Tag Archives: fall

the sun is but a fickle muse. especially when there is ice cream involved.

10 Sep

ImagePeople who fancy themselves writers, or painters, or poets, or photographers are often inspired by the power of the ocean; the pulse of the city; the majesty of the mountains; the starkness of the desert; or the simple beauty of rolling fields and a golden countryside.

I like those things. Ok, I like most of those things. But a few times a year, I feel as if I can’t write about anything, until I write about the weather; yep, the very weather that is the cliché calling card for people who simply have nothing else to talk about. If you’ve been reading along with me over the last few years, you may have realized before I ever did, the seasons are my collective muse. Spring, summer, winter, fall. Or in California, sprummer, summtumn, autinter, and winspring.

There is something magical about the changing of the seasons; the marching-on of time; the promise of something exciting, yet familiar, just around the corner. The evidence of change pops up all around us. Menus change. Wardrobes change. The telltale pain in my knee emerges as the barometric pressure shifts. The knick knacks in my house get rearranged, and at some point, I remind my kids how my knee knows when it’s going to rain, while acknowledging that yes, it’s weird.

As any change of the season approaches, I declare the upcoming season to be my favorite. The best! The most wonderful time of the year! Think of the sun dresses/white pants/boots/sweaters! Think of the seasonally appropriate treats I plan to make, but probably won’t! And now, September is here, and as I now live in San Francisco, I can finally write about how much I love summer.

Not to be a show off, but it’s been sunny, for like eight days in a row. This stretch was balm to the soul after a summer marked by oppressive fog. In August, I wore the very same outfits I wore at Christmas time. On those days, I thought back to the Fourth of July sunburn that I acquired in another town, and I could not imagine what that must have felt like. Hot, maybe?

The fog-free streets have been teeming with people, happily standing in line around the block for ice cream – not just any ice cream – but a compostable cup full of honey lavender, balsamic strawberry, basil, or blueberry cheesecake ice cream. If you are my foodie son, you wait for fresh peach ice cream topped with a drizzle of olive oil; or if you are my chicken nugget, noodles-and-butter-with-nothing-green-in-sight loving son, you stand in line for “chocolate.”

Our family went to a baseball game – at night, in San Francisco – and I did not put on a sweatshirt, and even more telling, I did not make my deliriously happy 8-year-old wear a sweatshirt.

I broke a sweat the other day, and it was kinda awesome.

Fall is lurking though, like a bully, trying to usurp summer and kill my sunshine buzz. I was forced to make my annual TV watching, DVR matrix, with a detailed chart of new network shows I want to try, because as we all know, good TV waits for no one. And with three guys in the house, football is the topic du jour, every jour. The September calendar page is full, and I’ve started writing things onto those little squares in October. I try to put off thoughts of pot pie, and caramel, and cider. I know, pumpkin-flavored-everything is already on menus, but for this brief moment in time, I’m thinking about watermelon. Does anybody know where I can get some watermelon?

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*In the photo up top,  the idea was that I would capture the cool play structure at the new Exploratorium in SF with Coit Tower artistically hovering in the background; but mostly I took a picture of the blue sky. It felt like I was getting a picture of a unicorn being walked by a leprechaun. The baseball photo, is pretty much the same thing. I think my kid’s in there somewhere.

**Between when I started writing this post, and finished, the temperature dropped twenty degrees, and I broke down and made a mug of tea. Stupid hot tea.

one small candle

24 Nov

This is a gratitude emergency.

Last year, for weeks before Thanksgiving, my Facebook news stream was full of little things that people were thankful for. This year, not so much.

Ok, so things in the world aren’t exactly perfect right now. The air out there is charged with the uncertainty that accompanies transition and that moment just before hope is lost.  On the scary scale, uncertainty is right up there with mannequins and clowns.

Jobs are uncertain, relationships are uncertain, health is uncertain. The news is dismal, the weather is weird, and people are cranky.

However, there is something about today that has just got to be great. Start small if necessary. Was your pancake good? Are you wearing your favorite sweater? Is your chair comfortable?

