"Cool Mom Vibes"

It has been freezing cold and snowy lately. My son has developed the cold of doom that I am convinced is going to take over the house right before we go on vacation and the kids go to their grandparent's house. I have spent an unreasonable amount of time trying to get a doctor's office to perform a simple task. Life is a bit chaotic and stressful.

But I don't care. Why is that?

Because, according to my daughter, I give off "cool mom vibes."

I'll just pause here to let that sink in.

And no, if you were hoping I could tell you how to be cool too, I can't. I never have been cool and never will be. But apparently, last Friday evening while trying on relatively utilitarian ankle boots in a shoe store I achieved cool mom status. I am not sure why or how.

I am reveling in this new-found identity because my daughter is twelve and twelve-year-olds are fickle and easily embarrassed. Next time we appear in public together I am sure I will speak too loudly, walk too slowly, look at the wrong thing in the store, or do something else horrendously uncool.

But for now, at this moment, I give off "cool mom vibes."

I hope you are jealous.

It's Snowing!

Photo by Jonathan Knepper on Unsplash

Just to be clear, 99 percent of the excitement in that statement comes from Celia. She lives for snow in the winter. The rest of us are far more ambivalent or, to be honest, negative towards the snow. It doesn't look like much right now but there is a winter storm warning in effect so we shall see.

So, what shall I do on a snow day?

The first thing was to sleep late which is why I am writing this post at 11:00 on a Saturday morning. I slept until 9:00 which is practically unheard of. The cat woke me up then. He needs medicine that we give to him on canned food at night. Unfortunately, since cats can't tell time, he thinks any time he is hungry is time for canned food. Cats are annoying.

Then the morning called for multiple cups of tea. And more tea this afternoon. And possibly an after-dinner cup of tea. I feel like I might need to bake something to go with all that tea. Homemade bread dripping with honey and butter sounds good.

I've convinced my husband to start The Crown with me later today. I watched the first episode ages ago and then decided it would be nice to watch it with him. Unfortunately, we haven't gotten around to it and now the second season is out. A snow day is the perfect time to catch up a bit.

Celia wants a fire in the fireplace and a game of Scrabble. That is a girl after my own heart. We have been playing a lot of board games with Tristan but he is very into strategy games. I stink at strategy. I just can't envision the game multiple steps ahead and I invent backstories for the characters and then have trouble sacrificing them for the greater good. It is all a bit traumatic. But I am good with words and I am absolutely thrilled to have a child that enjoys Scrabble. We will make Tristan play too and will beat him soundly in return for all the times he has beaten us at his games. It will be glorious.

And books. Of course, there will be books. I am reading Nella Last in the 1950s. I read the previous two volumes of her diaries a few years ago and am finally getting around to this. I enjoy her voice. It comes through so clearly in her writing. It is amazing to think that she was not a published author until after her death when her diaries were published. She was a woman sitting in her home recording everyday life. Her descriptions are beautiful.

The hills seemed to drowse in veils of soft amethyst to deep sepia shadows. Swale fires nursing under the whin and dead bracken made long plumes of smoke that rose up into the still air like fantastic fir trees, higher than the hills in the background. Age-old grey walls were jewelled with emerald-topiary from little tufts of green moss, and orange-yellow lichen where the sun rays picked out the colour. Evergreens glistened as if every leaf had been washed and polished separately. Horses' coats shone like burnished metal, and the hill sheep's wool dried in the keen wind and made a little shimmering nimbus round them as they cropped the grass, or lay quietly resting. 

Don't you just want to take an afternoon walk through that countryside? Though, I must admit, it also is the perfect thing to read while curled up by the fire and the snow falls outside.

Now, my next cup of tea is calling me and the snow is starting to stick. What does your Saturday look like?

December Plans//Running Away

I want to run away.

I want to run away from stress and anxieties and problems I can't solve because, heaven knows, this year has been filled with all of those things.

I want to stop worrying about my kids and health issues and all the nonsense that wakes me up at 2:00 a.m. and doesn't let me get back to sleep.

I want my husband to relax and enjoy life for a little bit.

I want to forget that even if I run away I will have to come back and deal with it all again.

I want to pretend for just a little while that everything is under control and manageable, that the mountains are really molehills instead of the other way around.

