Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Anniversary

When I met my husband David, it was not instant love. More like instant like. Every time I saw him, I was happy. We would bump into each other after work, in the same bars, and we would hang out with one another, until it was just the two of us left, our friends having gone, unnoticed. Telling the Cliff note versions of our life, and making them sound a little better than they probably were at the time. 

It went into fast forward after that, and suddenly, I knew. The kind of knowing when I felt taller walking down the street, and anxious to greet the day. The kind of love complete with birds tying ribbons in my hair. It was amazing. He was it. I mean "it". I recall telling my father this, over grilled cheese sandwiches in a diner. He looked like he was going to choke. I had not brought David around to my parents yet, as I had dragged way too many toads home in the past, and I really just wanted this to be all for me. All for us.

 Everything fell into place so quickly, and so naturally. He proposed, on bended knee, after asking my Dad for permission. We had a beautiful wedding, and soon after, found out we were welcoming our first baby. It was, and has been, a magical time in my life. The time I had been looking forward to for so long. I still sometimes pinch myself, and can't believe my good fortune.

Soon after moving here to Pennsylvania, reality set in. House. Baby. Strange surroundings. It was tough. David commuted to NJ. We were getting by, but just barely. Then job loss hit, and a huge pay cut followed. It has us really just clawing by. Some weeks, we are barely able to scrape to the end of the week. Some days, I feel like my family was just getting started, and we have been stopped, mid-flight.

It can be really hard. It can wreak havoc on even the strongest marriages. I loathe fighting about money, or in our case, the lack of it. It makes me steamed that some days, financial stress can really put a wall up between us. Such a silly thing to fight about, yet one of the biggest reasons why marriages fail.

Each day is a stress. Each bill has us scratching our head as to how, or when it will be paid. But we make it. Our version of making it, anyway. And I know so many families, right now, doing the same. Borrowing from Peter, to pay Paul. And so it goes.

Today, we are married for 9 years. David called me from work this morning to tell me Happy Anniversary. He also said that it has been tough. Some days are filled with so much uncertainty. So much pressure. But he said he wouldn't change a thing. Not a minute of it.

Me neither, my love.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Scenes from a weekend

The weekend came and went. It was really an un-ordinary few days. But it was really great, just the same.

The rain was really relaxing, and a good excuse to just stay in, and not feel bad about it at all. And falling asleep to it was even better.

A walk by the river seemed like a good idea. Except for the swarms of mosquitoes, and my crippling fear of bears. Makes every cracking stick and rustling in the leaves terrifying.

Sadly, I missed the opening of my moonflower. I saw that it was about to blow open in the late afternoon. I wanted to sit and watch it, as it opens to a full bloom in about a minute, right before your eyes. I have been stalking it. As I was cleaning up from dinner, I thought of it, and when I went outside to look at it, it had just bloomed.

There is another bud. So I will wait.

*Parenting observation: orange juice goes down in copious amounts when served in very tiny tea cups.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Today is my 250th post. That isn't a huge number, but it is a lot of writing about happiness, and pain, stress, and nothing much at all. I have met so many amazing people, and have been offered so much encouragement. Some days, it has gotten me through the hours.

 I started this writing process as a way to vent. A place to put all my crap, so it didn't take over my whole life. Some days, it is a chore, but most days, I step away from my computer feeling lighter. Feeling stronger.

This peony grew in the front of my home, this past Spring. I watched it every day, and it dazzled me more than I can say. It also offered me hope. I can't explain why, but each morning, I photographed it, and stared at it, and it soothed something in me.

I wish I could give something to everybody that has shared such personal thoughts with me. I simply can't. But if you leave me a comment, I will pick a name out of a hat on Monday morning, and send this 7" print to the person whose name is drawn.

It isn't much, and I so wish it could be more, but this peony really offered me comfort. I know that sounds silly, but it's simple beauty, and what it revealed about itself with each new day was very symbolic for me.

