Peeling paper on the walls leading downstairs, worn old carpet underfoot. The basement with the brown paneling, memories of family parties over the years. Bags and boxes of dried flowers for arranging, heaps of them in storage. A huge AC Moore craft bag when they were going out of business, stocked with ribbons, wreaths, more dried flowers, pinecones, acorns, twigs and tiny bird nests still in the wrapping. We put together a white wired basket filled with old paint, paintbrushes, glue gun cartridges (she had at least 100), fabrics of patterned blues, whites and greens. She loved nature and being outdoors. She had a whole garage full of garden stuff. I wondered what would happen to it all. She had loved her garden gnomes and little signs, whimsical and happy for the little people that would come to visit. And we were all little once. Bags and boxes of clothes from Talbots and Orvis, each piece worn with love. Pelty towels, some christmas themed, some in the closet for a good twenty plus years. Her beautiful watercolored paintings, brushed with talented hands and careful strokes, capturing scenes that only she saw. Tears shed on the drive home, thinking of my dear Aunt Maureen, grateful to belong to a family where sharing always did mean caring and where memories of cold ski vacations warmed my heart.
“If there were no words, no way to speak, I would still hear you.”
These are my Valentines, older now. Thinking of when they were young and we’d go to Cape Cod every year and rent bikes to ride on the trails. Now that they are teenagers they are not so easy to shuffle around, and they don’t want to do what we, as their parents, always want to do. These moments are cherished in photos, where time stands still for as long as we look at them. I know they’ve had their moments of struggles this year as the world figures Covid out. They’ve missed many social opportunities. My older daughter, now 16, tells me she doesn’t want to learn how to drive, as “there’s no where to go”. I think back to when I was 16 hopping in the car, picking up friends, driving to the beach. To hear her say this makes me feel like I’m not doing well as a mom to her. We argued the night before Valentine’s Day. I tried to coax her to learn how to drive. She screamed she would when she is ready. Then there was silence. I needed to take a step back to not say anything else. She was mad at me for what I already said. My encouraging intentions quickly were replaced with feelings of ambivalence. The air shifted between us. How to let these kids, my loves, know that I will always be here for them no matter what. Though she said nothing to me for the next so many hours, I was ever so present waiting and wondering. Then came Valentine’s Day, and the words to that Valentine song: “If there were no words, no way to speak, I would still hear you…” As moms, we wait for the moments, capturing what we possibly can. So now I observe and just wait with patience. I believe she doesn’t really know what to say either about these days. Though she’s not speaking, I’m here listening.
In the early morning AM, with chill in the air, snow on the ground, and a bright sun shining, I ran. I ran on the shoveled sidewalks at the green, I ran with more mindfulness on some of the iceier patches along the shadows of the houses, I ran faster and faster on the cleared pavement, wanting to desperately get in a winter’s run. The feeling was exhilarating. To move through the covered, cold scenery and to be moved by the covered, cold scenes. All on a winter’s morn.
My new year word “exhilarating” had me listing some items today. I spent a couple hours showcasing some little things I have lying around the house, on ebay. At an estate sale last week I bought an old crumbling sewing box of threads, mini scissors, wooden thread spools, buttons galore, patches, and a few other items I had to carefully shift through. When I finished this is what the contents revealed:
There were 5 vintage matchbook sized mending kits, one from a dairy company and four from the wonderbread company to repair ladies hoisery. Upon checking ebay these items had already been listed there. So, I’m trying my luck and listing my items. Have you ever listed any little items laying around the house and had success in selling?
I’m feeling frustrated with the lighting in my living room. We’ve been needing a new standing floor lamp for about a year now. It’s dark in this room that I write in, especially in the winter. We received a tiffany lamp, as a gift from my brother in law, for our wedding over 19 years ago. That stands in one space. Truthfully I would love to update that lamp. In another corner is a floor lamp that is wooden brown and has a tan shade. I like it. It goes with the decor of the room. Finally, today I went out and purchased a standing lamp for another corner of the room. It is a metal, gold, rectangular shaped pole at the top with a crisp white linen drum shade. It is more modern. We need the lighting and none of it works together. Yes they all give off light in their different spaces, but they are all of three styles. We have no ceiling lights. Any ideas of how to bring the three pieces together? Or perhaps ditch or switch one or two?