I want to have a bit of time to put life in perspective, to look at things from a distance and see how, in the grand scheme of things, nothing is too earth-shakingly terrible and we will all survive.

I want to sit in coffee shops and wander through bookstores and ignore the passing of time.

I want to put down the burdens for just a little bit so I can pick them up again with renewed strength.

I want a chance to remember that many of the things that bring me stress also bring me joy.

I want to spend time with my husband.

I want my kids to have fun with their grandparents before my son grows up so much that a week at their house no longer fits into his schedule.

I want to go somewhere familiar and easy and stress-free. Now is not the time for new adventures and new experiences.

I want to go to London because sometimes escaping into another life and another country for just a little bit is the only way to gain the strength to continue dealing with the stress and the anxieties and the problems.

I want to remember that life is to be enjoyed. It is not just a list of chores and responsibilities to be checked off.

I want to end this year on a high as a counterbalance to the plethora of lows.

I want to run away to London. So that is what we are going to do.

Bits And Pieces Of My Life Lately

I'll be honest with you. This post is solely made up of photos and bits of my life that don't really fit into any other post. So, we will start with the many pictures I have taken lately on the various walks we have been on. Today I managed to go for a walk with my husband and leave my camera and my phone behind. I just walked. Imagine that. It was very peaceful. I am not sure I would want to do it all the time, I do like taking photos, but it was nice for a change.

I was in Boston twice last week which led to a trip to the Boston Public Library. Have I been to Boston if I haven't been to the library or a bookstore? Last week I managed both.

I went to the Brattle Book Shop again. I have a whole list of bookshops I want to visit but time constraints usually prevent me from ticking any more off my list. I am going to have to plan a full day of bookshop visits in Boston soon but for now, running into Brattle Book Shop when I can manage it will have to keep me happy.

I was particularly pleased with the Elizabeth Fair novel. I have read several reviews of her novels and they sounded like just the type of thing I would enjoy. I was correct. I finished it tonight and thoroughly enjoyed it. I would describe it as a cross between Angela Thirkell, D.E. Stevenson, and Elizabeth Cadell. It was light, charming, and lots of fun. Dean Street Press has reprinted a handful of her novels and I will definitely be reading more of them. 

I know, that last photo is a bit of a strange transition, isn't it? I wrote a post about my dad recently in which I mentioned that he met Big Bird from Sesame Street once. At the time, I couldn't find the photo that commemorated the occasion but when I was sorting some family photos today I stumbled across it. So, here you go. Big Bird in a newsroom, apparently interviewing the journalists. My dad is the man on the left facing the camera. 

Right now, my kids are playing a video game together. Actually, my son is teaching his sister how to play a game. There is a lot of bickering but a lot of laughing too so it all seems to be good. My husband is listening to the news on the radio. And, once I finish this post, I will probably be surrounded by books trying to decide what to read next. 

What is new in your life? And what are you reading?

For The Love Of Books

 There are few things as soothing, welcoming, and downright entertaining as a book about books. I first read 84, Charing Cross Road as a young teenager and I still remember the feeling of kinship. I hadn't read many of the books she wrote about but I recognized the love for them. It was the same love I felt. I also blame or credit that book for my love of London. Who wouldn't want to travel to London and try to find their own Marks and Co. after reading it? I think that is the world of book lovers I am still looking for when I travel there. I am convinced London is populated with well-read people working in wonderfully cramped and crowded bookshops with books in teetering piles all around them. The amazing thing is, it is sometimes true. When I find that bookshop, that moment of trueness, I am transported to the feeling I had when I first read Hanff's letters and realized there was a whole world of people who felt the same way about books as I did.

I recently read Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman and had the same feeling of recognition. Here, once again, was someone I understood, someone who loved books and words just as much as I do and is able to put that love into words and paragraphs that have me nodding my head in agreement the whole way through. My copy is full of sticky notes and I keep picking it up to reread favorite sections. Here is her description of how her family felt about books.

The Fadiman family believed in carnal love. To us, a book's words were holy, but the paper, cloth, cardboard, glue, thread and ink that contained them were a mere vessel, and it was no sacrilege to treat these as wantonly as desire and pragmatism dictated. Hard use was a sign not of disrespect but of intimacy. 

