Thursday, July 31, 2008

Love Thursday

A little bit of random (if somewhat muted) joy here at the Cooper Clubhouse on this Love Thursday.

Sydney continues to hang in there and seems to be enjoying life still. (Yesterday she tried to hump Thomas the Cat. I'm taking that as a good sign...I mean, for HER, anyway.) She's still interested in her food and is really enjoying all the attention she's been getting as we try to prepare ourselves for the inevitable. Her heart episodes are definitely more frequent. She had one the other night that had both of our girls sobbing. When it was over and Syd got back up, both girls ran inside and made iron bead figurines of Syd.

Here is Jane's:

I can't show you Ana's because she asked me not to iron it until Sydney passes away.

Oof.

.........................................................

I went to see my podiatrist in Queens this morning and he had the results of my nifty 3D CT scan. It looks like the deterioration of my heel isn't as bad as he feared, which is very good news. It means that I won't have to have my heel joint fused as soon as we'd thought, which delays the whole threat of immobility. Now if we can take care of the tendinitis on the one foot and the fasciitis on the other foot, I should actually be able to walk again without pain. I really needed some good news right about now so you can imagine how this gives me something to cling to...

.........................................................

My husband and I noshed on THIS last night.
I have written before about making Insalata Caprese but this one? So made of my OWN TOMATOES AND BASIL. Because MY GARDEN

SO.

TOTALLY.

UTTERLY.

RULES!


Ahem. (Okay, not so muted joy, exactly.)

.........................................................

THIS would be my seven-year-old, the Court Jester. Her note says, "I believe I have something stuck between my teeth."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

ǝnɹʇ ǝɯoɔ sɯɐǝɹp

So, the thing is that sometimes when you're not looking, your dreams are coming true. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the fulfillment of a life-long dream. (Go on...click on it. See it in all of its glory. Note that my husband will return from out of town to find himself sleeping under a blown-up version of it the size of BRAZIL.)

and I think this is just the start of a big ole crop.

When you think about the cycles of life, death and rebirth, and how they play out in our everyday lives... well, it's just awe-inspiring.

˙ʎʌɹnʇ-ʎsdoʇ ǝlʇʇıl ɐ sƃuıɥʇ ǝǝs ǝɯ sǝʞɐɯ

(I'm such a geek.)

Chop Chop

Given that I am given to bursting into tears at any given moment, which is a given when one's dog is dying and one is in chronic pain and one is given to referring to oneself in some sort of stilted verbiage that one CANNOT STOP no matter how many threats one gives oneself, I believe it is time to talk about...

Chopped Salad.

Yes, my friends.

Chopped. Salad.

Dudes, why did no one clue me in? Have you all known about this all this time and just not told me? Why? Am I not with the in-crowd?

My husband has been telling me about this salad that he orders at the deli by his office called a chopped salad. He thought I would love it. I thought, "Chopped salad. Sounds kind of, well... disgusting, frankly." I was picturing iceberg lettuce and mealy tomatoes, all chopped into handy little squares. Maybe throw some square jello cubes on top.

Ick.

But on Saturday, he brought home this... chopper thingy.
and he brought home a bunch of ingredients and he made me a salad.

And, whoa, it was AMAZING.

New Yorkers really know their (our) food.

So, here's what you do if you want to recreate the chopped salad in YOUR part of the country --just in case the news about it hasn't made it to where you are.

First you take some lettuce. (This is a mixture of spinach and spring mix.)


Then you start adding the good stuff.

Feta: (Or some other sort of cheese. Or not--if you don't like cheese, there are no Chopped Salad Police.)

Then add some peppers if you like. I've used a mixture of roasted red bell pepper and these hot cherry peppers, to which I have become so addicted that several times a day I have to have a little forkful of them. (And then drink a gallon of water and run around the house with my tongue hanging out.)

The veggies:
Tomatoes. (We're picking the first really big one from our garden tonight. I'd show you a picture but Jane has forbidden me to go near it lest it fall off the vine before she gets a chance to pick it.)

Carrots:
Cucumbers FROM THE GARDEN (!!!)
Bell peppers, which would be from my garden but mine aren't ripe yet.

Also, some apple. Use a green apple if you have one but if not, use a crispy red one. Or just throw in some dried cranberries.

You can also add anything else that strikes your fancy--beans or sunflower seeds or chickpeas...

