Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Small Talk & Appetizers

This is the week when many bloggers do a recap of their year.  I don't remember much of mine.  It's a fascinating blur of going to work, cleaning, paying bills, and remembering to not throw my new favorite shirt in the dryer so it wouldn't shrink.  It was hair appointments for cut and color, a tooth that wreaked havoc for months, some blood work and a mammogram.

It was Montana in July.

The biggest blur was this month.  It was seven parties with a couple more on the books for New Years.  We each had our work parties to attend while the others were dear people whose homes we were honored to be invited to.  That is a lot of parties but at no time did it ever occur to either of us that we could decline any of these invites unless there was a conflict.  Maybe my mom's words echo in my mind.  "If you say no too often people stop inviting you."

And now that it is all winding down I am worn out.  I have eaten too much, drank more than I should have and spent too much on party clothes.  If left alone at a buffet table I could clean a hostess of her plate of olives and wipe out the Chex Mix, and yet those aren't even my downfall.

On Saturday we were at a party and Mark was doing a show and tell of a 3-D printer anthrax toxin protein.  Our hosts were the parents of a high school girl who worked this summer in his lab and she was daily involved in this undertaking.  She beamed with pride seeing the outcome of her work while Mark was in his element explaining their science project. 

Somebody asked me if I ever know what my-husband-the-scientist is talking about.  I usually do not.  I told them about the dinner in Montana for an infectious disease conference he was attending.  Terms about Ebola and MERS were thrown around so casually they made my head spin.  At one point I wondered, "Is there anyone here like me?  Is there an introvert with a splash of social anxiety who wants to keep me company?"

Maybe not that time but as soon as I said that on this Saturday night I was met with some like-minded souls who answered with a resounding "me too."

Now the time has come to close out this year and ring in the new one.  Let's kiss and hug the ones we love and hope for the best year ever.  Then let's stay inside, pull up the covers and dive into our stack of books so that next December we can take our shy selves to our parties and say to the stranger next to us, "Have you read........."

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Should The Fates Allow

On the Sunday before Christmas I spent a little time shopping.  Mostly last minute things that I knew where to get instead of the frantic quests for the perfect gift that seemed to be surrounding me.  It is what I also did on Saturday until I ran out of steam and came home to the safety of our house, our tree and our calm.

Mark napped on Saturday afternoon - the perfect wintery, gray day that begs to be napped in after getting up early to meet the boys for a bike ride and breakfast.  I napped Sunday, and while there are gifts to be wrapped and a Christmas card that isn't even ordered (New Years perhaps?) I felt no guilt surrendering to my weariness.

Prior to that, though, I flipped through the channels and found The Family Stone was playing and there went any plans I had for getting anything done.  The movie stars Diane Keaton, Sara Jessica Parker, Craig T. Nelson and Dermot Mulroney among many others.  It came out nine years ago and Mark and I saw it in the theater.  It is the story of a raucous family coming home for Christmas and one of the siblings is gay.  He brings home his significant other.  That relationship is a very small part of the movie, but it was only a few months after we had found out our own son was gay and so it holds a special place in my heart.

I cried for the normalness of the portrayal of the Stone family and thought "that is us, that is this family."   I knew when that movie was over that in time we were going to be just fine and every single time I see it I cry. Last year, Will and I watched it together and he said, "I love this movie, Mom. You remind me a lot of Diane Keaton."

Oh geez, kiddo.

On Saturday night, Mark and I went with some friends to see Wild.  It is the book I have talked about most in the last two years since I read it.  Prodding, begging and cajoling anyone and everyone to read it. I don't think a single person has taken me up on my recommendation but it doesn't stop me. One of the security guards at work talks about books with me all the time.  "Wild," I say.  Read it and then we'll talk for hours."

So with just a few days left until Christmas my mind is a confused mess of happy and sad, of loving the people who are with me and missing the ones who aren't.  Of being thankful one minute and empty the next.  Of overdosing on food and drink and company but mostly wishing to catch a glimpse of the hawk perched on a light pole like I did on another wintry Sunday last year.

Christmas...you do me in.

I am well aware that there is a glut of blogs out there and some really, really good ones at that. Someone I met recently asked me how I make mine stand out.  I wish I knew what that secret is. Four years later I keep showing up and muddling through, for it has always been in words that I have sought and found redemption.

