Oh, To Be a Child Again–Or Not

One of the many humorous/inspiring/possibly fake/probably plagiarized emails that periodically circulates around the Internet is about “resigning from adulthood.” It talks about turning in your driver’s license and becoming a kid again. In honor of its most recent appearance, here’s an update of a response I wrote to it several years ago.

Are you kidding? Who would ever want to be a kid again? True, adults have more responsibility: we’re expected to do grownup-type things like hold down real jobs and pay bills. But I’ll accept that responsibility any day in return for all the benefits of being an adult. Here are just a few of them:

• No algebra homework.

• You get to choose your own bedtime.

• You get to plan your own menus and decide for yourself whether to finish your vegetables.

• In the car, you almost always get to sit in the front by a window.

• You can paint your room whatever color you want.

• You can eat watermelon just before bedtime if you want to.

• If a telemarketer calls and asks “Is your mother home?” you can say something smart-alecky like, “I don’t know; I haven’t talked to her since Tuesday.”

• You can decide for yourself whether you’re cold and should put on a sweater.

• Nobody says you can only read one more chapter before you go to bed.

• You can pick out your own clothes.

• If you take a nap, it’s because you want to, not because someone says you have to.

• If you drop a glass and it shatters all over the sink, and you say a four-letter word, nobody threatens to wash your mouth out with soap.

• You can call teachers and principals by their first names.

• You get to do anything your older siblings get to do.

• If you want a puppy or a kitten, you don’t have to settle for a goldfish or a hamster.

Yep, I’ve been a child and I’ve been an adult. Trust me: adulthood is better.

Categories: Odds and Ends | 2 Comments

“Just Like My Mama Used to Make”

Biscuits for breakfast. Light, flaky, and fresh from the oven. Covered with sausage gravy. Paired with scrambled eggs. With butter and honey melted deliciously into them. Or even—my personal favorite—with peanut butter and homemade chokecherry jelly.

It’s a great idea. So great that, visiting my parents this week, I decided to surprise them one morning with baking powder biscuits. They would go perfectly with the leftover sausage gravy, made for supper a few days earlier by my sister the excellent cook.

In my somewhat misplaced enthusiasm, I overlooked one inconvenient detail: baking powder biscuits are not one of my kitchen accomplishments. Mine tend to melt in the mouth like, say, week-old sourdough bread. Or hockey pucks.

Up early in the quiet of my parents’ kitchen, I browsed through the recipe books. I found the perfect biscuit recipe, taped inside the back cover of one of the books. It was in the handwriting of my sister the excellent cook. How could I go wrong?

I mixed up the biscuits, following the recipe precisely. I spaced the biscuits far enough apart on the pan so they had room to rise. I preheated the oven and put them in.

When I took them out, they were only a little larger than they had started. They were slightly brown on top and very brown on the bottom. Their texture might politely have been described as “firm.” The only thing “flaky” about them was my unreasonable optimism that this time would be different from all the other times I’ve ever made baking powder biscuits.

My parents ate the biscuits and politely said they tasted good. Which, actually, with the sausage gravy, they did. No surprise there. The gravy, remember, had been made by my sister the excellent cook.

We agreed—my parents out of polite pity and me out of desperate grasping for excuses—that the problem had to be the baking powder. Sure enough, the expiration date on the can turned out to be six months ago. That was close enough to plausible excusability for me. At least this time; it didn’t necessarily explain why I never can seem to make baking powder biscuits as well as my sisters, my father, or my mother.

Then my mother said, “But why didn’t you just use Bisquick? That’s what I always do.”

Categories: Food and Drink | Tags: , | 6 Comments

You Never Miss the Water Till the Well Runs Dry

There’s nothing like knowing the water is shut off to make you immediately thirsty. Fortunately, today’s shutoff wasn’t an emergency, so we were prepared. The full pitcher, kettle, and assortment of water bottles on the kitchen counter ought to give us more than enough water to drink until the well is back in operation. (Of course, drinking all that water has inevitable consequences, but no worries—we have containers of water for flushing, too.)

Actually, the well hasn’t run dry. The pump has run out of oomph. Not surprising, when you consider that it’s been working away quietly and reliably for four decades. This morning, in a scheduled end-of-life intervention, it pumped its last drop. The well guys are out there right now, pulling pipe and checking for leaks and redoing wiring and whatever else goes along with replacing a pump in a well that nobody has paid much attention to for forty years.

