Saturday, July 30, 2016

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Girlfriends. Hers, mine, ours. They're partners in crime, sidekicks and lifelines.

Tent sleepovers in the middle of the week.

Impromptu dinners at the end of the day that just seem to come together.

Old fashioned sundae bars for dessert. Think hot fudge and warm caramel, crushed Virginia peanuts, whipped cream, cherries and sprinkles.

Watermelon water...refreshing and hydrating.

A week of hard, hot and sweaty workouts that feel energizing and essential.

A long walk to sweat out the toxins and clear my head.

Colanders of sweet cherries.

That time last weekend when Teddy made us pancake breakfasts without us asking.

A father/daughter week at the cabin coming up to swim in water falls, river raft, hike and fish.

Hearing James Bay on GMA this morning even though it made me late for work.

The inspiration I'm getting from Picnic in Provence. I came home from work yesterday and picked it up. Fifty pages later I was jazzed to take leftover pork tenderloin and a forgotten bunch of asparagus to a higher level. I made a sweet and spicy apricot salsa and a balsamic glaze to elevate the meal. The meal was 95% Whole30 compliant save for the skosh of sugar in the reduction and 100% delicious. I even caught Mike licking his plate at one point.

I'm back on the Whole30 track, but I'm allowing myself a little more wiggle room.

Last night. It went like this: read a few chapters, walk 3 miles with Mike and Lily, throw Teddy a few grounders, make dinner, watch the last night of the DNC, stay up too late listening to the pundits, and read a couple more chapters to escape from the crazy world of politics back to the serenity that is rural France.

Teddy and Grandpa had a great guy date yesterday. They golfed 18, went out for pizza and then went to the putting green. Ted shot a 77 so golf is now his favorite sport ever again for today.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

All That Remains

I woke this morning to the forlorn cooing of the mourning dove. Just one perched lonely on a wire. It always strikes me as so hauntingly familiar. His? Or maybe her sad laments today resonated deeply with my heavy heart more so than usual. In my dream before waking...that hazy space of partial consciousness...I realized that I was several hours late in picking my daughter up from school. In a panic, I listened to my voicemail (something I am often unlikely to do irl) after what seemed like forever in fumbling with my phone. The only message concerned not my daughter, but rather my mother. A friend was calling to tell me she recently saw her and she was doing well. She just wanted me to know. The realization that all these years of mourning and grief were unnecessary was devastating. How can it be that my mother has been alive all this time without me knowing? Why did she let me believe that she was gone from the world? My heart was broken again for all the precious time wasted. This was good news, but it didn't make me happy.


I was lying in bed feeling all of the emotions of loss just below the surface as I was slowly coming back to life. My body ached with a visceral sadness. Not fleeting like a distant memory, but fresh. Muscle memory is nothing to mess with. The day after my mom passed, I got horribly sick. For 6 weeks I put my life on hold to be there for her as her life came to an end. I have not one regret, but it was an emotional, physical and spiritual test. The most grueling I've ever taken. It was like my body knew it had to go on despite the stress, lack of sleep or proper nourishment, and a sad breaking heart. It was uncanny how my temple...stood strong for me as I depleted its every reserve only to crash exactly 12 hours after my mom died at the first moment it could. I was sicker than I've ever been that week, and yet I've never had more respect for my body. It held up for me so I could hold her hand and be by her side. It stood by me.


When I got out of bed this morning, I opened the window and was greeted by a damp, loamy breath. It caught in my throat for a second as I saw myself walking down the wooded path to the fertile river bed just on the edge of my childhood yard. Images flashed through my saturated head: a tire swing, a patch of ripe raspberries, stained and sticky fingers, a stray cat, a fairy tale pond filled with bright fleshed, fat koi, ice cubes clanking in a glass of caramel colored liquor, dirty feet and messy hair, and that fecund smell that transports me straight back to that age of innocence again.


