Sunday, April 8, 2018

Easter 2018


It's Sunday, the week after Easter.  I'm in my typical place...sitting at my kitchen counter on a bar stool.  All the windows are open even though it's a bit chilly (68 today...sorry east coasters) and that guy that I like so much is grilling a whole bunch of random, bottom of the bin veggies and a marinated tri-tip.  I'm drinking a summery aperol spritz and dreaming of long, hot, sunshine-y days.

Summer is coming...I feel it in my bones.

I'm catching up on messages from my boy who lives in China.  They keep me laughing...I really love the way he writes.  I love that we send voice messages and can video chat, though I notice as he settles in and gets busier those become a bit fewer and far between.  And that's the way it should be.  But I do miss him.



The azalea tree in our back yard blooms only once a year and it's the most beautiful thing ever.  Never once have we timed it for Easter Sunday...it's always a few weeks before or a few weeks after and I've tried asking it nicely to cooperate with our schedule and it just doesn't.  Kinda like children...try as you might, they always have their own schedule.  Or maybe that's just the way mine work.

But when it blooms?

WOW.

We had dinner at our friends the other night and if I had to choose a last meal, this would be it.  Or one of them.  Turkish meets Greek meets perfection.  

But more than that...it was a night of friendship.  Stories and laughter and wine and whisky and then a long walk home.  Or at least it felt long...all 50 yards of it.

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I am making a conscious effort to get back on my trail...or at least walk around my lakes, each and every day.  I'm stuck to a computer and a phone and I need to make moving my body a priority...not so much for my physical health (important, I know!) but for my emotional well being.  

I'm just grumpy if I'm all work and no play.  And a grumpy Italian is...well, a grumpy Italian.

Good Friday was a quiet day off for that guy that I like so much and he spent it doing the thing that makes him so happy...he planted.  And planted.  And planted some more.

Our garden this year is more beautiful than ever before and I'm counting down the days to the grand opening party.

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Easter Sunday...4 HUGE services for Michael and we, the fam, decided to go on Saturday night instead.  It was...weird.  Not sure we'll do that again but the service itself was beautiful...but it just didn't feel like Easter.  

I cooked - roasted pork and pesto lasagnes and garlic green beans and a ginormous salad.  Our friends brought roast lamb and potatoes and my sis-in-law brought desserts.  We sat in the garden, my New York niece made a surprise appearance, we had some students over too...and the day was lovely.  

I took one picture and it was one that makes me so happy.  These are my people.

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They hunted eggs and played corn hole and football and I just love filling this little house with people.

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Earlier this week the palm trees came out.  They were growing into the fence and into the bbq and they were, frankly, annoying me to no end.  So enter Alejandro and Juan and out they came.

Thanks, guys!


A new one will be planted soon...a smaller one that will grow big and tall in 20 years or so.  

We'll deal with that then. 

=0)




Monday, March 26, 2018

Far And Away


The month of March, specifically Spring Break, had our little family spread out across the world.  Alex and Brian traveled for hours and hours and then some more hours to China...this was just a layover for them.  See where it says Da Nong, near Vietnam?  The little island above that is Matthew's island.

It's far away.  Very far away.



He, as in Matthew, spent the last few months traveling his new country and then vacationing all over Thailand.  He studies jiu-jitsu and centers his travels around that...and food, of course.  Both take him to some interesting places and he's met lots of fun people along the way.


In the meantime, he was sending us messages via wechat of his American shopping list..everything from deodorant to contact solution to shaving cream to whiskey.  Three huge suitcases full of stuff...all things we take for granted here.

And then, all in one day, I put that guy that I like so much (and his 60 college students) on a flight to Portland and my two youngest boys on a flight to go visit their older brother in China.

AND THEN, because this deserves to be in all capital letters, I did something very, very strange.  I went home.  Alone.

Because, for the first time in 28 years...since I became a mom, I slept all alone in my own house.  Yes, I've been alone in hotel rooms and alone for long days...but I have never spent an overnight home alone.  There has always been a husband or one boy or another who has been here with me.

And you need to know...it was GLORIOUS.  Not that I want to live alone, but it. was. blissful.

Quiet.

I took a long, hot bath.  I ate popcorn for dinner while I watched three (3!) back to back hallmark movies...all Christmas, and no one rolled their eyes at me.  I slept smack dab in the middle of the bed, which, if you must know, I do anyway.

But it was the quiet that I loved.  At least for those few days.

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And on day #3, I'd had enough quiet and hopped a flight to Seattle to meet up with that guy that I like so much.  

Oh, how I love that city.




He had to work...and so did I.  But my work is portable and so I was able to wander all over town.  The shops and the coffee and the yummy food and the friendly people...sigh.

