Sorry for the late post. I have a couple of essays due, so I might be posting on Fridays instead of Thursdays for a while. Or not at all. It depends on how well I'm able to stay off YouTube.
So. Valentine's Day. It's a big deal for some people, nonexistent for others. For me, it was like any other day, except that I had to throw a party for a dozen kids (two of whom were there even though they were sick) instead of prepping them for the STAAR test. And my dad took me to Chick-fil-A today. I have yet to meet a girl who loves chocolate more than some good ole' Chick-fil-A.
I got chocolate. Why is chocolate considered more romantic than any other kind of candy? I'd pick Swedish fish over a Hershey bar any day, but I still appreciate those little heart-shaped boxes with four little chocolates in them. Those are good.
And then there's flowers. Is it wrong to buy myself flowers, so I can at least pretend my parents aren't the only people who love me? I'll wait until they go on sale. Or maybe I'll just wait until the wildflowers come out and take my dog to find some yarrow. Or Indian Paintbrush. Or those little purple ones that look like Eeyore.
And one more thing: what's with the teddy bears? Grown-ups don't have a use for them, unless they know a kid they can give them to. They'll just sit there on a shelf and collect dust. Or maybe they'll be given to a dog. My dog enjoys playing with stuffed animals. The only thing is that none of us enjoy cleaning up the stuffing that gets strewn across the yard.
Honestly, I'm wondering what the point of all this stuff is. Yes, most girls like flowers and chocolates, but we need a lot more than gifts. Depending on our love language, we might also need quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, or physical touch. I'm a major hug person. If you've read Where the Clouds Catch Fire (which is available on Amazon), you'll see a large importance placed on the power of human touch.
But hugs make some people uncomfortable. My sister can't stand them. She prefers quality time. As I'm writing this, my dad is demonstrating love for my mom by hanging a picture for her. He got his level out and everything. My dog knows she's loved when she gets treats and walks. I haven't been able to walk her as often now that I work in the afternoons instead of the evenings, but hey, we both need the exercise.
Love is so much more than flowers and sugar and glittery cards. Flowers wilt. Sugar rots your teeth. Cards get thrown away. But true love lasts forever.
What did you do for Valentine's Day? Do you know what your love language is? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear reader, and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!
Christmas comes and goes. I turn nine on Epiphany. Snow falls, rain melts it, and now it's February, and we're sad along with the weather.
We keep trying to explain to Tarin what happened. A group of bad men--Da says they're Vikings--sailed up the Shannon. They stole things, but worse than that, they stole people. They took Mum because she was pretty. Da tried to stop them, but he got hit in the head and couldn't do anything about it.
In our dreams, we all see the man who took Mum. Sometimes, Tarin wakes up screaming. Aunt Sorcha and her new baby Maura have been staying with us, and she always tries to calm him down, to make him go back to sleep. Sometimes it works. Sometimes, he cries all night, and Britta wakes up and cries with him.
Britta cries all the time now. She won't nurse off anyone else, and she won't drink from the bottle that Nan tries to give her. Sometimes she'll take a few sips of sheep milk, but she usually spits it up.
Now it's March. One morning, I wake up, and Britta's not crying. I take her out of her cradle, and she's cold and grey and heavy. I take her by the fire to warm her up, and I try to wake her, but nothing happens. When I put my ear to her chest, her heart isn't beating.
We put her next to my sister Louisa in the graveyard, and I wish there were flowers growing so we could give some to her. But we pray masses for her, and Da gives the priests money so they'll pray even more masses for her, and we know that she was baptized, so she'll go to heaven. And since Louisa's there, she won't be alone.
One grey and rainy day, Da wakes up and packs all our things into two trunks. All our clothes and dishes. Monika, the rag doll Mum made for me when I was little. Tarin's little wooden ox and cart. We take the trunks to the graveyard. There's a bunch of people there--Nan and Grandad, Aunt Sorcha and Aunt Ruari and all our other aunts and their husbands. Uncle Micheal, Uncle Stiofan, and Uncle Oisin are there too, and for once they're not causing trouble.
Grandad walks up to Da; he's angry. "Don't do this, Rowan," he snaps.
I jump. I've never seen Grandad angry. I want to run away, but Da's holding my hand and would sooner twist my arm off than let go.
Da's voice shakes like it has a lot since the Vikings took Mum. "I can't stay here anymore. There's too much sadness. Too many memories."
