Wednesday, November 30, 2016

10+ Women, 10 Years, 100 books

I was doing a little housekeeping on the blog today and found this unpublished little gem.  Before the year is over I figured I would publish it in honor of the great women, the great books and the ten years we have been together.  Cheers to our monthly "meetings"!

We started as a group of friends and strangers, interested in reading books and discussing them.  Ten years later we have evolved into a group of friends, who in spite of scheduling challenges, are still committed to meeting once a month and discussing our most recent read and whatever life has dealt us.  Some months we discuss more about life than we do about the book, it all depends on the book... and life!
 
In the early years we met in each others' homes, in the dining room or the kitchen.  There is something intimate about being in someones home.  This intimacy lead to some memorable discussions over the years... most of which cannot be shared on the blog.  Sharing intimate parts of our lives brought us closer.  People who know certain things about you can only be considered close friends.  Book discussions brought us to places we never expected!

Our group has seen members come and go over ten years.  There is still a core group of about five of us who have been there from the beginning and another four who have been with us for a long time.  Some members drop out because they relocate, and we still miss them and talk about them from time to time.  All good, don't worry!  Life's commitments have forced a few to bow out as well.  When I moved to Toronto for a few years I continued to participate in the club by reading the books and calling in for the meetings.  I was the phone that got passed around the table.  At the time there were a couple of new members I had not met and they only knew me as the phone at the table.  I missed out on some good times I'm sure!

Over ten years, we have gone through graduations, job changes, deaths of parents, divorce, marriages of children, becoming grandmothers, winning and losing to cancer, turning the big "0" (50 or 60) together and the death of one of our treasured members.  We still take pause every now and then and throw out a famous Debbie quote.  "This...doesn't just happen.",she would say, referring to her loveliness as she headed home early to get her beauty sleep.  She is gone but never forgotten.

After a meeting, at one of our members' homes last spring, I wrote most of this post.  I did the math and counted the books, roughly, and was amazed.  Ten years sounds like a long time but it sure doesn't feel like a long time, especially when it is full of (mostly) good books and good friends.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Inner Loop-ing

We live "outside the loop"... in the burbs.  We like living in the burbs but we also enjoy the city.  We enjoy being close enough to visit the museums, restaurants, and various activities a large city has to offer.  Do we take advantage of it?  Sometimes.... but not often enough.  Today, we did!  We were both on the same page when the post-church question was "what are we going to do today?".  I guess we were both feeling a little culturally deprived.  Museum day it is!

2 Tons of bronze  "Reclining Woman With Fruit"....
There are days I feel about the same size!
Our first stop was the Art of the World Gallery to see the Fernando Botero exhibit of "abstract realism in luminous volume".  Thankfully the signature sculpture was outside or the stop would have been for nought because the museum was closed.  We peered inside the windows and wished we could see more.  I never expected a museum to be closed on Sunday, isn't that museum day?  We moved on to plan B or the continuation of plan A.

There are some things inside the loop that we don't have in the burbs and one of them is Trader Joe's.  We happened to be around the corner from one and just had to stop to see what was in store for the Thanksgiving season.  I could have wandered the aisles for an hour and TJ was equally entertained by the unique wine section.  We are so easily entertained!  We carefully chose our few items, waited in the very long but fast moving check out line and patted ourselves on the back for mixing it up with all the trendy folks.  It took great restraint for me to leave all of their yummy cookies, candies and snacks on the shelf.  I could have set myself up for weeks of weight gain had I caved in to all the temptation.  It's probably a good thing we don't have a Trade Joe's in the burbs!
Temptation alley!
Still feeling culturally deprived we headed to the Museum of Fine Arts for the Degas exhibit.  Unbeknownst to TJ, I had dreamt the night before about going to this exhibit....so we were literally living the dream!  We paid our entry fee and headed up to the exhibit.  TJ noticed that they charged us the "senior" rate for over 65 years old...."Sorry honey", he said.  That's what I get for hanging out with a gray haired guy who was rocking his white crew socks, black sneakers and shorts!  With our egos sufficiently crushed we continued.  We were both blown away at the sheer volume of work in this exhibit.  I don't always read everything in an exhibit but this was so fascinating, I read everything.  Reading the names of the people and places in his life took me back to Paris, which is always a good thing.

