Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sun Salutation

My alarm went off today even earlier than it sounds on any given weekday morning.  The sun was still only thinking about showing up for the day.  I was surprised to find T. Bone downstairs getting ready for his long day of skiing.  Long cold day of skiing that is.  Our temperatures are sub zero once again, but they should climb to a place that we'll likely consider balmy after the February we've endured.  Any hopes I had about climbing back between the flannel sheets after seeing my boy off were thwarted once I hit brew.  Today's cup was called Black Magic and it's not for the faint of heart or gut. The truth is that I knew what I was doing.  I've grown to love the solitude of a still sleeping house.  I can't really say when it happened, but I've made the shift from night owl to early bird.  You know it's the early bird that gets the worm? Or the computer in my case. And the radio.  I've cued up Pandora's Sunday Brunch.  It's a station that also beautifully fits a slow Saturday morning.  I'm here without anything pressing to say or do.  I just want to capture the incredible feeling that fills me when I witness the onset of a new day. There's something both energizing and humbling about the potential that stretches out before me when I see the sun on the rise.  Nothing seems beyond hope or reach or providence. Absolutely everything is a possibility as the sun climbs high in the sky.  It invites each one of us to lift and seek, and to rise and shine.  It calls us not only to follow the light, but to be the light, and I am just beyond grateful for the early morning reminder to

Friday, February 27, 2015

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Coming home after a long day to find that my Dad left a pot of his famous beef barley soup and a loaf of bread at our door.  It was just what I needed after a long, cold day.

Taking the long way home and at T. Bone's request Saturday.  We went out for dinner, and then through the donut drive thru for dessert.  Even our resident teen, wanted the night to last just a little longer.  The hot, sugary donut holes were gone before we even made it to Lake Drive btw.

Sandwich Sunday at church.  Everyone got involved making sandwiches for a local homeless shelter.

Boyhood.  I didn't fully appreciate the movie until I read an article about Richard Linklater in the New Yorker.  I realized that the film was not gimmicky, but rather very true to his passion of exploring the elusive passage of time.  It's important to him to portray his stories about real life honestly and humbly, and in looking back I think he achieved that with this film.

Background knowledge.  I used to get a little irritated when my English teachers would "waste" time prattling on about the authors we were reading.  I just wanted to discuss the work.  Now I'm fascinated by their lives, intentions, motivations and I see how valuable this knowledge is in deciphering the work.  I recently finished Torch.  In the preface, Strayed addresses the similarities between her first novel, a work of fiction, and Wild, her memoir.  She said, "One of the greatest paradoxes of writing fiction is that it's often only through imagination that a writer can reveal the greatest truth."  And also, "Fiction gave me the license to seek.  It allowed me to tell the only story I could at the time, one that exceeded the bounds of my own grief - a grief that was so enormous I couldn't hold it alone."  Having lost my mother, it makes perfect sense to me.

Three trips to Michael's, two trips to Office Max, and only one minor parental rant later and T. Bone completed his presentation for Science Fair hours before it was due.  His awareness that time management is an area in which he needs much improvement.

Salads, but especially Caesar this week.  Miss Bit is slightly obsessed with them too only she can never see me make the dressing.  If she does, I fear she'll change her mind.

Next up is All the Light We Cannot See.  I've been waiting for Doerr's novel, and the timing is perfect.

This one...part girl part fish.

Signs from the sun that spring is on the horizon.

Heat.  It's been bitter cold most of the week, but he knows how to keep warm.

Time to create.

Coming home today to find a letter from a friend tucked in among the catalogs and bills.  It was such sweet start to the weekend to remember the fun night we shared last Friday.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

To Blog or not to Blog

It's been awhile since I've written here.  This space has unintentionally morphed into a place to share pictures and recap the dailiness of our lives.  There's nothing amiss with this.  I feel it's important to capture the ordinary and the everyday because when I look closely and lean in, I see that the mundane is often where the most magic lies. It's the wide angle shot where I'm witnessing an ordinary scene on the screen, but feeling how extraordinary it is before it fades.  It's all in the framing and perspective.  I see so much clearer from the outside looking in...from a the big picture. And retelling is a wonderful way to cultivate gratitude and appreciation.  In looking back, I have the ability to rehash and also to edit.  I can censor, cut and splice, but there are times I miss the candor and vulnerability that immediacy calls for. I miss the beauty in the broken and the richness found in raw emotion.  It's a struggle to come to terms with whether this is the place for it.  Whether the Internet is the place for it, and I'm quite sure I already have my answer.  Sometimes getting the answer is as easy as posing the question.

