I buy assorted flowers from the supermarket almost each week when I go grocery shopping. It's a little creative venture and I love experimenting with different colors, blooms, combinations. This week the store was offering locally grown Jersey flowers and the choices were spectacular. I've been enjoying them, and so has my flower-loving cat, Max. I believe he wishes he were more colorful.
. . . it happens again. But this is the first year I'm celebrating (and I use that word VERY loosely) without the woman who brought me here. The silver lining is that losing her has brought a very keen new intensity to every other relationship I have. So in that way, I am honored to be here, honored to have all of these people in my life, honored to be a part of theirs. Humbled, for sure.
Mom gave me many gifts but the biggest was a love of the arts. With that in mind, and with the google doodle that was all over the place yesterday, here's a tiny small tribute. FWIW, I was born under a new (i.e. non) moon.
Well, we are back from the week in the woods. And let me tell you, spending a week in a cabin with four young adults aged 20-24 is almost as exhausting as spending a week in the woods with four toddlers. The amount of energy and noise they create, combined with their ability to stay awake until 3:00 AM every night, left me feeling quite wrung out by mid-week. Oh, and I was also their personal chef for more than half the week. Brunch for a Bunch turned out to be a pretty awesome recipe, and pasta and some quiches got us through a good number of meals without spending a ton on feeding the crazy kids.
My sister and her hubby and son were also there in their own cabin, and my Dad joined them for the week. I believe theirs was the quieter abode. And I'm so glad Dad decided to make the trip with us.
We went tubing one afternoon, watched shooting stars at night, built fires in the evenings (YES, in the fireplace), played games together, and made an excursion to Bromley Mountain for an afternoon of chair lifts, alpine slide sleds, and ziplining down the mountain. Actually, Jerry and I stayed on the "G&T Slide" ride all afternoon (aka sitting at the outdoor bar watching the kids and my brave sister and her family on the rides) Happy to see the same bartenders working there still. And - hah - in a local liquor store, my daughter was approached by some guy who told her she looked familiar. She told him she wasn't from the area and it turns out neither was he - he was from NJ and recognized her from the liquore store where she works.
If you happen to be in the Manchester, VT area, take our word for it: This is easily the best pizza in town, probably in the entire state.
And I read an entire book - the old fashioned paper kind.
It was a little tough a few times during the week because it's impossible for us to visit there without remembering all the times Mom was there with us. When we were kids, and again when we started going back a few decades later. Her last trip to Vermont was just six months before she died. It was very easy for me to feel both her absence and her presence there last week.
The kids all had a blast, and wanted to know if we can go again next year. They didn't like being told that they're all old enough to go by themselves now!
The one on the right isn't mine, she's Emily's BFF and clearly Emily loves her back . . .
The Beer Cheese? I should have known the minute I opened it. But no, I had to venture past the abominable smell and actually tried a small piece. BIG mistake. Even though we threw it out right away (double bagged), that smell was stuck in my nose for the next 48 hours.
Below is evidence that stepson Glenn clearly missed his calling as a lumberjack.
Occasionally, the mood turned serious. This photo was NOT one of them.
And you know how vacations make you do crazy things sometimes? Yup. We did something that is TOTALLY illegal in NJ.
Yup. We're The Rogue Fam.
My parents did so many awesome things for us when we were growing up. And one of the best was to take us to a special place in Vermont for a summer vacation. The first time, I was about 7 years old. I remember the thrill of sleeping in a rustic log cabin, walking around the camp under the white pines, discovering bright orange newts, swimming in the freezing cold brook, experiencing a rope swing for the first time, and our trips to the nearest town to buy souveniers. It was also definitely roughing it compared to our suburban NJ life . . . the cabins had no hot water and plenty of spiders. The 250-mile road trip to get there with three kids in the back seat was always a challenge in itself, and I believe we broke down on the way there more often than not. That didn't deter our family one bit, though. We returned for the next five or six summers.
