Friday, March 21, 2014

Jaki Jean & Pisces Celebration 2014

For several years now, two of my Pisces friends, Jo-Ann McCoy & Stephanie Kennedy, & I celebrate our Pisces birthdays during March. 

Jo-Ann works internationally & lately some years she is not with us.  This year Stephanie & I wanted our friend Raquel “Rocky” Caylor to join us. 

Rocky could not join us for lunch on the scheduled day – it was Spring Break & she was in West Texas with her family (Rocky has SEVEN children & is THE most amazing working mother I have ever known).  But I was hungry for stimulating company & a break & hopeful that my mother would have her flap surgery to close her wound next week so Steph & I met at the Harvest Organic Grill.

To celebrate with just the two of us.  On St. Patrick’s Day.

I wore a shamrock scarf & Stephanie wore green socks.  We selected a nice table for two & I scattered shamrock confetti.  ;-)

We were perusing the menu (although we had both decided what we wanted from the website or experience) when someone began singing Happy Birthday.

At first I thought it was for us.

However, it was from the middle room with the bar & TVs.   Next to a half wall that backed up against our our table –  filled with tables of women dressed in splendid, festive, colorful head scarves.  A spattering of men & women without head coverings.  

Asian – perhaps the Philippines, perhaps Singapore, perhaps Malaysia.  Beautiful faces but not the faces of my Vietnamese or Chinese or Thai friends.  No burkas – just those festive head scarves of amazing fabrics.  Scores of them.

Although several of the women had these festive giant beret type things that covered all their hair.


My back was against the half wall surrounding the room – so Steph narrated what she could see.  I kept trying to peer between the strange fake native grass on the half wall shelf between our table & the middle room without being conspicuous.

Steph commented that the vocalist (a vocalist who will never get a recording contract) did not match the crowd – she was dressed in a business suit without a festive head scarf or festive oversized beret.

We wondered exactly who these celebrants were, who was the honoree. Who was the vocalist, who was the dude manning the keyboard, a dude who controlled the volume.

The Happy Birthday rendition went on forever – while we talked over the menu and the unrelenting song, while we ordered, while we waited for our water & glasses of house organic Chardonnay.

Happy Birthday was about 1,000 decimals too loud.

There was a brief pause after the eternal birthday song.  For a moment, we thought that was it.  We turned the conversation to other things.

But, it was not the end of the vocalist who will never get a recording contract.

The music continued with songs like Kenny Rogers’ “Islands in the Stream.”  Which of course, was originally a Bee Gees song.  And other gems from the seventies & early eighties.

Steph said, “These people are not old enough to remember this music.  There is a disconnect here.”

It went on & on & on, each song worse than the previous, throughout our entire meal.  As we were sharing a dessert, the business suit clad vocalist began a rendition of “My Way.”

After surviving our way through it, a beret clad woman from the crowd grabbed the mike & sang her version of the song.  Her Way.

I watched & listened to Her Way through the fake grass, another disconnect in an organic space.

The impromptu vocalist, too, will never get a recording contract.  It was painful.  

But she did have on a fabulous black & white blouse & one of those magnificent festive berets.

After our dessert, we exited during a final break in the serenade & Stephanie told me, “You always plan the most interesting events.”  She commented that we were lucky to have escaped without having to hear “Muskrat Love.”

I told her I would try & outdo myself next event.

It was a fine Pisces celebration.  Steph kept me entertained & engaged.  Such a wit, such a fine listener, such a sweet spirit.

It was several hours of great conversation, laced with laughter & insight.

The artichoke soup & salad with the house champagne vinaigrette were fabulous as usual & we split a dessert.  Tiramisu, garnished with a strawberry cut like a radish.  It was, after all, a celebration.


When I got into my car to drive home, the Spanish station I listen to in order to attune my ear to the language played another blast from the past :  “Donde O Cuando Puede Ser Mi BebĂ©” - Where Oh Where Can My Baby Be?” 


Always an adventure.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Jaki Jean on Turning Sixty

March 11, 2014

So tomorrow, I turn sixty.

People ask me how I feel about turning sixty & I never have an answer.

I remember feeling excited when I turned sixteen because it meant that I could finally get my driver’s license.  Although it took three visits to the DMV – I sucked at left hand turns. 

I now am an expert at left hand turns.

When I turned twenty-one, I was not particularly excited.  After all, I turned 18 the year that Congress gave the vote to the young people they felt they needed to send to war & in Texas, 18 year olds could buy liquor.

