Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November's End

Although the sun is shining high this morning, it is crisp and downright cold. At this time of year, the brightest days can also be the harshest. Mind you this is not a post about the weather, but present climatic conditions certainly do serve as a metaphor for what's going on in my mind and heart. Every year I struggle like so many others with that flip of the switch change from being humbled by gratitude to floating with joy. Gentle November urges quiet introspection. Debaucherous December tempts us to burn the candle at both ends day after day...night after long night. There are parties and cookie swaps and secret Santas and pageants and concerts and in the midst of all this good revelry, I yearn to slow down and savor the moments not just rush to and through each one to the next. I have a yen for simple family traditions and shared memories, soaking in the solitude and reflecting on what this joy season really means the other 47 odd weeks of the year.

Let's face it...sunny days can be bitter cold and seasons of joy can be times of great sorrow. It's a light and happy time of year, but that may have an astringent affect on someone who is in a place of sadness. It can literally feel like an assault. And honestly, who amongst us doesn't experience both joy and sorrow in each day? I do and I'm grateful for that. The down yos have made me ever mindful of the up yos. I have learned to respect the difficult times. By living through them, I have truly come to appreciate happiness: peace and harmony. I don't want to go all cliche here, but I am a believer that without sorrow, one cannot fully know joy. It's exactly why this season, at times reverent and others raucous, brings forth in me a flood of emotions. The call to endless joy and elation resurrects wells of deep and unending sadness. Kahlil Gibran pays perfect homage to the yin and yang that is pleasure and pain.

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say,
"Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board,
remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver,
needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

I have no doubt that December will be filled to the brim and overflowing with goodness, gaiety and wonder, but I also know that there will be times heavy with melancholy and wrought with woe. I'm making it my mission this month to give them all their due. To sit with bask in embrace meet mirth...and to share solace. They all have earned their time and place and have much to teach and give.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Scenes From The Weekend

2 day pass

the holiday weekend which began wednesday was long and lovely...
really the way they all should be in my perfect world and probably yours too.
truth be told...i'm paying for all the fun.
today i'm dog tired and dragging.
i'm also a tad blue and missing my extended family and old friends.
it's hard not to feel lonely after much togetherness.
thanksgiving was a day of turkey, thanks and tradition.
it's truly one of my favorites.
so in that spirit we embarked on our annual before the feast four miler in anticipation of all the good eats of the holiday.
then we traveled over the river and through the woods to my dad and step mom's arriving shortly after kick off for the other f word of the
at half time the lab of the house revealed that he is rivaling air bud and hoping to become air bodie.
soon the house was filled with family and then our tummies filled with food.
most everyone in my family likes to cook and can do so well.
i'm especially grateful for this on thanksgiving day.
some of us can play a mean game of pictionary too.
the day after the festivities the girls met at the public market for a little lunch.
no one ordered turkey.
then we went on to visit the art museum making the most of our 2 hour time frame.
we got through the visiting impressionism exhibit and spent time with a few other favorites.
back at the hotel, miss bit saw santa who arrived by fire truck to light the tree in the grand and festive lobby.
the same lobby that was festooned with pumpkins and fall foliage just the day before and was overnight a sea of poinsettias, dog wood, holly and ivy.
miss bit later told her grandma that santa who arrived sleighless was no faker.
to her discerning, wide as saucer eyes, he was the real deal.
after a quick swim on the 22nd floor, we were off again to be wined and dined by and with family.
we gathered by the fire for warm chili and crusty bread thanks to my brother and his wife.
t. bone and miss bit were toast on the couch too tired to even eat their pizza.
i had grand plans to make a frou frou breakfast before bed for my friends coming early the next day, but at the end of the day...the end of the night, i was totally tuckered out too.
strong coffee, fresh fruit and day old bakery would just have to do.
we have this same time next year thing going strong... a standing saturday after thanksgiving date.
we talk a blue streak trying to make up for lost time, but of course, there's never enough of it...time that is to say.
the kiddos disappear into the playroom to become reacquainted which takes all of 2 minutes.
another friend from college joined us and it was good to see her for it had been far too long.
we spent much of our time crying and commiserating.
so sadly, this was her first thanksgiving without her mom and unfortunately i knew just how she felt.
after she left, i was emotionally exhausted so i crawled in bed and napped for hours and i never sleep during the day.
i could have slept straight through the night, but we had dinner reservations with the whole fam at 7 so we gussied up and hurried out to my cousins favorite italian joint in town.
it did not disappoint and we all ordered well.
although there's no lazy susan, we managed to share our plates and it's the best way to eat in my opinion.
we ended the evening at a local speakeasy.
my kids had to do the chicken dance to gain entry since they didn't have the password.
that was humorous, but having to pay a cover charge for them was not.
we stayed long enough to explore a bit.
miss bit found the dance floor.
t. bone bellied up to the poker table to play for drinks.
he did not redeem any.
they both thought that was quite the adventure.
should make for interesting journal writing at school this week.
hopefully no one calls child protective services.
sunday was not the day of rest we all needed, but it was good all in all.
t. bone had not 1, but 2 early morning away games.
grandpa showed up in the stands for the 8 o'clocker.
i was still cozy in bed.
i know i'm not getting mother of the year after this weekend.
miss bit and i convened with family (grandpa and the girls) once again eager to eke out as much time together as possible before cousins headed home east and west.
this time at the italian deli for muffalettas, fried ravioli and articholes, fresh baked pizza, italian cookies and gelato, although not necessarily in that order.
me and my girl arrived home after dark for a few hours of downtime.
we found the boys watching football in chicken wing coma.
apparently the celebrated their victories (yes, plural) at bw3.
it was early to bed for all 4 of us and when the morning came, we still didn't want to wake, rise and wipe the sleep out of our eyes.
i'm hoping i feel more rested and less nostalgic tomorrow.
after all, tis the season.
tis the season of joy and good cheer.
in 27 days christmas will be here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food, for love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Folks At The Fair