At the beginning of this year, I wrote about my blanket. I was so stressed and tired that I thought I had lost my mind, with the telltale sign being my proclivity for wearing this blanket as a cape. Eleven months later, I am again wearing the blanket as a cape. It’s fine, I get it. I’m a lady who wears a blanket for a cape as I sit typing in the dark early morning hours. It’s soft and warm and I’m happy to have it, even if it makes me look crazy.

You may, as I do, hate the idea that Black Friday starts on Thanksgiving Thursday. Let’s be thankful we can protest by refusing to go out there and get in a shouting match over a panini press with a stressed out woman in a Santa sweatshirt. My plan instead, is to eat an extra piece of pie and lay around, hard, just to make a point. Join me, won’t you?

The Muppets are back, and early reviews are good. You can say “wocka wocka,” and do your best Janice impression (everybody needs to have a Janice/Swedish Chef/Beaker impression at the ready in their backpocket.) Your kids will get it finally and you can feel relevant again!

Don’t forget the people. Of course we are thankful for the people  who love us unconditionally, and support us no matter what. Let’s not forget the ones who show up out of nowhere, and bring a little sparkle to the day, even if they don’t mean to.

Our church campus doesn’t get quiet during Thanksgiving week – it comes even more alive. Part of my job is to organize a large Thanksgiving Eve dinner that leaves me depending on an army of volunteers to show up the night before Thanksgiving and help welcome and serve a couple hundred people. Without fail, I have my annual dream a few nights before the dinner, that this is the year the volunteers forget to show up. That dream, along with the one where I am treated to unlimited shoe shopping, has yet to come true. Instead, on Thanksgiving Eve, I am once again surrounded by people who are happily hauling vegetables, counting spoons and lighting candles, though there are plenty of other places they could be.

And then, sometimes, the most significant wallop of gratitude comes from the smallest moment.

Part of John’s job is to oversee our church’s hosting of a shelter for homeless families the two weeks surrounding Thanksgiving. The campus practically bursts at the seams with our lovely guests and the volunteers who arrive in droves to tutor, cook, clean, sit and visit. I walked in on the action a couple of nights ago….not to lend a kind and helping hand, but to track down someone who had something I needed. I came in with an agenda, stomping around in a hurry, when a shelter guest approached me – a boy about 11, the same age as my eldest son. He shook my hand and introduced himself with a strong voice full of cheer and respect. He chatted for a moment before he excused himself, book in hand, to find a quiet spot in the shelter to read. I wanted to yell after him, “When the day comes, you have my vote!” Instead I stood dumbly staring after him as he disappeared behind a curtain.

“That kid’s amazing; he’s going to do great things in life,” John gestured to the boy, after noticing I’d been struck speechless by confusing emotions –  awe, sadness, guilt, frustration that there are kids in crummy situations, and affirmation that kids  – any kids at all – are capable of such poise and manners. I had come in to the shelter with my thinking eyebrows and gameface on, and that boy was the one who had graciously welcomed me to his very temporary home, which on most days is just our church’s Fellowship Hall. I left, not brimming with gratitude for my house, hot meals or creature comforts, but thankful that I’d met someone who is out there doing what we are all tasked with….reflecting light, joy, hospitality, and kindness into a world that could really use it.

“There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of one small candle.” – Anonymous

I am thankful for you! Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.

the pot pie paradigm

12 Nov

When you live in California, or anywhere really, you can’t depend on the calendar to tell you when the season has changed.  You likely have your own little tell tale signs that it’s time to shift gears and jump into the next season with abandon. It’s officially Spring when I hear a lawnmower or an airplane through an open window. Summer is the first day I require an iced coffee to function. Winter is simple – sweatshirt, fuzzy socks, hot chocolate, staring at the Christmas Tree; rain, optional.

Fall however, is a little different. The Bay Area enjoys its most beautiful warm weather in September and October. The lazy days of summer are gone, but the realities of school and work and sports and responsibility are just… the worst. You like the idea of fall, but you can’t enjoy a moment of it…yet. Then one day it happens, the good part of autumn arrives. This week, the signs were everywhere; real fall is finally here.

