visiting old friends

Nothing like catching up with old friends who we haven't seen in ages, and finding things just the same between us, and the kids older and more able to interact.

The interaction between these two was pretty funny, he decided to corner her and she wasn't too sure about it. Mostly they ignored each other as typical two-year-olds will. They're only 4 days apart in age.

These two did well together also, and both are very much in the "HAM" category, having picked it up from their fathers. So funny to watch.

The father of Ham #2, JC, just made partner at his consulting firm, and had saved a special bottle of wine to celebrate it with us. His enjoyment of the moment added much to mine :). And the wine? Very very tasty :).

The carafe, purchased just for the occasion.

Good friends, great times, and utterly enjoyable.

did i mention we're back?

Back in MA, that is, and I hit the ground running, tho the internet was down initially.
Running literally, as well as figuratively. I've got a big coaching opportunity coming up, which means many things have to be done/finished/reprinted before Oct 11th.

Vacation was wonderful, and truly relaxing, except for the self-imposed stress of fitting in runs, which I did and am not sorry for. Fifteen miles last weekend :). The pic above is from camping, and shows the part I enjoyed almost the most, except for being with family. M and I built the deliberate-looking portion of the rock jumble you see above, on the shore next to our campsite. I was heavenly to fit/piece/haul rocks to build something useful and enjoyable, and I didn't spend nearly as much time on it as I wanted to.

Visiting friends was good, despite the heart-attack news received while at one house, and the hospital location of Danimal, who could use a ton of prayers and is still there. His skydiving accident was pretty brutal, and he'll be in rehab for years and lots of questions as to the possible outcomes of it all.

I hope to post more, but will do so when I can find the time. Lots more pics to share, and stories :).

finding home

We went to G&D's summer place on Saturday, so that G and M could go into Brooklyn together for a gig that G's band had. That left D and I, our 2 boys each, and almost all of G's Italian family filling the house with commentary, banter, (mostly in italian of course), loads of food, and the usual jockeying that goes on between siblings and parents of what to do, when, with how many people, and once a decision is made it's discarded and remade several times before it gets settled on. (Heavy foreshadowings of our family camping later this week, I'm sure! Just minus the italian ...)

Initally I felt very out of place, as the boys and I were staying overnight (loads of bedrooms) but I still felt intrusive into their family enclave, as welcoming as they were. It didn't help that Douglas hauled out a chess set within 3 minutes of arrival, and accidentally knocked the pieces all over the floor, some of them marble and broken. One of the uncles freaked out, and didn't take D's assurances that they had been mostly broken already (it was a hodge-podge of several old sets and I don't doubt she was right) too well. His edginess put me on edge more than I already was. I knew that the parents who came (Nono and Nona) rarely venture out of their home in the Bronx, and had made special pains to come be with their kids. They welcomed me, shoved extra food at me, and made me feel like I belonged. I realized near the end of dinner that if I was to have a good time, and they weren't to feel obligated, that I just better relax and make myself at home and stop feeling like a 3rd wheel. Fynn's single-handed charming of the edgy uncle, and the kids going down to the basement to play (full of giant blocks, mats, dress up clothes, ride on toys, and mouse poop) helped a lot :).

After breakfast on Sunday, the boys holed up in front of the TV and watched a Sponge Bob marathon, keeping amazingly quiet.

The house (former barn) is huge and roomy and so comfortable, you can't help feel at home there. But the part that made it truly a home was the love/connections between the family members, and between G and D and us. G's always had the ability to make me see the value of relaxation and flowing from one activity to the next, for some reason. Letting connections be made and thoughts expressed, without being too careful about things that don't really matter.

In my wandering around the property, I'd seen some ropes hanging from the trees, across the marshy lake that separated the house from most of the surrounding forest. I'd done some creek wading, and when M and G returned late-morning, I left the kids and went and checked them out. Sure enough, there was a long rope swing with a t-bar at the bottom, an even taller (35+ feet) rope swing with a log seat and the most delicious gentle arc to it, and a rope ladder that looked like a ship's rigging strung between two trees.

I tried them out, then went back and convinced the men and boys to come along and join the fun. There was much joyful squealing, some squabbling about turns, and then the thunder drove us back into the house.