"At least give us the children," Nan says. "They deserve a better life than you draggin' them town to town. God knows if you'll ever get a decent job."
"I've had two of my children taken from me, and by God, I'm not lettin' you take the other two."
"There's memories in them, Rowan," Nan says. "Alynn's turnin' out just like Cait. Tarin's got her green eyes. They'll sadden you worse than Limerick City, Rowan."
"You were hit in the head. You're not thinkin' straight," Grandad says.
Da holds my hand tighter and swears. "I know what I'm doing. Caitriona's not the first person I've lost. These children are all I have, and blast it, I know how to take care of them."
Nan gives a strange sob and hides her face. Grandad just gets angrier. "Rowan McNeil, you--"
"Stop it!" I shout. "Stop yellin'! It isn't helpin' anythin'!"
I start crying, and Nan hugs me and kisses me and cries with me. Da lets go of my hand long enough to kneel by Britta's and Louisa's graves and say good-bye to them. I hug all my aunts, all my uncles, and my eleven cousins. Then Da picks up one trunk, Uncle Micheal picks up the other trunk, and we start walking.
Da and I take turns carrying Tarin. He fusses and cries and wants food and water, but I can't give him anything. We keep walking until we reach another town. But Da doesn't go into town. He goes into the woods, breaks down a few branches, and builds a wee shelter to keep the wind away. He says it'll do until we find a house.
Finally, I sit down, and Uncle Micheal gives Tarin a crust of bread to quiet him. Then he hugs us, wishes us well, and leaves back for Limerick City.
We all sleep in a pile to keep warm that night. Da puts his arm around both of us, and I hold Tarin, and Tarin holds Monika the rag doll. Just before he goes to sleep, Tarin asks me, "'Lynn?"
"What is it?"
"Does it wain in heaven?"
"I don't know."
"Will Bitt cwy if it wains in heaven?"
Tears sting my eyes. "Bitt won't cry in heaven, even if it does rain. There's angels watching her."
"There are," I promise, holding him tightly. "I'm sure there's angels watching Mum."
"There are. There's angels watching us, too."
I'd just like to take a moment and thank Texas for the lovely weather we've been having. Yesterday it was seventy degrees; today's it's thirty and feels like eighteen. I went from wearing short sleeves to sweaters in 24 hours. I'd also like to give a shoutout to everyone who's been stuck in a polar vortex recently, my relatives in Illinois included. God bless you guys, and stay warm!
I met a fellow author yesterday. A Baptist organization at my community college gives out free lunch on Wednesdays (rather, they invite churches to give out lunches) and yesterday we had pizza. Wonderful, cheesy pizza. And cookies. And salad with Olive Garden dressing. But I ended up sitting with a young veteran who was working on a fantasy series of short stories.
It sounded amazing.
I'd almost liken what I heard of it to C.S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet, except the races don't get along and there's no common language. There are gods and angel-like beings and either seven or twelve different races (we weren't the only people talking at our table), only one of which is a democracy. There's a race of snake-like people who hate everyone and can hold bent bows for hours on end. There's Nazi goat-people who live in the mountains and three nations of elves. The best part of the whole thing, though, was watching this young veteran enjoy himself. He was having the time of his life as he told me what his stories were about.
To be honest, I was a bit envious of his imagination.
I've made up a lot of things for my books, both present and future ideas. One of the fantasy works I hope to release in the future involves a dragon and a made-up language (in which I can't even remember the alphabet, much less any of the 100 or so words I've come up with so far). But inventing a species of sentient beings? That sounds like fun.
One of the gods my lunchmate had come up with was the god of creativity; the one who made the earth. He said that any person in his fictional world who was particularly creative or inventive was said to be blessed by this god. And that got me to thinking. As a Christian, I believe in one God Who created everything--you, me, elephants, whales, oceans, forests, stars, fleas, everything. And we as humans are created in the image of God. Which means that we, too, like to create things.
Not everyone creates worlds and races. Some people, like my mother, create music. Others create cars, bridges, mathematical equations, medicines, or new ways of doing things. Some people don't make much of anything at all, but they make it possible for other people to create things. Athletes need stadiums. Businesspeople need new technology. All these things need to be created.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go create order in the kitchen by doing dishes....
What's your favorite thing to make? If you're not the crafty type, how do you express your creativity? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to check out our Kindle book!
