Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wishing Rocks

We went to the beach for dinner tonight. It was a nice end to a day that was hot and steamy and a bit sad.

I told C about his classmate while sitting on the dock at the harbor. He didn't know him well - just hellos in the hallway. C says he feels sad and that it's a little creepy. He expressed concern for a close friend of the boy who died, how J was doing with the news. We went by the church and put up a prayer card for him. C was subdued the rest of the afternoon.

By 5:30 the school's information dispersion system kicked in and all the families in his school had received a prerecorded message asking that parents look at the school Web site. That notice was careful and considerate, conveying just the necessary information, and directing parents to helpful grief Web sites.

One of the things we like to do at the beach is look for wishing rocks: rocks that have a natural circle around them. They look a little like Oreos sometimes - usually it's a layer of quartz making the circle part.

Just before we left, I asked C to help me find a wishing rock. I needed to make a wish. He found such a rock - a nicely tumbled little stone. I went to the edge of the rising tide and threw it as far as I could as I made my standard every-time-I-find-a-wishing-rock wish for my children's future. It felt a little more precious tonight.

Kiss your babies.


I have just received word that a classmate of C's was killed in a car accident yesterday in Pennsylvania.

I haven't told C yet. He's at sailing class right now. After I pick him up, I'll take him over to the beach and tell him there. Give him some space for whatever reaction he might have.

My heart is aching for this boy and his family.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

This is Why

This is why I endure long commutes and local politics

(click to enlarge)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Anti-Oxidant Pie

Another first today: the first blueberry pie of the season is in the works.

I'm not much of a traditional blueberry pie fan. Fully baked blueberry pies are too cloyingly sweet for my taste. And if it's made with canned filling, I usually think I can taste the tin. Ick.

A couple of summers ago I noticed a recipe in a cookbook I own (The Pie and Pastry Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum) that was different. This recipe was for an open-faced blueberry pie, and only a quarter of the blueberries were cooked then folded into the remaining fresh blueberries which were then poured into a precooked shell. Blueberries were on special at the grocery store that week, so I decided to take a chance.

One bite of that pie and I was hooked. Ditto my husband and children. I think I made that pie once a week for the rest of the summer. All those antioxidants in the blueberries, after all. Only C claimed to be sick of it by September.

With this pie, the burst of fresh blueberries rules the palate. Just enough sweet, but not too much. It's a treat. When I saw blueberries on special at the grocery store yesterday, I knew that I would make this pie today.

So if you can get your hands on the recipe for "Open Faced Blueberry Pie" from The Pie and Pastry Bible, try it.

And if you need a good pie crust recipe, "Basic Pie Crust 1" from Judy Rosenberg's Rosie's Bakery All-Butter, Fresh Cream, Sugar-Packed, No-Holds-Barred Baking Book has never let me down. You can even do most of it in a food processor.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Crack in the Fishbowl

It sounds like a metaphor for serious life stuff, but it's not. There really is a crack in our fishbowl.

Back in March, when C went to the awards reception for the state-wide art program, he came home with two goldfish. Yes, that's right...a small trophy, a certificate and two goldfish.

Their names are "Pasta" and "Noodle." I like to say they have the same name, but in different languages.

Anyway, sometime in the last few weeks the corner/edge of the fishbowl sustained some kind of an impact. It's barely visible, and the fishbowl is not in danger of shattering at any moment. It is, however, leaking just enough to be noticeable. We tried duct tape, but that didn't work - it managed to leak right through. (Maybe just plain more duct tape?) We have a plate under the fishbowl now to catch the leaking water, and empty it every few days. We continue to change the water and feed the fish as usual. Just this ongoing slow leak.

I keep meaning to get to the pet store to get a new bowl, but somehow forget each time I am out running errands. I am hoping that by writing about it now, it will be in the front of my brain a little longer, and I'll remember when I am out later this afternoon.

Pasta and Noodle don't seem to be bothered by it. They just keep swimming along.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Day of Firsts

First day of summer.

First day of summer vacation for the kids.

First time I’ve completed the Concept2 Summer Solstice Row (almost a half marathon).

First daytime beach trip. It was a gorgeous day. Gorgeous.