Miss Bit and myself were eager to attend the holiday folk fair Sunday after church. T. Bone...hmmm not so much. You see he was missing his Packers who were playing while we wanted him to wander around with us girls. The nerve! Adding insult to injury was the fact that I insisted he keep on his church clothes for the occasion. One would have thought he was being asked to wear a three piece suit instead of the jeans and a button down he had on. Needless to say, he never took off his Badger fleece and didn't find it amusing when I joked that he could be costume-clad and ready to perform like so many other boys in attendance.

As we made our way to the entrance, a taxi dropped off an older gentleman who was, indeed, rather dressed up for the event. Hearing our chatter, he called out to us to inquire if he was near the door seeing as how he couldn't see. He was blind. We helped guide him to the entrance, which was still at a distance and all wondered how he would manage to get around an unfamiliar venue crowded with people and booths. Both T. Bone and Miss Bit piped up that they thought we should "help" our new friend by taking him around the fair. The earnestness in their eyes prompted me to pause for a moment. They wanted nothing more than to show kindness to a stranger in need. My beneficence was further from the surface. Come to think of it I was more worried about offending him in some way and that made me uncomfortable. We were all saved from our consciences when another man (friend? guide?) offered him an arm and off they went.

Off we went as well. Our first stop was to sign up for a raffle where we were harassed by a cantankerous booth attendee. I think his badgering was in good fun, but it was a little off-putting. He asked T. Bone who Hitler was, and was surprised...perhaps even impressed when he knew. That was our golden ticket into the fair. According to him, 90 some odd percent of youth ages 10-18 don't have a clue who Hitler was. He claimed that the most frequently given answer is that he is a rock star. If that's true, it's truly sad.

The very next booth we came upon displayed rocks from all over the world, and the first rock we looked at was from a small village in Denmark. This little village just happened to be the setting for the work of literary fiction T. Bone just finished reading about the Nazis. It was creepy in a cool, uncanny way.

To say the least, it was a connect the dots afternoon of very few degrees of separation and I came home feeling certain of what I already know to be true. Clearly, we are connected by fewer links than we think. Six degrees seems like far too many at times. And what difference does the number make at the end of the day because on some level we can all relate in one way or another? That blind man is some one's son. The abrasive volunteer is some one's brother. The maker of Polish floral wreaths is some one's grandmother.

The persistent Russian who claimed my aunt was the doppelganger of his erstwhile classmate still living in his homeland happened to be a relative of one of Miss Bit's classmates. The patient Japanese woman who helped my son pick out an origami boat used to set-up a step for me at the Y. My daughter's Filipino Sunday school teacher was on the lookout for the Danish booth where she hoped to get the same open faced lobster sandwich she enjoyed last year, but she stopped long enough to greet Miss Bit.