One thing I never understood about Britta was how she could hate the rain so much. It rained most Sabbaths when we took her to church. It rained when Mum worked in the garden, it rained when we went shopping for a new pair of shoes, it rained when we went to Nan and Granddad's house to give Mum a rest. But Britta never got used to it. Anything more than the gentlest mist, and she'd be awake and wailing.
Sometimes, Mum can make her stop crying. She'll bounce her around and sing to her and try to nurse her. But sometimes Britta doesn't want to be bounced, sung to, or nursed. She just wants to cry and curse the rain. Then Mum will sigh and ask me to take her inside. I love nothing more than sitting by the fireplace, drying her off, and letting her suck on my finger. She's so wee and cute, and sometimes she'll look up at me with big blue eyes and smile.
Her hair is starting to grow in. I can never decide if it was red or blonde--it's right in the middle. I'll stroke her hair and boop her nose and make faces and talk to her, and she'll wiggle and make noises and put her fingers in her mouth. If she falls asleep while I'm holding her, I set her on the bed and go help Mum.
Today, it's raining fierce hard, and Mam can't find her nalbinding needle.
"I can borrow one from Nora O'Brien," Mum says, mostly to herself. "Britta will fuss if she goes out in the rain. Alynn, can you keep an eye on the wee ones?"
"I can, Mum."
"Da's out in the smithy if anything comes up, but I know you can handle it." Mum kisses everyone and makes sure Britta's had enough to eat before she leaves, and knowing her, she'll start chatting or helping out with some chore and be gone for half an hour. And until then, I'm in charge.
"Let's play," Tarin says, handing me the little wooden ox that pulled a little wooden cart. "Let's play store!"
Store is easy to play. Tarin pretends he's a merchant and finds little things around the house to put in his cart and sell to me. I've got a little pouch of pebbles that we pretend are silver coins. Tarin can play Store for hours, but since I'm in charge, I want to do something worthwhile.
"I've a better idea," I say. "Everyone says Britta won't mind the rain once she gets used to it, right?"
"And she can't get used to the rain if she stays inside, right?"
"So let's take Britta outside and show her that there's nothing to be afraid of. Then Mum will come home and find that Britta doesn't mind the rain, and she'll be happy. Right?"
Tarin grins. "Wight, Let's go, 'Lynn!"
I bundle Tarin up so he won't catch cold, and I drape my own plaid over my head. Britta's too little to have a plaid, so I hold her against my chest and share mine with her. Sure enough, Britta begins to cry as soon as the first raindrops hit her.
"Whisht, my heart," I say. "See? There's naught to be afraid of. It's just water."
Britta squalls, and I start to wonder if this was a bad idea. Tarin starts to jump in a mud puddle. "Stop!" I cry. "Tarin, we just washed that--"
"I know it's squishy. Just--" Sighing, I take his hand and lead him inside. "Let's play Store."
Now Tarin's crying, Britta's crying, I'll have to wash Tarin's clothes before Mum gets home, why did I have to do this? While Tarin's kicking around on the dirt floor, I take off his trousers and plaid; his shirt is blessedly clean. He can run around in it until his trousers dry. I wash the mud off and hang everything on the back of a chair to dry. Tarin's still crying, Britta's still crying. When the clothes are hung up, I sit on the floor between them all and cry too.
I'm glad when Mum comes back. I'll let her figure out how to make Britta stop crying.
One of my favorite books when I was little was called Elmo Says Ah-Choo. The title is basically the plot of the book--Sesame Street's Elmo walking around town sneezing. I have no idea why I loved it so much, but I still enjoy medical dramas. Half of my YouTube recommended list is comprised of clips from House, M.D.
Reading about colds is well and good. But having them? Not so much.
"Stay home and rest," the internet tells you. "Have some soup," says Grandma. "Sanitize your hands every time you blow your nose," says some germaphobe on WebMD who's obviously never lived in real life. Meanwhile, I'm trying to juggle school, work, church, and household chores with a nose that's running at 2 KPH (Kleenexes per hour). What's a college kid to do? And you, dear reader, with cold and flu season at its peak, what are you to do when the sniffles hit?
It depends on what kind of person you are.
Rest, yes, is good when you can get it. For example, I've stopped using the bicycle desk at the college, and I've only been to church once this week (compared to last week, where tonight would be the third night in a row). While I normally don't advise skipping church, it was the best option for me this week. Especially since I'll be there all weekend for the women's conference.