First time S has gone to the beach diaperless.

First time in a new bathing suit for me. This may turn out to be one of those trying-so-hard-to-look-young-that-she-looks-old pieces of apparel, but I AM NOT FORTY YET!

First sea glass of the year.

First time actually getting in the water for the year. It wasn't so bad. It was kinda warm in spots, probably related to it being near low tide. Usually I can't stand to get in until August, but I did today.

First time C took of his shirt at the beach since 2002. Lots of extra sunscreen on the scar.

C told me something interesting today - related to another first. Apparently the first, or one of the first transatlantic telegraph cables terminates in our town. He said he'd point out the cable house tomorrow when we go to the beach.

It was also a day for a last. It was my friend M's last day in town. She and her brood (including six kids, 2 weeks to 13 years) are moving to Texas. I stopped by to give her another hug on the way to the beach. I'm excited for her. I am worried for her. I am going to miss her.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


In college I majored in art history and studio art.

Yeah, really useful stuff.

In my studio classes, I focused on printmaking. Lithography in particular, held my interest – lithography the traditional way with the big stones and the physically intensive work to create the image. I liked the challenge of creating textures on a two dimensional surface. I also worked a fair bit in intaglio, and it was easier to create textures on the metal plates with acids and tools found at the hardware store.

As a home print studio isn’t really realistic (with a standard size press), I had to drop printmaking in the forms I enjoyed when I graduated college. I also had to make a living. Since then, the creative side of me has been limited to choosing paint colors, various arts and crafts, mostly with the kids, and fiber arts (which I have loved, but it’s different).

Now, many years after my last foray into the print studio, we are developing a friendship with the family of one of M’s preschool friends. Really nice, fun people. He is an art teacher, and when we last had dinner we discussed a method that has been developed to create litho images using polyester plates and a laser printer and hand held tools to transfer the image to paper. He sent me links to appropriate information to get me started.

So basically I have no excuse not to get back to it.

As such, I’ve been thinking about what I would like to image. What is it that interests me now? What kind of images am I attracted to? What speaks to me? What of my old works do I still like? I’ve also been thinking about the history side of my degree. What were the periods and themes I connected with most?

I feel a bit embarrassed that I can’t necessarily remember some of those details. I’m disconnected from that time in my life – nine addresses, seven jobs, sixteen years of marriage, three kids and many life events later, art appreciation and participation doesn’t happen in expected or even concrete ways.

Clicking through the Internet today, I was reminded of one of my art historical interests – the Lindisfarne Gospels. Illuminated manuscripts of the late 7th/early 8th century produced on the island of Lindisfarne in Northumbria, northeast England.

These pages are amazing. Intricate, colorful manuscripts of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The techniques used to create the materials were intensive as the creation of the words and images themselves – the tanning of sheepskin to create the parchment, grinding of minerals and plant material to create the pigments, work by candlelight and no room for error. In the world of Celtic illuminated manuscripts, the Book of Kells is more well-known, but the Lindisfarne Gospels are what hooked me.

And it occurred to me that my affinity for illuminated manuscripts and printmaking and works on paper ties in to my life now in a way. I work with words, print, and paper, and as dry as the subject matter can be, the process of creating a document is still a creative one.

So maybe I’m not so far away from that time when I would look at a space or a scene and see that space or scene, but also see the light and the shadows and the structure and the composition and the texture. Creativity is a muscle that I need to exercise more and frequently. Maybe I can light that creative spark again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Speaking of Peonies

They came in well this year.

Monday, June 18, 2007

This and That

Again, plenty happening but no time to sit and reflect - much less come up with coherent and interesting writing. I've taken to keeping a small notepad in my bag to write ideas and notes. And shopping lists.