When I started this blog oh so many years ago, it was rather on a whim.  I never intended to go viral, promote a business, or write for others.  I liked to read blogs and I liked to write so it was rather natural.  I still read blogs, though not many.  And I still write just not very often here.  So things change and they stay the same and that is life.  This has never been the place to bare my soul or tell all. Three letters - www - are responsible for that, but it's getting trickier and feeling less natural to share at all here.  My kids are growing up, my feelings are getting more complicated, and the stories I need and want to tell are of the nature that they will strip me naked and leave me exposed.  Oh and probably royally piss off a lot of people I know or knew.  As a writer and a person, I strive to be authentic, vulnerable and honest.  It's a constant challenge thanks to the voice in my head and the world full of critics.

The blogosphere is as brutal as it is supportive.  Sometimes I cannot comprehend the level of vitriol it spews.  The mean girl snark, unfriendly competition, and utter lack of boundaries are cringe worthy, and at times down right uncomfortable.  Suffocating and paralyzing too.  It has the effect of making me hang on my every word even while I know and am thankful for the fact that I'm an unknown in this community.  There is something to be said for getting published posthumously.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Lent.  Lily decided to give up Mine Craft, which is quite impressive considering how much she loves that game.  Teddy gave up soda.  I thought that was a little wimpy.  Then he had a stomach bug on Ash Wednesday and I had to run out and get him white soda so it was kinda ironic.  We try to use Lent not only as a time to give up vices (of which they have so few), but also as a time to focus on alms giving.  I have given up (or tempered) most of my vices since the start of the new year and will continue on this path so I am going to use the next 6 weeks to recommit to this and also to work on what I want to do instead of not do.

Teddy is feeling so much better.  He came downstairs yesterday morning to tell me he lost 6 pounds in the 36 hours he was unable to eat, and to ask me what was for breakfast.  And lunch.  And dinner!

A fun day with the girls Monday.  I missed my Mom, but only a little.

A night with the girls tonight.  Wine and cheese and long overdue conversation.  Four hours felt like two.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Meatball Subs and Sausage Kale Pasta with Red Peppers in a Light Parmesan Cream Sauce.

Reading with my girl before bed.  We just started Olive's Ocean this week.  It's sweet.

"Instructions for living a life.  Pay attention.  Be astonished.  Tell about it."  Mary Oliver.  I think that about sums it up.

My budding photographer.  She's developing a discerning eye.  I'm especially grateful for that because the film for her camera is pricey!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

2 day pass

while ted was away for a weekend of skiing,
we enjoyed lots of one on one time with lily.
because their interests vary so widely, it's nice to be able to do this from time to time.
not to mention, that he's a teenager who prefers hanging out with friends while she still thinks her parents are sorta cool sometimes (and especially when they are indulging her and only her).
we did things that she loves because we love her.
and also because she doesn't ask for much and she appreciates everything.
she was happy whether we were baking, shopping, painting pottery, taking pictures with her new camera, attending a play, or just spending time together or with loved ones.
she whipped up what are now known as lily's famous molten chocolate cakes for valentine's desert.
masterchef she comes!
we celebrated the holiday with a  family friendly evening at home and it was perfect.
mike cooked the steaks beautifully, lily make the vinaigrette for salad, and i made my favorite asparagus side.
we lit candles, played jazz and toasted one another.
she declared it was the best valentine's ever even before we agreed to let her choose the movie.
we had tickets for hairspray sunday afternoon, and were happily entertained.
it ranks right up there as one of our all time favorite performances.
later that evening we enjoyed family dinner at my brother and sil's.
lily helped her aunt assemble the lasagna and was happy to end the night with a spirited game of heads up.
monday we lunched with aunt jess and then spent some time in the studio painting.
she finally painted the turtle she's had her eye on.
i chose a plate and jess painted a spoon rest.
we headed to cedarburg to do a little shopping.
at miss bit's request we visited not one, but two candy shops.
she spent $14! on jelly bellys, and the rest of her money on a sweet little owl now known as sage.
we came home to share the giant caramel apple jess bought, and to take the bertie bott challenge at lily's persistent yearning.
the adults got stuck with skunk, grass clippings, vomit and stinky socks while lil got the licorice, green apple, pear and tutti frutti.
i opened the wine and made a new recipe for chicken cordon bleu meatballs for dinner not eager for the day or the weekend to come to an end.
but it had too.
jess went home, ted came home happy after an awesome ski weekend, and we all went to bed exhausted and inspired after a very full few days.