  • Without explanation, a big fat, warty pumpkin showed up on our doorstep. Not the jack-o-lantern kind, but the harvesty cornucopia kind. Some autumnal fairy left it there (thank you, whoever you are). Until the moment it arrived, our entire 2011 pumpkin inventory consisted of the tiny souvenir pumpkin from Zach’s kindergarten field trip, and John’s sad matching chaperone pumpkin. If a mystery gourd doesn’t tell you something special’s afoot, I don’t know what does.
  • Dry leaves swirled dramatically around the parking lot as I hurried in from lunch, clutching close to me my brown corduroy blazer, the official jacket of fall. When the wind blows like that, no matter what building I hustle into, I announce, “It’s like ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ out there.” It’s weird enough to say that at the grocery store or the dentist, but you get really special looks at work yelling that something wicked is coming, especially when work is a church. I might need a new movie reference that says “it’s windy.” Nobody’s even seen “Something Wicked This Way Comes” in 25 years, including me.
  • The 6-year-old needs a new pair of slippers; he’s grown out of the firetruck pair, and his feet are now cold. The cat’s feet are also cold and she thinks she controls the heater. She sits on the grating and paws at it unsuccessfully for an hour or so until it finally kicks on, at which point she looks at me, as if to say, “you’re welcome.”
  • A hot cup of coffee is never far from my thoughts.

 “I need to finish this budget draft…then get a cup of coffee.”

“ Where did I leave my keys? Over there, by my coffee.”

“Someone put peppermint mocha creamer in the office fridge; best day ever.”

  • The moon on Wednesday was freakishly huge and hovered menacingly over the freeway and the hills, so close it looked like I could drive to it as fast as I could drive home. I never look directly at it; it knows I blame it for my crankiness, other people’s crankiness, sleepless kids and bad driving.
  • Monday is the day I will make my annual turkey, apple and sweet potato pot pie. No part of it comes from a box, hence the annual-ness of it. I am trying to get John to commit to a date for his annual apple cake.  They cannot be made on the same day, or my head will explode.
  • And then, to top it off: John picked up egg nog on the way home. It gets dark after lunch. I took an umbrella with me, and promptly left it in a restaurant. Twilight’s out in a few days (they’re vampires, so that’s fallish, and they sparkle, so it’s festive.) I think about ginger cookies almost as much as I think about coffee.

It seems people who know about gardening and growing things best understand the rhythms of the seasons. They talk to me about their bulbs or their tomatoes, eyeing the weather and their soil, and maybe an almanac. I nod, recognizing that yes, I have heard of bulbs and tomatoes, though I cannot tell you what grows from a bulb.

So, don’t let the mall tell you it’s time to feel like Christmas (because they’re trying, hard); it’s not up to them, it’s up to you. Your fall may not have even started yet.

check please

5 Oct

Thanks to autumn, good ol’ fashioned check writing is alive and well: school donations, school photos, church camp, hot lunch, fall carnival, wrapping paper fundraisers, magazine fundraisers, cookie dough fundraisers, field trips, sports registration, class party contributions, and most recently, the kindergarten book order.

If you are not currently placing kids’ book orders, it’s likely the same company, and same process from when you were a kid (especially you, Gen X’ers.) It’s a little newspapery thing you get that looks like the Pennysaver, but it’s chock full of kids’ titles at great prices. Ring a bell? You may remember waiting anxiously for your own books to be delivered to class, and when the day finally came, you’d see what your friends got, and you’d look at what you got, and back to what they got. You’d realize that while your friend could look forward to happily thumbing through a nearly wordless print version of the latest greatest cartoon, you were saddled with a Caldecott or Newbery award winner. The gold seal on the front would give it away. Gold seal=serious=thinking.

I wrote out my check, tore it from the newly depleted checkbook, and handed it to our kindergartener to keep track of until he could deliver it.

