Faith Gong

Words I never expected to say: “After the tornado went through our front yard….” Yet I heard myself say exactly that to my children on the evening of March 26, 2021. It sounded so ludicrous, so absolutely unbelievable, that I broke down in giggles. “Uh, Mommy,” my daughter asked, “do you have post-traumatic stress?” Maybe. Probably. I suppose some degree of trauma is inevitable in a year when I’m learning that no matter how ludicrous, how absolutely unbelievable something seems, it can still happen. “Is this actually happening?” I’ve wondered numerous times over the past year: when the COVID-...
The pod swing hangs from a beam in our living room like some overripe fruit in a tropical rain forest. It is tear-shaped, made of durable lime green fabric with electric blue trim. You enter the swing through a narrow opening in the fabric; when you settle onto the round, electric blue cushion inside, you are surrounded by lime green on all sides, encased like a pupa in a chrysalis. The pod swing was not an intentional act of interior decorating. I never cast a critical eye on our living room and said, “You know, what this place really needs is a pod swing.” We purchased the swing on the...
My third daughter turned ten on March 1. The momentousness of the occasion didn’t hit me at first. With birthdays, I’m usually just relieved to have them successfully behind us: Gifts purchased, wrapped, and opened. Cake baked, frosted, lit, and consumed. Birthday child feeling sufficiently loved and celebrated for another year. But after the last candle was extinguished, I did the math, and it seems that I now have three children with ages in the double digits. This leaves only two children in the single digits (and without pierced ears, ten being the age at which our family considers you...
“Daddy, don’t forget to pick up some cupcakes at the store, okay?” My husband, who was heading out the door to run his usual Saturday morning errands, turned to look questioningly at our 9-year-old daughter. “What are the cupcakes for?” “For Pip’s birthday party!” “Wait…sorry…um…. Who is Pip?” “You know,” she said, undaunted. “Pip is my little china dog figure.” My poor husband: You could almost see him thinking, this is not what I signed up for, as he spluttered, “Your china dog…? NO. I’m not going to get cupcakes for a china…. Oh, okay, fine.” My husband wasn’t aware of It, but Pip’s...
We were snuggled up on the couch (or crammed in, depending on your perspective) for our family’s weekly Friday movie night. In the flickering light from the screen, I could see three pairs of worried eyes staring at me. “Uh, Mommy,” whispered one of my daughters, “Are you okay?” “I’m okay,” I sobbed. “This scene just gets me every time.” We were watching the 2015 Pixar animated feature, Inside Out. The last time I’d seen this film was in a theater five years earlier, and I’d broken down in sobs during the exact same scene. Inside Out takes place largely inside the brain of an 11-year-old girl...
I’m going to begin with a thumbnail sketch: My 7-year-old daughter came downstairs the other morning to find that my husband had cleaned out the oversized “comfy chair” in front of our woodstove while she slept. He’d taken up the seat cushion, removed the detritus that tends to gather underneath, and wiped the smudges and stains from the upholstery. “Daddy, where’s my baggie?” she asked. “What baggie?” “The one I put under the chair cushion!” she said, increasingly agitated. “The baggie that you put under the chair cushion?” he repeated. “I don’t know. I probably threw it out when I was...
The temperature hasn’t risen above freezing all day, but the sky is a brilliant blue traversed by wispy clouds and the sun is shining on the sparkling white snow. In our front yard, my four daughters are zipping around on their skates, playing broomball on the ice rink that my husband built to keep them outdoors and active during the winter months. After a disappointingly mild December, January finally brought the requisite three days of below-freezing temperatures necessary for skate-worthy ice, and my daughters’ joyful voices proclaim that it was worth the wait.  They are young, happy, and...
I fell in love with coffee slowly. It wasn’t until midway through college, when a friend took it upon herself to introduce me to coffee in the form of a sugary sweet hazelnut latte, that I became interested in the beverage at all. I continued to guzzle hazelnut lattes (which I now consider “adulterated coffee”) at Starbucks franchises during my post-college years, working my way up to the “venti” size (which I believe is Italian for “the approximate volume of a bucket.”) Over time my coffee drinks included less sweetener and milk, so that when my family was living in California’s Bay Area —...
On Monday, Nov. 25, 1963, all federal agencies and departments in the United States were closed. For four days, all of the commercial television networks suspended their regular programming for the first time in television history. Many schools, offices, stores, entertainment venues, and factories closed down, and those that remained open held a minute of silence. The reason? Our entire country was observing a national day of mourning proclaimed by President Johnson, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In the United States, official days of mourning are proclaimed by a...
This Thanksgiving, I wondered whether Californians discuss their lawns the way that Vermonters discuss their heat. When our family had recently moved to Vermont, my husband and I noticed that a certain topic never failed to arouse interest and strong opinions during gatherings with Vermonters. (This was back in the days when there were gatherings.) This topic was: How do you heat your house?  It’s not surprising that Vermonters are fascinated by heating methods, given that some form of manmade warmth is required for comfort over half the year in Vermont. Options include fuel oil, gas, heat...

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