This morning, in the shower where I usually think most of my great thoughts, I was thinking grateful thoughts about the luxury of having water that pours lavishly over my head at the turn of a faucet. Washing the breakfast dishes while the water was still running, I couldn’t help but notice how many times I turned the faucet on and off to rinse each plate and cup and handful of utensils.

I like to think I’m not a water waster. When I was growing up (fair warning: here comes a “walking to school in the snow, uphill, both ways” moment), scrimping on water was a necessary habit. Our farm had plenty of well water, but it was both destructive to pipes and dreadful to taste buds. I used to feel sorry for the cows, who had no choice but to drink the stuff.

In the house, we had water of excellent quality but limited quantity. It was hauled from the town of Winner, 20-odd miles away over first dirt, then gravel, and eventually partly paved roads. As far as I know, the man who delivered it made his living with his water truck. Every so often he would drive into the yard and back up beside the house to refill the cistern.

That cistern was absolutely forbidden territory to us kids. Its round steel top, maybe eight or ten feet in diameter, stuck up a few inches out of the ground, just right for sitting on or walking around the edge of. We were not allowed to do either. This rule was strictly enforced, as we were quick to explain to cousins and other visitors. I remember occasional reminders to “Stay off the cistern!” being shouted out the kitchen window. I don’t think any of us ever even thought about going so far as trying to open the lid.

I found it fascinating, then, that the water guy was so nonchalant about doing exactly that. The lid was a round metal cap perhaps 18 inches across, in the center of the cistern. He would pry it open, plop the end of his hose into it, and open the valve of his water tank. We weren’t allowed close enough to see it—to this day I have no idea how deep that cistern was—but from a safe distance we could hear the water gushing.

While I assume the water guy made deliveries on a regular schedule, every now and then we would run out of water. This meant a phone call and a dry wait until he could make it out with a load. It was always a relief to see his truck coming up the lane.

All these years later, I suppose I take for granted the fresh, pure water that pours out whenever we want it. Today, though, I certainly don’t. With the faucets all dry, and people I don’t know doing things I don’t understand out at the well, it’s a good day to stop and think about what a luxury that water really is.

Categories: Food and Drink, Remembering When | Tags: | 3 Comments

Everyday Earth Days

Did you do anything special in honor of Earth Day this week? I didn’t, really, unless you count having leftovers for lunch.

I never even thought of this habit as environmentally friendly, until after lunch when I heard a radio interview about wasting food. So now I can pat myself on the back for avoiding food waste, when all this time I thought I was merely avoiding cooking. I can even feel proud of my extra commitment to saving energy. Not only do I practice efficiency by cooking once and eating twice (or three times or sometimes even four), but sometimes I save even more energy by refrigerating, microwaving, and eating the leftovers in the same bowl.

Overall, I do live a fairly “green” lifestyle. Almost every week, for example, I dutifully haul my reusable bags off to the grocery store. And at least, oh, half the time, I even remember to take them into the store with me instead of realizing when I get to the checkout that the bags are still in the back seat of the car.

I don’t buy snacks in single-serving packages. You can’t imagine how eco-friendly and virtuous it feels to buy M&M’s by the large 12-ounce bag instead of in those plastic-wasting little bags.

I don’t pollute the environment with toxic cleaning products, because I hardly ever do any cleaning. And when I do, I generally use plain water, because either I can’t find any cleaning products, I’ve forgotten to buy cleaning products, or it’s been so long since I did any cleaning that the cleaning products in the cupboard have all evaporated.

I don’t waste resources on lawn care. First of all, I generally don’t apply fertilizers and weed-killers. Second, I do very little watering. This approach not only conserves water and keeps potentially harmful chemicals out of the environment, it also means the grass doesn’t grow very well. As a result, I save even more energy (my own and the planet’s) because I only need to mow the yard about once a month.

I don’t buy bottled water. With rare exceptions; I have to admit we did buy a case of 24 bottles back in February. We were traveling, forgot to fill our reusable water bottles, and stopped at a store to buy a gallon. We found that a) they didn’t have water by the gallon and b) buying the 24 bottles on sale was by far the cheapest option unless we wanted to consider getting lite beer. I’ve felt guilty ever since we walked out of the store with them. This week, thank goodness, we used the last bottle. It was a weight off my environmentally-conscious conscience.

And that reminds me of an environmental irony I noticed recently. That icon of green living, a little hybrid car, was parked in front of an office building. The back cargo area was filled with cases of bottled water.

