Monday, September 30, 2013

2 day pass

this weekend marked the fifth anniversary of my mom's death.
it's a milestone i would rather not have to acknowledge.
my uncle, her brother, and my aunt were visiting from across the lake for the weekend.
they were here for a wedding so we mostly crossed paths over coffee in the mornings and cocktails at the tail end of the eve.
guests and weekend plans meant little time for brooding for this wallower.
perhaps, that is healthier.
saturday night our bowling league started.
the same league we were a part of two years ago and then quit.
don't ask.
i was really punky about having to go be social with a large group.
punky with a capital p.
but then it ended up being an enjoyable evening ugly shoes, bad wine and poor scores aside.
i never bowled 100.
i did get a 99.
yet i felt like a million bucks reconnecting with friends.
sunday school resumed early the next beautiful morning.
miss bit asked if there is church in summer.
our bad.
we'll be religious attendees now through spring.
not because we have to...we want to.
it felt so right to be back.
i lit lots of candles after mass and said many prayers.
then t. bone joined coach and me for a coffee date.
only t. bone had a vbf (vanilla bean frappaccino).
we all visited a favorite playground nestled under a bridge, beside the river on the outskirts of the city.
and then the rest of the day we went our separate ways: golf, play date, errands and such.
coach grilled n.y. strips and i made my mom's zucchini casserole at the end of a full day.
dessert was an episode of breaking bad for the over 40 crowd.
i fell asleep exhausted in every way.

On My Mind Monday

Suffering is reality, even if unhappiness need not be our response to it.

Pico Iyer

It's all I got today.  It was a happy sad weekend. Saturday I suffered.  Sunday I soared.  I was light and lofty by choice.  Church, my children and Coach added to my sunnier disposition most definitely.  The reality was that I felt sad, but I smiled through it.  I'm not always able to do that though.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Dear Mom,

In a couple hours, five years ago this morning we said 'goodbye.'  You were no longer able to speak, but even without words you were able to get your point across beautifully.  You took my hand.  You took my brother's hand.  Your two children...your pride and joy. You held our hands together between your fragile, bony hands.  You looked at us with tears in your milky, soulful eyes.  You looked into us.  I felt it.  I felt your love, your gratitude and also your sadness.  I know you felt our's too.  You squeezed our hands tight and long.  I heard in that grasp you saying, I am leaving for now, but I will love you forever. Then you removed your hand from the pile and clasped our hands together.  It is just the two of you now.  Take care of each other. Remember me.  You took your last few breaths and passed on peacefully. 

It seems impossible that five years have passed.  I talk to you every day.  There are days I know you are listening.  I hope today is one of them.  Please send me a sign Mom.  I'll be watching.  A shiny orange VW convertible will do. I'll be listening.  The whir of the hummingbird's wings as it hovers atop our streptocarpella will be just fine.  I need one today.  And if nothing else please help me feel peace in my heart.

I miss you as much as I love you Mom,


Friday, September 27, 2013

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Cool mornings, warm days, cold nights.  Perfect fall.

The first batch of pumpkin bread.  No longer my Mom's mine.  It'll always remind me of her though.

A movie date with T. Bone last Sunday.  We sat side by side in the theater for a more mature feature whilst Coach escorted Miss Bit for lighter fare next door.  Turns out that almost 13 is not really mature. No harm yes foul.  All fine after one slightly sleepless night.

A trip to Whole Foods with my girl.  In our $50+ bag  cart: sweet smelling soaps, orchids, triple cream brie, fancy crackers, fancier nuts, best of fall apples and wine. What I call the essentials.

Our autumn Door County trip is booked.  Love the cozy peninsula in late fall.  Love it every season.  Love long weekends away with my family best of all.

Mother daughter book clubs and the desire to start one soon.  Also many good ideas for months worth of read alouds.