Thank you for visiting my blog, and reading my crazy rants, and offering a pat on the back, and words of understanding. I am in such good company.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


For the past two weeks, I have been doing something that I myself, find extremely rude, and inconsiderate. I received an invitation to a family event on Long Island. A party at a restaurant in celebration of a wonderful event. Instead of RSVP'ing right away, I sat on it.

I waited to make the call. I wanted so badly to attend. I have not seen some of this side of the family in a while. And the last time that was, we were at a funeral. I so wanted to attend a happy gathering. Not one marked with sadness.

I wasn't sure what our money situation was going to be. We had a stack of bills to pay on payday, and every red cent after that is so tightly budgeted, I know it was silly of me to be hopeful, but I was. I somehow thought that we would be able to attend.

But, we can't. We can't because we account for every dollar and cent so carefully, that filling the car with gas two times in a day, and paying for tolls pushes us over the edge. A simple family gathering is not possible for us, because we can't afford it. If we go, then we don't eat next week. That simple.

Most days, I am OK with how we live. Some weeks, after careful food shopping, and meal planning, and diaper purchases are made, we make it to payday. Some weeks, we literally have sixty cents left in the bank. Other weeks, I am sneaking into the girls rooms, and removing dollar bills from their piggy banks, feeling like a thief. But, we always make it. Yet, there is never any wiggle room.

I am not talking about wiggle room that would entertain us. Or take us on a vacation, or out to dinner. That is completely off the table.I don't care about that. I am talking about just having enough extra to not have a panic attack over going to the gas station. Enough extra to not feel like we are doing something wrong by just wanting to get together with family, and celebrate.

I finally called and RSVP'd. I had to give some song and dance of an excuse why we wouldn't be attending. I had to apologize for how late I was calling. I guess I thought maybe there would be some way to swing it, if I just waited a little bit longer. I could hear my cousins voice. He sounded like he didn't buy my excuse.

I didn't buy it either.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I have started to really bite my nails again. I haven't done it in so long. Occasionally, I will nibble at one or two when worry creeps in. But the last week or two, I have really gone to town. Cuticles and all. I bit them too low, and they hurt. It is painful to pick up small items. And they look terrible. My stress is now physically reminding me that it is there, if I only forget about it for a moment.

David came home yesterday, and made dinner. He makes this really yummy pasta with tons of garlic. He was slicing it, and thought it smelled mellow, and put his fingers beneath my nose. I didn't smell garlic. I smelled cigarettes.

Stress is just here. It doesn't seem to be leaving any time soon. It is no longer talked about. Never mentioned actually. We carry on like it is any other day, and have no plans, yet the future seems so uncertain. Too much wine certain evenings makes everything dull. But in the morning, it's still there. It hasn't gone anywhere.

I had a dream the other night of a house, with high ceilings. And beautiful moldings. There were double hung windows, with rippled glass. It made everything outside seem blurry, and distorted. I was standing in a house that didn't exist looking out at a world that wasn't really there.

My fingers ache just thinking about it.

Friday, September 16, 2011


I have been waiting for the Moonflower seeds I sprinkled in my window boxes to grow and bloom all summer. They didn't do much of anything all season, and then in August, delicate vines sprouted. And now, something is poised to open. I have been getting up everyday, and going outside to check if the bloom has opened. I am so excited to see it. I worried about it in the cold of last night.

And Charlottes pumpkin plant. Like a Jack and the Beanstalk, right on our front deck. She kept those seeds all winter, and talked me into letting her have the whiskey barrel planter for her own. Her "garden", she calls it. We have watched the vine grow and stretch. Male flower after male flower has blossomed, and fallen away. I keep looking for a female, but the light is bad here. I think that a pumpkin is not meant to be. But everyday, we check. Hopeful.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Raman. It's what's for dinner!

46.2 Million people. That was the figure released yesterday, by the U.S. government, of people living in poverty. That is the highest it has been in 50 years. That's a lot of Americans struggling.  

