom. I’m sure I’ll make up for it at some point (when all the kids are grown and gone, maybe).

Last night was Éamon’s turn…no throwing up, but he had a pretty good fever and had to sleep with me for the majority of the night. Anyone who has tried to sleep with an almost 18 month old will tell you, however, that the use of the word “sleep” here is ill used, for sleeping was not something I was doing. So, now I’m on to day number two with very little sleep, and I’m feeling rather giddy and silly (oh wait, I always feel that way, don’t I?), and very much like if I were to lie down, I may sleep through until tomorrow morning. I’m honestly just hoping that this will go through the ranks quickly. It’s much easier to deal with when you have them all go down with some new virus type thing at once, rather than having to deal with it sporadically. I’d rather have it over and done with. Trials and tribulations….they make us stronger. But honestly, I’d rather be stronger with a bit of sleep. Maybe tomorrow night….

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I wrote this a while back, and came across it just recently. It seemed fitting to put it here, since it was my first real attempt at fiction. It has no title…I was never able to come up with something I found to be suitable.

As Dan knelt down, he tried to think of how to word it all. What he was going to do wasn’t an easy thing, but it had to be done. And Eibhilín had to be told.
“We’re leaving, Eibhilín…Áine and I are leaving this very day.” There, he had said it. The worst, he felt, was over.
But after the words were uttered, Dan grew silent…thinking back over the past few years. All that had happened; all that had been taken away. It started with Eibhilín falling ill that winter 3 years ago. The doctor had said even if she were to get better, she would always be weak. But she never did get better. It was that winter 3 years ago that he lost her. It was this that he thought about as he knelt upon the very spot he had knelt the day she was buried.
It seemed such a short time ago that Eibhilín had died, and yet so much had happened in that time. Things were tight…they always had been, but with the potato crops suffering they way they had, there was only enough money to get them through to the next harvest. Each year seemed to be worse. This past crop didn’t make it through the blight so there was no harvest at all. When the money ran out, and the rent was not paid, the landlord told Dan and his daughter to find other lodgings. Dan pleaded with him…saying there was no other place to go… he had a small daughter to think of. He was met with silence, and was escorted out by the landlord’s crew the next morning. A smile crept upon Dan’s face, as he looked north and saw the smoke still rising from the rubble that used to be his landlord’s barn. You could always count on rebels not to be so silent.
As Dan gazed up, and saw Áine dancing merrily in the grass, a wreath of wildflowers upon her golden head, he whispered “She is a vision of you, Eibhilín.”
“Come Áine, we must leave now,” said Dan as he rose from his spot. Áine ran over, and placed a bouquet of wildflowers upon her mother’s grave.
“Da, will Mum always watch over us, even when we are in America?” asked Áine, as she put her hand into her father’s.
“Yes, Áine, I think she will,” answered Dan, as they walked down the road toward the glistening bay, to the ship that would take them to their new life.

The weather here is finally improving (I’ve been dancing around because of it all week), which of course can’t help but put me in good spirits. Today the forecast is calling for thunderstorms, and I couldn’t be happier. Rain is awesome as it is, but rain with thunder and lightning is even better. But anyway…

Izz's Sugar Snow

A couple of mornings ago, I awoke to snow (as shown above)…but not just any snow, as it clung to the branches of the trees making the world a glistening white wonderland…for a little while anyway. It was a “sugar snow”. For anyone who may not be familiar with that term, the “sugar” part of it has nothing to do with the color, the texture, or the taste of the snow. It really is just SNOW in the end. It has to do with the time of year, which is Maple Sugaring time. As I’ve stated (probably more times that I’ve needed to), the days are getting longer as well as warmer (more dancing around…sorry about that), which promotes the sap to run in the trees. Here in the North Country (as well as in some other places fairly close by), we are particularly interested in the sap from the Sugar Maple, for when that sap is extracted from the tree, and then boiled down for a few hours, you come up with some of the most heavenly stuff in the world: Maple Syrup. Anyone who has ever had some of the real stuff usually can’t tolerate the fake ick that they try to pass off as the real stuff in your neighborhood box mart. Pure maple syrup is simply divine, and goes well with more than just your average, everyday pancakes. I use it for braising vegetables (most notably carrots), for topping ice cream, for some breads, and lots of other things.

