Category Archives: family

Scripted and unscripted love

After reading Fiona’s post describing the making of her banner for Mo’s project (“I Dream of a World Where Love is the Answer), I decided I wanted my own embroidered “love”. So I stitched the word on a strip of walnut-dyed cloth just below an appliquéd heart. It seemed a good spot.

Have you noticed how often typing on a phone that one mistakenly types ‘live’ when one means ‘love’ or ‘love’ when one means ‘live’?

The quirks of a teeny iphone keyboard dishing up a philosophical message is emblematic of our age — for what is life without love?

To live is to love. To love is to live.

If one is loving, of course.

We were out of town this weekend and I got to witness the tender care my sister-in-law gave her 91 year old father. Did he need anything? Could she read his cards to him? Didn’t he look sharp in yellow and how about walking down the hall a little ways? I reflected on how my manner with my sister in no way approaches such soft, tenderness; how I could NEVER get her to walk down the hall a little ways; how impatient and defended I can be.

There are lots of reasons for the differences, reasons both exonerating and out of my control, but the weekend felt like an object lesson anyway.

Because it was also Kentucky Derby weekend, the guys made mint juleps.


The visits are always short these days and all the more precious for being so.

Beets and radishes

Anyone who camps knows how even the most pedestrian meal is enhanced to a near-miraculous degree after a day in the wilderness. It happens all the time. “How can a bowl of pasta with canned sauce and chopped zucchini taste so good,” you wonder. And yet it does.

The visit to Salem was tense and then tenser. We didn’t manage to capture the cat. The aide had to leave a full hour earlier than expected. Plans had to be abandoned, limitations accepted. But before we got there, a fair amount of hostility was expressed. I spent a lot of time walking around the building, sort of wishing I smoked.

My sister blamed her temper on a transiting Mars / natal Sun conjunction and pretty much everything else on me.

She kept telling me to sit down and to stop moving. I kept suggesting that it might be time to put some pants on. The aide cleaned the kitchen. Then the bathroom.

My wish to get something done collided with my sister’s refusal to move. It’s often this way.

It’s a kind of wilderness, really — and I think it made the salad I made after getting home taste ridiculously good.

The gorgeous food blog, Harvest and Honey, inspired the choice of ingredients.

With the sweet, candy-like beets, the smooth and creamy avocado, plus a little goat cheese, chopped scallion, sliced radish and a handful of micro greens, it was beyond delicious.

Recipe (you hardly need one!)

1 large beet, roasted, peeled and diced*

1/2 scallion chopped, including white end

1 radish, sliced thin

1 1/2 Tbs goat cheese

Handful of micro greens

Dress with a tangy mustard vinaigrette (loaded with garlic).

* if you stow beets, post-roasting, in their foil wrappers in a large, unsealed zip lock bag, be very careful carrying the bag to the cutting board unless you want your kitchen to resemble a crime scene!

Trip along

One. Indivisible Group telecall and coffee. Two. Empty trunk of car. Three. Text Dog walker. Four. Set phone to blue tooth so I can listen to “Pod Save America” on the drive to the North Shore. Five. Stop and get future cab fare cash for my sister while praying we can grab her wily cat when the time comes. Six. Arrive in Salem, make sure I say enough of a hello before kicking into gear and fetching cat carrier from basement. Six (a). Crawl around looking under furniture for cat, hopefully with success, and then fill trunk with stuff for N’s new apartment. Seven. Drop my sister and her aide at new place. Eight. Take cat to vet for shots. Nine. Pick up my sister and her aide. Ten. Write pet escrow check for housing authority. Eleven. Drop check, proof of vaccinations, and form at housing authority. Twelve. Probably collapse momentarily at old Salem place before driving home (not likely to have to argue about whether to go to hardware store too because my sister tires way faster than I do). Thirteen. Drive home saying OM TARA TUTARE TURE SWAHA. Thirteen and on: Record expenses. Dog Joy. Food (his, mine). Sewing. Bath. TV.

Once again random capitalization suits. This time: Dog Joy.

Moving along

Some thing’s getting done. Other things getting fucked up (by you know who — don’t ask me about aprons right now).

Will make (an unexpected) run to Salem today in order to take my sister to the North Shore housing office. She’ll be signing the lease for subsidized housing this afternoon. Hooray!

Now if only Son #2 would get a job — something, anything — if only to stave off K and me having to ask, “What is our limit here?” I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that many families would’ve considered it reached and then some.

It is very cold today. Very. As in, bitter. But, Finn and I walked around the lake with a friend and she graciously shared stuff about the child of hers that has needed extra this and extra that.

