Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Luckiest girl in the world

Can you believe it? I can hardly believe it -- I'm the luckiest girl in the world! Sandy stopped by, saw my post, snuck away with a copy of my picture, and gave it back to me like this. I had tears in my eyes when I opened her message and found this inside. How did she know that dress was pink? And she does this kind of thing for reals, for money, but she did this as a surprise just for me. I am touched and thrilled and just delighted beyond belief. I cannot imagine better. Now I really am going to have a wonderful day and I hope you do, too!

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I always appreciate when Bostonians show good humor regarding the local accent! And they do indeed say "shark" in just this way. Dean and I headed in to Boston this week to catch the exhibit at the aquarium, and weren't disappointed.We've touched and fed our share of rays, but this was our first opportunity to pet a shark. They were pretty sand-papery rough and firm -- solid. Nothing like the mushy wet-velvet feel of the rays. And even though you know that of course they would only put harmless ones in a touch-tank, it still takes some bravery and a leap of faith to stick your hand into a pile of sharks....Heading back home around noon, we ran right in to this major league thunderstorm (that's the Federal Reserve Bank straight ahead); first time I've ever had to pull off the highway because of torrential downpours (this was snapped about 3 minutes before the raindrops started to fall and just before we merged onto the highway). I have a tendency to do the "soldier on" thing -- just keep going carefully to get through the bad patch -- but was proud of myself for showing the good sense to pull over and wait it out.

Clear skies yesterday gave us all the opportunity for a short hike at Purgatory Chasm, where you look at the path ahead of you and wonder if you are capable of doing it and then find that indeed you can do it and then some. It only looks impossible.
And you can't hike at Purgatory without playing a round of mini-golf afterwards at West End Creamery, where you go specifically for the ice cream celebration when it's all done. It's a gorgeous course -- well-maintained and beautifully landscaped. Dean and Ken each had two holes-in-one, and I had one but kind of two (the second one was on a hole that's up a hill -- first try my ball rolled right back down to me and second time it jumped right in -- yes, I scored that as a '2', but still). Okay, so I did win, actually -- I mention it mainly because it has been such a very long time since I felt on my game and even longer since I've won. 44 on a par 40. Ahhhh.

Gearing up for a week ahead of work, and camp for Dean, and the ongoing challenge of clearing out and cleaning up the house. The lack of creativity is taking a toll even on my ability to think creatively, but I'll be back in the saddle before you know it.

Hey -- did everyone at your house love Pirates of the Caribbean (movie OR ride?). Be sure to rent Captain Blood, which is the movie that catapulted Errol Flynn to fame AND formed the basis for what we know about pirates, and Pirates. It was all right there. (And incidentally, the name sounds worse than it is -- his last name just happened to be 'Blood.')

Friday, July 25, 2008

Flashback Friday

Chicago, circa 1967, with Koko and Suki

Monday, July 21, 2008


ABC-Along 2008 runs down toward the back half of the alphabet; here is the letter 'O' and
"'O' is for 'ocean.'" Both photos taken in Maine, in Acadia National Park.

This weekend we went into Boston to see, at Dean's request, "El Greco to Velazquez: Art during the Reign of Phillip III" at the Museum of Fine Arts. He'd seen a billboard for the show earlier in the month and was intrigued. I am so delighted when he has an interest in art and museum-going that I'm willing to have the experience in the way that works for him -- wandering through galleries, pausing and reading and looking when something catches his (or my) eye.

I do always steer him toward at least one gallery that I know he may not pick but that has things I know will interest him; he's interested in the Revolutionary War and Paul Revere so I brought him to see the collection of silver items made by Revere himself as well as Copley's portrait of Revere. Ken remarked that the gallery made the streets and neighborhoods of Boston come alive; it doesn't take long to see namesakes' portraits or work. It's a great exercise in a city to question who a street or neighborhood is named for, especially in an "old" city like Boston. This is one reason why I kinda hate the suburbs -- it's either names like "Elm" or "Birch" everywhere, or you get the streets named for the developer's family members ("Mindy Lou Circle").

Anyway, our day of culture was rounded out with a day of cleaning and the new atmosphere of minimalism is helping us clear out bags and bags worth of stuff. It's hard for me to let go sometimes; I am a collector, an archivist by nature. We work with Dean to clear out his room and closet of the things he no longer plays with and I see a childhood passing right by. I inadvertently made a smart move that's helped me -- I completely cleaned out the kitchen and got rid of the extraneous stuff on the counters. The result is that it feels great to walk in there, and so the room has become my reminder of the upside of downsizing. Someday -- soon -- I plan to have enough room to do some sewing again. The holidays are coming, you know.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Flashback Friday

Natalie's questions about last week's photo made me remember that there was a companion, and I managed to find it to post this week. I promise next week's will be from an entirely different day; different year, even.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Feeling the love

Amazing. Here's most (but not all) of what Gina sent along to Dean to feed his football love. He is finding it a bit challenging to be not just a soccer fan, but a Liverpool/European circuit fan here in the U.S. Gina spoiled us beyond measure with magazines, trading cards, toys; Dean is still pouring over every page, every item, and happily re-living Euro Cup highs and lows. We're making plans for a return package, and marveling yet again at the kindness of strangers, the power of blogging.

