Friday, August 31, 2012

Tribute to the Man on the Moon

I don't want to sound like Forrest Gump, always inserting myself in famous situations, but when Neil Armstrong died this week, it reminded me of my childhood.
I'm too young to remember watching the moon landing on TV, although I'm sure my parents plunked me down in front of it to see the historic moment. What I remember about Neil Armstrong was going to school with his son, Mark, who is my age.
Somewhere around 4th or 5th grade, the Armstrongs moved to Lebanon, Ohio, my hometown. They bought a big green farm house on a winding road, and Mark attended the same middle school as me. Well, there was only one middle school for our little town. It's the same school that you can see in the movie Harper Valley PTA which was filmed in our town.
I'm not sure when Mark and I became friends, but my mother later told me that his mother always made sure Mark and I were in the same class, because she thought the competition was good for him. Who would be surprised to learn that I was competitive about getting the best grades in class?
So throughout middle school, Mark and I shared a classroom and around about 6th grade, we started attending boy/girl parties and going on outings to Kings Island amusement park, which was close by.
Apparently, our paths diverged in high school, and I ended up graduating a year early, so I didn't see Mark again, although my dad told me he asked about me one day when Dad saw him at the local YMCA.
Just last month, I found Mark on Facebook. I sent him a message about his complicated science majors at college. I have politics on my Facebook page, and Mark let me know right away that he disagreed with my politics.
I replied: "Yikes. Launching into politics first thing? Can't we talk about Kings Island in 6th grade instead?"
I was afraid my friend Mark was lost to me forever.
Luckily, he messaged back letting me know he retained his wit: "Too soon? But, uh, you did put it out there on your home page which makes it fair game, right? Actually, I'm quite happy to stay away from politics. So, do you prefer the blue or the red Racer. Do you like to ride forwards or backwards?"
The Racer is the original roller coaster at Kings Island, and I'm sure many of our conversations in middle school centered around which was the best.
But the whole idea about politics being "fair game" made me want to retort, "We aren't competing any more."
I was in the midst of delivering kids to school, so I didn't message back, not until this week, when I heard his father had died.
I avoided mentioning the obvious, that it's weird to hear that someone's parent died on the news. Mark's dad didn't just belong to him; he belonged to the whole world as the first man to walk on the moon.
So Mark will always have to share his dad, but right now, he's the one who is suffering the loss.
Tonight, when I look up at the Blue Moon, the second full moon in one month, I'll remember Neil Armstrong, the man who made history, and fathered my middle school friend.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

We All Judge a Book By Its....

What kind of book cover draws you in?
I started thinking about this when I saw the cover on Bibliophile by the Sea of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. The cover has a cartoonish or art look to it. Not realistic at all, yet I would pick up the book. What artist is this like?

A lot of book covers have people without their heads. I guess the idea is probably to make the reader think: This could be you.
Here's one:

And here's another:

The second cover appeals to me more, maybe because I see action in it.
Sometimes the cover will show a part of someone's head, again, not a clear photo because it could be any reader.
The covers with only words appeal to me too.
Like this one:
 And, of course, I love the Brit  Lit books with cartoonish covers.
When making my own book cover to put on my dream board, I went with a landscape. Too generic? I don't see many covers like this:

What do you think? What kind of book cover draws you in?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Last Bastion of Civility

In a recent college class, we were talking about cultural differences.
I asked the class to come up with a list of things a student from another country would need to know if they traveled to the United States.
They suggested things, like "Learn English," and "Don't stand too close to someone when you're talking." They also said visitors needed to understand freedom of religion and freedom of speech in the United States.
Is this a line or a clump at the ice cream cart
 in the Tuileries Gardens in Paris?
One woman in the class was from Mali. She had some interesting insights.
"Respect the line," she called from the back of the class.
"What?" I asked.
"The line. Americans always stand in line and they never get in line in front of someone else," she explained. "It is more important than religion to many, that we respect the line."
The other students nodded and talked about how everyone in the line would be upset if someone cut in line. Everyone is expected to uphold the integrity of the line and wait their turn.
To people from other countries, where they clump together and push their way onto a bus or into a store, the idea of standing and waiting in a line may be very foreign. But in America, it's the way of life.
Here, we may disagree on politics and religion, but we all respect the line.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First Paragraph, Tuesday Teaser -- Marrying Up


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
This looks like a fun quick read. Marrying Up by Wendy Holden, which describes itself as a romantic comedy. Here's the intro:
"Miss! Miss!" Squinting in the bright sunshine, the little boy with the trowel was waving at Polly. "I've found something, Miss. It's Roman. Definitely Roman."
 

Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays.
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
Open to a random page of your current read and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page.
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
Here's mine from page 92:
Her husband rounded on her furiously. "All crown princes of Sedona wear military uniform from the age of six. It's --"
"Traditional?" offered the Queen, meeting his gaze boldly.


What do you think?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Melodrama

Grace has such a hard time with change. After packing and hugs and a thousand goodbyes this morning, she climbed into the car and said:
"Have a nice life without me." 
 
 That was so melodramatic, we both had to laugh then.
I'll miss her, but once she has transitioned, she'll forget all about her old mom. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Perfect Storm

This morning at 7 a.m., I turned on the Weather Channel.
I'm going to have to admit that before yesterday, I didn't know where the Weather Channel was, but talk on the news about Tropical Storm Isaac and the Republican Convention in Tampa led me to search for the Weather Channel. Not because I'm attending or I'm worried about the delegates, but because Spencer is now in college close by.
The first taste of adulthood, a beach, and a hurricane may just add up to the perfect storm.

I first mentioned the storm to Spencer on Saturday while on FaceTime. FaceTime is like Skype except we can do it on our iPhones. I caught him still in bed at 12:30.
"Yeah, we thought we'd just ride out the storm here. Just hunker down," he said, his eyes bleary as he lay shirtless in bed.
I explained that it didn't look like the college was going to allow that. They had an evacuation plan to take the students inland. He had a meeting at 4 on Saturday.
I finally reached him again Saturday evening. Yes, the college was heading toward evacuation, but he and some friends had decided on their own plan. They were going to get a couple of hotel rooms in Orlando.
"What?" I might have screeched.
"I don't want to go to some camp," he said.
He ran through a list of friends he'd known for two weeks now. They planned to drive to Orlando, hang out during the Tropical Storm.
I started adding up costs, gas, hotel, food. No supervision. A bunch of 18-year-olds in a hotel room. This looked like a disaster.
"This might be the shortest college career in history if you run out of money after three weeks," I warned him in a bad mothering moment. "You know you still need to pay for your fall books."
"Some people have already gotten kicked out," he replied.
"Okay, I'm proud that you're working hard," I said, pulling back from the brink of even worse parenting. "I just don't think this is a good decision."
Later that night, another email from the college explained that the students should bring their books for their classes and instruction. I called Spencer again to "reason" with him.
He was quick to cut me off.
"I'm going with the college," he said.
And I exhaled in relief.
The college was busing the students inland to a camp, but they would be together, organized, under someone else's supervision. And the college would pick up the tab.
I don't know if Spencer reconsidered, or maybe the parents of his friends were more persuasive, or maybe the parents of his friends put their foot down. "No! You are not going."
However it happened, this afternoon, Spencer is scheduled to evacuate with the rest of the freshman at his college. Unless the storm changes course. Then, they might get to hunker down and watch the rain, the wind and the surf increase. Well, that will bring a whole other host of worries for me.
Update: Luckily for us, the storm did change course and the college decided around noon not to evacuate. Maybe his first instinct was right.
I hope all of those other college students and residents in the path of the storm are safe too.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- Big Spider

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
Two years ago, when I visited Mom and Dad in Florida, I saw a giant spider with an amazing zipper spider web.
The spider built its web just outside their screened in pool so we could keep an eye on it. It's a banana spider, but not the venomous kind that lives in South America.
Here's a photo of the spider with one of the kids' hands up to the screen so you can compare how big it is.
When I went to Florida a few weeks ago, I saw the spider's familiar web in the corner and I asked where the spider was. Mom said it had been killed by a wasp that got caught in its web. That must have been some powerful wasp.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Daughter Departure

