village people

Tonight I am going to spend time with a couple of girls I’ve known for many years, in the sort of way that there is comfort and ease in each others’ company no matter how long it’s been since we’ve been together. No need to put on a show; I’ll probably wear my soft pants and take off my shoes. There will be food and drink and dishing. And rebalancing and resettling of the business of our lives.

Sometimes when I am overwhelmed and out of sorts and wondering about the point of it all, I stop and breathe for a moment and remember the good things – surely there must be a few. The biggest: my village. The people I’ve known since college have been here the longest and own a big chunk of my heart. The ones who came with them, too. Our Roanoke family – not by blood, but by choice. How different my life would be without that giant circle of good people. Our Rosens and extended Rosens. Our Green Lake moms and dads. The Underwoods and the geeks that came with The Geek.

Social media makes it easy to reach out and stay in touch when you can’t always do it physically. I can’t give that up despite the dumb quizzes. There’s a secret Facebook group called Mommy Dearest – it began with my like-minded mom friends, raising our kids the best way we know how, not afraid to mock ourselves, raise a glass and maybe ask a serious question or two. It’s over 60 people now who don’t even all know each other, but they offer support and laughter. My village keeps growing.

That’s why I make the Geek help me clean the house and do the shopping for parties even though it’s not his favorite thing. It’s why I am constantly feeding people. It’s my way of giving back what they give to me. Those of you know who you are – thanks for answering the call and making my village so bright and funny and necessary.

 

the way back

I posted this status on Facebook a while ago:

Sometimes I still feel like that girl that used to wonder around downtown in the 80′s with a camera, having coffee and a cigarette outside the old Nordstrom. Life was good then.”

 It was so easy then. No doubt there were struggles of some sort, but nothing major comes to mind. It seemed like the possibilities were endless, not that I’d considered any.  Then, like now, I tend to live in the moment. Which explains how I ended up here.  But I digress.

Now that Nordstrom is many spaces, including Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie. Back then, the Rack was actually in the basement of Nordstrom and had real treasures. What is now Nordstrom was Frederick & Nelson’s – I actually tried on wedding dresses there. I sat outside the Nordstrom coffee bar with my coffee, cigarette and camera, watching the world go by and probably considered myself quite arty and European.

There were no weighty decisions to make, save when to have coffee or meet a friend. High school and college overlapped these years – I’d go back to college in a heartbeat. (High school can suck it.)

No Facebook to check, no constant tether to anything but what you were doing right then. How much more brain space I must have had.

I’m sure I didn’t give much thought to life in 25 years. But I gotta say, now that those 25 years have come and gone, responsibility blows. The worrying blows. Being in charge of small people and a business is hard. Most of the time, I find myself wondering where the real parents and bar owners are. I am afraid on a daily basis that I am doing it all wrong.

A friend commented on my status, wondering if we’d look back in 20 years at this time in our lives in the same way. I’d say the only thing this time has to recommend it over the future is our relative health, but who knows? I find myself thinking more frequently about the fact that I should probably pay a little more attention to the future (amid slight panic) and a little bit less to the now, but I am afraid to miss anything.

I know that girl outside Nordstrom with the camera is still in me. It might be the only thing that gets me through some days.

At the old Ace Records in Ellensburg - 1987/88?

At the old Ace Records in Ellensburg – 1987/88?

just right

You guys. We did it.

P1050846

Moms

P1050855

Mmm, snacks!

Dinner!

Dinner!

So, yeah. The days of endless projects and prep are over. I survived and lived to tell about it.

Thanks for your kind words here and on Facebook about my last post. You guys are the best. And in other news, I just saw the before photos of the kitchen – SCARY. A reveal post soon.

giving thanks

It will come as no surprise to many of you that I like a good party. I like to go to them and give them. I am particular and controlling and bossy about my parties. I like the planning and the cooking and the eating and the friends who come.

