Thursday, June 22, 2017

weekending


it's getting harder to report here in a timely fashion.
if years are minutes, summer days are mere seconds.
i swear it was just sunday night after a full weekend and now here we at thursday after a full week.
it was a full and near perfect weekend.
lily played lots of softball. 
mike coached and i watched, cheered and came home with sunburn.
her team went 2-2 in their first tournament proving that there is room to grow, but also solid fundamentals upon which to do so.
the girls looked pretty good, played quite well and seemed to have measurable fun.
teddy played many holes of golf.
he fixed his drive, worked out his putt and tweaked his iron shot (or maybe all 3).
i lose track.
we also celebrated with the special dads we are so lucky to have in our lives...his, mine, theirs.
mike's parents came for pizza after lily's saturday evening game and we had a quick, but nice visit.
teddy took his dad golfing while lily and i volunteered at concessions very early sunday morning.
then my dad and family joined us late afternoon for impromptu bbq ribs and a wiffle ball contest that lasted into the night.
now we're ready to do it all again this weekend.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Carefree Highway

I was driving to work today in my dad's old car. He's given it to Ted for the summer, but Ted doesn't drive stick yet so it's my car as I write. I'm fine with it. It's zippy, it has air and some of my favorite stations are programmed so just the touch of a button away.

This morning I unknowingly selected the preset for the oldies station and the song that got my attention was Gordon Lightfoot's Carefree Highway. I had to hold my breath to stop the tears that wanted to free fall because suddenly I was a kid myself sitting in the back seat on a road trip. I do a great deal of time travel in the car.

****************************************************

It's a cloudy day and we're all crammed to the gills in the car with our gear after a day of cross country skiing. We're wet and tired and happy. We're also hungry so we're headed to some dive bar where we'll enjoy a greasy reward for our hours on the trails. We'll laugh about how my brother wrapped himself around a tree at the bottom of a tricky hill. I'll get heat for chickening out. I removed my skis and traipsed down it unwilling to tempt his fate. We'll talk about the trails we'll tackle the next day before heading home, and we'll groan because my brother and I would rather go tobogganing or ice skating. We complain, but only until our gear dries and the snow flies and we start moving through the quiet woods.

***************************************************

It's as clear as yesterday though it happened several decades ago. It hasn't slipped away.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Everyday Life

I woke up this morning to the sound of thunder and the dense cloak of juiced air. I didn't want to get out of bed. Not even after more than 8 hours of sound almost dreamless sleep: sleep like the dead they say. I concur. Our bedroom felt like a moist meat locker: chilled, but still heavy with humidity. After 24 hours with no air conditioning, we were impatient and may have set the repaired thermometer somewhere below 70. Did I mention we're in a heat wave? Record breaking heat wave is what they say. 

I planned to get a workout in before work. With no one to get out the door but myself, I even thought I'd still get to work early after a few miles. The truth is I was 10 minutes late and I didn't break a sweat. Instead I lingered in bed, I read a few chapters and I brushed my boys. Best laid plans is all I've got to say.

The day felt agonizingly long. My focus was roving. My mood arbitrary, but intense. That translates as fragile. I'm feeling everything. Too much. All the time. It's overwhelming and exhausting.

So exhausting that I had to come home and chill out with a few chapters until I faded into an easy sleep. Mentally, I know what I need is to shut down. Reboot. When I wake after 20 maybe 30 minutes, it was to the sound of dueling mowers. It sounds like everyone on the block is out mowing at once. It sounds like summer. I feel like a hundred bucks. I'm aiming for a million.

After dropping Miss Bit at her softball practice, I stopped to catch a few innings of Ted's game. It's simpatico to catch up with the other moms. I forget how easy relationships are with the moms of boys. We are all on the same team just like our boys. 

The fog rolled in off the lake and the temperature plummeted at least 10 degrees. Suddenly we're shivering again and also reminded that a slight shift in direction can evoke big change. A slim shift in attitude can make a big difference as well. So can a kind word, a hug, an act of solidarity.

The boys lost their first game yet this season, but they'll play another game tomorrow against a big rival and we'll all be there to support them another night. They may win, they may lose, but all that's important as cliche as it sounds is that they show up, give their best and have lots of fun in the process. It's what I'm working toward myself.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Middle Age

It's the cats' mission most mornings to get me out of bed soon after the sun rises. Of course, shortly after I rise, they are back to sound sleep, yet I appreciate the wake up call (or pat, purr, or massage) because in my middle age I have become a faithful and studied connoisseur of Sunday morning solitude. I'm no longer a night owl, but rather a proudly self-proclaimed early bird. Take as proof the fact that I fell asleep about 15 minutes into our movie last night and Miss Bit has the video to back it up.

