Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Out of Nowhere

I'm dipping down again and trying to remember all the things that are positive and for which I am very grateful. Sometimes, just doing tedious tasks helps as it's better than feeling this weight of sadness and accomplishing nothing. Amazing the ways emotions ride through me and grip my being. I can wish it weren't so and certainly contributing, productivity, creating, caring and humor help tremendously. I am not addicted per se to reality TV but I can be a fan of a certain individual and be happy for the serendipity when an unknown is discovered. A current contestant on America's Got Talent, Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr.has been employed most recently detailing cars in West Virginia and has always longed to perform as a singer. It's likely as a result of this show that his life will never be the same. I wish him and his family success and happiness. His story gives me hope.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Irene

It's very rainy here. Very. Hurricane Irene is sweeping through our suburban landscape and since we had to take down a towering pine adjacent to the house years ago (as a result of long term damage from carpenter ants) we are not feeling the fear of tree branches descending from above. As in The Wizard of Oz, if a house or a tree should blow in and land on our house, now that's another story. The house is tranquil, kids elsewhere (college, camp, sleepover) and I allow myself a favorite distraction- a new favorite tv series, The Hour, courtesy of BBC America.

I don't begin to understand what is going on in its very elaborate plot- but it's well done, well written and intriguing. Perfect to watch as the rain pelts the neighborhood and the wind makes its own symphony in the leaves.

Delivery & Pick-Up- A Love Story

Lots of things happen when you are a family. Kids grow up- embark on new adventures. Develop passions for people, places and things independently of you and goals change as they evolve. Certainly for us, a true milestone occurred when we dropped our first born off to start her freshman year at the University of Vermont in Burlington. Good weather meant pushing the organization envelop and getting on the road much later than was desired. Nora did allow us to help get her stuff up to her room and then graciously permitted her dad to help rearange the furniture. We had to run to pick up a few forgotten necessities (hangers, anyone?) and when we returned her space was magically transformed in to something that looked exactly like her. Leaving her in smiles as she pushed us out the door made me happy for her and a little wistful for us. Her personal due date was perfectly timed, in the end.

Of course, being in northern Vermont gave us the crazy notion that a quick hop to Potsdam, NY to pick up the current object of Jacob's desire was all doable. The beautiful ferry ride was not a good prediction of the arduous drive along the battered roads of the Adirondack State Park. We managed to arrive at the sporting goods store, Wear on Earth, minutes before they closed to pick up the mountain bike that my son found online. He too was full of excitement, smiles and gratitude for all the effort it took to get him there. We got to take a break to eat dinner by a lovely setting and then, a mere 6 and 1/2 hours later we were home. James and I spent 30 hours in the car with 5 hours off for good behavior (read sleeping) in a Red Roof Inn in Rutland, Vermont. Hopefully, the tedium of all the driving will quickly fade away and knowing we helped our kids fulfill their dreams will be all that matters in the end.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

J'adore la piscine, et vous?

Okay, maybe the title of this post is a little affected, but most things sound better in French- don't you think? As we are in the final hours of getting my eldest off for her freshman year of college the opportunity to escape the piles, her clutter and imperious attitude is welcomed by me. Anything I ask of her is met with her standard response of "Not now, Mom. I'll do it later." (Read, how about never?) Whatever management style you choose to use with your children (i.e. when they were small and I would beg for a little time, "I'll make you breakfast in a minute.") will come back to you in SPADES. I mean SPADES. A sunny morning, kids otherwise occupied and I am out the door. No time to hang out under the trees with a book, but plenty of time to get in a swim. An empty lap lane means an hour of sheer uninterrupted bliss contemplating the beautiful abstractions that dance on the bottom of the pool.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Crack for Boys

Well, it's not exactly a chemical substance. It's more the lure of certain cars. Even at the age of 5 my son could distinguish a Honda from a Toyota, and by 9 he knew a Maserati from a Lamborghini. Go figure. My husband can identify more makes of cars than he can his own emotions. Must be a guy thing. Personally I like automobiles when they work, get me where I want to go and are not an embarrassment to be seen in. The males in my family will test drive a car just to feel how it "handles" and will point out makes and models whenever we are out and about. Lots of references to V6, V8, turbo charged and Special Editions. En route to picking up Jacob from his camp in Pennsylvania it was a no brainer that we would stop back at a car show that James noticed once we were in possession of our son. My husband was suddenly very gallant about stopping at all the yard sales I fancied, even turning the car around in his pleasant anticipation of visiting the car show when it reappeared on our return route home. The vintage vehicles assembled were very, very shiny. And then, on the the last leg of our trip we passed a mint condition Corvette Stingray. A brief vision of heaven, on wheels.