We packed and left, leaving G and D awaiting the return of their family from church. It was time to go and leave them to their own, and yet hard too as they are so open in sharing what they have. Lovely friends, people, and parents.

I realized on the way home that I was having these momentary flashes of familiar and unfamiliar. We'd driven that way a couple times, and some of the sights were already in my memory bank, and others seemed totally new. I've been having that a lot with my running lately also, as I go the same routes around here multiple times. The web of 'familiar MA' is growing daily.

The desire for familiar things. Calling MA home for now, and referring to Bklyn as bklyn. Douglas loving it here, starting to recognize things, and wishing he lived here. Where is home to be? It's wherever we choose to feel it, wherever we are as family, but roots are starting to play a part. Where do we plant them? I feel the pull to do so, and yet a fear too of getting too settled to travel. I feel like there are two very strong desires in there, and the two are always dancing. New things and familiar things. Familiar is comfortable, known, easy, and predictable. Understood. New things can be disturbing, vague, shaky, and exhilarating. Full of potential and wonder and joy. So can the familiar I suppose, but it's not as easy.

I love both things. I want a new place to put down roots, discover, contribute to, reshape and make into beautiful things, connect, and grow in. A place my boys will revel in, not feel bound by. I want them to live outside, not inside. I think I want to too.

The weekend so far

Becky came to visit on Friday, and stayed till early this morning. Short and sweet is best, and worked really well. We kept busy, I got in a long run while she watched the boys, and things were relatively quiet. A good thing :). I enjoyed the visit though it's never a relaxed affair, and we had some 'girl time' after the boys were in bed that included a horrible movie (Beowulf, do NOT bother!), popcorn, and more talking.

She was off to the bus this morning, thanks to my FIL, and I crept back to bed for a few more winks. We made it to the flea mkt later and scored some dirt cheap old kid-sized gardening tools, and took them to the park to try them out. It got so warm we all overheated (not just Fynn in his sweats) and came home to a long nap for 2 of us at least. Mister bookworm read for 2 hours I think.

Then a snack in the window while I pondered what to do, as the informal get-together this afternoon for a friend of D's never happened, and I had a big bowl of ceviche going begging as a result. We took it to the back yard, played in the sandbox and with squirt guns till it got cool, and came in so the non-ceviche lovers could supplement their supper with leftovers.

They were both antsy as soon as it was time for lights out, and Fynn dove for D's bed instead of his crib. I took him up on it, threw a pillow next to him, booted D to the top bunk (he loves to) and am hoping for the best! It's about time, and I'd love to get the crib out of that room so there's more space.

they're gone ...

... and missed already. it was heaven to have M plus 4 for a week. Alex and Fynn got along wonderfully, as far as a 9 month old and 22 month old can. Fynn alternated between taking away toys that were either his or deemed to dangerous for Alex, and bringing him things to play with.
We hit Nintendo World (Wiiiiiii!) and Rockefeller Plaza and R and R's for dinner. Lots of park trips, Wii exercise, and reading. So glad they all like reading!

Hetcher Playground in Central Park is awesome, even without the water fountains being on. Alex got his first dose of sand, and took surprisingly long to put the first handful in his mouth :)

I managed to get the boys to cooperate barely long enough to pose for this, it's a really cool spider web climbing structure.

Since they left this morning we've hit the farmer's market, artisan's market, stoop sales, karate class, and a birthday party, and I'm pooped. the weather is beyond gorgeous, a most perfect spring day, and I'm going to nap while I can. Leftovers for supper and an early bed for all!
As much as I love visitors, there's something about family that adds the icing on the cake. Maybe I'm just so able to be myself that I feel utterly relaxed, and can talk about anything because chances are they remember it too. They're the coolest bunch ever. Love you M :).


Both my mood and her plans have done a 180, and boy am I relieved! Without going into all the details, they ARE coming, tonight, in their car instead of the minivan :). Her husband drove out last night to give it to them, and is towing the van back home behind a rental truck, to repair it when they can. YAY! I'm doubly relieved as I had a long and healthy conversation with M last night, one that's been brewing for awhile, and then made a serious enough dent in a bottle of wine while watching Pretty Woman (for the 43rd time) that I was somewhat hung over this morning. The relief from both of those things was tremendous, and I felt 500% better this morning heart-wise! Then the call from my sis saying they were coming was the icing on the cake, and I personally have no regrets about the delay though I never would have wished it that way.

