Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hump Day

I woke up this morning with the sense that I had overslept. It was 7:30 and it took me a moment to realize I didn't need to be anywhere today. Before I drifted back off, it occurred to me that Teddy did and the house was quiet as sleep. He had cross country at 8 o'clock so I rose and went down the hall to his room sans pain and with minimal hobbling.

In my dream before waking, I realized that my ankle was not just sprained, but that my foot was almost parallel to my leg. Actually, it was a bit of a nightmare. Now I have that relieved and grateful feeling that I am healing even as I acknowledge I won't be running any time soon. I also won't be Lake Michigan swimming in the middle of the night.

I don't know how he goes from sound sleep one minute to speed distance running the next. No coffee, no carbs, no pain or discomfort. There's so much grace I would like to give my younger body. I didn't appreciate it as deserved.

Nothing makes me appreciate it more now than a life of RICE. There are only so many hours one can stay prone and idle. I've been tested and tried to take it easy, ask for help and watch too much trash television. I've actually learned some valuable lessons though. Yes, even from the trash t.v.

One lesson I am forever trying to put into practice is gratitude even as I know a thankful heart is the gift that keeps giving. At times, appreciation comes easily and then before long it becomes a struggle again to hail blessings both big and small. 

Today I'm feeling abundance without even trying. That's the best kind of day. I have bread proofing in the oven and plans to do whatever my heart and soul desires today.

The list likely includes more cooking, and some reading and writing all with loving intention and attention. This is a kind of day and I intend to savor all the minutes. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Story of a Settee

Once there was a girl named Kristin who was moving into her first apartment on raucous Langdon Street. It was right across the house from the Alpha Chi Omega house, which was the house she really wanted to pledge as a freshman and which she likely would have deactivated from just as she did the Gamma Phi Betas at the end of her junior year. I think maybe sorority life was just not for her. She made some great friends there though, but she was planning to move in with her best friend Sarah who she had known since kindergarten in Miss Sweet's class.

Living together didn't exactly work out, but when Sarah was home from communing with the Rainbow Gathering, they still spent time together often in the living room at 131 Langdon Street. This settee was a prominent piece in the big, airy room. It came from Kristin's Grandma Rose and joined Sarah's plush orange two-seater, 70s number that she left despite the fact she never stayed. It was quaint. It was eclectic. It was lonely.

Change was looming, decisions were mounting and while it was exciting, it was also a time of trial. Come spring, Kristin graduated and left Madison with her settee. Sarah stayed to finish her degree. She'd lost academic time traveling with the Dead Heads. They lost touch.

It wasn't the first time and it wouldn't be the last. The friends spent most of elementary school astray only to reconnect in high school. They would cross paths again when Sarah was pregnant with her twin girls and settling down. Then again when they celebrated their 10 year SHS reunion. After Kristin's mom passed. There were always a flurry of confessions, amends, and  promises. There was also a sad acceptance that they had neglected a special bond. Over the years, it became clear that they were powerfully connected in ways that transcended the explainable: reaching out or plain running into one another at uncanny times.

So 43 years after Kristin and Sarah first met, and 27 years after 131 Langdon, Kristin snaps a picture of the settee at her Grandma Rose's estate sale and she forwards it to Sarah. Sarah recognizes it and also the significance of receiving it on a day filled with packing up her girls for a fast approaching move to college. They both know it to be a universe moment, and they're both listening.

Saturday, August 12, 2017



Long legs (5' 4" tall) and big dreams. 

You no longer want to be a dolphin trainer or a vet. These days you talk about a career in business and you have goals to become a CEO. If you could have anything you want for this birthday, you's choose a dog. 

We're in negotiations right now. I'm thinking maybe you should be a lawyer. You are still sweet and sometimes sulky...rarely sassy often silly.

You are equal parts girly girl and tom boy.

Some of your favorites:

Class English
Flavor Mint Chip (We still have to make this one.)
Book The Hunger Games (This has not been a literary summer much to my dismay.)

Sport Softball (Fall ball starts soon.)
Stroke Freestyle
Pro Team The Milwaukee Brewers (We enjoyed a game last month.)
Restaurant Qdoba (You ate it last night.)

Pizza Pepperoni and onion
Season A tie between summer and fall

Animal The giraffe, but you have a soft spot for all animals especially Peanut who is your baby.

Car Jeep
Color Mint green (like your room.)
Candy Bar Twix
Musical Phantom of the Opera for the music (but you're excited to see Cats in October.)
Beach Windmill Beach

Store The Gap
#  12 (But you're #6 on the Lady Knights.)
Dog Husky
Game Apple to Apples or Minecraft
Snack Guacamole (Goldfish, chips and salsa and watermelon are close runners up.)

