And fun memories were made. Many of which I witnessed, made me miss the Cowboy even more than I usually do the days we are unable to be together. But overall, a beautiful day in a serene setting over fine wine and with good friends. Blessed.
Amazing what new discoveries are out there .. when you take time to walk. And simply look around.
This past Saturday took an hour and walked the Farmer’s Market and upper end of State Street in Madison.
Little window shopping proved an appetizer for return trip soon with the kids. New niche candy shop and bakery just a few doors from each other.
There’s been boom in niche chocolatiers, cupcakeries ..
A big fan of breads and as communities look to shop and support local business, I wonder if this is something we’ll start to see more of. Apparently the case in some parts of the world.
Get out and enjoy …
It has been one of the hottest June’s on record here in Wisconsin and this week at camp, the girls .. most of them anyway .. didn’t seem to mind. Other than one day. They rode in the morning and went to the pool in the afternoon.
“Well,” my daughter tells me on the way home as she is reliving some of the fun that went on this week outside learning better horsemanship .. “some of the girls got really crabby the last couple days. I think it was just too hot.”
We laughed a little about it, especially since we were at that point, sitting in the air conditioned car. I looked at the temperature gauge. 99 degrees. According to the car.
Our 11-year-old absolutely loves this camp ..
This is only our second year of overnight .. but she’s been fortunate to come for years to the day camp. There is something about it. The place. The people. The other girls. Learning something new. Being close to home but not too close to start to really learn to feel more comfortable in her independence. Perhaps most importantly, it’s just camp. Late night chats. Secret stories. Running around like crazy. Freedom of being a kid in a cool place and confidence building in life and social skills. That experience she’ll remember for a lifetime. That she’ll perhaps tell her own daughter about.
She gave a few hugs. Said many thank you’s. Bought the standard camp sweatshirt. Grabbed a Gatorade and we hit the road. Ran errands. Then having had enough of the heat all week, grabbed the dog and headed for the River to cool off.
What a beautiful day.
While she has a few other camps coming up yet this summer, ones that I know she will love in very different ways ..
As we were watching early 4th of July Fireworks from a friends pier on the lake last night and she is leaning on my chest with her arms around me, she says, “Mom, I really miss camp. I’m worried I won’t be able to go back next year.”
“We’ll see,” I told her. “If you love it that much and it is important to you, that might be one of the things we’ll make sure you’re able to do.”
She hugged me tighter and said thanks.
I was walking the other day out of an event, one of my favorite of the year .. with a few dear friends. We were some of the last to leave, having helped clean everything up and putting the place, a camp for kids with disabilities, back to semi-normal.
One: A wise friend and mentor to us all and one of the programs biggest supporters .. who has been married to one of the most wonderful women now, for 40 plus years.
The other two: A sweet young couple I have gotten to know well and who I just love. And who at some point, I fully expect these two will get married. Sooner than later if my girlfriend has anything to say about it. She can’t hint to her rockstar boyfriend enough she is ready for the ring.
“I hear you’re getting married!” he says to me, seeming genuinely excited and sincere about it all. “That’s just great .. ” he adds, among a few other wonderful thoughts and observations. I have known this gentleman a very long time. His company was one of the first I went to work for long ago just out of high school .. we have remained friends ever since, having many mutual close friends, colleagues and causes that are important to us.
“If I can offer you one piece of advice, because I really do want things to work out for you with this one … ” he says .. which had I been drinking coffee or any sort of beverage, I would have spit it out laughing. For as sweet as I know he was being with that comment, it just struck me as funny.
He continued. “Something my wife and I have been blessed to have always done. Don’t ever go to bed upset with one another.”
Agreed. Not going to bed angry is a goal I have always strived for. I think we all do. But, we also all know it’s not always easy .. is it. Sometimes circumstance and personalities get in the way no matter how much you may try to hit that goal.
This dear friend continued to share a story about one of the most important lessons he learned from one of his High School teachers way back when he was a ‘young buck’, Mr. Hyman. “Hyman,” I asked? I had to chuckle. Hyman, he confirmed. Know it’s spelled differently but for a teacher that name had to be tough. Anyway ..
Mr. Hyman had apparently told his class long ago when our friend was a student, ‘Marriage is a lot of work. And you may think each of you needs to give 50/50 to make it work. But it’s not. One person always end up putting in 90% of the effort. And the other person, also needs to put in 90% of the effort. And somewhere in there you hope it adds up to 100%.”
Lessons we learn firsthand being in a marriage.
Being out of one as well. That’s a lesson that can apply to many things in life.