As I got up out of bed this morning, so many muscles revolted. I felt every squat, bend, lift and reach from the hours of yard work we took on yesterday. It's a good pain: the reminder of hard labor. I've never been a gardener and I don't call myself one now. I don't like dirt and I'm scared of bugs. There are numerous witnessed accounts of spiders running toward me or jumping on me when they should be running for their lives and away. 

Yet I've grown to appreciate the planting of beautiful living things that will grow year after year. It's another measure of middle age and it makes sense. Gardening requires patience, vision, faith, resolve and commitment: all very mature characteristics. I've made 4 stops to 2 nurseries, and my husband 2 trips himself. I have to go back at least once today. I spent so long perusing plants one spree that I came home with sunburn. I don't know much about plants or flowers so I read and ask questions and then I finally just pull the trigger and dig the holes. Well, Mike digs the holes. We water every day, fertilize once in awhile and then hope that everything will take, flower and ultimately survive. All of this is, of course, the perfect metaphor for life.

After gardening all 90 degree day long (thank you Mother Nature for the strong and steady southwest breeze though), we took an impromptu road trip to Windmill Beach yesterday late afternoon to cool off in Lake Michigan and catch up with family. We donned suits, grabbed towels and piled into Mike's new car (yes, his BMW was totaled), and I even surprised myself. This sudden surge of spontaneity may or may not be attributable to middle age. One certainly cannot rule out the phenomenon known as summer state of mind

And it felt like summer after the wind shifted back to the southwest. We dug our toes in the hot sand and sat around the fire pit we didn't need. I dipped my toes in the lake and declared it too cold, but before long I took the Walk of Death (WOD), but really it's the walk of life because the water is so refreshing and energizing. I pretty much walked in and under which is a freak of nature...my nature. Of course, I dove in with my sunglasses on my head on a wavy day so I made an offering to the lake. I was rather nonplussed by losing my favorite Ray Bans and that is a touchstone of middle age (and chardonnay). You dive into the lake with glasses on your head, you're going to lose them. Stupid actions have unpleasant consequences, and they're only glasses. Yada yada. My brother promised to walk the beach this morning to see if the surf spit them out. I had a vivid, convincing dream that he found them. We'll see. If not, I hope the someone who finds them feels lucky and looks good when they wear them.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Years Are Minutes


I'm home alone on my last Wednesday before summer vacation. I didn't even realize that today I packed Lily's last lunch of 7th grade. I'm glad it was a good one. She's not a breakfast girl. She loves lunch. I love marking beginnings and honoring endings. My baby girl is almost an 8th grader. I'm not a fan of the getting older part always, but this is a school year that I'm ready to leave behind. And yet I wrote honestly in her journal yesterday that I am awed by her grace, strength and maturity. Add to that resilience too. She excelled in school again this year despite the drama, and I am just so stinking proud of her in school, on the mound, in life.

I made Teddy a couple almond croissants this morning and sent him on his way for his English exam. He took my car and I expect to get a call soon asking if he can golf this afternoon. Some of his senior friends are trying to put together a tournament this week because they, of course, do not have exams. My baby boy is almost a junior. Lately, I've been waking up in the middle of the night worrying about him leaving home. It may be a tad premature, but the thing is that I know years are minutes. I've got two minutes.

***************************************************************

They can make their own breakfasts and lunches, but the truth is that I like to do it. They're only mine for such a short season that I want to take care of them and spoil them as much as I can so long as they appreciate it...me. Scarcely a meal goes by that I don't get a thank you from both of them. She also thanks me for making special trips to Trader Joe's for avocados, and he thanks me for keeping all his uniforms clean. Truthfully, I hear thank you at least a dozen times a day. It's my love language.

And the thing that they hear at least a dozen times a day is I love you. You know you can never say those three words too much. I say it even though I know he's an independent teenager who towers over me and is rarely home. I say it even when...especially when...she's annoyed with me because I'm her mom and when you're almost 13, moms are often if not usually annoying.