I also loved her chapter on "you-are-there" reading, the practice of reading a book in the place in which it is set. Obviously, this isn't always possible but who can deny the seductive appeal of reading Anne of Green Gables while sitting by the Lake of Shining Waters on Prince Edward Island? Or reading Persuasion in Bath where Captain Wentworth and Anne finally resolve their differences? Fadiman tells a charming story about her daughter.

When our daughter was four, she took her copy of Eloise to tea at the Plaza Hotel. Macaulay never fought at Thrasymenus. I never ran the Colorado River. But Susannah has actually hidden behind the red velvet curtains in the Grand Ballroom, slomped down the hallway on the fifteenth floor, and gotten dizzy in the revolving door with the P on it. When we got to the Palm Court, Susannah opened her book to page 40. Her eyes skittered back and forth between the plate of Gugelhopfen on the triple-tiered table in the picture and the plate of Gugelhopfen on the triple-tiered table in front of her. She didn't say a word. I knew what she was thinking. She was there. 

(Just so you know, that P in the quote is supposed to have a backward P in front of it but I have no idea how to achieve that so just use your imagination.)

I have to stop before I end up just quoting the entire book for you but here is one more for your enjoyment and so I can have the sheer pleasure of sharing it.

I can think of few better ways to introduce a child to books than to let her stack them, upend them rearrange them, and get her fingerprints all over them. It's a wonder to me that the young Diana Trilling, who had to wash her hands before she extracted a volume of Twain or Balzac from her parents' glass-fronted bookcase, grew up to be a booklover. Our parents' model was the playground; her parents' model was the operating room. By buying his set of leatherbound classics en bloc from a door-to-door salesman, Trilling's father committed the additional heresy, umimaginable to us, of believing that a library could be one-size-fits-all rather than bespoke. My brother and I were able to fantasize far more extravagantly about our parents' tastes and desires, their aspirations and their vices, by scanning their bookcases than by snooping in their closets. Their selves were on their shelves.

 It is true, books about books are some of the best books because it is always nice to meet another book lover. Have you any recommendations for books about books? (And really, there needs to be a word for that--books about books. Or is there already and I don't know it?)

Twenty-Seven Years

Barnes & Noble

Last week we celebrated our twenty-seventh wedding anniversary.

Twenty-seven years.

I might as well resign myself to the fact that we are no longer young.

However, for two not-quite-old-but-no-longer-young people, we managed to have a very good time. My parents offered to have the kids spend Friday night at their house and we decided to check into a hotel near them. Since we only had twenty-four hours it didn't make sense to spend four of those hours driving back and forth between our house and my parents' house. So we dropped the kids off, went out to eat, and then went to a bookstore. Because what else would you do on your anniversary? My husband is a good and patient man. I didn't actually buy any books because I didn't come across anything I just had to have and I don't really buy books I can easily get at the library. But it is always nice to browse.

The next day we went out for breakfast and then for a walk on the rail trail. It was a gorgeous, sunny day. We used to walk this trail all the time when the kids were little and we lived in the area. Sometimes I miss having little kids.

Vernon rail trail

Vernon rail trail

Vernon rail trail

Vernon, CT

We also stopped at a little park in the area and sat in the sunshine reading the newspaper and eating snacks. It was quiet and relaxing and exactly what we needed.

Northwest Park

Northwest Park CT

Then we went back to my parent's house for dinner. The kids were only moderately happy to see us since they felt one day was not enough time to squeeze in all the things they wanted to do. That's okay though. We felt the same way.

It wasn't an exciting anniversary. We didn't do anything amazingly special or go anywhere exotic. We puttered around doing things we have done a hundred times before. But, really, that is what made it special. After twenty-seven years we have the memories, the traditions, and the routines that we have built together.

And after twenty-seven years we are just happy to be together, browsing through a bookstore, walking a trail, and eating ice cream in bed.

The fact that we still feel that way after twenty-seven years is special enough for me.

