Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chris's Tree

I wrote this 3 years ago when we were visiting the cabin. It seem natural to "talk" to Chris as the tree than just write about him. 

      Since you’ve been gone, I’ve watched you grow for 7 years now. I didn’t take much notice of you before that. But when Dad took most of your ashes and let the wind drift them around the foot of that little tree. It became you. Now I have some thing to watch grow even though you are not here. I have been searching for you, your spirit, your being, to no avail. It is what brings me to my knees about you being gone. I want to feel something other than this emptiness, this nothingness. So you are the tree, and if I am lucky, I get to see you once a year.
     I walked out there today and just sat in front and studied you intently. You are not especially pretty, other than the fact that any living thing has its own beauty. You’ve grown taller in the past 7 years. I don’t think you were 5 feet tall at first glance. Now I’m guessing that you are at least 8 or 9 feet tall. You have a bare side (I know, you’d say “bare-assed”), and you are definitely not symmetrical. Most pine trees have this Christmas tree shape of wide branches at the bottom and gracefully angle to a point at the top. Not you. Oh, there are some wide branches at the bottom, skimming your juniper bed for feet.  But, then the branches all but shrink in the middle and then about 3 feet from the top reach out again. There’s this one branch that is pretending to be a contortionist as it tries to twist itself the other way than the way it should be going. You have 2 topknots each about eight inches long, twisting in all sorts of directions. Actually, you Chris, would love it, because it is so unique. Something you always were so proud to claim. As your mother I thought you were just trying to compensate for your shortcomings, but because you were so good at it, and it made people laugh, you just kept it up. More power to you, kiddo.
      You have a beautiful view to look at right in front of the cabin. To the gentle right stands a tree-covered craggy hill. It reminds me of a majestic ancient castle because of its rocky top edge of vertical stones. The clearing of chopped down trees could be it moat, and another spine of rocks to the right looks like a road cut through the forest heading up toward the castle. [Spines of rock like a couple of sleeping green giants cuddled together into an unidentifiable single mass cover the surface. A clearing of trees is the only indication that Other Man inhabits this haven.] On the left are contrasting rolling hills with spots of rock, juniper, and sage. Behind them toward the north are other castle hills. You can watch the deer and occasional elk, maybe even a moose wander contently up the slopes.  Right now and for the first time in years, these soft hills are covered in a blanket of purple lupine on a green grass carpet. If you look a little lower, you see the community (gaggle) of young aspen, their feathery headdresses teasing the breeze, and their toes touching the small brook. A family of bluebirds come here every year to keep you company. On the far right is a dangerously deep precipice that drops several feet to the creek below. I can pretend that you are the king of this castle and lord of all you see.
       This probably isn’t where you wanted to be. You had only come here a handful of times and the only entry in the log is a drawing of you and your dad fishing when you were seven. But your dad definitely takes comfort that “you are here” (Remember, I can’t find you) And other people have expressed that we did a wonderful thing to have your ashes spread here. I just wanted you to be free and touch the water, earth and sky.
      The more I come here though, I try to imagine that you don’t mind it here. You love contradicting things and the land does have contrasting values. You were always on the edge of danger, and here you still have that. So, Chris, here you are…for us. Steph and Sam don’t feel it here…yet, and I try. But it is the one place I know your dad is at peace and can let go (for at least a little while) the anger of losing you.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Storm by Suzanne R. Robinson

Another "snippet" story from my mother's side.  Mom was only 2 years old but it changed the entire fabric of their lives. Knowing this story about my mom's parents has helped me get through some tough spots where I had no control. 