Not to mention that I was married & preoccupied with the traumas afforded all who marry too young.  That, and planning a trip to Europe, occupied my thoughts.

The year I was to turn twenty nine, I wanted a final birthday party.  By that time, I was divorced & not convinced being thirty was a great experience.  I wanted a party with champagne & smoked oyster loaf & spiced shrimp & caviar & beef tender. 

Two of my friends planned a toga party, which I promptly nixed.

Instead, my friends Richard Pulley & Marguerite Kelly Pulley took me on a picnic.

First we visited the Houston Zoo, then we sat on the banks of Buffalo Bayou & consumed smoked oysters & caviar & champagne.  And excellent company.

I can’t remember how it happened but we discovered that I was not turning 29, but 28.

Maggie & Dick took it well.  After all, I was their adopted adult child & they were indulgent parents.

When I was twenty nine, that January I had my first son, Nicholas Jordan Ettinger Ravel.  

And then in March I threw myself a 30th Birthday Bash.

My friends from the inner city of Houston rented a van & came out to Jack & Jean’s house.  There were presents for me, more presents for baby Nicholas, lot’s of champagne & great food.

Thirty five was difficult for me.  Nicholas & I were living in Washington, D.C., not a user friendly town for single parents.  Our roommate tried to kill herself.  My boss’s fiancĂ© confronted me, convinced that I was in love with him.  It was the most surreal, & the worst time of my life.

And then I came back to a kinder & gentler nation.  I came home to Texas.

And in the June of my thirty-sixth year, Samuel Jean Ettinger was born.  And when he came forth & did not cry, I was worried.  But then the nurses gave him to me & he began to make songs of joy & wonder.  My mother Jean & I were amazed.

Forty came & went – I returned to the University of Houston.  To get my degree & teach.  There I discovered so many women writers, literary theory, feminist literary theory.  It was an incredible surge for me.

Although there was that forty year old celebration at work.

When I turned forty, my boss & coworkers decorated my office with condoms & pictures of naked men.  An obscene phone call was also arranged.  I should have expected this. 
During my first weeks at the firm, the firm celebrated a birthday over a penis cake.

For my fiftieth birthday, my friend Catherine Ledkins Eisele booked a girl’s weekend at one of her family’s beach houses.  It was a small group, but four of my favorite women:  Catherine, Anna Bechtol, Darlene Deatley Kaiser & Kelly Jean Beard (who was a surprise arrival.)

There was even a parade, which Catherine claimed was for me but it was an early St. Patrick’s parade in Surfside, Texas.

It was a fabulous celebration.

And now, tomorrow, I will turn sixty.  At times, the thought blows my mind.  I have lived for six decades on this planet, in this country, in this world.

It has been an amazing journey.  But for me, it is not over.

In so many ways, on so many levels, it is just beginning.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Jaki Jean on Saying Goodbye to Eli

This morning, my sister picked me up & we took Eli, the most loving wire haired Dachshund ever created, to the Park Glen Animal Clinic near Jean & Jack’s house to end his life.

In the late spring of 2000, my Omega Son Sam persisted in his pleas for another dog.  I had made the same journey I made this morning with Flash the Wonder Dog & vowed I would never again attach myself to another dog only to have to say goodbye.

At that time, I still did not understand that endings are too often an integral part of relationships.

But Sam was, even then, very persuasive & we took a trip to CAPS, Citizens for Animal Protection, in search of a puppy.  (This time, Mom, we need a boy. )  ( Flash the Wonder Dog as a female). Several of my friends had adopted animals from CAPS with fabulous experiences. 

At CAPS, Sam kept gravitating toward dogs that looked like Flash the Wonder Dog & this I could not bear.  I was with Flash when the vet put her down & her image was just too fresh in my mind.

A volunteer at CAPS suggested that we visit an adoption fair they were hosting at a nearby Petsmart.
And when Sam entered the store, he walked to the adoption area & zeroed in on one cage, shouting, “Dachshunds !”

In the cage were two tiny puppies.  One black male, one brindle female.  Their foster mother told me that they had been found on the side of the road by Animal Control.

A few weeks prior to our trek to find a puppy, I had taken Sam to see a friend’s newly acquired Dachshund puppies.  As he played with them he asked my friend Ira: 

What are their names?

I haven’t decided, yet, Ira replied, what do you think?