A classic
Yes, he was a sculptor too!
This was my favorite.


Museum-ing is hard work, especially if you are a senior citizen, so we needed to rest and refresh after our cultural education.  We consulted our smart phones and found a nice wine bar to explore.  We found a winner!  13 Celsius was a pleasant surprise.  We had a couple of glasses of wine and some delicious cheeses with baguettes and pretended we were tourists.  We discussed art, politics (because you can't get around it this week!), wine, hopes and dreams and it was nice.  By this time it was raining and the late Sunday afternoon crowd was buzzing.  The atmosphere was the perfect end to our cultural day.  We could have stayed much longer than we did but then our car would have needed to get picked up the next day after we took an Uber home.  The down side of inner loop-ing.

Wine and visiting museums makes you see things differently...
Just a couple of old kids enjoying the afternoon.
We called it a day and drove all the way back to the burbs in the rain feeling like we had been on a mini vacation.  We really need to embrace the city we live in/near and explore like we did when we lived in Toronto.  We get very complacent living in our neighborhood doing the same things every week and going to the same places.  We need to remember, sometimes it's good to get out of the cul-de-sac!




Monday, October 31, 2016

A Beer-y Good Time

Have you noticed how popular breweries are these days?  If not, you must not be hanging out with the cool kids.  I know I'm way behind on this trend.  Lately, I have been to several events at breweries and enjoyed each of them thoroughly.  This is saying something considering I don't even really drink beer!  It turns out breweries are fun places with cool decor and a great atmosphere.
Some of the cool kids enjoying a nice "fall" day at Karbach brewery in Houston.
At the end of September I visited my daughter, in Chicago, on my way home from the shore.  When she heard the date of my visit she mentioned she was running in a 5K that weekend and asked if I'd like to join her and her friend.  I'm a sucker for a nice run in some cool-ish northern air with my daughter so I agreed.  I trained (ran maybe 4 times) for two weeks before the run, it was a brutal training schedule!  I did not train for the beer drinking part of the event.  She assured me it would be a laid back, non-competitive run so I didn't feel too much pressure to perform.  I still didn't want to embarrass myself, or my daughter.  She was right about the non-competitive nature of the run.  It was just right for an old timer like myself!  Kelly and her friend were very considerate for the first mile and ran at "old lady" pace and then I set them free to run ahead.  I enjoyed running somewhere I've never been before, on city sidewalks, not knowing where I was or where I was going.  I just made sure there were always people in front of me and behind me....motivation to not be the last finisher!
Look, I see Chicago!  Yes, I was so slow I could take pictures!
The race/run began and ended at the brewery.  I think the main reason many of the people did this was for the free beer!  There were no t-shirts given away, only free beer.  The place was great!  Even I enjoyed a post run cold beer!  
Post run hydration!
The second brewery event was on a lovely Saturday afternoon before my nephew's wedding.  We had a lot of family in town and since the weather actually resembled fall we took a little outing to Karbach brewery for lunch and fun.  They had a great outdoor space which was just perfect for our needs.  We had all ages from Logan at 17 months to ....TJ and me at slightly older than Logan.  The kids could play and the adults could visit, have a beer and play bean bags.  It made for a lovely afternoon!

He is so excited he made the bean bag disappear!
Grampy and John doing some artwork!
The latest brewery event was last weekend at a family wedding in Atlanta.  What a perfect place for a reception!  Great atmosphere, plenty of space, good beer (of course) and I didn't have to run there to enjoy it all!  We danced the night away with some of our favorite cousins and shared in celebrating the marriage of two wonderful young people.  The outdoor space was the perfect place to enjoy the cool evening and recover from all our dancing.  Even though I did not indulge in the craft beer (thanks for serving wine), I hear it was yummy!  Everyone had a beer-y good time!  Who knows, maybe I'll start drinking beer....nah!

A cousin selfie with the bride and a photo bomber!