In Walmart the other day, I walked by a giant, towering display of Raman noodles. You can get a huge, 12 pack of them for about $2.00. Not the healthiest meal. Packed with sodium, and void of nutrition. But a meal nonetheless. I have some in my cabinets. I purchase it because it is dirt cheap, my kids gobble it up, (as I hide my face in shame, horrified at what I am serving them) and they praise my culinary skills. I usually doctor it up. I add vegetables, and sometimes grated cheese. Whatever leftovers I have on hand, usually winds up tossed in.

I roasted a chicken last night for dinner. It was a big one. Almost 7 pounds. I got it for about $5.00. It was on sale. As I was carving it up, I thought of my Mom. I thought of chicken dinner after chicken dinner we would be served, night after night, growing up. My Mom would roast a chicken, and all week long, it would be served to us in a variety of ways. My absolute favorite meal was Chicken Pot Pie. Hands down. When I would get off the bus, and enter the kitchen, and be greeted by that smell wafting from the oven, I was delighted, to say the least. Chicken Pot Pie night was the best.

My Mom made her own pie crust. And she used frozen peas and carrots. She made her own Bechamel sauce. She added the tiniest bit of nutmeg to it. There were chunks of chicken. She would even cut out a chicken, made of dough, and place it in the center of the pie. Sometimes, she even made leaves draping around the crust from the dough too. I used to think it looked like something on the cover of her Woman's Day magazines. The whole meal, from start to finish, was delicious. I thought my Mom was the best cook in the world.

What I didn't know then, that I know now, was how stressed my Mom was. How she had no choice but to take a single chicken, and make a weeks worth of dinner out of it. I thought of her as I served dinner last night, and made mental notes to myself about what I was going to be doing with the leftovers. Chicken salad, and soup. A casserole. The girls do love my casserole. Adore it, actually.

It might even get tossed into Raman. The girls do LOVE my "noodles", as they call them.

They think that meal is the greatest.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Molly is still trying so hard to befriend the deer. She thinks it is the same one visiting her each day. Maybe it is.

Leaves are turning. Air is crisp and chilly at night. We drove home last night after dark, and the moon was a huge, yellow, glowing, ball. The cicadas were out, and frogs were singing away too.

Sleeping with the windows open makes the house freezing. And bed so warm and cozy. Molly between David and I was so safe, and made me sleep so deeply last night. David stroked my head in the middle of the night. Molly burrowed in closer, and wriggled her little feet around. 

I wanted to freeze time.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


We all remember every detail of that day. We remember the glorious sun, and vibrant blue sky. It was a picture perfect day. Everything bathed gold in Falls early light.

We all remember where we were when we first learned of what was happening in downtown NY. Whether we were in front of the television, or by a radio, listening to the horrors, and unable to even conjure up a visual image of what was being reported.

We all remember the shock. The disbelief. The feeling of time standing still, and everyone and everything moving in slow motion.

We remember the need to be with loved ones. The need to be together. The need to hold one another.

We remember each and every time we saw the films replayed on the news, it was like seeing it for the first time.

We remember the desperate faces of people holding pictures of their loved ones, and pleading for them to call home when they reached safety.

We remember how that day seemed to go on and on. Like that golden sun would never set. And maybe, we would wake up in the morning, and this would be just a nightmare. Because it was. A nightmare.

But I think, somewhere along the past decade, we lost our way. Because what I remember, aside from the utter horror of the day, and the days that followed, was a changed America. A uniting of every person in this country, the likes never before seen. At least in my lifetime.

Flags everywhere. People holding doors for one another. Making eye contact with strangers, and saying hello. Being courteous on the roads. Donating money, and blood, and supplies. Gathering in churches, and homes, and bars, and on the streets. It was a time that we were all united. By pain. By fury. By sadness. By disbelief. By astonishment. By fear. We all had a bond. The bond of being human, and really seeing the fragility of life.

Now we have a country divided. By race. By how much money you may or may not have. By sexuality. By religion. By political party. Even our own government is divided, and can't seem to get it together.

We have forgotten. We have forgotten so much in 10 years. About human kindness, and compassion. About helping each other. About caring for your fellow man.

We need to remember that time. All the thousands who perished, and continue to do so, deserve it. We owe them that much, don't you think?