The add a splash or two of balsamic vinaigrette (go easy, you can always add more.)


Now you're ready to begin the chopping.




And there you have it: Chopped Salad.


I know what you're thinking. I really do. You're thinking, "That salad looks PRE-CHEWED." But move past how it looks, my friends, because it is DELICIOUS. It's so good that I honestly thought it might be the secret to my whole weight loss dilemma --I'll just eat chopped salad all day long and the pounds will DROP RIGHT OFF.

Unfortunately, I, um, well...

Okay, I kind of accidentally discovered that the chopped salad? Makes a really good dip for THESE:

Oh, well. It was a nice thought anyway.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Closing Time



Early this morning, in the still wee hours, I heard Sydney crying. It's storming and she gets very afraid. Actually, I thought it was SCOUT crying so I sent my husband down (all things to do with Scout fall under HIS purview because he is the misguided soul who brought Scout home in the first place.) and he found Sydney in a pool of her own urine, unable to get up. She'd had one of those heart episodes again, only this time, she hadn't been exerting herself prior to it, unless the fear of the storm brought it on.

She's okay now --even ate a bit of breakfast. But...

Um...

I just...

Well.

If you wouldn't mind praying that she goes peacefully on her own and that I don't have to have her put to sleep, I would really appreciate it. I haven't found a vet who will come to our house yet and the idea of putting her in the car to take her to her end is more than I can bear to think about.

I think one way or the other, though, she's in her last weeks, maybe week. It's been almost a YEAR since her stroke and the bee incident and we didn't expect to have her this long.

Oddly enough, this doesn't make losing her easier now.

In fact, I'm pretty sure my heart is breaking. If you sit still, I bet you can hear it from where you are.

I love you, Syd. Go easy and go home. I think it's closing time.


So stack those chairs upon those tables
And stack those empties upon that bar
And count your money
And count my money
And hear those bottles ringing
You know where you are

Closing time
Unplug them people
And send them home
It's closing time

The night's all that's left behind
You take your part and I'll take mine
And go on home
It's closing time

Friday, July 25, 2008

Gnomes, Girls and Knit Night

G. (Garden) Gnome continues to make the scene around Long Island. Dude is hip and happening. Here he is going to Michael's with the girls and me:

This picture was taken right after my beloved children had a pitched battle right there in the parking lot while we were holding up traffic to get the photo over who got to hold the Gnome this time and who had held him more over the course of the Gnome Project. My head may have spun around like that woman in The Exorcist.

I am SO. Tired. Of. The. Fighting.

You know how some people refer to the Summer of Love?

Well, if anyone does that in my presence, I am going to KILL THEM. Because we are having the Summer of...not HATE, exactly (because we Southerners do not use the word "hate" which is a terribly strong and, well, HATEFUL word) but the Summer of Bicker. The Summer of Nag. The Summer of Whine.

The Summer of Incessant, Panties In a Wad, Milk Curdling, Joy Sapping, Soul Sucking PICKING AT EACH OTHER UNTIL MOMMY GOES SMACK OUT OF HER MIND AND STARTS DRINKING AT 9:00 AM FIGHTING.

This morning, on the last morning of camp, after the initial slings and arrows of who wrote in whose book and messed up whose iron bead...thing, Ana told me that she would really rather just stay home. My voice dropped into that register that Sigourney Weaver uses in Ghostbusters when her body is inhabited by a ghost and Bill Murray says, "My, what a lovely singing voice you must have."

"Oh, MISSY, you are SO going TO CAMP. You CANNOT stay home. Because. BeCAUSE. Because I CANNOT TAKE YOU staying home with me."

There's some good parenting right there.

Anyway, by last night at 6:00? I was standing on my front porch step, showered and packed up for Knit Night and waiting for my husband to get home.

I took G. with me. Naturally, because these are SO my people, they didn't even hesitate. Immediately, G. was decorated with the knitting he so richly deserved --very few questions asked. In fact, the few questions that were forthcoming were accompanied by this excited and admiring look --like I was the most clever woman in the world to even take such a thing on.

And dudes, some of my new knitting friends? Are totally into the blog. I'm so flattered that I actually BLUSHED when I figured out that there was at least one avid reader at the table.

She asked me about my foot and I got really sad.

