Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Spending Time

I am fast approaching an age I just can't fathom. 

I remember thinking as a teenager, "Wow, you're going to be thirty-six when the year 2000 comes along. That's pretty old." I was a little bit frightened of being that old.


Thirty-six.  That sounds so young now. Practically a baby.

If you have done the math, you have figured out that I'm turning fifty this year. 

The big five-O. Half a century. 

That is cray-cray.


My mom died when she was fifty. And the closer I get to that birthday, the more I find myself thinking about her.

How young she was when she died. Because even though I may be fifty years old on the outside - on the inside I feel twenty-five. When she died, she seemed so much older to me. I wish I knew how young she really was.

At fifty, I am just getting to know my children as adults. I love spending time with them. They are funny, they are compassionate AND passionate, they love to share their opinions, and they have wonderful friends - they are just so full of life that they make ME feel alive. I am thankful for this time. And find myself thanking God each and every morning for another day on this earth to have with them.

I did not get that chance with my mom. She was ill for a few years before she passed away so her life, and my dad's life, was centered around her treatments and her well-being. We didn't get to have that time to find out who each other was in our new identities as the mother of an adult child and an adult child.

Instead, I was off with my friends and going to classes and working. I'm ashamed to say I did not make a lot of time to spend with my parents during that time. That's the biggest regret of my life - that I didn't make more time for her in my "busy" life. Those friends I spent time with? Not a part of my life now. Friends come and go, some are here longer than others but they change as life changes. Classes ended. Work shifted and drifted to other jobs. But family? They are for always. They are forever.

If I'd only known how little time I was going to have left with her, I like to think I would have valued it more and spent more of it on her. With her. Beside her.


I'm trying to do it right this time around. Now I'm the mother with adult children finding myself redefining my relationships with J and K.

Not a day goes by in which I do not tell the two of them and the Man just how much I love them, how much I enjoy their company. They're busy, just as they should be, but they make time for the Man and I. J and I will go out to breakfast or lunch together, and K and I go shopping, or out to eat, or get pedicures together. They know how I feel about not having that time with my mom and how important it is to spend time with the ones you love.

Spending time. An appropriate phrase. Because more time is what I want right now. More than money, more than travel, more than anything else this world tells me is important. Time. How valuable it is. And I find myself resenting the careless way I treat it sometimes. The careless way I spend it.

I know that at the end of life, I won't be wishing I had spent more time with friends, or with colleagues at work, or pursuing all kinds of outside interests. No, I think at the end of life, I'll be wishing I had more time with my family - husband, children, parents, sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles. All of them.


So that's my goal for the next fifty years - to spend more time with the ones I love the most. Not to let life get so "busy" that days and weeks pass before I connect with my loved ones. I want to be better at calling to chat with those who live far away, and stopping in to see older family members. I want to make time to travel to see siblings who live farther away.

I want to share more meals with my dad. 

I want to spend more time with my sisters. I'm tired of life pulling us all in separate directions.

I want to savor every moment with my husband and my children. 

Because we are not promised tomorrow and I don't want any more regrets in my life. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Beach Life, part three

We always seem to find ourselves meandering to the ocean to see the big waves and the surfers and the seals and maybe even a shark or two.

So far we have NOT seen a shark though we have seen lots of seals and surfers. Which look like lunch to a shark, I think.

Someone was blowing big bubbles from the landing leading down to the beach. The kids couldn't stop themselves from trying to pop them.
J and L laughing at something.

They laugh a lot.

Infectious laughs, they have.
Lights under the tent when we were eating dinner at a local eatery. Fresh seafood, crispy onion rings, and local beer.

Delicious dinner.
The annual whale bone picture. We've been coming to this spot since the kids were teeny tiny tots and taking this same photo every year.

We add people in and take people out of the photo as they come and go into our lives, but we always take at least one shot of J and K under the bones.


We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. ~Mother Teresa

Because there's nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it's sent away. ~Sarah Kay

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Beach Life, part two

We have been coming to the beach forever it seems. When I was very young, we would go to a big lake in the mountains and stay in teeny, tiny dollhouse cottages right on the shore. Two room cottages, one kitchen/dining/living room and one bedroom, with a postage size bathroom between the two. Painted like miniature swiss chalets, we loved going to these cottages every summer.