My life is about to get very quiet.
This weekend, Grace is still home. Tucker, a junior in high school, will stick around for a couple more years, but Grace leaves for college on Monday.
Mom and Dad have driven up from Florida and will spend the weekend here to see Grace before she heads off to New York.
We'll all jostle each other in this small house, enjoying the camaraderie and the constant sports on television that comes with a visit from my dad.
Then Earl's family, including preschooler Caroline and baby Regan, will visit on Sunday evening. Lots of family and visits this weekend.
On Monday morning, Earl and Grace will pull out of the driveway with her bicycle attached to the back of the car. And I will be alone.
Grace and I talk about our relationship. We love spending time together -- walking to get coffee, riding bikes, doing P90X, sitting on the couch and watching Toddlers and Tiaras. We talk about our problems and our triumphs. So I'll miss her a lot.
Here's where Grace will sleep in the sorority house.
But we also talked about the fact that we might start to get on each other's nerves if we didn't have this separation of months in school, if we instead spent all of our time together.
Grace and I are lucky that we've transitioned from the mother-child relationship to a grown up relationship. Sometimes I'm still too bossy, like a mother is, and sometimes she's petulant,
My quiet won't last forever though. Everyone will be home again at Thanksgiving, and there's always next summer when my house will be filled with kids, or grownups, again.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Funerals

I've been at too many funerals in the past year for someone still in my 40s. But funerals often tend to be dry affairs that leave me melancholy.
Yesterday's was not.
Tim, 59, died three weeks after a lung transplant. Six priests gathered to celebrate his life. His wife Therese, 53, was seated beside her brother Martin and his partner Carlos. As I watched the ceremony and sniffled through the songs, I felt like this was what the Catholic church was supposed to be -- a place of ritual and comfort, of rejoicing and worship.
I joined the Catholic Church 17 years ago -- voluntarily. I disagree with a number of policies, like birth control. And recently I've been really agitated when the Vatican sanctioned nuns for spending too much time with the poor and the sick, and not enough time fighting abortion and homosexuality.
Those agitated feelings faded during the funeral.
Father Vinnie stands about my height. He grew up an Irish Catholic in a family of about 10 in New York City. He's in his 70s and is the most gentle soul.
He led the funeral and he asked everyone in attendance to close our eyes and ask a loved one who had died to welcome Tim to heaven. The reality that Tim was in a different realm felt so real.
Then Father Vinnie pointed to a stained glass window made up of thousands of pieces of glass. Just like the window, he said, our lives were mosaics made up of many pieces. Where was Tim in the mosaic of our lives? What piece had he left, what part had he played?
Two sweet boys whose parents came from the Phillipines played their violins throughout the ceremony. They had been taught in religious education by Therese since they were three years old.
The priests took turns swinging the incense censor, the tangy smoke drifting throughout the church. They stepped up to bless the bread and the wine and I watched three of them hold up their hands calling down the holy spirit. I used to picture it like rays of God beaming out of their hands, kind of like the sticky goo coming from Spiderman's hands to form webs, and into the bread.
Two of the priests were older and a bit feeble. One of the younger priests hurried to help the priest with the walker stand during each section of the service. He also leaned over to show the old priest in the wheelchair where to look in the booklet he followed. His service to the older priests touched me.
I managed to stay mostly dry-eyed until after communion when Therese, now the widow of Tim, climbed to the lectern. She read a poem that each of us was put here to share a song or a story. Some of us were meant to share it with only a few, others with people throughout a village, still others with a whole country and others with the entire world. Then Therese challenged us to to decide what story or song we were sharing.
As soon as she stepped up, my eyes filled with tears. I couldn't believe her bravery. She'd just been through three weeks of hell, fighting with Tim for his life in a hospital, and now at his funeral, she gave back to us, the mourners who sat alongside her.

The ceremony ended with a song that didn't staunch the flow: "I have fixed my eyes on your hills, Jerusalem, my destiny. Though I cannot see the end for me, I cannot turn away."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

First Paragraph, Tuesday Teaser -- As Husbands Go


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
I've had this one on my shelf for awhile. As Husbands Go by Susan Isaacs is described on the book cover as a social satire. I hope it's fun.
Who knew? It seemed a perfectly nice night. True, outside the house, the wind was whoo-whooing like sound effects from a low-budget horror movie. The cold was so vicious that a little past seven, a branch of the great white spruce on the front lawn that had been creaking all afternoon suddenly screamed in pain. Then a brutal CRAAACK, and it crashed to the frozen ground.
But inside our red brick Georgian in the picturesque Long Island town of Shorehaven, all was warmth. I went from one bedroom to another to kiss the boys good night.

 Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays.
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
Open to a random page of your current read and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page.
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
Here's mine from page 62:
February was a lousy month for a husband to disappear, with its snowless days of cold wind and rain.


So what do you think?

Monday, August 20, 2012

What's Your Favorite Movie?

As an adult, I don't have a lot of favorites. My kids were always trying to pin me down to my favorite color, my favorite food, my favorite child.
But I do have two favorite movies. One of them is recent and the other has been my favorite since grad school.
We've rented Midnight in Paris several times. When the Redbox dvd froze the other night, Earl pointed out that we simply should have bought the movie. I love all the scenes of Paris. We play the "I've been there" game with Grace along, and I got to play it with my friend Ruth the other night too. She hadn't seen the movie. Doesn't like Woody Allen. Doesn't like Owen Wilson.
"Yeah, but that doesn't matter. You'll like this movie," I told her and I was right.
I also love figuring out who all the historical characters are. Of course, I recognized the Fitzgeralds and Hemingway and Gertrude Stein right away. Man Ray? Luis Bunuel? I didn't know about those surrealists or American writer Djuna Barnes.
I see something different every time I watch it.
And, of course, Wilson's fiance in the movie is so dismissive of his love for Paris and urge to finish his novel. I spend the movie trying to convince the screen that he should dump the fiance.
My long-term favorite movie is Room With a View. I find myself quoting this movie or thinking of scenes in this movie all the time. Just this morning I said, "I can't go running at you now, can I?" quoting the Helena Bonham Carter character as she encourages her fiance, Daniel Day Lewis to give her a first passionate kiss.  I think of our French friend Maguerite as the proper maiden aunt Charlotte Bartlett and wrote in my memoir how the family dreaded her visit at the vacation house in Corsica, just as they dreaded having "Poor Charlotte." The movie is so witty and clever, plus it has the first full-frontal male nudity I ever saw in a movie when the men are skinny-dipping in a pool and Helena Bonham Carter, her mother and fiance are walking past. Another hilarious scene. And I frequently find myself wanting to call out "Truth, Beauty..." the motto of the young George Sands character, who yells this from a tree, before the branch breaks and he takes a tumble to the Tuscan countryside. Tourists are mocked. Romances are mocked. The idea of raising children in the countryside to maintain their innocence before sending them on a world tour to finish them, seems like what we might have done with Grace. See how I've embraced this movie.
How about you? Do you have a favorite movie? Why is it your favorite?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- Nostalgia

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
Does anyone remember this kind of Doritos? I think it was the Doritos from my middle school days. Taco flavor. 

Not a very inspiring Saturday Snapshot, but it makes me laugh to see the retro snacks make a comeback.

Friday, August 17, 2012

First Day of School Alone

As the final child at home, Tucker posed for his first day of school before driving away. He's a junior this  year.
I think the expression on his face conveys the excitement he feels about another year of high school.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Take A Hint

Two things I'd like you all to remind me of next time I say that I'm going to quit running or take a break from running:
1. I always gain weight when I quit running
2. It takes forever to get back in running shape (able to breathe while covering miles)
This is not my screenshot.
It is fromhttp://www.therecapp.com/
For the past week or so, I've been running again. Well, walking and running. At first I started walking a block, running a block.
In Florida, along the beach, I didn't have that option, and then in my parents' neighborhood, the blocks might stretch for miles, so I decided to follow the App on my iPhone -- iMap My Run.
I would walk a tenth of a mile then run two tenths of a mile.
I thought I was getting better. This morning I even ran four tenths and half a mile before stopping to walk, but it was right around that time that my iPhone began showing the locations of bus stops.
Okay, I can take a hint that I'm moving a little slow for the iPhone.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Toys From My Childhood

Does anyone else remember having this toy when you were a kid? You hold onto the ring at the top and move your hand up and down to hit the glass balls together.