I'm not going all kumbaya here, but it just strikes me how we are more alike than we often think and how we all want the same thing: to feel a part of something bigger... a family, a team, a community. But...BUT we are often reluctant to reach out and make connections for the fear of offending or worse yet, being offended. Offended by rejection. At the end of the day, we all just want to feel good about our daily contributions.

So there you have it. The folk fair proved to be fun and tasty and a little bit frustrating if...IF you were T. Bone. We ran into a friend of my aunt's who updated us on the score of the game he was reluctantly DVRing so he could be part of our family for the afternoon. She casually said it. He promptly cried. I brightly blushed. She sweated the small stuff. I threatened to accidentally hit delete. He soon shaped up. And now...NOW I have a darn good story to tell to my grandkids one day. And who knows...he may end up marrying her daughter far away in the future and we'll all laugh together at the uncanny coincidence of how we first met. Stranger things have and will happen.

Monday, November 21, 2011

2 day pass

i welcomed the weekend with a hint of nostaglia.
family that we don't often see arrived from across the lake...
my mom's brother and his wife.
then we went out for pizza to a place i've been going as long as i can remember.
it was my mom's favorite and probably mine too although it wasn't the same without my mom and extra cheese and sausage the way she was always sure to order it.
next time i'll order right.
it's been remodeled so it looked different, and the juke box didn't work so it sounded not the same too.
saturday we woke up to a grey, shivery scene.
the boys stayed home to watch football together.
the girls went out to do some shopping.
miss bit had $20 and although she considered a cozy ten dollar scarf, an out of her league key charm necklace, and a diary, she ended up with a jelly belly snack and two beanie boos.
corky and daisy are her newest plush pals because she only has 500 or so in her collection.
of course, she scored a few other goodies because she's so sweet that sometimes I like to spoil her.
plus she doesn't ask and she is always full of thanks.
plus if nanny were here it would be way worse...nanny even told me so the last time i talked to her.
my aunt and uncle met friends for dinner so i heated up leftover soup for the kids and poured another glass of wine to have with my cheese and crackers because what was left of the brie my aunt brought could simply not go to waste.
plus cheese and crackers may just be my favorite meal of all.
after sunday school, the kids and i had a date with another adored aunt at the holiday folk fair which sort of deserves its own post.
stay tuned.
the food was fabulous...gyros, crepes, churros, rice balls and a slice of pizza for the less adventurous among us.
guess who?
i cannot tell, but she sure is cute.
some of the entertainment was entertainingly good, and some was a tad hokey even though it had little to do with the pokey.
hubby came home without a deer in time for a steamy, cheesy pan of lasagna.
we visited until too late on a school night with my aunt and uncle, but it's a short week of work which will be our saving grace.

On My Mind Monday


- The Cheshire Cat

Shhh...sometimes I wish I could emerge from the rabbit hole and discover it's all just a dream.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

T. Bone helping Miss Bit with her homework last night so I could do some cooking and cleaning in preparation for company.

The house has been spruced, scoured and spit shined.

My Aunt and Uncle arrive today for a weekend visit. Now Miss Bit can stop asking, "How many days until Aunt C. and Uncle P. get here?"

Molly Ringwald's book Getting the Pretty Back. It's my pick-up line go to this week. It's full of advice and tips, but it's light and funny...not preachy. It makes me wish Molly was one of my good girlfriends.

15 miles thus far this week and a new route around the park close to our neighborhood. Sometimes a change of scenery is the only thing one needs.

Last night while Miss Bit had swim lessons, I took off in the chill of the night for a walk in the neighborhood by the school. It was energizing. BTW she passed out of the breast stroke and is the only one in her class that has graduated to the butterfly.

A fun, festive and tasty dinner last weekend in honor of my man and his Mom's birthdays. The Ho Ho cake I served for dessert was a huge hit too.

The sentiment of last Sunday's sermon has stayed with me all week. If you live with your focus only on your needs, it manifests itself in fear. Fear that you will never have enough. If you live with your focus always on your desires, it manifests itself in greed. You will always want more and never have contentment. Think you reap what you sow.

T. Bone referred to himself as "A little Dr. Phil" this week. Needless to say, I still did not confess my problems to him. I laughed instead.

When Miss Bit and I got in the car this morning, Sleigh Ride Together With You was on the radio. She said, "W-H-A-T!? Christmas music?" Then we sang carols the whole way to school and had a merrier morning because of it.