My sitter is probably reeling from the "don't come next week as my sister will be here .... wait, no, you DO need to come as she's NOT coming after all .... ooops, no, now she IS coming so once again I don't need you" series of phone calls and messages.


I'm off to clean and grocery shop :)

disappointed, and stuff ...

i guess i'll start with the disappointment washing over the house. my sister, en route here with her 4 boys for a week of fun and distraction and fellowship, called to say their transmission just blew in Wheeling, WV, and the repairs will take too long and be too expensive to finish the trip here. disappointed is a mild word. i've no doubts god is allowing it but the reason totally escapes me of course. it bites. (thankfully a call to the sitter i've been using, and had given the week off due to the company, resulted in "sure I'm free" and so I'm covered again for my clients.)

i was already a mess today after a phone call last night that got me thinking about relationship stuff that i don't feel free to blog about really. sorry. just stuff about what it is and isn't and how it functions. i hide stress pretty well, but not as well as i used too, and while i thrive on it in certain amounts, going overboard makes me crazy. i'm usually all right so long as i get chances to be alone or run or vent once in awhile, but they're few and far between lately, and the added responsibilities take a real toll. then a phone call that makes me think about stuff i have 'stuffed' and i end up a mess. i know that not being able to run outdoors (and briefly indoors) for this last week isn't helping, and neither is pms, but there it is.

The great painting drama ...

A few months back, M sold the above painting to his friend B in Florida. B sent payment promptly, along with a filled out FedEx form, directions to local FedEx places, money for a cab to/from said FedEx places, and some pictures of his recent vacations. What could be easier?

As the painting was discovered to be stored in a barn in PA, it took several weeks (about 6 I think?) to get it from the barn to NYC. And there it sat, up on M's record shelf, out of reach and getting dusty. Somehow he never got to it, and B's first polite "where is it?" voicemail went unanswered.

The second and more detailed "where is it?" voicemail left me guilt-feeling enough (the price of the painting having been long since spent) to start doing some nagging/prompting. Admittedly not my issue at all, but I felt guilty nonetheless, and honestly had never liked the painting and was tired of seeing it up on the shelf.

Last Friday night, M finally sat down and constructed a custom-fit box (made from a mattress-box salvaged from the neighbor's trash heap) and wrote/drew a note to put inside, signing it with his art signature. He never did sign the painting.* I put the FedEx slip in my backpack (we had no plastic thingie to attach it with) and made plans to drop it at the FedEx spot just below Central Park, as we were meeting my cousins there for a picnic Saturday noon. There are no FedEx drops near us other than the one that charges double the actual shipping cost down the street, and this avoided either a: the package sitting there collecting dust for another month, or b: me getting irritated and schlepping myself and the boy(s) to the closest office by bus and doing it myself.

Off we went, laden with Fynn in a backpack on Michael, me with a backpack of diapers/clothes/toys etc ... the requisite out-in-ny-for-a-day supplies, another bag of food in my hand, and the nicely packaged blank brown box of a painting. You see where this is going, don't you? Sigh.

We were running 45 min late, and had no way to communicate with the cousins we were meeting to tell them that we were still coming. Overshooting our stop by one stop, we realized it at the last minute and dashed off the train at 50th st on the E, doors closing behind us on the WTC-bound train. As I looked around to make sure we had everyone/everything I had the horrible realization that the brown box was nowhere to be seen.

The plain/unlabeled brown box. With the already-paid-for painting in it. Left leaning against the wall of the train, where I'd wedged it with my leg to keep it from falling over.

My first reaction was to shriek to M that "the BOX, THE BOX, IT'S STILL ON THE TRAIN!!!" and we both ran back to the train and started pounding on the doors and yelling for them to wait. Of course the conductor was nowhere to be seen, and in my panic I didn't stop to look for them but tried to (HA, as if ...) pry the doors apart. I caught the eye of one of the many people looking towards my window-pounding efforts and pantomimed "BOX, THIS BIG, OVER THERE" and pointed to where we'd been sitting. Then the train pulled out and my heart sank into my flip-flops. M ran a few steps after the retreating train and then we stopped and looked at each other.

