Tag Archives: motherhood

The Boy Spouts of America

The Bearded One lifts the empty box Nala came in from the back seat and I shoulder my purse and grab the gallon ziplock bag of my chocolate chip cookies and we head into the veterinarian’s house, which is just another house in our immense subdivision here in Puna, Hawaii. I am a nervous wreck.

Our 8-month-old kitty was spayed today and we’re here to pick her up. I feel like a new mother these days (at age 58) with this new kitty around to nurture. Maybe once engaged, mothering never ends. Besides, everywhere we go there are babies.


*   *   *

Earlier in the day, our older daughter called to ask for my chocolate chip cookie recipe. She and her husband, the Captain, are having a baby in July which will be the Bearded One’s and my first grandchild and we are over the moon.

Right now they are nesting. The Captain is gardening and working a city job and won’t be fishing this year, and our daughter wants to bake cookies. I tell her I’ll email the recipe. I tell her the story of Nala getting spayed today, how nervous I was, and then I tell her again I will be there for her, that I will fly to Seattle when she comes home from the hospital.

“We’ve decided not to find out the sex,” she says. This is a change. For weeks she’s wanted to know.

“Remember when you were a kid how we used to check the cookie bottoms to see if they were boys or girls?” I ask.


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“Lift up the edge – burned bottoms are boys.”

She is appalled.

*   * *

Nala is heavily drugged. She can’t walk a straight line.


She is helpless and needs to be somewhat contained, and can’t go outside for a day or two. The doctor says she did great in surgery. He is an older white guy with wire-rimmed glasses, sneakers and a sweet smile. I thank him and hand over the bag of cookies.

*   *   *

We get Nala home and settled in a barricaded area downstairs, and when she is sound asleep, we decide to go to the beach, as we often do, to watch for whales. Sure enough, there are several fins and spouts a ways out, so we hang around for a while and watch. Humpback whales come to Hawaii from Alaska in the winter to birth their young.

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The pod moves across the horizon from left to right. Everyone points and shouts when we see a spout, and then we see an extra big spray and a smallish humpback baby breeches for all to see.

“The Boy Spouts of America!” says the Bearded One and everyone laughs.

*   *   *

At home, Nala is missing. We walk in the front door and the barricaded corner is empty. The box she came in is pushed aside, and it is clear she escaped. But where? No way she could have handled the stairs yet. We call her name. Nothing. We search the entire bottom floor, all her favorite places.

Behind the stove and fridge, on the towel shelf —

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— in the bathtub, on the suitcase in the guest room closet, under the stairs. No Nala.

I race upstairs, even though it’s impossible that drunken kitty could be up here. I am frantic.

But there she is. Asleep under the bed, on my side. “There you are,” I say softly.

“Mew,” she says, and goes back to sleep.

Jam On

My ankle is still fragile, so I’m wearing my hiking boots in the kitchen.  I’m wearing my brown pioneer skirt, too, so I look like Granny Clampett.


The Bearded One is out in the shed working on the spoon he had just started when he succumbed to the flu two weeks ago.  We are both so happy in our little lives we can hardly stand it.


I’ve got six months to make 220 little jars of jam, one for each guest at our oldest daughter’s wedding on August 24.  Can I do it?  I’ve got to get my jam on.


This wonderful wedding jam job has given my garden a focus, too.  I’m filling the Circle Garden with strawberries and blueberries and rhubarb.  I’ll transplant the strawberries from the hoophouse this week, making room to seed it with spring radishes, lettuces, broccoli and cabbage.

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Right now, though, I’m warming up my jamming chops, making a few pints with frozen berries, and reflecting.  Spinning, really, with the speed and intensity of our grown children’s lives, and our role in them.

First there’s our youngest daughter bursting into hysterical tears in our driveway on Thursday morning.  I see her anguish, her night nurse fatigue after four 12-hour shifts.  “It’s the first rule we learned in nursing school!” she wails as I hug her thin chest.  “Don’t trust anyone!”

She’s no longer 26-years-old, she’s my little girl and I listen to her story of work frustration and get her to the hot tub and cheer her up by modeling a few of the many silky tops available to her from the huge bag of Goodwill clothes our lovely neighbor Edeltraut gave us.


She scowls and shakes her head over and over, but then I hold up the cutest one yet.  “That’s so 2002,” she says sourly, and then begins to smile and adds, “This is fun.”

Then I answer the phone on Sunday morning when our 21-year-old son calls.  His voice is so pained, my breath catches when I hear it.  “We were robbed,” he says.  “My bass and amp and guitar and effects pedals, the ones I got for Christmas, all stolen.”

I cry out and the Bearded One rushes to the phone.  No one was hurt.  Our son was jamming with his roommates and a few other friends late Saturday night.  He had gone to bed at 1:30am and left the instruments in the rec room, and when he got up, they were gone.  He feels like puking.  He slept right through it.  The thief was probably someone at the party.  The Bearded One counsels him out of the chaos and shock toward all the responsible citizen stuff he’ll need to address quickly.

Just a month ago, our son was playing that bass right here in front of the woodstove.

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Since then, his cover band booked its first gig, a sorority event on March 14.  And now this.

Our oldest daughter is here when our son calls with the news.  She watches the Bearded One handle the crisis after I go off to weep.  Later, at dinner, she says to the Bearded One, “So, there’s this friend who’s getting a divorce, and he says that I should marry someone I have a lot in common with.”

The Bearded One says, “I know you’re not asking for advice, but that’s horsesh*t.  Just plain dumb.”

Our daughter laughs and says that’s exactly what her fiance says, too.  She and her dearest are wildly different people, as are the Bearded One and I.  Matchmakers wouldn’t give us very good odds, but life isn’t a smooth race and our differences have helped us more than hurt.

When the Bearded One comes in for a late burrito lunch, I’m just taking the second and last batch of jars out of the canner.  He says he’s been sanding for hours.


The spoon is indeed much smaller than the baseball bat he started with.  It’s lovely.

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He tells me that it is made completely with hand tools, and that the madrona wood is harder than he expected.  He carefully places the unfinished spoon on the kitchen table next to his plate.


We’re eating and talking about spoon craft when our son calls and tells us about what the police said — that they’re checking videos at key intersections close to the house, finding and questioning the one unknown visitor to the party, and sending the bass serial number out to pawn shops in the area.


“Are you okay?” I ask.

“There’s lots of guitars in the world, Mom,” he says.  “We’re still practicing tonight.”

“All right,” I say.  “Jam on.”