Monday, February 16, 2015

On My Mind Monday

We saw Hairspray yesterday, and I cannot get it out of my mind.  The story and the music are great, but what blew me away was the level of talent that our high school aged cast brought to the stage. They were nothing short of incredible, and I felt honored to be in the audience.  Next up is Fame at my alma mater.  SHS is known for performance arts and I always feel humbled there too.  Miss Bit called us theatre junkies as we talked about upcoming shows, and she's right.  I love the spring musical season best, and the fact that she does too.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Grateful Saturday

Today I give thanks for...

A little time to myself this morning.  It's me, the cats and my coffee.  I just saw T. Bone off for a few days of skiing.  Of course, it's bitter cold and the winds are blustery, but I'm telling myself that the conditions will be less brutal in the western corner of the state.

We exchanged our Valentines last night.  Coach gave me the most thoughtful gift of 20 things for the 20 years we've been married.  It's extra sweet, and I love him!


My girl still loves to cook.  Tonight we're going to make Molten Chocolate Cakes in honor of the holiday. 

Lunch with my sil mid-week.  We tried a new to us restaurant and we both agree we'll return.  I had a Korean bowl that was the most delicious combo of pork shoulder, brown rice and veggies (broccoli, kale, spinach, shrooms, radishes, bean sprouts) all topped with a runny egg.  Just typing that is making me think of the leftovers still in the fridge.

Conferences this week.  Both the kids have excellent grades and are really loved by all their teachers. The feelings are rather mutual too.  

Miss Bit's reading teacher gave us some great suggestions for her.  She hasn't really loved anything she's read lately.  I know how that can take the joy out of reading, but I think we have a list of books that will light that fire again and a few are waiting for us at the library.

Tickets to see Hairspray at the high school this weekend.  T. Bone saw it with his class this week and he enjoyed it so I expect that we will too.

Another successful swim meet, and swimming her first 100.  She was way more than ready, but had to overcome the nerves that present themselves when something new is on the horizon.

Ice skating with my girl after school one day.  We had the rink all to ourselves so even though the ice was treacherous in places, it was well worth it.  

There are no pictures of me from the rink, but I wore my Mom's Irish sweater and the matching wool hat that still smell like her, and kept me toasty warm.

T. Bone the volunteer.  Last week he went to the VA hospital and hung out with the vets.  He really enjoyed that.  This week he worked at the food pantry our church sponsors and had another great experience, and there will be more to come thanks to our civics minded middle school.

She loves her new camera which was part Valentines, part your brother is away on another trip and part reward for another trimester of hard work.

Twilight skies.

My lake front.  Your lake front too.  And that Coach felt well enough to join me for a walk along it.

New recipes.  This week Giada's Orange Scented Almond and Olive Oil Muffins and Skinnytaste's Baked Zucchini Sticks.  Both were keepers.  

Corned beef.  I picked one up from Costco last week and it was thebestcornedbeefwehaveverhad!  Coach does it up in the pressure cooker and really it is such a treat!

A new denim shirt.  I've been in search of for a long time, and I finally found the perfect one.