Niles & Frasier.  I think they are Niles & Frasier.

And Niles & Frasier they became.

When the puppies’ foster mom let Sam hold the little black male, she took me aside & said:
Another family has put a hold on this puppy.

I looked over at my old soul of a son & as he was interacting with that black male puppy, children & dogs gathered around him.  I thought about his old & yet so young a soul & I wondered how I was going to tell him that we might not be able to adopt his choice.

After a bit, as the children & dogs continued to gather around Sam, a CAPS representative took me aside & said,

The puppy’s foster mom has said she does not care about the hold from the other family.  She wants your son to have the puppy.

When we got home with that little black male puppy after a mound of paperwork, & a kennel & toys & food, Sam suggested a name.

And I said:

His name is Eli.
And Eli he became.

Eli was a sweet, sweet soul.  Fraught with abandonment issues.  Understandable, given the fact that he was dumped with his litter mate on the side of a road. 

Eli loved children & chasing squirrels & birds & motorcycles.  He barked furiously at anyone he thought was an intruder.  So many times I had to remind him that he was not a Doberman.

Eli loved toys that squeaked & playing ball & my brother John.  John used to say that Eli watched out of our front windows for my car & my arrival home from work.

In his youth, Eli slept on my chest.  Then he moved to my feet.  Last night, he curled up next to me & let me keep my hand against him.

It was time to let Eli go.  He was blind, still fraught with abandonment issues, plagued by allergies & in pain.  He lived a grand life.   His adorable face was etched in grey.

But he no longer chased squirrels & birds or played with toys that squeaked.  He was weary. 

Tonight, I will settle myself into the Futon next to Jean’s bed alone. 

And remember that late spring afternoon with Sam & a vision of Eli as a puppy, skipping & bouncing in the grass of Jean & Jack’s back yard.

RIP, my friend.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Jaki Jean on Catching Flies with Honey

You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

All my life, I have heard this idiom & understood that it means one can persuade another to one’s bidding by being polite rather than being confrontational.

This morning, as I dealt for the fifth time in the last twelve months with the providers of Jean’s hospital bed, I wondered about the validity of this idiom.

And I thought to myself, Who wants to catch flies?  Frogs, spiders, snakes, birds, small mammals.  But not Jaki Jean.  Flies are to be eliminated, swatted into permanent submission. 

Honey is not to be wasted on flies.

When my sons Nick & Sam were growing up & Jean thought I was overreacting to some infraction (which was often), she would say:  Save your big guns for the big battles.

Little did she envision during those years that I would need the big guns for this particular sort of a confrontation.

Taking care of Jean, spending this time with her, is not the battle.  Tending to her wound, planning & preparing her meals – none of that is the battle.  All of that is a joy.

But dealing with home health care providers, equipment providers, Medicare, insurance, doctors, pharmacies, transportation, accepting the role of advocate.  That is a constant battle.

It requires a diligence I never envisioned when Jean told me to save my big guns.

Over this past weekend, nuts & bolts & screws began to appear underneath Jean’s bed.  Every time I used the bed remote to reposition her, the bed creaked.

This morning, it dropped.

So, I called Preferred Homecare to report the problem & was put on hold.  I watched the time pass, because I do not wait beyond fifteen minutes except at a doctor’s office & that pisses me off (patience is not my strength).

I was transferred within the fifteen minute barrier to Dispatch & promptly received voice mail.

Seriously?  I just don’t fucking think so.

Of course, I hung up & called back, once again identified myself, but this time with the caveat that it was an emergency & I needed to speak to someone in Dispatch immediately.

Dispatch is in a meeting.

Seriously?  Dispatch is in a meeting?  And no one is covering the phones?

Breathing deep, using my best big gun voice, I told the operator that I needed to speak to a human being in the Dispatch department immediately & that a  Dispatch meeting did not take precedence over my mother’s care.

That voice, which is apparently my most lethal weapon, captured a human being & an appointment this afternoon to repair Jean’s bed.

No amount of honey would have given me what I wanted. 

Not to capture a fly, but to convince a provider of its responsibility to respond to my mother’s need.

Before this particular journey in my life ends, I doubt seriously that I will use honey as much as I will use my voice.

And I can guarantee that my voice does not want to catch flies.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Jaki Jean on the Day After Emily Kate's 21st Birthday

Twenty one years ago, yesterday, Emily Kate Douglas was born to my sister, Janet Ettinger Douglas & David Douglas.

