Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Orphan Train

I believe in ghosts.  They're the ones who haunt us, the ones who have left us behind.  Many times in my life I have felt them around me, observing, witnessing, when no one in the living world knew or cared what happened.

Orphan Train
Christina Baker Kline
I stayed up last night to finish this novel because I simply had to know how it was all going to come together. The themes of unexpected friendship, second chances, truth and resilience resonated with me even as I took some issue with the stereotypical characters and stilted prose.  I think it read like YA historical fiction.  I know in a few years Lily will love it, or perhaps I'll read it to her aloud now and edit the few dicey parts along the way.

Monday, July 21, 2014

two day pass

it was a baseball free weekend.
we almost didn't know what to do with so much unaccounted for time.
not to worry...it didn't take us long to figure it out.
we spent many hours outside enjoying two perfect summer days.
some of us swam while others fished, walked or golfed.
we ate out with friends one night, cooked in with friends the next and had family dinner the last.
all screens were turned off for the most part.
instead we played music or games and read.
it was a quintessential summer weekend that I am only sad to say ended all too soon.
1. Denis Sullivan ashore.
2. Heirlooms.
3. Denis Sullivan asea (alake).
4. Bird and boat in break water.
5. Best pizza eva...caprese!
6. A great place by a great lake.  It is.
7. Dessert for breakfast... brown butter toffee chip cookies.
8. Dinner: Ahi tuna steaks with salsa fresca, grilled baguette with spicy aioli, mixed greens Mediterranean salad with roasted chick peas and red wine vinaigrette, pappardelle with trio of mushrooms in shallot cream sauce.  (Describing the meal was almost as much fun as cooking and eating it!)
9. Happy Birthday Uncle Chris!  Lily takes card creating seriously.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


I slept in today unintentionally and yet not because I didn't set an alarm.  It was the kind of entry into the day that is jarring.  I stared at my clock in disbelief.  I put on my glasses and looked again to see that I wasn't seeing things.  The house was so quiet and the neighborhood so peaceful despite the fact that it was closer to lunch time than breakfast.  I wasn't happy that I slept away most of the morning.  I questioned why Lily let me sleep so long to which she replied, Well, obviously you needed it Mom!  In my head, I rallied against the idea that I should be so indulgent as I tallied up all the things I could have accomplished in the hours that I stayed prone.  I felt heavy and grouchy instead of light and refreshed.  Motivated by guilt instead of enthusiasm for the rest of the day, I got to work on that perpetual list that lives forever in my head.  As I unloaded the dishwasher, I remembered the leisurely and delicious dinner we enjoyed last night.  Jess joined us for a new menu tasting and just like old times we talked around the table until our glasses were empty and the candles expired.  I softened just a bit.  Pretending to be European and eating dinner at 10 o'clock is good reason to be a little tired early the next day.  I sorted laundry and came across the slightly sour t shirt I wore for our walk yesterday.  Jess and I met at the lakefront for a loop and we just kept going because it was a perfect day and where else did we have to be.  I softened more remembering how worth it that was.  Sunshine, fresh air, woolly clouds, waves, sweat and a walking partner...that's pretty much like winning the lottery.  I watered the plants as the cats wandered around the patio stalking chippies.  A hummingbird whirred in toward my steptocarpella.  Peanut heard it before he saw it, and just like yesterday he was intrigued.  He wasn't the only one.  That little insect-sized bird hovered over him equally curious.  My Mom sends me the hummingbirds.  It's our thing.  I'm a marshmallow: soft and gooey.  I don't know who sends me the songs that seem to speak to just the way I feel in that exact moment.  The Zombies are on now singing It's the time of the season for loving. I'm hearing It's the time of the season for living.  Be. Here. Now. I am remembering because everything else can and will wait.  What's left of today is going to be beautiful because I feel present and grateful and ready to receive.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

The mid summer state of mind has set in.  It's a place of cans instead of shoulds, why nots and if you wants. No two days are the same, but every day is good and full in it's own way.