“Can you please make sure to give this directly to your teacher? It’s a check.”

Blank stare.

“It’s like money.”

The blank stare was replaced by delight with a mildly alarming hint of scheming and wheel turning.

“It’s not money that you can do anything with. It’s a piece of paper that represents money.”

Blank stare followed by, “Why is USC on the envelope?”

“They sent me the envelope so I could send them a check too, for a donation.”

“Why aren’t you sending them the check then?”

“Um, we get a lot of those envelopes, and I will another day, but today it’s for the book order.”

“What book order?”

“I ordered you books from that piece of paper you brought home.”

“Wait…what?”

“I picked a couple of books for you from the paper, and then ordered them, and they need this check.”

“Let me see what you’re talking about,” he said, “I didn’t know about this.” Have you seen your own words and expressions mirrored back at you? It’s disconcerting.

I handed him the flimsy little catalog. He pointed directly to the Star Wars book on the front, “that one.”

“Yes, I saw that, but I don’t think it has words, and you’re learning to read words. Real words! Plus we have a lot of Star Wars books, both with and without words.”  I actually prefer the ones with just pictures, because then Zach doesn’t have to correct my pronunciation as I stumble over Padawan, and Luminara Unduli. (Oh, how I miss Luke.)

“Then that one.”

“The one about Mater?”

“Oh, that’s Mater? I guess not, I’m in kindergarten.”

“I thought this other one looked good – it said that it’s for both of us to read together – one part for you to read, and one part for me to read,” otherwise known as any book ever printed that has more than one sentence.

“Also, this Thanksgiving one,” I continued, trying to erase his skeptical look, “The turkey is looking for disguises. Sounds funny.”

Realizing the Star Wars portion of the discussion was over, he nodded and ran away with the check.

“Get it?” I called after him, “See, he needs disguises because he’s trying to escape Thanksgiving! He’s a turkey! On Thanksgiving! Funny!”

I thought it sounded funny, but once I said the plot out loud, I realized it was also kind of sad, and kind of gross, because next month, I will be eating a turkey who will have likely suffered the consequences of not having the resources to come up with adequate disguises.

We tucked the USC envelope with the carefully completed book order into his backpack. I’d been meticulous because I was thinking of the book order volunteer on the other end of this transaction. I had been the book order lady once, when our oldest was in pre-school. Talk about transactions and high finance…I was the book order person for the whole school! Everybody! 2-year-olds….3-year-olds….4-year- olds….all of them. That’s a lot of “Skeleton Hiccups,” “Brown Bear, Brown Bear…” and “Fancy Nancy. “

A USC football game would be humming along while I sat on our couch in our seminary apartment, sorting through checks and tallying the number of “If You Give a Pig A Pancake” from the order forms.

I’d shove an order form in front of John who was trying to learn Hebrew and watch football, “Hey, do you think this is a two? Or a seven? Do you think they want seven copies of ‘Pinkalicious?’ Two, definitely two. They paid for two. Good, I did not want to have to call them.” But inevitably, I would have to call, and my palms would sweat, because my half of the conversation would go something like this:

“Hi my name’s Colleen and I’m calling about your book order through the Children’s Center? Yes, you ordered from two different catalogs, so I’ll need two checks. Yes, two separate checks. The Dragonfly order form is different from the regular one…yes, I know, it’s complicated. So can I please get two new checks and I’ll give you this one back? I understand that’s three checks for two books totaling $8. I know, I’m sorry, listen, I didn’t make up this rule, but unfortunately, if you’d like me to fill this order for you, I’ll need two checks. No, I’m not threatening you…ok, it’s a dumb, dumb, ridiculous rule, there, I said it…so, you’ll send the checks tomorrow? With your 4-year-old? Perfect.”

sexy abraham lincoln

27 Oct

The other night we went out, as adults, with other adults. It was very sophisticated. Of course we ran into even more adults including some who were dressed up for a night on the town. Costumed up, I should say for some apparent pre-Halloween festivities. We’ve all seen the selection of women’s Halloween costumes right now….sexy nurse, sexy prisoner, sexy race car driver, you get the idea. So imagine my surprise when there, in the middle of the crowd, was sexy Abraham Lincoln. Black blazer, black mini skirt, white blouse, fish nets, pumps, top hat and yes, Abraham Lincoln beard. Not just any Abraham Lincoln beard, a sassy supermodel-type Abraham Lincoln beard.