Stories That Need To Be Told

Gravestone RI

Old cemeteries are full of stories. You can feel them, pressing all around you waiting to be discovered and told. There is the baby who only lived for 17 days, buried between her sisters. There is an even younger baby, six days old and never given a name. There is the man buried between his wives, one married shortly after the other died. Was it love or expediency? Was he lonely or did he need a housekeeper? There is the grave just on the other side of the fence with the name that isn't seen anywhere else in the cemetery. Where did he come from and why is he buried there all alone?

cemetery RI

cemetery RI

gravestone for baby RI

Gravestone RI

We pushed our way through the overgrown grasses, the yellowing ferns, and the briars that caught at our clothes. We crouched down, tracing the fading engraving with our fingers, and calling out softly to each other when we managed to decipher the names and dates. We pieced together the families and the relationships and told ourselves stories of what could have been and what might have happened.

autumn ferns

ferns and stone wall

Then we left, jumping down from the stone wall and brushing the leaves and grasses from our skirts. We left behind the stones and the names and the rickety fence. But we couldn't leave behind the stories. They crowded around us, begging to be heard, as we walked down the road.

Old cemeteries are full of stories. They just need someone to listen to them.

New England picket fence

autumn in New England

Book Review--The Victorian House by Judith Flanders

The Victorian House by Judith Flanders

I am reading The Victorian House by Judith Flanders. It is an absolutely fascinating history of Victorian life. I am currently enthralled with this piece of information.

The Lancet reminded doctors that women patients complaining of exhaustion, or an inability to walk even short distances, were probably suffering from the loads they were carrying, rather than illness or the inherent weakness of being female. By the end of the century a fashionable woman was carrying thirty-seven pounds of clothing, although the Rational Dress Society had long campaigned for women to reduce their underclothing to a maximum of seven pounds.

Thirty-seven pounds of clothes! The mind boggles. And seven pounds of underclothes was viewed as rational and was a reduction of what was usual. Thirty-seven pounds. Just think about it for a few minutes. Simply standing up would require a lot of effort.

Women were also exhausted because their houses were deathtraps. This description emphasizes the point.

The house was a dangerous place in ways we have forgotten. Painted walls were usually primed with two coats of lead, red and white; the top coat was then mixed into a base of white lead. This caused painters' colic, a type of paralysis, when the wet paint was absorbed through the skin. Wallpaper was no safer: many colours were produced by dyes made from various poisonous materials. Green papers were particularly dangerous, often having an arsenic base, as did lilac, pinks, a variety of blues, and 'French grey'; some wallpapers had as much as 59 per cent of arsenious acid in the paper. In addition, vermilion was adulterated with red lead. (Prussia, Bavaria, Sweden and France had banned these papers long before, but in the late 1880s they were still routinely used in Britain.) Arsenic in the wallpaper was one of the reasons that a 'change of air' often worked so well for invalids: those who were being slowly poisoned went to the seaside, leaving their poisonous paper behind; their health improved, and then on their return to the still-poisonous room they had a relapse.

Isn't that interesting? I knew that the paint contained lead but I never made the connection between the lead and arsenic in the paint and wallpaper and the need for a 'change of air.'  I always wondered why there was such a belief in the benefits of sea air. It all makes sense now.

I haven't quite finished the book yet but I would recommend it. I enjoy books that give me a clear picture of what it would have been like to live in a different time period and this does just that. I am not usually interested in the big picture. I don't have a burning desire to know the political history of the time or to read descriptions of the architecture of the day. However, tell me how much a woman's clothes weighed and give me a list of what was viewed as absolutely necessary to set up housekeeping and I am guaranteed to continue reading.

Golden Moments #5

Wickham Park

A perfect cup of tea out of a pretty mug on a cold morning. It was sipped while curled up under my favorite cozy but slightly ugly afghan. What a peaceful way to start the day.

A fancy box of chocolates bought for no reason and shared around the table on a Monday night after dinner.

Sitting with my husband looking out at this view. We both took the day off and went out to lunch, to the park, and to visit my grandmother. My husband proposed to me looking out at this view over twenty-eight years ago.

A book I forgot I ordered showed up in the mail. This regularly appears in "golden moments" lists but that is fine. I never can quite keep track of how many books I have ordered and I always enjoy being surprised when they arrive.


The beautiful sunsets this time of year. They make my backyard look beautiful.

My son telling me that I am a good cook but a truly exceptional baker. I had made chocolate cake.

My aunt and grandmother who found out about my blog and were flatteringly interested. Yes, I know I have had it for over two years. I just don't talk about it that much.

My son who came home so excited about something he did in shop in school that he talked for twenty minutes straight and showed me blueprints of what he was doing. I understood nothing but I thoroughly enjoyed his enthusiasm.

