Where’s The Pot Of Gold At The End Of This Rainbow?


Artwork by Jed, age 5

The house is finally, blessedly, quiet. The sound of my fingers tapping these letters out on the keyboard is the only one I hear. And when I stop doing that, there’s a faint, grumbly snoring floating on the air next to me. That’s Pretzel the dachshund, curled tight in his old doggie dreams.

The house is so quiet, so still, so peaceful because the kids are in bed. I kissed them all before they fell asleep (not the teenager, he doesn’t like to be kissed… yet). Good night, sleep tight, love you. The TV is silent. The kitchen is closed. And my husband is out of town.


He travels a lot. Every week. Usually for two or three days, but lately it’s been for longer. Maybe five. Maybe all week. Usually to Texas or Florida, but lately it’s been further. The Philippines. Or Bangladesh.

Usually I’m fine with it. He’s always traveled, for as long as we’ve been married and even longer than that. I’m used to it, and so are the kids and Pretzel the dachshund. Some days the kids forget he’s gone. “Can Dad take us to school?” they chirp, wild hope in their bright morning eyes. He’s been gone two days.

We’re used to it. We’re fine with it. We get on with it. Usually. But lately, it’s too long. It’s too far. It doesn’t feel right.

We’re a seven-colored rainbow when we’re all together: mom, dad, four kids, one dog. The violet and the red don’t always get along, the green and the yellow hide the remote from each other, and the orange needs to be taken out every hour. It’s not a gentle arc of harmonious hue, when we’re all together, but the colors do blend more happily when all seven are present.

It feels long and too far away this time, it’s true, but there are a few shiny positives to one less color in the house:

Less discipline! This is not necessarily a positive for me, but I’m sure the kids appreciate one less parent hearing them argue, threaten and hurt each other. Which means a fifty percent reduced chance of being yelled at or banished. Favorable odds for them I’d say.

Breakfast for dinner, breakfast for dinner, breakfast for dinner! Cereal, toast, eggs any style, even bagels and cream cheese. My husband actually does like a bowl of cereal at night every once in a while… But the kids don’t notice that the breakfast they ate for breakfast is being served again for dinner, every night. As long as they’re eating something, they’re happy. And as long as they’re eating, and are one step closer to bed, I’m happy!

Schlepping multiple kids to different places all at the same time is hard enough when there are two licensed drivers around, and damn near impossible when it’s just me. But here’s where my heart warmed to see one big brother help one little brother at the baseball photos today, because I couldn’t do that and drive to the karate tournament. Sibling assistance is a terrific way to combat sibling rivalry!

The silence. It’s truly golden. Once those kids are in bed and it’s just the dog gently snoring next to me, I do appreciate the few hours of complete solitude. If only it didn’t drag on for days.

So the rainbow is a little short on color right now, and sometimes it even feels a little washed out with one shade missing. But there are moments in the day when it shines pretty bright… and of course the pot of gold at the end is that we’re almost halfway through that long week, and soon he’ll be home. With presents.

This post is a sequel to Please Switch to Airplane Mode, written last year around this time. It’s interesting to see how things change. And stay the same!

This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post, inspired by the prompt, “When it comes to St Patrick’s Day…” Hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee, and co-hosted by Kelly from Just Typikel and Lisa from The Meaning of Me.

My World

Thick, swirling fog is caught in the bare branches of the trees. It sits on the slated angle of the roof. Creeps against the window panes. It is close and quiet. A duvet of the palest, whitest, gentlest gray. It conceals the Bridge and the mermaid Bay. Keeps them secret, hidden. But I know they are there. The hilly streets. The tall buildings. The colored houses. The wild Pacific beyond. And then palm trees and pineapple rain and more Pacific. And then and then and then…

It’s all there. I can’t see it, but it is out there. Big. Vast. More than I think I can imagine.

And I am here. Where it is small.

Where there is a faint alarm waking him up in the room next door. Will he wake up? Will he turn it off?