I have really been trying to keep my glass-half-full outlook right out in front but I don't know, maybe it's the kids and the fighting but I was just sort of worn down. I got sort of teary.

So we had quite a long discussion of what I could try and what I have tried and I talked a little bit about how my life is utterly transformed by this one thing and how disconcerting it is. They really listened. They didn't judge.

And when we were leaving and I was apologizing for having talked about myself so much, one of them said, "Oh, cut that Southern crap."

I laughed.

They love me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

(Gnome) Love Thursday

(I can't believe it's already Thursday. Who knew that forcing children to go to a really fun tennis camp and intervening in their incessant bickering could make time go so quickly?)

So before my friend Lin moved to Colorado, she gave me a garden gnome. I had knitted her some socks and she started calling them her "Gnome Socks" and threatening to take pictures of herself wearing them wherever she went on her travels...well, it's one of those jokes that doesn't translate well because it's the kind of joke people make to keep from crying. (I find that many of my jokes are either to keep myself from crying or have the the odd effect of making other people cry. You think that's a bad thing?)

Anyway, she bought me a REAL garden gnome.

And I really DID cry.

But NOW, I am over the crying and on to the Trying to Make Lin LAUGH stage of things. So, I've been taking the gnome with me all over and taking pictures of it.

See:

We took the gnome (who still needs a name) with us to our Local Yarn Store:

And out to eat pizza (The fighting thing? As an example: we discovered a pizza place named "Anna's Pizza" and Jane got completely out of sorts because it wasn't named JANE'S Pizza. Because obviously I did that on purpose. Because, clearly, I love Ana more.)

The gnome went with us to tennis camp:
And actually, a myriad of other places but unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera. Just yesterday, I went to Queens for my nifty 3D CT scan of my foot and then a visit to my foot doctor. Probably a good thing I forgot my camera since maybe walking around Middle Village with a Garden Gnome, a nice camera and bag full of knitting is just inviting trouble.

(As an aside: The place where I went for my CT scan (Forest Hills) was CRAWLING with cops. Everywhere I looked, there were cop cars and vans and you know me...I thought, "Holy COW, I'm in the middle of a CRIME SCENE! Where's the yellow tape?? Should I even be trying to drive here? I'll probably be killed! It's probably some ORGANIZED CRIME shake down!"

Um, well, nope.

Turns out that the 112th NYPD headquarters was just down the street from the imaging place. And apparently, THEY can't find decent parking places, either.)

Anyway, I'm 'fessing up about the Gnome Project (Hey, I know! We could call him Gee and then it would be the GEE-Gnome project! Get it? Get it? Anyone crying?) because it's been almost a week since Lin left and if my memory serves me correctly, it's about that time in my own cross-country move when I really, really, really needed a laugh.

And also because this morning, I took the gnome into the really crowded bagel place by our house. I waited in line with the gnome tucked under my arm, ignoring the stares from the New Yorkers all around me. (New Yorkers do this thing that's a cross between a total dead-pan look and a look that very clearly says, "I see that garden gnome and frankly, you frighten me. But I don't want to get involved. So, this is me not noticing you." I'm sure y'all have noticed this, too, on your own Gnome Travels.) Anyway, all that not noticing me was making me sweat so when I got to the counter, I placed my order, explained the Gnome Project as fast as I could (which meant I had to explain it twice, given my drawl) and pulled out my camera and went to take my picture.

I had left my flash card at home. No picture.

But, so...well, Happy Love Thursday anyway. (Lin, the Bagel Boss people send their love, too.) Have Gnome; Will Travel.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I'll Stop the World and Felt With You

This is SO a knitting post. I'm sorry if you were tuning in for something else because, dudes, fiber will out. I am powerless against the forces of good and increases. (Get it? Hahaha, I slay myself. Ah, me.)

This is also a total expose (how does one make that little symbol in html?) of my ever increasing knitting compulsion. Obsession. Obsessive-Compulsive Knitting Disorder. (DK, I think there ought to be an official diagnosis.)

Warning: this might get a bit long. But then you'll be done with the knitting. At least for a little while...

So, when last we left our intrepid heroine, she was about to embark on knitting her first sweater. She was finishing up a few projects on the needles...

Edward Socks (shown here with their namesake who would NOT cooperate.):
(Underneath the socks in these pictures, I have a big bandage on my foot so THAT'S why the socks look a little wonky. I SWEAR it's not the knitting. Look: and while you're admiring the tape job, check out the really impressive scar on my left foot from my surgery.)