As I surmised, the lone mourning dove was singing its dirgelike song from the high wire. I watched the bird wondering if its the same dove I witnessed widowed at the talons of a hungry hawk two summers ago. His? Her mate singing beside her one moment and the next gone just a pile of feathers left littering the lawn still warm and soft and white. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Summer is a State of Mind

I woke up this morning on the couch after a sporadic and restless night of sleep. I had four girls sleeping, or more like giggling, the night and early morning away in a tent in the back yard so I was snoozing with one ear and one eye open. At 3 o'clock they were so loud I would have sworn they  migrated to the family room with me. I sent them a friendly text asking them to please quiet down, and they did. Such are the marvels of modern technology: I didn't have to get up off the couch to scold them. As I waited to drift back off, I could hear only their muffled laughter and comfortable chatter and it made me smile. It brought back so many memories of all night truth or dare contests and countless seances. Light as a feather stiff as a board...echoed in my dream sleep. The girls lasted the entire night in the tent only to emerge in the morning when the sun quickly turned the cozy Coleman into a sweat lodge. Peanut spent the early morning keeping watch on the tent sharing my disbelief that they were still in there. Eventually, they emerged looking wilted and weary. I found our entire stash of candy (now mostly wrappers, the rest quickly melting) in the tent along with their sleeping bags, and the source of their unwavering energy and subsequent crash became apparent. Again, I simply smiled: it's summer so lack of sleep and gorging on junk food is no big deal. They had all day to suffer through sleep and sugar withdrawal with little else to worry about.

The girls gathered around the island as I made the second breakfast of the day: pancakes to order. I'd already served Teddy a stack this morning before his golf tournament. As we were well on our way to the course, he realized he forgot his golf shoes. This is the kind of oversight that would normally rattle me, but not in the middle of summer. I turned around without even a slight surge in my blood pressure and returned home. Lack of warm-up time before his tee time: it's a first world problem.

The rest of the day was mostly lazy. We were all tired and hot, but not cranky. Ted wasn't even pissy at his disappointing 90 for 18 today. Tomorrow's a new day and he'll play a new course. Lil and I ate ice cream for lunch and then took naps. We just finished Father of the Bride and it was better than the DNC. I got a stash of movies for the sleepover, but the girls no longer need moms to plan their entertainment. That is both happy and sad. Thankfully, she still enjoys watching movies together. Ted and I even hung out watching trash t.v. in bed in the heat of the day, and I didn't feel the least bit guilty for any of it. Summer is about taking it easy, spontaneity and ice cream. Life's all about moderation and mindfulness. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

two day pass

this weekend was the hottest of the year.
lily had a softball tournament.
4 games in 3 days.
the girls conquered the heat and the humidity.
they were unable to defeat their opponents.
 they ended the season without a win.
and yet it was a mostly positive experience of teamwork and friendship.
they improved every game and they never hung their heads or gave up.
i was pleasantly surprised when t. bone decided to come to the first saturday game without invitation or insistence.
of course, he spent most of the game playing catch with a family friend.
yet he came, he saw (probably more than i did despite the fact that i was mostly watching intently while talking incessantly with my oldest frister), he cheered.
then ted disappeared until sunday evening swimming, pokemaning and biking around with friends.
he leaves a trail behind him: his bike at one friend's, swim trunks at another's, golf clubs one place and a tooth brush at numerous.
mike had a blast participating in the high school foundation's golf outing on saturday. 
that'll be a new summer tradition.
then sunday after 2 steamy games, he napped, i read the girls and lily hung out with her friend in the air conditioned house.
the girls stayed home and made themselves dinner which is something i think is something.
the rest of us attended the baseball banquet.
we thought we'd just make an appearance and then it was 2 1/2 hours later.
the focus was primarily on varsity so many players weren't called out.
coach called teddy up for the 7 or so games he played on varsity this season,
and he encouraged him to work hard in the off season so he can earn his starting spot next year.
i think he's motivated because he had me wake him up early monday morning to go workout.
he ended up going back to bed, but it's a start.
mike and i ended the weekend with a movie...13 hours.
i was on the edge of my seat for the duration even though i knew the outcome.
the forecast for the week ahead is hot and full.
it's summer folks.