Her words were the first gift of the week. The second is that K has agreed to come home early so that I don’t have to abbreviate the visit with my sister in order to accommodate the dog.

Off to fix an apron!

Snow and time

It’s coming down hard. Brush the car off one hour and the next it’s covered again — with four inches of snow! Been shaking the branches of the arbor vitae and holly.

Still finding bottle brush trees to put away.

With all the sticks littering the backyard, Finn just wants someone to play with him when he’s out back. Right now, though, he’s snoring, curled up next to K.

March is birthday month: both boys, my brother and sister in law, and my mother in law. A few pictures going back to first boy’s first year.

A little peanut in a Moses basket.

A first Christmas in Florida.

The Uncle Fester phase.

Precious commodity: sleep.

PJ’s from Korea. Pond my mother made.

Bumpers, quilt, and curtains I made. A happy chappy (Oh Lord, was there a heating pad in the crib?)

First trip to the Vineyard. Two color ear flap hat knit by moi.

PO’d kitties. Suddenly not the center of our world.

Stay warm if you’re sharing this blizzard and if not, stay cool while ever more shit hits the fan in Washington!

A last shot spit up by FB this morning. Not from his first year, obviously.

Back light and self pity

It’s a little funny to me that just beyond this serene house quilt is the huge mess associated with tree clean up.

Happily, my brother in law came to help yesterday, otherwise we’d really be behind the eight ball.

It’s still a bit daunting. For one thing, on closer inspection, we noticed that the tree did hit the house, so I’ll need to get an insurance adjuster out here as soon as possible (after two back to back nor’easters, I imagine they’re very busy!) More snow coming Tuesday, P.S.

With the ladder leaning on an about-to-be-cut branch, there were plenty of Wily E. Coyote jokes.

We tried to broker a meeting between Finn and his dog cousin, Ziggy, and did everything right up to a point — (starting in neutral territory, keeping a good distance, then closing the distance, then a break apart) after which it did not go well. It turned into a minor disaster, actually, because when Finn went apeshit, I slipped in the snow and let go the leash. Ziggy seems to be fine, but it didn’t prevent one of my self-pitying laments about difficult dependents.

Speaking of which, after eight years on the wait list and three application updates, my sister has gotten subsidized housing. This is the best possible news for her (and secondarily for my brother, whose financial burden will be greatly reduced). For me, it is a giant chore with no real benefit (did I mention self pity about difficult dependents?) I am happy for her, don’t get me wrong. I just wish there was someone else to orchestrate the move.

Meanwhile, these are my last few weeks to prep for Newton Open Studios. We will pay rent for my sister’s current apartment through the end of April, which hopefully will make the transition manageable.

(Just so you know, we moved all her belongings into storage in 2009, out of storage in 2010, and then had to assist with near complete possession pack up during the bed bug ordeal last year. These were the same years that we moved our sons a total of seven times).

the Irish goodbye

The Irish goodbye is a thing, you know. I’d done it, more or less, my entire life before finding that out.

What is the Irish goodbye? It’s the swift, some would say ungracious, nonverbal exit from company — often well before a social event’s natural end point.

My husband sometimes accommodates me. Last night, all I had to say was, “time to go” and in a matter of minutes, we were donning our coats and inhaling the bracing December air.

When you consider how much we would’ve had to interrupt our hosts in order to say ‘goodnight’ and ‘thank you’ — it’s not THAT ungracious a maneuver. I sent a beautiful picture and note by email this morning, along with a dinner invite for January. I’m not a monster!

You have to understand — this internal, possibly genetically-imparted pressure has absolutely nothing to do with the society involved. Last night’s party, for instance, was filled with folks I don’t get to see much anymore. People I really, really like. Interesting people.

Plus, there was a long dining table sagging with a glorious array of home-cooked dishes. You don’t always get that at gatherings.

No, it’s my disposition — some weird mix of ADD, impatience, and thorough-going introversion (recall the touchstones of an introvert — energized by solitude, drained by company).

And, just so you know, sometimes I accommodate my husband, generally when visiting his family. My in-law’s style of goodbye is the polar opposite of the Irish goodbye. Picture long, drawn out exchanges, often on the driveway with coats on and motors running. Future plans are outlined, routes home discussed. Entire conversations rise and fall, then rise and fall again. There are hugs and more hugs. I married into such a kind and considerate family!

Where am I during that second round of hugs, you ask? Often sitting in the car preparing to deal with my husband’s abject failure to abide by a generous, pre-arranged limit.

Fortunately, there is humor and self-acceptance in all of this. That’s the really, really good news.