Matching Lin socks:


Ei's socks:


On which, of course, I ran out of yarn right at the toe. And, naturally, I cannot find any more Claudia Hand-painted yarn in Plumlicious. I've searched.

Sadly, I have had a falling out with the Claudia Hand-painted yarn. And oddly enough, so have all of my suppliers. While in Austin last week, I went to Hill Country Weavers and was really sad to see that the Claudia stock was down to almost nothing. I was looking for some yarn to finish my Lin's socks and found some yarn that is supposed to be a fingering weight but clearly had something WRONG with it:

I don't know if you can see from the picture but it's WAY too thick to be fingering. The one next to it (you know, the THIN one?) is what fingering weight yarn looks like. Of course, the thin one? Also has problems because it's supposed to be the same color as the other yarn. Look at this sock and the two yarns sitting with it:

They are ALL supposed to be Claudia Hand-painted yarn in Spring Break. Only, they really aren't.

I asked why the stock of Claudia was down to nothing at Hill Country Weavers and the woman said that the quality had been so inconsistent that they just didn't want to carry it anymore.

But anyway, back to our Intrepid Knitter who was, when last we saw her, finishing stuff. (Yessss.)

While finishing up socks, I got kind of sidetracked knitting my girls these bags, remember? And felting them. And then suddenly, I wanted to felt EVERYTHING. No, seriously. I wanted to felt THE WORLD.

Remember that commercial from years back with that woman who wallpapers everything? Like, even the refrigerator? That's what I'd like to do with felting.

So, first I started making Lin a bag out of this yarn: which I bought when I was first getting back into knitting and could not resist a good sale. It's so heavy, though, that about four skeins into it, I realized if I kept up the double stranding, it would weigh about sixty pounds when it was finished. So, I frogged it back and set about reknitting it with a single strand.

But while I was trying to decide what to do, I went to my local yarn store (any excuse at all) and bought some new yarn for Lin's bag. And I knitted it up.

In one afternoon. I'm not kidding. From a pattern I MADE UP.

But when I felted it, it turned out smaller than expected. (My washing machine has some issues and the knobs don't actually point to the real cycle anymore so it could just have been that I felted it for too long.)

While I was trying to decide what to do about THAT, I knitted and felted a bowl out of left-over yarn.

Yes. It's a bowl--what's your point?

And I, um, made up THAT pattern, too.

I showed it to my husband. He looked slightly alarmed. After suggesting that I consider marketing my bowl as a Rastafarian hat for American Girl dolls (which totally made me giggle), he said, "You knitted a bowl?"

"Yes."

"From a pattern you made up?"

"Yes."

"So, you've taken this knitting thing to a new level, is that what you're telling me?"

"Yes."

"A new level called CRAZY."

Dang

I have a really long (albeit knitting) post in the works but I had to interrupt myself to ask the eternal question: No matter how horrible and spoiled and awful your children have behaved in the long days of summer, why is it that taking them to a new camp experience still feels like delivering lambs to slaughter?

Ana (10) and Jane (7) are doing a tennis camp all this week from 9-12. I took them to the tennis courts a bit ago, lubed them up with sunscreen, paid my money and sent them on their way.

Then I had to manufacture an excuse to go back up there (they need hats to keep the sun out of their eyes, right? RIGHT?) and now here I am, with three free hours and all I can do is clean my house obsessively and worry that they're not having fun. Or that someone is being mean to them. Or that I missed a spot with the sunscreen. Or that they will bottom out blood-sugar wise and I'll have crying girls on my hands when I pick them up. Or they won't drink the water I sent with them and they will get dehydrated and suffer heat-stroke. Or they'll get hit by an errant tennis ball and become brain-injured and be hospitalized for weeks...

Or, you know, that they'll just really hate it and refuse to go back.

This motherhood gig...what would I do for neurosis if I didn't have it?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hard Lessons

Lin got great news on Wednesday that her boy is going to be just fine. Thank you for your collective prayers and well wishes. I do believe they made a difference.

In other kid and life lesson news:

My resolution since we've been back from our trip to Texas, has been to plan a fun outing every day (or as often as I have energy/patience) to see something of Long Island. On Wednesday, I took the kids ice skating at a local park which has both a great pool AND an indoor ice rink. My kids love to skate. I don't have any pictures because my hands were so cold I couldn't work the buttons and also because I was busy trying not to stalk out on the ice and bang some heads together.