Thank you for muddling with me through the light and the dark.  Now let's go have ourselves a merry little Christmas.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Crafting Towards Christmas

This Christmas season has been off to a slow start for me.  With only a mere two weeks until Santa comes, I hadn't even begun to shop.  This would normally start a panic inside my anxious brain, but the elves had taken over both hemispheres and were banging so loud I couldn't hear the clock ticking.


I needed to make some crafts.

Easy crafts and in blog wonderland I stumbled upon this printed cuteness here.

Chalkboard printables?  Yes, the elves said.  Make that.  Who should I make them for?  Every person you ever met the elves said, and so I started printing faux chalkboard merriness faster than a drug cartel launders money.  As each one spitted out of the printer I would think of someone else that needed this cuteness.  MOREMOREMORE the elves screamed as I watched my ink levels plummet.  Who cares?  It's Christmas.  Of course you're supposed to go over budget.  Then I sat all afternoon at the dining room table cutting them out and not thinking about presents and the elves and I were happy and content.

But what about the frames I asked the elves when the cutting was over.  THEDOLLARSTOREYOUIDIOT they answered and so me and The Big Daddy headed off for a plate of wings and a beer and then to buy a pallet of frames.

*****Side story to the story:  We're in The Dollar Store where I always buy reading glasses by the dozen. I am sitting on the floor with my file folder of printables trying to decide on gold/silver/gold silver combo/mat gold/mat silver.  Ask The Big Daddy the elves say up inside my head and so I say to him, "Which of these do you like better?"

And he says, "I don't know.  How much are they?"

"They're a dollar."

"A DOLLAR," he yells back.

"Yeah.  We're at the Dollar Store."

"I know, but how much are they?"

"They're a dollar cuz we're at the Dollar Store."

"You mean everything here is only a dollar? Like this candle is a dollar," he says holding it up.  "And this vase.  This is a dollar?  What about this mirror?  I bet this isn't a dollar."

"Yeah, Forrest Gump, it's all a dollar."

"Holy shit," he says.  "I have to look around some more."

I. kid. you. not.*****

I'm in my house on Saturday when my neighbor, Marianne, comes in.   Breathless and excited because the elves have been banging in her head, too.  "The tree trunks," she says.  "I know what to do with them.  You drill a hole in the trunk and shove a Christmas branch in it.  So cute," she says.

And the elves up in my head that have been dormant for all of thirty minutes wake up and start running around like somebody just pulled the fire alarm.

*****Side story to the story:  We're at the hardware store buying our tree off the lot and I am chatting it up with the woman in front of me.  "See these little pieces of trunk they cut off and throw in here.  They make cute little candle holders.  Kind of woodsy looking.  And these extra branches?  They throw those out.  Do you know how many places you can use these?"

Marianne and her husband drive by.  Her husband says, "Hey, isn't that Kathy Fisher?"  Marianne says, "No!  That looks nothing like her.  Why would you think that?"

Her husband says, "Not that one.  The one with her head in the garbage can."

And Marianne says, "Stop the car I have to see what she's getting."

We both starting rummaging through the discarded branches and trunk shavings and put some in the back of our cars. The kid working at the lot looks at us like we're the batshit crazy hoarders that are on TLC with our roaches and maggots and smelly stuffed animals with the feces on them.*****

Hush now, Teenage Mutant Hardware Boyman with your hair paste and six-pack.  We are not hoarders.  We are women of a certain age  You can't shame us.

We're brilliant.

The elves up in our heads have been telling us so for years.

Now cut some more branches off for us.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dropping Jesus

Mallie Bee has always been a tiny one.  When I put her in Mother's Day Out she was with the one year olds even though she had already turned two.  This had been overlooked by the staff for months until one day when all the little ones were in their cribs for nap time.  Each time one of them would fuss, Mal would stand up, put her finger to her lips and say "shhhhhhh" until they laid back down.  Her teacher loved her and her advanced vocab skills.  When they figured out that she was with the wrong age group her teacher asked me if it would be okay if she stayed there until the end of the year.

"She's my little helper at nap time.  We don't want her to leave."  And so it was that at two years old, Mal was the room mom for a group of napping babies every Thursday.

