Saturday, May 29, 2010

A happy post for a change

The week’s chores are done.  A thing I was dreading is done and I was sort of right to dread it.  It didn’t go great.  But it’s over.  And a mother of teenagers moves on easily from less than perfection.  Because everyday I epically fail at something (“We’re out of juiceboxes and you said you would get some!” Stomp stomp stomp) so why should this feel different? Moving on....

The humidity has finally lifted leaving behind a perfect series of sunshiney days ahead. My peony bushes have bloomed in their usual glorious manner.  The roofers at my neighbor’s house are playing oldies on a boombox for everyone to enjoy whether they want to or not.  I don’t know if it’s a function of my age or of a relatively hectic life that I feel I should celebrate and savor these moments.  Kind of like when the kids were little and sick every other week it seemed and we would all wake up in the morning and I would say to myself, “hmm…everybody healthy this morning?” and if we were, I did a little dance.  Because it frequently turned on a dime with a whiney “my tummy hurts” followed by a hurl upon the sofa.

My friend was profiled this month in a magazine about working women and she reflected that after breast cancer treatment last year she now makes a point of scheduling time for herself to slow down and enjoy regular breaks in her days and honors these moments or hours in her schedule as if they were doctor’s appointments.  A clever and healthy functional outcome of her breast cancer experience.  She’s the best example of a working parent who manages to do it all but with reflection so that, like a sailboat, with occasional adjustments of the keel and the mast she keeps wind in her sails.  I’m not sure she would say she always made a point of working hard on that balance before breast cancer but I am glad she strives for it now.  And I think she'd be the first to say you don't need a health scare to work on that balance for yourself.  She's the one who keeps trying to get me to take a job at Starbucks because it looks like fun.

I usually make downtime for myself but not without involving little projects if I can that achieve something noble or kind to counter any niggling guilt. The peonies are so ridiculous right now that I made bouquets for my neighbors.  But then I made myself a giant bouquet as well.  So much for guilt.  Life balance. And now here I sit luxuriating in the written word, listening to the birds and the oldies while my mom reads me articles in the newspaper that I’ve explicitly stated I've already read.

Savor. Savor. Savor. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

The naked and the unwashed

A recent sobering and yet comical event that needs no further elaboration drove home the point to a woman of a certain age that she should always visit the lav before ever hopping on a treadmill.  Ugh, the women's locker room...ick on so many levels.  Public bathrooms are stressful enough without adding nude people sauntering about putting on deodorant and hair gel while grabbing looky-loos at themselves in the mirrors.  I unaffectionately call them "the nakeds."

Pompeii nudes.  A most decadent civilization that would have enjoyed and may even have founded the YMCA

I grew up in a houseful of women and then lived four years with college roommates who never ever closed a door unless there were boys or dads around.  It’s not like I can’t handle nudity.  I like to think I'm very nude friendly with close friends and family and I do enjoy a nude artfully posed.  But as for the rabble at the gym….nope, no thank you.  And the thing of it is, health club nakeds seem just a little too into being naked in front of strangers and I’m not alone in this feeling having talked with several friends.  We agree that there are definitely fitness exhibitionists.  Their swaggers taunt my priggishness.

Today I escaped nudity in my mad dash through the locker room but was unfortunately not spared a myriad of glamour don'ts that come from getting ready for work out of the bottom of a gym bag.  Tragic.

He was on the elliptical next to me

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

25 years and it's like yesterday

Sometimes it’s good to have a little distance from one’s computer if only to spare dear readers from the minutiae of one’s thoughts and feelings at a 25th college reunion.   In a nutshell:  I had great taste in friends in college and it’s good to be me.

Our approach into the Philadelphia airport was almost balletic, slow motion pirouettes one wing up around and around again until finally it was our turn to land. I always look out my window for familiar sites, I-95, the Delaware River bridges and finally the familiar tall buildings of my hometown. 

Crossing the river from downtown into West Philadelphia, my former stomping grounds twice

The University of Pennsylvania.  Still not Penn State.  A place in time where I met these tragically hip people who strangely continue to call me friend.  We don’t talk often but when we get back together it takes just a minute or two to fall into old patterns of silliness and easy intimacy.  This weekend was the finale of a whirlwind month filled with old friends from childhood through college.  My cup runneth over.  I’m spoiled and ruined forever.