     I find myself peering up toward the clouds.  The imaginary figures and shapes can't be touched, but their presence exists.  Sometimes our truths and memories mingle in and out of these clouds. I begin to see the shape of the beautiful twelve-room house and my mind gathers the pieces of the stories I've heard before. Eldorado, Oklahoma. A father and his sons joining forces to make a farm a family business.. Three Pendley sons marry three Palmer daughters.   Eight hundred acres, one hundred cattle, two large family houses - one is Adolphus's, the other, Cicero's. Raymond must live in town.
     How can a two-year-old perceive the panic of everyone hustling  to the storm cellar that hot August afternoon?   She feels the vibrating floorboards beneath her as Momma runs toward her, picking her up like a sack of flour.  With Rozelle's hand in their mother's vise grip, they all head for the cellar door.  Mavis's tiny arms reach in parallel stiffness over Momma's shoulder toward the cornfields where Daddy and her brothers are trying to harvest the last crop.  Behind them in the southwestern sky looms the heavy black funnel heading toward the house.  She only knows Daddy and brothers are not with her.
     Earlier Mavis had busied herself on the cool front porch on the two-story home. A rag doll and wooden building blocks transformed into a princess and a castle for her five-year-old sister, Rozelle.  Mavis only relished the texture of the doll's dress - pretty, and the challenge of stacking one block on top of another.  Peace with Rozelle by her side. Calm.
     All this child's comfort suddenly ripped away.  Destroyed. Running and grabbing and pushing to be shut away in a dark, musty storm cellar.  Mavis is witless with fear.  Where is Daddy? Where is Carroll ? Where is Taylor?
     In the cornfields Adolphus sees the tornado driving its deadly path toward the house,  hi a single motion he throws his two sons on the horse, and with a slap on her dappled rump, the mare carries them toward the barn.  Adolphus's feet answer before his mind registers, "I've got to get to the house. I've got to beat the tornado."   He flies through the rows, the leaves, stalks and husks ripping at his face.
     By the time he reaches the storm cellar door, the tornado is tearing through the fields. He screams into the cellar pit, "Emma, Emma, is everyone here?"  Once her familiar voice reaches his ears, he turns to seal in himself and his family from the raging anger outside.   Focusing his sand-blistered eyes on his wife, small, worn, and fighting her own panic, he hears her urgent reassurance through the darkness, "It's OK.  We're all safe, now."  The deafening roar outside batters their ears with Satan's cacophony.
     How does a man continue to hold on to his strength and courage when he opens that cellar door?  The push to open it takes the strength of the two young boys and their father to finally free the family from their safe prison.  Emma and Adolphus step out into the yard.
     The hail and rain and wind had moved on and the sun spread its rays to the torn earth once again.  The smell of the wet ground encourages Mavis to bravely toddle up the rough cellar steps on her own. Wet squishy mud puddles invite her feet and hands to play.   The rest of the children emerge from the cellar leaving their fears inside the dark womb. The tall man and the tiny woman walk to the edge of the yard.  The funnel had twisted its tail and turned away from the house but splintered the barn into a pile of sticks.  In tandem their heads turned toward the field.  The last chance feeder crop lay flat, trampled by the hail.
His shoulders, square with inherited pride, quiver from the force to keep them firm.  Suddenly aware of his unnatural absence of breathing, he slowly releases the fearful lung air using every ounce of strength to keep the exhaled breath from spewing forth in racking sobs.
     On a snowy 1923 Christmas day, the First National Bank of Eldorado foreclosed on the Pendley Farm, taking the two houses, the land, the cattle, and a car to pay the $4000 loan. The families were left with two wagons, two horses, four head of cattle, 12 chickens, and two mattresses. The day after Christmas they load up the wagons and head for West Texas to start all over again.
     My cloud is breaking into a whisper of white and blue, and I can no longer see the image, but my soul looks up to capture and hold tightly the essence of memory that remains in my bones.   The clouds will return, creating more shapes and memories.

Friday, July 22, 2011

What's Love All About Anyway?

