Tuesday, August 30, 2016

48 Hours

I've been off the grid spending a week in northern Wisconsin, and I've only got a few minutes to spare before I need to pack for another day on another lake. Life is rough I tell ya. The truth is there are many other things that I could be doing. Perhaps, even should. My house is a mess, our fridge is pretty sparse, Ted still needs school supplies and to get his driver's permit, Lily needs to organize her locker, I have something like 500 pictures to edit and I'm having cloud issues, but here's the thing...there are exactly two days of summer vacation left and we are going to eke out every last joy moment basking in the sun, swimming in the surf and gloating in our freedom. I start out every summer resisting the spontaneity as I try to hold on to some semblance of routine until I give in. I give in. I don't give up. There's a difference. I'm not throwing in the towel exasperated...I'm waving the flag in celebration.  This time is precious...not to be squandered or sullied with mundane tasks and to dos. I've learned that these things will wait and the stories that we've written as we've lived these days fully will wait patiently to be told.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

The hummingbird that was visiting my sprepto carpella this afternoon. I caught him flitting around from flower to flower out of the corner of my eye after a painfully frustrating day. Every bit of this speaks to my mom sending me signs. Signs I am in need of right now. With her it's always birds, and I buy those same blooms every spring in her memory. I stilled, exhaled and released for the first time all day at the sight of that ruby-throated beaut. I wish I could say that the feeling of lightness that washed over me will stay with me for the rest of the evening, but I know better than that. Yet it was a moment, a reminder, a wink when I needed it, and I'll take what I can get.

It's not lost on me that timing is everything. I haven't seen a single hummingbird in my yard all summer until today. And tomorrow we leave for the place where I first made the connection between my mom and the hummingbird four years ago. Birds, in general, really. The day after her death it was the owl, then the hummingbird. Now bluebirds and mourning doves too. I know she sends them. 

Family vacations without my mom are still sad. Five years ago we took our first trip up north without her and it wasn't easy. It was still worth it and there were memories made and fun had, but I thought about and missed her constantly. I'm in that same place today getting ready to embark, but I expect that when I retreat to the sun porch with my coffee in the morning, I won't be alone. I expect I'll hear the gentle whirring of a hummingbird as it gets a nip of nectar and it will stir a little sweetness within my soul.

I celebrate another trip around the sun on Sunday. It always makes me pause and take stock. It's not the number that has that effect, just the relentlessness of time's passage and all the living I still want to do. I'm at that point in my life where certain to dos no longer seem possible or plausible. That's a bit of a bitter pill because I never cross things off lists I've yet to accomplish. They stay put and are a constant reminder to get busy...to do...to be. And on the flip side, my mantra is be.here.now. It's a constant push and pull between being present and precient. The older I get, I find life more of a messy contradiction, and that's OK because at the end of the shitty day, the chaotic week, the challenging year...I'm still grateful.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


it was a couple days spent celebrating beginnings and endings...
rich histories and bright futures...
with family and friends.

friday i attended the funeral for the founder of the company i've worked for the past 25 years.
ab nicholas was a wonderful company leader and an even better human being.
he was generous with his success and humble despite his accomplishments.
he touched so many lives, which was evident by the closed city streets, standing room only church and 10 priest send-off.
at the reception after, we all sang varsity because ab was a huge supporter of badger nation.
i'll think of him every time i praise the alma mater we share.

just as day was turning to night, jess and i attended the salon opening for our stylist.
it was a nice evening in her new space with wine and a guitar player.
then we carried on the party around the kitchen island with more wine and some pizza.

saturday was a typical day of errands and chores...work outs and party planning too.
then, in the afternoon, we gathered at a cousin's for a little family reunion.
the dew point finally dropped below 70 so we enjoyed her back yard and the company.

we spent the day sunday getting ready for the lil'ympics and lily's 12th birthday bash.
the kids filled water balloons, the guys put together an obstacle course and arranged some other unconventional events for the friendly competition while i was busy in the kitchen.
i think fun was had by all and 4 hours flew by.

as night fell and the weekend expired, i felt greedy for a few more hours...another day.
these dog days of summer just don't last long enough and weekends never do no matter the time of year.
every day lily inches closer to becoming a teen, and long before this same time next year teddy will be driving.
it's good...it's time, but i find myself in need of consolation with every celebration.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


i came here tonight to capture the past few days...
and then i realized i never did so for last weekend.
i could have just skipped it...moved on.
but the thing is...last weekend deserves remembering.
i'm still thinking about it.
it was filled to the brim with joy moments i simply cannot forget.
friday night it was just ted and i.
mike and lily were still up north.
he asked to order pizza.
i asked him out for pizza.
he accepted and requested lisas's....it's the pizza place that pulls my heart strings taut.
we had the joint almost to ourselves.
while we waited for our regular (s&p xc), he played the juke box: jack johnson, john mayer, coldplay, bob marley and earth wind and fire.
ok...not just earth wind and fire, but nanny's song: september.
it was a moment on top of so many moments.
saturday the whole family reunited and joined in celebration of lily's 12th birthday.
it was a beautiful evening set in my aunt and uncle's park-like yard.
it seems like yesterday they built this house and yet the entire landscape is strangely unrecognizable.
we visited, played croquet and cat bingo, ate delicious food, and sang to the birthday girl.
it was one of those nights you could just feel the love.
and wish to never end.