Maple Sugaring

So why am I talking about this? I don’t know really…I suppose it was just one of those things I had kind of forgotten about while I was living away from here for so many years. It’s amazing how much you forget about a place that you lived practically your whole life in, and yet how quickly it all comes back after you return. I’d been seeing all of those little buckets hanging on the trees, and I remembered the spring that I did the same thing. How truly satisfying it was to collect the sap day after day, and then after the sap was done running, to take it all and boil it for hours until you have the right consistency. That was the best maple syrup I’d ever had, and I think it has a lot to do with all of the work I put into making it. As I see those buckets, I remember good times from my childhood that were so long forgotten. Things that I would love to share with my own children, and have them experience as well.

Nostalgia…that’s why I’m writing about this. I’m feeling nostalgic and that’s a good thing.

I don’t like to run around and do errands several times a week. I find it to be tedious and annoying, and so I would rather limit all of it to one day a week. As of late, it seems that Friday has been deigned “errand day”. Since we are (yet again) down to one vehicle, I have to take Mr Izz to school in the wee hours of the morning…..well, at 7am, which isn’t really all that wee, I suppose….so I can have the car for the rest of the day. What ends up happening is that I pretty much give up the entire day to riding in a car, because after taking him to school, and then going grocery shopping (which takes a few hours) and then having to pick him up again by 2pm (his school is about 40 minutes away), there is time for little else. I’m almost ready to walk up the road and beg the use of the Amish family’s horse and buggy. I tend to think it would be, at the very least, more enjoyalbe.

Last Friday was pretty much the same as what I’ve just outlined, with a couple of variations. First off, Mr Izz had decided that he didn’t want to be picked up until 4:30pm instead of 2pm…this, of course, makes things such as dinner difficult, for at the precise time I am to be preparing dinner, I am also to be at school to pick him up. Last I checked, I am still unable to bilocate, so I was a bit stressed. This leads me to variation number two. As I was doing the other running, well before I was to pick Mr Izz up, my mother in law called. Apparently she had some things that she needed someone to pick up at her house for the Izzlets. SIGH! I call her as soon as I walk in the door, tell her I have to pick up her son anyway, so we’ll just go there right afterwards, being there at about 5-ish (she’s about another 20 minutes from campus in the opposite direction of home). That sounds good to her, and for our efforts, she’ll take us out to dinner. Very cool…a bit of a reward for all of the running I’d been doing. She then asks if I was going to take any of the kids with me. Huh? Is she kidding? It would be nice if I were to take a couple, whe says…she’d like to see them….alright. So I take Finbar (the four year old) and Séamus (the 2 year old). It’s my hope by taking them things will be a bit easier here on the homefront. They get packed up, and by quarter after 3 or so, we’re out the door and on our way to Daddy’s school.

This is where it gets good. Really, it does.

As I’m driving, Fin is chatting away. He tends to do that on a regular basis, and so I’m used to it for the most part. But then he gets to the “Question and Answer Forum”. The “Question and Answer Forum” consists of he, Finbar, asking questions and then expecting Mom, which is me, to answer all of them to his liking. If he likes my answer, he proceeds to say “Yes! That’s right!” It’s a good thing I have him there to let me know…who knows what trouble I’d be in if he weren’t! Let me give you a few examples of Finbar’s line of questioning.

Fin: “Mom! Do you have to stop when there is a stop sign?”
Me: “Yes, Fin.”
Fin: “Right! You do! And if you don’t, what happens?”
Me: “You get a ticket, Fin.”
Fin: “Right! So WHY did you just pass that stop sign and NOT stop?”
Me (after thinking for a second that I had gone through a stop sign): “No, Fin, you only have to stop when it’s on your side of the road. Not when it’s on a side road.”
Fin: “Oh. So you aren’t going to get a ticket?”
Me: “No, Fin”

This type of thing goes on for a while…there are stop LIGHTS to go through (“Are you SURE, Mom, that you didn’t have to stop?”), and other stop signs that most assuredly one should stop for. Finally, we are back on a road where there aren’t too many stop signs and no stop lights. Quiet from the back seat. Ahhhhh….

“FARM!!!!!!!!” yells the voice from behind me. I practically hit the brake, he startles me so much.

