(Wo)man’s best friend

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our new puppy, Jeter, has been part of the family for a few months now and I have to admit I am quite taken with him.  The early weeks were challenging as I sacrificed my sleep to housetrain a puppy who suffered from an ultra sensitive digestive system.  Those cold winter nights, with me sleeping in leggings and a long-sleeved shirt to hasten the going out process, are thankfully a distant memory.  Happily, we’ve now moved on to a much more pleasant stage of puppyhood.

What else can I tell you about the latest Lilly boy?  Well, he’s growing remarkably fast.  We just graduated to a larger collar and he no longer comfortably fits in the bedside chair he staked claim to months ago.  He also now leaps directly on to the bed without relying on the chair as a step.  Pretty impressive, right?  On a related note, this sleeping on the bed thing isn’t something I intended to occur, but I have to admit he is quite the cuddler.  No, really.  He seriously sleeps on his back, stretched out for all he’s worth, with his head frighteningly close to the pillows.  Sigh.  But he’s so damn cute…

Although I was concerned by his initial indifference to water, he is swimming like a champ these days!  Jeter loves taking dips in the Normanskill and has enjoyed a couple of pools in the last week or so.  He needs to be attended to in the pool because he is inclined to paddle around without a plan for either how to get back out again or what his endurance actually might be. Suddenly, he’ll go vertical with his head barely above water – a sure sign that he needs to be guided to a way out.

Jeter and I took our first road trip together earlier this month and he was pretty much perfect. He rode shotgun and was great company during the drive.  I swear my brother gave him more attention than any of my human children have ever received and I’m ok with that.  My brother has always been more of a dog person than a people person.

During that trip to Syracuse, it was duly noted that Jeter is a bit of a mommy’s boy.  True, I suppose.  Maybe it’s our morning routine at the kitchen sink when I share my strawberries with him?  Or could it be the efforts I make to get him to the dog park as frequently as possible?  I am inclined to spoiling the guys in my life, and Jeter is no exception.  I love that he eats berries, pears, apples, watermelon and carrots and have no problem indulging him when it comes to healthy snacks.  Geez, he probably eats more fruit than any of my human children!

Cassidy Bono - seeing her makes me smile and tear up simultaneously.

Cassidy Bono – seeing her makes me smile and tear up simultaneously.

I know that we’ll never stop missing our Cassidy, but, Jeter’s presence has made our house a home again.  I like to imagine that Cassidy is watching over us and knows that she will never be replaced in our hearts by the mischievous puppy we’ve brought into our family.  Hearts, though?  They have the capacity to expand faster than a puppy can grow – and that’s saying something.

Leave a comment

Filed under family, love, Observations

Friendship Garden

There was a time when I felt overwhelmed by the needs of my children.  The attention they demanded caused me to abandon my interest in taking care of any other living things, specifically my plants.  I believe I have one houseplant which survived those toddler years.  It is a shadow of its former self, but seems determined to remain a member of the household.

As the boys became more independent and able to entertain themselves a bit better, I started acquiring plants again.  There was a rubber tree I inherited after a friend’s move, a fern or two, a couple of plants my brother no longer wanted. My house once again had bright spots of greenery.  It was time to direct my attention elsewhere…

My front yard is the size of a postage stamp.  When I moved in 18 years ago, there were a couple of rose bushes and some grass. Simple.  And boring.  Over the years , friends have shared their perennials with me, beginning with Sharon and her purple cone flowers.  I remember her bringing over clumps of flowers and my not getting them into the ground for days.  I was skeptical that they would survive my neglect, but they have thrived in the sunniness of my front yard.

A few years later, the cone flowers were joined by Black-eyed Susans.  I love the sturdy cheeriness of these and usually cut some to have in the house.  I like to put them in an old glass pitcher with the baby’s breath my brother gave me a few years back.  The baby’s breath fills in an area of my garden directly in front of the red bee balm and purple balloon flowers which my friend Donna gave to me.  It’s one of my favorite little spots this time of the year when everything looks so lush.

There are shasta daisies and a variety of ever multiplying lilies, also.  The grass is long gone and mulch and rocks fill in the garden in the few bare areas which remain.  My iris, given to me by both my brother and my friend, Lisa, have long since bloomed, but I’ll need to thin those out come fall because they have taken off.  They’re surrounded in their home in my parking strip by colorful snapdragons.  I don’t recall ever planting snapdragons, but an elderly neighbor always had them in her front garden and I suspect that is where mine originated. I think she’d be happy to know that she left behind some life on our block.

Come fall, I also plan to thin out the geraniums I was given by a work friend. They would take over if I didn’t keep my eye on them! The peony, which was originally in my shady backyard, has settled into its sunny home and thanked me for its new digs by bestowing bloom upon bloom.  I’ll be splitting that this fall, as well.  Right now the peony is home to a cat which Jeter is constantly trying to flush out. Each time he brushes past the star-gazer lilies he marks himself with pollen.  Guess that makes him a flower, too, almost.