It was an interesting thing: the rink was filled with kids who A) could really, really ice skate (as opposed to the last time we went skating in New York, when my Texans were the best skaters on the ice) and B) either HAD or were DESTINED to do hard time.

Seriously. These kids were a tough, rough crowd.

My kids? Not so much with the rough and tough. Like, a HANGNAIL can torpedo our whole day.

But you should have seen them rise to the occasion. I was proud of them. Both girls got knocked about a fair amount and Jane fell several times. One girl said something mean to her but it did not even phase her. Both girls gained visible confidence as they skated around. By the end, they didn't want to leave.

This was a great lesson for me in how protecting my kids from everything that might be the slightest bit stressful (which is my normal M.O.) doesn't do much to prepare them to mix it up with the people from all walks of life with whom they will have to compete in later life. After all, as I tell them frequently, they do not come from family money. Bummer for them. But they are going to have to go out and earn a living just like everyone else, and this means dealing with angels AND thugs, and standing up for themselves so they don't get run right over.

So, then yesterday, I took the girls to the Long Island Children's Museum. We're almost too old for children's museums now, I fear, or maybe we've just been to so many of them that there's not too much new to see. But this one had some good things, like a climbing structure:
and this really cool bubble area where you could actually make a bubble around yourself.

The girls had fun until we realized that Ana had lost her purse. She backtracked looking for it and then I saw an attendant carrying it, headed for the Lost and Found. Whew!

Only, all of her money, about $40, was gone.

I know you're going to ask why a ten-year-old was carrying $40 with her, but see, ten-year-olds are tricky little animals, what with being all ten-going-on-thirty and wanting their own apartments and all. As much as we like for them to listen to our sage counsel, they rarely do.

Plus, and here's the heart breaker, it never, ever occurred to her that someone would steal from her. She kept saying, "But who would steal from a KID?"

I will never forget her face and her true anguish as it occurred to her that it might even have been another KID who stole it. There were a lot of camps on day-trips to the museum and some of them were camps aimed at exposing underprivileged kids to some culture. (I am not stereotyping. I know this because that's what their T-shirts said.)

I'm not saying it was one of those kids, just that there was a very different crowd than the normal museum-goers we've experienced. For example, Ana was standing patiently in line and another kid cut in front of her and when she protested, the camp COUNSELOR for that kid totally refused to do anything about it and looked at Ana like there was something wrong with her for even suggesting such a thing. Nice.

Anyway, Ana and I talked a lot about how blessed we are and how not everyone is so blessed--a lot of kids have probably never even HAD $40. We talked about how we can't let this event make us live in fear, because then the crooks win TWICE. We talked about how we approach life with the idea that because we're good people and try to do what is right, so does everyone else...and how that's not always the case.

She was SO upset. Less by the loss of the money than about the loss of something far more valuable: her sense of security and her trust that people are good and want the best for her.

She wanted to sleep with her bedroom door locked.

Hard lessons. Necessary lessons, yeah. But hard.

And just so you know that I am learning my own lessons about preconceived notions here in New York, after we left the museum, both kids were melting down and we had to pull into the first restaurant we saw. It turned out to not be kid-friendly, but my kids got something to eat and were very well-behaved (so well behaved that a couple sitting by us commented on it when we got up to leave.)

In the back of the restaurant was this long table with about twenty men seated around it, having lunch. I got very nervous--dudes, if I had seen anyone kissing anyone else's ring, I was so going to have my kids stop, drop and roll right out the door. I've seen The Godfather, know what I'm sayin'?

Of course, it turned out to be a group celebrating some guy's retirement.

And the complimenting couple? The man cut me off in traffic shortly thereafter and flipped me the bird when I honked.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Rough Day

Today was a rough one.

The morning started with Lin and her husband coming over to say goodbye after spending their last night in their house as our neighbors. Today they closed on the sale of that house and Lin's husband left for Colorado. Lin is still here for a few more days with the kids and then she's gone, too.

She brought me this: because she is evil and likes to see me cry.

My heart hurts.

