Sunday, April 30, 2023


The rain is falling along with the darkness, and the weekend is coming to a close. My friend Laura was not at church this morning. I stayed for a cup of coffee afterward and spoke for a minute with my cousin Dale before going out into the rain, heading toward home, and going to Walmart instead...

The house was still and quiet when I returned home, the rain falling gently outside. April showers... It has been a weekend of invisible progress and I am processing more than I can share. I'm still a puddle, hoping for flowers in May. 

PS. I got my hair cut yesterday. (Thank you, Sandi!) I can still pull it back but it should be easier to tame and much more comfortable for summer.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

A Slow Pace

We're making progress... It's a three steps forward two steps back kind of thing, but after years of trying to figure things out on my own and being ignored by everyone I asked, I finally gave in and asked The Cabinetmaker for some advice on my room. He's offering suggestions and I trust that he won't steer me wrong. I appreciate his willingness to help, although I expected nothing less.

I skipped my pottery class this past Tuesday and didn't mind staying home at all. The class was feeling a bit more intense than I could handle this past week. Lots of researching pottery styles and artists, and smashing those together with our own mug designs. I'm supposed to have 12-13 mugs drawn but I don't have the brain capacity for that after getting up at 5 am every day and dealing with squalling babies for 8 hours. Honestly, I was already emotional and I'm still a bit of a puddle. I'll go back to class again, but I'm not sure what capacity of participation in detailed drawings I can muster.

"Puddle" would describe me well these past couple of weeks. Growing and healing are painful, and I'm finding once again that uncontrollable tears are cleansing. I don't always know what sets off the deep seated sadness. There are no words to describe the ache deep in my chest, I can only tell you that it's a feeling I've grappled with ever since I can remember. I always thought it was normal, but I'm finding instead a wound that needs to be tended, if only I can reach it...

My cousins and I are still meeting on Friday nights. Man Haters Club is going strong. I've been throwing bowls and building cups by hand and will probably stick to amassing a collection of functional pieces. Mugs, cups and bowls are not only easier to sell, but they make fabulous gifts.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Slow Goin'

It's slow going with the attic bedroom. We've run into a snag with condensation that likes to build up around the insulation. I've tried to keep the job simple, but simple jobs have a way of spiraling into complicated jobs and this one is no exception. (Ask me why I hesitated so long to do this...) I will likely have to take out a loan of some kind (when I find out how much the solution will cost) and raise the rent on my tenants. (I kid on the second one, kind of... I would sell my firstborn but he's not mine anymore.)

On a positive note, my dentist appointments are all accomplished and paid in full. I don't have to go back until Halloween. There's something to smile about. Ha ha!

Work has been stressful. Lots of changes, mostly in staff but also with children. Last year all four of my girls came five days a week. I had them from October through June when two left us for the summer. This year has not been so predictable. My twins come four days and they are the only two who've come consistently since September. I lost two of those who started in September. At present three friends come two days a week, one comes three, and yet another only on Friday. It's impossible to set a completely predictable schedule but we do the best we can. (That's just my baby room. We have another with a roster just as crazy.) I'm ready for a vacation but not at all sure how to fit that in with the rest of life's craziness.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Glassy Eyed

Either I've picked up a cold, or spring allergies are upon us. I'm voting for the second possibility because I like how it sounds. It's been a beautiful week with all the seasons sprinkled in. This is April.

I met an old friend for breakfast this morning. I can't recall a day when her name was not familiar. We don't catch up often but will sit for hours when we do. She is a lifelong friend who still dreams that one day we will find out we're actually related even though our DNA tests say otherwise. Either way we both grew up with platinum blond hair and blue eyes, and deep in her heart she always wished it to be so. 

Our conversations today led us to talk of family, genetics, secrets and adoption. She showed me pictures of her bio family; her mother who doesn't want to meet her, the brother who doesn't know she exists, the father who died before she could discover him (she was his only child), the uncle who was thrilled to be found, and a variety of grandparents. My heart aches that her discoveries didn't provide a better sense of relief and belonging... She is as gorgeous today as she was in high school but her eyes are sad, her heart is broken, and I can't fix that for her.

I found myself down by the lake again this afternoon before the cold front swept in, the temperatures plummeted, and the rain began to fall. The waves were gentle today and by some stroke of luck I kept both feet dry. I had no intention of scouring the shore for bits of polished glass and yet came home with a fabulous little collection. (My kids will curse and throw them all back into the lake when I'm dead and gone. LOL!) It's a pointless passion, a worthless obsession, and yet I find a small token of satisfaction in picking the tiny gems from the stones.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Feeling Accomplished

It's done. I have a new filling where an old one used to be. It was entirely exhausting but I survived.