No work or school on Monday.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

2 day pass

this weekend was one long exhale.
i could have paused for at least another day.
especially since the world around me and the people in it didn't exactly stop or even slow.
nevertheless, i did my best to simply breathe and in between chauffeuring and chaperoning.
i spent as much time as possible doing only what my soul stirred me to.
it wan't much...just enough.
i read and i wrote with cats at my feet like dense loaves of bread or curled in my lap like lima beans.
i walked along the lakefront in the howling wind that whipped like winter, but smelled sweet as spring.
i baked for the first time since the holidays...
a cake for miss bit's half birthday.
she's 10 1/2, which is both beautiful to my heart and beyond my mind's comprehension.
we don't always celebrate half birthdays, but we were in need of some sweetness and sugar after a rash of doom and gloom.
i'm happy to report that the dark cloud's lifted.
and now i'm breathing easier.
around the table for sunday night dinner, i felt it in my bones:
that palpable shift in energy...
from laborious to light.
and then i inhaled and went to bed for the night.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

February Inventory

Reading I recently finished Me Before You.  Meh. It was more chick lit than literary fiction.  Little substance or style.  Skip it unless, of course, you like that kind of squishy story.  Sorry if that sounds snobbish.  I moved on to Cheryl Strayed's debut novel, Torch.  I expected it to grab me, and it did.  Although it is fiction, she draws heavily on her own experiences many of which became the backbone for Wild.  That begets the question: Is any work pure fiction?  It's a question she addresses quite powerfully in the book's preface.  I also have on hand her compilation from years writing as Dear Sugar called Tiny Beautiful Things.  It's light and perfect when I only have 5 minutes to spare.

Wondering if the way we live our lives today is changing our brains. All the multi-tasking and the constant connectivity makes me question, at times, whether I have ADHD.  Sometimes it takes all my mite to focus and not give in to that desire for continual external stimulation.  I find myself clicking on the link for a new article when I'm halfway through the first, starting the washing machine and forgetting to load it because I move on to unload the dishwasher and start dinner, half listening in conversations as I try to tune in to t.v., texts or games, or that my mind wanders mid-thought to what I have to do next. That perpetual list scrolling through my brain.  I don't think partial attention makes us more efficient, or that social media makes us closer.  I think it all makes us stressed out and isolated.

Noticing that it takes about 3 weeks to entrench a good habit and a bit longer to shed a bad one.  Also that I am not an all or nothing girl and that it's OK to be kind to myself.  Even forgiving.  And that there is much value in the intention.

Watching the last episode ever of Parenthood.  Coach can confirm that I started to cry before the show even started.  It was a great, albeit teary, hour.  I wasn't put off that it ended so neatly minus Zeke's exodus either.  I needed closure because like so many loyal viewers, I felt like the Bravermans were my family.  That's why I'm boycotting ABC: they exiled my people.  Coach and I watched Fury this week.  Meh.  Another war movie.  That's all I got.

Listening soon to my Parenthood playlist.  I have a compilation of about 40 songs from the life of the series that I'm gathering for a cd.  It was hard to whittle it down to 40 too.  The music was definitely one of the things I loved about that show.  Also listening to Serial.

Eating lots of cereal and salads, and a fair amount of take out this past week when I was a single parent.

Drinking a giant cup of cold water first thing in the morning.  It is more energizing than starting my day with coffee, but I still have a cup every morning.  Just one most mornings.  I used to have two, but I have effectively replaced that second cup with a mug of green tea because, well, green tea equals antioxidants.  I love tea, but green tea has been an acquired taste for me. I enjoy it with orange and cinnamon steeped in the blue mug with birds and words I painted last week with Lily.  Happiness in a cup.

Feeling vulnerable, but knowing I'm strong and stubborn.  This is the last I'm going to prattle on about the last week(s) from hell, but nothing makes me feel more afraid and defenseless than when someone I love is sick.  Coach was really sick.  Like stay home all week in bed, go to the doctor and get turbo antibiotics sick.  He finally turned the corner and is on the mend.  I knew he would no thanks to people who felt compelled to share horrific stories with me and the breadth of knowledge from their Internet MDs, but I digress.  It takes me back to the days at the end of my Mom's life.  There were people there for me...for her...for us.  We were not alone.  I learned to not only accept help, but to ask for it.  I've since forgotten that.  I declined any help that was offered last week.  During that time 6+ years ago, I also learned that most people don't want to be viewed as weak or needy so they try to do it on their own, and also that they often don't know what they need so it is important not to ask, but to just do.  Bring them a hot meal, call them from the store and find out what they need (if they say nothing, bring them wine, chocolate and magazines), shovel their walk, or walk their dog.  Insist.  Just do it.  Don't ask.  I used to be better at that because I lived the life of a caretaker, and I couldn't have done it without support so I learned the value of showing up.  This past couple of rough weeks were more of an inconvenience than an ordeal, but it's still nice to know that we're not alone and to remember to keep paying it forward.