Most people in my life know that my sister Janet was my Lamaze coach & birth partner during the births of both my sons.  During my son Nick’s induced birth, she never left my side, never took a break, never left me alone.  During my son Sam’s entrance, she stood by my side & told me I did not have to be so brave, I could ask for drugs & at least once told me to behave.  She was my rock & my center both times.

My sister Janet held my sons before I did.  And she has held them close in her heart all these thirty years later.

Janet knew her child would be a girl – I remember when she called & told me.  I do believe I said fuck you.  Of all of Jack & Jean’s children, I was the only one not to give birth to a girl.  A true testament to God’s sense of humor.  Or, perhaps, Her wisdom.

When Janet was in labor with Emily, I felt honor bond to visit her.  Of course, she did not need me as a Lamaze partner – her amazing partner was her loving husband, David. 

But I went in.  I stood behind a nurse as she examined Janet & I thought, Oh, my god, she did this for me & for my babies twice? 

David never stopped touching her.  He was the essence of calm & assurance & support.  So like Janet was with me, but so much more.  This was his wife, his partner, his sister in Christ, his baby coming into the world.

While I was in the room trying to focus my vision on anything but the V leading to my sister’s most personal parts, Janet asked me:
Is this not the hardest work you have ever done?

I told her yes, but it is work & pain with a purpose & at the end you get a beautiful baby.

She was not amused.  I will not repeat what she said to me, but it involves a word our mother Jean keeps telling me I must not use.  Although I have used it in this post.

The nurses who assisted in Janet’s labor told our mother that they had never seen a team so in tune with one another, had never seen the likes of David & Janet.

That team, Emily Kate, brought you into this world.  Not just from their lovemaking or during labor, but throughout these twenty-one years of your life (plus those nine months in my sister's uterus).

You are your mother’s only child & your father’s only daughter.  And no little girl was ever more welcomed or more loved or more cherished.

That same team that worked during labor to bring you into the world will continue nurture & sustain you.

Their love & support will never die – you will experience & appreciate & sometimes sigh over it for the rest of your life.

Janet & David gave you the groundwork, the tools, their faith & support to grow into a caring, responsible being.  I think they are the finest parents I know.

But you, Emily, you made the choice to be the amazing young women you are.

So, Emily, on this, the day after you have turned 21, I salute not only my sister & your father, but you.

I salute the wonder you have chosen to be.  

Monday, February 3, 2014

Jaki Jean on Motherhood & Shirley Temple Movies

Over the past few days, I have been thinking a lot about mothers & their roles in our lives, in our popular culture, in our political arena.

Four threads linked me to this train of thought – watching a marathon of Shirley Temple movies; reading about the wise decision to release a brain dead pregnant woman in Texas to move on to a better place; my Alpha Son Nick turning 30 & my Aunt Janette’s birthday. 

For the past few weekends, a station that my mother Jean & I watch for vintage movies has featured Shirley Temple.  Now, I have been watching Shirley Temple movies all my life.  I remember giving away my Shirley Temple doll from my childhood to a toy drive at Coronado High School one Christmas season. 

My favorite Shirley Temple movie has traditionally been “The Little Princess,” a 1939 film based on a 1905 children's novel A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  While I am quite sure I saw the film before I read the novel, both were dear to me growing up.

Our classic movie station once again aired “The Little Princess” & I watched it for the nth time, with the same reassurance as I feel when I read a novel for the nth time.  Knowing how it plays out, still loving every scene, enjoying the play between viewer & the visual text, the same way I enjoy the play between reader & written text.

In “The Little Princess,” our motherless heroine Sarah (played by Shirley Temple) is placed in the care of an exclusive boarding school while her father goes off to fight a war for the British.  When her father loses his fortune & is believed to be a casualty of war, Sarah faces the trials & tribulations of finding herself no longer anyone’s little princess.  Much less THE little princess.

Of course, she is restored to her daddy, order is restored to her universe, she is once again someone’s little princess.  The restoration is facilitated by a woman, Queen Victoria, who is only the Queen because her father failed to produce a viable male for the throne.

The next Shirley Temple movie featured was “Bright Eyes,” a 1934 production unknown to me until recently.  “Bright Eyes” tells the story of a little girl named Shirley, who lives with her mother in a wealthy household.  

