Tuesday, April 16, 2019


The hours of 6:00am to 9:00am are the best of my whole day here at Black Pig Farms. I've heard reports that Brett's alarm blasts into the silence at 5:30 each morning but I never hear it. Supposedly he showers and meditates or reads for a little while, but I only come-to around 6:30 when he wakes me up gingerly with sweet nothings or by his favorite method, which is to shriek a continuous "Lulululululululoo!" in a high-pitched voice from whatever room he happens to be in when he decides he's ready for me to get up. Mostly does this from the kitchen, so I often wake up to the smell of coffee and sound of his birdcall. Overtime, the call and response of "Lulululoo!" has become how we find each other when we get separated or he's so deep into the garage that I can't find him.

At about 7:00 the low morning sunbeams pour through the kitchen window and illuminate tumbleweeds of dog hair that are only visible when light shines directly on them. I'll come back later with a vacuum and I can't find them. The sunbeams are the best part of the morning. They drift through the kitchen and back outside again where they light up the yard in golden patches. It stays bright and sparkly until the sun gets too high around 10:00. It's the Morning Light Show and I'll make Brett stop and look at it even though I've already instructed him to prepare my breakfast.

The pups move from the sofa to our bed and then back to the sofa. Pippa loiters in the kitchen while Brett makes his lunch because sometimes he'll fling some ham or a slice of cheese. Grace cannot be roused in the mornings until she is rested and ready. This takes a different amount of time each day. She prefers to be cuddled immediately upon waking up and then will only accept pets begrudgingly for the rest of the day. Both pups get a floor cuddle with Brett after he has eaten and gotten dressed and fed me my breakfast.

During this time I am in a state of groggy happiness and will cozy up in a blanket with a warm mug of coffee and listen to Brett talk and yap about whatever is on his mind. He's the most talkative in the mornings before The Man has beat the spirit out of him. This morning he discussed the different personas of comedians compared to their normal dispositions. Last week he taught me about exploding stars. Every morning is a new adventure. By 8:00 the Brett-tornado has circled through the house and out the front door, leaving behind a trail of dishes and shirts, and one very putout dog. Grace sulks when he leaves. Pippa looks at me expectantly, as I'm up next for entertainment.

Instead, I let both of them down and take my coffee to my 'morning chair' by the window where I enjoy the light show and say my prayers and muse about the day. Sometimes I get to having discussions with myself, out loud. I play it off like I'm talking to the dogs but usually they've wandered off and gotten back into our bed. By 9:00 they're ready to go outside to announce their arrival to the neighborhood and I reluctantly get to work on my emails.

I wish the whole day had the same lazy pace that mornings do.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Dancing Queen

There was a period of my life where I was devastated not to be a member of the Brady Bunch. While I stand by this notion to this day, I still do not know if my fixation on this TV family was due to the novelty of a singing and dancing home life or it being one of the first “grown up” shows I watched after moving on from cartoons. I loved the hubbub in a house full of six kids, the parents, and Alice, the lovable, witty maid. I loved the groovy clothes, the weird furniture, and the fact that Mike had is own room for his drafting table. How confidently selfish of him, jamming in three children per room but keeping a private art studio downstairs for himself. As the youngest child and a natural born entertainer, the concept of singing and dancing about your feelings really delighted me. What a happy place the world must be. I lived as though each day was a new episode of the Brady Bunch … except that nothing noteworthy ever happened in the first grade and Ellen didn’t like me much and my parents rarely communicated in song. As quickly as I was energized and motivated to live like Marsha Brady, my hopes were shattered. Real life proved to be quite dull and I would go on to feel a longing for musical camaraderie for many years.
So instead I signed up for dance classes. I was born to dance. I was sure of it. Mom helped me pick out little pink ballet shoes and some tights that gave my legs the glow of a mild sunburn and I twirled off to my dance class. As the youngest child and a natural born entertainer, I was oddly disturbed by being significantly taller than the other girls in the class and standing out made me very insecure so I quit that dance class shortly after.