I bet there was a single-serving bag of M&M’s in the glove compartment, too.

Categories: Food and Drink, Living Consciously | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Discounted Seniority

Last week I heard a talk about “how not to grow old.” The speaker did a nice job of presenting a lot of the standard advice: stay active, eat well, continue to learn and keep your brain busy, enjoy the moment, and so on.

I have to admit, though, that I listened with a somewhat cynical ear. As several older members of my extended family have discovered over the past few years, some of the not-so-great aspects of aging tend to whack you upside the head regardless of your best efforts with yoga, vitamins, or positive thinking. Besides, the speaker seemed two or three decades too young to be an authority on the topic. Either that, or the advice she gave was really working well for her.

One tip she offered did catch my attention. Never ask for the senior discount, because it means you’re thinking of yourself as old.

What she didn’t say was how to respond if someone else, who apparently thinks of you as old, offers you the senior discount.

I do know one response that, based on personal experience, is probably not recommended. I was traveling with my daughter and her friend, who were both 20 at the time. We stopped at a motel in Dillon, Montana. When I raised an eyebrow at the room rate quoted by the nice young man behind the desk, he quickly added, “Of course, you might qualify for a discount. Do you belong to AAA? Or AARP?”

Shocking myself as much as I did him, I slammed my hand down on the counter. “That’s an insult! Do I look old enough to be a member of AARP?” And I went off on a rant about senior discounts, and how rude it was to assume that people qualified for them, and I’m not sure what all else. In my defense, it had been a long day of driving and I was tired. Besides, I was joking—mostly. Meanwhile, the two pretty young women with me were cracking up in a way guaranteed to embarrass any nice young man who just might have been hoping to impress them. When the poor guy gave me the final room rate, he was very careful to explain, “And this is the Triple-A discount.”

Perhaps it wasn’t one of my finer moments. Especially since nowhere in my rant did I reveal that, as a matter of fact, I was 52 and thereby officially old enough to join AARP had I cared to. If, by chance, you are reading this and you are a man in his early 30’s who worked at a motel in Dillon, Montana, 12 years ago, please consider it my public apology.

In the decade since, I’ve become a little more relaxed on the topic of senior discounts. I have even—please don’t tell anyone—occasionally gone so far as to order a meal from the senior menu. I don’t do it easily, though; there’s always an inner dialog first. It goes something like this:

Inner Voice A (the frugal one): “The senior menu is cheaper.”
Inner Voice B (the health-conscious one): “The smaller portion on the senior menu has fewer calories.”
Inner Voice C (the logical, practical one): “Why don’t they just include those smaller-portion meals on the regular menu? Lots of younger people would probably like to order them.”
Inner Voice D (the one who’s the real me): “Chronological age be damned. I am not now, I never have been, and I never, ever, ever will be old enough to order off the senior menu.”

Most of the time, I end up listening to Inner Voice D. But at least I don’t let her slam her hand on the table and shout at the waitress.

Categories: Food and Drink | Tags: , | 3 Comments

And the Beet Goes On . . .

Last month, on the NPR program “Here and Now,” a chef named Kathy Gunst gave one of the most effective sales presentations I’ve ever heard. About beets. I was listening in the car, and by the time she was finished with a 10-minute interview, I was ready to drive straight to Safeway, buy a bunch of beets, take them home and cook them.

In spite of two facts: a), I’m really not excited about beets, and b), I’m definitely not excited about cooking.

How did she get me so excited about a fat red vegetable I don’t even care about? She used six tools to create an unbeetable way to sell an idea. Here’s how she did it:

Stay UpBeet. I don’t care much for beets, but Kathy obviously does. Her enthusiasm about them was genuine. The energy she gave off was contagious and let even a lukewarm beet-eater like me “Catch the Beet.”

Beet Your Own Drum. Not once during the program did I hear Kathy say “you should” or “you need.” She didn’t tell us that we ought to like beets or why; she just talked about what she liked about them.

Lay Down a Beautiful Beet. This was radio, remember. All she had to work with was words. And yet she used words to appeal not just to our ears, but to all our senses. She described the flavor and texture of beets in specific terms and made them sound delicious. She talked about the different colors of beets—not just red, but orange and yellow and white. She described slices of the different colors arranged on a platter so vividly that I could see it.

Don’t Beet Around the Bush. Kathy was direct and clear when she talked about the nutritional value of beets. They contain B vitamins, fiber, folates, anti-oxidants, and all sorts of other stuff that’s good for us. She gave us the basics in a way that was easy to understand and remember.