Monday, July 25, 2016

On My Mind Monday

There are those survivors of disasters whose accounts never begin with the tornado warning or the captain announcing engine failure, but always much earlier in the timeline: an insistence that they noticed a strange quality to the sunlight that morning or excessive static in their sheets. A meaningless fight with a boyfriend. As if the presentiment of catastrophe wove itself into everything that came before.

Emma Cline
 The Girls

This was not on my radar, but then I was lured in by the cover. I sped through this over the weekend remembering how vulnerable and naive I was when I was a 14 year old girl. It was both fascinating and frightening.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Getting up early this morning. Even though I wanted that extra hour of sleep, I also wanted to hear the buzz about Trump's speech last night on GMA first thing. I fell asleep about half way through his 75 minute rally, but I thought he was doing a pretty good job. As much as I lack affinity for either candidate (affinity being a kind word), I think this is fascinating stuff. And entertainment aside, it is my duty to be informed so I can cast my educated vote.

The right to vote. I've voted in every presidential election since I turned 18 and all elections the past decade. It really gets me fired up when I hear people say that they're not going to vote in November. It's reckless.

Getting to work early so I can leave early.

An extra day off this week and every week for the rest of the summer. 

Air conditioning. It's been brutal here all week. In the 90s and humid. It's the kind of weather that gets me looking forward to fall, and I don't want to wish away the second half of summer. 

After this weekend, softball is over. It's been a long season. She's busy with games and practice usually 4 nights a week. That's too much for summer in my opinion. 

Camp Grandma. Lily had a fun overnight this week that involved lots of time in the pool and a visit to the movies.

Pokemon Go. I cannot believe I'm actually saying this, but Ted went out for 2 long bike rides today to catch Pokemon and to crack his eggs. If not for this ap I fear, he would've watched tv all day.

Middle of week end of day picnic dinners on the beach.

6 weeks of summer left.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

On Everything

I'm waiting for Lily to wake up so we can begin our day's adventure. She's not one to sleep the day away like her brother, but this is her first week with true summer freedom since summer began. I want her to enjoy it although I'm not exactly sure whether she'll be happy or grumpy when she wakes only to realize I've let her sleep half the morning away. Teddy's not here. In true teenager fashion, he came home from spending all day at an amusement park yesterday with one friend only long enough to pack a bag to spend the night at another friend's. I asked for a hug. He pulled the "sweaty" card. I took the hug in spite of the perspiration. He's almost sixteen so I'm aware this is all natural and healthy, yet I cannot help but fast forward to that time when he's not even passing through anymore gathering things for his next stop.


I came home from work yesterday spent. I woke up at 2:45 and worried until it was time to get up. This doesn't happen to me often, but when it does, it's usually a Sunday night. I intended to take a nap so I put on some mindless television and then got sucked into an old episode of Teen Mom...the one where the adorable couple (who remind me so much of me and my high school swetheart) decide to give their baby girl up for adoption. I sobbed. I was wrecked for them and for all parents. We all have to give up our children at some point though. Kahlil Gibran was right in On Children:

"Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you."

Yet children always need their parents. I still need my mom. There's something I want to tell or ask her every single day and I'm going on 47 here. We're never too old for their comfort, wisdom or support despite the fact we travel through know it all and do it all phases. I'm uncomfortably in the phase where I realize how little I know and how much I need. I only expect to know less and need more from here on out. Yet there's a certain freedom in accepting one's faults, flaws and shortcomings. There is peace in knowing and loving oneself as is. It's called humility, grace and also maturity. 

How many times have we heard it said that we cannot love another deeply and truly until we love ourselves? I believe it. We cannot give that we do not possess, and yet even in dark periods of self-deprecation or loathing I still love my children unconditionally because they are me despite all the wisdom in Gibran's words.