So full that I still haven't found that sweet slice of time I crave to come here and write actual paragraphs instead of lists and pictures.  That's OK too for the time being I tell myself.  I'm grateful that I feel the words slowly taking shape for a piece dear to my own heart that I have been neglecting.

Miss Bit played us proud at first base during her all star game Sunday night.  After their victory, she was scouted by a coach from another team for next year.  He is putting together a select team and he wants her to be on it.  She was beaming just a little.  His confidence boosted her confidence.

She's enjoying Survivor Camp this week at her favorite nature preserve.  She is excited every morning for another adventure.

He's going to Camp Grandpa again this weekend for another round of golf, more chicken wings and another 24 marathon.  They've been buddies since T. Bone was just a tike, and I know my Dad wonders how long these weekend retreats will continue now that he is a teenager.  I think he's worrying about nothing.

Summer fruit galette, and the most flavorful nectarines to take the simple, rustic dessert to the next level.

Pedicures with my girl this week.  Now that she's a tom boy she doesn't do fancy foot treatments, but her toes needed some attention and so she agreed.  I know I should be grateful that she doesn't expect such spoiling because so many young ladies do.  I didn't have a pedicure until I was in my 20s.  For the both of us, it is still a once in awhile treat.

Gelato and Dilly bars before dinner. Hey!  It's summer.

I finished We Are Water this week.  I really like the way Wally Lamb develops characters.  I cared about them, especially Orion Oh... maybe because Lamb read his part.  But beware...Lamb's subject matter is never light and sometimes it is a bit cliche. I don't think I would have liked this book as much if I had read it rather than listened to it.  Entertainment value matters most when I am pounding the pavement with a novel so I am more likely to overlook platitudes and over simplification.

This quote from the book: We are like water, aren't we?  We can be fluid, flexible when we have to be.  But strong and destructive too.

Evasive moons, supermoons, clouds and showy skies.  It's better than fireworks.

A game of Boggle with the kids before dinner.  They don't even see it as vocabulary practice.

Friends...old and new.  Sometimes people leave our lives, but then they come back like the friend T. Bone spent the day with yesterday.  Other times we may not reconnect and then we make peace with that, or we try to.  Miss Bit ran into a new friend at the pool this week and that turned into an all afternoon and evening play date.  We had dinner last weekend with a group of friends old and new.  It was easy the way the best friendships tend to be.

Miss Bit will turn 10! in a couple weeks.  I kept suggesting we throw a party to celebrate because double digits is a big deal, and she kept telling me she'd think about it.  Not surprising since she is not one to need to be the center of attention, but I talked her into a quaint affair with 5 or 6 good friends.  Now I'm in beach party mode and swimming in ideas.

Dinner out tonight at our favorite eastside wing and sandwich place.  It was a beautiful night and the food was delicious.



Saturday, July 12, 2014

July 4th in an Instagram

1.  Pyro Lily
2.  And I should complain?
3.  Face painting at the festival
4.  Ferris wheel
5.  Up up up
6.  Techno Ted
7.  Boom!
8.  Too cool why are you taking my picture Ted
9.  Indian Lil
10. Oooooo!
11. Lil Bit the Big Bull Rider
12. Ahhhhhh!
13. So this is a sparkler!
14. High over Summerfest
15. Boys with bocce balls
16. Ohhhhhh!
17. Rockin' out with a girl band
18. Tourists in our own town
19. Sky selfie
20. Ooooo! Ahhhh! Ohhhh!
21. Ground show
22. Freedom the unicorn
23. Sparkler show
24. The aftermath...No officer we weren't shooting off fireworks here.
25. Lily Kandinsky

Friday, July 11, 2014

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

America's birthday.  We celebrated all weekend long in the customary fashion with family and friends.  We spent time at parades, in pools, on golf courses and at festivals.  We ate grilled foods, fried foods and Carolina bbq! We played tennis, backgammon, wiffle ball and bocce, and my brother succeeded in setting off 238 or more fireworks in honor of our nations 238th!

This country.  I feel blessed to be an American even though I know we have our fair share of issues.  After a week off from work and any and all screens, I caught up on world affairs these past few days and was immensely thankful for our abundant freedoms and opportunities.