Sometimes the moments are just in sync with one another, even on Mondays. It’s a back to work day with little sleep the night prior. I’m not sure why, but I felt like I just tossed and turned the early morning hours away. I think it was because I knew I’d have to get up early and go back to work after a week off, and it is winter, and cold, and there was frost on the ground outside the window. Anyway, this afternoon my teenage daughter did not want to go to her driving lesson. She had been excited at first, then my husband said something that triggered a serious reaction in her. She went from elated to resistant in a matter of a second. With a quick pep talk she was out the door as I silently prayed a prayer for all to be well. I looked up advice later to see if I had reacted O.K. https://www.rd.com/list/how-to-deal-with-your-moody-teenager/ #4 “Try not to react so quickly” according to Jennifer Levine in her article “How to Deal With a Moody Teeanager”. A half hour later, at the same time I received an updated text from my husband stating “Nice folks at the driving school”, my youngest came down the stairs and placed in front of me a handwritten thank you note to her grandparents for the gifts she had received. The moment was perfect. In fact it was my exhilarating moment of the day. Two good things, one with each kid, colliding at the same time. All is right for the time being, so glad I did not react quickly to teen’s moodiness.
Day three of the new year and looking to see how the new word of 2021 transpires today. It did at the wood pile, in the back yard, in the cold weather with icy snow falling. I saw we needed more stacked wood, and sure enough, was inspired again to do something exhilarating. Wood is stacked.
A suffragette from the 1800’s, a wealthy developer, the zoning board, a mayor, a handful of girl scouts, an author, several historians, a college history professor, a reporter, and many local residents. These are the players. The game board? An 1856 Carpenter Gothic style home, that sits in front of three acres of overgrown land, on Main Street, directly outside the historic district, and diagnolly across from the Historic Society, a stone’s throw away. Who will win the game? The game will be played next Wednesday, June 24, at 7 pm, at a virtual town zoning meeting.
So in all honesty I felt the blog I wrote yesterday was typical and boring. It summarized my 2020 year though not in quite enough details. Enough was written yesterday however to lead to an “exhilarating” re-action today. The Polar Bear Plunge for Make A Wish! It appeared on my facebook feed and I contemplated back and forth and back and forth if I should do it. I looked up what I should wear. Polar Bear Plunge Tips. I texted my many cousins and asked, Who’s In? My cousin Kathy, in New Jersey, (I live in Connecticut), replied “If you really want to do the plunge then do it. I would be there for you cheering you on…” Her reply made my heart swell, as she just got out of a five day hospital stay for Covid. When I looked back on my blog from yesterday, and saw the 2021 word I chose, “Exhilaration”, there was no way I could NOT do the plunge, paired with Kathy’s response. The Coordinator had written on Facebook that it would be from 12-12:15, and “Don’t think too much about it”. At 11:30, I was dressed in biker shorts, old sneakers, a sports bra and tee short. I packed a bag with extra sneakers, a towel, a change of clothes and made myself a hot cup of tea. For the ten minute ride there I blasted the heat. I got out of my car at 11:55, stood next to a friend who had decided to plunge, and hopped back and forth to stay warm. (It was 37 degrees outside by the way.) Spectators were bundled in overcoats, hats and mittens. I thought, silly them! At 12 I ran to the water and jumped in. I went all the way up to my shoulders. It was exhilarating! I did not feel the chill of the water, and when I quickly came out I was actually warm, though my legs were pink and numb. I felt great! I was back in my car by 12:05 soaking wet. I turned up the heat and drove home deciding I would start every year this way. I was glad to have chosen this word for 2021, but even more glad that my cousin Kathy was home with her husband.
“A feeling of excitement, happiness, or elation.” There was dabbling in blogging in 2020. Now it’s time to take it a step further, to write about how I truly feel, more often. Though the day is gray, and cold, there’s a warm fire in our newly cleaned 80 year old fireplace. Our house is 80 years old, and it has the character to prove it, from the wooden oak flooring to the living room built-ins to the shelf in the corner of our dining room. It is small, quaint, cozy, and carries the vibes of family gatherings, time spent alone, hurried days of work and family living. Another night leading into a new year. 2020 was unlike no other year ever in any way. Losing my cousin Dana to pancreatic cancer in March, she was the same age as me. Every year of my life, every Christmas Eve, always so eager to catch up with her.
Then, immediatey after she was gone, Covid hit the world. Staying put, learning how to teach through being remote, hunkering down and wearing masks. Sewing masks became the trademark skill. Yard signs of appreciation to our front line workers, graduates who never got to walk, black lives that matter, each sprung up on front lawns.
Summer was still hot but vacation was not the same. At the beach in Cape Cod and Ocean City Maryland, mask wearing was still encouraged. Eating in was more welcomed.
The fall took my dear Aunt Maureen, twin of my mom. Few words to describe the enormous loss. Admiration for her daughters, my cousins, who cared for her until the end. A very tiny funeral.
In Winter I repurposed some old bells I found by tying them to a birch log and having them hang in different lengths in front of the fireplace. The fireplace I sit in front of now while trying to think of a new word that I hope will describe the year ahead: 2021. Exhiliration. Taking new risks with blogging and antiquing. Being more business minded. Fully enjoying vacations that were so limited this past year. Deepening relationships. I also dream of a bigger and better garden. Yes, Exhiliration will be my word. What will be yours?