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


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

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


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.
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.

 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.

Monday, May 15, 2017

On My Mind Monday

Sometimes our life reminds me
of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing
and in that opening a house,
an orchard and garden,
comfortable shades, and flowers
red and yellow in the sun, a pattern
made in the light for the light to return to.
The forest is mostly dark, its ways
to be made anew day after day, the dark
richer than the light and more blessed,
provided we stay brave
enough to keep on going in.

From The Country of Marriage
by Wendell Barry

I came across this in Hourglass and while I am a fan of Barry's poetry, I'd never read this one. Doesn't it just cut straight to the heart of it? Every time I read this, it takes my breath away. Wow. Just wow.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Dear Mom

It's Mother's Day again. The ninth spent celebrating with me here and you there. This day is never easy since you've gone, but this year your absence and our distance feels especially brutal. That happens from time to time - less often than when my loss was new and fresh. Yet grief rears her soul sucking head and appears as if no time has passed at all. "Remember me?' she prods. "You thought you left me behind," she scoffs. "Never," Sometimes she returns with good reason, but often for no discernible cause at all.

I had keen sense that grief was showing up this year. In fact, I've been bracing for the reopening of wounds and the aching of scars. It's like a sixth sense I'd rather not be so aware of. Life has been punishing lately, and I've felt alone in my suffering. Alone despite the many radiant souls in my my corner. Some things only a mother understands. Some things only a mother can mollify or mend. It's like I'm a petulant toddler again: I want my mommy.

I've been missing you more than usual so like a great big fucking lot. I've been wishing I could run some things by you, needing your sound advice, your strong spirit, your honest input. You were never one to cookie coat things or worry about whether it was the right time to give me a come to Jesus, and now that you're gone it's one of the things I miss most. Go figure. I really want to hear what you think.

I sat huddled under an umbrella with other moms at Lily's soft ball game this week wishing you were there to see her on the mound. You'd be so proud of her strength and courage on the field and in life. Then I laughed, "Who am I kidding?" You were a loyal and constant fan, but you didn't do rain. The talk turned to Mother's Day. I prayed no one would ask me point blank about you. These women don't know me well enough to know I'm unmothered, and just saying that out loud still effects me in unpredictable often uncomfortable ways. I wish you were here to give Teddy a bit of a hard time and a nice tip when he'd pack your groceries so many of his own favorites you'd be stocking for his visits in your bags. He works at your grocery store now. I know you'd embarrass him by telling all his co-workers about his accomplishments in school and on fields and greens.

I don't know exactly what you'd think (although I do have an idea) about so many of the things going on in the world now: my small world or the whole wide one. I do know I'd feel less anxious, and more safely moored and fiercely protected with you here to weather life's storms with, and there are always storms. So many squalls and disturbances.

I last felt your presence strongly a couple weeks ago. It was a Wednesday. I was home alone and I was feeling all alone. I cued up an Ed Sheerhan song Candace knew would speak to me and of you, and I cried. No, I downright ugly sobbed. You would have told me to get a Kleenex and reminded me it is what it is. I played the song over and over at least 10 times. After that cathartic cry, I had a little heart to heart with you. That's when I felt your loving presence. I could sense you watching over me Mom. It makes sense because you were and always will be my angel. and I will love you deeply forever.

Even if you haven't lost your Mom, I suggest you get a Kleenex before you click this link. It's a jerker: heartstring and tear.

I took the supermarket flowers from the windowsill
Threw the day-old tea from the cup
Packed up the photo album Matthew had made
Memories of a life that's been loved

Took the "Get Well Soon" cards and stuffed animals
Poured the old ginger beer down the sink
Dad always told me, "Don't you cry when you're down."
But, mum, there's a tear every time that I blink

Oh, I'm in pieces. It's tearing me up but I know
A heart that's broke is a heart that's been loved

So, I'll sing Hallelujah,
You were an angel in the shape of my mum
When I fell down you'd be there holding me up
Spread your wings as you go
And when God takes you back
He'll say, "Hallelujah, you're home."