Speaking of her kids, her son was injured in a freak accident at skateboarding camp last week on the day before the movers came. The accident had, naturally, nothing at all to do with skateboarding. Someone threw a gimme cap at him and the brim of the hat caught him across the eye, cutting his cornea and causing a hemorrhage. He's been confined to a dim room and unable to do anything for five days. He goes back to the doctor tomorrow (Wednesday) to find out if he gets the all-clear or if there is still a danger of him losing sight in that eye. If you are a praying person, could you send some prayers his way? His name is Joseph and he is 12 (or he might have turned 13, I can't remember) and I'm praying very hard myself that the worst thing that happens to him is that he had to stay in bed for five days in the middle of summer vacation.

But, you know, back to me: (because this blog is all about me and more me. And then more me. And oh look, ME.) I did what I always do when I get sad. The girls and I went plant shopping (they wanted more vegetables to grow) and then we spent some time planting them. I always feel better when I get my hands in some dirt. I'm sure there is some deep psychological reason for this but honestly, I don't care what it is.

Anyway, I forgot to take pictures because the girls started bickering and Ana did something so uncharacteristically mean and underhanded to Jane that it took all the wind out of my sails. She made me promise not to blog about it, which ALSO made me feel really terrible.

Because, of course, I was already writing that post in my head.

SO, she lost her computer privileges for a week and then we had piano lessons and Jane ate 2/3 of a pan of veggie lasagna (she scrapes the vegetables off but I have hope she's ingesting SOMETHING that might count as a vegetable) and my husband came home and I left to go to my appointment with my foot doctor in Queens.

I am fortified with chardonnay and gummi bears so I can tell you the bad foot thing to which I had alluded here is that my New York doctor examined the series of x-rays that my Austin doctor had taken over the course of my treatment and noticed a marked and rapid deterioration of my heel joint.

It's going to have to be fused, which means more screws installed in my foot, at some point.

Tonight, he took his OWN x-rays (dudes, I've had so many x-rays by now that I could practically generate my own Northern Lights) and showed me exactly what he meant.

It's not so good.

And the REASON it's not so good is that as soon as those bones are fused in my foot, you can start the countdown. Within five years, I will need my ankle bones fused.

Tonight I asked, "And then what?" and he was sort of vague. He said, "Well, there are no good options for joint replacement of the ankle and then it just starts progressing up from there." ( I didn't ask any more because, hello, Fear of CRYING Alert.)

So, it seems to me that since my very mobility is in question, the best thing to do is to put off for as long as possible this next fusion, right? So, we're starting with a full 3D CT scan next week so we know what we're dealing with and to see if we can't figure out a way to slow the joint deterioration down.

Oh, and while we're at it? I'm wearing lifts in my shoes to address the tendinitis in my Achilles tendon that I've developed and the OTHER foot has this very strange dressing on it for the plantar fasciitis I've developed in IT. Because I thought it would be fun to try to figure out how to limp when BOTH feet hurt.

Could my life BE more glamorous?

But seriously, you want to know something? I think I figured it out, this foot thing. When I got the news about my heel, I got really, seriously, hide-the-scissors-before-I-cut-my-hair-myself depressed. My limited mobility over the past year and a half has had an adverse effect on my life. I'm not the active mom I was. I have a limited number of steps in my day and I tend to hoard them. Sometimes I don't go back up the stairs to tuck my kids in back in bed. Sometimes I have to stay home when I could be going on field trips or other adventures. Sometimes I have a momentary impulse to run over those cute young things I see jogging so blithely down the road. It's been very hard. The thought of losing even the mobility I DO have is rather devastating to me.

But I think I understand the lesson out of all this. You know how I always need to try to make some sort of sense out of why things happen, right? (Okay, so sometimes I just make them right up out of thin air. So sue me.)

I think the lesson is that I need to stop waiting around for some sort of miraculous healing to occur before I start living my life again. It's not going to happen. This may be as good as it gets.

So, by golly, I need to get off my kiester and start using the muscles I do have. My feet have not really affected my stomach muscles-- hello! There's no reason I should be working out the muscles there or in my arms or my back or...um, my BRAIN. I've been ON HOLD for over a year now. It's time to be a Jamaican bobsledder--I mean, did THEY give up just because of a little thing like a lack of freezing temperatures? It's time to stop making excuses and to start making some progress.

And you know what? On my way back from the doctor? I saw a guy on a Harley wearing a Broken Spoke T-shirt. Clearly, that's a sign that I'm on the right track.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Howdy, I mean YO, from New York

We're baacckkk.