We talked about this and that, nothing special.  It was just a day.  I didn’t need to shape it or mourn it or grip it — or do anything at all, other than live it.  Katrina Kenison's words reminding me at just the right time this week that all I need to do is be present.  I spent the better part of the week falling behind or getting ahead.

My family ate the meatloaf I made this week even though none of them were big fans.  Apparently, thyme has a very distinct and not all together pleasing taste.  Of course, I loved it.  It is simple fact: we can never all agree.

Sunday school starts this weekend.  We are all in need of that special slice of extra reverent time each week.

Miss Bit started learning to play the recorder this week in music.  After the first day, she came home and practiced Hot Cross Buns for what seemed like cacophonous forever.  I even sent her outside at one point to play for the critters only and only then did the sound of her perfectly playing the song waft through the windows.  She is determined to master every level of the recorder and fast, and I know it is only the recorder, but I am proud.

T. Bone started guitar lessons again this week.  He came home with a good start on Blackbird: a song he's longed to of my favorites.  At various points this week, I was a tad verklempt listening to him strum away more and more masterfully.

Homemade cookwiches.  Warm out of the oven cookies filled with cold and creamy vanilla ice-cream is the best Indian summer after school snack...just ask the kids.

Grandpa's wings.  T. Bone ate so many he had no room for Grandpa's ribs or his beer can chicken.

Hammy kids who lay it on in front of the camera.

We gathered to celebrate Grandpa's birthday last weekend.  He cooked...see above.




Monday, September 23, 2013

On My Mind Monday

You look at today, chil.' You say, 'Thank you, Lawd, for everythin' you gives me today.' Then you worries about the next day when the next day come.

The Kitchen House
Kathleen Grissom 

I cannot wait to finish this novel and yet I never want it to end.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

On This Week's Menu

Unless we want dinner at 4:00, this week dinner will be served after 7:00.  Guitar and play rehearsal get added to the weekly line-up, and we have company coming to town Thursday so we will eat out.  I need to keep things very simple.  On the menu:

Meatloaf, Roasted Cauliflower, Broccoli and Pasta bake with White Cheddar

Chicken Pot Pie with Root Vegetables, homemade applesauce

Mac and Cheese by Kraft, fresh green beans

Both the pasta dish and the pot pie are from Curtis Stone's new book. I'm still working my way through it, or rather we are still eating our way through it.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dear Mom,

Happy Birthday.  Today we would be celebrating your 65th.  It's a beautiful late summer early fall day that would be perfect for happy hour on your deck and one of your melt in my mouth pork roasts.  I know you would have been most pleased with a simple family dinner.  Filled up you would have been to have the people closest to you gathered around your table.  Yesterday we would have gone out for lunch with the girls.  No fanfare or hoopla necessary.  You knew what was important in life, and what's absolutely cherished it.

To say that I miss you, doesn't adequately explain the vacancy in my heart.  It's not dramatic to call it a hole. A black hole even with every negative association with the word black applicable: starless, somber, shadowy.  That murky void isn't the only thing I'm left with though.  I also have decades worth of life, love, laughs and lessons all of which I now cherish. You taught me some of the most important truths that I try to live my life by.

You weren't perfect, but that's probably what I loved most about you.  You were real...authentic...true.  I have a few souls left in my life that I'd describe just the same way.  You would too.  They have been such a lifeline during the past five years I've spent coming to terms with your absence in my life.

Absence is a rather absolute word I must admit.  After all,  our relationship hasn't has changed.  That's frustrating at times.  Like last week when I received correspondence involving your estate long ago settled.  I felt like it was a message, a sign.  So sure was I that I went straight away to buy lottery tickets using the policy numbers involved.  No win.  No surprise.  Some disappointment.  Mostly over the mixed message not the nonexistent windfall.  A sign rightly received would have been the lottery won.

You see I look for missives from you all the time.  I know I see them sometimes when it is just coincidence or chance, but what if?  I was so certain that at last night's owl prowl we would see another great horned owl like the one I saw on the same preserve in broad daylight just days after your death.  Truth be told, I got my hopes up high.  Real high.  I held it in my heart that if we saw an owl, it would be a sign.  Not a manifestation, but a token wink.