Pondering the Universal

With only two kids around and cooler temperatures my ability to concentrate has risen exponentially. I took Nora on what I hope was the last of our major shopping expeditions yesterday and while she is not heading off to the North Pole for 6 months, she is as prepared as I can muster and afford for this next chapter in her life. I try to sneak in little tidbits of advice which she makes every effort to ignore like "Nora, have fun at school and study hard. Remember to try to avoid drugs and keep the drinking to a safe minimum." Oh yeah, she is really interested in anything I have to say. (Not.) But she genuinely smiled as she picked out the melamine plates and bowls and a decent flatware service for four for her future entertaining needs. (She wisely suggested that I probably don't want her to take any of my nice china plates.) All our yard sale finds are dovetailing nicely together and she found a great little vintage table on the street (yes, she is clearly my child) to use beside her bed. Needless to say, the house will be different without her. Mostly, I want her to be happy, succeed and find her way. Just like every other parent sending their child off in to the world.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Female bonding

Jacob is away at camp and tomorrow Sarah heads out to her camp and before she gets back, Nora will be off to college so I thought, what the heck, let's go on a road trip for a few days, just we three. A relative is recovering from knee surgery in Boston so that was our first stop. I spent the afternoon visiting at their home in Melrose while my daughters got to explore Cambridge. The next day we made a quick stop to wander Beacon Hill and shop a consignment store. Always a favorite activity for one and all and then off to the beach in Rhode Island where we soaked up the sun and enjoyed the waves. As it is no longer our usual routine to spend this kind of time together, I was happy just to be in their company. I don't recall spending much time with my mother for all sorts of reasons much less going anywhere requiring travel alone with her. She wasn't that kind of mom. The past few years have been very hard ones for me but I hope someday they will have mostly happy memories of a parent who loved them dearly.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Stormy Sunday of Delicious Eats

Anytime my friend Andrea, The Artist Baker, does a special event I love to go and take photos. She is a magician with food and her presentations always inspire me. I worry that I might be getting in the way as the assorted cooks madly work to get everything prepared on schedule. Still I am happy to be there documenting whatever I can. It was horrible rain all the way to Morristown and I felt a little crazy driving on the highway through buckets of rain and less visibility. But the sights and smells of Andrea's kitchen quickly lifted away the gloom of the trip.
She is very good at what she does, and if fate allows, I hope we will find a way to create a special book about how an artist becomes a baker and in her way makes the world a better place.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Not every good idea leads to a good outcome

My husband had a good idea. It was the last day for a long while that we would all be together so he wanted to go on a family outing. Unfortunately, not every one had the same interest. So with a fair amount of arm twisting we headed out to the Katonah Museum to see the outdoor sculpture exhibit. I thought they were fascinating and so did my husband, but the younger set displayed a certain boredom and let's just say it went downhill from there. At our late lunch, it went very downhill. Very. I will be happy to spare you all the details. I know family happiness can be fleeting at best, and at times it is the parents who are the wounded birds. It's probably recommended that as a parent you cast all your expectations aside and whenever possible, go with the flow. Even utter dismay has its upside. Somehow. In some universe. Somewhere. Someday.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sun, Surf & Sand

It was time to break away from life around here. Two of my kids wanted to go somewhere and do something, even if it was with me. No complaints on my end. Happy to oblige. A little more traffic than I wanted or needed, but then suddenly, we were in the parking lot and strolling onto the beach. It's always a photographer's dream, to be by the water with any kind of recording device. Bodies, relationships, relaxation and revelry. Sand between our toes and a chance to breathe the ocean air. A perfect mid-week escape that required nothing more than the means to get there.
Sometimes, the best things in life are free.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Does anyone else feel this way?