Keep a Simple Beet. On the rare occasions that I catch part of a cooking show, I am usually daunted by their elaborate recipes and complicated processes. Half the time they use ingredients I’ve never heard of, can’t spell, or have no idea how to pronounce. Instead, Kathy made cooking beets seem easy. Just roast them—which is simple and also keeps in the nutrients and enhances the flavor. Even better, it makes them easy to peel. Just put on disposable plastic gloves or stick your hand inside a plastic bag and rub the skin off. No mess, no staining, no sweat. She made it sound so easy even I could do it.

Know How Long to Let the Beet Go On. Kathy was brisk and packed a lot of information into her presentation. She focused on the right sized bite for the time she had. She said her say and then Beat It. She didn’t let the Beet Go On, and On, and On.

Since this presentation was so effective, did it work for me? Well, sort of. Even though I was tempted, I didn’t drive to the grocery store and buy some beets. However, I did get excited enough to look them up.

And Kathy wasn’t kidding about the health benefits. Beets are great food. In fact, according to one account I found, they might even be great medicine.

In a small rural hospital in Siberia, during a blizzard, a doctor had to do emergency open-heart surgery on a middle-aged man. The surgery went well, but the man needed blood transfusions and the hospital’s supply of blood was gone. Blood donors couldn’t get to the hospital because of the storm. The doctor took blood from every possible donor on the hospital staff, including himself. It still wasn’t enough. At last, in desperation, the doctor caught sight of an orderly going past the OR with a food cart. On it were bowls of borscht—beet soup. The doctor knew his patient was close to death. There was nothing to lose. He grabbed the food cart, hooked up an IV, and transfused the patient with borscht.

Miraculously, the man started to recover. After a week in the hospital, he went home, and he has gone on to lead a healthy, active life. He has just one small problem.

Every now and then, his heart skips a beet.

Categories: Food and Drink | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Missing the Point

Maybe I’m merely grumpy, or out of touch with mainstream reality, but sometimes I just don’t get the point. Things that seem to make sense to the majority of people just don’t make sense to me. Such as:

Deliberately enhancing bookshelves with careful arrangements of books in which some are standing upright, some are lying flat, and some are merely props for other decorative objects. Our bookshelves pretty much always look like that, but somehow the overall effect is crammed instead of ornamental. Possibly that’s because random rocks, misplaced pens, or dangerous items temporarily placed out of reach of toddlers don’t qualify as “decorative objects.”

Appetizers. I’ve never seen the logic of inviting people over for a special meal, which someone goes to considerable trouble to plan and shop for and prepare, and then filling them up with something generic like crackers or chips and dip before they even get to the table. It seems almost insulting to the cook. Unless the whole point is to dull the guests’ appetites. Maybe the host hopes to get by with smaller servings of an expensive main course, or hopes guests might be too full for dessert so there will be some leftover pie for breakfast the next day. But in that case, shouldn’t they really be called “disappetizers” or “unappetizers?”

White chocolate. True, it has cocoa butter in it. But that just means it contains all of the fat from the cocoa bean but none of the good stuff that makes chocolate taste so delicious. And, even more important, it doesn’t have any of the antioxidant ingredients that allow chocolate lovers to claim that eating the stuff is good for us. Besides, it doesn’t look like chocolate or taste like chocolate. Adding cocoa butter to a piece of white candy doesn’t make it chocolate, any more than putting butter on a piece of toast makes it a milk shake.

Formal wear. Why is the appropriate attire for formal occasions shoulder-baring dresses for women but long-sleeved jackets over long-sleeved shirts for men? It only makes sense if you think like a slightly warped statistician. If half the people in a room are too hot and the other half are too cold, then I guess that averages out to “comfortable.”

Piles of pillows on beds or couches. If you’re spending the night in a friend’s nice guest room—one where everything actually matches and no odd piles of random stuff are stored under the bed—it doesn’t feel right to dump the extra seven color-coordinated pillows on the floor in the corner. But what else are you supposed to do with them in order to clear enough space so you can actually sleep in the bed? As for couches, a couple of pillows on your own couch may be handy to loll on while you read or to prop up your tired feet. A carefully arranged collection of them in someone else’s living room is a different story. There you’re left little choice but to perch on the edge of the couch like an eager proselytizing missionary or a patient waiting in the dentist’s office who is ready to bolt.