About a half hour into our hike as the sun was setting and before the moon was arise, Miss Bit asked me if I would be sad if we didn't see an owl.  I lied to my daughter.  I said no when my answer was yes.  Not but a minute later we heard a lone and distant hoot calling not once, but twice from the conifer canopy along the northern ravine ridge.  It was the herald I was seeking.  The whole group doubled back closer to the spot from which the horned owl called, but I stopped straining to hear.  I already had my shout out.

So thanks Mom for still being there for me when I really need you.  I feel your presence when I quiet my mind and open my heart and stop trying so dang hard.  I wish we could celebrate with you today in flesh and blood, but mind and spirit will have to do.  You are always in my heart and I love you,


Friday, September 20, 2013

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Bee sting bravery.  Coach and Miss Bit set out on a bike ride one late afternoon.  They came home huffing and puffing and telling a tall tale about losing their bikes to a swarm of bees.  I said yada yada 'cuz Coach is rather inclined towards pranks.  I realized this one time they weren't bluffing when I saw the 5! welts on Miss Bit's arms and legs.  He didn't have his phone so they had to run the mile home.  He suited up in a makeshift bee suit and I drove them back to free the bikes from the angry bees they disturbed while portaging their bikes over their nest in a log. The end.  Although I'm still hearing about it.

Dyson and our new vacuum.  I am a little bit beside myself over this recent purchase.  It's one of those things where I wonder how and just why I ever got on before it  Coach is smitten too.  He vacuumed every room of the house the other day and then came to show me the disgraceful contents of every canister in need of emptying.  It was charming...really.

A Wrinkle in Time.  Miss Bit and I just started this children's classic.  It is one I, somehow, never read in my youth so now we are enjoying it together.  It's such a special way to end the day: curled up with a book, my favorite girl and a cat or two.

I started listening to The Kitchen House.  I loved it instantly:  the story, the characters and the narrator, and was amazed that it's Grissom's first novel.

Amy Tan has a new novel out.  She is the best of the best.  I'm excited to get my hands on it.

A new toy for Peanut. He loves it maybe like I love my Dyson...only I don't sleep with my vacuum, or stare at it constantly...longingly.

A new season of DWTS.  The contestants were all rather impressive this week.  I have a feeling it's going to be an entertaining season.

Eager Miss Bit almost joined the dive team.  She saw a group of swimmers and a coach stretching on the pool deck and she joined them before I directed her to the correct team.  She is just all enthusiasm for her new sport.

She is also excited to have two ensemble rolls in Aladdin this January.  All she wanted was to be on stage and sing in a group, and again I'm very proud of her.

My new favorite way to roast chicken: stuff the cavity with halved lemons and heads of garlic.  The flavors are subtle, but delicious.

Miss Bit and I banged out the back to school shopping this week.  It was a one stop spree, and now she is all set for fall.  Whew!  Of course, now she wants the weather to change so she can wear all her new clothes

This opinion piece.  Bill Flanagan's gripe about no problem is my gripe too.  The clerk at the establishment we just spent a chunk of change in with no help from her, said just that to me when I thanked her.  Even my 9 year old daughter knows the correct response was you're welcome. I was the one working up a sweat schlepping and hanging and folding.

T. Bone told me that I need to really open a bakery this week.  He ate 2 cinnamon struesel muffins per sitting.

Hummingbird moths.

Black squirrels.

Fall starts Sunday.

