Tuesday, July 28, 2015

"Nothing is more difficult than waking a cat." ~ Jim Davis

Sweet Stuffed.  This actually strikes me as a creepy picture of him, but it still makes me and Mike laugh every time we look at it. 
The black/white divider-line down his face never fails to delight me.  And his nose always reminds me of The Wizard Oz's Scarecrow's.  :)
Floofy, to be sure, but he still spends as much time in the box fan-cooled bedroom as in the air conditioning-cooled main room on days like this, so the heat must not bother him as much as it does us. 
He jumps up onto the bed beside me every time I begin writing in my journal, sometimes resting his soft, warm head across a page until I gently and ohhhhhh-soo-sloooooooowly slide the book out from under him.  Dear little soul. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

"I am in love with the commonplace. I love to make it shine--by holding it in the right light." ~ Jim Wayne Miller

'Making up my oatmeal "packet" for work when I noticed how pretty my gathered supplies were.  The rest of the apartment still feels chaotic and in need of a good sort after last weekend's trip, but this tiny corner, at least, looks sweet.  Temperatures in the high eighties and low nineties this week, and a big BLECCCCHHHH may I say to that!  But!  I try not to complain, so. . . !  I've lost ten pounds since deciding once again to get back on-track this summer, so there is that, and there is Mike's thirty-ninth birthday tomorrow, and my days off tomorrow and Wednesday, and a healthy cat currently curled up beside the patchwork cupboards, and both a family reunion and a visit with Aunt Laurie in the weeks ahead (assuming I get the days off, but I'm hopeful), and now, brown sugar-cinnamon oatmeal and almonds packed into my work bag.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bathroom-Painting Begins

Yesterday afternoon was entirely too humid a day to begin this project, but I wanted to take advantage of my day off by at least starting it.  Off and on for about four hours--breaking only for iced tea, lemonade, a chocolate brownie (thank you, Mom), and a zucchini-Parmesan omelet (thank you, Dad)--I finished most of the first coat.  This shade is "Rally Green" by Sherwin Williams, and even after so much painting, I'm finding it hard to describe to my mom.  "Kind of a springy green with some aqua in it?  More vivid or a deeper shade than old jadeite dishes, but kind of like that?!"  Then the light changes, and the color above becomes more like this,
and what I had almost wanted to describe as looking tropical now seems more workaday vintage green.  I like the color, in any case, and am about to begin round two of the painting.  I'm still so surprised that our apartment's building manager has given us permission to paint at all, I almost couldn't help but be delighted to see just about any color on the walls.  :)  I actually love the whole barely-there shades of white and pink and pale-pastels-in-general in shabby chic decorating and did my bedroom in my first all-to-myself apartment in 2002 in the softest pink, and if we had more room here, I'd likely decorate a guest room or something that way again.  For now, though, and in the little space we have--our entire apartment is only 542 square feet--I like the rainbow of bolder colors we have here.  More iced tea, then, and back to my springy/tropical/ jadeite/etc.-covered paintbrush. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

First Game at Yankee Stadium

Mike and I took a bus to Yankee Stadium this weekend, Mike's first time in New York and my first visit to the Bronx.  The Yankees are Mike's and his dad's team, and since my mom is from New York, more than a few people in my family are Yankees fans, so it was especially sweet to see the stadium finally.  I thought the six-hour bus trip would find me and Mike featured in a "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" magazine column, but we experienced both the travel and the heat-index-of-103°-temperature and lived to tell the tale. 
Mom made up a gift basket and this cute Snoopy card for us and arranged to have it waiting in our hotel room.  The card was one of the first things Mike unpacked when we got home this afternoon.  :)
 We got to visit with both my parents this weekend, as well, so it was a sweet weekend all-around, with Dad loading up our rental car with vegetables from his garden before we got back on the road. 
Mike got to see Alex Rodriguez warming up for the game.  This was the only player we saw signing autographs for the kids before the game too. 
In my favorite photo from the game, Yankee Stadium's rooftop lights and flags are reflected in Mike's sunglasses.  A happy accident.  This trip was both our vacation-ish thing this summer and my birthday present for him, so to look at our pictures later and see Yankee Stadium in his eyes was great fun. 
And as a final sweet post-game surprise, we discovered while looking up video online of one of the game's home runs that we can be seen in one of the crowd shots that aired on TV after the game, since a guy sitting in front of us caught the ball.  'Not bad for our first visit to the stadium.  :)
And another two days off before I have to go back to work.  'A most refreshing and much-needed break.  Next on this summer's to-do list is painting the bathroom and bedroom.  Yes, the building manager gave me permission to paint!  Onward and upward.  :)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mom Memory

