Saturday, December 31, 2011

The size of a year

Letting go on New Year's Eve is always hard for me; how can, really, another year have passed? How did I let it slip away without doing (insert impossibly long list here of things I thought I should have done)? I have found that it helps, in good years and even in awful ones, to go through the images and use them as a guide to remembering what was and to think about what could be, in the year ahead. I also always realize at about this point -- 3:00 in the afternoon -- that I should have started this a few days ago in order to do it justice, but I guess it's an honest reflection of me that "done" counts for enough. Maybe next year I'll start sooner and be more eloquent, but without further regret I trip through the 2011 that was:


SO much snow last winter! It's amazing to think that a year ago today we were pretty much snowed in.

Going from the top of our steps near the driveway... the bottom, in an instant, gleefully.

A trip to Boston with family to see the Cirque du Soleil show Dralion, and a lunch out.

The mountain of snow at the end of the driveway; the last bit did not melt until June. By this point, really, we were so tired of snow and storms and especially of shoveling that we couldn't imagine we'd ever see green again.

More snow, and you know it's serious when even your snow-loving 12-year-old is fed up.

Dean absolutely shone in his class' production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' and he was particularly proud of having mastered a Shakespeare play.

Silliness on my birthday, as usual.

Dean baked my cake, and...
...even handled the decoration.

I've never had a better birthday cake (it was chocolate cake with mocha frosting).


Everyone was so thankful to see shoots pushing their way up and the snow receding. Still had some storms, but spring felt miraculous this time around.

A typical mid-winter morning at our house.

The soccer season began again and Dean was a new man on the field. Suddenly much more aware of the bigger picture on the field, much more aggressive to the ball, and much better at making good decisions once he got the ball. His team went all the way to the semi-finals in their division. This picture captures Dean as a mid-fielder -- surrounded by opponents but faster to the ball.
Turning 13 didn't change his personality or his passions.

We took him on his first trip to New York City; not a fan of heights, he really hated the top of the Empire State Building (it was a windy, chilly day)...

...but finding the Balto statue in Central Park made up for it. We each had our list of places to visit this trip.

And April was the month that my photos were published in this book; still an experience unlike any other for me. I thought I'd spend more time on photography this year than I did -- taking the time to do real work, rather than family-life snapshots. A reminder for 2012, then.


The garden was spectacular this year, and although I wouldn't have thought it at the time, I think all the winter snow must have helped bring forth flowers, like this one, that haven't come up in our yard for years.

We held Dean's birthday party in May -- a rock-wall climbing extravaganza.


My beloved peony, which was gorgeous in a new way daily.

We did a lot on the house this year, as I think about it. New paint job and carpet in the family room, which made Dean decide that going without any furniture could be a great way to live (expect of course this is where the tv lives, and the Wii, and maybe he *would* like to see that get set up again, after all...). Re-did the first floor bathroom (and forgot to take "before" photos and still haven't taken "after" ones), replaced the dishwasher (still waiting for delivery) and the washing machine (ugh).

The day after school was out, Dean and I headed down to Springfield, Missouri to visit my brother and his wife. Driving the boat was one of Dean's many firsts on the trip.

Me, my brother, and the biggest fish I caught all week.

Blanchard Springs Cavern, in Arkansas, is a staggeringly beautiful place -- mile after mile of caverns so detailed and varied and huge (note the staircase on the lower left) that you cannot believe it's real.
The original Steak & Shake, in case you're the sort who's impressed by such things (burger and fries and chocolate shake heaven).

My brother asked if there was anything special I wanted to do this trip, and I said I wouldn't mind stopping at a flea market or two. There is no one in the world who spoils me more, or goes as far out of his way to treat me, than my brother; I couldn't tell you how many places he took me. It seemed every time we got in the car, we *just happened* to be going by some place or other that he knew of. Dean was a trooper, and I adored it.

Mini-golf in Branson, and then too quickly... the airport saying "goodbye." I so seldom see my own family that the saying goodbye is brutal for me. This was such a wonderful trip.

And the delights of June were far from over! While we were in NYC, Ken ordered us tickets for the US Men's Team vs. Spain, played right here in Massachusetts. Aside from the big smiles, please note Dean's height relative to mine in this picture. You'll understand why in November.

Can't believe I got to see Fernando Torres play,
nor that we got to see the actual World Cup trophy. Spain beat the US soundly, of course.

The spring season wrapped up for Dean. The kid on the right shows what it's like to have to try to move the ball against Dean, who had just stolen in and given it enough of a boot so that he could race to it and send it. Poetry in motion.


This was the month of summer camps for Dean, and work for me. We stopped for an ice cream the afternoon I picked him up from his one sleepover camp -- the rest were local day camps.