Dental phobia is not fun. I have put the appointment out of my mind for the past couple of weeks. The work had to be done, and worrying wasn't going to change it. The only sign of anxiety was my lack of focus and lowered patience level today. I realized this when I thought to myself, "Wow, Martha! You're amazingly calm..." followed by, "Oh, wait... Maybe that's why you feel totally detached from this job today..." I was customarily disconnected from the anxiety on the outside, yet churning on the inside where even I couldn't see. A little dissociation perhaps?

The appointment went well, even if it did take multiple needle pokes to finally numb my jaw and tooth enough to complete the task. (I lost count of how many but it was at least six.) I knew enough, thanks to a good memory and my sister's comment about her own tooth (on the opposite side of her mouth) that "never gets numb" to speak up.  I'll admit that I didn't like her comment. She was supposed to reassure me, tell me that everything would be fine and I wouldn't feel a thing. But she didn't, and it was probably a good thing because that was on my mind when I walked into the office today and instead of saying nothing, I told them how that tooth did not like to go to sleep. I told them about the dentist who filled it when I was a child and my fear of having it worked on, and found them to be very patient and kind. Even after multiple attempts and a very numb lip, I could still feel when the drill hit a certain spot, but it was tolerable, mostly because I knew they had done everything possible and were still being gentle and kind. Finally the drilling was over and the cavity filled. It's been 3 1/2 hours since I left the office and I still have a numb spot on my lip. Ha ha!

I had so much Novocaine and was so exhausted that I felt a little drunk getting out of the chair. I actually had to catch myself on the wall as I rounded the corner, but I quickly recovered and drove home without getting pulled over for a sobriety test. LOL! I get to go back Monday to have my teeth cleaned. I can't wait! Ha ha!

Monday, April 17, 2023

Wow! Just Wow!

What a week! So beautiful!!! The long awaited, first whole week of uninterrupted springtime. I soaked in as much as I could possibly hold. Moments at the lake, walks in the woods, and even a late lunch/early dinner with a friend and a sister yesterday afternoon. I couldn't have asked for more.

My usual church buddy was not going to be in attendance yesterday morning, so I took the opportunity to visit a different fellowship. I drove two minutes around the corner to the "Church of My Childhood." (That's not really what it's called, it's simply what it is.) My earliest childhood church memories are of the Webster Christian Reformed Church. My parents were in the group of founding members. It is the "daughter church" of the one I have been attending for the past year and was in the planning stages several years before I was born. It was in this church that I learned to fold my hands, to march around the table singing "Onward Christian Soldiers," and to recite the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and the Nicene Creed (along with the Apostle's Creed). It was where I learned about he sacredness of Communion, to close my eyes during long pastoral prayers, and the words to so very many hymns and choruses. Save for one couple, the original founders are gone, the Reverends I knew long moved away. There remain but a few who knew either me or my parents. I'm still processing my visit.

The weather took a drastic change overnight and throughout today. It's not "summer" anymore, in fact we could see snow flurries tomorrow. I have no regrets about spending the entire weekend outside.

Sunday, April 09, 2023

It's Empty

Trauma throws the inner workings of our mind into turmoil. It takes the most natural and normal of thoughts and activities and throws them up into the air and turns them upside down...

My brain works somewhat differently than it used to. I have a difficult time processing church and the forced aspects of Christianity, those things that feel hokey and put-on, the holier than thou appearances of those who are anything but holy, and the judgemental atmosphere that often permeates places of worship. My trust has been shattered. The more accolades given, the more praise heaped upon them, the less I want a place in the party. 

And yet...

And yet I long to belong. To have the emptiness within filled with community. And the only place in my life I have ever known this filling has been through church and family. I lost half of my family when I left James. I knew the cost could be astronomical, but so was the cost of staying... I lost my church fellowship when I moved because I didn't want to answer questions, put up a charade, or make others uncomfortable... I lost my home because I left it behind, filled with everything we had built and collected in our 35 years together, and the piece of land my dad had helped us acquire when I had prayed that "Prayer of Jabez" so many years prior...

I considered not going to church this morning. After all it's Easter and my dressy clothes are still packed away in the back of the closet and mostly inaccessible corners of the attic and my yet unfinished room. But, it's Easter and how does one raised with Jesus stay home on this most important remembrance of Christ? I pulled a dress out of the tightly packed closet and located some pantyhose and a pair of shoes, and I went to church.

There is a comforting familiarity surrounding me in the midst of hymns and scripture. I was born into this congregation, albeit a different building. The old one burned to the ground in 1982. Some of the people there still remember my parents, especially the elderly and increasingly distant cousins, but I am yet a stranger in the midst of the crowd, a stranger who, although I've tried to be seen, remains all but invisible.

It's Easter. "We don't celebrate emptiness..." the pastor said. He was not referring to the emptiness of the tomb, of course, but emptiness in general. Especially the emptiness within our own hearts and souls. Jesus came, gave his life, and rose again to "fill our emptiness" but try as I might, I still don't completely understand how. I know all the right answers, I've heard all the sermons and read all the scriptures. I've done all the things, and at the end of the day I still often feel empty and alone.

