Tag Archives: life

Family, lost and found

DSC_0195One of the highlights of my Florida trip was a brief get together with one of the three women I consider to be my true mothers.  Our reunion was surprisingly emotional for me – you know I’m no crier, yet that’s exactly who I became in her embrace.  I can’t help but wonder if the sense of comfort and safety I feel with her is what most people receive from their own mothers. I’ll never really know for sure unfortunately, but how blessed am I to find it with someone else?  Very.

Growing up, Sandy was my mother’s friend.  Our families spent holidays together, eating Italian and Jewish and German specialties and playing backgammon for Marlboros.  I’d never known a family like Sandy’s – around the table at Christmas you’d find she and her husband and their daughter.  Also present would her two children from her previous marriage, as well as her husband’s son from his first marriage.  Often, the father of Sandy’s older children would be there, too, with his son from his second marriage.  There were Italians and Jews and my own little German threesome and it was the most wonderful thing imaginable.

Maybe that’s where I learned that the word “family” defies definition.  I grew to understand that people came together because of love and that love evolves,  sometimes changing form, but unfailingly remaining a force.  Love was powerful and unifying, not destructive nor isolating.  Love trumped anger and envy and was to be respected.  That being said, I always thought that Sandy’s older daughter wished her mom was more like mine – structured, reliable and consistent.  Naturally, I wished for a mom who was like Sandy, emotional, inspired by passion and inclined to relaxing in a bathtub with bubbles and maybe a joint.

As I got older, Sandy provided me with what my own mother could not – a roof over my head when our house burned down, encouragement to end a stagnating relationship, the confidence to believe that I could do anything.  She convinced me that I was beautiful and smart and good and the trill of her laughter remains one of my favorite sounds.

We’ve been separated by hundreds of miles for many years now.  There have been occasions, including a Thanksgiving decades ago when Sandy prepared an entire traditional dinner, threw it into the car and served it on a picnic table at the beach, when we’ve gotten together, but this recent visit was the first in far too long.  For the first time ever I was able to take care of her. I selected the hotel knowing that she would get a kick out of staying at the Hilton on the beach.  There was lunch poolside and talk and more talk. We caught up and found we were, despite all the changes and challenges we’ve each faced, as always, family.  She’s truly the mother of my heart.

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Filed under aging, family, friends, girlhood, holidays, relationships, travel, vacation

I wish that I could be like the cool kids

Image: Echosmith.com

Image: Echosmith.com

Have you heard this catchy little tune by Echosmith? When it comes on the radio Quinn always ask me to turn it up “like a party” and he sings along to the lyrics:

  “I wish that I could be like the cool kids,

‘Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in…

I wish that I could be like the cool kids,

‘Cause all the cool kids they seem to get it.”

It breaks my heart a little bit each time.

Don’t you remember those kids? The ones who seemed to always have the right clothes and the right hair and could always say and do the right thing? Their shiny perfection made everything a regular kid did seem dull in comparison.

I wasn’t one of the cool kids. Although I had plenty of friends, I certainly wasn’t in the upper social stratosphere. Somehow I survived school, and even eventually went back to revisit those days for a couple of reunions – the 10th, the 21st (don’t ask), the 25th. What I’ve learned over the years, though, is we all have more in common than we ever would have allowed ourselves to imagine when we were fellow students. We each have strengths and weaknesses, parts which are attractive and some which are less appealing and successes and failures. We’re human.

Every September is a reunion for school kids. I want my children to understand that being one of the cool kids in school isn’t a guarantee of a lifetime of happiness. Summer experiences and growth have the potential to impact every child. Attitudes and preferences change and each new academic year is a clean slate of opportunity for everyone. Getting that is ultimately far more important than fitting in.

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Filed under aging, Boys, musings, Summer, Uncategorized

Pacing myself

It seems that so much of life involves schedules and commitments. When we’re at work, during our designated work hours, we frequently have to respond to the demands of others, doing what “they” want, when “they” want it. In my chosen profession(s) I have to be responsive to other people’s needs and, when it’s work time, I don’t take issue with it at all. But, when I’m on vacation, that’s just not happening.

I’m a morning person. It isn’t unusual for me to wake up with the birds and I love the sense of feeling in tune with the earth. Since I need something in my tummy before I can drink coffee, breakfast is a mandatory meal for me. Beyond that, though, I’m winging it. I don’t want to feel pressured to have a meal just because it’s lunch time or dinner time. I want to eat when I’m hungry or to line my stomach before enjoying a cocktail or three. It’s vacation. Unless I have reservations for somewhere, I’m all about eating simply when I feel like it.

Not surprisingly for a librarian, I’m super organized. I prefer to stay on top of things in terms of tidying up, laundry and keeping our stuff under control. I hate the feeling of haphazard inefficiency. Seriously, it makes me more than a little insane. To avoid this, I try to combine errands and minimize the number of times I have to get in and out of my car. Particularly when we’re staying on an island that is inaccessible by car when the tide is in.

I’m realizing that I might be challenging to be around on vacation since I feel about vacation as I do about running: it’s my time to completely set my own pace. Beyond the rhythm of the tides, I won’t be pressured to abide by anyone else’s schedule or demands. It’s my vacation and I want to go with my own flow. Don’t you?