High-heeled shoes with long, pointy toes that: a) were designed with no reference whatsoever to the actual shape of the human foot; b) can only be walked in by trained athletes with good health insurance; and c) make your feet look three sizes larger.

Sometimes, I feel like the philosophy student who sat down to take a final exam, only to discover his No. 2 pencil was broken. He said, “Now I understand–there is no point!”

Categories: Odds and Ends | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Over-driving Over I-90

Signs that you’ve made a lot of trips across western South Dakota on Interstate 90 in the past few months:

1. You notice when Reptile Gardens updates one of its billboards or Cosmos puts up a new one, and you consider either one an addition to the scenery.

2. You always use your “own” habitual bathroom stall when you stop at a rest area.

3. You have the preset buttons on your car radio set to three different South Dakota public radio stations and know exactly where one will fade out and you need to switch to another. You also schedule your travel time around your preferred programming.

4. You recognize individual horses in pastures along I-90, and you’re starting to imagine you can recognize individual cows.

5. You’ve considered getting preferred customer cards for the truck stops at Murdo and Vivian.

6. If you play the billboard alphabet game, you know exactly where to start it in order to take advantage of the J’s and Q’s on certain specific signs.

7. You remember when that deer carcass near Belvidere, now a bit of dried skin over a few bones, was fresh road kill.

8. You don’t bother to bring an audio book to listen to while you drive, because you don’t consider 275 miles a long trip.

9. You can estimate your gas mileage quite accurately based on the direction and velocity of the wind, including an automatic adjustment for driving east (downhill) versus west (uphill). You’ve learned to assume that the wind will blow from the southeast when you’re driving east and from the northwest when you’re driving west. If the wind isn’t blowing at all, you consider it an unexpected gift. If you happen to get a tailwind, you consider it a minor miracle.

10. Despite all the tricks and gimmicks to make the miles go faster, you still don’t take the view for granted. You notice and appreciate, not just the glorious splendor of sunsets that spread across half the sky, but also the subtle beauty of light and shadow across low hills. For someone who grew up there, a trip across the prairie and a chance to see miles of it reaching to the far horizon isn’t a long and boring drive. It’s refreshment for the soul.

Categories: Living Consciously, Travel | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Finger Bowling

Finger bowls. I’ve always associated them with formal dining, elegant place settings, and fine china. This impression, based on extensive reading of historical novels, was confirmed when I did a little research. I accidentally wandered into the thickets of the 1922 edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette and found it such fascinating reading that I very nearly didn’t come out again. (Just in case you need to know the correct precedence for seating guests, the appropriate division of responsibilities between the butler and the housekeeper, or the proper way to address an envelope or a Duke, you can find the book here.)

Emily (I suppose I should call her Mrs. Post, but after half an hour of browsing through her crisp prose I feel as if we know each other) seems to assume finger bowls are standard at formal dinners, merely describing two different ways of presenting them with the dessert course. She mentions as a matter of course that the finger bowl is always placed on a doily, which may be round or square but “must always be cream or white.” She also says, “the finger bowl is less than half filled with cold water; and at dinner parties, a few violets, sweet peas, or occasionally a gardenia, is put in it. (A slice of lemon is never seen outside of a chop-house where eating with the fingers may necessitate the lemon in removing grease. Pretty thought!)”

Emily’s parenthetical shudder notwithstanding, in the circumstances recently where I used a finger bowl for the first time, the lemon might have been useful.

We were invited to dinner at the home of a couple who have lived abroad and are familiar with a variety of dining styles. I was slightly intimidated at first to see, at each plate, a pretty little blue-and-white finger bowl. Then the hostess informed us that the main course was barbequed pork ribs. She encouraged us by both word and example to eat them with her fingers, making full use of the finger bowls.

I’m not sure Emily would have approved, but the finger bowls in this instance were utterly practical. The process went like this:
• Pick up rib with fingers and eat the meat, making sure to gnaw the last delicious bites off of the bone.
• Lick fingers (optional, but highly recommended—the sauce was tasty).
• Paddle fingers gently in finger bowl.
• Wipe clean fingers on napkin.
• Pick up fork with sauce-free fingers and take a few bites of veggies and rice.
• While fingers are still clean, pick up serving fork and stab another pair of ribs.
• Repeat and rinse, as often as appropriate—but not too often, since there were chocolate brownies for dessert.