When I was in my early twenties, I started to go back to that magical place. My ex and I and my sister and her future husband went up a few times together and I have some great memories of building houses of cards, grilled dinners, no small amount of adult beverages, and lots of star-gazing.
When I was in my early thirties, I introduced my two children to the same place. It was not easy looking after toddlers in a place with so many hazards - the entire camp sits on a high bluff above a roaring stream, and almost every cabin sits at the top of a steep embankment down to the water. The cabins were built in the early 1900's and there wasn't a childproof inch in any one of them. But it was still enchanting. I remember when my son was eight months old and still waking to eat in the middle of every night, and I so enjoyed the beautiful, soft, quiet darkness of the nights up there.
There was a gap in our attendance for a few years during the divorce, but when I was in my late thirties, I started going back again. My kids were about 10 and 7 at the time, and we went every summer for the next eight years or so. They grew as familiar with the camp as I was as a kid, and I was always so amazed and happy that they enjoyed our unplugged time up there each summer. The cabins have mostly been rebuilt and we got spoiled by the newer, LL Bean-furnished models. But there was still no internet connectivity, no cell signal. It didn't matter, though. We enjoyed playing card games, building fires in the fireplace, watching the stars at night, going tubing on the river nearby, and just hanging out by the brook in the camp. We had day trips each year to The Cheese Store (YES!, there is a whole store devoted to cheese!), the Vermont Country Store, Bromley Mountain for the summer rides, go-carts in Bennington, and to the Jelly Mill in Manchester before that closed up for good. And the best part was that my sister and her family, and my parents starting coming back up there also. We coordinated our trips up there for 3 or 4 years in a row. It was magical.
The last time we were there was 2008. Here are some of our pictures from that trip. A number of reasons conspired to keep us away for a while after that. It was sad.
But in a few weeks, we'll be able to revise that "last there" date. We're going back after another hiatus. My sister and I decided to do this not long after Mom died - it was a hopeful thing to look forward to and so appropriate given that she and Dad were the reason we grew to know and love this place. It is so funny to watch my kids, now 23 and 20, and my stepson at 21 being so excited about the trip. They have developed their own memories of the traditions. They can't wait to go back to the place that I couldn't wait to go back to at their age. They want to walk the camp paths, watch the stars at night, build fires, play cards . . . pretty much the same stuff I learned to love up there. This place results in deep memories for everyone I know that has been there, and although it is very small, there are a good number of families that have been returning for 30, 40, even 50 years. We're at about year 45 now. Tradition!
I posted the following on facebook a few hours ago:
"Bathfitters, get with the present century, OK? Lots of women are homeowners and we ARE the decision-makers. My name happens to be the only one on the mortgage here, and the only one on the deed. If you're going to repeatedly insist that "all adults be present," when you come to give an estimate, I get your message. And I hope you got MINE when I cancelled the appointment as a result. I don't give my money to neanderthals. #cantbelievethiscrapstillhappensin2014."
Within two hours I have received over twenty comments. Several describe similar experiences. Most just agree it sounds like a bad company to do business with. No one supported/defended this company.
And for the record, yes, I'm married and my husband helps with the home repairs, maintenance, etc. In fact, he was going to watch the Bathfitter guy do his estimating and then determine how to do the job by himself. He's capable of doing stuff like that. And I'm capable of making decisions.
ALL BY MYSELF.
Boo, Hiss, BATHFITTERS.
We attended the 4th Annual Visionary Arts Tattoo Festival in Asbury Park today. Amazing creativity and artistry going on there. Here are a few shots below, and here is the link to the full Flickr set.
Depending on the selection available, I usually pick up some fresh flowers when doing my grocery shopping every week. I feel totally entitled to this indulgence -- $10 or $12 provides me with a week's worth of entertainment. These gladiolas I picked up on Friday are turning out to be truly spectacular and they were actually only $8 for the bunch.