In early October, I decided to host Thanksgiving. That is not unusual in and of itself – I have done it many times before. But this time it’s special. I coerced my parents to make the trek north from Oregon – the first time ever. The Geek’s parents, his uncle and our good friends Creepy, Lin and Spike (yes, that’s his name and well-deserved) will all come.

Since then, I have repainted the dining/living room, part of the kitchen and hallway, installed new curtains, made The Geek lay a vinyl plank floor, repainted the kitchen cabinets and made new curtains for the lower 3 cabinets that don’t have doors. I have switched out the china cabinet in the living room for a more mod glass shelf bookcase. I have created a Craft Hall.

I have planned the menu and braved Costco and Whole Foods. I have IRONED.

Even for me, this is beyond the pale. But this is no ordinary Thanksgiving. The Geek’s mom is slipping away. Her memory for short-term things is not good. Not good at all. She will ask you the same question every time you talk to her, even though you’ve told her the answer 10 times before. She loses simple things. For the first time a few weeks ago, she forgot how to do the books at the bar, something she’s done for probably 25 years. She cried in the Geek’s arms because she knew. She knows.

This Thanksgiving is special because it might be the last one she can fully participate in. It’s special because we will all be making our own memories. I need the walls to be bright and fresh. I need that nasty kitchen cabinet to be gone. I need a new kitchen floor. I need the food to be how I picture it. THIS is what I can control.

Of course I know the most important part is all of us being here together. But the rest counts – it makes the whole picture. I need it to be right.

I hope your Thanksgiving is all you want it to be.

what i want to be when i grow up

Hi, friends. Been a while. I hope all is well in your world.

Nothing of substance to complain about over here, but I will admit to some mysterious aches and pains that have plagued me in recent months. Due in part to overuse and just plain getting old, I’m afraid.  I’ve been for some PT and gotten some exercises.

All this to say, I  ain’t getting any younger and it’s time to get serious. I’ve never HAD to exercise or diet. I don’t eat crap on a regular basis, but I could eat better. And for sure ANY excerise will be more than I am getting now. Apparently walking to and from the bus isn’t really cutting it.

I did do the running thing for a bit, and I enjoyed it. My knees, not so much.  Although I may give it another go at some point, right now my plan is to take a gentle yoga class and work in a body weight routine I can do at home – I am just not a go-to-the-gym girl.  I’m going to start with this routine.

This has been percolating in my brain for some time. But what really brought it home was seeing the 6 fierce ladies  in this video this week. They are simply amazing. It makes me actually look forward to what the next 20-40 years might bring. We don’t have to fade away with our tight perms and polyester slacks. We can stay stylish and fit and excited about life. Their lives aren’t perfect – some days it’s hard to get out of bed even for them. But they do it – looking great and having fun at the same time.

If I can be like them when I’m their age, I will be happy. I’m starting now.

Get yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and prepare to be inspired by these “Fabulous Fashionistas”.

fifteen

Huh. Seems I didn’t write a post for the Girl Child’s 14th birthday last year. She turned 14 anyway, and now here we are at 15. Already.

Which also means that I have been a mom for 15 years. Those baby days are so far behind me, it’s hard to recall what they were like. I see photos and am reminded of points in time, but the people in them (myself included) seem like strangers or maybe people I once knew.

We took the kids out of school for one day last week to get away early for spring break. The Girl Child’s high school frowns upon this sort of thing, calling them “unexcused absences”. Which I think is silly.  When it comes down to it, the trip we took will be remembered far longer than missing one day of school. And at this stage in the game, family trips like that will be farther and fewer between.

Time in these crucial years is running out and I admit to a bit of panic. What if I’ve been doing it all wrong?

There has been yelling. And impatience. Frustration. Waiting for the bad times to pass. Meanwhile maybe missing some good moments along the way.

A big regret – not enough hugs as the kids get older. My own fault, falling back into the routine I grew up with. I need to change that while I still have a few years.