It's a crazy time right now (or I guess I should say, "crazier"). I'm working full time these weeks when Dean is in day camp and while I'm certainly not going to complain given how many people have to work full time all the time, it's just that all my routines are thrown off and I'm having a very hard time keeping up. That plus some repairs being done on the house that bring workmen to the front door by 7 a.m. and trying to remember each morning what Dean's needs are for the day (which camp, what hours, what gear?) are proving to be a bit beyond the normal insanity level. Bottom line, though, is that my posting will be sporadic and my crafting time, well, non-existent.

And its hard to sleep for worrying about the economy, the future. I know worrying does no good, and that these are things outside of my control. I know that we already are doing the things we can do (working hard, saving, being careful on how we spend, conserving gas as much as possible). But still I toss and turn for all the "what ifs." Enough already.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


It was a pleasure to finally find a pool being used on a hot day! No, not native New Englanders -- transplants, like us. I love the color combination of the icy blue with the pink. I also love the idea of keeping a flock of real flamingos on the front lawn -- wouldn't that be cool? Obviously the zoo knows how to keep them from flying away, and contained by just a small fence.... This is the kind of thing I say, with excitement and energy, to which Ken responds by looking at me with an expression of kind of bemused terror -- "ah, are you serious?" -- well, yeah. Just as serious as wanting to put in a few killer holes of mini golf out front, but I haven't gotten the green light on that project yet, either.

It's kind of why our house still looks really un-put-together, unfinished, inside. Ken and I have very different tastes and styles, so we compromise to the point of not really doing very much. Our furniture just gets plopped down in each room along a path of least resistance, there's no real sense of design or style. It has hit me just recently how awful the place looks -- 17 years of the same old faded posters in frames on the walls, a weird hybrid of knick-knacks and Lego constructions, pieces of furniture from our pre-marriage apartment days that are so beat up it's not funny. Ken has agreed to a room-by-room clean-up, clear-out, re-do; it won't be so much about buying new stuff as it will be about getting rid of stuff we don't need and making the place look more put-together. Some fresh paint, all new curtains. I really, really hate making curtains but the faded, frayed scraps hanging at the windows now definitely need to go. I'd like to come home at the end of the day and feel good about the place. Wish me luck.

Meanwhile, I was just utterly delighted to have received this award from Sandy! It's one that's been going around the world quite a bit -- how cool is that? And I get to pass it along to seven others, who are:

"Quilt Pixie"
and Linda, even though she's taking a break at the moment

So the deal is that you pick up the graphic here, from my blog, you include a link to me, and then you pass the award along to 7 others.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Flashback Friday

Me, circa 1979 / Chicago

I've been interested for a long time now in the idea of having at least one day a week to follow some theme; I liked and tried "Wordless Wednesdays" that I saw Natalie do and there are so many other great ones out there but I've never had the discipline to stick with it. Yesterday I stumbled across someone's Flashback Fridays (did I remember to note which blog? Noooo. I am sorry about that.) and thought it was a good fit between a theme day and my pledge to get more of my old photos scanned in. So here's the first installment.

Happy weekend, one and all.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Now, where was I going?

We are a family of mini golfers; we take the game pretty seriously. Oh, you know, we're definitely out there to have fun, but we're also all about par and under. About holes-in-one. About the great courses, the best clubs, ball color choice. Well, and ice cream. Definitely out there for the ice cream afterwards. The only drawback is that we can't really take Dean's friends with us -- unless they too are from a family o' golfers. Otherwise, we're out there shooting our twos, maybe threes, and the poor friend is consistently giving up after his sixes or sevens or eights....

I hadn't really intended to write a mini golf post, but the photo was handy. I'm honest, if nothing else.

Speaking of honesty, how fed up are you with the presidential campaign? I saw a headline or two recently about Obama's "move to the middle" to attract more voters and I thought -- feh. Have courage, have faith, be who you are, stand up for what you believe in, follow through on what you've done in your life so far and swing for the fences. Don't give us more of the "middle" crap where it becomes impossible to separate one candidate from another based on the same meaningless, conciliatory non-answers to questions on key issues. Speaking of key issues, wouldn't it be refreshing if members of the media took it upon themselves to poll Americans about things that mattered -- like, oh, the war or education or the economy -- and not about which candidate pet owners are more likely to support, or which candidate you'd rather invite to a cookout? Really. I weep for my country. That IS one bad thing about the internet -- what it has done to "journalism" (and I used to think USA Today was bad...).