I am far from alone in feeling empty. The world is full of emptiness and perhaps that is where the answer lies. Maybe the contentment does not come with feeling full and satisfied, because why would I reach out to anyone else if I don't have a knowledge of emptiness myself? (Am I making any sense here?) My kids and grandchildren, my friends and coworkers, a world full of children, and strangers in the grocery store all long to be filled, and sometimes all they need is a smile, a hug, a nod of the head, or a friendly hello to help fill the void. Maybe it's really all about pouring it out and collecting it up over and over again.

Thanks for listening.

(Pictures from our trip to the Lamberton Conservatory in Rochester.)

Thursday, April 06, 2023

It's Not Friday Yet

Today was my dentist appointment; the long dreaded, but not really so terrible, exam. It was a series of fancy x-rays without the expected poking and prodding of dentist appointments past. I've gone years (once 20) without having my teeth cleaned or my oral cavity examined. It's childhood dental trauma. The sound of the drill is terrifying even if it's only buzzing in the memory of a ten year old me. The tooth wasn't fully numbed and I had walked to the dentist's office alone... One particular tooth has never liked to sleep and, of course this is the tooth that needs a filling replaced... I keep telling myself that things are different now, that it will be over soon, but deep inside I'm still afraid. 

In other news, two of my boys left home early Tuesday morning on the adventure of a lifetime. They hit a snag on the west coast and I got a Tuesday evening call from a very tired and discouraged guy on the other side of the country. I did my best to hear his plight without adding grief, and to encourage without being trite. I'll admit to a bit of tossing and turning between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, but I was smiling when the same son called the next day with news that they were on the road. The smile grew even bigger when I saw Mt Rainier on one of their Instagram accounts. (I can share, right?) While the mom piece still feels anxious, I am so excited for them.

Back in the olden days, when children wrote research papers in cursive with black or blue ink, the 5th grade Martha was assigned a written report. Each member of our class was designated a National Park on which to write. There were no fancy computers to take us on an imaginary journey. Instead we trudged down the hall to the school library, dug through the card catalog, searched the shelves, and poured over books. I did not enjoy doing research or taking notes. I hated writing reports, and yet somewhere in my bedroom, hidden away in stacks of papers saved is my report on Olympic National Park in the state of Washington. I have to admit I am just a tad jealous. Ha ha!

I'm checking in daily with Leo the Cat who today greeted me with a "Meow" when I opened the door this afternoon and called his name. I'm sure he wonders what in the world happened to his "Cat Dad" and he told me he has no idea what I'm referring to when I tell him he once stayed overnight at my house. He likes his fur brushed and, according to my son, I should also "give him hugs and kisses" and "lovingly call him mean names." I seriously considered staying overnight at the apartment just to keep Leo company, but here I am at home instead. 

It was a short work week with a staff meeting squeezed in on Tuesday. Tomorrow we're closed for Good Friday. I'm still working through my list of appointments. Colonoscopy should have been checked off this week along with the dentist appointment, but I had to reschedule. Next Tuesday I start my new class at the pottery studio. I hear we're going to be making cups. Not quite as intimidating as lidded vessels... Therapist on Wednesday. Yup, I'm still going. Don't always need to, but it's still profitable as I continue to learn about Martha. because understanding myself is always beneficial.

Saturday, April 01, 2023


This old blog is getting drafty. My blog list is full of unfinished drafts. Incomplete thoughts. Unfinished sentences. Fragmented reflections. I'm undergoing a complete metamorphosis and don't quite know how to put my thoughts into words. Transitions take time, often more time that I desire yet I'm well into the change and have come to appreciate its many unexpected blessings, although I am occasionally overtaken by the expectations of yesteryear. They come with a clutching of my heart, a tightening in my shoulders, and (often) the urge to fight back tears. I've been reminded that singleness too is a gift, but sometimes I momentarily forget.

Change can come on suddenly and drastic, like this afternoon's weather. We had an almost summer-like day until about an hour or so ago. The clouds rolled in, the wind changed, and the temperatures began their descent. It's raining. There will be no half-naked chalk drawing on the sidewalk tomorrow. It will be an entirely different kind of day and we will find different kinds of pleasures to pass the time. This is the way of life, and this is okay.

I'm not sure I can recap the past two weeks... (I had a birthday sandwiched in there somewhere. Still getting younger, although the mirror doesn't always cooperate. LOL! Down to 31 again.) Mostly thoughts have swirled though my mind, never quite settling before being stirred up and tossed about again. I stared into the eyes of a 15 year old Martha who appeared in my Facebook memories and found a complete stranger. I wondered at what felt like an impossibility... How can one not know herself? How does that happen? And the thoughts begin to swirl again. They're swirling still...