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.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Everyday life. The dailiness of summer days. The little things. My people and places.

My guys.

My girl. 

My boys.

Our yard and all the happy blooms. I had to replace my hanging baskets last week because they weren't doing well. My go to strepto carpella were sold out when I went to the nursery in June and so I picked something I wasn't all that excited about or familiar with. I was thinking that I'd have little luck finding something decent mid-summer, but there were some beautiful baskets on big sale. 

The blooms in my house too. I am especially fond of my growing collection of orchids, which I love not just for their beauty, but also their adaptability, resilience and thoughtfulness to bloom long and time again.

A loaf of challah and all its delicious possibilities.

My books. I finished Winton's The Riders. Someone recommended it as the best book they've ever read. I cannot second that or give it more than a 3 out of 5, but I don't regret reading it. I'm halfway through Love and Trouble, and anxious to start The Bright Hour.

Lunch with the girls this week. It was a long work week and their company (along with the homemade chips with bleu cheese) eased the toil.

Mike took a couple days off this week for himself. He's participating in a golf invitational with my brother and having a blast.

A fun weekend ahead and a 3 day work weeks for the rest of the summer.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

You Only Live Once

YOLO. It’s what my 16 year old son said to me the other night when we were having a discussion about his work and spending habits, which are or should be directly related. I can’t deny this even while I strongly suspect we live many lives. It’s true we’re only granted one crack at this one life so yes YOLO from rooftops and mountain peaks, but just don’t fall off. Capisce?

I beg you to try and convince a 16 year old that You Only Live Once is not a license for constant bacchanal living. A 16 year old with the freedom that comes with a new driver’s license, the entitlement of unencumbered summer days, the defenselessness against mounting testosterone and adrenaline, and the credulous confidence that he knows more and better. It’s not an amusing conversation, but it sure is critical.

I think we spend too much time sheltering our kids from the hardships in life and the not so fun realities of adulthood that we’re in essence cheating them of character building experiences and potent rites of passage. You don’t turn 18 and poof! become a mature adult who is suddenly able to budget, prioritize, delay gratification, and show up to work on time in a clean-pressed shirt with a well-balanced lunch in hand.

Let kids be kids. Isn’t that the charge-leading mantra? We must protect them from conflict with friends, disagreements with teachers, unfair expectations of coaches, the demands of bosses and the fake news the media spews. They shouldn’t worry about the fact that the $150 shoes or the $1200 car insurance payment for their 9 months of driving this year weren’t in the budget this month. God forbid they find out you really don’t have a money tree in the yard and are struggling to save as much as possible for college, which seemed so far away and is now clearly visible in the purview, and your own retirement, which you cannot even fathom. Don’t let them hear you complain about your job, your state of mind, or them.

Last summer I insisted that Teddy get a checking account. He resisted. I couldn’t figure out why it took until August for him to accompany me to the bank for a debit card. Then it dawned on me. He didn’t want easy access to his money because he didn’t want to spend his money. We’ve encouraged saving since he was a little shaver and we’ve successfully raised a big saver. Yes, job well-done, but no. He wanted mom and dad to keep funding his social life. It’s still very difficult for me not to hand him money every time he goes out. I’m stuck in that mode of wanting to make things easy for him even while I know all that does is delay the ache and burn of growing up. All it does is cheat him.

Against my better judgment, I put a summer stipend in his account. Judgment askew because he’s working an average of 8 hours a week and playing golf for about 40 so obviously he could be putting more skin in the game. He has a friend who worked long hours 19 of 20 days in the last 4 weeks. He’s got many friends who’ve never worked an hour in their lives. I convinced myself he’s on the right track, and he is with room for improvement aplenty. I’m always looking for the right time to nudge and prod as well as those teachable moments that groom and enlighten and hopefully take root. I argued that a stipend would encourage him to prioritize and budget…too make choices.

Back to that conversation. He came home jazzed after a day of golf and a 75.  While I made him dinner and after he recounted e-v-e-r-y shot of the day, he proclaimed that he knew just what he was going to do with a healthy portion of his summer stipend. I was all ears of course. He professed that he would be going to Erin Hills to golf again and wasn’t that a great idea! A rich golf binge was not exactly the choice I had in mind. For a split second, I thought about not saying anything at all. It’s his money now. Except I’m his mother and so I had to chime in and say that I didn’t support that decision. Part of the problem is that he didn’t need the allowance so this influx of cash feels like an opportunity to be frivolous, and yes, I knew and thought of that before I made the deposit. Here’s where the YOLO came in along with a rather unconvincing story about a rotund, bald, cigar smoking chronic golfer he was paired with that day who told him that is exactly why he’s a habitual course rat: YOLO. Teddy also argued that he has no future in bagging groceries, but he may have a future golfing and so technically he’s working while he’s playing. I had to give him a little credit for that one.