I wish people who had pools in their yards actually used them. Have I expressed this before? It's another brutally hot and humid day today, and as on every other hot summer day I don't see a single, solitary soul in any of the pools I pass as I walk the dog or drive Dean to camp. No one. Can we come over? Can we show up and use your pool so at least someone is benefiting from it?

I haven't been sleeping well. It does make me cranky. Need. fairy. godmother. Just sayin'.

Speaking of which: I talked to a dad yesterday of one of our students; he needs to withdraw her from our school because he found out on Monday that his town tax assessor's office had been incorrectly calculating his property tax for the last few years. With me? The town made the error. The result? He has to cough up $15,000 in back taxes. Now. He thinks they are going to lose the house -- they just do not have the $$. This makes me wish I could win the lottery (or just already be wealthy, but then I wouldn't be working so maybe that's not the point) -- anyway, I wish I could just march right down to the tax assessor's office, pay the family's tax bill, tell the tax assessor to please be calling up the family now, while I'm watching, to tell them that the matter has been taken care of, and then to please write it all up officially (now, while I'm watching) so the family knows for certain that it is off the hook. My name? Oh, just tell them "a friend."

Do they still call it "hump day" where you are? Wednesday? Hump day? Let's all get over it, shall we?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Missing you

My dad would have been 80 today. He'd have been glad we finally got Dean a dog, found it odd that Dean plays soccer and not baseball ("geez, don't American kids play baseball anymore?"), worried, as always, that I was doing too much ("just buy paper plates!") and wistful about turning 80 ("that just sounds old, doesn't it?").
The latest ABC-Along installment is the letter 'n,' and nasturtium. Past the half-way mark now.
My dad was a great photographer -- professional, in fact. He'd have enjoyed this project, would have been eager to see what I was coming up with, and would have been direct about the ones he thought weren't good enough ("well I'm looking at it Jen and I don't see the 'A'...").

Friday, July 4, 2008


In an effort to stir the pot a little, I've tagged what I hope is a wide assortment of fellow bloggers (seeing if I can break out of some of the same circles a little bit). Some old friends, some newer ones, and some with blogs where I've lurked but not said much. This was my twist on Natalie's tag of me, where I called 7 hopes and/or wishes. We'll see who has a chance to play along.

Heather at Bluhm Studios

'M' at Chocolate on My Cranium

Diana at Dented Thimble Quilting

Kahne at Life on the Run

My Little Mochi

Sarah at Joy for the Journey

Maybe there's someone here who's new to you, and you can take a look at what she's up to. But, ok, so I DID actually tag 7, but I can't remember who the last one was. I'll try. It's no reflection on the person or her blog, just on my own fuzziness of memory. Love this:

"I don't write things down to remember them later. I write things down to remember them now."

It's from a site that sells notebooks but, yes -- it's true -- I can't remember the name of it at the moment. {Edited to add: found it! Check out these great notebooks.) And here's a friend who had the chance to play along on a tag from a while back; she wrote such a lovely post....

Happy 4th

It's traditional to celebrate the 4th of July by being on vacation, by being near water if possible (the lake, the ocean). You've got to have a cook out, of course -- hot dogs, hamburgers. Sparklers, or even firecrackers, if you can get them. They are illegal in many states but uncles seem to have a knack for bringing some to the party. Families get together -- many plan big reunions -- or else friends and neighbors do. It used to be that everyone had the day off, but now more and more stores are open (having BIG JULY 4th SALES!) and more people are condemned to work.
I don't know that any of these pictures were taken on July 4th -- probably not, in fact.
But they are family, we are picnicking and vacationing, and so they will do. We're headed out for a cook out ourselves this afternoon, happily, and I need to get to the grocery store before it gets too crowded. If you have today off, enjoy it. If not (and maybe it's just another Friday where you are?) then think about the weekend ahead and what you'll do for fun. The United States have certainly changed the course of world history by their existence -- sometimes for good and sometimes not. It's hard to be an American these days on the world stage, but for today we'll try to focus on our more shining hours, and on better days ahead.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hopes, wishes

Natalie played along with a thoughtful list of seven habits/quirks/facts about herself and made me wonder, yet again, how she does it. How she comes up with these insightful, funny, meaningful things to say yet again? And then I saw that she had tagged me and I doubted I had it in me. Haven't I dredged the bottom of my quirkiness lake to the point where there's no muck left? And then I checked on her this morning and saw that her abuelo, her grandfather, had passed away and I thought, well, can't I find a way to make her laugh a little? To both honor her tagging of me but to find another way to approach it?