World's tallest child ballerina.

As elementary school carried on, I thought lovingly about the Brady Bunch. The warm companionship of so many siblings, a mother and father that shot flirty eyes at each other as they sang… was there anything better?
Turns out yes. By my tween years I discovered a British Pop sensation by the name of S Club 7. Seven, twenty-somethings singing and dancing; except these ones were all very attractive and adventuresome and didn’t have to live by the pedantic rules of Mike and Carol Brady. S Club 7 existed in the same modern world I lived in, so becoming a member of this band seemed much more attainable. Not just a band in real life, S Club 7 was also given their own scripted tv show where they played a British band trying to make it in America. To make ends meet they worked at a run down motel in Florida and throughout the triumphs and trials of each episode, they’d break out into song. It was the dream life. I was re-enlivened and once again my urge to groove got the best of me. As the youngest child and a natural born entertainer, I signed back up for dance classes.

This time around I was much less concerned about being too tall. What set me apart this time was my rail-thin frame and naive disposition. I was too old for the children's class and too young for the adult class, so I became the sole eleven year old in a hip-hop class with two buxom twenty-somethings who had ample booty to shake. They were confident and sexy and cool. I was skinny and sweaty and quite mortified by the chest pumping and butt shaking because I had no parts to jiggle. When you have no parts to jiggle, no meat on your bones, any dancing beyond a delicate waltz or perfectly pointed toes looks clumsy and spastic and like a bent wire coat hanger unfolding in a trash can. We danced our recital piece to Beyonce's “Bootylicious." I stood next to my voluptuous classmates and shimmied my boney chest with gusto. I swung my narrow hips hither and yon and I'm certain no part of my routine looked appealing or tantalizing. This was not the role I envisioned for myself as the eighth member of S Club 7 so in addition to being embarrassed, I was also feeling unprepared for my TV debut. It was shortly after the Bootylicious affair that I quit dancing forever, for I just seemed to never fit in with the people in dance classes. 

I spent the entirety of my high-school years refusing to be seen dancing. At night, after supper and homework and Ellen's meltdown, I'd go down into the playroom and close the door, turn on the fan, and bring down all the blinds. Sometimes I'd hang a towel across the glass door so that Mom couldn't peek in on me. Then I'd turn on my tunes and boogie. I'd leap and twirl and lip-sync for a a good hour or so before I wore myself out, took a bow and exited stage right.
My stage fright towards life only increased as I got older and I skipped all geeky school dances and parties thrown by folks who I knew would be playing "club" music. Sometimes I'd get trapped and boy, nothing makes you want to dance less than someone harassing you to dance. During this time of closeted performances (which became increasingly rare and difficult after moving into a college dorm with two other girls), I watched the film version of Mama Mia and I could hold back no longer. I bought the soundtrack and played it on repeat for about a year. I don't recommend the film mind you. Unless you're a whimsical dreamer that isn't looking for reasons to dislike a film, you probably won't like it. My own mother didn't like it and she's been looking for opportunities to groove her whole life. One time I came over to her house and caught her dancing by herself in the dining room. She had headphones on and didn't know I was watching her for a good minute of rug-cutting. She expressed embarrassment in that endearing way she does. I digress. Mama Mia. How I longed to be one of the anonymous background dancing singers. Not only were they flown to Greece to sing and dance, but they got paid to sing and dance! Since my viewing of this cinematic masterpiece, I vowed to boogie anytime I feel the urge to boogie and I have not looked back.