Owl prowls.  We're going on one tonight.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On This Week's Menu

Despite the fact that we have something going on most nights, we still sit down for family dinner at least four or five times a week. Planning ahead makes it all the more likely that we skip fast and freezer foods even when we are short on time. Recording what I prepare and serve keeps me accountable.  It's helpful to have a log detailing what I've made from week to week. I'm less likely to fall into a rut when I can look back and see previous week's meal plans.  Sure T. Bone would like to eat crepes every day and Miss Bit would be happy with chicken tenders with ranch and ketchup morning noon and night, but that ain't going to fly around this kitchen.  I try to mix up our old favorites with new options too.  The kids are at a great age for that.  I like to plan four meals a week.  This seems to work because Thursday is leftover night and Friday is pizza night at Casa Wags.  Saturday we either go out or collaborate and cook together based on how ambitious we are, what we are hungry for and who we are entertaining.

With no further adieu...this week's menu fresh, simple and balanced:

Herb crusted pork roast, baked potatoes and broccoli.  Miss Bit loves pork!

Soup Night.  Spicy tomato and/or chicken pastina, sourdough rolls and strawberries.  I defrosted a container of chicken pastina and a couple containers of homemade stock so this meal was mostly ready.  I will be doing much more of this on cool nights that call for quick dinners.

Whole oven roasted chicken, Green Rice (brown rice with kale) and corn on the cobb.

Grilled pork chops (Miss Bit loves pork!), salad and Potato, Cauliflower and Camembert Gratin from Curtis Stone's What's For Dinner: Delicious Recipes for a Busy Life.  I checked his new book out over the weekend, and I am so looking forward to trying many of his recipes.   BTW...I also checked out camembert on the www.  While I love cheese and very much enjoy cooking, I'm not all haughty and high brow.  I think one of T. Bone's friends said it best a couple years ago:  I am a homecooker.

Monday, September 16, 2013

two day pass

i mused that weekends take on a new significance at this time of year in friday's post.
this weekend i remembered why.
i remembered what two less scheduled days feels like.
after a busy week, we all welcome the change in pace and the chance at togetherness.
sure there are still to dos:  games and practices, errands and chores, and play dates and plans.
but there is more time to linger, reconnect, read, walk, talk, bike, bake and just be together in between the have tos and shoulds.
after football practice friday, we went out for dinner to celebrate the end of the first full week.
it didn't matter that it was closer to 9 o'clock than 8 o'clock.
miss bit filled her purse with coins and disappeared in the arcade until it was time to eat.
saturday we enjoyed friends, pizza and the badger game (until the wee end when the refs fouled).
it didn't matter that the game didn't end until 1:10 a.m.
we had nowhere pressing to be that morning.
and it really felt like fall sunday morning so i was glad to batten down the hatches.
i made sure it smelled like fall too.
i used my baker again...this time to make monkey bread for breakfast.
it was gone before lunch.
we all mostly did our own thing...things,  but side by side.
i read, wrote, made soup and cleaned out closets.
i finished one book and started two.
coach vacuumed the entire house with our exciting new vacuum, took a bee-free bike ride with miss bit and spiced up a pork roast for dinner.
t. bone was busy with friends.
and miss bit just helped and hung out.
before we knew it, it was sunday eve.
i have decided that sunday may be the most fleeting of all.
the first day of the week, or the last day depending on how you look at it, may expire faster than any other of the seven.
we enjoyed family dinner, geared up for another good and full week, and were in bed early for long sleeps.
i heart weekends.
plain. simple. true.

 Hands at 10 and 2.

 These are lively Bucky fans!

 T. Bone suggested icing for the Monkey bread and he was right.

Fall day fun.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Miss Bit's love of swimming.  I see a new side of her...confident, take charge, competitive...that I haven't seen much of before. She was bummed that she only had practice twice this week.

New swimsuits for our resident swimmer.  Goggles, cap and athletic bag too.

Jess came for dinner Tuesday night.  We made chicken Marsala, Parmesan risotto and roasted carrots.  She said it was restaurant quality.  I didn't get a picture because it was 8 o'clock and we were all just starving, but it it looked almost as good as it tasted.

Roasted carrots.  I don't think I'll like eating them any other way now quite as much.