Now for my favorite part of cold cures: natural medicine.
You've probably heard that there is no cure for the common cold. And that is, unfortunately, accurate. But there's a lot of things you can do to shorten a cold's duration or lessen its symptoms. When I feel sniffles coming on, I immediately start taking Emergen-C and mullein tincture.
Mullein is an herb that's good for your mucous membranes--so your sinuses, lungs, throat, and mouth. My mom's used it for as long as I can remember. I make my own, but it's much easier to buy a bottle at your local health food store. They might even have some at Walmart. Another tincture I recommend is yarrow. I'm sure you've heard me blabber about yarrow before, so I'll remind you of its cure-all properties and leave it at that. Two dropperfuls of each in a bit of water and you're on your way to recovery.
Another good tincture to take is echinacea. In February of 2017, I caught a cold on the day of my grandmother's funeral wake (visitation, for those of you without Catholic relatives). This was not a "just grab a Kleenex, I'm fine" cold. This was a "the thermometer's lying, I have a fever and I just want to lie in bed all day" cold. But we grabbed some echinacea on our way to the funeral home, I took some every 2 hours, and I was feeling about 75% better the next day.
And soup? There's nothing wrong with soup. Speaking of which, Mom made some turkey soup the other day that wouldn't hurt my cold one bit. And it's lunch time...
What's your go-to remedy for a cold? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear reader, and don't forget to check us out on Amazon Kindle!
I love to play with Britta. I'll hold her whenever Mum asks me to, I'll change her nappies, I'll burp her. Mum says I'll do a grand job with my own children someday, but that's so far away I don't want to think about it. Besides, all the boys my age are eejits, and I can't think of one I'd like to marry someday. Brian McNamara's nice, but he's dying of consumption and Mum says he won't make it to Confirmation.
The house is so much louder now that there's three children in it. It's always loud. Da's smithy is in the front. The forge hums, the bellows whirl, and there's always the striking of his hammer against his work. But now Britta's crying more often than not, and it's all the louder. Sometimes, if Britta and Tarin are crying all at once and the hammer's ringing and Mum's trying to sing and calm everyone down, I can't hear myself think.
One day, when Britta's about a month old, even Mum's had enough of the noise. She wraps us all in our plaids and sets off, Britta wailing because of the rain, to Nan and Granddad's house. People on the street glance at us--some annoyed, some sympathetic--and a drunken man on the side of the road yells out, "Shut her up!" I want to punch him, but Mum grabs my shoulder and keeps me well away from him.
"It's people like that we pity, Lynder," she says. "You say a prayer when you see one, and thank God that Da isn't like that."
I don't want to pray for the drunken man. I shy away from him, but we're soon past him and on our way through the country fields.
Britta's still crying when we get to Nan and Granddad's house. Mum sighs and sinks onto a kitchen chair. "Just watch them fer half an hour, let me take a walk. She's gettin' colicky."
"Why, she's growin', dear heart," Nan says, taking Britta into her arms. "Or is it just that you don't like the rain? You'll get used to it, dear. You can't live in Limerick without getting used to rain." She kisses Britta's head and bounces her around for a bit, but she never stops crying. So Nan takes a bottle from the cupboard and makes Britta drink from it.
"What's that, Nan?" Tarin asks.
"It's a great help to a harried mum, that's what it is," Nan says. "Now go off and find yer uncles. I'm sure they're up to no good."
Whatever's in the bottle smells like the drunken man we passed on the road. I hope Britta's not going to end up on the side of the road like him. But everyone knows that Nan raised ten children and buried four, and none of them ended up on the side of the road. So I trust her with Britta and leave with Tarin.
The rain picks up, and not even Uncle Micheal, Uncle Stiofan, and Uncle Oisin would be making mischief in this weather. I'm sure they're hiding under a tree or in a shelter somewhere, complaining about the stench of wet sheep. So I take Tarin to find Granddad.
Granddad's a quiet man with a long grey beard and a twinkle in his eyes. Beards are for rich people; Granddad's not supposed to have one. He says that he'll shave when someone older than him tells him to, and since the only man in Limerick older than Granddad is the cobbler on Barrington Lane who doesn't give a fiddler's fart about anyone or their facial hair, Granddad gets to keep his beard.