The biggest surprise in the garden this summer are the sunflowers.  After years of planting seeds with limited success, this year I left the work to the birds.  They have thanked me for my mostly constant feedings by spreading sunflowers throughout my garden.  In return, when they’re done blooming I will harvest the seeds and give them back to the birds.  Without the birds and my generous friends, my garden, and my life, would be a far less beautiful existence.

Leave a comment

Filed under beauty, Flowers, Gardens, Summer

Fireworks are where you find them

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

How was your Independence Day? Do you agree with me that it should always fall on the first Friday of July? It was such a great way to begin a beautiful weekend!

I’ve been spending a little time remembering previous 4th of Julys and am a little surprised by how many distinctive memories I have of this particular holiday. I guess those fireworks aren’t always mere colorful explosions in the atmosphere. Sometimes they’re more earthshaking.

July 4th, 1976 was the first time I ever met my friend Virginia. We were at a marina on the west shore of Greenwood Lake, probably waiting for fireworks to go off from Chapel Island. Although I moved that summer and wouldn’t attend the same school as Virginia until two years later, I’ve never forgotten that exact moment, under a sky filled with anticipation, when we met.

I once flew into NYC on Independence Day. I had been out of the country for 5 weeks and I recall being greeted at JFK by friendly faced strangers giving away American flags. It felt like a hug. Another year, I had the unforgettable experience of being on a hop on/hop off tour bus in London on July 4th. As I glanced to my right the historic marker on a row house caught my eye – Home of Benedict Arnold. How perfect.

There was the year spent at a campground somewhere in Washington State’s Yakima River Valley. We had been camping for about a week and the somewhat seedy location of the campground seemed a major step down after the beautiful campsite we had enjoyed at Doe Bay on Orcas Island.  My perspective shifted after spending the afternoon getting to know some of the residents – and I do mean residents. It turns out a tremendous percentage of our fellow campers actually lived at the sad campground at which we had found ourselves. I was struck by the threat of combustibility which was present, the result of close quarters and even closer budgets. I was happy to get back on the road the next morning.

image

This year, I enjoyed a perfectly colorful and delightfully explosive holiday. A morning spent with someone who inspires me to be my best, an afternoon watching World Cup soccer and an evening with the ideal view of Albany’s annual pyrotechnic display. Freedom was appreciated. More memories were made.  There were fireworks.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A rich summer vs. summer enrichment

For those of you with school age children – what are your summers like?  Are they a time to explore new interests, further develop skills and pad college applications?  Are your children busy with summer jobs or camps?  Maybe they’re already tackling their summer reading lists to get a jump on things for fall.  All good things I suppose.

Around my house, though, things don’t look quite like that.  My oldest son has been busy re-watching episodes of Murder She Wrote and mastering the art of making omelets.  He also has a part-time unpaid internship set to begin in another week or so and I know he is looking forward to that experience.  Liam also learned recently how to pay by phone for Chinese food when I forgot to bring my wallet when I picked up the Chinese food, which meant he needed to call in my credit card information.  I think that’s an important life lesson, don’t you?

The middle guy has been occupied with playing lacrosse and watching the World Cup.  He’s been working on his game, both on and off the field, and I had a weird sense of pride when I saw his photo in a recent Seen gallery shot at Wolff’s Biergarten.  He was rocking his red, white and blue and appeared completely comfortable taking in the match while surrounded by beer-fueled adults.  I believe he finally may now understand that spending a little time each day doing homework eliminates the need to spend 10 more months taking Spanish 2 because you failed the class with a 62.5.  My walk last night with Jeter also taught him that I may just unexpectedly come around the corner when he is out hanging with his friends in the neighborhood – a good lesson for him to absorb, don’t you think?

As for my youngest, well, this week he mastered making his own pbj and has been taking even bigger steps towards independence.  Last weekend, for instance,  he attended an afternoon birthday party a couple of blocks away and walked home solo.  Sort of.  The birthday girl’s mom texted when he was leaving and there may have been an older cousin who walked him partially home.  The bottom line is he felt a sense of accomplishment and independence.  That is the kind of summer enrichment I’m looking for.

Summer, for me, is a time to catch up on things – some tasks around the house, a few books I’ve been meaning to get to and visiting friends I don’t often get to spend time with during the school year.  How about you?

Leave a comment

Filed under Boys, Education, SEEN, soccer, Summer, vacation

Don’t worry. Worry is useless. John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Where are you at when it comes to worry?  Are you inclined to focus your energy imagining all of the perils lying in wait around the corner?  Do you spend hours (years?) second guessing every decision you’ve ever made in life wondering “If only I had…?”

If your tendency to worry paralyzes you in a way that prevents you from putting your car in gear and driving forward, are you content to live your life stuck in neutral?

