Friday, December 31, 2010

There's Always Hope

The title is a few wise words a good friend recently shared which sometimes I forget. A sunny day marks the end of my first year of blogging. My wish is that my posts have entertained and/or illuminated the elusive concept of curb appeal as I try to build a life from both the outside in and the inside out. To all the kind words and support I have received I'd like to reply, "Happy New Year!" and may health, happiness, peace and prosperity be yours in 2011.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Quest for Beauty

As a parent, you get a huge kick out of watching your kids grow and develop. My daughter has a fondness for beauty regimes of all kinds. Roaming the aisles of the drug store, leafing through glossy magazines and searching the internet for homemade concoctions to improve her looks is a regular fascination. Sarah presents a very poignant image while watching television with different odd foodstuffs slathered on her already beautiful face. I resist saying anything for fear of propelling her in the opposite direction of feeling even more insecure about her looks. Better to redirect her concern with her appearance by encouraging Sarah to focus on what's inside her mind and heart.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

This salesgirl's last day

I spent my last day helping Dan and Jessie sell their jewelry in the city in their booth in Bryant Park. Huddled by the heater, I tried to smile at the many different people passing by- native New Yorkers and tourists alike. Soaking in the electricity of street life and the jolt it provided from my suburban oasis of family and hearth was a welcomed change. But the best part was that I made a new friend, Wendy, who had the booth next to Dan's. She is the creator of these beautiful hearts that are charming and inventive object poems. I hope the future allows me to get to know her better.

Resolution #1

Recovery mode and the desire to do better prevails. Where these gale force winds of sadness come from are still a mystery to me. I am relieved, intensely so that Christmas is over. I do feel sorely lacking where the holidays are concerned. James and I can provide the little luxuries, the food stuffs and well lit fires to warm their souls- but as transplants to the east coast the one ingredient lacking is family to surround us at certain times of year. I know this is a need that my children crave. En route to our distraction of Christmas day, we pass the houses with cars assembled and glimpse the silhouettes of people floating by the windows. There is a silent acknowledgment that somehow, we are without that nucleus that others' have of a tight circle of family and friends. Feelings of inadequacy come easily as a parent and I'm tired of all the less than moments that haunt me. Here's to succeeding at reaching out in love and friendship to create the sense of community that as humans we all desire.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Place your bets

Nothing like the day after the day after. Trying to put the pieces of my beleaguered soul together and trying to figure out the source of all the fissures and cracks that can render me unable to proceed. Locked in a time tunnel of sadness and loss, all the whys and wherefores are woefully inadequate to put it mildly. I can ponder the genetic component, I can try to trick myself in to feeling better, I can examine all the ways the glass is half full. I can explore all the ways I know I should be grateful, intensely grateful but then a dark wave hits hard and I am rendered mute and paralyzed by the way my heart hurts. This is not the first time that I have been assaulted by this powerful sadness and I know it will not be the last. At the core I suspect it is the feeling of failure that I feel for not having achieved goals long desired and discarded for lack of better fortune. No, what is required is to try and try again and in the trying craft a sense of purpose that fills me with a peace that propels me forward. Hopefully, with a sense of humor to weather the next dark wave. Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holidays? Fun?

I'm not sure how much I like my family at certain times of year- and often at certain times of day. Objectively, standing outside and looking in- we probably resemble an attractive group. But in my heart, the lack of responsibility and lack of empathy for each other can utterly torment me. So, the holidays stir up many hard feelings that linger below the surface. It's good to keep busy during this season. The giving, planning, cooking and care that consume my energies and concern serve as a distraction to my greater frustration that my ability to parent effectively is woefully lacking. This era substitutes consumption for purpose, sarcasm for sincerity, and status for meaning. The questions remain- where do we go from here? And how do we get there?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Party Central

I'm in my bedroom- okay, I am hiding upstairs because my teenaged daughters are hosting a Christmas party downstairs. Just the sounds of the music and many happy, loud exchanges is a strange jolt to my sense of self. When did they get so grown up that they are able to entertain a crowd with minimal assistance from me? Fortunately for the men of my household, James is obliged to work late and Jacob is at a pal's house for dinner so I am acting as the adult of record. When I observed the table arranged with platters of food beautifully composed and candles lit I knew I had done my job as their teacher. I know I am not yet obsolete, I just didn't expect to feel so unnecessary so early in the game. Parenthood affords so many poignant moments but for me, this era has been the most profound to date.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Countdown

It's one week until Christmas and I admit, I'm wound a little too tight. A day at home without errands to run means a chance to pause and look at the chaos around me. Lots of undone chores. Some gifts to wrap but not a lot. Our finances require the exchange of small tokens and no one in my family appears to mind. It's a relief to know that more stuff and clutter does not await us. I'm not purchasing many gifts beyond a neat book to read, or new socks to replace the one's wearing thin and other useful items. I'm so grateful and overwhelmed that we might really be on the path to economic recovery that material things don't hold much sway. Christmas has come early this year for me. Having James back at work is the best present I could imagine.