As we approach mid-August the exhaustion and tedium have really set in. The forces of nature represented by the teens with whom I reside have taken their toll. From afar, I enjoy them. Appreciate them. Respect them. But up close, the squalor of their rooms, indifference to any one but themselves (or their friends) and the crazy vampire-like sleeping habits make me look forward to Labor Day and their going back to school with anxious anticipation. There isn't much they are willing to do upon demand. Thank goodness for the greater authority figures of their lives- others whose expectations shape and sharpen their attention. For the most part, in the daily contest of life here in Sleepy Hollow, I am out of my depths.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Something New and Different

It was time to have an adventure. Too many weekends keeping it local and a complete lack of consensus had created a distinct inertia. My kids readily go off with a friend, or with each other but going anywhere with mom and dad, now that's a tough one. (Going out to dinner excluded. We eat most of our meals at home- so going out is a pretty easy sell.) Nora was busy rehearsing for a play and begged off so the remaning four of us headed off to Catamount Aerial Adventure Park in quest of some excitement and challenges.
It was a true blast of climbing, scaling, flying across the zip lines and then deciding what course to tackle next. Your admission buys you three hours in the park and while I got a little beat up, it felt great. Quite amazing to see everyone engaged and not a single complaint. We left all hot and sweaty but full of smiles. Stopping at a few farm stands on the way home allowed me to buy some peaches, blueberries and fresh tomatoes for Nora. I really missed her today and started to think about her heading off to college the end of the month. I'm not really ready for her to go, it's true.
Back home, I cooked up a quick meal which we ate on the patio in the comfort of the evening breeze. The kids are growing up and I want to commit to memory all the meals, events and adventures of our family life before they all fly the coop for good.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A recommendation from Sleepy Hollow

I've been going down the rabbit hole some this week. Wandering the web by jumping links and finding more distraction than anyone could ever require in the process. Through reading readers' reviews on Amazon I ordered some titles from the library. One novel in particular totally captured my imagination. The writing was just amazing as the author, Jonathan Dee, can really turn a phrase. Now I will have to read his other novels and that prospect gives me a certain happy anticipation all its own. The book I read, The Privileges, describes people I have known and photographed and while their lives aren't utterly perfect- he writes about them in such a way that envy rises easily. Good looking people who marry, and have good looking children could be a predictable subject but in his hands you savor every page. Just a recommendation to share on a very beautiful summer's day.

And here's a quote that's been circulating in my 246...."I'll tell you my thoughts about the past....It's like a safe deposit box: getting all dressed up and going downtown and having a look in there isn't going to change what's in it."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Advice from down the road a ways

I wish I was a more sensitive blogger. Swooning over the delicacy of the eyelashes of A toddler's laugh. Those first wondrous curls. Okay, you know that sort of thing. No, I'm wrestling with trying to be sensitive to the fact that none of our 3 kids ever wants to clean their room, do laundry, walk the dog, or take out the trash. Oh yes, our home is so full of sensitivity that I am reminded on a regular basis about what an annoying individual I am. Maybe I was...too nice. I thought- empathy is the best policy. Now, I'm thinking tyranny has its up side. Many times, I don't really care what they think about what I want from them. Or whose turn is it really? Just do it. Now. So, that's the drill in a nutshell. Don't be too nice and whatever you do, keep them guessing. You want them on their toes and somewhat afraid (not necessarily a bad thing). Whatever you do, don't let them know how much you absolutely adore them. Then it's really game over, my friend. Game over.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Unusual in Sleepy Hollow

It's been hot and humid and everyone has been longing for rain. Focusing on my chores, my usual suspects were relaxing as ever. Crack, snap, ping, and whack! Looking out the window, golfball sized hail stones were descending in a wicked frenzy. Nora wore a bicycle helmut as she made a mad run to the car to head over to a friend's. Sarah, Jacob and I stared out the windows in sheer amazement. Comet hid under the table and waited for the strange sounds to pass. And me, I had to dash out into the elements to experience this unique folly. An hour later, all had melted away. Glad though that I convinced Jacob to help me out, please! Three frames in, he bolted off. "Mom! Enough!! My hands are freezing!!"