Shirley’s mother is in America’s equivalent of “Service” to the family of the house.  Shirley’s father was a pilot who died in a plane crash.  On Shirley’s birthday, her mother also dies tragically, leaving her an orphan.

The film centers around what will happen to little orphan Shirley – will she remain in the household of her mother’s employers (who do not want her – but the resident Uncle with Daddy Warbucks Bucks does) or will she be allowed to live with her bachelor godfather, aviator James 'Loop' Merritt.

Shirley sings “On the Good Ship Lollipop,” Loop Merritt reunites with his long lost love, who just happens to be the beloved niece of the Uncle with Daddy Warbucks Bucks & order is restored to young Shirley’s lollipop world.

By the time our vintage movie station aired “The Littlest Rebel” (1935), I was beginning to sense a pattern in little Shirley Temple Movies.  Not a lot of effective mothers.

Beyond the fact that “The Littlest Rebel” should not be aired except as a study in how perverse 1930s Hollywood depicted the issues & the horrors of the Civil War, not to mention a its status as a study in the racist fantasy depiction of happy, helpless slaves on the plantation – beyond all that . . .

Beyond all that, once again Shirley Temple plays a little darling, this time by the name of Virginia, affectionately called “Virgie.”  And once again, her mommy dies.  

Virgie’s daddy, who is a Confederate spy, wants to take her to his sister in Richmond.  But though he is aided by a Colonel Morrison (aka Union Soldier/Father of a Little Girl) in his quest, he is captured by an Evil Union Soldier (lot’s of Evil Union Soldiers in this film) & everyone ends up awaiting the execution of Virgie’s daddy & the kind Colonel Morrison (aka Union Soldier/Father of a little girl) for treason.

Virgie’s “Uncle Billy,” a slave from her father’s plantation, is encouraged to take Virgie to Washington to beg Abraham Lincoln for her daddy’s life & the life of Colonel Morrison. 

Since Uncle Billy is played by Bill Robinson, aka Mr. Bo Jangles, Billy & Virgie perform several sweet song & dance numbers throughout the film, including one to raise enough funds for the trip to Washington.

Honest Abe pardons both daddies & the film ends with Virgie entertaining the troops of her daddies’ prison with “Polly Waddle Doodle.”  A little southern princess restored to the folds of patriarchal protection & bliss.

Not a woman or a maternal figure in scene after scene after scene.  And certainly no maternal figure aided in rescuing Virgie’s daddies.

Then came “Heidi” (1937).  Little orphaned Heidi, living contentedly with her grandfather, is taken by her Aunt (toxic maternal figure) to live as a companion to Klara, a “spoiled, crippled girl,” whose wealthy father has much more specific capital than Heidi’s grandfather. 

Heidi runs into conflict with Klara’s family housekeeper (another toxic maternal figure) when she manages to bring Klara out of her wheelchair & back into the world of charming little princesses.  

The evil mother/housekeeper tries to sell Heidi to gypsies, but the patriarchal powers that be resturn her to the protection of her grandfather.  Another little princess restored.

Although “The Little Princess” was not the first of the Shirley Temple movies, its theme of restoring the princess to patriarchal protection & perfection resonates in each of the movies featured in the marathon.

And the message is clear – mothers are transitory, mothers are to be grieved, but daddies or grandfathers or godfathers or daddy substitutes will restore every little princess to glory.  No mother needed.

Of course, I, like so many women who were once little girls, know this is not true.

I loved my father Jack.  And I have no doubt that he loved me.  But somehow I don’t think that he ever envisioned me as anyone’s little princess.  I think both my parents knew it was a role to which I was neither suited nor destined.

My father made me feel safe & loved & protected.  More than that, he made me feel that what I thought, what I felt, what I wanted to be, were all important.  Even when we did not agree.   

As important as my father was & still is to me, when he died, I did not feel alone.  Because there was my mother Jean.  And the siblings she & Jack gave me. 

I try to imagine how it would be to enter the fictional lives of any of the characters Shirley Temple played in the films I write about here.  And I find that not only can I not make that willing suspension of disbelief, but that I have no desire to do so.

Because mothers do matter.   I think of my Aunt Janette’s four amazing daughters.  Their father Ed is still alive & the importance of his presence & influence on the women each of them became is undeniable.  

But all four of my cousins mourn the loss of their amazing mother, whose importance & presence & influence on each of them is equally undeniable.

