Monthly Archives: May 2008


Hummingbird Clem found outside, originally uploaded by jenpahlka.

Clem found this is the bush outside Susan & Mathis’s house. Dead. Lots of death this week. If you look closely you can see the tiny sharp tongue that protrudes from the tip of its beak. We want to save it and hope it doesn’t start to stink. I wonder if it has so little body mass that it won’t really rot. If it starts to smell, we’ve decided we’ll bury it the backyard.

Thinking Chair

Clem could not go to sleep tonight. I’m sure she was exhausted; she was a fragile, teary mess today from the moment I picked her up from school, angry at me for the slightest perceived affront and for nothing at all. She actually said she was tired at one point, which she NEVER does. The five year olds in her class all got to take a walking field trip to the library today, and that may have tired her out. Also, she got to sleep late the previous night. Whatever it was, the kid needed sleep.

First she decided that it couldn’t be bedtime because it was still light out. That is the one thing that really sucks about summer. It’s hard to argue with that notion, and yet, they need to go to sleep. Then she decided we needed to sleep with our heads at the foot of the bed (yes, I still go to sleep with her, I know…) and everything needed to be rearranged. Then she decided that she was hungry, no, STARVING, STARVING TO DEATH, and absolutely had to eat. (Mean Mom said Tough Luck.)

Then she decided she needed to think. So she announced that she needed to think and got up and got into the rocking chair, which she declared is now her Thinking Chair, and sat and rocked for a minute, sucking her thumb and thinking. She would not tell me about what: it was secret. Then she declared that she thinks best upside down, and she proceed to place her head on the seat and press up into a very precarious headstand – remember, it’s a rocking chair –and think upside down for several minutes. I should not have indulged this but it was too shocking and adorable to stop. She had a running commentary going designed to convince me that this was something she does frequently. “Sometimes I do this because the blood goes to my head and it helps me think…Sometimes I have to put my hands on the arms of the chair to steady myself…It’s hard to stay up on your head sometimes because the chair moves a lot.” The whole thing seemed very Pippi-inspired, but we haven’t read Pippi in months, and I don’t think it was ripped off entirely from her playbook. Despite the commentary, she did find some quiet moments and appeared to think about something, and after a bit she came down and got back in bed. She still thrashed around for far too long, but eventually drifted off.

Demerits for spazziness, but points for style!

RIP Hannah Bean Hecker: 1988 – 2008

Bean & Clem, originally uploaded by jenpahlka.

We put Bean to sleep on Tuesday. She had an infection and then kidney failure. I was typically tuned out to her distress over the weekend, but I woke up on Monday morning and she was lying motionless on the hallway carpet, and the reality that her last days were here hit me. I was not a great kitty mommy to her; she was always “Chris’s cat,” and he did all of the feeding and litter-changing and parenting to her. He got her in college, 20 years ago…his whole adult life. There was a time when she would come to me in the mornings; I would wake up and go to the bathroom, and as soon as I was sitting on the toilet she would be there, waiting for me to put my hand down so she could rub her cheek against it in a way that said she was petting herself, and I was just a convenient object offering the right amount of resistance. But that consistency was nice, and it’s weird to me that I never really noticed when or why it stopped happening, except to say that I always took her for granted.

After tests on Monday which came back really bad, we took her in on Tuesday to be euthanized. She had been unable to move and barely able to lift her head for a couple of days at that point. I said goodbye to her and apologized for being pretty bad kitty mommy to her. I probably didn’t really need to be that for her; Chris was such a devoted and loving dad. We took her body home and Chris waited while I went and got Clem from school. Clem got to pet her body and say goodbye, and then we wrapped her in an old cloth (a monkey printed sheet that was wrapped around the cushions of a loveseat my mom had when I was a kid, so older than even Bean) and put her in the hole Chris had dug out back right next to where Bool, her brother, is buried. We each put in flower (a giant red cactus bloom) and I read One Art, one of my favorite poems. Then Chris filled in the dirt, and we planted a Sweet Box over her, a shade loving plant I’d never heard of before, but one we found on a walk down to the garden center earlier that day. It’s a winter blooming plant, so we’ll need to check on it in January and maybe we’ll get some nice blooms.

Clem has taken it well. On Monday, when I told her that Bean was probably going to die, her questions indicated a lot of anxiety about her own death: Will I know when I’m going to die? Will I be afraid? What if I die when I’m a kid? (That one was painful to hear.) By Tuesday, she seemed to have worked most of that out, and was engaged and sensitive to our feelings, but not overtly sad. It’s only been in the last year or so that Bean has even let Clem pet her, but I do think she was attached to her. Clem showed no anxiety when petting her dead body, and was very sweet and supportive during the burial. When I told her she’d died, Clem’s second or third question was “What day and year is it? We should write that down,” which oddly was pretty much what Andre said when I told him too. I guess the instinct to mark time comes early. Clem made a sign for Bean’s grave. She really liked making something for her.

Goodbye, Bean. We’ll miss you.

Bean\'s Grave

I miss the 80s

DSCF3976, originally uploaded by jenpahlka.

It’s a little scary how much fun I had at Marco’s birthday party a couple of weeks ago. It’s also a little scary how good I looked. I’m sure you’ll agree . Rest of the set is here. Be forewarned: you will feel sad that you were not there, unless of course, you were.

Hard questions

Bedtime, after reading the first couple of chapters of Little House in the Big Woods:

“Mommy, what does butcher mean?”

“Well, when you butcher a hog, you kill it and cut it up so you can eat it.”

“Yes but what does butcher mean?”

“It means kill and cut up.”



“Mommy, when you’re dead, can you think?”

“I don’t know, baby, I’ve never been dead.”