Wednesday, June 21, 2017

BBQ Fetish

A few weeks ago, T and I were at Lowes grabbing lightbulbs and charcoal, when I came across the BBQ section.  Lowes is apparently there for your grilling needs and this assortment of spice names convinced me that the BBQ crowd has a bit of a fetish.

As the saying goes: you do you, BBQ folks.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


It’s a funny development when the schoolwork of the year is complete and suddenly summer has arrived.  It always feels a bit odd to transition from 12 hour days with long, never-quite-completed to-do lists, to mornings that start later and leisurely-paced days with time enough to read an extra chapter of my book, sit in the sun, and otherwise embrace the luxury of time.

Transitions have always been a challenge for me and the close of school is no exception.  I long for the time off but then find that all that free time  leaves me at sixes and sevens.  My remedy for this is to set myself up with projects and activities to help me manage the time.  This year, with a son headed into his final year of high school, seems different, as if I am in a trial period for an even bigger transition to come.  For one thing, the combination of a pretty rigorous summer athletic training regimen, a car to drive, and a girlfriend to visit, means that JT is often not around.  I don’t miss him in the typical terms because he eventually comes home every day.  It’s nice to see him when he’s here and our catch-up time at the end of the day seems especially precious.  For the first time I can see clearly the transition that is coming to my world in a little more than a year.

That feels crazy.  In my mind, my son is still my boy.  When JT was first born, a good friend told me that the nights were long but the years were fast.  This past year has certainly demonstrated the truth of that statement.  As I manage the usual challenges of this year’s transition to summer, I’ve got my eye on the future.  So a big part of my summer plan is to set myself up for the next transition in my world.  Some days, that’s an easy and happy thought: I’m excited for JT to experience the next chapter.  Other times, the prospect seems rather daunting.  

This week, we are visiting a few more colleges on JT’s list.  That’s a chance for me to envision him in a new place.  It’s exciting and uncertain all at once.  In a way, being a parent has always been that combination and I suppose this next chapter will be no different.  So I’ll boldly step forward, knowing that’s the only path available, and we’ll see what comes next.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Garden Report, Week Three: Monday, June 19

The early garden is at an in-between stage, not yet exploding with growth, but not without changes each week.  This morning's hazy sun promises another hot day on tap.

I’m late getting the mulch in place because all of my focus since school got out has been getting the house ready for the downstairs floors to be refinished.  That project begins today and we’re out of the house while the floor crew is in the house working their magic.  I’ll be by to water the garden and otherwise attend to all my growing creatures and when the floor project is complete, the garden will have all of my attention.  Until then, growing, growing, growing is the order of the day.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Family Inheritance

It’s Father’s Day and that seems a fitting time to make a list of all the the very best things I learned from my dad:

1.  My liberal politics and the sure knowledge that Nixon was a sonfabitch, Reagan was a bastard, and Trump is profanity as-yet not invented.

2.  My love of gardening, the green thumb that came along with it, and the sure knowledge that you should always plant one more tomato plant.

3.  Baseball and the ways in which hearing a game called on the radio brings me back to hot summer days, the smell of freshly-cut grass, and iced tea drank outdoors.

4.  My dry sense of humor and a knack for timing when telling a story.

5.  Appreciation for automatic ice makers.

6.  The knowledge that nothing beats the taste of homemade popcorn.

7.  Jack Daniels served with 7-Up on ice.

8.  The desire to cook on a grill (although I try to avoid the charred food my sister calls Old West-style).

9.  To love unconditionally and with all my heart.

Grandpa & his boys - 2008

Happy Father’s Day to my dad and all the other dads who get the job done.  I love you, Dad!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Front Porch in June

With the arrival of June, the flowers and plants are all safely outside soaking up the sunlight.  June is front-porch weather at its very best and nearly every morning I pop outside to read and enjoy a few cups of coffee before the day really begins.  I sit in the rocking chair and the birds and flowers keep me company.  I find these blowzy double begonias utterly lovely.

T and JT gave me a new flag for the summer.  It’s quite cheery waving in the sunlight next to the baskets of New Guinea impatiens. 

I was lucky enough to find a bargain-priced striped tablecloth that perfectly matches the flag, which makes my matchy-matchy heart sing.  On the table, violets and impatiens bring beauty to my days.

The fuchsia is doing its best to recover from a Winter spent indoors.  The shefflura is looking to need a new pot by the end of the summer.

My June wreath is in place and ready to welcome visitors.

The porch has been especially welcoming as the inside of the house is in upheaval as we prepare for the floors to be refinished.  It’s nice to step out the door to find all the charms of Summer, ordered and ready for some much-appreciated relaxation.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Real Life Texts with M: Storage Bin Anxiety edition

The backstory: There is a large Pods storage bin in my driveway.  This weekend, the boy and some of his wrestling friends will load it full of our first floor furniture and things.  Next week, my wood floors will be refinished.  My friend M, who also lives in our town, drove by, saw the bin, and was immediately concerned.