Seeing the Queen Anne's Lace in bloom each summer reminds me of how my mom showed me, when I was probably four or five years old, how to tint its petals by letting it sit in a glass of food color-ed water awhile.  In its normal cream-colored form, it is one of my favorite flowers, but revisiting childhood for a bit as I watched the tiny flower clusters take on color has been sweet too.  A blue bloom for me today, then, and I'll pass it on to Mom when we see each other tomorrow. 

 


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Aunt Cathy

One of my friend Sommer's aunts died on Thursday, I learned Friday afternoon.  Aunt Cathy used to work at the little café inside our local Walmart store--back in the early 1990s when the hometown Walmart was not a "supercenter" and still had a tiny café near the entrance--and Sommer and I would always stop in to visit her while out running around in high school, gabbing with her between her serving other customers and really gabbing with her on slower evenings when she had more free time. The first of their family reunions that I went to, this sweet lady offered me a chair in her backyard and I sat down only to have it crash and splinter into pieces underneath me.  After various relatives helped me up off the ground, I don't know whom amongst all of us laughed the most.  Even though I had just met some of the family for the very first time, it was almost too funny to be embarrassing.  :)   When Sommer died during our last few months of high school, it was one of Cathy's daughters who was the first family member to come out to my parents' house the day it happened to talk with us, and it became my mom and I who would visit Cathy at Walmart, the three of us catching up on family news and helping each other through those horrible first weeks and months.  I last saw her in 2010--randomly bumping into her a hundred miles from her home, which made it even funnier and sweeter to us.  A huge hug, then, at our last meeting, and more laughter and family news shared before we parted.  My heart has been with her family this weekend, and I send them all so much love.  

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Happy Birthday/Anniversary, Hope

My younger brother's wife had just finished her nursing school exams and I was home for the wedding on a weekend-break from packing up our old apartment to move here, so I'm surprised we look as carefree as we do in this 2011 picture.  It is one of my favorites.  Happy birthday to my sister-in-law, and a happy anniversary to her and my younger brother. 
 

Monday, July 6, 2015

From Mike's Sister

I received a surprise package last week from Mike's sister.  She has been taking painting classes for awhile now, and she wrapped one of her tiny canvases of blue Hydrangeas--one of my favorite flowers--in sunny yellow tissue paper as a gift.  Love!    Both the thoughtfulness and the vivid colors made my day. 
Gorgeous.  Handmade and homemade gifts are the best. 
This afternoon, I finally decided on a spot for it on our little cookbook shelf. 
Truly, a day-brightener.  Love! 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Crisps, Twins, and Cat Paws: A Happy 4th

I work tonight, so we celebrated the holiday yesterday here.  This recipe for berry crisp got a thumbs-up from Mike, and we enjoyed it while watching Jaws, a July tradition for us. 
While I was making the crisp yesterday, Mike told me to look at the baseball game on TV and see if anyone looked familiar.  Yessssssssssssssss.  The man pictured above looks exactly like Mike's dad, and we paused the game for awhile so we could marvel at the resemblance.  If I had a picture of my father-in-law in-profile, you would see it instantly.  So strange.  We watched for this guy every time a player batted left. 
And sweet Stuffed finally seems to be back to himself.    He's even been sleeping in the bedroom with us again, after almost two months of keeping to himself elsewhere.  Dear little cat.