Holiday Christmas
Soda  Diet Mountain Dew (But you almost always opt for water.)
Place to Visit NYC (in October!) or Europe (someday)
Plant  Succulents (You are in a serious cactus craze.)
Music Pop music, but no artists in particular

I am so proud of the young lady you are. You are kind, compassionate and caring. Your heart is gold. I love the way you are always thinking of others, but it's important that you think of yourself too. It's OK to put yourself first at times. We've been working together on that and I think this is going to be an exciting year for you. I love you to the moon and back forever and ever.



Thursday, August 10, 2017

Windmill Beach Birthday Weekending

All we have is now. We had what was. We might have something more, but there’s no warrant for the future.

With that in mind, I’ve been absent because I’ve been present. 

There was a time I would have said busy. There was also a time I would have made myself busier by forcing myself to come here even if time didn’t allow. There was another time when I would have left the now for the then. Left as in disengaged from. Now as in contemporaneous. Then as in previous. Yep, I would have ceased making memories simply to record them so terrified that they might slip from my mind before they were captured, excavated, curated.

But one of the things I’ve learned as I embrace this middle place in my life is that the joy moments and bright spots don’t fade or fizzle no matter how they are or are not commemorated. They remain. They sustain. They continue to shine.

I’ve also learned: it’s a waste of time to spit shine my house every week, I cannot shop without lists, I don’t go anywhere without my cheaters, it’s important to celebrate everything and say I love you as often as you say goodbye or good night, naps are essential, Alexa may be spying on me and I’m OK with that, I should always let my husband pick the movie and probably what I order at the restaurant, everyone is going through something so kindness matters and forgiveness rules sublime, apologies are almost always welcome and accepted, and it’s impossible to take too many pictures.

The pictures take me right back in time and I feel all the feels present when they were taken. They are samskaras manifested. Prints that imprint upon my heart and soul.

We took a great many photographs last weekend. Family gathered from here and there, and far and away to celebrate birthdays, summer and the simple blessings of being together.

Here is the evidence…

The gracious host and hostess photo bombed by the guest of honor.

The quaint scene.

The picturesque front yard.

Cousins arrived from NYC and Denver very late Thursday night. We stayed up until very early Friday morning catching up. It's always the drill and we know it. We made our way north to Windmill Beach Friday evening and the comfortably chilly Lake Michigan water was just what we needed. The broody late day sky was the perfect back drop for cocktails and selfies on the beach. The wavy water made kayaking a little challenging and boogie boarding possible.

After evening fall, which is what my brother prefers to call the gloaming, we ordered pizza, celebrated Knox's 17th birthday and played Shut Box. As you can see...we didn't have any fun at all and we stayed up until the wee hours again. In fact, some of us went swimming under the stars and one of us sprained an ankle by stepping in a hole on the dark beach.

Saturday we celebrated Lily's thirteenth birthday at Windmill Beach, one of her favorite places. It was a beautiful day of favorites: people, food and pastimes.  My brother and sister-in-law made the day special in every way and I know my girl felt how lucky and loved she is. 

 Lemon cake with raspberry mousse and vanilla buttercream at the birthday girl's request. It was almost too pretty to eat.

 Happy Birthday Lily Kathleen.

Happy Brad.

Of course, a rainbow showed up in the sky.

It was a great beach day. Despite the fact that it was a little overcast, the air was temperate and the water warm. Lily is happiest when she's in the water so she was in her element. We served many of her favorite foods: Grandpa's guacamole, my homemade salsa and Dad's bbq wings for appetizers, and a taco bar with all the the fixings for dinner.

After dinner, we played 13 Questions: How Well Do You Know Lily. It was good silly fun and she felt special being the center of the attention. She was sufficiently spoiled sweet, and got most everything on her birthday list including a trip to NYC in October, which was not something she asked for or expected.

Sadly Sunday we cleaned up, packed up and headed home. 

It was hard to leave this scene and also hard to say goodbye to TJ and Knox who were Denver-bound that afternoon.

Monday was Lily's official birthday. She, Sabrina and I painted pottery and went out for a celebratory lunch. Then I took Sabrina to the airport and I came home and crashed.

I think thirteen is going to be hard to top, but without a doubt...we'll try.

Saturday, July 29, 2017


Today is another day beautiful beyond words so I won't waste my time trying. I woke not to the sound of chimes, but rather mowers. I slept in. I don't mind the constant cacophony because with it comes the sweetest smell of fresh-cut grass. And while I cannot shake the feeling that today is going to be another good one, I also fully admit that it will be difficult to surpass yesterday.