Madelyn Lori was born in June to our wonderful niece and her husband. She and Dean bonded instantly, and he showed his sweet tenderness in a whole new way.

We spent a lot of time reconstructing Lego sets that Dean was ready to part with, and sold them on ebay. Looking forward to a bit more of this next year -- the clearing out and selling, but not so much the painstaking task of reconstruction.


More unexpected wonders from our garden; I hadn't even planted morning glories this year, and that rose hasn't bloomed in recent memory.

We treated Ken to a night in Boston for his birthday, thinking that the mid-week break from commuting would be welcomed (he still had to work).
My attempt at a Dear Photograph project; for this one I'd say, "Dear Photograph, I can remember so clearly taking him here to visit the "Make Way for Ducklings" duck statues and he'd gleefully do his own little re-telling of the story for me, but it's hard for his teen-aged self to remember."
Fair enough, right? (You CAN see the smile behind that hand, can't you?)


Back to school, and almost instantly off on a hiking trip to the White Mountains. Apparently I didn't mark the freak hurricane (Irene) that passed through and left us without power for 4 days at the beginning of the month.
Back to it with the fall season (I do miss it, when we're not spending beautiful Saturdays on a pitch somewhere).

An impromptu trip into Boston to see Quidam , another Cirque du Soliel show (and another part of Ken's birthday celebration).

Not as much golf this year as we would have liked -- Ken worked most weekends and was exhausted on the few days he had off -- but we still managed a trip to our favorite local course.

Never enough walks in the woods, either, but we did our best to get out as often as we could.


Arthur, King of the Britons did quest for sugary treats on Halloween...

...only hours after we got power back after being out, yet again, for 4 days because of a freak October snowfall. Not that much, but heavy and wet and capable of pulling down power lines throughout the region. It was warmer outside on the steps than it was in the house at this point.

Well, it's a major part of our lives, what can I say? For the fall season he was switched from midfield to defense and he was brilliant. Truly. Not just what his mother would say -- his coach said so, too. (He's just managed to force this bigger kid off the pitch with the ball, forcing the turnover for his team. Brilliant, eh?)

We had tickets to see our local MLS team, the New England Revolution, play the Seattle Sounders (got to see Casey Keller play before retiring at the end of the season). But Dean had a party to go to and so we went on without him; he is growing up and becoming his own person, apart from us. And while we miss him, we cheer him on his own journey.


NOT too old, however, for the essential sport of fall.

Our commute to school is barely 8 minutes long, but these days for Dean that's enough time to get some reading in. He's always got books going.
And board games. The cooler fall weather is a welcomed reminder to get the games back out again.
Another visit with Maddie and her parents, while celebrating an early Thanksgiving with Ken's parents. No one asked him to keep her entertained, but there wasn't anything else he'd rather do.

Our walk on Thanksgiving...

...and proof of how much he's grown this year. He was still shorter than me back in June, but now he's clearly taller. I'd hoped this was still a few years off; I can't quite explain why or how it makes me feel older and short (I'm 5'8").

Best friends, okay? He's wondering when we're going to get to see her again.

We've been making gingerbread houses together since, I think, he was two. This was the first year he handled construction on his house entirely on his own...

...with gorgeous results. He always declines having lights in his, but I think next year he's going to go for it.My house, which Ken thinks looks like a library he'd like to visit.

My mom made these mice for me several years ago, when she was still able to get around well enough and see well enough to knit. She'd always ask me what I wanted for gifts and I'd always say I most wanted her to make me something. Although she valued the handmade, she de-valued her own work and always wanted to buy me something. I'd tell her that nothing meant more to me than what she made, and I am so grateful to have the things she made for me -- there's nothing she ever could have bought me that I would have loved more. (My own little polar bear quilt is under this mousie's feet.)

Finally got ourselves back to the Fatima Shrine this year for the breathtaking lights. They play etheral music throughout the park -- very old, Gregorian-sounding music that makes the experience very wonderfully serious and solemn while still joyful. We lit candles for those loved ones we've lost, and allowed ourselves to feel that heartache for those we wish we were still celebrating with this Christmas.

Dean sang, as always, in the school winter concert and as always he was one of the only boys' voices you could actually hear. (I don't mind that he's not following the current hair fashion at school -- just sayin'.)

Christmas Eve dinner.

Christmas morning is magic. Always.

This is how I think of these two lately -- always up to something and laughing.

And so it comes to an end. I need to go prepare our New Year's Eve dinner, and get ready to drive Dean to a friend's house. He's going to a party, but I'll be bringing him back home in time to see the ball drop in Times Square and to usher in 2012.