Going back into another union of hearts, dreams, families and all that goes along with that is a conversation the Cowboy and I have had on countless occasions. Not wanting to repeat past mistakes. Taking care to not take for granted what the other does or contributes. Knowing there is always work the other is doing or energy being put in that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Communication that needs to happen about life, with each other, to each other that doesn’t involve bills, the kids, the ex’s and problems. Dreams always need to be shared. Dates always need to be had. Respect for each other and who we are as individuals as well as together is the goal. Acknowledging that’s a lot of hard work, but deciding it’s worth it because the reward of a family that cares about each other, supports each other, is kind to one another, roots their day and actions in their faith, talks happiness, works only for the best and expects only the best of each other and delights in the good in the world around them sure beats the alternative.
Plus it’s no fun going to bed mad each night.
And my eyes always get puffy from crying so it’s just not pretty either.
It was only a few years after sharing his marriage insights in class, Mr. Hyman got divorced. Successful outcome of the marriage or not, it is still a good reminder that while it may not always look like both parties in a marriage or a job or any relationship are putting in all they can and more, often they are. And while we can always work harder and give more, we hope that in giving all we’ve got, no matter the ratio, it adds up to a beautiful life. Even when its not always pretty.
There is something absolutely majestic about seeing a hot air balloon up close .. or, off in the distance .. the beautiful colors up in the air a stark contrast to the blue skies surrounding it and the rolling green hills below..
Someday I’d like to get to Albuquerque for the International event there .. seems it would be amazing.
But in the meantime, I try and catch a glimpse wherever I can. Sometimes, when there is time, I like to see how close I can drive to where they might be flying to catch a glimpse more up close and personal. The sight never ceases to impress me, like .. I’ve never seen another hot air balloon before.
This past weekend we took the drive over to a festival here in Wisconsin. I had hoped the night glow would amaze my daughter like my first balloon rally event did me but stronger than desired winds and skies, threatening rain, wouldn’t allow for much activity.
So we enjoyed what he participants there that night, were able to do.
Perhaps the highlight of the night (besides the Sno Cone) ..
We ran into friends ..
And each of the girls got a chance to stand in the basket and get their photo taken like they were breathing fire (Thank you!!! They loved it!) ..
While it wasn’t quite the scene I had imagined it might be, having been to at least one rally in the past ..
It was still beautiful. I am always so amazed by the dedication any balloonist has to their sport, and the courage in which they take to the air. Some of us can hardly steer a car with two hands on the wheel and clear markings as to where we are supposed to drive. I can’t imagine the precision it takes to learn to guide such a massive object through the air, especially at some of these events where dozens of other balloons are floating nearby and you’ve got to maneuver around them.
As I was glancing at the Albuquerque page .. I came across this, The Balloonist’s Prayer. Didn’t realize there was such a thing. But how beautiful .. and, prayers are always good.
May all of our travels, whether it is by land, sea or air, always be safe.
May the winds welcome you with softness.
May the sun bless you with its warm hands.
May you fly so high and so well that God
joins you in laughter and sets you gently
back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.
.. That Has Not Gone ‘According to Plan’.
When you’re young .. you can’t wait to grow up. When you ‘grow up’.. we’re taught you go to school. Find a job. Find ‘the one’. Get a dog. Get married. Buy a house. Have children. Save for retirement/college educations/and the little things. Grow old together and live happily ever after.
It is a wonderful picture painted .. a great thing to strive for and would probably be a beautiful life.
I know and am close to a number of families who are older, who have had this life and have great stories to tell .. or who are currently living it out well.
On the flip side, I probably know more who are challenged to ‘live the dream.’ To follow, for so many reasons, the path that has long been considered our ‘societal norm.’
What is the norm anymore? Kind of scary to think sometimes. While it may not always be what we want or were hoping for .. while we may be disappointed we didn’t do better .. wished we had made better choices .. or done things differently ..
Relishing where we are at, is also one of the best things we can do in the face of adversity and change and disappointment over not being ‘where we are supposed to be’ at any given time in our adult lives.
For instance …
I had a house. I loved my house. I loved both my/our houses, actually. The first one my ex and I lost to toxic mold, which meant we spent two years in and out of temporary residences with a newborn who knew nothing different and could handle it far better than perhaps her parents did. But we made it through. And then we bought a second home, far more home than we should have bought, but after a catastrophic loss on the first, insurance dictated what kind of second home we could buy and where it had to be located. And we did the best we could, given the restrictions. But it was tough. And that was before the divorce. In the divorce, I kept the house because I wanted to do what I could to give our daughter stability through what was another tough time for us all. But it sank me, financially.
Don’t sell yet. Don’t sell yet, friends and acquaintances in the real estate industry would tell me. Let the market recover. But little did we know, the recession was about to hit. All I could do was try and work more, work harder, to make ends meet. I was home less and less. My gardens became overgrown. The dogs had to entertain themselves while I was away. And rarely did I see or have the chance to spend a few minutes chatting over the back fence with a neighbor.