T. Bone decided to skip cross country this year.  I am proud that he realized his limits.

Banana bread baked in my new pottery bowl and with my new Extrait de Vanille both gifts for my birthday. The pottery is from Lebanon (WI) and the vanilla from St. Martin (VI).  Who doesn't love a round loaf of bread?

Meryl Streep is going to play Hilde in Leary's Good House.  Jennifer Lawrence is starring in Jeanette Walls's Glass Castle.  I expect both performances by two of my favorite actresses to be brilliant.  I read the feature on Lawrence in this month's Vogue and I like her even more.

The other day Miss Bit mused how no one likes crows.  Then she said, If anyone asks me what my favorite animal is today, I'm gonna say crows cuz' everybody hates them.  Not contrary...just kind.

Pandora specifically Rickie Lee Jones Radio these days.  I turned it on the other day and Beat Angels was on followed by Joni Mitchell's California, Stevie Nick's Landslide, Natalie Merchant's These Are The Days, Paul Simon's Slip Slidn' Away, Carole King's So Far's all just music for my soul.

Wednesday I was having a hard morning.  It was a rainy, cloudy morning.  I love a grey day lots, but I also love to get out and walk.  As soon as I finished blogging, the sun came out.  I was able to clear my head as I clocked miles.  Then the clouds came back out once I was home.  I couldn't have ordered a better day.

Hummingbirds.  At the my yard.  As we made our trek up from Bay Beach, Miss Bit stood mesmerized by a creature visiting some late season blooms. It has striped wings. What kind of bug is it? she asked. Upon closer inspection, I realized that it was a hummingbird, one of God’s most amazing creations. Suddenly a couple more buzzed right by us and swarmed all around the flowers beside us not the least bit shy.

Turtle rescue. I carried this little snapper from the middle of the road to the edge of the pond...about a quarter mile!

Swimming at gloaming with my girl.


A partner in crime.

Coach's mashed potatoes.  I don't even want to know how many sticks of butter were in them, but they sure were good.

T. Bone is on offense now.  He's happy...I'm happy.

We met all of T. Bone's teachers last night.  I think it's going to be a great year.

He plum forgot to do his English homework the other night.  This is the first time in the history of Ted that he has not done his homework.  He's fastidious.  Mrs. G. is a self-professed whip cracker so he got a 50% at the end of the day when he completed it.  This bothered him more than a bit.  He got in the car rambling about the situation, the outcome and the fact it is still possible to get an A for the homework portion of his grade.  I listened and then I said, It's not life or death.  You made a mistake.  No one got hurt.  You learned from it.  Move on.  He relaxed in the seat beside me and said, It's only 7th grade English.  I kept telling myself that all day.  Then he turned up the radio. 

We survived the first full week of the school year mostly unscathed.

TGIF!  It takes on new meaning this time of year!

Thursday, September 12, 2013


After the boys left for 5 o’clock football practice yesterday, I tuned into the weather while I started dinner prep. Two days ago we were well into the 90s. Yesterday we were enjoying the 80s. We have lost 10 degrees a day, and this pattern is predicted to continue. Today it is a beautiful 70. Tomorrow will be somewhere in the 60s.

I put the chicken back in the refrigerator and told Miss Bit to get her bathing suit on. Immediately, my little fish had that excited twinkle in her inquiring eyes. We’re going to Lake Michigan for a swim, I confirmed. Swimming days are numbered in our parts I know. My spontaneity surprised her a little. Sadly, we haven’t had many before or after dinner lake adventures this summer, but tonight the long-term forecast got to me. I was struck by what a shame it was that we hadn’t resumed last summer’s swim eves. They were sublime sand, seaweed and all.

She was also surprised…happily so…that I had my bathing suit on. I confess that I hesitated briefly because I was just freshly showered, but I knew it would be more fun for her if we swam together...more fun for me too. I knew I would watch longingly from the shore if I decided not to get soggy or sandy.