Gorgeous women of a certain age

The only guy on our dorm hallway with a computer.  He would have to kick us out of his room to do his homework.  We liked to play a new thing called video games.

Why anybody thought this foursome was a good idea is beyond me and also beyond belief
We were once called the 4 Wah Stop 
and I'll leave it there

An unexpected benefit to spending time with a whole bunch of people exactly the same age as myself was commiserating over the universal experiences we’re sharing in real time.  Prom dresses, sex talks, college tuitions, under-age drinking, spastic first-time drivers, marital troubles, aging parents, losing parents, alcohol recovery (not me yet), high school athletics, ACTs, ADD, STDs, SSRIs.  An inexhaustible amount of topics straight out of ABC afterschool specials of our youth and Dateline NBC.  None of us has perfect kids or marriages and everyone seemed quite open and anxious to share.  Most of us have been moved to great acts of love and, at times, despair in managing our families and we were delighted to sit and catch up leisurely while grabbing each other Yuenglings for the better part of the afternoon. 

It's was if no time had passed at all

I had to laugh at the 10th reunioners bringing up the rear of the parade down Locust Walk, a weary stroller brigade starring harried parents and screaming tired 5 year olds. Been there, done that….and so not fun.   I may have teenagers who don’t do their homework and sass me up down and sideways but they had no interest in attending or ruining my reunion Saturday.  Ours was a jolly tent and no sippy cups in sight.

Kids present only on cell phones since we no longer have strollers

Home sweet home with my mama in time for my birthday.  She deemed my kindle "kind of cheap looking."  It's going to be an awesome month.

How can Milwaukee look so beautiful?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Garbled thoughts of a dreary week

My mind's a jumble again and I'm not alone.  No sun for five days.  I can't quite alight on one thought or one task.  I'm worried about the little Dutch boy who is the lone survivor of a plane crash in Libya.  I'm shocked about the coalition government in England.  I want to know exactly what a coalition government means.  I thought we were out of peanut butter but then I found a jar thus sabotaging my trip to the grocery store.  I worried I might ruin the mashed potatoes at dinner.  I saw a movie this afternoon with a friend who is always on the go and when she suggests a movie rather than a bike ride or a run, well, it's time to look out the window for hail, fire and brimstone.  The movie we went to see, City Island,  was a lot of family yelling and miscommunication in a Shakespearean fashion that all felt about right given the mood in Madison right now.  Everybody is down.

Chip, possibly the sunniest and perkiest of personalities, sent me a text that he was crabby about the weather and the rainy day golfers.  Also a sign of the apocalypse when weather affects the big man.  Olivia is positively out of gas and tested out from APs this week and taking a mental health day on Friday to watch a Toddlers and Tiaras marathon and eat simple carbohydrates like puddings and crackers.  Ally's playing softball in Under Armor and so cold that last night that she had to shower for 30 minutes before dinner just to bring up her core temperature to eat.  I'm not sure how much more we all can all take.  The sun is supposed to return tomorrow.

I'm off to my 25th college reunion tomorrow and to fetch Nana back to the Midwest.  Hopefully Nana will bring the sun with her or it's going to be pretty cold smoking her ciggies on the back porch.  She of course refuses to use the little portable heater I bought for her out there for fear of....yes, you guessed it, a fire.  Because cigarettes aren't unsafe at all in that respect.

The veggie patch has been planted, the garden is in good shape.  What everything living needs right now is a little sunshine.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I'm cold and my sneakers are wet

I have stood in the rain for two days now as part of my civic duties and all I can say is, volunteerism sucks in bad weather.

A plant sale in early May in Wisconsin can easily be one of the coldest events to attend during a year.  Just because it says May on the calendar does not mean it can't be in the low 40s and snowing an hour north.  Indeed we had sleet here.  My days of celebrating Mother's Day by gardening are long gone with our move to Wisconsin.  Tomorrow, I'll be curled up trying to figure out my birthday Kindle (thanks Dad) watching probably bad TV and wet snow out the window.

These plants were actually shivering in my garage.  I saw it.

All the volunteers at the plant sale were good sports because it's for a good cause, children's charities, and I will say that if there is one benefit to having a plant sale in miserable weather is that only the heartiest of gardeners are out shopping.  I learned a lot about plants and how to take care of them from the customers alone.  There weren't too many Mother's Day shoppers out while I worked either day, except one baffled looking man with his two daughters today.  Presumably those folks who buy one plant a year (exactly the opposite of the sort of gift you'd advise giving a mom who already has eight million things to take care of) are scared off by clouds and cold temperatures and instead head to Walgreens to select from their line of fine fragrances by Prince Matchabelli and Oleg Cassini.