The balls make a satisfying clunk sound with each hit as you move your hand up and down to gain speed. Then when you get enough speed, you can have them hit at the top as well as the bottom. I used to be able to do it. Now, not so much.
I brought them home to show my kids. The cats were interested but not Tucker and Grace.
"They were recalled," I said.
"Obviously," Tucker said. "Who thought that smacking two glass balls together was a great idea?"
Well, I did. But apparently some people who were really good at it then had the balls shatter, thus the recall of the toy.
My mom and I found these as we were cleaning out box after box looking for the letters I wrote from France 25 years ago. We found only two letters. My dad suggested maybe I only wrote two letters, but I know that isn't true.
How is it possible that my mom saved every Christmas card since 1960 but doesn't have my letters? I probably took them some place and later disposed of them. I'll take the blame.
But at least I found these cool glass balls on strings.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

First Chapter, Tuesday Teaser -- A Surrey State of Affairs


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
I picked up A Surrey State of Affairs by Ceri Radford yesterday as I accompanied my husband to a walk-in clinic to find out if he damaged his eye when he got a cleaning chemical in it. The book immediately caught my attention because I had just been talking to my mom about helping her start a blog. You'll see. Here's the intro:
I suppose that this, my inaugural "blog," represents at least one new element to the New Year. If my son, Rupert, is to be believed, it may be read anywhere from Milton Keynes to Mauritius. This would certainly be a marked expansion from the usual audience for my reflections, which consists mostly of Darcy, my Eclectus parrot. He is a magnificent specimen who has been a great source of comfort since the children left home, but his attention span is not unwavering. Occasionally, he punctuates my stories  -- on Natalia, the housekeeper's, blunders, or Miss Hughes, the bell ringer's, bunions -- by breaking open a Brazil nut with a resonant crack.. At that point I usually try calling my daughter, Sophie, or Rupert, who suggested last time that I might like to tell the World Wide Web all about it, rather than him. He is such a thoughtful boy.
 Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays.
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
Open to a random page of your current read and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page.
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
Here's mine from page 14:
My attempt to discipline Natalia has backfired. Yesterday, Jeffrey came home from work and headed upstairs toward his study. I followed him so that I could tell him all about the latest Aga malfunction on the stairway. He opened the door to his study and we were both greeted by the unsettling sight of Natalia cleaning the room in her underwear, which was scant, back, and dotted with little shiny red hearts.
This woman is kind of bumbling, oblivious and definitely loveable.



Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Making of a Memoir

I'm writing a new book. I just started a few weeks ago and I have 63 pages already.
Maybe I'm moving quickly because I already know the ending.
This time, instead of a novel, I'm writing a memoir.
During the Paris in July meme sponsored by Thyme for Tea and Bookbath, I realized that most of the French books that we readers recommended were memoirs. So, with my brain trust of running friends, we decided that I should write a memoir. Then we took it a step further, notched it up, and decided I should write about my time spent as a nanny. That's a combination of two tell-all books that people are sure to love.
So rather than a story about Americans who move to France and try desperately to fit into the local culture, I'll be writing about an American girl (me) thrust into the midst of a French family -- the awkwardness and the insights. So far, I'm titling it An American Nanny in France. An American Nanny in Paris sounds a little better, but we were only in Paris for a month, spending the other months in Corsica and at a family house near Bourges.
This looks like the perfect writing spot for me
with my notebook, my wine and the pool
shimmering before me.
I'll be changing the names of the French family members so that I can be very honest about everything that happened. I have written about some of these adventures on my blog before, so I guess I'll need to go back and change the names there too.
Anyway, I wanted to share with you my exciting news and tell you a story about how the memoir led to my mom and me laughing so hard that we cried.
I haven't written a memoir before, so I was kind of puzzled about recreating conversations and other important events. I have photos. I have a journal, which includes some conversations, but I also wrote in-depth letters to my mom and my brother Kevin while I was in France. I need those letters.
I saw Kevin last week and he said he didn't have the letters. He suggested I try Mom and Dad's house.
Of course, Mom and Dad have moved about five times since my trip 25 years ago.
I alerted Mom that I was searching for the letters and said we'd look when I arrived this weekend. she had already emptied out her mother's trunk (new in 1915) looking for the letters with no luck. She pulled out another bin that was filled with greeting cards and letters and memorabilia. We went through all the musty letters. We handed over golf score cards from years ago to my dad. We threw away the envelopes all those cards had come in.
Then my mom picked up a hand-made card from my little brother. "Happy Mother's Day, Mom," it said. "From Kevin Kincer" and that started us laughing that he felt the need to sign his last name to his mother.
Then my dad found, tucked in a birthday card to him from his mother some letters from me and my sister. They were letters we'd written to my grandmother and she apparently sent them back to him when she wasn't getting along with our family. Mom and I were laughing at that too -- how ludicrous.
Then Mom read aloud the letter my 9-year-old self had written. The basic gist of the letter was whether my grandmother had gotten my previous letters and why she hadn't written back when I was still waiting for a reply. I was quite insistent and pushy, even at 9 years old. As Mom read the letter, the tears were running out of her eyes and down our cheeks.
Sometimes you just have to be there to understand why the joke is funny. But we definitely enjoyed our time going through the old box of cards and letters.
The bad news is we didn't find the letters from France. The good news is that we have more boxes upstairs and can look forward to another day of going through old memorabilia. Maybe they'll make us laugh again.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- Florida

