Friday, October 2, 2015

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Soup weather.  I made my first pot of lasagna soup for the season and it was very well received.  In fact, Ted came home from the night before the cross country meet spaghetti dinner and helped himself to a bowl.

At this week's meet, he broke 20. Must have been all the carb loading.

A sign this week.  I saw not one, but two orange VW convertibles with black tops.  The first sighting was right after receiving a friend's text asking, specifically, if I'd had any signs lately.

Finding Global Table Adventure.  While reading Life From Scratch, I took a long walk down my own memory lane.  Food is memories.  I kept picturing my grandma and her sister in one kitchen or another chopping and bickering, mixing and reminiscing as I devoured the memoir.  Rosie and Helen were passionate, not precise cooks.  I'm thankful that I had so many experiences cooking beside them.

A final kitchen meeting tonight.  Hopefully, it will go well and we can decide between our top two contenders and get this show on the road.

A mother son back to school spree. Teddy tried on a pair of jeans and decided to add them to his khaki rotation.  They look so cute on him.

We cleaned out his drawers and closets to put together some things for a church family in much need.

Plenty.  It's what we have.

Hat weather.  A fuzzy owl is the most recent addition to Lily's collection.

Cat and chipmunk.  There's this little guy...he taunts my boys day and night.  He hangs out on the ledge outside their perch and stares right in at them.

Mike and I have 2 episodes of Homeland season 4 left for the weekend.  Last night we watched 4 episodes. We're sick.

SNL 41st season opener is tomorrow.  I'm not thrilled that Hilary is making an appearance, but I'll watch despite the fact that I don't think late time comedy television is presidential.

This biography.  I am a a big Didion fan.  Despite the mixed reviews and the fact that the author declined to collaborate with the author, I will still read it.

Autumn skies with attitude.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

September Inventory

Reading I recently finished Hold Still.  Mann's memoir was a little disjointed, but I appreciated her candor and self-awareness especially in light of all the controversy surrounding her.  The pictures of her nude children bothered me less than the photos taken at the body farm. In fact, they bothered me not at all as I saw the greater composition. They weren't nude photos, they were family photos and the children happened to be naked.  The Woman Upstairs was the first book in forever that I finished and then promptly started again.  It's also been awhile since I really appreciated an ending. This is in my top 5 this year.  I read The Folded Clock last week, and was a bit enamored with Julavits.  Her confessional tone made reading this work intimate.  I want to meet her for a coffee or a swim off the Maine coast, and I am afraid of sharks.  I'll definitely be reading some of her fiction in the future, and maybe moving to Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire or Rhode Island one day. Hopefully, writing a book too.  This week I'm enjoying Life From Scratch and The Rocks.

Wondering if there is a natural way to regulate my mood swings.  I'm worn out by the constant ups and downs lately.  I cannot even stand my own company many days.  Then I assume I must be a drag on everyone else too so I retreat and withdraw, perpetuating the vicious cycle.

Noticing that September has elapsed in a blur.  Slowly and then all at once our maple in the front yard turns red.  Soon I'll look down the river and be wowed by a rambling waterway of color.

Watching Season 4 of Homeland, and  trying to exercise portion control.  I really think we're going to have to sign up for Showtime before October 3rd when season 5 starts up again.  Also old faves in the fall line-up like DWTS, Modern Family, Amazing Race and Survivor. There's so little programming a family can enjoy together.

Listening to  Donald Trump insult woman after woman, and I'm getting pretty sick of it too.  Hilary tell lie after lie...I was sick of that years ago.  Just started listening to Undisclosed: The State v. Adnan Syed and liking it better than Serial probably because of the background knowledge I know have with regard to the case.

Eating like it's still summer most of the time.  It's still grilling weather, but soon it will be time for more comfort food.  I have to reacquaint myself with soups and stews.  Last week, I stocked up at our best loved Italian market and felt relief that I didn't have to cook much all week.  Then I felt guilt because cooking is one of the things I do for my family.  It's something I love to do for my family. I have to confess that I baked prefab cookies for the kids' lunches this week.  Lily thought they were the bomb, and I thought they tasted worse than dog food.  But lasagna soup is on tomorrow's menu at the kids' request so things are falling back into place.