But there has also been big love, even when we aren’t each other’s favorite person. Silliness. Saying I’m sorry. Encouragement. Growing inside and out. Tolerance and acceptance. Pride.

Fifteen is a tricky one. Just on the cusp, more adult edging out the kid. Needing to let the adult out to make decisions, letting her see where her choices take her while so wanting to protect her, especially in this crazy new world. It’s not my fifteen.

And it never will be. This is HER world now. I will still be there to cushion where I can, nudge when I need to – sometimes even a strong PUSH. But maybe the best thing I can do now is sit back and wait, spot her a little, and clap the loudest and proudest at her successes.

And I know there will be many.

Happy Fifteen.

photo booth, circa 1999

photo booth, circa 1999

highway to hell

This weekend we are going to spend a few days at Seabrook on the Washington coast, with the Professors. It’s a super cute little planned community with houses that look like they belong in Nantucket.

It’s about three hours away and I am looking forward to some ocean air and down time. Except for one thing.

I have to drive. On the highway.

I HATE driving on the freeway. I don’t even like to BE on the freeway. In my everyday life, it’s not so much an issue – I commute by bus, and living in the city means you can pretty much get anywhere by surface streets.

I don’t mind the actual driving, and I am not a bad driver. Unless The Geek is in the passenger seat – that makes me nervous.

But the freeway. Too many tons of metal going way too fast, operated by people too busy texting or talking to pay attention to the road.

It wasn’t always like this. Over college breaks, I drove from Kent to work at Bellevue Square. I can remember driving to downtown Seattle one time, too. But somewhere along the way, it became scary. A few years out of college, I made plans to drive to central Oregon to visit family. I made sure I left really early so I could avoid traffic, but it was still nerve-wracking. I’ve driven to IKEA a few times, a route with some crazy merges. One time a rain squall came through followed by blinding sunlight. By all rights, I should have hit something on the exit ramp – I could not see a thing.

The merging, especially, is stressful. I will scope out on-ramps that shoot you onto your own lane if possible. But that pales next to the I-90 tunnel. The few times I’ve had to drive that, I held my breath the whole time. And it’s not a short tunnel. It is very narrow – the margin for error is very small.

It occurred to me as the departure date approached that maybe I’m not the only one who feels this way. And lo and behold, it’s a thing! Freeway phobia! Lots of people have this problem too! Have to say that made me feel a bit better – that I’m not the only loser whose adrenaline kicks when the speedometer goes over 40 and you’re 4 feet away from big metal boxes.

I read some tips about writing down affirmations, getting hypnotized, hiring a coach. But what seems to be most effective is just doing it – getting on the road and facing your fears. No, I can’t control anyone else on the road. BUT I also can’t control anyone else on the bus or in line at Starbucks.

So Friday morning, I will load up my family and head south on I-5 at 60 mph. I will breathe slowly and deeply. I will make a playlist. I will load the directions on my phone. I will try to have faith that I can do this. (Maybe you could keep your fingers crossed, too? Every little bit helps.)

At least I don’t have go east through the I-90 tunnel. A girl has her limits. One thing at a time.

I hope the traffic looks like this.

I hope the traffic looks like this.

return

Hello, poppets.

I spent the past few days in a place where they have sunshine in March and it’s not 40 degrees, visiting friends in San Francisco and spending some girl time in the Napa Valley. It was lovely.