Monday, July 18, 2016

On My Mind Monday


two day pass

it's that time of year when before i know it, it's the weekend again.
every day is different, and life is peppered with spontaneity.
it's hard for the type a planner i tend to be, but only when i resist it.
when i lean into the freedom, i reap the benefits of living in and for the moment.
unfortunately, something's got to give.
usually it's blogging and cleaning and sleep.
i'll survive.
so will my house and my history.

this weekend kicked off with lily's acting camp performance.
the actors gave us glimpses into what they've been devoted to the past couple weeks.
we were treated to a little improv, quite a rousing scene from hamlet and a lively lion king number.
she had the lead in a vignette during which she played a compelling autistic girl and was excited about it.
they closed the show with on broadway and i couldn't stop smiling.
she went with an old friend and they made new friends.
every year it's an all around well worth it experience.

that evening, while i was busy in the kitchen, i finished the bottle of freakshow that jess and i started the night before.
it was delish, and fitting as it seemed to perfectly sum up the people i had to deal with this week...i won't say where, but i bet you could guess.
i baked lily's now famous s'mores cookies for a family reunion mike was attending, and i put together a beach picnic for the girls all for saturday.

saturday after the boys went on their ways, the girls headed to windmill beach.
the water was warmer than it was during our midweek gloaming dinner, but still frosty and not for the faint of heart especially since the air was cooler and the westerly breeze constant.
we had a ladies lunch on the deck and spent the rest of the glorious afternoon beachside.
while i was the first one in the water wednesday, i didn't get beyond my lower extremities this time.
the girls were submerged for hours...surprisingly.
actually until their lips were blue and their teeth chattering, and still they wanted to stay.
they made friends with dogs and waves and a giant beach ball they blew up all by themselves.

we left just before gloaming and stopped for dinner on the way home.
it was the kind of day one doesn't mind lingering or lasting forever.
but it ends and too soon.
such is the fate of all good things.
i slept the sleep of the dead saturday and woke to a dreamy still sleeping house sunday.
i finished one book then picked up another and felt nothing but gratitude for quiet and coffee and other people's words.
sunday was a rough one for me...complicated, hormonal and sad.
i'll leave it at that.
the good news is that i know exactly why i felt the way i did, and it left me missing my mom something fierce.
it hurts to miss her so viscerally.
but i welcome the pain because it reminds me of what i lost and what matters.
last night, lily and i ended the weekend reading love and gelato aloud in bed.
i picked it up from the library for her and she sort of dismissed it, but we were both quickly drawn into this story about family history.
we read...we bond.
this is what matters: time, connection, intimacy, vulnerability.
this is what matters to me.

Monday, July 11, 2016

On My Mind Monday

Asa said he understood now what adult love could be. Something where two people did not merge so completely that they had trouble figuring out where one ended and the other began, but rather the joining of two strong, separate beings, creating a future rather than trying, over and over, to redo the past.

Pamela Erens
Eleven Hours

Sounds about right to me.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

June Inventory

Reading I've been a rather uninspired reader. Since I last checked in here, I've gotten through The Nest, which was a mindless read so good for the beach although I happen to believe there are more worthy light reads to chose from. Then I finished Mothering Sunday: A Romance. I felt cheated of the 2 hours it took from my night so skip it. Eleven Hours was another quick but more compelling read, yet I was missing that twelfth hour when I finished the last page. I listened to The Heights while walking, and it was a solid choice both in story and narration for motivating me. Now I'm into The Passenger, which is in the company of Gone Girl. I'm still picking up It Starts With Food too because it's the Whole30 manifesto.

Wondering why in summer the days and nights seem to pass at warp speed. It's almost the middle of July and there is still so much we have yet to do.

Watching nothing worth mentioning. Mike and I are trying to get through season 2 of OITNB, but I fall asleep after 20 minutes every time.

Listening to the Sting station on Pandora. It's a good one.

Eating Whole30 again after a break for the holiday. On day 27 I decided to break it with a bite of chocolate cake because Lily baked it at camp and was super proud. For two weeks she brought home fresh baked goodies day after day and we couldn't attest to their deliciousness. Lily and chocolate cake are my weaknesses so I enjoyed a bite. One single bite. Then over the weekend there was a little more sugar, a piece of cheese, a couple bites of pasta salad, a few chips, some nitrites, and I felt horrible. horrible as in guilty and sluggish, bloated. So I'm back at it with renewed dedication.