I’m not a natural Halloween person, though through the years, I’ve tried really hard. As a kid, I was the one who always got a fever the day of, or alas, threw up at school ten minutes before the costume parade (it was 2nd grade. Of course, my mother had spent a month working on a Revolutionary War period costume for the occasion that would not see the light of day.) I did rock the Mickey Mouse in ’77 and Princess Leia in ‘78 complete with homemade buns (thanks again mom). There were the unfortunate off years where “jogger” or “girl in wig” had to suffice.

My sad attempt at replicating my brother’s infamous “blind date” costume– the sight impaired glorified raisin that had skyrocketed my brother’s status to that of Halloween legend — fell appropriately flat when I kept having to explain it.

College, right? College Halloweens had to be epic. I had pretty high hopes going in. I won’t bore you with the sad details. They are not even funny sad, just sad sad. So I suppose epic is still appropriate if you are talking about the level to which they were ho-hum. As was my first crack at homemade Halloween treats. I tried to guess the recipe for sugar cookies. That, my friends, is why I cook, and do not bake. I can guess the recipe for a lot of things, but with baking I now know, there is stinkin’ science involved.

I did put my all into pumpkin carving when they came out with those handy kits. I loved picking the most complicated pattern, and it would take about 4 hours for me to finish one design. Those tiny little haunted house windows are tricky. I’d be sitting at the table, tongue out, brow furrowed and glistening with the perspiration of pure determination, moxie, and chutzpah! I’d eventually look up and I’d be sitting alone nursing my wrist and looking for the beginning signs of carpal tunnel syndrome, while everyone else had retired to the couch with a beer having finished their elementary designs of “funny ghost face” or “bat.”

Then I had a baby, and I could not get through trying to cut the hole in the top without having to stop 11 times to feed and change and bounce and soothe. That’s when I decided that pumpkins were even more attractive and longer lasting when you did not have to cut them open.

Jake did however breathe new life into my Halloween efforts. I cried when I saw him in his baby pea pod suit. He hopped all over my office as a frog, put on my heart and soul when he slipped into the airplane costume I made for him, and wore around half our monthly food budget in his sharp looking and fully legit NASA flight suit.

He also spent one year as “the kid with the fever” with Zach taking his turn with it two years later.  

We do have high hopes for this year. I may have failed on the cookie front again, but the costumes are shaping up nicely.

Zachary is the most detail-oriented dresser-upper you’d ever lay eyes on; last year in his Indiana Jones satchel, where nobody could see, you would have found jewels, a journal, a whip and a snake that helped him get into character. This year, he has taken it upon himself to meticulously grow out his hair to achieve the fluffiest, featheriest Mark Hamill ‘do this side of 1987. It will go perfectly with his x-wing fighter suit. Let me just say that again. It’s a 5-year-old growing out his hair to replicate Luke Skywalker, circa 1977. He is nothing if not dedicated.

After lamenting costume options for weeks with Jacob, including an ill fated Justin Bieber idea, yesterday we walked into a local Halloween store and asked for beards. The girl cocked an eyebrow at me – “Brian Wilson?” I nodded sheepishly, with the confirmation of what I expected. Prepare yourself Bay Area folks – Brian Wilson will be visiting you… a lot. I really would have felt like a Halloween rock star if I could have honestly answered, “No thanks, show me your sexy Abraham Lincolns.”

freshmen

30 Sep

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been saying goodbye to some of our young friends who are off to the first years of college. Near and far, they are starting their own adventures, next chapters, new beginnings, fresh paths, their next step on this funny little journey called life…you get it.  The grown-ups in the room offer congratulations, good wishes, and “be safes.” But with as much wander as the kids have for the great unknown, the adults kind of nod knowingly at each other. We do generally have an idea of what’s in store for them.