A happy day to you all.  

Monday, June 22, 2015

Above the Stage at the Rolling Stones Concert

If you do an internet search, you'll find better pictures and even a video that all show both rainbows' full arcs, but this was Mike's quick shot Saturday night.  We had been sure all day and even while we walked into the stadium that evening that the show would be cancelled due to the stormy weather, but no:  Instead--this and--an incredible performance.  I was disappointed not to hear "Beast of Burden," one of my favorite songs of theirs, even though I'd read the set list online before the show and knew not to expect it, but that's a quibble.   The Stones are Mike's favorite band after the Doors, so I'm tickled that the weather held for a few hours and he finally got to see them. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Iceberg Rose

As it was last year, one of the treats of making a June visit to my parents' house was getting to see one of the roses in my garden there in-bloom.  This visit, my white Iceberg was just beginning to open.  'Glad I got even these these pictures last Sunday because by Monday the rain had beat down the flowers. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Home Again

Monday morning, Mom and I drove out to see the house we lived in in the 1980s and the one I always dream of and tend to remember as Home.  What to say except that upon returning here Tuesday, the hometown city council received a note from me with mentions of "houses that look like they should be condemned," "trash and BLIGHT," and "the worst-looking street in town."  Oh, my heart!  
There are only seven homes on the tiny sloped street I grew up on, and mine was the house at the very top.  This Monday, by the time Mom and I reached the house Mom's great-aunt Clarice once called "a doll house--just a doll house, Christine!"--I was so shocked by the appearance of the state of the first six houses, the current condition of my own former home barely made an impression.  Mom didn't even feel safe the few minutes we spent on the street before walking back to where we'd parked the car.
I have already dreamed of it twice since then:  In one dream, there was a sense of danger in the air and I knew something bad was about to happen somewhere on the street, and in the other, Mom and I were sitting where we'd parked the car Monday and seeing our former street as it had looked when the town was first founded.  In that gift of a dream, what is now the literal junkyard at the foot of the street was still all meadow, and part of the creek that winds through town opened onto a pond. 
Seeing it again has made my beautiful childhood there seem even more incredible.  "When my family lived there in the 80s," I recounted to the city council, "It was such a pretty and well-kept little street.  Good people, nice neighbors, pretty houses and yards, roses and Lilac bushes, clean porches. . . .Seeing it this past weekend was truly saddening.  If I had the money to throw at it, I'd love to buy it all up and completely restore it to its 1980s sweetness.  It really used to be a charming little family street."  Oh, truly!  What fun--what glorious FUN--it would be to play Daddy Warbucks and bring the street back to life. . .repair and repaint the houses, remove all the trash and junk cars, redo the landscaping, fix all the broken fencing,  replant the roses that used to separate a couple of the yards. . . .Ah!  I had expected it to look different, of course--twenty-seven years have passed since we lived there--but not dilapidated and depressed.  Maybe someday, it will take a turn for the better.  I have been telling my parents since I was a kid that if our former house ever came up for sale and I had the money to buy it, I would really be tempted, and oh my, yes:  That one and all the rest, by God, so that someday another almost-five-year-old girl could move into a blue "doll house" and sit inside one of her neighbor's heavenly-smelling Lilac bushes with her new friends and use another neighbor's fallen rose petals as faux makeup and pretend her parents' blue and pink gingham front porch is the judges' station she needs to acknowledge before beginning her Olympic gymnastics floor routine.    Oh, beautiful days!  And poor little street. 

I continue to write about it all, still sharing the table with Stuffed.  While home, I told my parents about the memoir project, and they answered a bunch of questions I had about those years.  We laughed Monday night as I read aloud a few of the entries from diaries I'd kept as a nine, ten, and eleven-year-old in that dear little house.  Dad especially enjoyed 1988's mention that "I gave Dad some 'Almond Joys' for Father's Day!"--since I had just, twenty-seven Father's Days later, given him the same thing for the same occasion.  Ha!  Sweet family, year after year.