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
We're in Florida to drop Spencer off for his first year of college. Here we are on the beach the day before college check in.

While Spencer looked for a pick-up basketball game, Earl and I relaxed on the hotel terrace. This was our view.

And the next morning, I went for an early morning walk along the beach. It looked like it might storm, but it didn't.
The blue helps describe my mood as I leave my 18-year-old at college, 16 hours away from home.
Hope you all are having a good Saturday.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Out With the Old

I guess I forgot.
In all the planning and the lists and the shopping, I didn't stop to think that my 6-foot, 4-inch son might be scared about this new adventure he's leaving on.
Last night he came home from work and walked into my darkened bedroom to kiss me goodnight, as he does every night since he started staying out later than I stayed up. This time though, he stretched out beside me and told me how sad he felt about leaving everyone behind -- his friends, his job, his co-workers.
"Everything's going to change," he said.
And I couldn't deny it. Life is going to change for him and all of his high school buddies. They might be together again, but it won't be the same.
A lot of his friends opted to go to Ohio University. They'll all be there together, moving their high school clique to a bigger venue. He's going 16-hours away by car, only two hours by plane, to Florida.
And as he submitted his summer essay, took the alcohol training, and ordered books for classes, it all seemed like so much planning. Then as he hung out with his best friends on Sunday and said goodbye to people at work on Monday, the reality began to sink in.
He felt sad all day Monday, he said, while he sat fishing with his dad and brother.
We talked for awhile, lying in the dark bedroom. We talked about the regrets he had from high school and some goals he had for college. I urged him not to focus on the regrets.
"The mistakes are part of what make us who we are. You don't want to erase all of the mistakes because you learn from them," I told him.
"I'm going to miss you," he said. "Who will I talk to if you're not around?"
And it's true, I'm the one he turns to when something really deep is bothering him.
"You can still talk to me," I promised, "but you'll make friends and maybe find someone you can confide in."
Then I hugged him and thought that the hugs are the things I can't send through the phone or through Skype.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

First Chapter, Tuesday Teaser -- Blessed Are the Cheesemakers


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
After all of those French books in July, it's time to move on to summer escape with Blessed Are the Cheesemakers by Sarah-Kate Lynch. Here's the first paragraph:
The Princess Grace Memorial Blue sat on the table in front of Abbey, screaming to be eaten.
Abbey, as always, was smiling her dreamy smile, her eyes half closed and her head slightly thrown back, as though she were preparing to blow out a cnadle and make a wish. Well, it was her twenty-ninth birthday, after all, and there would have been candles, too, had not the Princess Grace been a particularly fussy cheese, inclined to expel a pungent foul-smelling aroma if fiddled with in any fashion...
  
I'm not sure about this opening. The book jacket promises some amazing characters in this book about  Abbey who was taken from her cheese-making grandparents by a mother who loved to travel. She returns to them at 29 after leaving her philandering husband on a South Sea island.

Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays.
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
Open to a random page of your current read and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page.
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
Here's mine from page 39:
All he needed was a wife.
Martin had always taken on women as projects. He pursued them, often became fixated by them and was usually dumped by them because of his intensity and mildly unstable temperament. But he was nice-looking and charming and wasn't a bad person, just a vaguely scared and disappointed one.