Where her door squeaks open as she makes her stumbly, early morning way to the bathroom. We should oil that door.

I am here, quiet in my bed, looking out through those windows at that soft, heavy fog slow-dancing over the vastness that is the world out there.

I am here, in my world where there is a boy who says everyone, everything is “annoying”. I don’t know what that means anymore. I yelled so loud yesterday my throat hurt for hours.

In my world the skin around my eyes is more wrinkled than ever. “I look old,” I say. “Not old. Just tired,” she replies. I burn my finger while cooking the stew.

In my world he wraps his little arms tight around my neck. “Love you too,” he murmurs against my cheek. His brother yells good night from behind the bedroom door.

In my world I go to a funeral. How is it that you go to bed one night with your life one way, and when you go to bed the next night it is completely, nonsensically, unbelievably different? We say psalms and share memories and I am thankful for religion and ritual.

In my world I have a car accident. It’s not my fault. I am wearing a seat belt, and have both hands on the wheel. I am not speeding. “Fools Gold” by Fitz and the Tantrums is on the radio. I love that song. I sing. I see the car about to hit me. I swerve, but not enough. I am fine, but my car is not. Sometimes even if I do everything I’m supposed to, there is still impact. jasmine In my world the jasmines have started to bloom. They are beautiful and fragrant and full of spring. They’re my favorite and I stop to take a photo. I smile and I’m warm in the January sun, and I forget that they’re early. Too early.

In my world I think about the friends who have silently floated away and I wonder if they’ll ever come back. I miss them. And I drink tea and watch TV with the ones who are always here.

In my world my sister makes me laugh every day. My son tells his sister she’s an idiot. I look at them, exasperated, and wish my brother lived closer than 10,000 miles away.

In my world I drop my husband at the airport. “Thank you for taking me,” he says. “Will you be okay without me?” If I tell him no, will he stay? I selfishly wonder for the shortest, most amazing second. “Yep!” I smile. Kiss him. He’s gone a lot.

In my world I visit a friend in hospital. I’m nervous and worried about her. The machines beep and swish and her hair is frizzy around her face. Her eyes light up when I walk in the room. They twinkle like always. I touch her bruised hand and I’m not nervous anymore.

I look at the swirling, gray fog and notice what I can’t see. It dissolves slowly under the yellow sun, and now there is a narrow slice of the brightest, clearest blue.

In my world.

This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post, inspired by the prompt, “The first thing you must do to take over the world is…” Hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee, and co-hosted by Michelle of Crumpets and Bollocks and Anna of Fitfunner.


Orange October has brought way more than the awesome San Francisco Giants to the World Series. A tiny life lost in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem, a brave army reservist senselessly gunned down in Ottawa, nationwide Ebola panic, a beloved friend quietly battles a ventilator, and another awaits a worrisome surgery. Is surgery ever not worrisome? Strep throat, Halloween mania, lost teeth (finally!), a very skinny dachshund, and nothing screams frightening 40s like smooshed boobs at the first ever mammogram.

In full spin on a very wobbly axis, I whiz through this agitated orbit. It takes a lot of output, seemingly limitless energy to keep that axis spinning. Even though it’s wobbly and erratic. Not only to make sure it doesn’t all fall apart on its unpredictable, hurtling journey through time but also to keep the love, the happy, the optimistic going, and going strong.

But of course everything, everybody reaches a limit eventually.

The very old, skinny dachshund is definitely not my favorite right now. For all his supposed inability to see, hear, run and jump nothing stops him from brazenly climbing onto the dining room table to gobble the last of the chicken, from gingerly pulling himself into the dishwasher to sneak a last lick of the stew, and if I said he peed in my bed the other night that would be TMI.


But after all is said, done and cleaned up he snuggles his warm small body right up next to mine, like he did in the days when Pretzel made three… and I smile. Breathe deep. Feel the crazy spinning axis slow some. “It’s the little things,” I think.