This is where it changes. This is where they, ideally…hopefully….fingers crossed, start figuring it out. The parents of these kids surely want their kids to be happy and healthy. They want them to have fun, and be good, and get good grades, and then maybe they’ll get a great job, and not move home. And they want the kiddos to call. But not too much, because that can be a bad sign. They want them to call just the right amount.

We try not to share all of our college stories with these fresh hopeful faces. We can’t. Not yet. They have to live it first, and then they get to hear the good stuff. Who doesn’t wistfully look back at those days – a haze of fuzzy and romanticized memories of freedom, and possibilities and ordering  pizza whenever you want to, and buying white bread instead of wheat for the first time, and other completely, um purposefully non-descript college stuff. Those precious last years of getting away with things just because you’re young.

Isn’t that why we’re all so flippin’ passionate about our alma mater football teams? We’re defending our life choices! Our history! Our heritage! Our memories. Those little boys out there are going to tell you that my memories and choices are meaningful and significant, by kicking the butt of your team and your memories. So hah!

Who doesn’t pine a little, and sit back like you’d imagine Wilford Brimley to, to spin a yarn about the good ol’ days, whether it was your freshman year of college, or your first time on your own?

Mine would go a little like this (please read this in Wilford Brimley’s voice – it’s better that way): Listen up kids….The second day I was at school I stuck a roommate’s head of raw broccoli in the freezer. I had never seen raw broccoli away from a salad bar and had no idea what to do with it. We found little tiny green bits all over our dorm for a year. She had to teach me how to use an ATM. My friend Liane & I would only use the computer lab at 3 in the morning. We were pretty inept with word processing, and that’s when the computer lab guys would be happy to come out from behind their ridiculously tall desk to help us. We may have also solicited help from a handsome classmate who was finishing his reporting assignment too.

We saw some great movies: Pulp Fiction, Singles, Reality Bites, Seven. Don’t ever see Seven kids, you won’t sleep for a week. That movie changed my mind about pursuing criminal science.

There was a short period of this nation’s history, where absolutely everyone in America, I mean  EVERYONE, was wearing flannel, always the flannel – formal flannel and casual flannel  – and Docs and Converse, and listening to grungy music and drinking coffee, and figuring out how they could get to Seattle. Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins… now that was music.

I had never had a Caesar salad. But Wolfgang Pucks was in our food court, and I had a Caesar salad every day until I ran out of discretionary funds on my meal card. And then there was just the sheer joy of being in a new place and having the chance to start fresh, and kick off your adult life your own way. I threw the curtain open from our fifth floor dorm living room and there it was, the Hollywood sign. I had arrived. Of course, if you looked out the other window, you could see the Bank of America that got robbed four times that year.

We’d lose our way sometimes, and get frustrated and make mistakes, and find our way back, and be smarter for it, most of the time. Times were good.

And that boy in the computer lab? Well, his name was John, and I would go on to marry that boy. (Ok, don’t read that like Wilford Brimley).

Good luck freshmen! I can’t wait to sit on the porch someday and hear your stories!

atrophy

24 Aug

Atrophy. If school wasn’t starting in two days, it certainly seems that would be the word of the week, and I wouldn’t be able to tell you how to spell it.  Looking around the house, it is essentially a time capsule from June of 2010. The backpack is slumped in a corner where it was dropped on the last day of school. The fool-proof organizing system of boxes and document holders with which I am continually tinkering, still spews papers from the top, mocking my good intentions.  Feeling entirely too much like an adult, I had to take pause this week and wonder, where did my summer, once so full of promise and untold delights…yes, THAT summer, go?

The last week of August already tends to be one of mixed emotions. The kids have dissolved into mini-delinquents whose sole purpose for punching each other is force of habit, but they shyly admit that they might indeed just be ready for regular school stuff. And while I fancy myself fairly footloose and moderately fancy free, I’m pretty stoked about having some structure reintroduced into our lives.

