Time to meander …

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.

http://www.businessday.com.au/nsw/smaller-bakeries-rise-as-famous-names-feel-the-squeeze-20120727-2302d.html

Get out and enjoy …

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Looking forward to …

… a lifetime of conversations.

Much has changed since the last post.

The Cowboy and I .. along with our children .. married in July 2012.

“It’s not what we have in our life, but who we have in our life that counts.” – J.M Laurence.

 

Work hard, play hard .. playing catch up:

It’s been a busy past couple of weeks ..  spring/early summer always seem to be anymore, don’t they?  Good busy, but whew .. busy.

So much to do ..  projects to get done, events to go to, family and great friends to see and get caught up with, especially now that the windows are open once again and the neighborhood has once again come alive!  Sadly, there never seems to be enough time to just let it all soak in and fully enjoy.

But we try.

In an effort to get somewhat caught up on posts without having to write two weeks worth:

First official week of summer.  6th grade here we come!  Downtime for my daughter means  coming home to concoctions in the refrigerator that are unidentifiable but that she says she wants to eat.  Friends high school/college graduation parties.  Family graduation parties, too.  Family gatherings.  Time at the River.  Gigs.  Practicing guitar.  Catching up with old friends.  Work.  Camps.  Catching up on meetings.  Taking on new projects.  Wrapping up old ones.  Watering the garden.  Trying to fit in a workout.  Time in the backyard with the neighbors.  Chasing my dog back home. Time with the Cowboy.  Time with his kids.  More gigs.  Seeing my daughter off to camp (she’s so excited, more to come on that mañana).

Getting back to church.  Special projects at work.  Golf events in the name of good causes.  90+ degree heat.  No air conditioning at home.  Father’s Day bbq.  Farmers Market.  New phone.  Not liking new phone.  Trying to figure out how to get photos off new phone.  Trying to find time to take new phone back and return for another new, different phone.  Trying to fit in another workout (longer than the one before because I didn’t leave enough time for a good hearty one that’ll work off the beer I so enjoy having, especially on a hot summer night).  Looking for the right wedding dress.  Telling family/close friends that I’d prefer hear from me that I’m getting married .. that I’m getting remarried.  Still trying to find the right wedding dress in part, because I don’t really want a wedding dress.  Just a nice dress that I can wear again that won’t cost me really much at all if anything.  In fact, my favorite choice so far is an awesome crocheted piece I got at a resale shop a couple years ago now for $10.  I digress .. Tonight, conversations with the Cowboy centered around trying to find just the right bible versus for what will be a very quiet, simple ceremony, while having a glass of chilled white wine.  Which means, I need to fit in a workout tomorrow morning before leaving early for work and a day of shoots for the upcoming month of sweeps.  That’s my deal with myself.  I can have a beer or a glass of wine as long as I get in a run at some point during the day.  How’s that for a pact.  The pounds, as some of you know when you age, don’t come off as easily as they used to .. so I’d rather not get incredibly far behind.  Or I’ll develop a big behind.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that ….

The Cowboy’s daughter said to me this weekend as we were all doing cartwheels on the Capital lawn during the Farmer’s Market .. ‘not too bad for a 40 year old!’.  “Gee, thanks” I told her, trying to act frustrated but could hardly keep back from laughing.

(last couple weeks cont.) .. oh yeah, few more things to add and then feeling more caught up.  Also been consumed with Root beer.  Ice cream.  Kayaking out on the lake amongst all the weeds.  Stand Up Paddleboarding with a woman I absolutely adore.  Trying to figure out how to do yoga on a paddle board.  Wine after paddle boarding.  Finding a bike in the lake while climbing a tree.  Larry who’s not really Larry but who was awesome at helping my daughter pull seaweed out of the tires of the bike and clean it off so that we could put it in a friends car (the paddle boarder!).  Which reminds me, need to go pick that up.  Note to self.

Tying up out of control tomato branches so rest of garden can breathe.  Fans in the window again.  And again.  Sunflowers on the table.  Conversations about faith and family and doing what’s best.  Or what we believe is best.  Making tough decisions.  Keeping those close to the vest for now.  Talking with a friend who’s mother’s cancer is progressing.  Madison Children’s Museum.  Making soap.  Not going to the Union.  Birth father stopping by and getting to better know some of my half siblings (who are just incredible kids).  Raspberry pie.  And shortly .. will be putting shoes by the door so I can boogie on another quick run in the morning and not spend time trying to figure out where I last left one or both of them.  Or do I just get on the road to today’s golf outing.  Love that someone came up with the idea to get people to golf to support great causes.