Jack, the cat, had surgery to remove a tumor from his mouth. Jack is my husband's baby so we were all very worried. The vet called and the tumor was benign. Jack has now recovered well and is back on a normal diet. He is distinctly irked that he no longer gets all the canned food he wants. We are distinctly pleased he will be around to complain about it for a bit longer.

autumn in New England

All the leaves that are starting to change colors. Autumn is a bit late this year but we are finally getting the cooler nights that lead to the pretty leaves. I love the smell of autumn; the leaves, the woodsmoke, the cool, crisp air. It is all wonderful.

What golden moments have you had in your life lately?

Mini Reviews


I have a huge stack of books sitting on the coffee table. They are books I have read recently and that I keep meaning to review. However, good intentions aren't getting me anywhere so instead of full reviews, I am going to make it short and sweet with a few brief sentences on each book and whether or not I think you should read it. Are you ready?

The Feast by Margaret Kennedy. A cliffside hotel on the Cornish coast is buried when the cliff collapses. You know that from the beginning but then you go back and meet all the hotel guests and find out their stories. Who survives and who doesn't? It is a bit odd. The characters are definitely eccentric and, in some ways, it feels like a quiet story. But, at the same time, you have that cliff looming over you. Read it. I thought it was great.

The Shepherd's Life by James Rebanks. I have mixed feelings about this. It is the story of Rebanks and his family farm in the Lake District. His love of the land and his farming heritage is clear and appealing. His descriptions of the countryside made me immediately want to travel there. I learned a lot about sheep farming. But, at times I found myself annoyed with Rebanks as a person. Yes, I understand his farming life is wonderful but it is not the only life. He speaks a bit disparagingly of education but he went to Oxford. He loves the countryside but is annoyed by the walkers and other tourists who are also enjoying it. It all felt a bit disjointed to me. I enjoyed it on a certain level but I don't think I loved it as much as many others have. Read it if you happen to come across it but don't rush out and buy it.

Caught in the Revolution by Helen Rappaport*. This is a very detailed account of the 1917 Russian Revolution as told through the eyes of foreign journalist etc. who were in Russia at the time. This was not an easy read. The events during that time were truly horrifying and disturbing. The book was well-researched and detailed. However, I struggled with it. It sat on my "currently reading" shelf on Goodreads for way too long. I finally finished it and feel like I learned a lot about a time and a place I knew little about but I would not say I enjoyed it. Read it if you have an interest in the time period.

The Spirit of the Age and Other Stories from the Home Front by E. M. Delafield.* I loved this so I am saying right away that you should read it. It is a series of vignettes set during WWII in a little village called Little-Fiddle-on-the-Green. They are charming and funny and full of great characters who make you laugh out loud. If you loved Delafield's Provincial Lady then you will like this. It isn't quite as good, but then, few things are.

Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate.* A woman is on trial for her life. Each member of the jury has their own history that will affect how they decide the case. The reader is introduced to the members of the jury one by one and learns about their past and then is presented with the facts of the case. It made for a very interesting story and I enjoyed it quite a bit. One of the more successful of the British Library Crime Classics.

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley.* I will read pretty much anything about Jane Austen though my favorite book about her is Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin. I didn't feel this offered anything unusual or new but I basically enjoyed it and thought it was written in an engaging manner. I was worried about that since I saw the TV show based on this with Worsley and I had not really enjoyed it. I found her a bit irritating. I think everyone feels their Jane Austen is the real Jane Austen and Worsley is no exception. Her conclusions from things Austen wrote or said are not necessarily my conclusions. Of course, I am not an Austen scholar but still...my Jane Austen is the real Jane Austen, right? Some of it was a bit too speculative for me. Do we really need to debate whether Austen ever had lesbian sex or any sex at all, for that matter? And what was that about the titillating effects of bathing in the sea? Also, I felt Worsley frequently put modern sensibilities on Austen's thoughts and actions. But, all in all, enjoyable though not the best book about Austen that I have ever read.

I am currently reading A Chelsea Concerto by Frances Faviell. It is an account of life in Britain during WWII. So, in other words, my perfect book. I am about halfway through and highly recommend it. What have you been reading lately?