 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Sweating it Out

Summer is officially over.  The sun knows it and has started to take a little time off by rising later and setting earlier.  The trees know it and they are dropping acorns, pecans and leaves.  The  kids know it because they are back in school.  Saturday afternoons and nights know it because now they include college football.  I do love fall, even the air outside turned from hot and humid to mild and much less humid.... for a few days.  This got my hopes up that fall was legitimately here.  I fall (pun intended) for this evil trick every year, I should know better by now.  Fall (weather) does not truly arrive in Houston until well after Halloween in spite of all the traditional signs....silly me.  Shorts and tank tops it is....with boots.

Re-entry this year has gone smoother than usual. The first week home was spent bonding with all of the things I miss while we are at the farmhouse.  Things like my daughter, son-in-law and beautiful grandson,  my house, my golf group, and all the traffic on the freeways. Usually, after a few days of unpacking and moving back into my house I find myself wondering why I'm here and not still up there.  This year I know I am right where I should be, in spite of the weather.  Yes, I may complain about the weather in every paragraph...you would too if you lived here.

Look who came over for dinner!
Something else in the air, other than heat and humidity, has been love.  We are at the age where all of our kid's friends and our friend's kids are getting married.  Over the last month or so we have been to two weddings and one engagement party and are heading to another wedding this weekend and two more are on the horizon for next spring.  With all these weddings and lovely young couples I find myself somewhere in between feeling ancient and inspired.  There were two "close to home" experiences at the recent weddings.  At the first one, the gospel reading was the same one read at our wedding 38 years ago.  I was verklempt to say the least.  I elbowed TJ as soon as the priest started reading the passage,  Matthew 5:13-16 and when the priest mentioned in his homily that maybe someday, 25 (or38) years from now, the couple might elbow each other when they heard the same reading at another wedding, I was a goner.  The second "close to home" moment was when my nephew and his mother danced their first dance to the same song my son and I danced to 5 years ago at his wedding.  I just love weddings!  Can't wait until this weekend and another family wedding!

The most recently married couple and the longest married couple at the wedding.
Makes me feel happy...and old.

Finally, in a totally unrelated and random topic but still something that makes me sweat ....
Being back in the states preceeding this election has been surreal and unsettling.  I keep waiting for someone to say, "joke is over...gotcha" and present candidates with vision and principles....honesty and ethics would be nice too, liberal and conservative.  Unfortunately, my jaded view of politics is only being confirmed.  I just want to be able to vote for someone I am proud to vote for.  How did we get here?  Ugh!
And that's all I have to say about that.  Have a great week and enjoy the fall weather!






Friday, September 16, 2016

A Quickie Goodbye

How fast can I write a blog post?  I have a little "found" time and before I leave the velvety, crisp, clear air of Nova Scotia I thought maybe I would knock out one last blog post.  It can be done.....go!
Sunrise, sunset or just the middle of the day, I will miss this sky!
The kitchen is clean, the fridge is clean and rid of all summer foods, the floors are cleaner than they have been or will be for a year, windows covered, grass mowed, patio furniture sadly stored away for another 8 months, and the garden is mocking me by producing mass quantities of luscious red tomatoes.  I never manage to have the stamina to stay through tomato season up here.  TJ will be back for a few days to savour their deliciousness, so no garden raiding just yet people!  The end is here, I must tear myself away and say "goodbye" until next year.
But first, a delicious breakfast!
It was a great summer, one of the best if you are talking about weather.  It was also a summer of celebrations from newly engaged couples, to weddings, to big "0" anniversaries and significant birthdays, we partied!  We had new visitors to the shore and most of the regulars.  Two of our daughters were unable to make it this summer and we really missed them... next year girls...book it!

Never get tired of this sky!!!
I look over my pictures of the summer and am amazed at how much we did and how many lovely days we enjoyed.  It is truly a blessing to have a place like this, it never gets old and we never take it for granted.  Yesterday I took my last air conditioned run and wished I could bottle up the view and the air and bring it home with me.  My ourdoor exercise will now be through a neighborhood that has houses crammed close together with no view of the sky in 90 degree humidity for at least another month.  But yes, I am ready to go back.  Remind me of this later next week, I WAS ready!
Look!  We have a street sign...
and me....
trying to make a sad face after my run.
Bye Farmhouse.....I'll see you next year!


