This is the summer that the depth of any body of water, the height of any bridge was measured by the height of the BFG. Could the BFG reach here? Could the BFG touch the bottom here. That's as tall as the BFG. I want to remember that.
I also want to remember that this was the summer that we traded the beach for Walden Pond. More shade, more buoys, less waves and endless water, in a good way.
I also want to remember that we went camping with success and with friends on Lovell Island in Boston Harbor. And that we took the ferry and had a very successful road trip to Emerald Isle to see Eric's parents with two lovely stops in New Gretna on either side. :)
So, all of my posts in 2017 remained in draft format. And "lots" of them in 2018. I wish I had just posted them. Sooo self-conscious. So, as I'm back to Dear Diary anonymity status, I'm considering an expose of 2017. Don't hold your breath but 2017, yeah, that was a doozy of a year. I love getting older and being able to say that. I don't love the feeling that I JUST planted paper-white bulbs and that was in 2017 and now it's Christmas again already. Christmas is supposed to take forever.
I'll leave you with this gem written way back on Easter Monday 2018:
"Is there a sleepier day than Easter Monday? Clearly this is a rhetorical question because the answer is no. But is there ever a better day to eat chocolate eggs and drink very strong black tea to make up for the fact that you have to leave the house? Another question I do not want you to answer."
For I reasons I can explain, I don't give that much color to the persons of Naomi and Verity here. I broad brush scenarios and scenes and surround it all with a bit of humor. But If I think about it -I don't really go there with many people in any forum be it a friendship, or a letter or even a teacher. I like to let them speak for themselves. But sometimes I fear that I sell them short. And I know that it's going to be hard -hopefully not that hard to be the advocate that I know I will need to be for them. No one can stand up for you, can speak up for you like your mom can. Some people do this really well -advocacy, touching on the dynamic personalities of the children are blessed with. I also really shy away from putting a label on my children. I don't want Naomi growing up to believe that Verity is the funny one. Says who? I don't want to try too hard to decipher if I have an extrovert or an introvert emerging.
I was telling a friend that in my brief experience it seems that second-borns have a much easier time being themselves. It's like the pressures off for them and they can go about their days exploring their likes and dislikes with ease. The first-borns are paving the way -dipping their toe in to see if we freak out or not. Second-borns seem to jump right in. Or at least mine does. Labels are easy and safe, but they worry me.
On Thursday a magazine and a notebook were purchased. On Friday the groceries were bought. On Saturday seats were counted, rooms were dusted. Naomi made placecards. Verity fretted that Naomi was going to make her sit somewhere awful. In the afternoon vegetables were soaked in salty water to prepare them for pickling. Pie crusts were made, wrapped and stored away. On Sunday, nuts were roasted, vegetables too. My lost Bon Appetit guide was found. Naomi counted out the silverware, and vacuumed a room that had already been vacuumed.
I had good intentions of making this post into many, one for each day, documenting the progress made for the impending feast....alas those hour-and-a-halves divided up didn't get me there. But here are a few pictures to document the day, before and after the main event.
My salad was my thing and it made me very happy. I based it off a delicious version I had a Flour Bakery one day on a whim. Some ingredients: pickled veggies, spiced almonds, cranberries, mustard greens, parsley, other lettuce varieties, parmesan-garlic dressing.
Other notes: We ordered a very happy turkey who lived their life in western Massachusetts. I made chestnut soup to start. Emily made a delicious cranberry and fig dressing. Eric made cornbread dressing from scratch. My experimental pie was called 'honey flower' from this year's Food and Wine November magazine. Eric also made biscuits from scratch and my aunt brought roasted sweet potatoes and my sister-in-law brought a deep dish pumpkin pie. Whiskey sours were served to start. Okay now I'm rambling and I sound like i'm in a hurry.
On my dresser I have one of my mother's first business cards. At Home Antiques and Interiors. The business address was our home at the time, a nineteenth century farmhouse outside of Atlanta, Georgia. The card features her sketch of window with shutters and iron hardware with a few bricks askew giving the impression of a house-front. This must have been before she moved her wares to a booth in a large antique warehouse called Kudzu. That building is enormous in my memory and smelled of old books, varnish, and filled with cool, wet air.
I hold this card as a clue. With it I try with some amount of desperation to unlock pieces of wisdom she might have shared with me today. We are all filled with such complexity that I don't claim to understand who she was fully, wholly. But once a person leaves us we have a fixed number of memories to work with, to replay, to comfort and torment us. As I revisit the moments I had with her, countless ones, I have to believe that I can continue to know and better understand her. And the memories become clearer. Scenes where she was once void I now can place her. Conversations that I didn't understand then, I do now. I know what you mean, mom. Just not then.
I don't know..
We went to New York City recently and part of me was excited to go and another part of me worried that it would be too painful to enjoy a city she loved and knew and a place she shared with me. But it wasn't that way. You have to be strong there and know your own mind and go your own way, and then the beast becomes friendly and magical.