The thing is...I'll annoy them and invade their space to the end of time to let them know how proud I am of them and how much I love them.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

weekending

at the risk of sounding like a complete broken record...
the weekend was a winner and filled with softball/baseball, golf and good times with friends.
saturday we woke to rain, but eventually it went away and just as soon as it did...ted was bound for the course.
lily celebrated a classmate's bar mitzvah in style.
she was stunning.




ted was out with friends so mike and i went to the beer garden with our neighbors.
it was a beautiful night to sit out under the trees and catch up over cocktails.
sunday we were all slow to start.


but eventually the summery day went like this...


breakfast





yard work, which the cats supervise from windows and doors in between naps.


a trail side walk along the river with my guy where the aroma of wild flowers was a sweet surprise.


family dinner.
 one of my favorites: balsamic glazed chicken, pasta aglio e olio with extra aglio, and a simple caprese salad.
with my favorites.
life is good.
weekends are the very best.


Friday, June 2, 2017

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

I survived the week. It was a really long short week. Gritty too.

What doesn't kill us...doesn't kill us. Amen.

The NYT crossword puzzle, which can, at times, be rather cheeky and difficult.

Things that make me think.

Stepping out for a bowl of tikka masala soup today with a friend. I didn't want to go out and I didn't want that soup, but as it turns out they were both rather delightful.

Friends and comfort food.

Watching Ted play baseball last night. I L O V E  L O V E that the team is reunited. They truly are a force of very talented goofballs to be reckoned with.

Teams of friends.

Right now he is golfing with teammates after baseball practice after school. I am quite awed by his constant devotion and energy.

Passion.

Our baby birds are peeking out of the nest and soon they will take flight. This is definitely an allegorical premonition of my life, and I think that's why I'm so fiercely protective of them.

Honesty.

An after school shopping date with Lily this week. She looked so cute in all the dresses she tried on that I thought about buying her several despite the fact she's a more sporty girl these days, and these were rather pricey. We did mutually agree on an adorable, affordable number for an event she'll attend tomorrow.

Seeing her shine.

Sons and daughters.

My little life with my big loves.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

weekending

memorial day weekend is when we usher in that summer state of mind.
although it is not yet officially summer, you could have fooled me.
the weather was perfect...cool mornings, warm days, crisp nights.
and we filled our time with quintessential summer doings.
i give you highlights and evidence.
see...


hear...
1. the boys go from window to window following the critters in the yard and then they go from door to door begging to get out. peanut spent a stretch rolling around in the grass in the sun in heaven. absolute nirvana.

2. teddy wasn't home much between baseball and golf and work which was umping this weekend. pretty typical life of a teenager. i mean sweet life.

3. lily pictured here likely snap chatting was busy too and typical tween. she had a date at the mall with a friend one day. they had lunch and shopped for books to read this summer. i was just thankful she didn't come home with any bath and body works product. buying books with her own money...now that's a girl after my heart.

4. the truth is that ted spent most of his time golfing. he had 3 different golf matches on monday alone for a total of 45 holes. 45 holes on the day before a tournament. an important tournament that i was able to spectate. 

5. naps in the middle of the day with the smell of fresh cut grass and animated sound of birdsong wafting through the open windows are daily pleasures for the cats, and sometimes weekend indulgences for the rest of us.

6. i prefer to get up early and eke as much goodness as possible out of the day. if i'm lucky, the weekend mornings start with strong coffee and a good book. this weekend i got started on this stack of new and promising reads.

7. i made two pies this weekend. my kids love my french silk pie, and our friends sure did too. i love my triple berry pie made especially in honor of memorial day. i served it with a dollop of fresh whipped cinnamon cream and a scoop of french vanilla ice cream and it was prize worthy if i don't say so myself.

8. grandpa and aunt a. came to walk the course with me. we logged 5 miles following ted, and it was great to support him and fun to see him in his element. he had a respectable couple rounds and beat his opponents, but his team was not one of the two to advance to state. that's ok because he needs to be in school next week taking exams not in madison playing golf.

9. tigger leo on another perch watching the neighbor kids play hoops on our court.

10. we were invited to my dad and step-mom's for dinner sunday night. their yard is so lush and green and teeming with wildlife. it's such a woodland oasis.

11. 5 o'clock rose' equals happy hour indeed. pink wine is quintessential summer.

12. the baby birds are feathered and getting bigger. soon they will leave the nest. it'll be nice to open our front door, but i'll miss them.

13. one of peanut's favorite resting places. i've given up and i just let him be. 

14. we had friends for dinner saturday night and had such fun catching up, playing games like 4 square and fish bowl and curses, and eating a classic bbq. then monday, my brother and sil joined us for another textbook holiday weekend meal and another good time.

