Friday, August 24, 2012

The Gift of the Magi

We are, ostensibly, headed out today for one last hurrah this summer.  As I type this, it is almost 6:00 and my husband is not home from work.  This is his subtle way of telling me that he does not want to go camping.  I get it, because I also do not want to go camping.  This is a Gift of the Magi moment for the two of us.  I have been worried about my love this summer and the hits he has taken.  When a climbing buddy suggested we join several other families for a group excursion up to the White Mountains, I pounced on the opportunity for his sake.  As for me, camping for just a week-end is a bit long on the packing end and short on the playing end.  Still, anything to help my grieving spouse.

Imagine my surprise when said spouse said this:  "Why are we doing this?"  And I responded with "because you love to do this and you have had a rugged summer." 

Of course, anyone who has met WCE knows that car camping with a group of 20, with a set agenda and group meals could possibly be considered one of his nine circles of hell.  I heard camping and didn't quite pay attention to all the details.  That is my gift that sometimes goes horribly astray.

As we were putting together the gear of this event, we learned that our active and committed shed mice ruined our stove, our mess kits, and my beloved cooking spice kit.  Consequently, the money we have spent on new gear would easily finance a very nice hotel for the week-end.  Just saying.

Here is the thing.  We are going with great people to a beautiful place.  Our kids have never camped out and they are about to experience the exhilaration of setting up camp in the pitch dark.  After labor day, we are soccer bound on the week-ends until November.  This will be a healing time....if we can just survive tonight.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Summer by the Numbers

I just finished an interesting book about a young Mormon philosopher questioning her faith and really, really wanting to have sex.  Those two concepts walked hand in hand.  The book, "A Lost Argument" is a 3 star deal, for you Goodreads aficionados.  In the book, the protagonist goes to Germany, has a great year which the author conveys in the form of a checklist.  One of my issues with the book is that a great year gets a check-list and the longest angst-filled summer gets a third of the book.  A reversal might have popped it up to 4 stars.

Here are mine for the summer:

1.  Number of deaths: 2
2.  Number of states visited: 3
3.  Number of books read:  16
4.  Number of good books read:  6
4b.Number of pamplets on how to handle grief given to me by my son: 3
5.  Number of relatives seen:  22 (not counting aunts/cousins nobody knew at the wake)
6.  Number of yoga classes:  About 15 thanks to a little coffee shop in Austin that provides a free
     yoga class in the mornings as long as you order something.
7.  Number of times I fantasied about moving to Austin:  4, after yoga while drinking my decaf latte, listening to a rocking pedal steel player, drinking a Shiner Bock on a 100 degree day, and running on South Congress during dawn.
8.  Number of times I cooked for 16 people in a week:  3, truly a record that can stand
9.  Number of runs I went on over 5 miles: of the things I enjoy most about summer
10.  Number of bike rides I went on:  3
11.  Number of times I got lost on bike rides:  2
12.  Number of times I tried "skimboarding" in Maine:  2
13.  Number of times I skimmed:  0
14.  Number of times I went kayaking:  3
15.  Number of things I made:  0
16.  Number of camps my children attended:  5
17.  Number of amusement parks/museums/"Worlds"/mini-golf places attended:  5
18.  Number of times I miss Gert:  daily
19.  Number of rooms decluttered with some help:  4
19.  Number of weeks until this is all just a memory: 1

I'm not sure if the numbers tell the whole story but I see that we all continued on, despite feeling overwhelmed and sad.  I would like to add the number of friends/family who gave us love and support:  too numerous to count.  I know that is the main number.  Love to you all!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hazy with Smoke

There are some things you need to know if you are a woman in your 40's/50's.  You are going to need a good, expensive bra before your friends will have the courage to tell you that things are swinging too low.  You need to know that favorite outfits you have carefully treasured since you were twenty now need to be donated to goodwill because no self-respecting 20 year old will take them but they will buy them and "repurpose" them.  When you decide to do a dance routine for a work-out, take advil before and after.

You will learn about heartburn and "gastric distress."  They will be painful lessons but you will begin to care less about burping and farting in Target.  Your gray hair springs out of your head at right angles that defy the rules of geometry you took in high school.  Your hairdresser will give you free sample products every time you see her in a futile attempt to round up those free spirited roamers.

You have to get a yearly mammogram.  Sometimes, you will get called back so the docs can take more pictures and maybe even an ultrasound.  When you are sitting in the communal waiting room, with other women in their 40's and 50's, you will feel such a swell of compassion and connection to the plight of all women, that you will work hard to ease the stress of the most stressed out woman there.  You will quote NPR statistics that may or may not be true and forget your own fear.

When the doctor tells you that your "dense area" is a benign cyst, you will burst into tears.  Later, you will realize that not everyone you were waiting with will get such good news.

This is what I was reading while I was waiting:

Late, by myself, in the boat of myself,
no light and no land anywhere,
cloudcover thick, I try to stay
just above the surface, yet I'm already under
and living within the ocean.

Does sunset sometimes look like the sun's coming up?
Do you know what a faithful love is like?

You're crying.  You say you've burned yourself.
But can you think of anyone who's not
hazy with smoke?                                               Rumi

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Soaking up the Awesome

There is something about Maine that makes you do this:
Here are a few more shots of a week spent away from some of the losses this summer:

You have to be tough to swim up in the ocean in Maine but after your legs numb out, it gets easier.  The kids became addicted to skim boarding and may turn into surfers.  I tried a couple of times and did not break an ankle, which is no small thing.  I also did not skim so much as kerplunk.  We ate lobster rolls galore and visited a great down home "wildlife kingdom" in York.  The kids rode a camel and I went on a rogue Ferris Wheel....very fast and loose, she was:)

In the end, in the words of my sage son, we spent a week "soaking up the awesome."