A year and a half after selling the house, we find ourselves in a tiny two bedroom apartment. We sold many of our things and I can’t wait yet to give away/sell more. I’m tired of stuff. I don’t want things. I want time. With my daughter. With family, friends and others I love. More savings. Less debt. Less house to clean. Yard work, but only as much as I want. And time to hang out with the neighbors.
Which for the first time in I would say most of my adult life, most of these things, I’m finding I am able to do either for the first time, or again.
I am loving the upsides of us downsizing. And the things I’m rediscovering about life or myself or what’s important, I’m not sure I would have learned, not this quickly anyway, had everything just gone along according to society’s ‘master plan.’
Last night after my daughter and the ten year old next door took the dog for a walk, which they do most every night, I got to walk into their apartment to say, it’s time to come home and get ready for bed. They were totally just hanging out, like I did with neighbors when I was a kid.
The adults spend time chatting out back, over a beer at the end of the day or the garden beds the landlord allowed to be built and who’s growing what.
We were talking about getting a whiffle ball game going some night. A ‘community yard sale’. A badmitton net put up. The hula hoops were out.
The kids were learning some skateboard moves from one of the guys upstairs. He’s a researcher in genetics. His girlfriend a nurse. Their roommate a chef. Our other neighbor, a professor. A teacher and nursing assistant live next door. We’ve met and spent time with some of their families .. last night the woman who’s apartment I moved into, came downstairs from her now 3rd floor apartment and introduced us to her sister, who is deaf. She may now give my daughter and the boy next door lessons in sign language.
Conversations I was rarely able to find time to have with my neighbors when I would come home each night to my actual home.
“Can we grab the dog,” is the text I find on my phone now almost daily from the neighbors in the apartment next door, knowing I’m still at work. Then comes another, in jest, I think: “We just looooooovvvvee her, you might not get her back. Do not call the police.”
“What are you doing for dinner, we have extra food, come on up!”
“Grab a seat, stay!”
“Can I help you with that?”
“When’s the Cowboy coming back?” 🙂
“Do you want us to put something on the grill for you? It’s hot ..”
I miss my old neighborhood (and neighbors), which isn’t too far from where I’m at in terms of physical location. But while .. where I’m at in life isn’t necessarily where I’m supposed to be if you look at ‘the plan’ .. I couldn’t be in a better place.
As my daughter and so many other kids wrap up their last day of school for the 2011-2012 school year ..
I took a few moments this morning to say thank you to those who have been so gracious to us and walk the hallways one last time.
It’s cathartic to have moments like these as a parent .. to reflect on the year gone by, how much your child has changed ..
.. the people who have had such an impact, the things they have learned, the excitement of each day and the noise typically bouncing off the walls .. on the playground or a class out on the lawn.
Then see how empty ..
Put away neatly in its place ..
And how quiet everything now seems.
As a child, those sounds to me felt like freedom. Freedom to sleep in for awhile. Freedom to run. To build forts, climb trees all day and go on lengthy, leisurely bike rides with friends. It felt like it was time again for a fan in the window. Chorus’ of crickets and frogs at night. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches each day for lunch. And popsicles. Family reunions. Packing bags for the summer vacation we always took in the car. It just felt like change because I knew .. as I walked out of school each year .. that in a few months, it would bring a whole new class, set of challenges, responsibilities which thinking back, I always felt so ready for and that I was also getting older. That was something I couldn’t wait for back then. Sound familiar?
That was as a child.
As a parent .. school releasing for the year seems so bittersweet because I know it means in many ways, the same things to her as it did to me as a child. But we also know now as adults, how quickly that time flies by. And I want so very much, to savor each precious moment.
This is our last particular year at this school so we won’t be coming back. Middle school awaits. And unlike where I went to middle school, which was simply a walk down the hall .. in Madison, that means typically somewhere halfway across town.
There are so many we will miss. Friends, teachers, administrators, staff. Thank you all for the job you do and how much you care. It shows. It makes a difference. And it helps set in place a wonderful foundation for a lifetime of learning and of caring about community.
“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” – Khalil Gibran
We wish you the best .. and hope everyone has a wonderful, safe and fun summer!
6th Grade here we come!
I have sincerely had this song stuck in my head now for days.
Sit in that six lane backed up traffic
Honks are honking, I’ve about had it
I’m looking for an exit sign
Gotta get out of here, get it all off my mind
And like a memory from your grandpa’s attic
A song comes slippin’ through the radio static
Changing my mood, a little George Strait 1982
And it makes me wanna take a back road
Makes me wanna take the long way home
Put a little gravel in my travel
Unwind, unravel all night long
Makes me wanna grab my honey
Tear down some two-lane country, who knows
Get lost and get right with my soul
Makes me wanna take, makes me wanna
Take a back road.