If it were not for my mother Jean, Janette’s youngest sister, I would not love books.  I would not have given birth to two sons without her love & care & diligence & support.  And I sure as hell would not have survived myself or by myself for this many years without her.

Mothers matter.  The representation (or absence) of mothers in popular culture & literature matters.  The maternal body, in reality & in representation, matters.  Positive representations of Mothers & maternal texts matter.

I am not through thinking or writing about the absence or dismissal of mothers & maternal text in popular culture or in literature.  I just don’t think I will be watching any Shirley Temple movies with any sense of nostalgia in the near future.  Instead, I will be watching & reading contemporary & classic texts & monitoring how past & present representation of mothers influence & fuel our political debate over the role of women.

And I think I will re-read a much loved book from my childhood.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Jaki Jean & the Calming Jar from Sarah Jane

This is my Calming Jar.

I have a calming jar because of something my niece, Sarah Jane, posted on Facebook.

Sarah Jane is an old soul.  She is my youngest niece & she has amazed me from the first moment she formed words.  And sentences.  Sentences followed quickly after words.  

She was a child who heard an adult use a word in a sentence & within ten minutes, Sarah Jane formed a sentence, using the word in its appropriate context for what was being discussed.

A little scary, but at the same time marvelous & exciting.
Sarah is an intern with Hoof Prints & Heartbeats Equine Assisted Therapy.  It is a non-profit, amazing program, headed by her mother Brenda & her mother’s life partner Julie, working with children with autism, ADD, ADHD, Cerebral Palsy, PTSD, special needs.

HP&HB also helps out adults with trauma, addiction & PTSD.

In addition to being a gifted musician, a gifted poet, an amazing mind, Sarah Jane has a connection with all living things.  I know that she hears & understands what living things she encounters have to say.

She is also passionate about educating the public about the wonder of people with special needs.  About fighting the discrimination that so many with challenges experience in this, our enlightened world.  

Sarah doesn’t fear the Other or Difference.  Instead, she reaches out, embraces it, respects it, defends it.  And celebrates it.

Sarah shared a post by a mother about how she used a Calming Jar with her daughter:

CALM DOWN JAR Written by contributor Melissa Allen of Green Owl Art. If your child is like mine and time-outs only cause a bigger eruption of emotions and never seem to work the way intended this can be a great tool. When Emma needs a moment to herself (to put in nicely) I ask her to sit with her calm down jar for a few minutes and come find me when she sees most of the glitter fall to the bottom. She usually starts off by giving it a good shake, this helps get some of that frustration out. Then she sits memorized by all the glitter falling to the bottom. By the time I get my over tired and emotional child back, she is ready for a cuddle. Yes, it’s not magic, but it seems to help smooth things out. It is actually pretty relaxing for me to watch as well. I had Emma help make it and explained to her what her special calming jar was. This was a good opportunity for us to chat about feelings and good ways to express them. CALM DOWN JAR MATERIALS Small jar- make sure it’s one that will hold liquid tightly 2 tubes of glitter glue Half a tube of glitter A few drops of food color Water This is pretty simple: just add everything to the jar. Use warm water and give it a good shake to get the glue mixed in well. I had Emma help me by adding all the materials and of course the shaking. Bring on the peace! #‎ripplekindness

I thought to myself, What a wonderful alternative to forcing time outs in a chair or a corner.  I wished I had given my sons a Calming Jar.

My sons will be 30 & 24 this year – a bit late to introduce a Calming Jar into their lives.

But not too late for me.

So, I went to the dollar store, rummaged through my scrapbooking materials, sacrificed my favorite size Mason jar & made myself a Calming Jar.

It came out a bit more purple than I planned.  With color, I am always aiming for cobalt.

I shake it when I stress out over a conversation with a health care worker, or an insurance company, or a doctor’s office, or Fox News on Sunday.

I shake it & I breathe slowly & watch the glitter & the light & the sparkle as it moves with gravity.  And then I smile.

Sometimes, during the day, I walk past my Calming Jar & pick it up.  I shake it & I set it down & take time to watch the bits of lightning flicker as bits of purple & silver & blue follow gravity.

Next Wednesday, we meet with the surgeon to discuss flap surgery on Jean’s wound.  It will mean a week at Methodist Hospital in Sugar Land, five to six weeks at Kindred Hospital in Sugar Land. 

And I will take my Calming Jar with me.

Thank you, Sarah Jane.  For the Calming Jar & for the moments of clarity & serenity it brings.  I love you.