A few years later she would be in the pre-school Annual Nativity Play.  Each child got a part and there was lots of practice before the event that was on the last day of school before Christmas break.

"Mallory has been chosen to play the part of the Virgin Mary," her teacher said and I glowed.  Glowed.  Our Mal got the lead role? We didn't have lead role kind of kids.  We Fishers are more the supporting actor types.  Sheep, if you will.  I wondered if it had anything to do with me.  Surely they had noticed my stellar mothering skills over the years. I polished my halo and got ready for the big day.

In the kids paraded.  The donkeys and wise men, the angels and Joseph.  Mary.  My Mary with the blue pillowcase bobby-pinned to her head.  While the teacher read the story of the Nativity, my Mary held the precious baby Jesus in her arms with all the tenderness she'd seen a million times from her own blessed mother.

But after a long ride on a donkey and no room at the inn, my Mary got overwhelmed and rolled Jesus out of her arms and into the manger with a thudding face plant.  There was a gasp.  I tried to make eye contact with her.

Mallory pick up the Jesus.  Pick him up and hold onto him for just a few minutes and then you can have a cookie and a juice box.  Please. Just. Pick. Him. Up.

The donkey and angel and wise men parents looked at me smugly as if to say, "Well, well, well.  You don't see our kids with their small insignificant roles dropping Jesus on his face, now do you Mother of Mary?"

Mal was unconcerned.

She'd had enough of mothering for one day.  She was tired and needed a nap, and so she stuck her thumb in her mouth and sat and waited for the whole thing to be over.

Many a day she might have seen her own mother do that.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Half & Half

We shook things up a bit this year and went home for Thanksgiving instead of Christmas.  This had more to due with juggling conflicting schedules of a very large family and trying to get the most bang for our visiting buck.

We have not been home for Thanksgiving in more than twenty years.  It was divine.  Without the stress of gifts, holiday exhaustion or snow, it was far more relaxed and filled filled with gratitude.  I would be a fan of skipping the December drive and doing this every year, but it was a hard sell within some of the tribe so we shall see about next time.

When we do go home, Mal and I stay with my mom while everyone else heads a couple of miles over to my sister's. Though I talk to my mom many times over the course of a week, when I go home I get an overload of her and her of me.  It doesn't take long for us to get on each other's nerves.

Our politics are as far apart as they can be, and thankfully she doesn't subject me to Fox News while I'm there.  The t.v. or radio, however, are on all the time.  Her house is nursing-home-hot.  Our conversations rarely scratch more than the surface.  I eat my feelings from her very stocked fridge.

She weighs just over a hundred pounds.  She doesn't eat her feelings or talk about them.


My sister and I once joked that if Mom ever said "I love you" our first thought would be that we must have terminal cancer and nobody told us.

Both of my sisters and one of my brothers live close to Mom and help her with anything she needs. I owe my siblings a lot for that. While I went off for a lifetime, they stuck close by and do all the things for her that I am not there for.  As a result I think their relationship is different.  Close in proximity makes for close in heart?  Maybe.  I'm the one who shows up once or twice a year and tries to pick up where I left off and it doesn't always work out so well.  And if I'm thinking Mom will confide in me about her loneliness since Dad died or her worries about getting older, that just isn't going to happen.  Nor would it with any of her other kids, but I often wonder if that's the kid I wish I was.  The one who secretly knows her troubles and drives off with them for safekeeping.

Instead I call her often and tell her about things around here and listen when she tells me about her pain-in-the-ass neighbor who calls her for everything.  She is irreverent and sassy, even at 87 years old, and I am always amused by her.  We trade our stories over the phone and I try to keep my spot warm even though I'm the one that left it empty more than thirty years ago.


"The coffee's made, Kath.  If you get up before me just plug it in."

"Okay, Mom, but you know you'll be up first," I answer back.

"Oh damn.  I forgot to get you half and half.  I meant to do that today when I was out."

"It's okay, Mom.  Really.  Milk is fine."


I wake the next morning to the sound of the garage door closing and hear her come in.  It's early.  I put a sweater on over my tshirt and go out to the kitchen.

"I ran to Walgreens to get you some half and half.  I knew you'd rather have that than milk in your coffee,"

I love you too, Mom.  Even if neither one of us knows how to go about saying it.