Recently I realized that it wasn't lentil soup I was weary of, but of the label "lentil soup". It had taken on a stigma in my mind. Tired. Winter. Dreary. Hopeless. But I've reframed and reinvented the soup that we all enjoy filled with wonderful nutrients and flavor. "What are we having for dinner?" Don't you dare ask me that question. Hmmmm, why do i hate that question. But now I say vegetable soup. Now I say soup, winter soup, hearty soup. With a baguette, ideally. Lately I've been substituting the onion for a leek to begin. Always tomato paste. Less cumin. Farro went in the other day and it thickened up to be more of a dahl to serve over rice. Yes there are lentils added for old times' sake. Last week I added a big pinch of saffron that I had been saving for no reason in particular. Afterward I realized that mushrooms was the thing it lacked. Next time.
Hello. This morning I had this really wonderful, tragic poem drifting through my head. A poem about loss and love and heartache and anguish. Anguish is a good word. Fitting. I said to myself that if they wrote on my gravestone -the girl who never got over her mother's death- I would not be a disappointment. A tragic existence is my fate and that has a touch of romance to it which is helping me through this day. Today I will be in my little world of desperate and morose thoughts and they will keep me company. Because today is my mom's birthday. I went to Whole Foods and bought big delicious cupcakes for my children. And sushi for myself. Tonight I'm meeting my sister to wallow and wonder and wander together. I think I've written that line before. May we accomplish nothing but only mark the day. With every year that passes I realize what a wee babe my mom was when she died. She was still in her forties when she was diagnosed. 52 when she died. I had no idea how young that was at the time. I miss her every day. I miss her when i see a free range duck in the grocery store. I miss her when the leaves change color and when I see my daughters and niece perform in a play. And I miss her on her birthday and dream about how we would have celebrated.
I take comfort in knowing there is an Ian in the world.
Oh geez, I mean I know it's been a while but when I saw my last post -yikes.
I won't do you the discourtesy of apologizing for the distance that has come between us, but I haven't forgotten you or this space. Like an overdue phone call that gets harder and harder to make so it is the same for me with writing in whatever realm of a public forum this one is. Nor will I even claim that I'm back! But I am still here. I'm thinking a lot, reading some, being my best self occasionally and my worst self more than that. I had planned to check in with you all back in June for many reasons but I had no words to write. And I still don't know what I want to say.
But as I hee and haw and cope and summon courage and strength and exhaustion the days never fail to pass. Some of them are magical and most of them are ordinary, a number of them I'd like to forget and there are more than a few that I would like to try to remember. Abel turned two in September. Verity turned five on Friday! And Naomi is patiently waiting for her day to turn seven in January. I have so much to be thankful for and complain about. Do you know when I'm trying to be funny yet?
I will tell you that the bakfeit is still seeing lots of action which brings me joy. This summer we moved to what feels like the suburbs of Cambridge and so we take to the bike a bit more to get a few of our favorite places. The home was advertised with a note that the kitchen is in need of updating. Correct. Which leads me to share my next update.
My meal plan is currently in shambles. This does not bring me joy. Recently my meal planning role models were in town and I learned that theirs spans close to two years now. She started plotting hers out with no grandiose vision over 30 years ago by going through her cookbooks and picking out the recipes she wanted to try. Simple enough right? If she can do two years then by golly I command myself to getting back to a week at the least. And I am doing that barely but it's not very gratifying because the haphazard approach and execution...and the kitchen.
I'm also selling houses. Which I know I haven't mentioned on this space and is the real reason why I've been called away on leave from here. Just kidding. No, but it's true. I'm pounding the pavement out there in the real estate world and seeing success and lots and lots of learning moments. It's been a challenge to have a legitimate reason to look at my phone. But I do not need to be looking at my phone while a child gets off the bus, ahem, or while they practice violin or when I first wake up in the morning. Good grief. Boundaries woman. I've also established that I don't like the word boundaries. It has a negative connotation in my mind. But I am getting better at taking care of myself as my thirties continue to blossom. For one i just downloaded Headspace. Like literally just before sitting down here. And I'm buying another jogging stroller after giving my last one away because endorphins are mandatory these days, so says my PCP. I completely agree. xo
And meet Henry George, the latest addition to the cousin army! Courtesy of little brother and superwoman Courtney. :)
If you get on board in Boston heading south sit on the right-hand side to have an uninterrupted view of the Atlantic Ocean. Any compass can tell you that but it feels like a secret. The clarity of thought I stumble upon with a glimpse of the wide open sea from my polyester, cushioned Amtrak seat catches me off guard every time. All your hopes and dreams and the possibility of it all overwhelms you with distinct suddenness. All your questions of why and how and why not and when bombard you with a peace that does surpass your understanding. And then in just a moment it flits by your window and you cross over another border and pass in and out of the next tunnel with no chance to look back. The landscapes constantly change. The backsides of towns and the lives lived there -one can only wonder and marvel that this world really does exist and we are such small, little things.
Sure there are delays and dirty bathrooms and the always grumpy cafe car employee ready to heat up your Hebrew National hot dog and roll your eyes as you try to decide between a Cliff Bar and Nature Valley Oats and Honey. You might even for a second believe you are behind the Iron Curtain travelling on the Trans-Siberian railway when they tell you that bagels are unavailable this day. I wonder which ruler is feasting at our expense.
But it's a wonderful thing this train, with leaky cars and a scattering of wet seats. Kings and Queens traveled this way with crowds lined up to wave them along. It's a lot easier to imagine your royal lineage here than from the coach car at the back of a plane or leaning into the back seat to reach a fallen toy. And these children I'm travelling with -I can even imagine at certain vague moments that they are fellow passengers whose destination is unknown. :)