I ran out of time and am SO bummed that I didn't buy these peppers...and can't get them here.

Oh well.

In the meantime, the pictures and videos started coming in.

These three...where do I begin?  I love them.  I love that they love each other.  I love that Alex didn't get lost.

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The reason I ran out of time and had to leave those lovely pepper flakes behind was because upon checking in for our next flight, I realized I had forgotten my passport.  And we, as in that guy that I like so much and me, were heading for a few nights in Victoria...and he had forgotten his too.

Victoria is in Canada.

And ya'll...you gotta have a passport to fly to Canada.  

Thanks to some magic elves who grabbed them from the safe place at home and paid a million $$ to have them overnighted to us and whew, they made it in time.  

All was well...even the prop plane in a storm.  Yikes.

We landed,hopped a taxie to The Empress and checked ourselves into the Gold Level.  

Oh my.

We had tea and yummies and settled in while the rain fell.  It was cold outside and happy inside and so very, very perfect.

I love high tea.  And I love the gold level.  

Thank you off-season for making it affordable!

So here we were, on our best behavior with our pinkies out and this arrives in our in box.

This kid...he's too much.

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Back to us in Canada.  We wandered out for supper and had the most amazing dinner in a tiny restaurant with brick walls and cozy nooks to sit in.  We ate oysters that were caught that morning.  Yep...me.  I ate oysters and liked 'em.  

Hell is freezing over.


We had kinda decided to not do much on our little 46-hour getaway, but Butchart Gardens was calling and so we wandered out into the quiet mist for a walk.  It was empty and still and so very green.

Like where the Hobbits live.

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And then, just as quickly as it began, we all traveled home via different parts of the world.  We had all brought back treasures and more than anything, I loved hearing how Matthew is doing so far away.  

I get it.  I moved away from family too...but a whole different continent is different than a whole different state.  It makes it hard.  But the stories were fun and he is doing well.  

I love that they were able to be together.

And among the treasures?  Purple gin made especially for the Empress Hotel, which turns pink when you add tonic.  A large bag of (gulp) MSG and a cryo-packed package of chicken feet. Big feet.

Thanks, boys.

=0)


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Seasons


I have always loved seasons...Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.  The changes, even if slight in southern California as well as the super noticeable ones in my former homes...I feel them all.  I love the seasons of the church calendar too...the seasons of Advent and Christmas and Easter.  The times of preparing and waiting and celebrating.

This has been a dry season for me...a long season where there have been no published words.  A season of so much change in this little house on our little street.  A season of preparing.  A season of waiting.

We are no longer a houseful of boys...and with that has gone a big part of who I am.  Of my role.  Of my place in this big wide world.

 And while that season...the season of being a mom to my trio of males has been one of preparing and waiting for them to grow, because I knew all along that it wasn't forever, has ended as I knew it would. But it just seemed to go so fast.

Not the days...because those days were LONG.  The ins and outs, the cooking and the laundry and the  lack of sleep and the driving, driving, driving...those days felt endless at times.  But the years...the overall years of raising a family?

Whoosh.

I was blessed that this last season of boys leaving the nest came slow.  Matthew left for college in 2008.  Alex stayed put here until this past summer.  Brian left for college last year but has come home to live after his roommate situation fizzled, though he's a grown up now and is rarely here.

But me?

I'm still here.

The season of being a full-time mom...the season that felt so overwhelming at times but actually whizzed by, has come to a rather sudden end.  The worry is still there and I'm thinking that season won't end for a long long LONG time (if ever)...but the boys?

Soaring to grand places.

Matthew is traveling the world and while I am SO THANKFUL for technology, I haven't hugged him since August.  Alex is settled into his real, grown-up life and career...and so is Brian.  That guy that I like so much has been a grown-up for decades...nothing new there.

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But me?  I married so young...and would do that all over again.  In a heartbeat. I had my first baby so young...and would do that all over again.  In a heartbeat. But through those seasons, I never once thought about the end.  Maybe because I never thought it would end?

But then one day, not too long ago, it did.

I now work each day at a regular job like most people do.  It's a paycheck and while I believe in what we do and why we do it, it is an extremely negative place to work.  I suppose most places are, but I just don't want to play that game...yet each day I get up and do the work needs to be done because again, I believe in what I do.

But I miss what was.

I miss the past seasons.

I so don't want to be one of those people that lives in the past...that remembers only the good from the past and not the real stuff from the past.  I don't want to live in the past, period.  And so these last few months...many, many months, I've been trying to find my new place in this new season.

I am blessed with a circle.  A wide, wide circle.  People who I can share with, pray with, drink with, spill my guts with, whine (a lot) with, talk (endlessly) with...friends who have walked the walk, who listen and don't judge.  