15. lily and her buddy bodi. i think i promised her she could get a dog within the year. see #11.

16. my dad made his famous chicken piccata and it was so good. he's so good because he made the kids chicken parmesan knowing they wouldn't care for the capers. it was the first fancy thing he learned to cook back in his single dad days, but i haven't had it in at least 20 years. it was worth the wait. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Mike and Lily walked away from a car accident yesterday that very well may have totaled our car.

The other driver, who caused the accident, was also unhurt.

22 sculptures are being installed along Wisconsin Avenue. Yesterday I paused to watch the installation of the Calatrava on my way to the bank. It was quite something as is the buzz about the city regarding the abundance of public art.


This stands outside my building. It's called Mood.


Lily's Spring Sing. I was alone there and feeling a little blue about it. I was fixated on the fact that if my mom were here, she'd be there. That piteous feeling was none abated by the enthusiastic grandparents seated next to me, but then the first song the 7th graders sang, unbeknownst to me. was IZ's Somewhere Over the Rainbow and it felt like a hug. That's Cousin Carol's song and she's another one of our angels.

Ted's golf team advanced to regionals. Yesterday he had a PR on the host course. I'll be there Tuesday to walk the course with my dad and cheer him on.

A mid-week mid-day movie date with these two and a bowl of popcorn just because I could and also because the countdown is on to summer vacation when I will have little to no time to indulge my whims and fancies.


This marinade. Especially tasty on chicken bound for the grill.



A big pot of beef stew for the busy week. The weather cooperated and it was welcome comfort at the end of a stretch of cool, rainy days.




It was a foggy Friday.


It's going to be a decent holiday weekend and we have plans with family and friends in between baseball/softball and golf.

This book. I'm ready for a jump start. I'm officially throwing in the towel halfway through The Zookeeper's Wife because it is making me detest reading.


This video. So funny.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

weekending


1. lily had a couple good practices, a boring, but necessary cpr class, and a really fun bat mitzvah for a friend. 

2. the boys spent time watching birdies and chipmunks and bunnies from their favorite perch.

3. when ted wasn't caddying or playing golf, he was talking about it or dreaming about it.

4. tigger dreams about so many critters.

5. peanut with cardinal curled up in another favorite spot on a cold and rainy saturday.

6. tigger at the trough.

7. it was a weekend of taking care of things around casa wags. we deep cleaned the basement, mike seeded the yard and i worked on a few photo projects that i'm excited for.

8. then after a long day hard at work, we went out for a date.

9. the company was better than the food, but our homemade pizza sunday night sure made up for our disappointing tacos on saturday.

Monday, May 22, 2017

On My Mind Monday


"Already my mind is a kaleidoscope. Years vanish. Months collapse. Time is like a tall building made of playing cards. It seems orderly until a strong gust of wind comes along and blows the whole thing skyward. Imagine it: an entire deck of card soaring like a flock of birds. A song comes on the radio and now I am nursing my baby to sleep, his sweet little body heavy in my arms. I am at a crowded party near Gramercy Park, looking into his father's eyes for the first time. I am burying my own father. My mother. I am a girl watching her mother at her vanity table. I am holding M.'s hand at Jacob's college graduation. I am playing with my grandchildren in a house on a mountain. The phone rings. The doorbell. I understand something terrible with a thud in my heart. The plane, the car, the train, the bomb. The test results are ominous. I am wheeling M. down a corridor. We are playing golf in Arizona. We are homeless. We are living in Covent Garden, where we often attend the theater. Pick a card. Any card."

~ Dani Shapiro
Hourglass

Friday, May 19, 2017

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Lily pitched a spectacular game this week. She was responsible for 6 of the 9 outs. She had a solid hit too. The team had another win and the rain held off until the very moment we got in the car. Then a storm rolled in and the skies opened up.

Then later in the week her pitching was meh, and she wasn't getting much help from defense. The thing is that I was just as proud of her because she didn't hang her head, or beat herself or her teammates up. She powered through it and the girls went on to make some impressive defensive plays.

When Teddy has a minute to chill out. Yesterday he was up before the crack of dawn cooking breakfast for friends before they had to be at school at 6 a.m. for a golf invitational. He golfed 18 holes, went to another course for 9 more holes (self-imposed practice this time), and then went for a 3 hour baseball practice. He came home and scarfed down a large helping of pasta, 2 Italians and a bowl of spinach and then he passed out on the couch.


When he's extra sweet to the cats.