It’s the rare morning coffee date with my always-traveling husband. He is mostly somewhere, and hardly ever here. But a travel schedule includes flights that leave at off-hours, so I get a bittersweet hot chocolate and an hour of Just Him before the 11.35am to Arkansas.

source: foodspotting.com

source: foodspotting.com

It’s the news that my niece has an imaginary friend. G-d bless the child, she is too clever, too busy and too chatty for her three-year-old self so she invented a friend for the overflow! Wonderfully creative and imaginative, inspired and whimsical. And simple. To create what she wants, how and when she wants it, using only the power of her 38-month-old imagination.

This beautiful photo, taken by my mom, of the jacaranda trees in my hometown squeezes my heart and lifts my cheeks with a smile. Pretoria is famous for these blossoms that tint the air lilac and carpet the wide roads with messy purple every October. This scene makes me homesick, but in a good way. In the way that feels warm and comforting, even though I am far away.

photo by Dianne Faktor

photo by Dianne Faktor

These hilarious-to-me texts from my friend Stephanie, who thinks I am the “challah Jedi master” (her words). Her confidence puzzles me, since the one time we did make challah together my dough was too sticky, the braids were misshapen, and the end result was edible but definitely not delicious. Be that as it may, my weekly attempts at rise-to-perfection inspire her inner Princess Leia to text me these hashtags. Even the rising dough laughs: #ChallahJediMaster #MayTheYeastBeWithYou (my favorite) #QueenAmichallah #HansSchlomo. Her hashtagging rules the Empire. Yep, #itsthelittlethings.

Hengry. This is what my little guy calls his friend Henry. Somehow, his five-year-old tongue gets stuck at the back of his throat when he says Henry, and this delicious modification provokes a giggle every time. Luckily, Hengry isn’t bothered by the creative slip.

The surprise purple cauliflower in my salad (purple again – love it!), the 4am blood moon moment with my son as we caught the lunar eclipse together, the garden-fresh rosemary I pick for the lamb chops, this amazing song from Hozier (the way he says Honey makes everything better):

All give me pause, and clear a space in the chaos, a tiny space big enough to find a few ounces of me in the heaviness of everything else. These little things, these small moments remind me to turn in instead of out, to breathe, to find the calm and the happy. To replenish before I reach my limit.

After his cataract surgery last week, my father the optometrist marveled at his suddenly clear vision: “I can’t believe how much brighter the colors are!” The little things between the not so little. Bright orange October.

source: Brocken Inaglory

source: Brocken Inaglory

Red like Roses

In the 21 years we’ve been together, I can count the number of times Ryan has given me flowers on half a hand. He will probably dispute this and say it’s more, but honestly it doesn’t matter. I do love flowers, any and all, and I love to receive them but they’re not his thing, they’re mine.


In our early dating years, I adored sunflowers. Their giant yellow centers, and bright petals.The way they turn their faces up toward the sun. The way they grow seven feet tall if left alone, with thick, sturdy stems and perfectly big green leaves. Everyone who knew me knew how much I loved them. And one day Ryan proudly presented me with a bunch of… yellow daisies. “What?! They’re yellow! Sunflowers are yellow and these are yellow. Same thing!”

Of course they are not at all the same thing. Garden daisies – as pretty as they are – are not shiny sunflowers. Sunflowers are like daisies on steroids. Twenty-year-old me probably minded a lot – what kind of a boyfriend doesn’t make an effort to give his girlfriend the exact flower that she loves? – but after a couple more of those, it was so not important that he give me flowers. Yes, I love flowers but he doesn’t have floral associations where I’m concerned, and so it’s a pretty meaningless gesture for both of us. And the blue hydrangeas from the blooming bush in the garden always make a beautiful bouquet-to-self.

So no yellow sunflowers, or pink tulips, and definitely no red roses.