Not to mention a very patient husband.

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And so I am stepping into a new season.  I'm not kicking and screaming, but I'm stepping gently...baby step by baby step while I figure out what is next.  But I do know one thing...I'm still the mom of a houseful of boys, even if none of them live under the same roof.  Or even on the same continent.

Needed the same?  No.  Loved the same?  YES.

I've been traveling a lot lately and that been a distraction...a work trip to the other side of the country, a much-needed visit with my family, an even more needed girlfriend weekend in the snow, in a town that I still call home.

So blessed.  So very, very blessed.

There have been lots of other changes here, too...because this past season was the season of change after all.  That guy that I like so much had one church job end and another, much more demanding one begin...and with that, we are now worshipping (yet again) somewhere new.  But woah, I feel like I am being fed a steak dinner every Sunday in church and it's been so great.

God...He is present.  And God...He is good.

The garden has closed for the season and with that winter closing comes a lot less parties.  It's good in that it gives us time to replant and water and miss it a bit before things pick up again later this Spring.   Things are pretty brown and droopy out there right now but with a lot of regular water and some new growth and warm sunshine, it'll soon be brought back to life.  

And we'll be here.  Ready.  

And so here I go into this new season, this season of Lent, and treating it as a time to think and prepare and pray for what is coming.  The coming of both the next season and the coming of Jesus.

Both are good.

And through this all, I am still cooking.  Massive amounts of cooking because people still need to gather and be merry.  So even if it seems that everything in my world is changing, other things remain the same.

If you cook, they will come....because people still need to eat after all.  Not matter what the season.

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Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas, My Friends

Merry Christmas!

I'm sitting in the quiet - well, somewhat quiet, as we wait for the family to arrive for all that this day brings.  We've got carols playing and the coffee is hot and we were just able to have a quick video chat with Matteo in China.  

It's strange to not have him here, but it's ok.  We're a church worker family so Christmas has always been about everyone being someplace different and arriving at staggered times and then naps once they arrive...so having a son on a different continent is just a little like that.

Sort of.

=)

This season has been so much harder than usual.  It's me...and I know that.  I just keep waiting for that 'feeling' to come...the feeling of Christmas.  The warmth, the joy, the peace.

I realize much of that is the timing of the actual holiday this year...working through Friday and then boom, here it is!  But still, I've been waiting.

There have been so many parties this year and each one has gotten more and more fun....so there has been much good.  The gifts are all wrapped and under the tree and this year there was a conscious effort to keep things simple and smaller...every few years I notice that Christmas gifts begin getting bigger and bigger and we (as in me) need to dial it down.  That this family of mine has everything they need and don't need piles and piles of more things.  

But I do love to spoil everyone just a bit with something they've had their eye on....whether they need it or not, simply because it's fun.

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But this year I've been waiting.  And waiting.  Waiting for that 'feeling' to come...the feeling of Christmas.  The feeling of being little again and sitting at my Grandparents with all my cousins. Of the smells and sounds and sights of Christmas past.

But things change when you become the Matriarch of Christmas present.   And the change isn't bad...but the change does bring a bit more organization.  And a bit more menu planning.

And then last night, while sitting in church, I realized.  I'm waiting for a feeling to come...but Christmas is not about a feeling.  Christmas is about faith...and faith alone.  Faith is knowing and trusting and believing without seeing or feeling.

I still want the feeling...but I want the knowing a whole lot more.

This past season has been harder than any other we've walked through.  We haven't shared and we won't, but the last few months have just been hard.  We hold hands, we pray, and we wait...we wait for life to become a little easier.  And still, God continues to throw down hurdle after hurdle after hurdle and then to top it off, there've been walls for us to climb over.  

And we do, one step at a time.  

I think of Peter in the boat and of Jesus holding out his hand and telling him to trust.  That if he does, all will go well and he will not sink.  And so Peter begins to walk and rather than having faith, he begins to doubt and starts to sink...and then Jesus grabs him and all is ok.  But first he gives him a reminder that his savior is always there.

And through this valley we've been trudging through...the one that has felt very long and very dark, we know that Jesus is gently guiding us.  That he is standing, hand out, asking us to trust.

But sometimes, it's just plain hard.

I'm trying to focus on the lights.  And the smells.  And the sounds...because woah, the music has been glorious this year.  Quieter than usual, and that seems fitting. 

My human brain continues to settle into the negatives though and that makes me ashamed because I do know better.  I have so much to be thankful for but it's just been easier to sit in the ugly...even at this beautiful time of year.

And yet there is so much joy and so much laughter and so. many. cookies.

Because as we all know, cookies make everything better.

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Merry Christmas, my friends.  





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