I have worries, believe me.  I am uncomfortable when my children are passengers in anyone’s car during long and (too) fast rides.  After two rounds of relatively “good” cancer, I am inclined to being a bit paranoid about not being so lucky if that crabby* bastard decides to lap back around for a third visit.  Being a homeowner makes me incredibly nervous at times because there are far too many things of which to keep track. I wonder, occasionally, if I will ever be in a healthy and satisfying romantic relationship again.  See?  I, too, worry.

But, what can I do about any of it?  Do I give away today with worry about tomorrow? How can I if I don’t have control of any of those things? All I can do is reiterate the importance of driving with caution and stress to the boys how imperative it is to take driving seriously.  I try to keep myself strong with exercise and nutrition in case of further challenges to my health.  I’m learning to ask for help when it comes to maintaining my house and my car.  I’m actively working on things to enable me to keep moving forward in a positive fashion.

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that life can change in an instant.  When that time comes again, I’d like to believe that I’ll be ready to face any and all challenges thrown my way. What I’m not going to do is this: lose myself speculating and projecting about both all the mistakes I’ve made in life and all the possible ramifications of my future decisions.  Today, this very day, is far too precious to cast it aside for the events of yesterday or the imagined perils of tomorrow.  Go get it.

*In German cancer is called “krebs,” you know, like crab.  Seems an appropriate word to me.

Leave a comment

Filed under aging, musings, Random

The berry best

berriesYou know how, as a parent, you want your child(ren) to eat well and appreciate simple pleasures?  We work to expose them to flavors and provide them with options when it comes to satisfying their appetites as well as their curiosity about what things taste like, and where they come from.  Well, there is no better time to do that than now – it’s strawberry season and nothing will teach your kid faster about the superiority of fresh local produce than some time spent in a field picking (and eating) berries.

All over Albany did a great post last week summarizing many of the options available in the Capital District for picking your own berries.  On Saturday, Quinn and I headed out to Altamont Orchards and quickly picked three quarts of juicy fruit.  We were prepared with our own containers (not too deep because the berries will crush under their own weight), sunscreen and clothing we wouldn’t mind becoming stained from the berry juice.  The drive took a little longer than I had expected, but Quinn’s company pretty much entertained me the entire way.  Note: the pick-your-own fields are not located in the same location as the farm stand/market.  Call for clarification if you plan to head out there.

 I wish I had the words to describe how amazingly delicious that first berry I popped into my mouth was…warm from the sun, succulent, juicy, sweet…it tasted so different from a supermarket berry that it isn’t accurate to call them both the same name.  When my middle son sampled a couple of berries after we got home, he asked “How come they make the ones in the store taste so different?”  I’ve got no answer for that, just a suggestion for him – eat as many of these as you can because the season is way too short.  I guess we could take that advice about living in general, right?

For three fine mornings I enjoyed berries in my cereal and with my waffles.  Jeter, who is inclined to sit at my feet when he sees me slicing strawberries, also appreciated the berries which I shared with him.  We’ve got a quart of cleaned berries in the freezer at the ready for smoothie-making and I’m trying to figure out a way to get back to the fields this coming weekend.  Maybe I’ll see you there!

Leave a comment

Filed under Boys, family, Local, Recommendations, Summer

World Cup mayhem!

photo(171)How was your Sunday?  Mine was wonderfully insane, thank you very much.  Why, you ask? Well, I spent my day selling mugs and beer tokens down at Wolff’s Biergarten, which may not sound very fun to those of you who aren’t into crowds or soccer, but it was right up my alley.  There were hundreds (thousand+?) of folks sporting red, white and blue looking to have a great time on a gorgeous day.  What could be bad about that?

While the match may not have ended soon enough for team USA to walk away with a win rather than a tie, it was still a fantastic day.  I’ll be working a number of additional shifts in the next few weeks and hope you all make it down to take in a match and indulge in some tasty beer and a scene unlike you’ll find anywhere for this event.

photo(172)For the uninitiated, here’s how it works:  for $20 bucks you get a 1 liter plastic stein and 2 beer tokens.  The tokens are good for .5 liters of beer so you can fill your mug fully once or halfway twice, your call.  Personally, I’d go with the halfway twice because I like my beer cold and I like to wander between the Biergarten and the Bier Tent.  Since taking beer from one location to the other isn’t permitted, you’d probably want to enjoy a beer in both places to catch the full scope of fandom.  Need more beer?  Additional tokens are $7 each or 3 for $20 and the tokens don’t expire.  Speaking of not expiring – your stein will get you entry into any and all subsequent games so make sure you hold on to it.  Bring it with you for any matches during the World Cup and you get in without any additional charge.

So, there you have it.  Soccer, bier, peanuts.  Come get some.

Leave a comment

Filed under Albany, beer, Events, Local, Recommendations, soccer, Summer, sunday