Granddad smiles when he sees us. He sits on a hill and takes Tarin and me onto his lap, and he tells us stories of Cu Culainn and his wife Emer and fairies and clurichauns and the monsters that live in the bogs. Then Tarin falls asleep, the rain stops, and he takes us back to the house.
Have you ever wondered what Amazon would be like if it existed hundreds of years ago? What sorts of items would be sold there? What would the reviews look like?
No? Never wondered that?
Well, I'm here to let you know anyway. Today, we'll be reviewing a purchase I made on Ancient Amazon about a month ago. (Rather, I went to Hobby Lobby and got my sewing machine out from the top shelf of my closet...same thing, really.) The item: a Viking hood. Verified purchase by M.J. Piazza.
The first thing I noticed about this product was its geometric design. I mean, it's literally a rectangle with a square on either side, except that the squares are folded so they look like triangles. This obviously means that the supplier is eco-friendly and doesn't want to waste fabric. I mean, it could have been made out of a square of fabric with literally zero waste material. It was a lovely color, a light sky blue, although I don't know if the felt was made of genuine wool or not. And it was a bit small when I tried it on--I almost had to take my glasses off to get it over my head.
Once on, it was rather tight around my shoulders, narrow as they are. I suppose that the average human now is a bit larger than the average human back when this product was common, so that makes sense. The hood was very deep, though, which I liked.
It wasn't until I wore it for a walk on a rainy 45-degree day that I realized how difficult it was to wear. It kept twisting around. This might be due to the fact that one of my shoulders is shorter than the other (ever since a bike wreck when I was 13), but it's still no excuse. I can't be the only person on earth with uneven shoulders. The product did a good job of keeping the rain off my chest and back, However, it didn't cover my shoulders well, and my arms were cold and wet.
The rain would also blow into my hood when I was walking into the wind. Since the hood was so deep, it gave me tunnel vision. It would also occasionally collapse, resulting in my being able to see nothing but a heart-shaped view of my surroundings. I had to keep an eye on my dog, so this was not acceptable. But when I tried to pull the hood back, more rain got in my face. I just had to accept the fact that I wouldn't be able to see much.
It kept the rain off my head, which is really what I purchased the item for. But sheesh! I really don't know if it was worth it. In order for me to wear a hood like that again, it would have to be under a hoodless jacket or when it's too warm for a jacket. I really can't imagine having to wear this for everyday use. I guess most people would wear it under a cloak or something, or use a penannular cloak pin to keep it in place. I don't know if I'm ready to do that in public though.
There's my take on Viking hoods. And speaking of Amazon, Where the Clouds Catch Fire is available on Kindle for a newly-reduced price of $3.99! Be sure to pick up a copy and leave us a five-star review when you've finished it. What's your favorite method of keeping the rain off? Let us know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to like us on Facebook!
On Saturday, Aunt Sorcha scrubs me and Tarin clean from head to toe and wraps our hair in rags to curl it overnight. She's gentler than Aunt Ruari, but it still hurts, and Tarin shrieks at her once. Mum yells from bed, asking what's wrong, and Aunt Sorcha says that Tarin is tender-headed. Mum laughs at tells him to come there, she'll finish his hair. So Aunt Sorcha is able to tend to my hair, and I can't complain because I'm eight, going on nine. At least I don't have much hair to tend to. Da shaved it off when I had scarlet fever, and now most of my hair is buried with my sister Louisa.
The baby doesn't cry much during the day. She sleeps all day and wakes up around dinnertime, crying to eat with the rest of us, and that's why Aunt Sorcha's stayed with us for as long as she has. So she can cook dinner while Mum feeds the baby. Mum insists that she's grand, she'd taken care of Alynn and Louisa on her own, and now that Alynn's all grown and even Tarin can help set the table, she shouldn't have any problems at all, at all. Aunt Sorcha needs to get back to her own children, she says.
But Declan and Ian are staying with Mairead, Aunt Sorcha says, and besides, half a year more and Mum will be cooking dinner for the five of them. So Mum laughs, and I don't get it because there's only four people in Aunt Sorcha's house. Tarin's just learning his numbers and asks who the fifth person is, and Mum says they're on a journey here.
"Now go to sleep," she tells Tarin and me, "for tomorrow's yer sister's baptism."
