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Phoebe and the Voodoo Lily

Thursday, July 10, 2014

My kids trust me as their personal Ranger Rick, their guide to all things natural. I seldom trick them. But sometimes the temptation is too great. 

Phoebe and I rode our bikes over to tend to our neighbors' dog, Max. Max is 14 and he adores Phoebe.

She gives him the love he needs when he's staying home alone.

I used to pet-sit for all kinds of people when I was her age, too. She's good at it. Conscientious. Will set her alarm to feed him on time. Knows he needs to feel someone cares, and isn't just pouring food in a dish and walking away.

While Phoebs bustled around getting Max's food ready, I strolled through Sherm and Beth's garden. Like me, they love weird plants. I spied a voodoo lily in full bloom. Oh oh oh.

This member of the Araceae attracts flies and beetles by emitting a powerful odor of rotting flesh and cat poo. I moved over for a tentative sniff. Didn't smell anything. Took a deep breath and agggghhhh!! Sooo bad. Like sticking your nose in a litterbox. Worse. Flies buzzing all around. Eccchhh.

I swallowed my gorge and called to Phoebe. Hey Phoebs!! Come see this voodoo lily! It smells AMAZING!!

Phoebe hurried over, asked, "Does it smell good?" 

"It smells AMAZING!!" I repeated. I wasn't lying. The stench was awesome. 

She stuck her nose right down by the spathe and took a deep draught. Trusts her mama. And gave a strangled cry as she recoiled, covering her face with her hands.

She twirled away for a few yards, yelled, "I HATE YOU!!" and stood there shaking her poor little head. "It's stuck in my throat! It's burned into my nose! I hate you!!"

Ah ha ha ha ha. Little Science Chimp prank for ya there, girlie. Pay it forward.

I led her to these iris, which smelt of grape bubblegum. Almost all better.

She turns 18 tomorrow, this Child of Light. And she's gotten her biggest birthday wish, and he's been staying with us for a week.

Perhaps Phoebe's favorite skyline...PNC Park, home of the Pirates.

We kicked his visit off with a Pirates' game, against the AZ Diamondbacks. Here, they're walking across the bridge to the stadium. Liam is always included. I love that about these kids.

The game didn't go so well in the end, but we had fun.

The baseball park is a scene my family loves, but it's truly all too much for me. The organ music, the roaring crowd, the announcements, the flashing tickertape, the clapping and stomping. I get antsy and have to get out of there. I guess it's because my soundtrack of choice is crickets and birds, and my ears and senses are set to sort through all the natural music, identifying each singer. So when I get a wash of loud, random noise, I go on Tilt, like an old shaky hunting dog might.

I did enjoy watching the clouds sail like great clipper ships across that beautiful city skyline. Rough-winged swallows dipped and swooped on the infield.

We had a quintessential Pittsburgh moment--the pierogies, racing past the iconic Heinz ketchup bottle.

It's true--the moments I treasure most are when the kids and I are out in nature together. We've been doing some biking this summer, a bit of cross-training with all the running. It's astounding how many miles you can cover in a short time with a bicycle. I feel like a caveman, discovering The Wheel. Ten miles feels like nothing.

Whenever there's a hill, the kids get there first. I have to stop and take cow photos, anyway. 

We've befriended all the dogs on our routes. 

We look for pink chicory. I make them sit down with it, because I'm remembering a moment...

And I'm blasted back in time to the first pink chicory we found, and the ten-year-old who posed for me. It was in the same spot. The plants are still there.  But everything else has changed a little since July 10, 2007. What a difference seven years makes.

She's growing up now, and she's going to go soon, and we're going to have to make sure Liam's OK with that, that he gets enough love without his big sister handy by. 

I watch her starting her real life, and part of me wants to go along. A lot of me does.

 Happy birthday, beautiful bird. These hills will be waiting for you when you come home.


Once again, I sit here in front of the computer, dabbing at my eyes. You are truly gifted, Julie, in the way you can make me feel so many different emotions in a single blog. Laughter from the prank quickly becomes pleasure at seeing so much love between these kids... young adults, I should say. Just as quickly, tears well up from the poignant ending. But my emotions need a workout sometimes, and with your blog, it sometimes becomes crosstraining. I always look forward to reading each new blog.

Posted by Anonymous July 10, 2014 at 3:54 AM

I can't say it any better than your first commenter did! Will just add my thanks for a beautiful start to my day.

Thank you, Julie for the beautiful glimpse into your heart and soul. I am proud to call you a friend.

Posted by Kelly Curtis July 10, 2014 at 4:48 AM

Beautiful, Jules.

I can't even believe she is already 18. Can't wait to see the life she creates after having such a grounded and amazing childhood on Indigo Hill. Ya done good, Mom.
Would type more but can't.
And now I have to go and chair a meeting? How'm I gonna do that?

As Heidi said, I can't say it any better than your first commenter did! I bet you do want to go off with Phoebe and explore the world again. With her. The photo of Phoebe and the chicory 7 years ago--never seems like a long time until you do a side-by-side. Amazing. Yes, you're truly gifted. And that you share some of it with your readers/friends--a gift from the heart. And I agree w/you and ballparks! I go to Padres games about 4x/year and I just sort of shut down so I don't get overwhelmed!

Fly free, Phoebe; take the life, lessons and love along as guides!

Posted by Gail Spratley July 10, 2014 at 7:25 AM

Oh, man. I read your blog a lot a few years ago but somehow got out of the habit. So I followed the link from PF and now I find that your kids are nearly grown. How did that happen?

Julie, if more people raised their children the way you and Bill have the world would be a better place. But what am I saying? The world already is a better place because of you and Bill, Phoebe and Liam (and of COURSE Chet Baker)!

Happy 18 Phoebe.
Hang in there mom.

...I adored your photo of 2007 and the pink chickory you found with Phoebes and how she looks now. I love seeing the changes and how you said the chickory are still there proliferating.

The song Time Marches On by Tracy Lawrence comes to mind.

Thank-you for once again reminding me to cherish every day with my 12-year-old son, before he takes off....

Oh, what ground this blog covered, what emotional terrain. So much love. I feel blessed to get to share in it just a little bit. What a special mom, what a special daughter.

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