All of my dad's family would go for the week - aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, great-aunts and great-uncles, siblings, and extended cousins. As a matter of fact, the cottages we stayed in were owned by some distant cousins. There was a main house where the family lived and part of the main house was a social gathering area with pinball machines, card tables, a piano, and a dance floor. Other sissy and I used to love to go up to the "big room" and hang out with the older kids, playing the piano and singing popular songs and dancing.

But if there is anything that is certain in life, it is that things change and so the day came when we didn't go to the mountains anymore for vacation. My parents had discovered the shoreline, aka the beach, and we started coming here instead.

Most of my childhood vacation memories are wrapped up with the beach - going out to the gift shops at night ("knick-knackin'" as Nana would say), eating out at a restaurant maybe once during the two weeks of vacation, buying tons and tons of books at the flea market. 

Ten cents a book in those days.

And buying jewelry. Lots and lots of jewelry. We were always coming home with new rings and earrings and pendants and bracelets - sterling silver, turqoise, agate stones. Vacation was all about the jewelry we would find.


So it is kind of poetic that I now hunt for treasure of a different kind. Colorful, odd shaped, each one unique and with its own story to tell. I search for it every time and always manage to find a piece or two or three to bring home, just like I did with that jewelry oh-so-many years ago.

Sea glass.

The best treasure ever. 
After the storm rolled by a few days ago, a gorgeous double rainbow appeared and I grabbed my iPhone to get a panoramic shot. See the rainbow on the left side of the pic?

I love dramatic skies. The dark clouds rumbling and grumbling on the left and bright, sunny blue skies on the right.

My BIL made Dark and Stormy drinks before dinner. Clever fellow, that one is.
Piled everyone into two vehicles, grabbed some lawn chairs, a bunch of snacks, and our sweatshirts and off to the drive-in theatre we went.

There's something magical about watching a movie outside, under the stars, with the sound being played all around you. Cars honking, lights coming on and then quickly getting shut off, peals of laughter wafting through the air from cars in the rows around you.


All the kids were sitting in front of the cars. Sissy and BIL were in the car next to us. The Man and I were munching on snack crackers, waiting for the movie to start. I was thinking about other drive-in theatres and other movies we've seen over the years. Movies after we had children and movies before we had children. And how much fun it always seemed.
I looked over at the Man and said, "Wanna make out?"
He grinned.
Almost twenty five years of marriage and he still makes my heart skip a beat.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Beach Life, part one

Spending some time at the beach this week. 

Who knew we were going to run into a lightning storm? As we sat and chatted on the beach, we watched some dark ominous clouds roll by us, just missing our neck of the beach. There were lots of little boats out on the water and we were rather fearful for them. The clouds looked so big and they looked so small.

Move faster, little boats.


Our hair was standing straight up - there was so much electricity in the air. In all my life, I have never seen such a thing.
Goofing off.

I'm using a new app on the iPad to do some editing. It's called "Rookie" and it is a powerful little photo editor. I miss Photoshop and all the actions but this covers nicely while I am away.

Just a helpful little tip in case you're looking for a photo editor to use while traveling. Or for anytime.


J and L were up at o'dark thirty to go fishing with my BIL and niece. Don't worry. No fish were harmed in the making of this blog post. They caught nothing but seaweed.

Love this photo.

I look at this and the world is a sweeter place.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Color My World

I learned a new craft a few weeks ago and I've been a wee bit busy.

Beaded clay pens.

The color combinations are endless. K and I have had so much fun trying different color recipes and bead mixes. Blending and bending. Twisting and twirling. Rocking and rolling.

There's something peaceful about playing with clay. We sat for hours, chatting and designing, watching the patterns emerge as we rolled and twisted the clay. Assigning names to the different patterns.

The mermaid pen.

The Starry Night pen.

The Mardi Gras pen.

Each pen took on a personality of its own. It will be hard to give them away, I think. They are our creations after all, our tiny little colorful creations.
We had dinner with L's parents this weekend. First time the families have gotten together. They have a perfectly lovely home on a lake in the deep dark woods, surrounded by lots of family. An idyllic spot, easy to relax in and feel at home.