We had many delays getting here and finally rolled in after midnight. The girls burst into the house, petted the animals and made a beeline for the garden to check on their produce.

It did not disappoint. These are just the cucumbers the girls picked by flashlight in the middle of the night, plus the one they ate on the spot. I can't wait to see the garden in daylight.

Which, naturally, begs the question, "What the heck is Barb doing up in the wee hours when she must be totally exhausted?"

Well, it turns out that a certain incontinent cow dog is just too excited to let the Coopers sleep and since my husband has a huge day at work today, I got up with the dog. At 3:00 AM and again at 4:15. Because he was crying and I thought that meant he really needed to go out. And after the 4:15 Peeing, I couldn't go back to sleep.

Ha. Joke's on me.

The joke is ALWAYS on me when it comes to Scout.

It's good to be home.

I think.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Lesson

Oh, look, it's two in the morning and I'm awake, either AGAIN or STILL, who can tell. Luckily, there are some corn chips to eat or what a waste of time THIS would be. (Just kidding but MAN, I am SO going on a diet AND starting to take Melatonin when we get home.)

We're in Corpus Christi now, visiting my mother-in-law. Corpus Christi has one of my favorite street names ever: Corn Products Road. It's probably where my chips came from.

I am SO not joking.

(Oh, look, if you click on it, you, too, can have a life-sized version of it! Still don't have my normal photo software rig to manipulate the pictures. Please bear with me.)

Yesterday, I spent roughly one hour sleeping (this is a no-sleep vacation, I guess you noticed that), twenty-two hours intervening between my bickering children and an hour thinking about life lessons and felting.

Going back to visit Austin was really difficult, but not in the way I thought it would be. As I have written and written and WRITTEN about, I really loved our house there. But you know what? After seeing it again, I find that I'm sort of...well...just DONE with that house. And not just because it represents this millstone around our necks (please, please, please let it sell soon), what with requiring new...um...everything since we've been gone and all.

It's because the things I love most about Austin aren't tangible like that.

I thought they were. I think about Austin and I think about the Town Lake Trail and Barton Springs Pool and the school my kids attended and I am overcome with a longing so sharp that it knocks the breath out of me. I think about my house there and I think about the stencilling I did on the walls of my beloved screened-in porch there and the way the floorboards upstairs creak and the greenbelt out back and it's like ripping open some wound I didn't know I still had...

But it's not the places, see, it's the memories. And mercy, mercy, mercy, it's the people. And the great thing about THAT is that no one can take either of those two things away from me. Our friends will still be our friends no matter where we live --we'll come back to see them and they'll come to New York to visit us and that kind of laughter that makes your stomach hurt and your face turn red? That will find us no matter where we are.

I was worried that we came back too soon because, well, I could NOT stop crying, for one thing. But now I think we came back at exactly the right time. We came back to find out that A)we really can't ever go home again (um, especially if our house ever sells (oh PLEASE let it sell)) and B) we don't need to. It is my studied conclusion that we carry our homes with us, sort of like weird two-footed turtles, only instead of carrying them on our backs, we carry our homes in our hearts.

This is very comforting to me.

Dudes! Listen to me getting all deep and stuff. I attribute this to the magic of felting. No, seriously, anything so transforming is bound to have a profound effect on one's mental processes, don't you think?

For indeed, I have finished the girls' bags. Here they are BEFORE the felting:

And here they are after:

(I know I used a cork for scale but if you click on the image, you can see them just about life-sized anyway.) They didn't lose much in the way of size--I wonder if this is because the pattern called for using a double thickness of yarn or because I was so excited about the very idea of actually FINISHING something that I didn't let them cook long enough? I guess it doesn't matter because I think they are beautiful.

We took the kids to the beach today. The water is very warm here, unlike our New England beach water. But dudes, the SEAWEED was enough to give me fits. Look:

I shovelled a path to the water. And I told myself I was ready to shovel some snow.
I think I'm ready to go home now.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Slow Dissolve



Last night, our friends Mike and Erin were gracious enough to invite a group of our Austin friends to our former community pool to see us during our short, short, very-much-too-short stop in Austin. (Did I already tell you that my husband coined the perfect phrase for this trip to Texas, which has us stopping in four cities in nine days? He said, "I feel like we're spending thousands of dollars so that everyone will end up mad at us.") Anyway, the evening was so wonderful that I woke up at 3:45 AM with that song and a slide-show of pictures of everyone going through my head.