Excited to write about camp tomorrow ..

Strawberry picking ..

This is perhaps the first day of downtime I/we’ve really had in a long time ..

And we’re still on the go.

I’m incredibly behind on writing.  I gave myself the gift of not feeling guilty I wasn’t living up to my goal of one post a day .. and instead tried to focus on getting in a workout and simply getting done what I had to get done each day.

………………..

On the go today though consists of doing a lot of whatever we feel like doing, which fired up about.  The Cowboy and the kiddos are here .. my daughter is with her dad, so they’re a bit bummed about that but once in awhile the split can be a good thing .. as we all continue to adjust to time together, how that works and what that means.

Plan for the day was:  Blog.  Play guitar with the Cowboy and big sis.  Sidewalk chalk with the boys.  A little badminton.  Change for the bus.  Farmers Market.  Strawberry picking.  Barn.  River/pool.  Guitar store.  Grill out.  Hang out.  We’ll probably do most of the following but strawberry picking is out apparently.

http://www.pickyourown.org/PYO.php?URL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisconsingrown.com

90% of the crop

Feel bad for the growers .. also sad for any potential pickers because it is such a quintessential summer tradition for so many families.  Had hoped to take the kids for their first pick.  If you’ve never been ..

Imagine the feeling you get opening up a package of great looking strawberries from the store.

Now multiply that times like 500.  Not only is it heartwarming watching kids (young and old alike) discover row after row the beautiful, ripe fruit .. but the sight of the bright red juice running off the side of their face as they pick one .. then eat one .. and repeat until often they can eat no more .. with strawberry stains that most likely won’t come out again on their white shirt that you forgot you probably shouldn’t have sent them in ..

Next season .. for now, off to the Farmer’s Market.  We’ll have to settle for donut sprinkle stains.

Fan in the window ..

It will be 92 degrees outside today.

Inside, it’s cold and I have the heater next to my desk, on.

I don’t ever mean to complain about air conditioning.  It is wonderful.  It means none of us ever has to sit there and sweat buckets in the heat and humidity of a Midwest Summer.  It means a break from the thick air that often comes along a few months out of the year in Wisconsin.  The cool air is a reprieve.  Gives us some consistency in an otherwise unpredictable day.  Sometimes there is nothing like the feeling of walking into a building and feeling that first touch of cool air hit your skin.  Ahhhhhh.  Right?

But I freeze in the A/C.  I carry a sweater with me everywhere during the summer months.  And if that’s not enough, when I’m at work anyway, the heater underneath my desk gets put to good use.

At home ..

I don’t have air conditioning.  Sure, once in awhile I’ve broken down and put in a window unit at times.  But never central air.  I didn’t grow up with it.  I can’t get used to it.  I love the windows open, the fresh air, and not feeling like I need to layer clothes in the heat of summer.

But sometimes, along comes a hot stretch that has you rethinking your options.

Like, right now..

The forecast today calls for 92 degrees.  A bit cooler than yesterday.  I’m pretty sure, my animals at the very least, are displeased with me and our lack of cool air as we are in the midst of a hot stretch.  I could hardly rouse them off the floor in front of the fan in the open window last night.

We’re doing our best…

The Cowboy laughed at me last night as he and the kids were all settled nicely into the one room of his house where he’s got an air conditioning window unit of his own.  (He’s threatening to go buy one for me when they visit again.)

While the neighbors have offered to help me put in a window air conditioning unit should I break down and get one .. I’m going to do what my dad always made us do as kids.  For now, anyway:

Close up the house early enough in the day, the cool air from the night before is still present.  Close as many of the drapes as possible to keep sunlight out.  And as the evening cools, bring the box fans back out.  Put them in the window and bring the cool air back in.  And perhaps most important, make sure my daughter doesn’t keep grabbing her fleece full-body-with-footies pajamas to wear to bed at night.

It worked for us then, and for the most part, has until now.  (Saying this as I wipe sweat off my brow)

http://www.naturalhomeandgarden.com/leafy-greens/5-ways-to-keep-your-home-cool-in-summer-without-air-conditioning.aspx

Let’s see how hot the summer of 2012 gets.

http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/10-ways-to-keep-cool-without-air-conditioning-a-planet-green-roundup.htm

Hot Air Balloon Rally

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.

http://www.balloonfiesta.com/

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.

Just One Upside to a Life ..

.. 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.