Drinking Bragg's cider vinegar starting tomorrow and tons of water. Today is the first day that it feels right to have an afternoon mug of hot tea so I will.

Wanting peace of mind and clarity.  I feel like there are too many balls in the air right now. My mind is muddled.

Wearing layers since in the mornings, evenings and anytime we have a lake breeze, the air is cool.

Hoping that we have a nice day for the Badger game Saturday.  It's been a long time since I've been back to Camp Randall and I'd appreciate appropriate football weather: cool, cloudy and dry.  Thank you.

Thinking that Sasha Martin's blog, Global Table Adventure, might be just the place to find some much needed meal planning inspiration. I've bookmarked numerous recipes that I think the whole family will enjoy preparing and eating together.  I appreciate the way she makes these somewhat exotic recipes accessible to everyday home cooks.  I'm also thinking about how I'm going to replicate the  Short Rib Risotto Jess and I enjoyed at The Cooper's Hawk last week when she took me for dinner on my Mom's birthday.  

Enjoying #talesofseptember on Instagram, and the kind, caring community connected by this hashtag.  This week's super moon event. Green rice, which is brown rice with kale adapted from the GOOP goddess and good with everything, but especially topped with a perfectly poached egg.  Broody skies.  Morning and evening walks with my guy, and also sitting beside him on the sidewalk sharing breakfast at the Pleasant Cafe instead of walking.

Loving  The way Teddy is loving cross country and motivated to break 20. He did over the weekend on our hilly home course.  The way Miss Bit is excited for swimming and eager to get to the pool after a day at school.  That both my kids are hardworking and self-motivated.  I don't have to police their assignments or grades because they are on top of it all.

Monday, September 28, 2015

On My Mind Monday

You can outdistance that which is running after you, but not what is running inside of you.

~ Rwandan proverb

Friday, September 25, 2015

Can I Ask You Something?

Twilight is the perfect time for pretending you live somewhere you don't.  The sky guard is changing, security is relaxed, and everyone's just had a cocktail.  In the gloaming, there is slippage.

~Heidi Julavits
The Folded Clock

This is my favorite description of my most loved minutes of the day.  As the sun descends from 6 to 18 degrees below the horizon, the last remaining light dances magically throughout the atmosphere. Between day and darkness, there is a lapse.  What was is suspended momentarily between light and night so that for a split second it is both: day and dark.  A split second so precise that if you blink, you'll miss the day's departure and the night's onfall.  Blink and you miss the illusion of infinity and glimpse of life beyond limits.  Blink and the day simply extinguishes.  It ceases to exist.

Every time I witness this changing of the guard I feel woozy and light headed.  It's as if I've been under water holding my breath.  When I come up for air and take that greedy gulp, I feel clear, and sharp and alive.  I think of the standstill second my mom went from being here to there.  I see myself standing on a cliff or pier reluctant to take the plunge like I've been so many times in my life literally and figuratively.  In the split second I go from being dry to wet, from all out to all in, I'm free falling. I have rocks in my pockets and I'm light as feather in the same instant.   I'm flying.  I'm falling. How can I be both?  How can I not?

It occurs to me in these moments of overlap and incongruity that time is a commodity, a dimension,  and a sensation.  In the second it takes to select the send button or to hit delete, I ask myself...I ask you: who would you be, if you weren't who you are?  And then, why aren't you that? 

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

My faithful reading buddy.

 (He is always waiting for me to cuddle.)

Her faithful bedtime buddy. 

(Peanut finally discovered the foot of Lily's bed and she's so happy that after 7 years, her cat is sleeping with her at night.)

His homework companion.

(In between problems, he receives pets.)

Crossword puzzles and Sudoku's.  I'm proficient in one and deficient in the other.

Seeing the sunrise from the beach on the first day of fall.

(Do you spy the swimmer and the gull?)

The perfect lunch: a baked potato topped with Greek yogurt and chives.

The perfect dinner: Korean grilled chicken with green rice (brown rice with kale) and sweet steamed carrots.

A dinner date with Jess on my Mom's birthday.  We ate delicious food, drank wine, toasted and talked.