I lie down on my bedroll of furs and blankets, and Tarin tries to sleep by himself, but a quarter hour passes and he comes and snuggles next to me. I don't mind. Just before I drift off to sleep, Aunt Sorcha takes a lantern and leaves for her own bed. She lives two streets north and four houses west of us, so it's no bother for her to walk here and back every day.
The next thing I know, Aunt Sorcha's back and making stirabout for everyone, and Aunt Ruari is fixing Mum's hair, and I run out back so she won't mess with mine. But Aunt Sorcha follows me and plops me down on the bed in front of Mum. So I fix Tarin's hair, and Mum fixes mine, and all's well in the world.
Tarin looks like a wee red lamb with his hair in curls, and I know I don't look much better. Da's curls didn't work out at all, at all. But Mum looks beautiful, and everyone tells her so. Even the baby looks up at her with admiration. When everyone's ready and Da's wiped the stirabout from Tarin's face and I fix my plaid so that it's draped just right over my skirt, we leave for St. Joseph's.
It's raining. I want to pull my plaid over my head, but Aunt Ruari scolds me, "I'll spoil yer hair."
"Faith, Ruari, it'll be spoiled either way," Aunt Sorcha says back, and so up goes my plaid.
The baby's never been rained on before. She looks up at the heavens with surprise and starts to cry. Mum laughs. "It's just a shower, dear heart. You'll get used to it, just as Lynder and Tarin did." But the baby doesn't stop crying, so Mum nurses her to quiet her.
The wood-paved sidewalks are muddy. Da picks up Tarin so he won't start playing in the mud and ruin his clothes. Part of me wishes I was still little enough for Da to pick up and carry like that; the other part is glad I'm grown up enough to help Mum around the house.
We get inside the church. It's dark and cold, a wee bit like a cave, but it's also grand and big and beautiful. Everyone is solemn and shivering. I want to wrap up in my plaid, but I know that if I get too warm and comfortable I'll fall asleep. That's why the priest, Father Ranulf, has us sit and stand and kneel so often; it warms us and keeps us awake. Aunt Sorcha goes to sit with Uncle Seamus, but the rest of us sit with Nan, Granddad, and my uncles Micheal, Stiofan, and Oisin.
Service starts, but then Father Ranulf calls up my family. Aunt Sorcha and Uncle Seamus come up, too; they're the godparents. He takes the baby into his arms and says a few words, then sprinkles her with holy water. "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," he drones, "I baptize you, Britta McNeil."
Britta. It's perfect.
Father Ranulf says a few more words, but Britta's tired of ceremony and decides to vomit her last meal onto Father Ranulf's perfect black tunic.
Mum turns red, but everyone else laughs. Perhaps next time, Father Ranulf will do the rest of us a favor by not talking for so long.
School started up again on Monday. I know I'm luckier than a lot of college students in that I get to live at home and take my classes mostly online, but I'm still trying to balance school and work and church. If you don't see a blog post until Friday every once and a while, that's why.
I'm blessed to attend a pretty nice college. It's just a community college, granted, but there's a Baptist Student Ministry that provides free lunches every Wednesday. And, as luck would have it, I have classes from 9:30 to 10:45 every Wednesday. So staying until free lunch is just a matter of bringing my laptop and finding a quiet nook to study in.
I was rather jittery after class on my first Wednesday back to school. Maybe it was being cooped up behind a desk all week; maybe I was just uncomfortable from having to look at pictures of naked people in art class. But whatever the reason, I was glad to head up to the library and find one of the best amenities my college has to offer.
It's just like an exercise bike at the gym, except that there's a desk on it, complete with a cupholder and a strap for your laptop so it doesn't fall off. I hopped right on that thing and pedaled away while posting to a discussion board about how Hispanics affect the Texas economy.
I'll admit that I do way too much sitting still. I read my Bible in bed. I study at my desk. I sit at the lunch table, in my car, and while I'm preparing for my students to arrive. Then it's back home, where I sit down to dinner, and retire upstairs where I write at my desk or watch YouTube in bed. The most exercise I get is at the college, where I walk half a mile from the parking lot to my classroom. Wow. Describing my day like that has really revealed to me how sessile of a person I am.
I came across the word sessile in biology class several years ago, when I was learning about sponges. Sponges are sessile. They can't move. Humans just choose not to. So maybe "couch barnacle" would be a better term than "couch potato."
I find it almost humorous that I can put my characters through the gauntlet--have them run, jump, harvest fields, sword fight, and stay on their feet from dawn until dusk--all from the comfort of my black swivel chair.