Yesterday was my favorite day of the summer thus far. I usually shun favorites because the whole idea strikes me as immature and suspicious, but every once in awhile someone or something seems worthy of the prize label.

After a quiet morning of reading and writing, I high-jacked Lily for a hike at the nature center. I came to pick her up from her volunteer work with shoes, socks, bug spray and a plan. I convinced or rather guilted her into a loop...The Grassland Loop, which was more swamp after all the rain we've had. I knew if I could just get her out on the trails we both love that she'd relax and be grateful. It didn't take long. At Mystery Lake, our first stop, we spotted an otter swimming in and through the thick cover of lily pads. It was our first otter sighting so it was pretty exciting. Then two ducks were walking toward us and Lily stooped down and called them to her. They got to within a foot of her and then they just stopped, but I've never seen such a thing and I believe I can now say that I live with Snow White. We also heard the meep splash of many frogs, saw a micro-mini snapping turtle sunning on a lily pad, scared up a prehistoric looking crane that seemed too immense to take flight, but she did, and at the top of the lookout, we marveled at a hawk circling not far overhead. It was a good hour even though we came home muddy, sweaty and stinky.

While she showered, I did some planting. It is a thing with my kids that they cannot stand being dirty. Someone or something ate the flowers in one of my pots on the front porch. I suspect it's the smallest, sweetest little bunny I saw in my front garden yesterday so I couldn't be too annoyed. And the thing is that I've come to kind of like this digging in the dirt and experimenting with different flowers. I'm not ready to call myself gardener, but maybe some day.

I made us lunch as a reward. Pork tenderloin sandwiches just the way we like them: on crusty Scortino's rolls with lettuce and onion. Cheese for her and pickles for me. I sat down for fifteen minutes and enjoyed my meal. So often I take a bite in between loads of laundry or piles of dishes and I forget to appreciate the food I've made. Not yesterday.

After a delousing and a quick stop at Trader Joe's (yea! they had the cauliflower pizza crusts), we took an Uber to pick up Jess from work and make our way to the Brewers/Cubs game. It was a quintessential stadium night: starry, a little cool and charged with the teams' rivalry. I've always told myself that watching MLB is not my thing, but I enjoyed the game and so did Lils. I also enjoyed my hot dog and cold draft beer. Why do they taste so good at the ballgame? Lily settled on boring French fries and never got the ice cream she desired. I think she was a tad disappointed, but next time we'll be more strategic. And there will be a next time. Rosebud did give her a balloon filled with helium though. It's the little things! We cheered on a victory and a return to first place. It was a good night.

A good night after a good day. A good day because it was filled with people I love and some of my favorite things and I was open and present and grateful for all its goodness.

Friday, July 28, 2017


Today I give thanks for the time to be here on this quintessential summer day. I have the morning to myself. The house is quiet. My mind is at peace and my heart is full just like my cup of coffee, which tastes especially good this morning.

The first sound I heard this breezy morning was the gentle ringing of my mom's wind chimes. There are times...many times...I don't even notice them even as they are perched outside my open bedroom window. Today was not one of them. Today is a day for noticing things. Honoring them too. I heard in their soulful music a missive more than a message. The healing directive sounded like: lighten the load. Don't worry. Be kind to yourself and My reply: an audible heartfelt thank you.  An inaudible: I'm trying.

I've been feeling my mom a lot during this stretch of summer. I've been missing her even more. It's sort of how it works. When I'm busy busy busy not noticing, I don't know what I'm missing. Then I'm doing dishes one heart-heavy evening and out of the corner of my eye, I catch sight of a hummingbird visiting my petunias. Instantly I'm overcome with this rush of emotion. I know my mom sends the birds. I know because I feel it. It's the only hummingbird I've seen all summer, and she came at just the right time. I have always believed that coincidence is anything except for random.


In all honesty the first sound I heard this morning was T. Bone's alarm. He prefers to wake up to some dirge-like rap music only he's so attuned to it that it rarely makes him stir. He was getting picked up at 6 o'clock a.m. to travel about an hour for a golf tournament. He's playing in a scramble with a friend today. I received a text a little while ago that read: T and I are struggling but it's really fun. No worries. Fun cannot be overrated. He's already had highs this week. Well, actually lows. Low scores. A 74 in one tournament that earned him second place, and a 75 in 18 with friends. His passion for this sport, which my dad says is more skill than sport, is unparalleled. He plays rain or shine, alone or with others, day or night.