As we drove to our favorite beach, we talked about the night almost exactly one year ago when we came to the same place and were greeted by an ethereal angel in the sky. Wouldn’t it be another miracle if we saw another angel in the clouds mama? my little angel mused. Oh to be so lucky I thought as I secretly dared the universe to dazzle us once again.

She took off down the path ahead of me as soon as the car stopped moving and was almost in the water by the time I made my way to the shore. I put my feet in and worried that would be it. I feared I couldn’t go any further. It was Canadian air cold. Chill your bones frigid. Lily ran in, dove under and came shooting up with a hoot before submerging herself again. I admired her joie de vivre and neoprene skin. I was grateful to be in the presence of her bright shining joy.

At first when I looked up, I was disappointed by what I saw as an ordinary sky. Although not just blue. More cerulean. Yes, a cerulean sky filled with so many vaporous clouds. Not angels, but angel’s wings. Thousands of angel’s wings. A skyful. That is not at all ordinary… especially not on 9/11 I decided.

It took me the better part of fifteen minutes, but I managed to meet Miss Bit out beyond the pier. Just get your feet wet I heard myself say. First feet, then knees, then thighs, then belly, then breasts, then shoulders…when I finally went under, I felt more alive than I have in weeks...months. I went down again and again, but it was never quite as electric. More, More I heard and was reminded of Hilde from The Good House.

Miss Bit went off to pier jump. I cheered her on from a warm pocket and I watched the other beachcombers. Just a few people and their dogs joined us. We were the only human swimmers. I felt a little proud that we took the plunge when a mother and her two children arrived and eyed us thirstily from the dry pier.

Thirty minutes turned into an hour, but deep down we knew it would. We got out to towel off. And that’s when it happened. A line of sweet pink rose up from the horizon and started to overtake the atmospheric sky like a hazy overlay. Everything softened including my heart. Most of all my heart.  Within moments, the reach where the water meets the sky appeared periwinkle and lavender. It was as if the sky was a giant canvas being painted…transformed really...right before our eyes.

Our new friends were talking, dogs were chasing frisbees, but the world stood still and silent for me in that instant. I witnessed the rosy sky melt into the water. Lake Michigan sparkled like liquid tourmaline. I felt such pure peace and gratitude as I looked to the west to see an almost half moon ready to take over for the sun. Thank you beautiful Mother Earth, I thought. Bless you kind angels overhead, I whispered. Goodnight, I said aloud to our new friends. I love you to the moon and back, I reminded my girl.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


It's a grey day.  Perfectly somber for remembering all the victims of 9/11.  I cast my net wide to include the casualties on that day twelve years ago and the many since.  The brave soldiers, aid workers, diplomats, entrepreneurs, innocent travelers and others who have since become victims of this hatred we call terrorism.

Because I am human, when I think of their loss, I think of mine.  Because it is what has become the sad month of September, I think of my Mom. I am missing her again viscerally.  Soon she will be gone five years. That makes me want to scream.

The other day I was going through some of her boxes of letters and cards and I found a stack of envelopes addressed to the kids.  For Teddy on your High School Graduation Day.  For Lily on your 18th Birthday.  For Teddy on your Graduation From College.  For Lily on your Wedding Day.  They were all empty.  I am sure too painful to write even with the strongest spirit and best of intentions.  I found one that she had written: To Lily on your 16th Birthday.  Truthfully, it didn't really sound like my Mom...her Nanny.  It sounded more like a generic Hallmark card.  That made me momentarily glad that she didn't get the chance to write notes for the other milestones.  Even the writer and historian in me knows that some things are better left unpenned.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Signs and Senses

I started my day with a walk.  Begrudgingly, I gave up my second cup of coffee and morning respite, the calm after the storm, knowing that it was going to be sweltering by mid day.  As I entered the park, something caught my eye.  A still wiry spring fawn was having a little breakfast not thirty feet from me.  We looked at one another...both of us...with curiosity instead of fear.  It was a little bit thrilling.  And then the darnedest thing happened.