Of course I fidget in it. But what I need is to disassemble my bike so I can exercise in it, too.
What are some creative ways you've worked exercise into your schedule? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear reader, and don't forget to like us on Facebook!
When I outshoot all three of my uncles, I run through the sheep-fields and back to the house, where Tarin is crying because Aunt Ruari was pulling too hard on his hair. So I pick up Tarin and take him outside to see the sheep. Tarin likes to be carried. He buries his face in the hollow of my shoulder, just as he does every time I lift him onto my hip, and clings to me like a bird to a branch. He stops crying.
"'Lynn," he murmurs, "will Aunt Ruari follow us?"
"She won't, Tarin."
"Will she hurt my hair again?"
"Not today, Tarin. I won't let her."
"Can we go see the sheeps, 'Lynn?"
"That's where we're headed."
It starts to rain. I sigh, remembering how much sheep stink when they're wet, but it's better this than watching Tarin squall because Aunt Ruari is plowing his scalp with a comb. Most things in life are better than watching Tarin cry. Da laughs at me sometimes, says I'm like a second mum to Tarin because I tend to him so much. I've had no choice of late. Mum's been shooing us both outside so she can rest, and there's a world of trouble a three-year-old can get into outside.
We find the sheep, and Tarin amuses himself with them. I stand with my back to the wind for a bit, but there's no fun in that, so I start playing with the sheep, too. It's fun to pick bits of grass and let the sheep take them out of your hand. I try to milk one of the ewes, but I can't get anything out of her. I'll have to tell Granddad that one of the sheep is no good anymore.
We're out there for hours, playing tag and looking for flowers and making forts out of bushes. And then I hear whistling, and I look up to see Da coming over a hill, looking for us.
"Children!" he calls, and we slip on the wet grass and clamor up the hill to meet him. Da's a beanpole, tall and thin and narrow-shouldered, but he's twice as strong as he looks and he's got a long mustache. He picks Tarin up, tosses him in the air, and catches him. It's my turn now, I want to tell him, but I know I'm too big.
"There's someone for ye to meet at home," Da says, taking my hand. "Pull yer plaid over yer head, Alynn. You'll catch yer death."
Sighing, I pull my plaid over my head, and Da does the same for Tarin. He looks sweet, all wrapped up in his blue and navy plaid like a swaddled babe, but I wear white and pink so I look like a ghost.
"What was it you said about angels, Da?" I ask. We leave the farm and begin the half-mile walk back home. The wooden sidewalks feel hard through my thin leather shoes, but at least I'm not as muddy. It's hard to live in Limerick City and not get muddy.
"The angels gave us somethin'," Da says, pulling his own plaid further up on his head. "You'll see when we get home, Lynder."
"Is it somethin' to eat?" Tarin asks.
"It's not, son."
"Is it a kitty cat?"
"It's better than a kitty cat."
I can't guess what it is, but it's not far to home and I'll see soon enough. We're just passing St. Joseph's Church, which means we'll be home in five minutes if Tarin doesn't do something to make us stop.
Most days, I can spot the smithy because there's always smoke coming out from the forge. Not today. Da must have stopped work to visit with the angel. I wish I could have seen it.
"What did the angel look like, Da?" I ask.
"You're too curious for yer own good," Da says, and I stop talking until we're inside.
And when we're inside, I can't talk. There's Mum in the bed, and Nan beside her, and Aunt Sorcha my godmother making tea. Da grabs a towel and dries Tarin off, then lifts him onto the bed beside Mum. Mum smiles and hands him a bundle.
"Baby!" cries Tarin. He smiles and tries to touch the baby's face, but Da whisks his hand away.
"Be gentle, dear heart," Mum says. "This is yer new baby sister. Give her a kiss."
Tarin gives the baby a kiss on the forehead. The baby squirms, and I squirm too, with impatience.
"My turn to hold her," I say.
Da sets me on the bed next to Tarin and sets the warm little bundle in my arms. Her face is red and squished, and she makes little noises. She's perfect.
"What's her name?" I ask.
"You can't say a baby's name before her baptism," Nan says. "It's bad luck."
I didn't learn Tarin's name until his baptism, either. So I kiss my new baby sister, the angel's gift to us, and I hand her back to Mum. And then I squirm, waiting for her baptism so I can learn her name.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.