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Jiminy Crickets!!!

One of the most unusual phenomena of September has got to be the invasion of the crickets!  Who knew this was a thing??  I did a little Internet research and found this information, which very accurately explains why so many crickets this year.  Glad we had a lovely, warm, dry summer and glad we had that much needed rain but I could really do without the crickets!!!

Dry summers cause cracks in the ground, which gives crickets plenty of room to lay their eggs.
Once the moisture hits, those eggs hatch.
The little harbingers of evening are everywhere and they chirp ALL DAY LONG!  It is driving me mad!  I had no idea crickets appeared any other time than evening in the summer.  Their chirping was always a signal that it was time to go home when we were kids playing outside in the neighborhood.  I can only assume they are now a signal that it is, once again, time to go home.  Inevitably one...or ten get into the house and start chirping.  My quest is to find them and smash their little bodies into silence.  Finding them is not an easy task for a person who only hears with one ear.  Stereo hearing would be very helpful in locating the little buggars.  I'm like a crazed woman stalking the incessant chirping every night before I go to bed.   No crickets all summer and then Labor Day came and bam!  Crazy chirping crickets by the thousand... all chirping their little legs off and telling me it is the evening of another summer.  Time to go home...before I go mad!


Rain shower responsible for the birth of a million crickets?!
I used to love September.  It was a month of beginnings, hellos, new adventures, anticipation of the "year" ahead.  The past couple of Septembers have been much different.  Labor Day is a sad day up here, at least for me.  It is the weekend we say goodbye to all of our summer friends.  The last weekend of our idyllic exisitence together.  The shore gets very quiet and lonely after Labor Day, unless you are a cricket.  There are a few of us still bumping around enjoying what seems like the most lovely days of the summer.  I  will go home, eventually.... and try to cobble out my old life.  It will be bumpy because it just isn't socially acceptable to wear workout clothes all day and there is no grass to mow and no vegetable garden right outside the back door, no beautiful sunsets and cocktail hour every day at 4 is probably not going to happen.  September is now a month of goodbyes.  It is a month of closing things like the cottage and the farmhouse, my least favorite part of our summers up here.

Not wanting to close on a downer note, I'll leave you with a few September photo gems, because September really is a lovely month up here...even if there are a million chirping crickets annoying me while I clean the fridge out and pack my bags.

It's a month of happy flowers!

I can pick this many cherry tomatoes every day.
 There are almost as many cherry tomatoes as crickets!

Not a bad day for mowing!


And if you are lucky, you get to visit Prince Edward Island
find this cool rock, and take silly pictures!
September isn't too bad after all!

Just please make the chirping stop!!!!!!!



Thursday, August 18, 2016

Goodbye Brain

Before I begin, I love all of my sisters.  There is one though, with whom I share a brain, and it is the eve of her departure.  I am a bit sad to say the least.  I would feel sad if any of my sisters were leaving and they were the last to leave, but I am particularly sad for this departure...this year.  It signifies the beginning of the end.  The end of another magical, mystical, summer at the shore.  The end of long nights spend playing cards, watching the Olympics...or trash TV, doing the dishes after a delicious meal or just hanging together.  It is the end of having someone who "gets me" around whenever I need/want.  There aren't many people who just get you... look around.  She is the other half of my brain..the end of my sentence, the yin to my yang and since we live apart most of the year, being together for a month has been awesome!

Tonight we met on the beach, after her hellish day of cleaning, packing and detaching.  The clouds were perfect, the breeze was cool and sweet and the sun was setting.  She is a beach person and this was her last hurrah!  We then high tailed it to the farmhouse to take in the rest of the sunset.  It was bitter sweet.  I noticed how far the sun has moved on the horizon and it reminded me that the end is near.  Before I know it, I will be the one having that hellish day/week of cleaning and packing and disengaging and there will be no sisters to say goodbye to me and no one will miss me the way I will miss her when she leaves.  It will just be the end.  So, goodbye Brain!  It has been another great summer!  Thanks for the memories!
It just won't be the same....

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