And Farmer's Market, can't forget that, as part of my ongoing and so far incredibly lame efforts to shop local produce.   I headed off to the west side market without a plan again (note to self: stop doing that!) so ended up with only fresh cut rhubarb and potted mint to plant for my soon to be veggie patch on the side of my house.  Chip, becoming desperate for morels, ignored my negativity about finding said morels and braved the Capitol farmers' market coming up with these gorgeous beauties, soon to be in our bellies.
Morels I love u

Strawberry Rhubarb crisp.  I'm not a huge berry dessert gal but this was delicioso.  Thanks, Handy Ann... a person with the best recipe box in the neighborhood, readily accessible to her fingertips and always willing to share.  I don't even think she leaves ingredients out of the recipe know, so yours never tastes as good?

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms and Aunties who have a hand in raising up all these damn children underfoot everywhere.  I hope you have a moment tomorrow to savor the day in between brunch and cleaning up what the cat dragged in and throwing in a load of laundry and organizing for Monday morning.

Happy Mother's Day to my three cybermoms, Faye N., Gerry C., and Ann P.  Love you.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sanibel Farewell

My nails have grown strong.  My skin is sunkissed.  My hair is still curly in the good and wild way that only happens at the beach.  And absolutely nothing is better than being called "girls" for a week in a state where you can't shake the sand out of your shoes without whacking a senior citizen.

Chip may have fantasies about being an old duffer for six weeks every year in Arizona but my old lady fantasy involves salt water, shells and bingo so....yeah.  That's going to be an ongoing conversation.

I returned to an intact family after a long nine days for them.  They held it together so mama could get some sunshine and as grateful as I am, it's frozen pizza for dinner. Baked with love, though.  I'm taking re-entry slowly.

Parting shots of Sanibel.  Super cute and nice couple from Sweden enjoying a vacation paired with a business trip and a hope to be stranded in Florida if the Icelandic volcano blows again.  They had no idea I was behind them and I was just there for the sunset.  Sometimes a picture just sets itself up.

And nice retirees with mostly scary, bitey little dogs.

My thoughts now turn a little dark as I think about the region we left behind to a devastating oil spill, a spot where just 48 hours ago I was swimming and eating fresh swordfish.  My sister is calling from southern Alabama and their thoughts are occupied constantly with the prospect of another assault on their coastline, this one maybe more devastating than any hurricane.

Lastly, I can't say enough about these friends of mine who put up with whims like bike riding in 90 degree heat for hotdogs.  It's always fun, girls.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sanibel Island dreams

Leslie, Mollie, Julie.  Missing: Susan
Along with bingo, I also enjoy shell collecting. That phrase should probably not be the start of anybody's biography but there it is. I'm on my annual vacation with girlfriends from high school.

We're short one old broad this year which is a bummer, but she's got to run her kid's PTO and prevent the St. Paul school district from pulling any shenanigans during this budget-y time of year. She's with us in spirit and like never before we are so wired up and plugged in on this vacation (there isn't a spare outlet in the cottage) it's almost like she's actually here. We text, we picture message, we facebook, we blog. The world is at your feet when you have a computer.

Inventory over a bottle of red

Some pictures for family and friends of the nefarious goings-on of girls gone wild on Sanibel Island. Dinner, sunset at the Mucky Duck on Captiva and shutting down the Twilight Cafe.  Twilight is about right since they were having last call when we arrived at 9:30pm.

Doc Ford's delicious Island Shrimp served over cheesy grits and cilantro sauce...mmmm

Sunset on Captiva

"Please kick us out, Rachel." We've never been kicked out of a bar before."

She agreed and once the restaurant had been vacuumed, the staff had mostly disappeared and the musician had packed up his guitar, we were asked to leave. Recklessly, we headed to the 7Eleven for chocolate following our Patron nightcaps. Wild times. All were asleep by 10:45pm.

My new friend at the Ding Darling Nature Reserve

I post this one for Chip who remembers dancing with daughters in dresses as this dad was off to do.

Island colors

Tonight, a silent auction for the Christian pre-school at the Sanibel Golf and Tennis Club.  I hope we can keep our shirts on.