I write this now, eightish years later, having recently watched the new sequel to Mama Mia. I believe this film got even worse reviews than the first one but my fatigued dancing limbs were reinvigorated by the Grecian scenery, pop music, and the young tanned cast of singers and dancers. Throughout these twenty years of longing be part of a theatrical performance, I've always been much younger than the people playing the parts I wanted. I was ten years behind Marsha Brady and fifteen behind my beloved British buddies. I'll admit to you that just this past weekend I looked up to see how old the Mama Mia actors were just to see if I'd be an eligible candidate. I'm proud to announce that I am. Finally, in my late twenties, I'm in the same age and girth category as the rest of the cast members. I spent this weekend singing show tunes to Brett and dancing around with increased vigor knowing that people my age are paid to do so. Brett has not seen this amount of enthusiasm from me before and I'd argue he seemed mildly concerned as I shimmied circles around him while he took out his contacts.
"You're going to crash so hard when you finally sit down." he told me. I did a double pirouette and let out a high note C.
"AhhhHaaaa!! Not a chance. I'm in my prime!"

I fell asleep as soon as I sat down. I don't remember going to bed or turning on my alarm or anything.
Guess that's just part of life as a performer.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Golden Hour

Boy oh boy things are pretty around here. I've had a fortuitous break in the wedding weekends right here at the peak of Spring giddiness. It's the perfect combination of sunny and warmish. It's been very grey and coolish and I don't like that.
Except for a few emails, I took most last week off from my flower duties and I sat on the back porch and read. I've planted some plants, potted some ferns, begun an experiment with some climbing hydrangeas, cooked a few exciting ethnic suppers, and woken up Brett in the night due to my own uncontrollable laughter. Sometimes while I'm trying go to sleep, I think funny things and have to try really hard to not laugh so that I don't wake up Biggins. Prior to getting married, I'd let out those hearty guffaws for I had no one to startle except myself. Now I have to withhold those giggles and it results in full-body convulsions that grow larger and more dramatic the longer it goes on. Eventually my suppressed giggles will shake Brett awake and he says it's like sleeping next to a paint mixer.

In the evenings, we've taken to batting tennis balls through the yard for the girls to chase or we'll play a net-less tennis match with each other and the first one who lets a pup get to the ball first is the night's Big Loser. It's usually me. On Friday, the light was so pretty and the Dogwoods so white, I just had to whip out the camera.

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Spring Collection

This afternoon Big Nanny U is having surgery on her torn meniscus. After the battle of marital stubbornness, Mom went for that MRI, found out her meniscus is torn, and then couldn’t get home fast enough to rub it in Dad’s face. She’s so happy about this injury she can’t stand it.
Dad has had little to say about it and is instead focusing his negativity towards her recovery time. Admittedly, she can be an ornery patient.

We’ve done some additional Hayden- Jenny celebrating. Susan and Clint had the Crew over for a celebratory supper where we taught Brett’s folks how to play Pig and the charms of that game were stunted for Susan by Erik’s ability to add numbers faster than everyone else at the table. I find it to be a helpful feature. I just roll the dice and wait for Erik to spit out a number, but eventually he saw through me and stopped doing my math for me.

Brett and I had some of our favorites, Ellie and Caroline, over for supper and when I pulled out my phone to take a picture, Ellie wordlessly posed like this to make our dinner party seem especially great. That’s a true friend.

I snapped this quick photo of Ellen’s new boyfriend while he seduced us with song at Family Dinner. Ellen’s expression is the best part of the whole picture. We all really like Lee. He's chatty and silly and polite. Ellen has been bringing him around to Sunday Dinner for the last several weeks and while were worried it's going to scare him off, I also imagine that he'd wholeheartedly jump into our wig collection. The Passing of The Afro ritual is looming in the near future.

Here’s one of my new nephews wearing a Lebanese flag in honor of Aunt Lu. (Actually some other Lebanese friend gave it to him, but I like to pretend he loves me.)

This past weekend, we held the inaugural dock day with the Terrible Trio. Buddy, Grace, and Pip lost all composure on this long awaited day of fun. They were obnoxious and mean and I wasn’t very proud of them by the time it was all over. Buddy’s boisterous howling was out of control. Grace utilized the lack of traction in water by choosing to try to drown Pippa anytime Pip left the security of dry land. Though Pippa is a faster swimmer, Grace’s resentment runs deep and she fully devoted herself to bullying. Pippa wasn’t having it. 