Wishing I had my own personal chef and garden.

Wanting peace and people to stop hiding behind their rhetoric. I'm sick and tired of the way attestations that Black Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter immediately shut down the conversation. All lives matter. Amen. 

Thinking about never again times and just how it is even possible to be nostalgic for yesterday.

Enjoying family bike rides, iced coffees, watermelon water, summer breezes, plentiful fresh produce and a weekend with few obligations.

Loving this picture...these people.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Grateful Friday

There's much to be grateful for since I last checked in here. We've had a good couple weeks and a stellar start to summer. Not without its kinks, but I'm not one to let the quest for perfect ruin perfectly good, and tonight I need to focus on the joy moments and bright spots.

Today I give thanks for...

Baseball. I just came from Ted's last JV game of the season. The Knights ended strong with two wins.  He pitched and caught. Tonight the game was called in the 5th inning because of the out-of-line behavior of the opposing team's coach. We were at the field for another half hour while our boys participated in an impromptu home run derby not quite ready to bid adieu to the season. Tomorrow he rejoins varsity for the playoffs, but I'm pretty sure he'd rather golf. Someday he'll realize what kudos it is to be playing varsity as a freshman. And he's got the rest of the summer to golf although cross country starts bright and early Monday morning. Should be fun.

Golf. I'm grateful for golf too. It got him out of bed before noon several times in the past couple weeks. He makes his own tee times and then rides his bike to the course a mile away. He's played with boys his age, men older than his grandfathers, and ladies too...most of them strangers. Then after he gets lunch from the club house, he bikes home just in time for baseball. It's the most initiative he takes these days in the days he should be taking more and more, but I'll take what I can get.

Camp. Lily came home from camp today, burst through the door and said, "I'm so glad you made me take this camp! It's so fun!" She's got one more week of acting camp much to her delight. Mine too. The two weeks prior she did another camp she also raved about that involved baking, art and you tubing. It's hard being a working mom with kids preteen and teen-age. In a perfect world, I'd have the summer off with them, but, of course, the world isn't perfect. What is perfect is that I have a flexible part-time job that allows me to be chauffeur, cook and cash machine most of the time. 

Softball. She's at the tail-end of her season and still improving. She's a decent pitcher and a strong first base woman...both positions are good for her confidence. I love how she has an understanding of the game beyond her level of play thanks to the years spent in the stands watching her brother play. That's going to make her an even smarter player as her skills continue to evolve.

Dinners al fresco and by lantern light combined with the light of the moon. It's true our backs are to the lake, but we can still hear it.

Cousins. Brother sister teams for backyard baseball.

Grandparents. Grandpas who drive through rush hour traffic to cheer the grandkids. As soon as my Dad showed up last week, she made all 3 outs in the inning. This week My in-laws came to 4 games: 2 for him and 2 for her. That makes for some very lucky players. 

Family. His, mine, ours.

Paychecks. He earned his fist official check. It was only double digits, but at least it's something. (His goofy smile is because he thinks it's ridiculous I insisted on a picture.)

Cat candids. I realize I'm a broken record, but I love these two furbabies so much. We all do. Peanut had a couple bouts of sickness, but he seems to be well now for which I am eternally grateful. 

Showy skies. Again I'm tending toward redundancy, but I cannot help it. The other night I had to take Teddy to a friend's after his game at 9 o'clock. I was cranky that his night was just getting started as mine was in rapid decline. On the way home, my favorite UB40 song came on the radio. I haven't heard it in years...maybe decades, but singing along it brought me back to that time in my life when nights were still young long after the sun had set.

Freedom and July 4th celebrations. We hosted our second annual last weekend and it was a great day into night. This year we did a traditional bbq with a hot dog bar and beef brisket my dad smoked all night, yard games and fireworks. 

No one was hurt.