Wanting to win the lottery tonight.  Buy Powerball tickets is on my list today.   My Mom used to say, You can't win if you don't play.

Wearing my Mom's Lake Winnipesaukee sweatshirt, Ted's now too small for him LL Bean slippers and my be present necklace, which was a favorite gift from Coach.

Hoping that Cheryl Strayed keeps writing books, ABC brings back Parenthood, I get the winning numbers, my Mom's sweatshirt lasts forever, and that Coach is good as new Monday morning.

Thinking Isn't that like wondering?  I'm thinking that more fulfillment comes from doing the thing rather than talking about doing the thing.  Capisce?

Enjoying This piece from The New Yorker, and this line because I saw it too...

Now I know for sure that the soul is an evanescent thing and that the body is its temporary container, because I saw it. I saw the body with the soul in it, I saw the body with the soul leaving, and I saw the body with the soul gone.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Weeks end.  As I recall, last Friday I felt grateful that we made it through the week.  Apparently that was just a trite little teaser for the real trial, which we endured this past week.  I don't want to rehash any of it thankyouverymuch, but it falls along the whole whatever can go wrong will vein, and also the whatever doesn't kill you doesn't kill you train.  Lots went wrong and we're still alive so I'm choosing to see that as a happy ending to a really shitty week.  Sayonara.

Running out in my last night's pjs at gloaming Sunday just in time to catch my neighbor's plow guy.  It had been snowing for hours and inches.  Coach was in bed sick and Ted had a sore back that even kept him home from skiing the day before.  It was worth the $45 to get plowed out.  Coach didn't get out of bed for days and Ted didn't feel better until immediately after the plow left.  It was then that he felt well enough to go outside and build a 6 foot ski ramp in the yard.  I simply poured a glass of wine and watched him from the warm and cozy house just thankful for the 60 minutes of silence and that he was letting his sister help.

Kids that like to play outside.  Yes, even in the cold.  They didn't have recess all week, but Miss Bit came home and played in the snow with her friend for hours.  That's what I used to do, and I didn't have a single stitch of techie gear like they do.

She can and she prefers to make her own hot cocoa now.  With milk, marshmallows, chocolate syrup and clouds of whipped cream.

Channeling my mom.  This week I actually pulled out the only boring people are bored and when I was your age cards, I heard her when I laughed, and I caught myself on more than one occasion say out loud...I want my mom. Ok maybe I said mommy.

Standing my ground.  She didn't want to go to her swim meet last night.  I didn't want to go to her swim meet last night either for entirely different reasons.  Giving in to her nerves would have only validated her anxiety so I knew she had to participate.  After a pep talk and a bribe, she took first in one event and second in another.  Now she cannot wait for next week's meet, and she learned an important lesson.  Turns did I.

The sky.  Especially early in the morning and just before twilight.  So many shades of pink.

Few plans in the days ahead.  I am grateful to not be busy being busy.  It's way overrated.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Forgive Me

Angels are wonderful but they are so, well, aloof.
It's what I sense in the mind and the roots of the
trees, or the well, or the barn, or the rock with
its citron map of lichen that halts my feet and 
makes my eyes flare, feeling the presence of some
spirit, some small god, who abides there.

If I were a perfect person, I would be bowing
I'm not, though I pause whenever I feel this
holiness, which is why I'm often so late coming
back from wherever i went.

Forgive me.

~Mary Oliver
Forgive Me

It's been a trying week, but there's always a light at the end of the tunnel or high in the sky.  There's always something to be grateful for.  This week it's Mary Oliver who every time reminds me of this, the full moon, and a (painfully) slow return to health for my guy.  It's in concerned friends, cooperative kids and extra cuddly cats.  It's in mostly laughing (sometimes like a raging mad woman) when I really want to cry.  And it's in crying when I need to.