Now that I understand the practical value of finger bowls in non-formal settings, I may just have to try this at home. They could be especially useful for family dinners with small children at the table. Just image the convenience of having finger bowls at hand for toddlers to use after they finish eating spaghetti with their fingers, scooping up applesauce with their forks, dipping their green beans in ketchup, or dredging the noodles out of their soup by hand. They could rinse off their sticky little fingers before wiping them on their own pants, the tablecloth, or their grandmother’s new sweater. This could be the most useful dinner-table accessory for little ones since the unabridged dictionary.

It wouldn’t even be necessary to put violets or sweet peas in toddlers’ finger bowls. They would decorate their own—not only with peas, but with other attractive accents like lumps of mashed potatoes, rejected bites of chicken, stray strings of spaghetti, and the entire contents of the salt shaker.

Of course, being creative little souls, no doubt they would also find alternative uses for the water in the bowls: drinking it, using it to finger paint on the table, spitting it at one another, or pouring it onto their plates, the table, their laps, their heads, or the floor.

Oops. Maybe this idea needs a bit of refining. Besides, I just remembered one more thing about those historical novels that refer to finger bowls. All the elegantly dressed people at those formal multi-course dinners, making refined conversation while the maids and footmen serve them so correctly, are adults. The children, duly supervised by nurses and nannies, eat in the nursery.

Categories: Food and Drink | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Mr. Fox Joins the Circus

Long before Queen Elsa’s song in Disney’s “Frozen” added the phrase “let it go” to every four-year-old’s vocabulary, the concept of giving up control over what isn’t yours to manage has been important for living with balance and serenity. Twelve-Step programs call this “detaching with love.” It can also be described as plain old “minding your own business.” (The hard part, of course, is figuring out what is your business and what isn’t.)

A while ago I came across a saying that’s become one of my favorite ways of reminding myself to let go of things that aren’t my responsibility: “Not my circus; not my monkeys.” The image it conjures up makes me smile and helps me avoid stressing over things I can’t or shouldn’t do anything about.

Except, of course, that sometimes it is my circus and sometimes those are undeniably my monkeys.

Like the three-ring family extravaganza that took up most of last week. Ring One contained the usual local suspects: my daughter and son-in-law with their two-year-old, plus my stepson and his wife with their three kids, who are three, two, and seven months. Ring Two was my stepdaughter, visiting for the week with her three children, aged six, four, and ten months. That, ordinarily, would be quite enough circus for anyone.

To illustrate: one evening we celebrated the seventh birthday of the oldest grandkid in this particular bunch. It was fun, it was noisy, it was delightful, and it was surprisingly free from conflict. Until 7:23 p.m., when ice cream intersected with bedtime. Suddenly four children were in tears, one child was throwing a hissy fit and demanding to leave, and the adults unanimously agreed that the party was over.

But wait—there’s more! Last week we added one more act in Ring Three. The feature attraction, right there in the center of the Big Top (well, actually, in the maternity wing of the hospital), was the birth of my daughter’s second child.

My own participation in this particular circus was a balancing act—dividing time, attention, and energy among taking care of my daughter’s two-year-old, spending time with the visiting grandkids, having meaningful conversations with my stepdaughter in 27-second increments, helping provide a couple of family dinners, and being with my daughter and her husband for part of the 30-something hours they spent at the hospital waiting for their new son to show up.

More by luck than planning, his arrival was timed so I was able to be there when he made his grand entrance. Cue the trumpet fanfare and the spotlight for Fox Reed!

Fox is grandchild number 16, and I am thrilled that in part he’s named after me. He is a beautiful baby with the proper number of fingers and toes, he has brown eyes like his mother and grandmother, and he seems to be settling into his life quite nicely. So far his big brother seems to think he’s pretty special, although it’s possible that big brother assumes Fox is just another visiting cousin who hasn’t gone home with the rest of them yet.

As he grows up, I’m sure Fox will learn to appreciate the fabulous troupe he’s been born into. As one of the founders of this particular circus, I feel a certain amount of responsibility for him and all the rest of those incredible, amazing monkeys. I also am pleased and relieved to understand clearly that I’m not the ringmaster here. The next generation of performers have taken over, and they are doing a wonderful job. Their skills at balancing, juggling, and keeping the show on the road are superb.

Oh, I have a place, too. Sometimes I can hold a safety net. Sometimes I help out behind the scenes. Sometimes I get to just sit in the front row and cheer.

And always, I can say with pride and delight if anyone asks or even if they don’t: “Yep, that’s my circus. Those are my monkeys, all right!”

Plus one brand-new fox.

Categories: Family, Living Consciously | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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