Faced with the reality of summer’s end, Jake shimmied out of one of his beloved baseball tees and into a collared shirt for school pictures this afternoon, followed by a peek into his new class. The glimmer of joy came when he realized he scored one of two air conditioned classrooms.

The glimmer disappeared with the school supply shopping. It should come as no surprise that when you’re shopping for pencils and paper, the biggest smiles are on the parents’ faces. You’ve seen the commercials. It’s totally true. Grown-ups chipper with anticipation, happily checking off otherwise mundane items from their lists.

 “3-ring binders? Theeeeere they aaaaarre!” …this from a smiling cherubic woman with a Blue Tooth headset firmly in place and the lilting sing-song voice of Snow White. She was followed by a wincing teenager whose hands were shoved defiantly into his pockets.

 All over the store, parents were holding up items, saying “which one?” enthusiastically trying to sell kids on the luxury of choice that they have in the color of their binder, their notebooks, their pencil case –  offering perhaps a semblance of control in a situation where essentially, young students have little. Jake haphazardly pointed at the red, the blue, the black. It seems he would have been happy if we were picking out a leather office chair or fax machine…that’s where his attention was.

 But now, as my tall funny fifth grader, and my cuddly sweet last-year-of-pre-schooler are not punching each other and tucked snugly into bed, I’m having a heck of a time being excited about launching into a new year without a firm grasp on what happened to the last 12 weeks? Where have we been that I didn’t finish the recipe project or paint the living room? How cute is it that I thought that I might?

Let’s see, the DVR sputtered out its last CSI weeks ago – dead of fatigue.  (Killing your DVR with overuse doesn’t result in the prideful feeling you’d think it would.) When that noble piece of technology finally went, it took about 18 hours of stored treasures that I had reserved for the summer programming drought. So aside from the recent delicious start of Mad Men, I wasn’t near the TV like I usually am. Hmm…the evenings were too cold to lounge around outside and spray down the boys with a hose, though there were moments I considered it. And I’m just as far into The Girl  With the Dragon Tattoo as I was in June.

Even my personal magazine pile has doubled. Have I really been that behind on Entertainment Weekly? Well, not entirely. I almost forgot to feed the boys dinner the day the fall movie preview issue arrived. And all those issues of The Economist? I did take the time to toss those, so that’s good.

So I did an exercise to get to the bottom of this mystery. Please, please, please don’t stop reading when I say this. OK, it involves Twilight, but it has a point. During the 9 hours of special features on the DVD that I watched as happily as I did the actual movie, the screenwriter, Melissa Rosenberg said she read the first book in a single sitting, focused on the scenes & images that stood out from this initial read – and then structured the screenplay around those. So I did the same thing, but to rediscover the highlights of a season past.

 Melodramatically closing my eyes…I flitted back to the ill-advised but glorious Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast in Las Vegas. The 4th of July fireworks over Disneyland. Sitting in the theater watching Eclipse with my friend Margie and a gaggle of really rowdy and inappropriate mothers. My friend Megan making me dinner in my own kitchen, and having a mom talk with the little one when I was just too tired to do it myself. Jacob jumping himself silly on a trampoline for his 10th birthday. Trying and failing to get our hands on chocolate covered bacon at the State Fair. The butterflies in my stomach when my handsome husband appeared on the escalator at the airport, finally home from Zimbabwe. The sinking feeling I had when I realized the gifts he brought the boys were two vuvuzelas. The plotting of where I could accidentally lose two vuvuzelas. A couple of great end-of-summer parties with old friends, and new friends, and many many appetizers. And then there was starting this blog, which during the nail-biting hemming and hawing stages of discernment about it, felt kinda self-indulgent, overly revealing, a little brave, a tad silly, and maybe a little bit cathartic.

And so now I will post this piece, walk by the backpack and filing system, and hop into bed with the triumphant posession of a summer well-spent. I suppose there are worse things than atrophy of housecleaning.