“Finbar! Why on earth are you yelling about a farm?” I ask, still a bit shaken up.

“Oh, sorry.” comes the response. “I just saw it, and I got nervous, so I yelled.” Séamus giggles over this one. I, on the other hand, inform Fin that he shouldn’t yell when Mommy is driving. “Why not?” he asks. I then proceed to tell him that Mommy might get into an accident if he yells. “Will you get a ticket if you have an accident?” he asks. “Yes, Fin” I reply. “Having an accident is illegal?”
“Yes, Fin..if it is your fault”
“Will you get arrested if you have an accident?”
“Yes, Fin” I answer back, ready to have the conversation over and done with.
“Oh…I won’t yell about the farms anymore” he states. Thank goodness.

As we drive into Canton (where Mr Izz’s school is located), there is relative quiet in the back seat again. I can hear Fin and Séamus talking a bit, some giggling, but nothing bad. I’m just glad to almost be at school before we see another farm. As I make the turn onto the campus, Fin decides to ask one more question.

“Mom…is it illegal to float during a dance competition?”

I just sit there for a moment, not really knowing what to say to answer him. Where on earth did he come up with that?

“Mom, is it?” he implores, as if it is the most important question of the day.
“Yes, Fin. It is illegal to float during a dance competition” I reply, not knowing really what else to say.
“Right! It IS illegal!” is his answer. Thank goodness I answered correctly…if I hadn’t he might have gotten nervous again and yelled about the trees.

We pull up to where Mr Izz is waiting for his ride, and I get out of the driver’s side to let him get in.

“Whatever you do…” I say as he goes to climb in behind the wheel, “never float during a dance competition. It’s illegal” and I walk around to the other side of the car. From inside, I can hear Fin giggling up a storm, and Mr Izz looking at me like I’m insane. I probably am, after that car ride. But at least I can say that I now know that floating during a dance competition is illegal. That’s more than most sane people can say.

What a glorious day it is today! Spring is springing (finally!); there is a fine rain coming down and the wind is blustery, but not at all cold. My kind of weather, that’s for sure. Of course, since it is my kind of weather, I had to take a bit of a stroll outside. I walked down into the back yard (which is virtually snow free, and smells wonderfully of mud), to the stream to watch as the water rushed along the rocks. It’s always fun to watch streams at this time of year, for they hardly move along leisurely, babbling softly as they go. Right now, as the water rages along, it’s more like a roar. I honestly could listen to it all day. I stood on a rock on the bank, the wind whipping all around me, and the rain not so gently hitting me on the face (although, it wasn’t a hard rain…just a soft one so I didn’t mind), and just listened. What a wonderful sound! It fills your ears with such beautiful music, despite how loudly the water does sing.

I stood there, on the bank, for a while. I would have stood there all day, but there is dinner to prepare and things to get done. So, I walked up the hill in the back yard, and went around the other side of the house into the front yard. There I saw the very first glimpses of life…the spring flowers are peeping up out of their earthy home. I wasn’t here last spring, and so I’m very excited to see what these “peepings” will bring in the next couple of weeks. Up here, away from the stream, the wind is tormenting the trees as they fervently try to shake it out of their boughs. This, much like the stream, has a melody all it’s own. What a glorious sound!

Unfortunately, it was time to go back inside and get done all the things I had been putting off. Dinner will be late, and I’m sure that those inside the house that don’t share my enthusiasm of the wind and the rain will be a bit put out. But now that I’ve had my fun (albeit short lived) , I don’t care that they are put out. I hope there is more of this tomorrow, in fact. And I promise that if there is, I’ll make sure to be a part of it, even if that means that dinner will be late yet again.

I woke up this morning just in time to watch the sun rise. I watched as the sky first blushed in anticipation of the sun’s arrival, starting as a pale pink and then gradually becoming a deeper pinkish color. The pink finally gave way to deep reds, purples and oranges, as the sun finally peeped over the horizon. Then, as the sun gloriously rose over the trees so far away, the sky seemed to explode with color and brightness. It was almost as if, in it’s eagerness to finally light the earth, it set it all aflame. It was truly a beautiful sight to behold. And not a sound was needed….all was silent as everything waited for that final moment when the light made it’s appearance.