     It’s comfort and acceptance for both parties. I chose a man 36 years ago not really knowing what love was all about.  I came from the most loving family on earth. Observed the most wonderful marriage of my parents, but I still didn’t have a true understanding of how I was going to live with love.
    We did have one deep conversation (well, mostly Wayne did the talking that night)  just before the wedding about revealing who he really was. It included his doubts about religion, and that marriage for him would be a one time thing. He had previously gone several times to church with me, suffered through pre-marriage counseling with my minister, just to win me over, because religion was so important to me… then. The other part of his revelation conversation was also a bit scary, because  although I believed too that marriage should be a one time only affair, In the back of my mind, I thought, hey, if it doesn’t work out…. So within 72 hours I was going to marry a man who really wasn’t as religious as I, and might keep me a prisoner in a marriage I wouldn’t want to stay in. Well, that was the worst case scenario. I married him anyway.
It was the most hellish moments that forged our marriage together. It makes sense to use that analogy. Heat melds anything together. Those are the times when everything around us, or as individuals seem to fall apart or go into a melt down. We cling to each other in comfort, or the stronger one holds on the neediest one. We don’t always agree, get along or even communicate accurately, but we know who comforts us and we feel secure that the other will not put his/her needs first if the other needs that security. I don’t think we have ever uttered the words, “Hey, what about me?”  I’m sure I’m being a little selective in my memory here and probably a bit sanctimonious . Like when you hear people say, “oh, we never fight.” Or “My child doesn’t lie.” But the truth of the matter is, we do comfort each other in the darkest times.
That comfort is present in our daily lives. Even when we were separated for days/years, and the only comfort we had was a short phone call at the end of the day. That comfort is never more obvious than at night when we go to sleep. The need to reach for each other, just a touch, a hand is needed. Wayne can fall asleep in 2.5 seconds (I‘ve time it!), whereas I may not get to sleep for hours. I may toss and turn, but he never notices; except when I get up. He has become used to my insomnia, but checks on me occasionally, finding comfort that I’m all right but still wanting me to come back to bed. We “spoony cuddle” for that infinitesimal minute, and soon he is snoring again. This is the one time that I am grateful that I have so little hearing. The muffled sound lulls me to sleep.
Acceptance. This one takes a lifetime of working to get it right. I can’t say we have mastered it, but I know that when we do accept the other, life goes so much smoother. A bride is always thinking that he will change after the wedding, and the groom is hoping that she will never change. Funny little quip that I heard recently. Both dreams are quickly dissolved before the honeymoon is over. But many marriages go on with that hope in mind. Ours did. I’m the bigger culprit here. Wayne seems to go along accepting me whatever I do. (I admit that I do spoil him and usually go along in the same direction) Except for my hormonal rages and not putting things back where they belong, he pretty much let’s me be me. But, I wanted him to spend more time with the family, stop drinking, communicate with me more, make love to me more, ask me more about my life rather than talking only about his… more, more, more…I wanted these changes. Still do, but I have accepted that it probably will not happen and I can still love him.
Maybe this is too simplistic, and I would love to hear what others have to say on the subject, but this I know for right now… finding comfort and acceptance with each other has made the rocky road of marriage a smoother path.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mom's Meringue Pie

         One of my greatest joys in memory was taking a bite of one of Mom’s meringue pies.  Her meringue was the lightest, just right sweetness that ever melted in your mouth. If it was chocolate, the perfect combination of thickness, sweetness, and chocolate sent you to heaven. If it was lemon, your saliva gland under your jaw would be shot with a sweet tartness that made you beg for another hit.
      Wayne hates meringue, so I never worked at perfecting her recipe because he would never eat it, and I certainly didn’t need the temptation to have a whole pie sitting around. Janie and I worked at a microwave version of her lemon meringue pie when I visited her in Norway. It was wonderful. A fun time with her, too.
      So, a few years pass, and I pretty much fall back into not thinking about ever making it. Janie visited me this past March and we tried out the chocolate pie version. Long story short…too many cooks spoil the pie, but we did survive it, and it actually turned out great, in spite of us.
     Actually the long version is kind of fun to hear… I was reading off the ingredients while Janie dumped it in a bowl. Her portions were generously estimated, and before the 6 minute microwaving was up, it was a thick lumpy brownie. (We had also had a mess with the pie crust and redid it as well before all this "filling" mess. So the situation was already tense). I would take it out of the microwave and try to beat it to a pulp hoping to get the lumps out. All the while whining and going on about how lumpy it was. I know texture would be an issue with Stephanie when she came to dinner that night. So stir I did, but Janie just flipped her wrist and went to sit on the couch. I had lost my partner in crime, and I was pissed. She had just abandoned me and said big deal. I was left to figure out what to do. Finally I got it as smooth as possible, and Janie came back to make the meringue. By the time we had dessert and cut the pie, the lumps were gone and all enjoyed the pie. We had a good laugh about our reactions.
      So now I’m on a mission and want to see if I can get mom’s meringue just right. To heck with Wayne’s pickyness! The perfect opportunity --- Bonny and Gary’s first BBQ of the season. I’ll make pies. (Uh-oh! Here it comes!) I only had skim milk which I knew wouldn’t work. So I added some extra heavy whipping cream I had on hand. It became one huge RICH brick. Something set me off and I was mad. Embarrassed? Probably.  Frustrated? yes!  Hormonal? Without a doubt! ….But my mind said that I was mad at Wayne (get do I turn this around and make it his fault?) This is how… if he had not been so against meringue all these years, I would have been working on the recipe to make it as delicious as Mom’s. So it was his fault and that’s why I was mad. I didn’t say this was fair or even logical…it was really insane.
      I went to that party in the most seething, foul mood I can ever remember being in, but I was not about to show it in public. I just renamed it a Double Chocolate Fudge pie and acted like it was supposed to be that thick, and then ordered a double scotch and water…the first of 3 that night. This is not my usual “sipping-one-drink so I can drive Wayne home” manner, and I am not a happy drunk under the best of situations. Morbid, morose, mourning come to mind if you want to know the truth. I hid in the bathroom until Wayne found me and we went home. I don’t even know if Wayne knew my anger was directed at him or not. I don’t think I told him it was his fault. I hope I didn’t anyway.
So the challenge of making a meringue pie has come to an end. No wait… we’re having Craig and Vickie over tonight. Steph is coming too. I think I‘ll try to make a lemon meringue pie. After all Tom is coming to visit in a few weeks and I would love to make him mom’s perfect lemon meringue pie. Am I ever going to learn?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Take any 10 years of your life and reduce them to 3 word sentences. Every sentence has to be three words long -not two, not four, but three words long.