(Pictured here are Asian Pork Belly Tostadas and an almost empty wine flight.  Soon the tostadas were gone, and the wine replenished.)

A Happy Birthday for my Dad last week too!  He cooked surf and turf for us on his birthday on a beautiful end of summer night.  He likes giving more than receiving.

Shopping around the city with Lily last Saturday.  We visited some of our favorite neighborhoods and markets for all the essentials: cupcakes, wine, aged balsamic, good Parm., fresh bread, and EVOO.

(She shops, carries and poses, and she only asks for one or maybe two treats.)

Thunder and lightning.

(From my bedroom window before bed.)

Mother Nature's wonders.

A beautiful weekend ahead of us.  We're been enjoying the perfect end of summer mix of warm days and cool mornings and evenings.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Can I Tell You Something?

It's been a rough week.  But it's also been a rich one.  Rich in the sense of bountiful, expansive and humbling. Humbling because I thought I was rocking it to my Mom's birthday (21st) and straight through her Heaven day (28th) all I got this like the warrior of a woman I pretend to be.  The truth is, I'm less brave champion and more soft schlemiel so I wasn't really surprising myself.  I was, however, trying to trick myself.  A dose of humble pie and honesty is always cathartic, thus welcome. I know intellectually that sometimes the anniversaries we expect to evoke sadness just don't.  Grief is a major opportunist that is forever lurking ready to pounce, but often does so when least expected.  That randomness is exactly what makes it so crippling.  The truth is I think about my Mom everyday and I'm always missing her. Seven years later...her birthday is just another day she's absent from my life. The sadness I feel about this is to my core and constant so in a way I've just gotten used to it and maybe even accepted it.  It's part of my history.  It's also part of my story that I honor and feel and remember the experiences and relationships that make me who I am.

I needed to celebrate my Mom this year.  I needed to acknowledge her in a meaningful way. This morning when I woke in the dark before my alarm, I knew what I needed to do.  I made my way to the beach for sunrise.  I cannot think of a more beautiful reminder of the wonder of it all.  Sitting there watching the birth of a new day fills me with swells of hope.  I'm buoyed up by the sense that the very best way to check grief is to look for peace, warmth and joy in every new day.  To show up, notice and give thanks.

I didn't expect to be alone on such a beautiful 50 degree morning, but I was a little surprised to find myself in the company of so many swimmers.  The water cannot be much warmer than the air on this first day of fall. The rhythmic cutting of their arms as they cut through the water sounded like soft undulating waves and was mesmerizing.  The calm of the scene was interrupted by the less predictable calls of the gulls and the hollers of two young men.  They were making their way from the beach to an island of rocks for a better view and I envied them the traipse through the numbing water to their front row pew.  I don't think they realized the way voices carry over the lake.  I listened to their banter at first with annoyance and then acceptance. After all, something brought them to the beach on this morning to bear witness as well.  It was probably a dare, but I may have settled on a more sanguine story.

I was on the beach on my bench just in time for the sun to sneak up over the horizon at 6:39.  The series of photographs below was taken by 6:44.  What I want to tell you is that it only takes 5 minutes for the new day to dawn.  It only takes 300 seconds to come back to life.  Now that is something.

Friday, September 18, 2015

To Be Young

Ted's cross country meet was in the park near our house last night so Lily and I rode our bikes over to cheer him on.  It was my first time as a spectator of this sport and I loved seeing him in action.  I was surprised by how exciting it was.  Despite the fact that it's an individual sport, the team spirit is present and palpable. Seeing him in a Nicolet uniform made this all very real.  'This" being high school. Our home course is a tough one, but Ted was still not happy that he added 20 some seconds to his best time.  He just started running a month ago and is finishing a 5K in 20 minutes, but he yearns for 19.  Oh to be young.  It started to sprinkle and then rain while we waited at Miss Bit's insistence for all runners to complete the race.  God forbid she not cheer them all on (and especially the stragglers) equally and enthusiastically.  As we rode home in the pouring rain she told me, "I'm just so proud of Teddy!"  And then she said, "Isn't riding bikes in the rain so fun!?!"  Oh to be young.