Some highlights:

  • A coworker turned me on to a farmer's market near the office. Fresh zucchini flowers + fresh goat cheese = yummy dinner of squash blossom fritters and salad.
  • Little league baseball season almost over. Woohoo! It's so fun, but tiring, too. C's team didn't do so well. M's division doesn't keep score, but if they did, his team would be doing quite well.
  • School is out on Wednesday. Grades closed over a week ago, so it's been party, party, party. What a terrific use of time. Not.
  • Just when I thought we had completed potty training successfully...blech.
  • Peonies.
  • I bought those plane tickets. Since then, my sister appears to have stopped speaking to me. Again. I know why - I called her on some of her antics. She'll probably call me in a couple of weeks pretending nothing happened.
  • C and M are excited for the trip, however. I have two months to wrap my head around it and steel myself.
  • Father's Day was good. We did our traditional day of blintzes and fresh berries for breakfast, cleaning up my mother-in-law's grave, visiting a museum, stopping by a winery, then a beach, finally a nice dinner.
  • Geocaching is fun.

Monday, June 11, 2007


I’ve sat down to write several times over the last ten days. I deleted everything because re-reads sounded too whiny. Nothing in particular has been wrong. In fact, many things have been quite right. We’ve been very busy and, consequently, very tired.

Then came yesterday – and it was an awesome day.

First of all, yesterday morning was our walk for the hospital. It was a beautiful sunny day, high in the upper-60s/low 70s, slight breeze off the water at times. Stunning day for a long walk. C even wanted to run the last half mile.

We raised over $2400 for the hospital, and bits more still may come in. I’m really proud of C’s efforts. His bake sale at school raised $350 and T-ball coffee sales totaled just over $200 - $550 in dollar and fifty cent increments!

We went to lunch in the city afterward at a funky harborside restaurant. There we ran into two of C’s nurses from the PICU, J and H. It was so fun to see them. They’ve had updates on C, of course, at mobile time each year, but this was the first time they physically saw him since the spring he was sick. It was very exciting for them and for us (C played embarrassed, but I know he thought it was cool, too) and I now have a lovely picture of C with J and H.

After lunch, on a whim, we went over to check out a new museum - rather, an established museum in a stunning new location. We’ve been meaning to go since it opened in December and it was just a five minute walk from the restaurant. This museum is really, really cool. The building is amazing and much of the art on display is very accessible for kids (but not all..ahem).

On the way home, a friend called and their family was heading down to the beach to chill out after a long day of yard work. We decided to join them and it was great. The kids played in the sand while the grown-ups sipped some nice wine. There was even some surf at our normally placid beach, so my husband took the surfboard out and grabbed a couple of waves. I have the pictures to prove it.

We and our friends decided to meet back at our house for pizza dinner on the porch. We chatted until past bedtime for the kids, enjoying the cool evening air. (If you like red wines, the Rombauer Zinfandel is lovely, by the way.)

We fell into bed early but we were still exhausted this morning. It was okay, though, because yesterday was a great day. After the walk, we let go of the to do lists in our heads and let the want tos carry our day instead of the have tos.

Sometimes you just have to do that.

Friday, June 01, 2007

No Forwarding Address

My husband and I used to joke about moving and not telling any of my family members. No notice, no forwarding address, nothing. We wondered how much time it would buy us before we were found - time away from the dramas and crises and guilt and other crap. We also ruled out an entire side of the country for jobs and living in general because it would be too close; they physically could get to us too easily.

I'm having those ideas pass through my mind again. I do love them, don't get me wrong on that. I just don't always like them very much and feel that the 3000 miles of distance is a good thing. It's lots of little things that are happening out there. Dramas. Crises. Guilt. Crap.

C desperately wants to go out for a visit this summer. I'm more than a little mixed. I did go so far as to investigate air travel. Several days ago, I found a spectacular fare. I could get the whole family out on non-stop flights at reasonable times of the day at a reasonable cost. At other times I might have jumped on such tickets, but not this time. I could not compel myself to click Confirm on the order page. Just couldn't.

I want the kids to have good relationships with their relatives; I try not to cloud their perceptions of time out west among family with my prejudices and other crap. But this summer it feels extra hard to keep those lines clear.

I'll probably click Confirm one day soon, and at a much higher price. I'll suck it up, I'll go. I'll do my best to keep on a game face while we are there. I'll even try to enjoy the time, especially with my oldest nephew (he's 20 and loads of fun - going to be in Chicago this summer on a cool internship).

But I also won't be surprised if the daydream of no forwarding address pops into my head on a regular basis.