Which is a good thing because I didn't actually take any pictures in real life. Not one. I took my camera (and y'all know how I love me some photos) but I never took it out of the bag. I think it's because looking at all of those faces and those kids --it was just too big to even start. How do you sum up many years of friendships in a few photos? Or maybe it was that I wanted to live in the moment instead of documenting the moment, you know? Because it was a really, really, really good moment.

Heartbreaking, oh yeah, so heartbreaking. But still really good.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Well, Huh.

We're back in Austin.

Coming back was much harder than I thought it was going to be. I mean, I'd anticipated that the kids would be upset. I was really worried that coming back might undo all of the progress we've made toward adjusting to our new life in New York.

Of course, because this is always how things work for me, the kids were fine. FINE, I tell you. They were really excited to see their friends on our old street, and there was a lot of shrieking and showing each other their lost teeth and jumping up and down.

But your good friend Barb? Started to cry when we crossed the Town Lake Bridge and cried on and off all evening.

And then couldn't sleep.

I don't know why I thought it would be so much easier on me than on my kids. Because I'm a grown up? (Well, theoretically, anyway. Age-wise, certainly.) I guess it's too much to ask that I handle leaving a place I've loved for almost 25 years with non-stop grace and optimism? I was really hoping not to heap more coals of fire on my poor husband's head --he gets enough guilt from our kids. Plus, I'm happy to be on this new adventure. Happy to be living in a climate where one doesn't have to actually worry that much about heat stroke. Happy to find out that everything I've ever heard about New Yorkers was totally false--these are some of the kindest, friendliest people living. Happy to be still living my fairy tale, just thousands of miles away from where it started. Really, it's all good.

But gosh. Coming back is really hard. I have missed Austin, and my friends here, so much. I don't think I actually knew how much until we got here.

I'm a little worn out with it all.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Power of Greed

(This is a knitting post. I'm sorry to do this to you non-knitters but, well, here, look at the beautiful Ana.
Try not to notice that she is reading AND knitting. Just look at her face while I natter on about yarn...)

I interrupt my Texas travelogue to do a little essay on the power of greed.

Because, DUDES, I have overcome my Fear of Sweater Commitment. And do you know why? Because I cannot wait to wear a sweater made out of this yarn. (I'm still traveling and without my usual photo software so if you click on the image, it will look like we could LIVE in those skeins of yarn.)

I sat on the couch at my mom's last night, almost comatose from the lethal combination of margaritas and refried beans (yessss) and I stared at that yarn. I might have fondled it a bit. And then, heart beating madly, I cast on.

Truly, I got sort of anxious at the very idea. But it's my all-time favorite color ever, this sort of raspberry red, and it's 100% alpaca. It's gorgeous. It cost THE MOON.

It's going to be a sweater or I will die trying. Must. Knit. This. Yarn. In fact, when Jane came and woke me up at 4:00, having had a nightmare where robbers pulled us over on our way to the airport and stole her Polly Pockets, I sneaked back out into the living room and knitted a few more rounds.

(Here it is. If you click on it, you'll think I'm knitting the Great Wall of China but at least you'll be able to see the color better. The photos don't do it justice.)

Not obsessive one bit, not me.

In other knitting news, I am knitting Ana a knitting bag. I actually thought she was going to HELP knit it but apparently her form of helping is to badger me continuously to finish it. As motivation goes, this seems to be working.
After I knit it, we'll felt it. We're both really excited about the possibility of felting it, otherwise I would just resent bitterly the time away from my sweater. (Felting is the process of washing a knitted product in hot soapy water, which turns the wool into something completely different. It's like MAGIC. Seriously, I feel about felting the way I felt about grant writing when I first started writing grant proposals. I would walk around looking at things that needed doing and think, "Hey, I could fund that." I mean, I said that about EVERYTHING. My own lunch? "Sure, I can fund that." Now that I no longer work for non-profits, I think, "Hey, I could FELT that." It is indeed a slippery slope.)

Today, we'll say goodbye to Dallas and head to Austin, where we'll see our former friends and neighbors, and our as yet unsold house. I think it'll be the best and toughest part of the trip in some ways. Wish us luck.