But what he did give me was my first pair of real cowboy boots… red. He bought them in Austin, Texas in 2011. I wasn’t with him. He got the size, style and color exactly right. He knew I needed red cowboy boots before I did. He’s good like that. Sometimes too good. Almost immediately, it was love.


I don’t wear red anywhere else, except on those boots. No red underwear, or red T-shirts, not even red nails. Red cowboy boots are it – in more ways than one!

I wear those boots whenever I can. With leggings, jeans, skirts. With tank tops and sweaters. Cloudy or sunny. The slightly pointy toe, the perfect heel, the red leather and white stitching, and the sharp, clicky “I’m here with a purpose” sound they say when I walk make me feel like I can do anything, and that when I do it, I’ll rock it. The “rock it” part usually doesn’t happen – it depends on the day and also if it’s raining, cowboy boots do not do well in the rain.  But at the very least I feel a little less awkward and unsure while I slip on the slick surface of daily life’s many somethings when I wear them.

Over the years, my red cowboy boots have come to represent a part of me I thought I had left behind. The part that wants to wander, explore and discover. The part that longs for solitude and serenity even while living the frenzy. Ryan recognized that part of me when we met 21 years ago – and I’m guessing that’s the part he bought those red cowboy boots for in 2011. He knew… before I did.

They’re not roses. Which are lovely and perfectly petaled in all their heavenly perfume. But I would put them in a vase, look at them, inhale their scent for a few days (or a bit longer if they’re from Costco and if I remember the flower food), and when they started to wilt and droop I would reluctantly throw them away.


photo by Jenn Fox

They are cowboy boots – I wear them. I feel them. They feel me. They are worn. Scuffed and scratched. I recently bought a new pair when I visited Austin for the first time. They’re already broken in. And they’re red. Like roses.


Red like Roses by OPI

This post was written as part of the April A to Z Challenge. To read more of my A to Z posts click here.

Our Song

We don’t have a song. When it came to choosing one for our first wedding dance, he didn’t really care, and I did but I changed it three times. We ended up with Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” (Titanic was released a few months before we got married). Cringe, I know.

It’s a beautiful sentiment, haunting melody, Celine’s voice is magnificent… but so what? There’s nothing especially meaningful in that song for either of us – we didn’t hear it at a special time in our relationship, it wasn’t playing the first time we kissed or the second or indeed ever when we were together except when we saw the movie. It was just a cliché love song playing on every radio station in 1998.

I’m kinda surprised at myself. At us. That we don’t really have a song. And that I didn’t pay more attention in choosing the Just Right Song for our wedding. Music lives large in my life. There’s always something playing – in the car, in the kitchen, while I’m writing. New alt rock, latest hits, classic rock, sixties and disco and country, country, country. My greatest discovery last week was the Billy Joel channel on satellite radio – #knoweverysong!

billy joel

I “have” songs with other people – “Come On Eileen” and “Just Can’t Get Enough” are always high school BFFs, “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel is Israel 1987, “Eternal Flame” and Richard Marx are first boyfriend. Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us” is my son and so is Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler”. Even my little guy and I sing The Wanted’s “Glad You Came” together.

The family movie last Friday was Three Men and a Baby (that’s a fun trip down bad 1980s hair and fashion!) – once the chaotic, slapstick hilarity of three goofy guys taking care of a crying, pooping, giggling, hungry baby girl simmers down, they sing Sha Na Na’s version of “Goodnight Sweetheart” as a bedtime lullaby. Ryan and I looked at each other.

And somehow my brain skipped from Sha Na Na to Grease to Buddy Holly, to the Garth Brooks concert he took me to in Vegas two years ago, to every Les Mis song we know by heart because we’ve seen it six times, to the first Elton John concert we went to at Sun City and the next time we saw him with Billy Joel in Oakland…

We don’t have one song, it’s true. We have hundreds. And now that I think about, we should’ve gone with Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock” at our wedding!


Our Song by OPI

This post was written as part of the April A to Z Challenge. To read more of my A to Z posts click here.