Out of the shadows of a low hanging tree, another deer emerged.  She was only slightly larger than her companion, but by the way she positioned herself between the fawn and me, I thought she was likely the mama.  She kept her eyes firmly planted on me until I turned to walk away.   I was unusually touched by being watched so carefully by the doe eyed creature. 

The air was thick with the scent of sun ripened apples.  It occurred to me that was likely what the deer were standing their ground for.  They love apples.   I found the path was littered with more than decaying fruit though.  Maple leaves in the soon to be season's first and finest oranges, reds and yellows danced in the breeze as well. 

The prairie leg of the path was a grasshopper highway this morning.  They lined the way like wee soldiers in erratic formation. Every once in awhile I would feel the sharp sting of one of their steely bodies flying into instead of away from me. Delicate white seedlings glistened like spun silver in the sun as they wafted by.  Set free from surrounding willows or poplars or cottonwoods, or perhaps, all three.

As I rounded the pond, I surprised a lone bittern with a beak full of waterlogged reeds.  Then as if on cue, I looked up to see the most familiar of fall formations: a wedge of geese flying in a v.  Their incessant honking always strikes me as desperate and panicked.  The call to migrate south makes me both happy and sad.

Monday, September 9, 2013

On My Mind Monday

At the kitchen table, the flame of the oil lamp wavered occasionally.  The wind continued its ancient vendetta against the windows, accompanied by the liquid thunder of waves. Tom tingled at the knowledge that he was the only one to hear any of it: the only living man for the better part of a hundred miles in any direction.  He thought of the gulls nestled into their wiry homes on the cliffs, the fish hovering stilly in the safety of the reefs, protected by the icy water.  Every creature needed its place of refuge.

The Light Between Oceans
M. L. Stedman

True.  So hauntingly true.  Am I strange to covet this place of total isolation?  Obviously I'm reacting to the amping up of schedules.  We've gone from near zero to past sixty in the last seven days just like most other families I know with school-aged children.  When life feels frenetic, I dream about freedom.  Solitude.  Escape.

On Peanut's mind: Stop typing already and pet me!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

A first day of fourth grade smile that lasted all week. The transition was much smoother and happier than I anticipated.

 Seventh grade started off seamlessly also. 

Routines.  Regularity.

An extra day with Coach spent on the trails.

This Blueberry cake.  I made three this week for family and friends.


A break midweek for sleeping in, making breakfast, recharging our batteries.

A mid-week movie date with my girl.  Little Women was a big hit. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Happy New Year!

When I woke up to the sun shining earlier, I confess I was crabby.  I wanted it to be a grey, overcast day.  At least at the onset.  That's because Miss Bit and I dashed plans to wake up before the sun this morning before bed last night.  In yesterday's end of day hours, rising early today struck me as almost silly.  I wholly regret that decision now.  I know it wouldn't have been frivolous to watch the sun come up over the horizon with my feet buried in the cold sand.  I'm praying for clear skies Saturday.  That's our rain date.

That being owned up to, we are enjoying our lazy morning.  T. Bone is still in bed.  He had back to back practices last night.  First cross country and then football.  I think he's reconsidering this dual sport idea.  I doubt he can eat enough calories to keep himself fueled at this level.  Miss Bit just finished breakfast: baked french toast with berries and cream.  I had to speak sternly lest there be no berries for her brother.  There's no school today.  It's Rosh Hashanah.  Shanah Tovah!

I was talking to a friend who celebrates this holiday, and I decided that it's a perfect time for honoring the promise and potential of a new year.  The month of September is perfectly poised for spiritual renewal.  I feel awakened to an attitude adjustment and a cleaning of house in this ninth month that is full of endings and beginnings.  It seems like the time for recommitment to do better.  In January, I just want to put on my fresh flannels and escape into my new books.  I want to lose myself, not find myself.