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

A Leather Journal

Portland Leather journal

A few weeks ago we went to Barnes and Noble because my son wanted to buy some expansions for his board game. He is very into board games at the moment and ropes anyone even semi-willing into playing with him. Many of them are more fun than I would have thought. Though I must admit, I didn't know there were so many Star Wars board games. I think he is determined to own all of them. We are trying to convince him to expand his collection beyond Star Wars. He says it sounds like a good idea and then he gets pulled in by the expansion sets and decides he just has to have Chewbacca or whatever. Anyway, he was taking an endless amount of time to decide exactly what he was going to buy and I was entertaining myself by browsing all the sections of Barnes and Noble I don't usually have time to investigate. This led me to the journal section and I discovered the wonders of leather journals. It was love at first sight. They were so pretty and they smelled so good and just imagine the wonders of writing in one. They were also about $40.00. I just couldn't. Not for a journal that I would fill up and then be done with. So I reluctantly walked away, towing a Star Wars laden son behind me, and regretted it as soon as I was home. Well, kind of regretted it. I wanted a leather journal but I decided the dream was a refillable one. I emerged from the depths of an internet search later that evening having discovered Portland Leather Goods. They actually have an Etsy shop as well and they were having a sale.

Portland Leather journal

Portland Leather journal

An endless amount of dithering later (maybe this is where my son gets it) I ordered a journal. There were quite a few decisions and I am not good at decisions. You can choose from a variety of leather colors and there are approximately 50 different brands you can choose to put on the front. I chose the compass but there were also mountains and sayings and even Calvin and Hobbes. You can add your name or initials which I chose not to do. Also, you have to decide about the stone on the wrap. Do you want one? What color? Maybe a bit of wood instead? Then do you want lined or unlined paper? So many choices and all of them appealing.

portland leather wrap journal

The notebook is held in by a sturdy elastic band. I messaged the company asking if it was possible to add a second elastic so I could have two notebooks inside the leather cover. They answered very quickly and said they were willing to do it but they did not recommend it because they felt it might make the cover not fit as well. The wrap wouldn't go around as well and the brand might be in the wrong place. I said, in that case, just stick with the one notebook. I do regret that decision now though. There is plenty of room for a second elastic and the leather cover would easily fit around. It is unfortunate, but I will probably just look for a thicker notebook when I replace the one that came with it.

This is in no way a sponsored post I just really, really love this journal. Do you know how sometimes you buy something that just makes you happy? Well, this journal is making me happy. And, because it is refillable, I can enjoy it for years to come.

Portland Leather Goods also makes gorgeous tote bags. So tempting. They are more expensive than  I would usually buy (because I am...frugal. Let's go with frugal.) but they are beautiful, probably would get better with age, and they would last forever. I really want one. Maybe one day.

Local Discoveries--Old Furnace State Park

Old Furnace State Park

Celia had a half-day of school last Friday and it is common knowledge that half-days are wasted unless they are spent in the company of your best friend. The original plan involved an entire afternoon and evening spent at our house complete with secret plans, pizza for dinner, and ending with pleadings for a sleepover. However, one ill father later and we had to come up with an alternative. They settled for a hike at the nearby state park and a trip for frozen yoghurt. Thank goodness they are still at the age to be easily pleased.

Old Furnace State Park

This is a walk we have done regularly over the years we have lived in the area. We first started doing it when Celia was almost four and I have clear memories of struggling up the last steep section towing an overtired small child after me. I also have clear memories of temporarily losing my son in these woods when he was younger. I freaked out and when we eventually found him he could not comprehend why I was upset. He had stayed on the path and waited at the top. What more could we ask for? Kids will be the death of me.

Old Furnace State Park

Old Furnace State Park

Old Furnace State Park

autumn fern

The girls giggled their way through the entire hike. There were endless discussions about the best breed of dog and where they should travel for the post-high-school trip they are dreaming of. The current contenders are Paris and Greece though I am sure that will change five million times in the next few years.

Old Furnace State Park

We did take a wrong turn at one point and ended up across the pond instead of on the cliffs at the top. You can see them in the trees in the photo above. They don't look particularly impressive here but they do feel high when you are standing on the edge.  They aren't massive but they are tall enough that rock climbers use them for practice.

Old Furnace State Park

Old Furnace State Park

Celia took one look at the bench in the photo above and asked me if I had a book in my backpack. She thought it would make a great photo opportunity for Instagram. She was right but unfortunately, I took my book out so my bag wouldn't be too heavy. We will just have to go back with the appropriate props.