Thoughts to attend the holiday parade tomorrow and plans to go to the holiday folk festival with my Aunt L. and the kiddos. Tomorrow's movie night is Prancer. I'm starting to stock up on seasonal spirit.

My new soft and beautiful sweater shawl.

Soup weather. This week a crock of pea soup and a pot of chicken vegetable.

T. Bone added fitness club to his after school regimen this week along with guitar club, homework club and basketball.

Miss Bit's final Jazzercize performance was this week. She is so serious about strutting and shimmying on the stage. and just for the girl has some serious moves.

Hubby is away with the men in his family for a weekend of bonding in the northwoods. I know he looks forward to this every year. It's neat how they carry on the tradition.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Psalm 118:24

Yesterday was not a good day. I didn't sleep much Sunday night because my feelings were hurt. Sadness and sleeplessness often add up to a whole lotta hopelessness. Time and tears heal though. So do 10 hours of a much needed deep sleep. The sun is shining this morning and I am feeling restored. Today is a late start day so we have the luxury of a slow start. I snuck downstairs a few minutes ago hoping to have a little time to plot and plan the rest of the week before the kids woke, but Miss Bit was only steps behind me so eager to show off the loot the Tooth Fairy left her overnight. Two bucks and a pink, bug eyed monkey to dangle from her backpack....a 7 years old's definition of bling. She's as happy as I've seen her in days. T. Bone's equally as happy because I just put a plate of perfectly cooked pancakes in front of him with a side of strawberries. Sometimes I am completely awed by how easy it is to please them. Contentment is so easy to come by when you are 7 and 10. I find that I have to make a commitment to contentment every day. It's a choice. Sometimes it's a chore, and then there are the times that the chore is the very source of contentment. That's how I'm choosing to frame this day. I'm going to seek satisfaction in a simmering pot of soup on my stove, baskets of folded laundry, well-made beds, chauffeuring children, taking a long walk in the fresh air and a myriad of other tasks I plan to undertake.

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

On My Mind Monday

The dead have more power than we know.

Louise Erdrich
Master Butcher Singing Club

I asked my Mom for a sign this morning and she came through when I needed her. What I saw was so very telling.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Acorn squash that T. Bone even deemed somewhat edible. Of course it's more like dessert than dinner.

Cream of's my childhood in a bowl.

Lunch at Costco this week...there were so many samples that we were all satisfied after shopping.

My new infinity scarf in my new favorite color to wear...grey. I just cannot do turtlenecks anymore, but I love the warmth and coziness of something soft around my neck on a chilly day.

T. Bone found his beloved Badger jacket. He lost it a couple weeks ago and so we were sure it was gone for good. I'm also grateful I didn't order him a new one, which I was very close to doing despite the fact that I knew deep down that would not have taught him much of anything about being responsible.

The public market...this week i came home with spices and succulents.

JR's perfect 60 this week.

Hubby for turning all the clocks back this week. We have 13 in the kitchen alone so it is a time consuming chore. Ha!

Saying yes more often. This week I accepted an invitation to play Bunco from a friend. I had never played before, knew only the hostess and really didn't feel like going out at 7:00 on a Thursday night especially since it meant getting a sitter as hubby had plans too, but I did. I did and I met some nice women, and I had a good time.

Three walks in three days. My leg is getting stronger, but now it is sore. On Tuesday it stopped raining just long enough for me to go around the neighborhood.

Wednesday the rain turned to snow. Big, fat, fluffy flakes fell from the sky. Miss Bit was as excited as her mama. Then as we were admiring the scene, a huge buck came running through the yard right on cue.

A date with my hubby this week.

A date with Miss Bit to take a walk under the full moon tomorrow.

Tomorrow is hubby's birthday. Happy Happy to him!

This girl can climb.

This guy can cook.

I usually have this draft open all week and I add to it as I am inspired. That proved to be a true gift this week because for the last few days I have not felt the grateful chi. Someone I care about had the rug pulled out from under her and I learned of that mid-week. I've had a heavy heart since, but when I talked with her she even said that we have to focus on the little things in difficult times. And that is exactly what I do here...have been doing here...will continue to do here and I am ever grateful to her for reminding me of this.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Where There's A Will There's A Way

Despite the dreary, rainy day, this clever cat figured out how to take a sunbath.