And I don't know -- I don't know if this will turn out to be funny, or not. But I thought I would make mine a list of seven hopes and wishes that I have. I thought maybe I will reveal some of my own quirkiness that I myself don't see very clearly but that will be obvious to others from my list.
Here goes:

1. When I was driving home yesterday, I wished that I would pass a driveway with a backyard soccer goal net down at the end of it with a "Free!" sign on it. Do people do this where you live -- put things at the end of their driveway with "Free!" signs on them? They do it around here, but I've never seen anything that made me stop. So I figure that if I start focusing on a specific wish, maybe it will happen. I'm not sure how I would wrangle it home in my car, but maybe THAT would be the funny part.

2. I wish I could arrange for Dean to have lunch and then maybe a training session with Fernando Torres. I figure it's kind of the least I could do, given that I can't make Dean's wish come true -- that Fernando Torres were his older brother. Dean's having trouble wrapping his head around my having told him that aside from our not living in Spain and my having never met Mr. Torres senior, I could be Fernando's mom (in that I am old enough to have a 24-year-old son). I have yet to turn up a photo of Mr. Torres senior, though, so I can't be completely sure that it would have been a possibility. Ahem.

3. When I see a movie like Speed Racer, I wish I could have been a racer car driver -- you know, like Danica Patrick or something (although please -- don't get me wrong -- I'm not interested in her whole glam/super model thing, just in the race car driving). When we watched all the Euro Cup matches, I wished I could have been a soccer star in my youth. It's not about being unhappy with my own life, but more about having some remarkable past under my belt that, say, my brothers could brag to their friends about or whatever.

At my old job, a couple of the guys on my staff were real football fanatics, and I don't remember exactly how it started but I made a joke that I had dated Jim McMahon back when I lived in Chicago. I want to say that one of the guys made some totally implausible statement, and I responded by saying, "yeah, and I dated Jim McMahon." So anyway, it turned into this thing -- that at least one of the guys thought I was telling the truth and then it got around in certain circles; for guys, knowing someone who knew a Super Bowl winning quarterback is pretty huge. I kept trying to dispel the myth whenever it came up -- "guys, seriously, I was kidding" -- but I think that for at least one of them, being able to go around saying, "yeah, my boss used to date Jim McMahon" made the everyday life just a little more interesting.

4. I wish I could sing. Really sing. Even that I could sing The Star Spangled Banner in front of the crowd at a baseball game. I do sing The Star Spangled Banner when we go to baseball games (at the appropriate time, thank you) but Dean begs me to stop.

5. I hope that I have cleaned up my last house-training accident. Given that the dog is only 7 months old, this could be unlikely. But still, I hope.
6. I hope that I'm on the "cool mom" list amongst Dean and his friends. I think they are actually another year or so away from those conversations -- you know, when you try to figure out whose house you want to go to based on the mom's coolness factor. It's not about being lenient nor oblivious; cool moms can be totally tough and impose major limits and rules. But it's about being the mom, or one of the moms, who can be trusted and counted on and who doesn't dress in such a way that causes embarrassment to the crew (this is probably where I'm going to fail the test, though).

7. I wish that I could stop time, be invisible, read minds, and run five miles. All seem as equally attainable to me.

Tomorrow I will tag seven bloggers, and I'll put it out there as a hope/wish list. Hope that's legal.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Late yesterday afternoon, after work, as I looked through the kitchen cabinets in hope of finding some dinner inspiration, I helped myself to a coupla three hand fulls of Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Pistachios. Oh, joy. There I was, eating dessert before dinner. And I thought, well, it's the smallest compensation for having to be an adult.

You know how it is when you're a kid, and you think adults just live the life of Riley -- eating what you want, when you want, staying up as late as you want, watching whatever movies -- or as much tv -- as you want, no one telling you to do your piano practice or clean your room or take out the garbage or anything else. Making the rules, doing it your own way.

But as adults we know the dirty trick that's played on us: you can't really eat what you want, when you want because first of all you know all this stuff about what's good for you, how much you should weigh, what your blood pressure is like, how well you do or don't digest certain foods, what kind of a mega headache you'd get if you did try having ice cream for dinner. Sure, I can go to bed whenever I want, as long as I'm up by 5 to take care of the dog and make the lunches and generally get things ready for work/school/camp or whatever else is in store for the day which inevitably includes spending more time doing things I have to do instead of things I want to do. In short, by growing up we find out that childhood is really what it's all about.
So I say seek your compensation where ye may. Give yourself a treat, without feeling guilty. Because you're the grown up, that's why. Because paying for insurance, getting routine dental care, doing laundry, cleaning up after the dog, and cooking dinner every night earns you the right to have some fun. And seriously, if you live near a Trader Joe's, look for the pistachios -- you won't be sorry.