I fluffed the pillows, made the beds, stacked the chairs up
Folded your nightgowns neatly in a case
John said he'd drive, then put his hand on my cheek
And wiped a tear from the side of my face

I hope that I see the world as you did 'cause I know
A life with love is a life that's been lived

So, I'll sing Hallelujah,
You were an angel in the shape of my mum
When I fell down you'd be there holding me up
Spread your wings as you go, when God takes you back
He'll say, "Hallelujah, you're home."

You were an angel in the shape of my mum
You got to see the person I have become
Spread your wings and I know
That when God took you back, he said, "Hallelujah, you're home."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

A visit to Trader Joe's mid-week and for remembering most of what was on my list that I left at home. I love Trader Joe's. I stocked up on some of our old favorites, and tried a few new things too. 

The mama bird is less skittish this week. She doesn't fly away any more when we walk by the front door or when Tigger sits staring at her caterwauling. And there are still seven.

When he's not keeping an eye on our birdies or supervising the neighbor's lawn crews, Tigger is on squirrel watch.

A basket of happy geraniums from my brother and sister-in-law.

A bouquet of roses that opened up over the course of the week and made me so happy every time I caught sight or smell of them.

Chilled rose' and creamy brie for happy hour tonight during which I'm writing my Mother's Day letter.

Lily's softball team is undefeated. I know winning isn't everything, but this is Lil's first experience on a winning team and it's a little more fun walking away victorious after a good, competitive game.

She ran the mile this week in 7:25. She was a wreck all week and especially the morning of her run for no good reason. I didn't get it because while she doesn't love running, she's swift and sporty and always at the top of the pack.

Teddy fixed his drive this week (written with only a hint of sarcasm), took 7th out of 60 in today's invitational and he played another 18 holes after the tournament just for fun. He won $5 and he lost $5. All good.

That I am their mom. Blessed, lucky, happy.

Church Sunday with my family and then a visit with my mother in law who is one of the best moms I know.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


i had few expectations for this weekend beyond rest and rejuvenation.
and yet it turned out to be full and quite fabulous...
teeming with the perfect smash up of solitary moments and together time with family and friends.
i left work a little early friday to make time for a workout before meeting a friend.
sweating is the best way for me to leave the week behind and that's exactly what I wanted to do.
i met my frister for dinner and drinks, and we talked and talked for hours, yet still left so much unsaid.
we both needed that kind of time and we pledged to get together again soon...often.
she has known and loved me longest, and i her.
mike and lily had a daddy daughter dinner and movie date.
ted went from golfing to hanging out with friends.
throw in a little (or a lot of) baseball and that was pretty much his weekend.
he went from course to field and was only home to sleep.
after a lazy saturday morning spent reading, lily and i went to support a friend in a state singing competition.
the minute she started to sing, i was a puddle just like her mama.
i felt proud to have known her since she was a brand new have the privilege of watching her grow up into such a beautiful young woman.
i was struck by her powerful instrument, but also her hard-earned poise and confidence and she's only 16.
we enjoyed a ladies lunch after the competition talking about the past and the future.
lil and i made our weekly tj maxx run and then stopped for groceries.
my girl has become quite the shopper lately.
yep...swimming, softball, shopping and slime.
we enjoyed a chill saturday evening in the kitchen.
lily made slime (only for the second time in seven days) and i made quesadillas to order on seis de mayo so only a day late.
sunday was soft ball and golf and then an impromptu family bbq.
mike grilled our favorite ribs and i made homemade mac & cheese, baked beans and cole slaw.
i cut up a watermelon at lily's request, and made a french silk pie for teddy.
my brother and sister in law joined us for a delicious meal and a good time.
i really wasn't ready for the weekend to end, but i felt rehabbed for another week.
the lessons from this weekend were to say yes, to say thank you and to say amen.

Monday, May 8, 2017

On My Mind Monday

Where does hope go when it vanishes? Does it live in a place where it attaches itself to other lost hopes? And what does that place look like? Is it a wall? A sea? Is it the bafflement I sometimes see in my husband's eyes?

Dani Shapiro