Monday, April 18, 2011

Adventures in the Windy City

April 17, 2011

It’s ten o’clock on Sunday night. I’m curled on the bed in one of my weird pregnancy positions keying this in before packing everything up prepatory to leaving Chicago at five-thirty tomorrow morning. We’ve spent a night and a day here: it’s been great to have a day to relax. The moving process had become such a nightmare that, as sad as I was to leave Wisconsin, I nearly wept for joy when we were finally on the road.

Friday night we slept in front of the fireplace of the “Chalet”, a rental cabin owned by part of Tanner’s family. (Cabin in this case meaning 4-bedroom 3 ½ bath vacation castle.) Too tired to appreciate it properly, I still thought it was special. The house is almost a hundred years old, built by my husband’s German ancestors in the model of a German hunting lodge. You could practically smell the history; a dark quiet blanket of time past covered the place like oil film on water.

Saturday we spent in the night in Chicago with Tanner’s friends. Exhausted sums up my impression. I blithely assumed I would be different from every other heavily-pregnant woman who suffers from backaches and swelling on car trips. Ha. Legs like sausages and a spinal cord which felt as though it had been used as a bungee. Can’t wait for that when we hit the road again.

Today, however, Tanner and I explored Chicago – or at least much of downtown. The two highlights of the day? The Butterfly Room, a branch of the Nature Museum – more or less a small conservatory crammed with butterflies. They flutter everywhere, like falling leaves in autumn, sometimes so close that you feel the tiny gust of their passing. Possibly more amazing than the live butterflies was the hatchery, where dozens of different cocoons were hanging, waiting to hatch. I had no idea how many incredible cocoons butterflies come from! Green jade drops with gold spikes. Small egg-shaped metallic oblongs, so polished you can see your reflection in them. !!!!!

The other highlight was the GNC broadcasting building, a beautiful old stone building, where some GENIUS had imbedded stones, rocks, and bits of architecture from all over the world. There was a chunk of rock from Golgatha. A bas relief from an ancient temple in China. A tiny gargoyle from Notre Dame Cathedral. The Papal Insignia from St. Peter’s Gate in Rome. A bit of quartz-riddled granite from Antarctica. And dozens more! It had to have been one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. I circled the entire building, touching every stone, amazed at the texture of the history under my fingertips.

The serious part of the trip begins tomorrow. Can’t say I’m terribly excited about being stuck in a car, but I am excited. Exploring Chicago today whetted my appetite for discovery. There’s so much out there to see. I can’t wait to keep exploring.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Karate Kid

So I’ve been feeling the baby move for about a month and a half now. The moves have gone from the sensation best described as a “fishtail without the fin” to fullblown kicks and punches. This baby knows karate! Sometimes it feels like Neo and Mr. Smith are having a little practice bout in between my bladder and my lungs. (Oh yeah, and the bladder punching bag thing Baby does at 2AM is just adorable. Not!)

The other movement I feel a lot is the Squirm. This consists of Baby jamming hands or feet (depending on whether this is a headstand or not) against my spine and pushing. Sometimes I think Baby is seriously going to pop right out my abdomen! The cool part about this, though, is that I can often discern body parts. Feet feel different from hands. The spine has little bumps the size of peas. And what a bony little behind!

In ancient times people believed the first movements (“quickening”) signaled the advent of the baby’s soul. While I believe the baby has a soul from the moment of conception, I understand now why that belief was held. In one incredible day the baby goes from a strange bump inside you to a squiggling, moving, alive child. In one lifechanging moment you go from an ordinary woman to a Mother. It’s…well. It’s not very easy to put that into words.

(The writer in me likes the term “quickening” btw, because it literally means “coming to life”. The term “quick” was used interchangeably with “life” or “soul”. Hence the term “to cut someone to the quick.”)

The baby’s quickening has been a diamond in a sandbox indeed. After the first three months of not knowing from one day to the next if the baby was even alive – to get reassurance every day that baby is very much alive and kickin’ – that’s finding the Kohinoor in the sandbox!


Oh yeah. Bad news. Apparently the Mom Syndrome (safety first at expense of fun), that awful disease I swore never to fall prey to, leaves no one untouched. I’ve gone from being a reckless daredevil to someone who actually pauses at the edge of the cliff and contemplates the risks. Now that is a disturbing development!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Country Girl vs Surfer Queen

So Baby and I have our marching orders. We’re moving to the Sunshine State – in about two weeks. One minute I have a busy Wisconsin summer planned, and the next – whoosh! Off we go. Whoever said marrying someone in the military makes for a lot of moves should try marrying a chef. Gourmet on the go, that’s my husband.

In between the whirlwind of packing, closing our apartment up here, and generally dealing with the adventure of moving across country with three weeks notice, I haven’t had much time to dwell on the long-term effects of the move, which is probably just as well since I’m sure I’d be depressed. I knew from the moment the move was brought up that I would miss the people in Wisconsin fiercely. All my family, friends, and connections live here, and leaving them behind is hard.

Up until this morning I thought the people were all I was going to miss. After all, it’s not like we’re moving to Kansas, or the depths of New York City (some deranged people’s idea of heaven, I understand). We’re moving to Florida, the Sunshine State. I’ll get to swim in the ocean every day if I so desire, with dolphins or pelicans or whatever takes my fancy. I’ll get to explore the Everglades on the weekends, and wander through neighborhoods filled with fruit trees and flowers. Key West will be a few hours away.

And yet I woke this morning with a lump in my throat and that all-at-once knowing that comes most clearly when you first wake. And I knew I would miss Wisconsin terribly. I’m going to miss the clear, crisp, blue smell of Lake Superior. I’m going to miss the red-brown glint of agates on the beach. I’m going to miss galloping a horse through fire-colored autumn woods filled with the mustiness of falling leaves. I’m going to miss secluded, daisy-chocked fields in the middle of nowhere. Maple trees. Sunwarmed raspberries. Crunchy wild apples which taste of summer and sunshine. Farm fields, blue with flax and golden with corn. Red barns and silver silos. Chipmunks eating out of my hand, and chickadees twittering in my ear. I’m going to miss the wild rose-colored glory of an orchard in blossom.

I love Wisconsin. Even though winter lasts forever and we get blizzards in May and the average temperature for snowy months is twenty below.

I know I will also love Florida, and all the other places we travel. But the one truth I know most surely as I watch Wisconsin vanish in the rear-view mirror?

This will always be my home. I’m a Wisconsin country girl, and always will be.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Obligatory “Why I Started This Blog” Post

So why did I start this blog?

A whim? Pregnancy hormones? Maybe just because I like random blogs? Do I have to have a reason? J

*turns to Chesterton to discover that no I do not but most people do*

I suppose it’s mostly because I’m starting to have more to say than belongs in my writing blog’s slot. And rather than clutter that blog up with the random yarn tangles my brain produces, I decided to create a separate space. Every once in a while I like to take my brain out and give it a good shake. Usually something falls out. This blog is the box which catches the somethings.

Oh yes, and what’s with the diamonds in the sandbox? I believe in little things. The world is full of treasure: you just have to look hard enough. If you open your eyes and take a little time, it’s amazing what you see. Ordinary paths become the start of a quest. Two trees bent together are a portal to Narnia. That wizened old man is an angel in disguise. No matter how twisted and steep the road becomes, there’s a green meadow and a waterfall somewhere not too far away. And yes. No matter how gritty and ordinary a sandbox is, there’s always diamonds if you look.