Daughter loses mom. I’m the daughter.  Just graduated TT. Teaching in Tyler. Living with Rose. Tiny town Troup. Long distance dating.  Liaisons in Dallas. Discovered deceptive side. Christmas in Europe. Wild-A family joke. Discover Dad’s human-ness.  My own apartment. Lonely in Tyler. Learning to teach. Junior high challenges.
Janie joins  P.E.O.  I am crushed. First Christmas away. Travel to Wyoming. A world away. Rutledge Robinson engagement.   Wedding on 7-5-75. Honeymoon in Ruidoso. New CHS job. My dream job. Bought first house. Rich gets married. Janie is teaching. Dad and Tom. Life is perfect.
Perfection goes awry. Moved to Wyoming. Newlyweds with Uncle. Cable TV job. Pregnant within months. That saved marriage. For a while. Moved to farmhouse. Wayne Christopher Robinson. JOY JOY JOY. Building own home. Long working weekends.  Beer and Cousins. Janie marries Luke. Dad meets Chris. No teaching jobs. Finally at McCormick. Meeting new friends. Dad suddenly dies. Miscarriage doubled grief. Pregnant with another. Fear to tell. Stephanie arrives 6/28/82. Comes full circle. Mother daughter united.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Aunt Elma

    I was always compared to Elma.  My sister Janie, with her bubbly cute personality, was always considered a darling miniature of our favorite aunt, Rose. But, my moodiness would bring forth the insulting remarks, "You sound just like Elma."   How dare anyone think I was anything like that sourpuss!
    Elma was married to Walter, and they had only one son, John.  I always wondered how, though.  I couldn't even imagine them stealing mad passionate looks at each other under any circumstances.  Love and babies were supposed to go together, but I think Elma and Walter must have given up on both on the first try.
Elma and Walter's house was prefabricated to their personalities.   I think the house might have been a duplex, because I remember two doors with a stone arch over each entry.  We would always enter the right side; the left remained closed. Inside the door, stairs led up, but to what, I don't know. Twin beds, probably. When we came to visit, we were only allowed to sit in the shadowy living room with Mom and Daddy. We never saw the rest of the house. This room and the hallway to the bathroom had walls lined in books.  Rows upon rows of books.  I remember the overstuffed reading chairs - one for Walter, and one for Elma.  Each chair had its own reading lamp, and each had its own stack of books.  This was my first connection that adults must read things beside newspapers.  Before, I thought books were just for kids. At home, Mom would read my books to me sometimes. I never saw her read her own books.
     Elma was made for frowning.   Her straight gray hair hung in a clean, but shaggy bob that framed her face.  Her tiny eyes and lips were chiseled in a permanent pissed-off expression.   Her shoulders and back scrunched into a tightness that was usually covered in an ivory classic cashmere cardigan with no less than twenty pearl buttons.  Her woolen dresses and fine leather shoes were classic, too.  As a matter of fact, what Katherine Hepburn did for the classic look, Elma Chalk counter-attacked.   I think that the worst part of the whole ensemble must have been the seamed nylons.   Emerging as a budding pre-teen of the pantyhose generation, I just couldn't relate to this straight-seamed, hunched-back, pursed-lipped woman.
But whenever I feel my shoulders drawing in, just the tiniest bit, or the corners of my mouth tightening, all I have to do is remember Elma, and then I smile.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Slip of a Sip by Suzanne R. Robinson