Brett and I ran interference and when we finally got home, those girls sacked out instantly. They barely budged all night. Even the lure of suppertime held no weight against their tired limbs and depleted sprits.

It makes my whole night when Pip’s mouth falls open while she’s sleeping.

I've completed my first three weddings of the Spring season, started booking for 2020, and opted to turn down a bride who signed off all of her emails with "Thanksa."

Brett has enrolled in some improv comedy classes (actually Erik enrolled him as a wedding gift) and he conned Jeff into joining him, so every Monday night The Eisenhauer boys have been slinging cheap shots and acting out their silliest imaginings. There's an improv show that all of the students perform in after the final class in April and Brett only feels unmitigated dread about it. He loves the classes but hates the thought of performing for a crowd. The final show is by invite only and Brett won't let me tell anyone when it is. I understand his feelings and also get nervous thinking about it. We're both going to be sweaty messes that day. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Mouth-Breathing Is Better Than Not Breathing

Last week I woke up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason.
How annoying, I thought, but then I realized it was much too quiet so I laid still and listened.

Now, it's not that Brett is a loud breather. When he is upright, moving around, you'd never know he was breathing at all but when he lays down, you can hear the oxygen fighting it's way through his nose-hairs while he's sleeping.

I laid still and listened to the nothingness in our dark house. I didn't like it. I almost gave up my curiosity to try to fall asleep again when I realized I didn't hear the methodical, deep nasal inhale of my sleeping giant.
Is Brett breathing? I asked myself.
I waited as long as what I thought to be a full cycle of a resting inhale-exhale before fear started to bubble in my stomach. I didn't hear his breath. I put my hand on his chest and it did not rise or fall. Blinded with panic I screamed, "Brett!" to which he responded with a very casual, "Yes?"

Relief and anger washed over me.
"Ugh. I thought you were dead." and I rolled over on my side facing away from him.
"Nah." he exhaled and lazily pat my shoulder before drifting off again seconds later. I listened to his noisy nose breathing while waiting for my adrenaline wear off. What would I have done if he was dead? I wondered. I keep a pair of pants on the floor by the bed for emergencies just like this one. I've always worried about having to escape a fiery blaze or fight off an intruder in my sleeping loolies. While I thought these things, he stopped breathing again. I craned my neck to look over my shoulder at him and I listened. I'm certain he wasn't breathing. I rolled over to face him and I stared at his silhouette, waiting for the rise of an inhale but it never came.

A tiny surge of worry ignited and with much annoyance I said, "Brett, you're not breathing."
"Yes I am."
"No. You're not. You're breathing funny."
"It's ok. I'm fine." and then he conked out again. I decided I would just have to let him die because I certainly couldn't wake him up every six minutes. He had to work in the morning.

So instead I laid wide-awake and thought about the trajectory of my life after my husband died just five months into marriage. A widow at twenty-eight. A single mother of two hairy girls. Then I made myself sad because not only did I think about having to date again (yick), I thought about life without Brett. I've lived most of my life without Brett, so I knew exactly what to imagine; homesickness.

He woke up happily the next morning, as he always does, and padded around the bedroom, doing his "morning dance" for the girls. He writes a new pup-themed tune each morning and performs it for an unimpressed audience. I laid in bed, exhausted from a night full of terror. Loving too many more creatures so much just might be the death of me. I've just got too much to lose.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Reading and Writing

Brett and I do lots of reading. Mostly we look for ways to not wind up in front of the tv at night. Post-dinner activities range from reading, musical expression, card games, toolbox tinkering, and long form discussions about other people.