Monday, August 06, 2012

Just Peachy

I think Mother Nature must have been an interior designer. How else could she have come up with these colors together? Oh, sure, every one thinks they go together now that she started the trend.


I love the lucious golden yellow on the inside with burnished red peel. But the peel is flecked with gold, and pierce the peach with a knife to see the fruit in the middle, and there's the dark red again!  
I love seeing these colors at breakfast. Has anyone else noticed how juicy and sweet the peaches are this year? Yum 

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Weather and Laundry and Last Times

This morning, I pushed open the windows. I'm so sick of stale, air conditioned air. Usually, we only run the air conditioner a couple of weeks each summer. This summer, with temperatures soaring over 90 everyday, we've run the air conditioner constantly.
The high temp today is supposed to be 81, so I'm hoping to get a little fresh air in the house. But the air as it comes in isn't fresh. It's heavy with moisture. The skies hang low and gray. Maybe it will thunderstorm.
When I walked outside this morning, the air felt neutral, not hot or cool -- sort of like body temperature.
But since Oscar Wilde says, "Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative," I'll move on from this subject to laundry. Do you think Wilde would have approved?
Only, it isn't really about laundry, it's about last times.
I heard the dehumidifier in the basement beep three times, which means it is full. I ignored it, but then it beeped again, and the boys are sleeping, so I went down to empty it. As I poured the water into the sink in the laundry room, I saw that Spencer had moved his clothes hamper full of dirty clothes into the laundry room.
So I started the water in the washer and began to sort. I remember at the store the other day Spencer said, "Someone needs to show me how to do laundry."
Now, I've shown him several times and he conveniently forgets, but I'll show him one more time before he leaves for college -- on Wednesday.
As I'm putting his tshirts and shorts into the washing machine, I picture taking them out of the dryer, folding them and placing them in the plastic bin we are using to cart his things to school. How many pairs of shorts? How many pairs of matched socks will emerge? What about boxer shorts and the endless tshirts?

This may be the last time I do Spencer's laundry before he leaves for college. That means less laundry, but it also means my boy will be far away on his own -- to sink or swim on the west coast of Florida.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Saturday Snapshot --

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
Now that Paris in July is over, it must be time for a cute cat photo or two.
A new fan in a box can only mean one thing -- a new place to hide for the cat.

Here's a sleeping photo. I love when cats turn their heads upside down.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Lochte Lookalike

It started with a trickle -- a friend of Grace's said, "You know that swimmer Ryan Lochte, he kind of looks like Spencer."
So, the next time he was on television, I took note. Maybe the nose, the cheekbones.
Then more and more people started commenting on it. A friend from Connecticut sent me a Facebook message. A friend of Tucker's mentioned it during a car ride.
I'll let you be the judge. I snapped a photo of Spencer last night and then borrowed some of Lochte from websites.

Here's Spence, 18, on graudation day in May. This is a different picture than
 the one I had on the post earlier

Lochte, 27, at the Olympics. This photo is from the website yimg.com
 I can see it around the eyes and eyebrows too. But what I'm really afraid of is that some  people see a bit of physical resemblance and some attitude resemblance.
The reason I'm afraid is because Lochte really seems to be a douche. It's almost a cliche now, but it's the word that comes up most when people talk about his sparkly shoes that have "Ryan" on the bottom of one and "Lochte" on the bottom of the other or when he shows people his diamond-encrusted grill that he wasn't allowed to wear on the medal stand.
Spencer can give off that sense of bravado too. But Spencer is clever and funny. I haven't gotten that sense from Lochte.
There's a hilarious article about Lochte on the website Jezebel.com. The article is called 10 Reasons Why Ryan Lochte Is America's Sexiest Douchebag. And it's mostly written for women who comment on whether they'd still sleep with him even though he's a jerk, so don't read it if you might be offended!
Well, there is one other way that Spencer is like Lochte. He could be a blue jean model since he works tirelessly to keep his cut body. Here he is, caught in his natural state without a shirt, asleep on the couch.

I think the entire reason he decided to go to college in Florida was so that he could go shirtless through the majority of the year.
I guess there could be worse things than being compared to an Olympic swimmer, even if he seems like a jerk a lot of the time.

The Plot Thickens

Every good novels has twists, turns and setbacks, but this isn't a novel -- it's my life. Nevertheless, we received a setback on Mo...