Friday, December 17, 2010


For all the obvious reasons, it was a simple pleasure to sew James' coat button to his suit jacket first thing this morning. I brought the jacket back up to him as he was tying his shoes. When he exited at the train station to go to work, wearing the new overcoat I purchased for him yesterday, he looked ready for the trip in and the day that awaited him at work.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Diva Domestica

I'm having a major homemaker, wife and mother day starting with
Drive Sarah to school
Work on budget
Deep clean of the kitchen
sweep the floors
scrub the stove top
bleach the sink
Walk the dog
Head out in the car
fill gas tank in mini-van
mail package
pay Con Ed
drop off James' shirts at laundry
go to bank
go to mall
to Banana Republic- purchase very beautiful overcoat on sale for James
to Gap to purchase jacket and new jeans for Jacob
CVS for prints
Home to empty dishwasher
Jacob tries on new clothes
sort and start laundry
It's 4 p.m. and I need to attend to the clothes, make our bed
hang up James' new coat
think about dinner
pick up Sarah from school?
So the discussion I can't seem to find is the one that addresses how time intensive it is to take care of a family and run a home. The kitchen doesn't shine much less sparkle when counters stay grubby, leftovers remain visible and pots look drab. It is that aspect of replacing light bulbs, restocking of shelves, feeding pets, resolving necessities that all remain undone without a lot of personal effort. I can read all the hints in the world but none of them will ever manage all these responsibilities for me.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

First Snow

While fixing our morning coffee, I am treated to my first glimpse this winter of snowy backyards. Due to our house's setting, we have quite a bit of land between us and our neighbors, all of which adds to the sense of privacy we enjoy. I am very grateful for the many beautiful vistas framed by our windows. The ever changing aspect of our surroundings reminds me that things rarely remain the same.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Tree Part 1

I participated in one of our family rituals today. I went with James, Nora and Comet upstate to a Christmas tree farm where we selected and cut down a tree. It all went very smoothly- didn't get lost, didn't overpay and did not squabble once. We tramped around the farm in a populated field of pines looking for the perfect specimen. James cut it down and then with a little coordination we got it home without incident. Most of my expeditions lately have been to Bryant Park and it was lovely to head the other way into the open stretches of country and big skies.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Renegade 2

I don't even know how to describe the fights that I can have with my daughter Sarah. She is a fully formed young woman now and her opinions can truly startle me. It annoys her that I don't go toe to toe with her when she's outraged- something I'd rather not do. In frustration she hurls all kinds of remarks at me. I'm sure lots of experts would tell me to knock her out cold in some fashion when she mutters her jibes of disrespect. I do believe that outside our home, with other adults who drive her crazy, she is pretty circumspect. She knows where the line is with everyone else. So, I let her rant and then she usually makes a dramatic exit. I'm left in the curious state of digesting her thoughts, especially her negative opinions aimed at me. Isn't motherhood fun?

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Renegade

My daughter just told me to "go away you failed photographer!" (My husband does tend to practice the art of sarcasm whenever possible and the ripple effect is no fun to observe.) She is especially testy in the course of doing anything she doesn't want to do (like making her bed, doing her homework, folding her clothes). It's easy to worry about the ineffectual adult I can imagine when I witness her lazy ways. Sarah told me as a member of her generation she is obliged to rebel against me and my values and has already started by no longer cleaning her room. Welcome to my world.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


For no apparent reason that I can explain, looking at objects can sometimes stir a fantasy and create narratives that race through my mind as if in a dream. As a homemaker, I try to bring elements of whimsy and the unexpected into the home that serve a purpose beyond utility and necessity. I'm hoping it promotes imaginative thinking for everyone and that I really like. I have never been to The Fontainebleau Hotel but since I brought this bag home, every time I see it, I feel a funny connection to this unknown place that makes me smile.