It was a good day. We ended it with coffee-and-dark-chocolate frozen yoghurt. What more can you ask for? Well, except for a sleepover with your best friend...

This One Is For My Dad

My dad might possibly be my most dedicated blog reader and the person with the strongest belief in my ability to write. Within half an hour of finding out my blog existed, he had purchased a subscription to a writing magazine for me. So when he (kind of jokingly) suggested that he should make an appearance on my blog I knew it had to be done. So, here are a bunch of random facts and memories about my dad. And Dad? No complaining about the photos. This was your idea.

He has a firm belief that a good cup of coffee and a doughnut or two can solve all the world's ills. The doughnut should be cinnamon and the coffee should be unflavored. Flavored coffees are an abomination. From the time my kids were tiny they have loved sleeping over at Grandpa's because they know he will provide doughnuts for breakfast which is a tradition carried on from my childhood.

When I was young many of my friends were a bit intimidated by my dad. He decided he needed to do something about that and he started telling them jokes. Specifically, chicken jokes. For example: Why did the chicken cross the road? Answer: To avoid bad yolks. He had endless variations on this theme. It is hard to continue to be intimidated by someone who is telling you abysmal jokes and laughing at them more than you are. When my best friend and I graduated from high school he bought us sweatshirts that said: "Tell me a chicken joke." We made him very happy when we actually wore them.

My dad is completely convinced that my mom is the most wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, charming woman that ever walked the face of the earth. That alone is quite charming.

He always had jobs that involved writing (newspaper editor, public relations) and when I was young he frequently worked at home in the evenings. This was before the days of computers so he used a typewriter. I would lie in bed at night and hear the clack of the typewriter keys and the murmur of my parents' voices.  To this day, the sound of a typewriter brings back happy memories and a sense of security.

Once, when I was very little I found a sea urchin shell in a tidal pool in Maine. I was very excited and it immediately became a prized possession. Until that is, I managed to slip on the rocky shore, fall down, and smash my shell. I was devastated. We spent a long time looking for a new one but they were all broken or too hard to get to. Finally, my dad clambered over rocks and basically fell into a deep tidal pool in order to get me another one. I had it for years and years and when my kids broke it when they were younger I cried.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts is my dad's happy place. Let him walk along the National Seashore and then take him out for clam chowder and he is a happy man. With, of course, coffee and doughnuts for breakfast.

My dad firmly believes that clutter needs to be disposed of. This leads to his endless attempts to pawn things off on me. He also tends to throw things away. When I lived at home we always knew that if we were missing some vital piece of paper, or the newspaper, or anything else that looked like it didn't belong where it was, we should look in the garbage because Dad probably "cleaned it up." I still sometimes see my mom grabbing things out of his hands at the last minute as he is standing over the garbage. His intentions are good...

My dad used to have lots of black hair. Now he...doesn't. He claims that, as teenagers, I made him go gray and my sister made him go bald.

Once upon a time, he met Big Bird from Sesame Street. Big Bird came into the newsroom he worked in. There is photographic evidence of this but my daughter couldn't find it. If my dad sends me the photo I'll update this.

Once, when I was very little, our dog totally destroyed my Raggedy Ann doll. I had left all my stuffed toys on the floor even though I had been told not to and when we came home Raggedy Ann was in pieces. I cried and cried. There was no lecture about picking up after myself. Instead, we turned around, got straight back in the car, and went to the store to buy me a new Raggedy Ann. It wasn't quite the same but it did assuage some of the pain. I still think of it sometimes when dealing with my kids. There is a time and a place for a lecture and a time and a place for doing what makes everything better.

He loves elephants and trains and has developed quite a collection over the years. He finally had to declare a moratorium on elephant related gifts because their house was being overtaken by them. If you look in the background of the photo where he is holding a coffee cup you can see a little bit of his collection.

When my son was ten weeks old he had to have surgery to repair a cleft lip. After the surgery, he was miserable and swollen and had stitches in his lip and mouth. However, when Grandpa came in to visit Tristan managed this huge, ear to ear, smile. Grandpa was the only one that got a smile that day. My kids still think "Grandpa is awesome."

 Who am I to argue?