Losing my parents when I was in my twenties, left me with an appreciation of every little snippet of a story they shared about their families.  That appreciation evolved into an intense desire to develop my roots through "creative non-fiction" if you will.  One such story came from my dad about his grandfather selling a "recipe" to a certain gentleman in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Here is my imagined story from that one snippet.

A Slip of a Sip
Poppa Copeland had a "recipe" for medicinal purposes only, it was used by the entire family for such maladies as in-grown toenail or croup. One thimbleful was all it took to be relieved of the uncontrollable chills of a fever or a simple toothache. When little Ada was teething, her squeals of pain were soothed by Poppa's recipe being gently rubbed on her tender gums. Even the tiny town of Huntsvllle, Tennessee, knew of Poppa's recipe because he sold it in tiny quantities in his specialty store. - The Epicurean's Emporium. Some of his "high-falutin"' customers wanted Poppa to call his tonic the more socially acceptable after dinner "liqueur", but even that sounded too close to the hated "likker" of this predominately dry community. Prohibitioners were getting a little thick in the town and Poppa hated them snooping around his store more than he hated the alcohol itself. One chilly October evening in 1886 Poppa's recipe took
a ironical turn in some hidden history pages.
On this fateful October evening, William's partner, Jasper had been invited to dinner to the delight of the entire family. The children always thought he came just to play with them. Only five-foot-two and looking much younger than his thirty-six years, "Uncle" Jasper was always quickly selected over their more stiffly formal father for playtime. This delightful bachelor would either find himself on the floor playing horse for a unsaddled cowboy or his bouncing leg subject to being a bucking bronco for a less courageous cowgirl. Finally William was able to rescue Jasper from the children's hold and led him into the parlor for an after dinner smoke and a touch of Poppa's No.6 01' Time Tonic.
"Thank you, William, this tonic is just what my or knee needs after that bit of a workout."
William leaned back in the parlor's plush green velvet sofa and watched his partner take sips of his new batch of recipe. Finally after five partially successful batches he knew that this No. 6 was the best yet. He was still a bit dubious of this gregarious young man and his risky ways of doing business, however if it hadn't been for some of those risky endeavors Poppa's emporium would not have survived the South's reconstruction years. He knew he owed a lot to Jasper.
Jasper had been peering into his tiny glass goblet of
specialty recipe as if it were a crystal ball. Each sip of the smooth amber liquid excited his tastebuds as well as his entrepreneuring mind.
"Will, you have something different here this time, is that a hint of hickory I detect?"
The corners of William's mouth pulled out to form a hint of a smile. "You know better than that, Jasper. My own wife doesn't know how ! make this."
Slightly acknowledging the admonishment, Jasper shook his head to resist. "But, Will, have you considered going big with this? Cm still working on that distillery idea south of here. That creek water..."
"Now stop right there, son." This is no common "bourbon." I have enough trouble with those pesky prohibitioners at the store. The last thing I need is for them to think that I'm selling 'shine."
"Oh, I didn't intend to give you that idea. I just think WfIItarn Copeland's Old Time Old has a nice ring to it." Jasper's enthusiasm in his voice intensified as he continued. "1 can see the label now. We could even use those new photographs instead of getting an artist to draw your portrait."
William interrupted, "Jasper, what part of NO don't you understand? I'll have no part of having my picture on a "likker" bottle.
The emporium has a reputation to uphold and going into the distillery business is not part of that image." And with a thoughtless flip of the hand he added, "I'd rather sell the recipe."
Jasper jumped to his feet, "I'll buy it."
In the matter of only two seconds a fateful deal had been born. Did Poppa really want to sell a special recipe of his own creation? Were his principles winning over his desire for profit? Whatever the reason, we may never know, but what is for sure Poppa did agree to sell, but not without a few promises from Jasper.
As they were discussing the details, William raised a still nagging concern, "Jasper, it's still gnawing at rny innerds that you would bottle this as a bourbon. It sounds so "common," and you have to admit my recipe is nothing common"
"I couldn't agree with you more, Will. I promise you this is going to be the finest Tennessee whiskey in the land. I'll even get it patented. You can rest assured that Jasper "Jack" Daniel is a man of his word. Are you ready to shake on it?"