Brett and I recently got a subscription to The New Yorker. We feel smug and embarrassed by this notion but that's no reason not to exercise your ability to be smug. While Brett reads literature ranging in topics from history to politics to philosophical looks at humankind, I consume words written purely to entertain, mostly in the form of humorist essays and weighty moments from the childhoods of people I'll never meet. I tend to read mostly narrative non-fiction while Brett delves to depths of religious influences and metaphysics. Though Brett loves me and the fact that I like to write, he always reads a Lu story, chuckles at my comedic genius, and then asks, "But what did I learn?" (He's always hung up on learning.) He started the subscription to the New Yorker for the intellectual articles and "purposeful writing." He thought I might benefit from being exposed to different writing styles and I scoffed at him. "You're not a writer. You don't know what I need!"

Reading the New Yorker has opened my eyes. When you read news from fast-paced, constantly updated news outlets, you're reading hurried reports. Breaking news doesn't have to be well written. It just has to be written. Reading the thought-through and researched articles in the New Yorker has made me realize how rarely I read good writing outside of books and how extra rarely I read something written in a style differently from my preferred genre. There's a lot of different types of good writing out there -which seems obvious but like my order at Chic-fil-a, I find something I like and I stick with it every time, never experiencing anything new.

Every Friday a new issue comes in and Brett and I have become frantic about reading them quickly. It's a race against time.
"It's Wednesday and I haven't finished that article about the healthcare whistleblowers!" he'll squeal.
"I read it. It was great. I'll just tell you about it and you can skip ahead to read the one about prison reform!" I'll shriek, flinging the latest issue at him while I finish up the last week's. We are stressed and delighted by the presence of the New Yorker in our home.

With all the new writing knowledge that I've come upon, I've taken a different route with my recreational writing. Brett is proud of this practice workshop I've embarked on. I also partook in a free online seminar about memoir writing where I got some great ideas and determined that I need to write practice books because no one saunters on out to the baseball field and hits home run with out a "swingandamiss" a few times first.
"I need to write a couple of bad books!" I declared to Brett. He peered up at me over the top of his History of Humankind book.
"I've got to self-publish some bad books so I can have something of a past to present to a real publisher when I want them to publish my real book. My 'mem-wahs': the trials of my young privileged life, the torture society inflicted upon me!"

Last month I finished a book about a gay man who was traveling the world to avoid confronting his feelings about his ex-boyfriend who was marring someone else. This is not what I typically read but it won many literary awards for writing style, uniqueness, and vivid imagery. Since I'm unofficially trying to better myself, I thought it would be worthwhile to read. Turns out, I hadn't been that bored reading a book since fighting my way through the summer reading list in middle school. Brett watched me struggle through it.
"Just move on if you don't like it. You don't have to finish every book you start."
I glanced at the stack of unfinished books I pretend I'm still reading.
"I'm not against that," I suggested as though it's a new concept, "but I'm convinced this has to get better. I'm waiting for the award-winning moment."

I finished that book. I read that last chapter, closed the cover and looked over at Brett.
"Nothing?" he asked without looking up from his book on the Cosmos.
"Nothing. I don't get why that was good at all!"
This set forth lots of big thinking about what qualifies as good writing and good ideas. Is it because the protagonist was gay and everyone trying to be all inclusive and cool with it? Do I have to push the bounds of politically correctness? Should I start my writing career with an erotic novel? That's the highest selling book genre you know. How difficult could that be?

"I'm going to write an erotic novel!" I proclaimed a few days later.
Brett closed his book on President Grant.
"All I've got do is come up with a ridiculous but mundane scenario and string it together with fleshed-colored imagery and breathy proclamations!"
"Have you read an erotic novel before?"
"Don't you think you should read one first?"
"I don't really care to do that."

I have since moved on from that idea and invented a new genre; the Neurotic Novel - which features prose from only the most unhinged minds.
"I wholeheartedly believe you could write a neurotic novel." Brett assured me. "There's no one better for the job." I beamed at him, flattered by his supportive words.

I looked off into the distance. "It all began in the first grade when I caught Cassandra squeezing a packet of mayonnaise into her left shoe..."

Brett went back to his book and I pulled out my laptop.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...