Today I refuse to begrudge the shining sun any longer.  I made a choice and now I will live with it.  Accept it.  Own it.  We will be. here. now today in other ways both big and small, and all of them important.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

New Normal

All I can tell you is that it feels out of body strange to be home all alone. Today it is as of I am viewing my life from elsewhere...above. The house is eerily quiet.  And tidy.  The laundry, all of it including towels and bedding, is done.  Dinner is prepped.  Tomorrow's breakfast too.  The car is washed and waxed.  What to do? Who to be?

I just finished the September calendar.  I think we may be a little over-scheduled.  The first words out of T. Bone's mouth when I picked him up from school yesterday were, Can I join cross country?  Yes, in addition to football.  Surprisingly there's little over lap so I was inclined too assent.  We did assent.  And then he was eating dinner just before 9 and struggling through his first day of school homework until just before bed after 10 o'clock.  Apparently card tricks are tricky.  The deck even had Coach, our resident math expert, stumped for a time.  And then I started to wonder whether we are pushing limits that contain us so comfortably.

Miss Bit, my homebody, is joining swim team and starting rehearsals for Aladdin, which will be performed in January.  It's your get your feet wet kind of production that I believe will be such a growing experience for her.  Yet she could have extracurricular activities 5 out of  7 days of the week and that's not including Girl Scouts.  What was I thinking?  Are we toying with maxims that keep us safe and sane and smiling?

The truth is we won't know for certain how much is too much until we take on more.  We'll tweak each day, every week until we get it just right, and then we'll reevaluate come late fall.  Nothing is forever: such a bittersweet realization.  Bitter when you cannot get enough and sweet when all you want is more.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

2 day pass

in so far as last hurrahs go, this weekend was a fine farewell to summer vacation.
this tuesday morning...this first day of school was met with more eagerness and excitement than i expected.
t. bone and miss bit enjoyed a weekend of cousin time at grandma and grandpa's.
also pool time.
and tee times for some too.
yes plural.
coach went out with the boys for badger time and also some harley festivities saturday.
i went out with the girls for dinner and drinks and a little bike gawking.
we shared another delicious flatbread.
this time topped with boursin cheese, spinach, artichoke hearts, fried green tomatoes and then drizzled with siracha mayo.
the portobello frites were quite something too as was the cote du rhone we washed them down with.
sunday coach and i joined the rest of the family for swimming, dining and gaming.
it was another great day enjoyed with family.
monday we started to decompress after a rather packed full seven days.
in the evening, we gathered for dinner in the dining room.
i lit the candles, put out cloth napkins and turned on music.
we had a little end of summer celebration.
coach grilled perfect ny strips and patiently tended to the risotto.
i roasted asparagus and topped the perfect spears with poached eggs and pancetta.
it was a noble send off to a stellar summer and a way over the top weekend.

please enjoy the food porn.

Monday, September 2, 2013

On My Mind Monday

The topography of the farm came clear: the steep, high reach of the mountains behind, the narrow drainage of the valley below.  It occurred to her how much was obscured in summer by the leaves.  With all those reassuring walls of green, a person could not see the end of anything.  Summer was the season of denial.

Flight Behavior
Barbara Kingsolver

There's no denial here today.  There's a chill in the air that prompted me to start a pot of turkey stock after breakfast.  The carcass leftover from last night's quasi Thanksgiving feast at the in laws. Grilled turkey, stuffing, and green beans were on the menu.  After dinner, the kids spent more time keeping warm in the hot tub than the pool. Fall is still weeks away, but summer vacation ends today.  I have to label all Miss Bit's school supplies and pack T. Bone a lunch for tomorrow. I'll probably make a special dinner and perhaps a hot, sweet breakfast too.  None of us are really ready to give up our freedom, but so it goes.   Today will be about endings and beginnings.  We'll be eking out the last few hours of summer bliss and gearing up for the start of a new school year.  Today we'll be saying goodbye to summer 2013 and hello to fourth and seventh grades.  My Mom always used to say, What's the alternative?  We go forward a grade, summer turns to fall, time marches on.  It is what it is.