What ensued was a calm and productive conversation, and a little compromise too. I expressed that we want him to have lots of fun this summer and getting a job is not punishment, but rather preparation. I told him that YOLO is one thing in spirit and another in practice. It’s not permission to be irresponsible or piggy or short-sighted. I shared with him that he is saving not just for his walking around money right now, but also for when he’s in college. I don’t think we’ve ever told him that we won’t be paying for his spending, and it’s something he needed to hear. I suggested that he pick up some extra shifts to cover the cost of half the fee, and when he reaches that goal, he rewards himself with a trip back to Erin Hills. And I felt like Moses when the Red Sea parted or Franklin when the light bulb shined: it was a miracle and a revelation because Teddy thought that was reasonable. My 16 year old son agreed with me, and that may only happen once in my lifetime.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

The feeling of accomplishment one earns after hard work. This weekend Mike and I deep cleaned 2 of our 3 cars, and it felt so amazing. Teddy’s been driving the van. It was starting to look and smell like a locker room and I couldn’t take it any longer. Believe me, if I could have I would have because he should have been the one taking on the task. I won’t be doing it again fyi. He knows this too and is aware that using my van is a revocable privilege. Mike pulled sharp weeds and I trimmed trees the next day. We were sweaty, scraped up and full of twigs and sap, but it was actually fun. Yes, fun.

And I'm only getting started.

My sun rash flared up after a full morning in full sun, but it calmed down after a couple days. I think I’ve finally turned the corner with my uv threshold.

Sunday mornings. These are some of my most cherished hours of the weekend. It’s such a treat to be the first one up. I sit in solitude with my book and my coffee and the day feels like it could and should last forever.

Broken River was good. I put Into the Water down after a few chapters.

Reaching that point in a novel where I want to read all the time even if I only have time for a page or two. I’m halfway through The Riders and fully invested in Scully and Billie.

Baking bread. I’ve become slightly obsessed with this peasant bread recipe, but it’s not necessarily the consumption of the end product although that is quite something…it’s the mixing of just a few ingredients, waiting for it to proof, smelling it bake and then seeing the smiles it evokes when you deliver it fresh and warm to someone you want to know how very much you think of them.

Michigan Gladiolas. This time every year, I buy them whenever I see them because they’re so stunning and their season so short.

I am a sucker for all the colors.

Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough. Mike’s homemade dough is best, but this dough was nutty and wholesome and perfect for quick calzones after a long day.

Working it.

Calzones. I think they may be on next week’s rotation again. What we love about them is that they are made to order and unlike pizzas, they can all go in the oven at once.

T & L...personalized by pepperoni.

Photo contests. Candace and I dropped off our entries this week. It was a little adventure. We thought we were being piggy by submitting 6 and 7 each, but there were many participants with 35, which is the max. My thought is that if you have 35 photos you think could be award-winning, you ought to be taking pictures professionally. Only amateurs are allowed.

Lily’s having a fun time at acting camp.

Balance. She’s enjoying a summer with just the right amount of to dos. She has downtime sprinkled in between camps, activities, volunteer work, games and work. She has 3 new clients for her dog walking, flower watering business, and I’m so proud of her. I think I convinced Ted to pick up some more hours at work too after suggesting that he set a goal…something to save for, and work towards. 

Summer fruits. We’re all about the berries and cherries at Casa Wags, and I am crushing on plums too. Lily would eat watermelon for every meal if I let her.

Stormy skies. Fog. The chalky smell of petrichor when it rains. Waking up in the morning to skies like night.

 The Calling and the Calatrava.

Lake Michigan miasma.

The fog rolls in. 

 A night at the salon. Jess and I had piggyback appointments. It was a nice surprise. After we were finished, we had a spontaneous GNO.

 Red for the brunette (her) and white for the blond (me).

Tuna poke and goat cheese bruschetta.

A fresh haircut and a new pandora station thanks to our hip hairstylist. 

Sweet little braid.