 Just the other night he called home to ask Mike to come to the course and help him keep his eye on the ball. It was getting dark and he was loosing sight of it. He was also shooting under par and he wanted to finish his round. Mike was tired and we were all waiting for dinner, but he went. He happily went. Ted doesn't need us much these days so when he does, damn straight we'll be there. He's more independent by the day as he should be, but of course it forces me to fast forward to what's looming in the purview. I practice, but I've yet to perfect it.


Lily is volunteering this week at the nature center for the camps she used to attend. She's enjoying it. Them. Them being the kindergartners. She told me yesterday that they're so cute and they all want to hold her hand and sit in her lap. This makes me wax poetic about what an amazing big sister she would have been. We should have had a third child. This is also the season of regret. It's such a useless emotion, and yet it is pervasive and persistent. Not today though. Today is for the present. And in the future we've promised her a dog. A small dog when Teddy goes to college. 

She approached our family friend who also volunteers at the nature center. Mary later sent me this message: OMGoodness. A kind, beautiful, poised, tall young lady and I just had a lovely visit. Honestly it's a good thing Lily said hello; I would not have known her." How could she have. There are mornings when I look at her and am certain she has changed overnight. We haven't seen Mary in almost a year.

Why haven't we seen Mary in almost a year?


I spent 3 hours on the phone last night. I literally talked until my battery died. My mom used to get in a mood to gab on the phone all night long. Usually every few months. She'd get out her phone book and start dialing. It used to make me crazy because I couldn't get all the day's gossip from my friends. It's funny how we all startle in this house when our landline rings. It's becoming such a foreign concept, and don't even get me started on someone ringing the doorbell. When that happens, we're all annoyed and like Who is at the door?!? 

I called my aunt and uncle. My mom's brother. We haven't talked since Christmas so I knew it would be a lengthy conversation. It just so happened that they were expecting both their girls and their families to arrive last night for the weekend. I felt a surge of sadness as if I put my finger in a socket. The word that was on the tip of my tongue was tizita: memory tinged with regret.

Also full-fledged jealousy. I so badly want my mom. I just hope my cousins know how lucky they are. I think they do. They are good girls. I feel lucky too. My aunt and uncle have made a real effort to have relationships with my children, and I feel immense gratitude for that. We'll road trip to Michigan next month. Ted will golf with my uncle while Lily and I go dune buggying or shopping with my aunt. They're excited we're coming.


Last night I dreamt that my brother and sil had a baby.


After we hung up, I called my cousin. She's coming to town next week. She's seriously thinking of moving from NYC to Wisconsin. She was born and raised in Colorado. Since losing her mom last October, she feels untethered and especially alone. She wants to be closer to family. I understand that even as I am living proof that loneliness is a fact of the unmothered life no matter where you live. 


I'm reading The Bright Hour this week. I think it may explain this post. I was compelled to come here after reading 19. The Blade this morning. I simply could not read another page.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


i kicked off the weekend watching lil's performance at the culmination of her 2 week acting camp.
she's done this camp for years, but i have to say that she seemed more confident on stage this year.
the crowd chuckled loud at her improv, she sang and danced in musical theater ala all that jazz and school of rock, and she acted a little shakepeare.

lily with cactus whom we heard a lot about the past 2 weeks because he's quite a character.

in the dessert with a treasure chest filled with gold and books.

rockin' out.

the kids had so much fun and energy with SOR.

her softball game was cancelled due to weather so jess came over and we enjoyed a GNI (girl's night in), which was exactly my speed after a long work week.
my guys were golfing.
teddy with friends and mike with my brother.
as a matter of fact, mike was pretty much MIA from thursday through saturday, but it was all good.
just as evidenced by the pictures below.

one of these guys had a double eagle day 1.

they won their flight over the weekend and made the shootout saturday eve.

time for a chip shot.

assessing the competition.

they didn't make it through the first hole of the shootout, but they sure looked cute.

and they were able to watch and cheer on the other players.

there was quite a spectator section. every cart was on the course.

cleaned up and ready to eat, drink and be merry.

flight champs!


sunday was a lazy day.
we all had big weeks.
mike played more golf in 3 days than he had all year.
he was tired and sore.
the boys went to ted's baseball banquet sunday night.
lily and i went out for dinner.
a GNO only we ate like guys...wings and rings (onion).
the conversation was better than the food.
we talked a lot about her birthday.
13 is fast approaching and i'm sort of stunned.
years are minutes and weekends are mere flashes.
here and gone.
the good thing is they leave traces of all the fun we had.

writing her birthday list.