the plan sunday was to make the annual trek to the state fair with lily's friend.
it's a birthday tradition.
i value traditions.
we spent a ridiculous amount of time at the midway and money on cheese curds and other bad food, but it's what we do.
it's what we do every year so it must be of some value.
as long as these two are smiling at the end of the day i am not just satisfied, but happy.

the good thing is we came home tired and happy and full. 
and that's all i can ever hope for.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Up north. Mike and Lily are having lots of fun at the cabin. They've spent most of their time on rivers and in water falls. She only complained a little about too many bug bites and too little wifi.

Home. Ted and I are holding down the fort at Casa Wags. He's been busy with cross country, driver's ed and Pokeman Go. Even though he declined my date night offer last night, I didn't take it personally. The guy was up at 7 o' clock sharp and running 5 miles by 7:30. In the course of the day, he biked upwards of 10 miles too. All he wanted to do was watch Practical Jokers and learn how to make smoothies. I cannot say I blame him.

This hilarious joker.

Girl time. Lily took me up on my offer to visit the wildlife sanctuary Tuesday. We had another great time feeding the animals with hooves and beaks (and the very friendly chipmunks), petting the elk's velvety antlers, and coaxing the wolf out of the den with hot dogs and howls.

Hot Hungarians. On the way home we passed a sausage house we used to frequent before kids when we would spend nearly every weekend at a friend's lake house. I had to stop and stock up for our upcoming lake vacation. It's been at least 20 years since I had a Schwai's Hot Hungarian.

Neighbors. My neighbor gave me the most delicious tomato from his garden the other day. I ate it with my smooth and silky scrambled eggs. It was better than cheese, which I would normally chose. He also gave me a bag of kirby cucumbers and I made my first batch of refrigerator pickles last night with garlic and dill I picked up at the farmer's market the other day along with a basket of fresh tomatoes because I'm so addicted.

Hand picked bouquets of zinnia and dahlias and sunflowers. It's happiness in a vase.

Literary turned culinary inspiration. Almond Apricot Cakes. I found the recipe in Picnic in Provence and it made perfect sense for the bag of apricots I picked up from Trader Joe's last week. They smelled delicious and my friends sure seemed to enjoy them the other night.

Happy hour with the girls midweek after a long day of getting Ted ready for back to school.

The golden hour so long at this time of year.

Peace and pine lined paths.

The truth in these Kahlil Gibran words: "Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky."

Thursday, August 4, 2016


tomorrow is friday again...already.
i've yet to recap last weekend.
it's not because it was uneventful or forgettable...
it's just that i've been rather short on time.
last weekend was filled to the brim with dates and parties.
all good stuff.
friday eve lily and i had an impromptu date with jess to shop and then have dinner.
i finally ordered right and really enjoyed the shrimp i've so been craving.
we came home and watched family movies until 2 o'clock in the morning.
ted joined us and stayed even when we had crying jags.
truthfully there were more laughing fits.
funny how those vignettes can take me right back as if it wasn't all that long ago that he was singing feliz navidad in his spiderman pjs and she was madly in love with her num num and elmo.
i am so grateful for the movies we have, but i wish i'd taken a hundred more.
on saturday mike, lily and i had a date on windmill beach.
sadly, ted opted out.
we missed him, but he missed a sublime saturday.
we picked up a sinful fried chicken picnic lunch and enjoyed a rare warm and wavy water day.
i walked straight into lake michigan without my usual 30 minute wade.
it was heavenly.
lily swam for hours.
we didn't want to leave, but lily had a birthday sleepover.
since ted was out with friends, mike and i cleaned up and enjoyed libations and the aire libre at a bier garden.
then we splurged on a pizza baked in an authentic sicilian oven.
it was worth every non-whole30 compliant morsel.
on sunday we celebrated my father-in-law's birthday with swimming and steaks.
i was in charge of salads so i prepared two of my favorites: caesar and caprese.
it was another beautiful and fun day spent with family.
this upcoming weekend promises to hold more of the same.
stay tuned.

Monday, August 1, 2016

On My Mind Monday

"People and places have long memories."

~ Elizabeth Bard
Picnic in Provence

The pages I'm dog-earring in this memoir mostly contain passages...not recipes although those are quite something too. I am completely taken with the simple, sensory life the author embarks on in rural France. As blasphemous as it might sound, I've never dreamed of going to Paris, but Provence sounds like Heaven to me.