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Filed under Cape Cod, musings, Random, running, Summer, vacation

Morning thoughts

imageThe sun is peeking out from the soft grey clouds and my private little deck beckons. Listening to the birds and the trees on a quiet morning while the rest of the house still sleeps, is one of my favorite times of the day. No one needs anything, other than the hummingbird who just cruised by the feeder looking for some breakfast. He’ll have to wait.

I’ve been visiting the Cape for 16 consecutive summers and the charm has yet to wear off. Sure, there are places I no longer find appealing (I’m talking to you, obvious consumption Chatham) but, in general, I still appreciate what this place offers me. Despite all the changing variables – where we stay, the layouts of the various houses we have rented, the time of the summer, the composition of our families, which friends visit, the most special thing to me about the Cape is how it itself remains constant. There will be fried seafood and sandy feet and predictable tides. The shoreline may shift and beaches and dunes will erode, but the sun will reliably drop into the bay in a blaze of orange and purple at the end of the day. This, is what I love about being here.

I can’t help but reflect on my boys and how their needs and interests have changed over the years. The amount of props they once required! Strollers and pack and plays, life preservers and diapers – all gone now, replaced by digital toys and, thank God, books. When I packed this year, in my usual style, filling Rubbermaid containers which can double as hampers after the clothing is hastily put into temporary homes in strange dressers, I got my own bin for the first time ever. For years, I’ve shared my bin with my youngest as I’ve placed the big guys’ clothes together. This year their stuff is all together and I have a smaller box just for me. It means something doesn’t it?

Life is changing – every day. Coming to the beach and taking the time to recognize, accept and honor that, while digging my toes in the sand, makes these weeks the most special of the year. I hope you have a place like that, too.

Time to feed the hummingbirds.

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Filed under aging, Boys, Cape Cod, family, favorites, musings, road trips, Summer, vacation

(Wo)man’s best friend

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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.

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Filed under family, love, Observations

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.

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Filed under aging, musings, Random

Summer solstice

It isn’t often that I have a day when nothing displeases me. When such a day as this occurs on the absolutely longest day of the year, it makes for an incredibly satisfying day. That is precisely what I had yesterday.

flowers

baby’s breath, peonies, roses

The day began with flowers as I cut a bouquet of the beautiful roses and peonies which are currently blooming in my garden, as well as in my neighbor’s backyard. Jeter and I followed breakfast with an early morning visit to the dog park where he played with a lovely dog who had recently been rescued from NYC. I resisted the urge to immediately adopt the sweet young dog, but I do hope she finds her forever home soon.

berries

a berry warm from the sun is one of nature’s ultimate delights

My middle son’s mid morning haircut appointment went well and I left the salon with plenty of time to get home, swap boys and head to Altamont Orchards to pick some strawberries. It took less than 25 minutes to pick 3 quarts of sweet and juicy berries. On our way home we stopped at the Guilderland location of Fin where Quinn got an apple juice and an already prepped meal of seasoned swordfish with corn salsa.

I made an easy caprese salad for lunch, with my own basil, and reveled in the simple delight of summer eating. I followed my meal by folding a couple of loads of laundry while watching the first half of the Germany-Ghana match with Griffin, my source for soccer commentary. Germany looked good, especially their keeper (holy hotness!), and I decided it was a fine time to make my way to a joint high school/elementary graduation party in Delmar. Since the day was supremely beautiful, I chose to ride my new bike and thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

The party was lovely and my initial impression about not knowing anyone was rapidly put aside as I enjoyed meeting and talking with some really nice people. Seems I was wrong about not knowing anyone as connections were quickly made. Yes, it is a small world. Griffin kept me abreast of the match via text and I loved knowing that my son and my family in Germany were simultaneously taking in the same event – more connections.

sword

swordfish steak, corn salsa, steamed spinach

I rode home and made a simple and delicious dinner while taking care of our bounty of strawberries. It was strip steak and corn on the cob for the guys and grilled swordfish with a side of steamed local spinach for me. So delicious! After cleaning up the kitchen, I prepped about half of our strawberries for the freezer already anticipating their eventual use in smoothies. I should have picked more!

Jeter and I returned to the dog park for round two but ended up home again after a short while since it is never really fun to be the only dog at the dog park. While playing fetch in the yard, I got to witness the reaction of two teenaged girls to my son’s haircut (“Oh my God, you cut your hair!” exclaimed in a shriek.) which is still making me laugh.

I changed into running clothes and hit the streets for a fast (for me) 5 miles, luxuriating in the extended twilight on this, the longest day of the year. There were only pleasant aromas tickling my nose and I realized that there hadn’t been a single affront to my senses all day long. The temperature, the smells in the air, everything I had eaten, the conversations shared, the view along the drive to the berry patch, the birds at the feeder…every single thing had given me pleasure. It was the beginning of a new season. Life is good.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, biking, Boys, Delaware Avenue, Dinner, Exercise, family, favorites, Flowers, friends, Germany, Local, Observations, running, Summer