Tonight's supermoon.  Just a few minutes ago Miss Bit and I took a trip to the shore to see the moon in all her showy 14% increase.  We parked by the Witch's house.  The moon promptly disappeared behind the clouds.  As soon as we gave up and climbed Beach Drive, she reappeared in all her bright shining glory.  We picked up T. Bone from his friend's and headed back down to the lake front with our cameras at the ready.  The moon promptly resumed her game of hide and seek.   Still I was content even without a photo for the air was crisp, the waves were gently undulating and my kids were a tad mesmerized by that tease, the moon. 

Miss Bit had fun and swam hard during her meet today.  In spite of her nerves, she placed first in the 50 free style and second in the 50 breast stroke, and also swam strong in a couple relays.  Ted and Sam kept me updated at work by text, and they cheered her on from the deck.

She also made the all star team!  Woo hoo!

We finally finished Eleanor and Park.  We loved it just maybe not the very ending although it did get us thinking and talking.  Now we are reading Brave Pilgrims and her Grandpa couldn't be prouder.

I'm still listening to Wally Lamb's We Are Water and I'm already feeling sad at the thought of saying goodbye to these characters.

The Orphan Train which is proving to be a quick and engaging read.
Caprese pizza made with colorful heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil and mozz.

Perfect sleeping weather every.single.night. Amen!
The change in routine around here.  Sure the days can be chaos, but the mornings are lingering and the nights long.  The kids are having such fun at camps and clubs and games and lessons, and also doing absolutely nothing.  Shamelessly, I am living vicariously.
Plums so perfect they defy description, and my step mom and dad for thinking of me at the market.  They are my favorite...the plums and my parents.
CBS Sunday Morning and my friend Candace for turning me on to it.  It is the feel good 60 Minutes that is actually 90 minutes in duration.  I don't always catch it but when I do, I always lament that I don't tune in every Sunday.
Milwaukee especially in the summer.  There is so much to do, see, experience. 
Season 3 of Homeland is now on Amazon.
Old Navy's Perfect Tanks.  They are perfect.  So are Cabi camis - especially for layering.
Words.  This week it's intifada and nadir.
Joan Didion....a contemporary female novelist I most admire for her brutal honesty on and off the page.  This quote has been on my mind this week: Memory fades, memory adjusts, memory conforms to what we think we remember.  I took a trip down memory lane as I did a total overhaul of our rec room.  So many old toys...so many memories.
The Great Basement Purge of 2014.  Most of the toys are packed up to be donated or saved and only a few tears were involved on my part.  It was mostly cathartic. It's true: when we get rid of our stuff, we feel unencumbered and free.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

A haircut and color.  I was long overdue and am now loving my new length and lightness.

Miss Bit and her BFF went out for lunch and window shopping while I was at the salon.  I told them to cross at the crosswalks and stay out of pubs.  They were so excited to be on their own.

Macaroni and cheese pizza.  So rich and so good.

T. Bone ranked 7th out of 16 in his golf tourney this week.  He shot a 97.  His comment to that was "Imagine if I belonged to a club and could play whenever I wanted?" 


Perfect sleeping weather.  Windows open, sheets crisp and breeze cool.

Homemade pizzas.  Thin crusted pepperoni, onion and black olive with fresh Mozzarella is my perfect pie right now, but to each his or her own.


Arnold Palmers.

Jade plants and orchids.

Parades.  We biked to the parade with our neighbors on this glorious 75 degree day.  Now these three are at the pool.  It's tough to be a kid.


Red White and Blue.

Friends who bring over fresh baked bread for your breakfast just as you pour a cup of coffee.

Painting pottery.  Lily and her friend had such fun prettying up a horse and an elephant, respectively.

Sciortino's rolls, Glorioso's sausage and Whole Food's homemade chips.

This holy trinity: mozzarella, tomato and basil.  Hello summer!

A little belated birthday dinner with Jess last night: Jessmos, kabobs and Coach's special sticky rice.

A family tennis match.  T. Bone and I won, but fun was had by one and all.

Today America turns 238.

Tomorrow we will visit our favorite lake for the day for the first time this summer.