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Celebrating Women

Today I want to celebrate my daughter along with all the other women in our lives. I wrote this poem for her several years ago, but this dynamite woman has re-entered my life as a close friend and confidant. Today isn't especially important in our lives, but The Ordinary Day can be special enough.

The Power of One

Copper hair cascades down
your back while flecks of
red-gold drops settle across your nose.
Red rage flame and copper power
creates the power of one.

The power of one water drop
blended with many of God's other crystal creations
form majestic waterfalls for all to see.

You are that power of one.
Created in love and built
From the power of those before you.
Mother, aunts, grandmothers, all
captured into one blending
of our souls into a guardian angel
that still flitters from my shoulder to yours.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My Heroic Journey - Labels

I am the heroine of my story as you are in yours. We shy away from thinking ourselves the “hero” because of the ego-pumping image it creates, but this journey through life does take each of us through all the archetypal passages. Ironically they do not follow a linear path and we may find ourselves back in an Ordinary World after going through a Series of Tasks or even facing what we thought was the Supreme Ordeal or Shadow Realm. We have different Helpers along the way and we find ourselves searching for the Father Image or Lost Mother at different stages. We fight off Shape Shifters, Guardians of the Threshold, and our own Tragic Flaws every day. We also may need to stop at the Watering Hole at various times to re-group and re-adjust our thinking. Return and Rewards may come in the ultimate end, but I have already seen a few of these in my journey.  We visit all of these stages many times and in various ways to create the unique individuals that we become.  

Friday, July 15, 2011

Momma Bird

I love watching the birds in my backyard. I hardly recognize any of the breeds, just like I recognize cars…oh there’s a blue one, and there is a black one, look at the one with the red top or yellow wings. Nevertheless, I do enjoy them. Yesterday a mother blackbird lost one of her 3 babies. She had persevered through the nesting stages, gently, patiently sitting on the delicate eggs. Then the tireless duty of feeding the open mouths, connected to  bottomless pits of baby tummies. Good thing Daddy blackbird was able to share the duties. I watched as the babies grow too big to fit in the nest perched at the top of our large pine . Then one day they disappeared. No movement in the nest or on the tree branches. Could she have taught them everything in an evening and off they flew? Wayne and I then started to see glimpses of the babies hidden out in the front yard and in the garden. Momma Blackbird had them hidden on the ground. I saw one under the tree a couple of days ago. I was really fearful that something was wrong with it. It really didn’t move much, but within a few minutes, it had disappeared again. I was spraying the roses yesterday and almost stepped on one while Momma was cackling above my head. Were we seeing all three again, or just one at different places? Was one really injured or just struggling with the normal course of growing up?
Then the unimaginable, completely avoidable decision to let Huck out to the back yard after being cooped up in the basement all morning. He usually just limps off the porch to pee and comes right back. This time he stayed on the porch and sniffed the air for a while. I saw him take a jaunty pace off the porch and into the garden. Was he stopping to do “his business”? NO!!! He had discovered the baby!  I ran out there as fast as I could to distract him, but he had it in his mouth and when he dropped it, I know it was not going to survive. Another mother had lost her baby.
I felt that loss. I know that loss. I wish I had a bird’s brain so I wouldn’t have to know that pain of loss …That’s not true and a whole different story. The hard work to get them out of the nest, the hard work once they are out, still needing a parent’s care. Gone in a flash. I saw the baby limping around earlier and my heartstrings were pulled to Chris’s first wreck. I hoped the little guy was going to be okay. Then when its little life draining body dropped from Huck’s mouth, I cried… again. For momma blackbird…or for me?
Later Momma was under the tree with her other two babies continually feeding and guiding them. The other 2 were okay... for now. She was going on about her life, doing what she was supposed to do, caring for her surviving brood.  I’m trying to do that too.