That I get to be their mom and also for the beautiful hanging basket from my dad and step-mom.

Sweet little surprises. 

Arriving at the Audubon Center early for a meeting and having time to rock and talk on the porch on a summer-like afternoon even if we did have to dodge a few spirited barn swallows.

Red wing blackbirds.

The New York Times Book Review. After reading this week's, I added at least 5 books to my list. Nothing makes me feel more jazzed than the prospect of many good reads.

Only 15 more lunches to make. I love taking care of them and feeding them well, but about this time each year I run out of inspiration.

Lily's excited to take a cooking class this summer. Maybe she'll make my lunch from now on.

Summer supper still life. Nothing fancy just fresh and served when it's still light out after practice at 8 o'clock in the evening.


Smiling selfies left on my phone. I always seem to find them right when I need a pick me up.

Peanut the poser.

I left Peanut in the closet this morning.


I came home to find a new cookbook in the mail...a thoughtful and delicious gift from my cousin.

I also came home to find two hatchlings in the nest. Aren't they cute!?!?


A perfect grey and broody night to stay home. Of course, Ted's golfing. Lily made slime two ways. The boys are curled up all yin yang in their favorite chair. Mike's waiting for me to finish here so we can have a little happy hour. Life is oh so good.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

weekending

mother's day weekend is usually equal parts bitter and sweet for me.
this weekend was hard, but good and filled with many more happy moments than sad.
it was a weekend full of family.
it was a weekend spent being celebrated as well as celebrating all the mothers still here in my life.
honoring my mom and all the other mothers with her in heaven too.
i didn't get a special sign from my mom this year, but then i wasn't really waiting around for one.
i was busy in the moment living my life in the present...being prescient.
that's a good place to be.

we made a plan to get a late dinner at one of our family faves on friday night.
late because lily had an evening softball practice and ted went to golf after his all-day golf invitational.
it's true he doesn't feel accomplished unless he plays 36 holes a day.
then later because when they got home, some of ted's friends stopped by and a pick-up baseball game took place in the yard.
i love the easy cadence of friday night in almost summer.

they had bar food, but no beer.

the other side of the table.

saturday mike, lily and i were up early for the estate sale at my grandma's house.
i was nervous i would feel too many feels especially with this event occurring on md weekend.
chills were the first thing i felt when my aunt told me she came in and found a book splayed on the floor in the middle of her old bedroom.
a book she hadn't seen in the four years she readied for this sale.
and not just any book, but my grandma's favorite.

we didn't sell it after that sign.

i could write a novel about that day, and maybe one day i will.
the characters that frequent estate sales would make such entertaining reading.
at the end of the day, it felt good to be in my grandma's house, surrounded by her things telling stories to strangers.
every time i'm there something else catches my eye.
that day it was a set of glasses that i had to have for wine.

goddess glasses for the nectar of the gods.

after things wrapped up, my aunt and i went out for a little celebration.
this has been her life for four years.
we laughed, we cried, we sighed.
we vented, we schemed, we dreamed.
(yes...dreamed)
we also had the best nachos i've ever eaten.
the secret: chunky beef, something i would never not ever order.

we started mother's day in church. 
i purposely didn't wear mascara.
i only cried a little.
something about whether or not we are mothers, we all have them just gets me every year.
still i left feeling lighter.
largely in part to father calling all mothers of all kinds (step, god, spiritual, surrogate) to the altar for a blessing.
i was verklempt at the size of the procession, the touching words and the standing ovation of the parish.

so many mothers.

ave maria.

after mass we lit candles.
lots of candles.
then the kids had their last sunday school until fall.
mike and i went to brady street and did our weekly shopping at gloriosos.
that's a treat.

we also got cookies from sciortinos and a couple of bottles of italian rose for the day's celebration.

my babes. my hearts.

we spent the beautiful afternoon at my in-laws.
the boys grilled while the girls drank that rose.
my bil got out his guitar and played you are my sunshine for his mama.
she sang.

 mother and son.

 mother and sons (only 1 looking at the camera).

 mother, father and sons.

brothers and sil.

we made it home with just enough sunlight for teddy to get in a few holes.
he was like a caged animal all day dying to get on the course.
when night fell and he returned, they gave me their cards and gifts.
lucky and blessed i am.
spoiled.

 these i keep forever and ever.

midori miki (green tree).  my new 14 year old bonsai tree is such a zen gift along with a massage and a pedicure.

then it was time for bed.

sweet dreams.