Monday, July 26, 2010

Swing into Summer

We have had a bit of a heat wave in New England which includes humidity ratings that the weather people tell us are "oppressive". I concur. Oppressive in that one has to watch either "Hannah Montana" or "Dirty Jobs" relentlessly as it is really too hot to play outside. Oppressive in that you all gather into the one downstairs room that is air-conditioned (my husband's New England attitude toward air-conditioning is a post for another time, suffice it to say that I feel darn lucky to have one the polar bear in Worcester who sits on the rock painted white and tries to make do) and try and make space for one another. Oppressive in that after awhile, nobody can differentiate who is screaming at whom.....which leads to my screaming which sounds like I am shedding neurons one axon at a time.

Today, the weather broke and so did my mood. I spent the afternoon blissfully pulling weeds out of my front drive. As I was dragging a pile to the back of the property, I passed this swing and realized that I have not had a good swing in several years. How is that possible? How is it possible that parents can ignore a thing that gives their children the utmost pleasure? Perhaps I just don't get a turn when my kids are around. I took my turn this afternoon and went swinging into summer, with all my might.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Each summer I celebrate my freedom from structure and trying to solve other people's problems, really a fool's errand in the long run, by doing a little traveling and a lot of reading. The first week of summer vacation, I plot out the theme for the summer. Last summer, I tackled the transcendentalists. I would like to tell you that much thought goes into the "summer theme" decision but in reality, it boils down to what books have been mailed to me by my mother or which book caught my eye in the library. In fact, you can judge a book by it's cover but it will lead you down a long and winding path.

This summer, it is a path of war. It started with Winston Churchill: A Life, by Martin Gilbert. This was a pretty depthful book and I now know a bit about English parliamentary procedure, which might come in handy someday, and I feel gratitude toward a heavy drinking, cigar-stomping war monger (who probably didn't have the most enlightened views about women, that bit was glossed over). I feel gratitude toward him because he was from another age; an age where love of country and duty was honorable and because he saw the dangers of fascism early on. He was also brave in a way that has become outdated. Still, one questions one book about a mythological figure, which is how I always get trapped into the summer theme. The next book I read was "No Ordinary Time" by Doris Kearns Goodwin about the Roosevelts and WWII. Winston was featured in the book, as well, and the portraits matched, which is like finding the border pieces to a helps you see the emerging picture more clearly.

Still, Ms. Goodwin left her readers to wonder about Eleanor's reaction to FDR's death. Notable because in 1945 he was sitting for a portrait when he died...a portrait commissioned by his wife's former secretary whom he had an affair with in 1918. When the affair was discovered, he promised his wife he would never see Ms. Lucy Rutherford again. A promise he failed to keep when he asked his daughter to set up a meeting twenty years later. A double betrayal? Or, was Eleanor romantically involved with her own secretaries by this time? These questions led to the next book on my list, a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt. And so it goes, until summer ends.

Studying history is never a waste of time. I will leave you with two Churchill quotations:

Success is not final,
failure is not fatal:
It is the courage to
continue that counts.

You can always count
on Americans to do
the right thing--
after they have tried
everything else.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ear-regardless....ode to old friends

We have very generous friends: they invite us up to their summer retreat each year where we can unplug, eat great food, and catch up. Before kids, we used to leisurely read the Sunday paper, go to the local bookstore for hours, and float on the pond for the rest of the hours left in the day. Ruth grew up spending her summers here, and the place is full of stories and memories. When you walk in, you step back in time. There are some things that are done and have been done for many generations: blueberry muffins made from the blueberries you pick right out the door; leisurely dinners where, if you are lucky, you can catch a firefly or lightening show that dazzles; reading dusty old books that are out of print but somehow capture the weight of the time we are currently living in; and reconnecting with a slower pace.

Sure, stuff still happens. Here is a shot of my husband trying to flush out the bug that flew into his ear. No luck so he headed off to the ER...a few ear drops and he is good as new.

I went on a run that I have been doing for about 10 years and bonked...then I dropped the F bomb in front of a house with a bunch of toys out front, on Sunday, no less. Still, I was running with Dave who has the gift of making me feel like anything is worth it, if you get a good story out of the deal. This is the same guy who sat with my husband in the waiting room while I was having heart surgery in December. I hope we thanked him for that.
So, this summer I hope you are all connecting with old friends, even if things have changed some, you know they are in for the long haul.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tales from Texas-Part Two

Here is the thing I love about my home state: it thinks quite highly of itself. My memory is that I took two years of Texas history and no world history. To this day, I can speak quite eloquently about the Battle of San Jacinto but I have trouble telling you exactly where Guam is or if it is attached to the United States. We were a country once, and I think that is where some of our grandiosity stems from, that and the fact that we were populated by rogues and explorers. To dream big, you have to talk big first.

This trip, we stayed in Fort Worth, in the cultural district. We were about a five minute drive from world-class museums including the Kimbell Art Museum and the Amon Carter Museum. We were also in the vicinity of the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame. We took advantage of all of these cultural opportunities, and visited them all.

Here is a Georgia O'Keefe from the Amon Carter:

I was also allowed to snap photos of a Matisse, Rembrandt, and Picasso in the Kimbell.

Then I took my camera to the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame. It went a little something like this:

"M'am, I am so sorry but you are not allowed to take a camera into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame."

Really, because I was snapping a Rembrandt right down the road.

"I don't know about that but we do not allow cameras in the Cowgirl Hall of Fame."

Don't get me wrong, the Cowgirl Hall of Fame is a treasure and I'm sure the sequins on Dale Evans outfits need to be protected from the glare of the flash. Still, Rembrandt dabbled in the arts a bit.

My culture thinks highly of itself....just last year I think Texas threatened to secede from the Union, yet again. I hope they don't, I so enjoy going home and being reminded of how liberating it is to think big.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


When a guy does this to his toes, he has gone overboard with his support for the beloved Netherlands. Still, it is representative of his love for both the Dutch and for the underdogs.
I don't think many picked the Dutch team to be in the World Cup final match today and most were stunned when they beat Brazil in the semi-finals. We were rooting for them whole hog.
So, it was a sad afternoon when they lost to Spain in overtime after one of their players received his second yellow card and was unceremoniously out of the game. Also there was the fact that Spain outplayed them most of the game. It must also be said that it wasn't pretty soccer at all and I'm not entirely sure that the Dutch players were playing clean. Other than that, it was a hell of a match:)
So, raise a glass to Spain tonight for their first world cup victory. And I'm going to raise a glass to my colorful husband who, when he goes, goes all in.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Texas Tales--Part One

Well, we made it back, and as promised, I have a few tales from Texas. My home state thinks a lot of itself and after a 10 day visit, I still should. The people are welcoming and open; the Tex-Mex food is what I would want as my last meal; and you have to go home. You just have to, to be reminded of who you are and how you got here.

For example, Texas has a lot of pokey things, like cactus and long-horned cows. I would add to that list mesquite and honey locust trees, chiggers, and rattlesnakes. All can be found on my dad's ranch, along with barbed wire fences and little stickers known as "beggar's lice". Still, if you keep looking, you find such beauty. Emma ran up to me the first night on the ranch and begged me to look at the sunset. I had seen those West Texas sunsets my whole life and realized soon after moving east, I missed the open sky and the expansiveness of West Texas. The thing is, you can take your proper place out on a ranch and feel how small you really are. The heat, the pokey things, and the sky all combine to help keep things in perspective. It is beautiful, rugged country, and if you want to play extreme soccer, join us for a pick-up game just to the right of those cactus:)