I cherish mornings like this. The silence and beauty of it all is breathtaking. Usually, I’m able to behold this almost miraculous event alone…the kids are still asleep, cozy in their beds; and my other half (also known as Mr Izz) is usually on his way to school. So, this is my time. As I watch the sun emerge, I think. Sometimes about the things I need to get done on that particular day (more often than not, this is what pervades my thoughts…it’s the only time things are quiet enough for me to actually think about such things). Sometimes, I think about life in general. Why things tend to work out the way they do, and why does my life seem to enjoy spinning out of control as of late. Sometimes, after I throw in some laundry, make the bread dough, and get a cup of coffee, I actually take the time to read a real book. It does happen once in a while. But not this morning…this morning was devoted to life in general. Loads of fun…trying to come up with solutions to problems that really have no solution anyway. The book might have been a better choice.

At any rate, despite what I end up doing, mornings are almost sacred for me. No matter what I’m thinking about or doing (and no matter how tedious those things might be), I wouldn’t trade my mornings for anything. What’s funny is that I never thought that I’d consider myself a “morning person” and yet here I am. Sunrise is a bonus…and I’ve finally discovered that it’s more fun to watch it rise after a good night’s sleep rather than before going to bed. I suppose that means I’m getting older. Oh well…it was bound to happen someday.

Here is a bit of a story for you.

My grandmother was an immigrant to the U.S. Her childhood was spent in Ireland, in the province of Munster, in the county of Cork. I always had the impression that her childhood was a happy one (if one can judge by her stories), despite the turmoil that seemed to be going on throughout much of it, which was widespread throughout the whole of the country. I won’t bore you with Irish history, but suffice to say the battle for freedom was still alive and well during this time (especially in Cork)…it was something that she spoke about, with a Fenian gleam in her eye, for years after.

For much of her childhood, she stayed within the area she was born (I think West Cork), and associated with the same people for all of that part of her life. One person in particular seemed to be favored, and it was often talked about among the inhabitants of the town where she lived that someday the two of them should be wed. When my grandmother would speak of him, I have no doubt that they were right. He was the love of her life, and she of his. They spent every free moment together, and their love blossomed as lovely and fragrant as the roses in June. By the time my grandmother was 16, it was evident that marriage was very much in the immediate future (I believe he was 4 years her senior). As Easter came closer in the year of 1916, it was decided that this holiest of sacraments was to be conferred shortly after Easter Week. As she told the story, you could still see the look of happiness, mixed with a touch of melancholy, on my grandmother’s face. But there were other forces at work, which were to pull them apart forever.

Right before Easter, as everyone was preparing for the Holy Day, as well as for the pending marriage, her lover came to her to relay a secret. He was to leave…to go to Dublin to take part in a battle to ensure the freedom of the country. My grandmother wept bitterly, and tried to change his mind, but she knew that she couldn’t. His first love always had been for Éireann, and while she was devastated at his leaving, she would never try to compete with that love. It’s a love that not many people (at least here in the U.S.) could ever understand…true patriotism and love of your country, and a willingness to die for that love. So, with heaviness in her heart, she watched him prepare to go. And with the bitterest of tears, she watched him march with the other Volunteers down the road on the way to Dublin. Before he left, she begged him, once more, to stay, but he said to her: “If you promise to love me forever, I promise to be with you again.” She promised, and held his promise in her heart for all her years. But he never came back. It was on the steps of the GPO that her dear Séamus breathed his last breath…her name upon his lips.

It was almost too much for her to bear, and even many years later you could see the sadness of his loss in her eyes as she told her tale. Shortly after the Easter Uprising, my grandmother’s family made the trip to Cobh to board a ship en route for the United States. It was here that my grandmother eventually met my grandfather, married and started her family. It was here that she lived the rest of her days, never to go back to her native land again. I’m not sure that she could, in a way. Her loss was too heavy in her heart, even after all of those years.

My grandmother passed away about 20 years ago now. She was well in her 80’s, and she lived a very full and happy life. During that whole time, she kept her end of her promise to her dear Séamus. She loved him as no other, for as long as she lived. While he was not able to keep his end of the promise during his earthly live, it is my hope that their spirits are now together, walking through the fields of their youth, never to be separated again.

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