We enjoyed homemade salsa that D, L's mom, had made beforehand and hot cheesy queso that L and J made once we got there. It was fun watching them cook together, preparing something for their parents to eat. D and I hovered over them, flittering around just like the hummingbirds that were visiting on the porch outside. The kids were very gracious and took our advice with smiles.

Good kids, these ones are.

Dinner was pure comfort food. Chicken divan. Creamy rice. Homemade bread. L's mom said it would be the best bread we've ever had and she was right. Followed by a cup of hot coffee, oh-so-welcome on the chilly night, and homemade coconut cheesecake with fresh raspberries for dessert.

Truly, a perfect night spent with wonderful company.
I brought D one of these pens.

And you know what? It wasn't as hard to part with one as I thought. D seemed to love it and looked at it carefully, complimenting the colors.

I may have to give more of these away if they make people as happy as the one I gave D made her.
K and I have grand plans to make more of these so I think I'll work on a tutorial.

Then you can spread some colorful joy too.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Zucchini Bread, also known as a workout

The Man has been harvesting all kinds of things from the garden, especially zucchini.

Lots of zucchini. If you have a garden and grow zucchini, you know two things - how fast they grow and how many they produce.

A few nights ago the Man brought in a zucchini that measured about eighteen inches long. It was probably 5-6" in diameter at the fat end. It was so big I think you could have sliced it up and served one slice on each dinner plate.


He wanted to toss it out but I couldn't do it. It seems so wasteful to invest so much time into these plants to simply toss the zucchini out because it got too big. Instead, I decided to make zucchini bread. The recipe I found on Pinterest called for three cups of grated zucchini. I {very} briefly thought about getting out my food processor but decided to grate it by hand instead. 

It takes too much time to clean the food processor. So many parts. 

I started grating. 

And grating. 

And grating. 

My arms got tired. I got bored. I grated some more. I started watching my arms jiggle as I grated. It was hot. I was getting sweaty from all the grating. I kept on grating. For hours, it seemed.

I lifted the grater and had about a half cup. Two minutes had gone by.

Hmmm. This is a lot tougher than I thought.

I kept on grating.
Finally I had three cups of grated zucchini. 

I followed the recipe, putting all the wet ingredients in the bowl and then slowly added the dry ingredients. My hand mixer got broken a couple months ago and I haven't replaced it yet. I have a KitchenAid mixer but I keep it in the basement and didn't feel like carrying it upstairs.

It's heavy. And there are too many parts to clean.

So I mixed it by hand with a wooden spoon. 

And mixed. 

And mixed. 

My arms got sore from stirring. Three cups of flour is a lot of flour to stir by hand. The first cup goes in pretty smoothly. But the last cup? That batter gets kind of thick, if you ask me. I mixed for hours it seemed.

I looked at the clock. Two more minutes had gone by.

Jeeesh. I must be getting soft. This is hard work.

I kept stirring until all the flour had been combined.

The completed product. It tasted good.


Some things I learned from baking zucchini bread:

1. Prairie women were in much better shape than I am. I bet they grated for hours and never broke a sweat. And I bet their arms didn't jiggle.

2. Appliances have made us soft. It's so much easier to throw everything in the KitchenAid, turn it on and let it run. It's harder to stir things by hand.

3. It's much easier to clean up when you don't use appliances. Instead of fifty seven billion parts to clean from a food processor and KitchenAid mixer, I had to clean a grater, a wooden spoon, and a bowl.

4. I felt quite satisfied making the bread from scratch, with my own hands doing all the work. Turning simple ingredients into a moist, delicious quick bread felt good.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Summer Birthday

We celebrated L's birthday last week. I'm glad we had an occasion for cake.

On a hot summer night, there's not much better than an ice cream cake.You wouldn't believe the ripple of excitement that went through the kitchen when I revealed the cake and everyone saw 



Such a good sport.

J bought her a pink head lamp for camping. L was so excited. She put it on immediately and wanted to go outside to check on their garden. J grinned from ear to ear, jumped up, grabbed his head lamp and off they went - two lights bobbing across the back yard on that hot summer night.

Happy birthday, L!