– Rodney Atkins, Take a Backroad
I’m thinking the fact this has been just spinning in my head must be a sign. That, at the very least, I need a vacation.
It’s a few years old now ..
But as I was looking back through photos for something that might go with yesterdays post, I came across this one of my daughter at our friends ranch near Dillon, Montana.
And just want my daughter to know, it will always be one of my favorites of her. A reminder of a simpler time and place in our lives. But also just a simple, wonderful place we go as often as we can. Where the pace is as fast as you want to go. Where it’s tough to be in cell range. But you can be as connected as you want to be. Where neighbors can be found in each other’s small shops sipping coffee, grabbing a beer .. or with the whole family and a dish to pass at the fairgrounds .. everyone keeping an eye on each others kids, keeping them honest, but allowing room for a lot of fun, where people work hard but say they wouldn’t have it any other way.
I love the city. Big cities. Small cities. I love the culture. I love the food. I’m a huge fan of people watching. I love the hustle and bustle. The buzz. The Cowboy, when we first met, worried a bit about the fact I rarely sit still.
‘Sure’, I’ve told him. ‘I love this – on one level. There is always somewhere to go, something to do or family and friends to see .. ‘
But there is a lot to be said, for taking a backroad.
And at some point, only God knows when, I’m looking forward to that being more a part of my daily commute.
I want to be sure my daughter knows who the important women are in my life ..
And I am so very fortunate that there are many.
For now though .. I want to at least say a few words about the various women who are my mothers, by different definition, or who have stepped into that role for me willingly or otherwise and are as close to my own mother as they come.
The days leading up to Mother’s Day, I believe, are as good a time as any to share those thoughts.
A godmother is a female godparent in the Christian tradition.
God parents are responsible in nurturing the spirtual growth of the child. The parents guide the child in day-to-day functions, but the God parent guides the child when it comes to their relationship with God. It is actually a very big responsibility and an honorable position to hold in the childs life.
Godmother may also refer to:
- A female arranged to be legal guardian of a child if untimely demise is met by the parents
- Godmother (cocktail), a cocktail made with Italian Amaretto liqueur and vodka
(When you look at the word Godmother too many times it starts to look weird, doesn’t it? Anyway …)
I don’t remember ever not knowing my Godmother. She has been a part of my life always. I don’t know how she was picked. But I called her tonight, told her I was writing about her and asked if she remembered what that moment was like .. the moment my parents asked her to be my Godmother.
“Who is this?” she first said.
It’s been awhile since we’ve talked, obviously and at the very least, I learned my number isn’t programmed into her phone. I feel bad about that.
“It’s me. And I’m writing about you tonight. Tell me about ….”
“It’s you? .. How are you? I can barely hear you,” she said. “What was the question again?”
Anti-climactic, I guess.
She went on to tell me that she and her husband, my Godfather were thrilled. She said they had seen me, and were so excited to have been asked.
“We were thrilled,” she said. “In fact, not too long ago, I came across the certificate that says we are your Godparents,” she added.
I asked if she might send me a copy, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it .. nor do I remember what the certificate we signed with my own daughter’s Godparents looks like.
I knew that if anything ever happened to me, she and her husband would be the ones to care for me. That thought, by the way, used to scare the hell out of me. Not that they, her name is Donna by the way .. Donna and her husband would care for me, but that they were there ‘in case something ever happened‘ to my parents.
They were always there with a good joke. With an invite to dinner. At school events. In fact, Donna used to work at one of the schools I attended growing up, so I had quite a bit of time with her. They are always there with a birthday or holiday card. They have come to every major life event. And many of the minor ones too.
No matter how much or how little we are in touch .. she, and they are here for me and my family.
I don’t know that I have ever spoken a word about God to – or with my Godmother though .. is that common for most, anymore? In fact the last three times were were probably in church together were my baptism, my wedding and my own mother’s funeral.
Is the role of Godmother more symbolic anymore than it is about the traditional role? Or has it always been that way? I believe so.
(My own sweet child, I feel terrible I have no idea if you have ever had a conversation about faith with your own Godmother.)
Regardless, I am so appreciative of Donna’s constant presence in my life, and the reason why. That she would guarantee I have a loving home if ever needed.
The peace of mind, to a parent, I believe is priceless.
And I would think, an honor to both the one asking that someone would say yes .. and to those being asked.
Thank you, Donna (and G). Love you dearly.
And to the Godmother of my own daughter, love you for always being there for her too, more than you will ever know.
Now about that Godmother cocktail…