Desperate to do SOMEthing I stupidly suggested running upstairs and hailing a cab to try to catch up to the train at the next station .... riiiight. Southbound 8th Avenue at noon on a Saturday, and the cab will go faster than the train? Never, not even sans-traffic. I got to the top level first as M had Fynn on his back and saw a lady in the ticket booth and panted to her what had happened. She told us to go back down and catch the next WTC bound train and tell the conductor what had happened, as they were the only ones who could communicate between trains. As I tore back towards the turnstiles she hollered after me thru her loudspeaker to not have a heart-attack as that wouldn't help anything. Thanks :)

We caught the next train, told the story, and the walkie-talkie game between trains began. Three stops later the word was that the train ahead of us would look for it until they got to the end of the line (World Trade Center, 8 or so stops ahead) and we could meet the train there to see if they'd found it.

At this point, rapidly heading away from the cousins in the park, and Douglas looking wide-eyed and a bit scared at our panic, we muttered a "please help us find it!" prayer and split up. I took the boys and all the bags and got off, heading up to catch a cab back up 8th ave to the park. M headed to the end of the line ... thank God we weren't riding the A train that runs the same tracks, with a final destination of Far Rockway!

M got there and found ... no box. He was famished and surfaced to find a hot-dog stand, hoping that someone on the train had picked it up. He didn't get far down the street when his cell phone rang. He answered to find a man from Chelsea on the line, asking him about a painting he'd found on the train and some frantic-looking people with two kids pounding on the doors. He saw what had happened, opened the box and found the letter (which I'd forgotten about), looked up M's name on the internet and found his website and phone numbers, and was tracking him down. Thank God for small miracles and kind ny-ers!

He retrieved it, sent it, and my stomach finally unclenched. We all met up here at the new Hecksher playground, which is the coolest one I've seen here yet .. we spent 2 hours, mostly playing in the water end.

It turned out to be a great day after all :)

*So he said, but I see in the pic from his website above that it was signed at some point? Dunno. what's up with that.

Home in between trips ...

Home from a wonderful respite in Montreal, and hopefully off to the Jersey Shore tomorrow for 2 days, Douglas has left already with his cousins. The house is quiet, blissfully so, and rather than do my mountains of work I'd rather slip in a blog.

I miss my friend Sue, who graced NYC with her and her daughters for much of the summer. She captured a perfect summer afternoon at our place here.

Cedar's here!

... and I'm realizing just how much I miss having her around. She moved to NYC the same day we did, and lived in our front room for the first 3 months. She moved away a year and 2 days ago, and though we didn't meet up often, it was a serious blow to my social life. And my emotional health ... she has the ability to pry feelings out of me like no other. And I'm so good at stuffing them in and sealing them up, that it's a hard job for anyone.

I haven't had any of my usual outlets in the last year, and it's showing. Running had become a good substitute, but it's been almost a month and I'm still coughing. I think I'll start again anyway, I'm much better otherwise. But I do need to find ways to get things out. Maybe karate or something like it? I'm not a yoga person, I love the idea, but it's not what I need at the moment. I'm feeling ridiculously pent up, and need to find outlets that aren't as destructive as the current minor explosions that keep happening.

Some of it is just accepting where I'm at in life, and not fighting for more freedom from caring for my kids or being 'stuck' at home. Accepting that I no longer get 'thanks for all your hard work' from a boss, but "I want I want I want" from kids all day. The thanks are very few and far between. I did get a voluntary one from D today after making him one of these. At least as closely as I could ... he wanted one badly at the artisan's market last weekend, but I wasn't ready to cough up the $20 to get one. He was thrilled with his homemade version, and wore it to bed. And I got an unprompted thanks, which was highly enjoyed.

A Great Visit

Thanks R and M for a most delightful weekend!

Somehow the Staten Island Ferry is almost always good for pictures ...

There are more, but we leave in the morning for 10 days on the grand circuit of upstate NY, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and back to NY. It's 11pm, and I haven't packed a stitch of clothing yet. What else is new?!

May I actually relax this trip. We'll see.