M:  Are you moving?

Me:  Nope.  Having floors done!

Me: Oh! So you can still bail me out if/when I go to jail?

Me:  Roger that.

It’s always best to plan ahead.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

Garden Report, Week Two: June

Over the weekend, seasonal warmth blew into New Jersey with a furnace-like vengeance and the garden couldn’t be more pleased with this development.  It doesn’t look all that tidy, but things are coming along nicely.

Later this week, I’ll put some weeds in the process of getting ready for spreading mulch, which I hope to complete by the end of the month.  With the arrival of consistent warm weather and the long days of June’s sunlight, the garden is poised to take off.  That’s happy!

Pretend Grown Up

I don’t have a desk at home, I have a laptop that follows me wherever I choose to work.  Most often, that’s a corner of my sunny dining room near a cabinet that contains my craft projects, a basket for those essential things we all seem to have, and an assortment of chargers for the family electronics.  

My essentials basket has a collection of items: address labels, bookmarks, stickers, JT’s schooI pictures, and the odds-and-ends of daily life, including the few bills that I don’t receive on-line.  Essential papers like car insurance and car registration renewals are also stored in the basket, which I keep to a reasonable size so as to prevent the accumulation of crap.

Of course, crap still accumulates.  When it seems especially over-flowing, I clean out the basket to find things I’d forgotten I had and plenty of things I should never have saved.  This week, I’m finishing up a project to pack up the entire first floor of my house in preparation for my wood floors to be refinished.  This means that the whole cabinet gets cleaned out and packed up.

That process has convinced me that I am barely a grown up.  For starters, the sheer volume of stickers that I’ve found in the cabinet suggests I’m a child.  For another, I unearthed my car registration just days from its due date.  The alarming fact here is that I had completely forgotten the registration was due.

As each corner of the first floor gets tidied and then packed up, I look forward to putting the house back together when the floors are complete.  I fantasize that I’ll return a tidier and more well-organized adult.  

After all, one must live in hope.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Life with Foamy and Whiny

The wood floors on the first floor of my house are being re-finished later this month.  Among other things, that means that Tiger and Lucy, the cosseted indoor cats who rule our world, have to be boarded away from the house while the work is completed.

To be ready for kitty hotel, the dynamic duo had to have up-to-date vaccines.  That meant a trip to the vet.  The vet who is closest to home did not have any appointments this week, so they sent me to another branch, just 6 miles away.  When I made the appointment it was with the knowledge that the cats don’t like to ride in a car, but as the saying goes, “needs must.”

On Friday, I set off with two annoyed cats in a carrying case.  JT, the in-house cat-wrangler, secured them in the case and loaded them in the car.  He gave me strict instructions not to screw things up, to text him with updates, and then he set off for a track meet.

I fired up the wagon and hit the road with two very unhappy cats.  Lucy began howling at once, stopping only to catch her breath and begin foaming at the mouth.  Tiger, increasingly covered in his sister’s drool, was more resigned to his fate, occasionally issuing a pathetic meow while his sister was loading up the drool works.  This let me know that he was alive.  And annoyed.

Six miles of travel on an early Friday afternoon in New Jersey involved nearly 30 minutes of stop-and-go-traffic.  Accompany that with the howling of very troubled cats and you’ve a recipe for one woman to lose her mind.

My frazzled nerves and I made it there, secured the required vaccines (and proof of said-vaccines) and then my furry friends were stuffed back in the carrying case for the journey home.  That was slightly less-eventful, because some of the traffic had thinned out.  When we got home and inside the house, I unzipped the carrying case.  They burst out and took time to look at me in an accusing fashion before they bolted upstairs, Lucy still frothing at the mouth and Tiger covered in drool.  There they have largely remained.  

Tiger has likely forgiven me the whole experience.  But I expect that Lucy has already made contact with PETA and is drawing up the papers for a magnificent lawsuit against me.  

They head to the cat hotel next Saturday meaning that this story isn’t quite over.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Real Life Conversations with M: Historical edition

The backstory:  We are using a new (and incredibly powerful!) computer program to draft Middle School class assignments for the next school year.  As we learn how it works, the school’s tech support staff has been instrumental.  My boss and I know kids and parents; our tech guy, the very patient and clever M, knows the computer program.  Together we are sorting out what needs to happen.  Reflecting on a particular scheduling conundrum that might be a challenge to explain to a parent, I made a suggestion that I have made before:

Me:  Children should be raised by wolves.

Mike: It worked for Romulus & Remus.

Boom.  Also: new plan.