The Geek and I met these friends when we all lived in a four-plex on Capital Hill in the early 90′s. We were both newly married couples whose husbands bonded over motorcycles. Wednesday night dinners followed by 90210 and Melrose Place were a  weekly ritual. Then they had a baby, we had a baby, we all moved out of the four-plex, and eventually, they moved to San Francisco. Which is convenient for visiting, I must say.

golden gate

This particular visit included a girls’ trip to Napa and Lesley, Larry’s sister. We rented a friend’s house in Napa, done up with some sweet mid-mod decor. We discovered there’s not much to do in Napa at the moment – the recession seems to have left its mark. Luckily the house came equipped with a firepit, which one can actually use in March in Napa. Many gin and tonics were enjoyed. We are old enough now that it was quite refreshing to be able to hear one another and sprawl on the ground, as opposed to having a cocktails in a bar.

napa moon

The next day I got my first facial. So decadent, but still strange to lay still while a stranger lathers multiple ointments on your face. Looking I am sure a full 10 years younger, we toured a few wineries and made our way back to Napa for a tasty tapas dinner. I won’t tell you what time we turned the lights out that night – did I mention we are old?

napa

koi

Sunday night back in San Fran, we were lucky that it was warm enough to “stoop”, a Surrey Street ritual of cocktails and neighbors. No trip is complete without it.  Monday was spent in search of souvenirs, a mad dash my escort Larry was more than up for, before heading to the airport and back to reality.

I always love going to my second home in SF. The light is different there, some of it is familiar by now over so many years of visits. The people are the same, never seeming like it’s been months since my last trip, but everything is different from my everyday.

When things are stuck in your normal life, a weekend away is just the thing to shake things up – even better when wrapped in the arms of old friends. Around the fire pit, I was reminded that we all have our own problems, that nobody’s life is perfect or just right. Maybe bits and pieces, but nothing fits just right for anyone. Some of our problems are the same – we worry about our kids, we wonder if we are doing it right.

Really, though, we can’t know. Maybe someday we can look back and say, yeah,  I did OK or I should have done this different, but really, we are all just doing the best we can. Having great friends along the way smooths the road, eases the roughness. And for this I am grateful.

But it’s good to be home.

home

P.S. Still not missing Facebook. :)

outter january

Maybe it’s because we’ve had no snow this year, and only brief spells of really cold weather, but for some reason it seems like spring is just around the corner. The  green things in the yard seem confused as well.

poppy

poppy

yesterday's raspberries

yesterday’s raspberries

blackbird, i believe

blackbird, i believe

black brussels sprouts

black brussels sprouts

newborn rhodie

newborn rhodie

light to come

light to come

I am excited for days where we can tire ourselves digging and planting, feeling the new heat of spring sun. Civilized cocktails in the fresh air. Shorts and bare feet.

Even more so this year I think. We attended the memorial for a long-time friend  and bar regular on Saturday. He was only 57, and had battled melanoma but lost. His family had a chance to say goodbye properly and maybe get a head start on getting used to the idea that he soon would be gone. The memorial was sad, yes, but also such a celebration of his life. His art was on display and many friends and family shared such great memories of him. I think the joy and love in the room made the sadness so much easier to bear. It was a gift to be there.

A reminder that time is short. Use it well.

current

I may ramble here, as the bits and pieces in my head are not always logical, do not tumble out in order. They are usually connected, but sometimes only by a wispy thread.

Sometimes I go to grab them, but they swim out of focus, or I grab something meant for another bit and can’t make it fit together. Forgive the chaos.

What I mean to say goes something like this.

A longtime friend died too young last week. I am now in the thick of teenager parenting, floundering more and more each day. In the midst of this is middle age – surely I cannot be old enough to be dealing with teenaged offspring – was I not just one?

So it goes like this, bouncing from one thing to another. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes holding my breath til the next ball rolls along. In the flat bits and even better, the good bits, I am storing up little things because I know nothing stays the same. I will need these good bits again one day, and it may come sooner than I think.

I am banking things of comfort. The soft feel of flannel sheets on bare skin. Guests in my house. One-on-one conversations.

The value of a friend, old and new. A few extra dollars in the bank account when usually there are none. My family’s voices in another room on a Sunday night.

Matching socks. A well-made martini.

Candlelight.  An overgrown yard and garage full of possibility. My cookbooks.

Hearing “Mom” and realizing that means me. Running a business that means something to people.

This place, where I put some words and sometimes people read them.