We all need to really remember.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Farm

This past weekend, I canned. I took about 20 pounds of tomatoes, and cucumbers, and tomatillos, and turned them into sauce, and pickles, and salsa. I recently taught myself how to can using a water bath method. I have become somewhat obsessed with the whole process. There is something almost magical about turning vegetables that are at their freshest, into something that is now carefully jarred, and put away for another day.

Last year, David and I made the decision to purchase a share in a CSA. Community supported agriculture. Right in Cherry Valley is the Josie Porter Farm. We visited it last year, and met the farmer. My girls eyes almost popped out of their heads when the farmer introduced herself. They had it in their heads that farmers were men. A female farmer blew them away.

Heidi, the farmer, is gentle and kind. Her husband and she run the farm. It is an organic farm, and we welcomed the chance to feed our family with produce grown locally. The price of a share was reasonable. Little did we know that what we were paying for would be priceless.

In the Spring, we helped plant onions, and basil, and tomatoes. My girls loved walking barefoot in the fields, and digging in the dirt, and placing small seedlings into the soil. We picked up our share each week. The girls were amazed when they were served meals with the very vegetables they helped plant. Charlotte swore they tasted that much better than the vegetables we get at the store. The onions were a little bit sweeter. The Basil smelled even better "than normal".

The amount of vegetables began to get enormous each week, as the summer went on. We were leaving each week with pounds and pounds of tomatoes, and cucumbers, and delicious green beans, and carrots. Far more than we could eat in a week. Far more than what the share cost. It was financially, the smartest purchase we have made, in so many ways.

What has paid off the most is the time my family and I have had each week. That a farm, and the bounty we bring home from it, has made my family come together, in such a natural, easy way. To participate in planting. To see the fields where the food comes from,  has been so rewarding. Not to mention how David and I have our weekly ritual of separating the produce, and cleaning the herbs, and storing them away. It might sound silly, but we look forward to it each week.

Canning all of the tomatoes and cucumbers has also satisfied the hunter and gatherer in me. To see the rows of jars in my mudroom, has made me feel like we will be OK in leaner times. That if we run short, and we always do, we have food stores. We are prepared for the colder days that will be here before you know it.

And we will be able to taste one of the best summers we have had as a family.

 Thank you Josie Porter Farm.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Sadly, the Summer is gone. It was really one of the best of my life. We squeezed the last bits out of it this weekend. Even had a date night.

I watched the girls have so much fun, and there is nothing better than watching your kids be happy. It made David and I feel so good. Like we are doing something right, amidst all of the stress. Amidst all of the uncertainty.

Fall is coming fast. Cold mornings. They seem to make me sleepier. It is harder to get up in the morning. Waking the girls is harder still.

Rain all week. I am so OK with that. Lot's of stuff swirling around in my head. Lot's of stuff I have been meaning to do, or wishing I had a moment for. Maybe some of them will get done this week.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


New school year. New start. For everyone I hope.

I have been really feeling comfortable in our life. I forget sometimes that at any minute, our class action suit could somehow collapse, and the foreclosure process will move full steam ahead. Right now the process has been stayed by the court. Right now we are in limbo. Waiting. Wondering.

 Most days, I forget about it, but some days, like today, it creeps into my mind. All the routine, and normalcy that my girls have come to expect, could suddenly change. The safety that we provide could suddenly come into question. Almost, overnight. I fear that. Not so much for me. For them. They are happy, good girls. I worry they will suffer in this.

Some times, I think about the future, and David and I talk about plans. But it seems like we could jinx things. We are surrounded by so much uncertainty, making plans for the future seems like a waste of time. Yet, I don't want the future to be dictated to us. For us not to have a say in it. I want to make it happen, yet it seems like it will just become what it will be, without our input.  

So today, I will think of their smiling faces going off to their new school year, in their new shoes, and their fresh pencils tightly zipped in their cases, and I will be thankful, that today, we are OK. I can't drive myself crazy wondering what is going to happen two weeks, or two months from now.

I have to be happy that we have now.