Saturday, June 29, 2013

Homesick for Somebody Else's Home

   Suddenly yesterday, I missed Rwanda.  I was driving through a neighborhood in Providence and caught the smell of woodfire that was just pungent enough to transport me to Kigali.  I'm planning my return to Rwanda for next June.  My family will be coming with me this time.  It's not going to be a student trip or even a service trip.  It will be my family going to visit our friends in Kigali.

     Visiting our friends in Kigali.  That I can even write such a sentence blows my mind. 

My family is really looking forward to spending time with Alexis and Gyslaine.  They are going to LOVE their little girls. And they will be overwhelmed by the hospitality of Alexis' family.   

Alexis and Yigal


     It became a running joke that I was "only pretending to eat,"  because I could not possibly eat as much as they insisted on serving me.  The rules of Rwandan hospitality are iron-clad and involve  lot and lots of food and drink.

I miss it.  And I miss my friends.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile: A Random List

  • Bubbles
  • Fireflies
  • The antics of the Big Dog and the Little Dog
  • Babies' laughs
  • A great acoustic set.
  • Asiatic lilies
  • Cookies
  • Weddings
  • Photos
  • Cheesecake
  • The sound of sailboat rigging clanging against a mast
  • Blueberry season
  • High tide
  • A good tuba solo
  • Train whistles
  • Clean sheet night
  • Gnomes
  • Hippos
  • Irish wisdom
  • BLT sandwiches

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Secret Craft Project Revealed

    So last night I presided over my final function as a Rotary Club president.  There was plenty of pomp & circumstance. It was at one of the nicest country clubs in the area.  There were corsages and a piano player and a professional photographer.  There were speeches to listen to and speeches to make.
     As part of the annual tradition, I was expected to give out some awards.  I chose to recognize my Executive Committee and my faithful Sergeant-at-Arms.  I also chose to forgo the plaque or engraved paperweight route.  All year, the club has been poking fun at me for being a recovering Dead Head.  My Secretary is also a Dead Head.  So, I designed tee shirts--a Steal Your Face with the Rotary Wheel in the skull and a quote from the lyrics of "The Wheel"--and tie dyed them.


     It was received with as much good humor as I anticipated.  Just the right amount of levity and, um, "me being me" to counter-balance all the formality of this annual banquet.  

     Just the right way to end my presidential year.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wipe Out!

We're having a heatwave in the northeast.  It's been in the 90s every day for the past five days.  It finally got to me, I guess.  I fell asleep before writing my blogpost for the day (or the remarks for a banquet I'm speaking at tonight!) and so my record isn't going to be perfect.

Oh well.  There are worse things in the world.  And you know what?  I'm still on track to establish a blogging habit.  So it's good enough.

I'll be sure to post tonight.  I'll have photos of my top secret craft project.  I know you all have been waiting breathlessly!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

It's REALLY late for me.  And on a school night! Usually, I'm long asleep before the 10 o'clock news airs.  Not tonight, though.

See, today the electrician came.  So the Oasis of Awesomeness is now fully operational.  Only, when I got home from work, there was a boy to pick up from the train station and a column to submit to my editor and burgers to grill for dinner and a top secret craft project (just a few more days and I'll have pictures, I promise!) before I could suit up for the inaugural hot tub dip.

Of course, any one of those things (well except for fetching the lad from the train) could be put off a bit.  Mother Nature had other ideas.  A violent thunderstorm blew through the area.  It was about 10 PM before it had passed.

And that is how it came to be that I'm blogging from my porch swing during the final minutes of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup playoffs (Go Bruins!) in a wet bathing suit.

Not bad for a Monday.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Good Enough

     Today, I joined some of my extended family to celebrate the force of nature that was our sister Evelyn.  We gathered in her favorite place on the planet--the Rocky Neck artist colony in Gloucester, Massachusetts.  Her mother, aunts, brothers and son rode out past the lighthouse on a friend's boat, flanked by two of Evelyn's paddling buddies on their SUPs (Stand Up Paddleboards). The rest of our small band watched from the dock and the shore.  Some heartfelt words were spoken.  Tears and laughs were shared.  And then Evie's cremated remains were sent adrift from the sheltered harbor in a specially designed biodegratable bowl.
     I have been anticipating this day for weeks now.  As the plans for her funeral were being made, it was decided that just such a ceremony would be held "soon."  It's been 49 days since she drowned in the very sea we just released her into.  Forty-nine days that I've wrestled with the absurd idea that this sister-I-chose, whose zest for life was as big as her smile, is gone.  Forty-nine days where I've repeatedly picked up the phone to call her, only to remember that she won't answer.  Forty-nine days.
     In 49 days, I could be harvesting produce from my garden.  In 49 days, I could complete an entire semester of college. Forty-nine days is enough time to accomplish something significant.  It's not enough time to begin to grieve, though.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Home Sweet Home

     So, last night, my Personal Chef and I tried to grab a bite at the place where our story began.  All of our "old haunts" are gone.  Well, except for one.  Turns out, though, we are WAY too old for that place now.  I guess it's true, you really can't go home again.

     Instead, we did something we haven't done since living in our little, country town.  (We've lived here for 9 years.)  We went to the pub on Main Street.  Recently, a big, honkin' smoker was installed out behind the place, so the Personal Chef has been talking about checking it out.  Last night we did.

     It was once a firestation.  For as long as I can remember, though, it's been a pub downstairs and a package store upstairs.  (A package store is what folks in New England call a convenient store that also sells beer and wine.)  The pub has changed owners four or five times since we've lived here.  The place is small.  There's a big horseshoe bar, five or six booths along the wall, and a small stage.  There's also a patio with another half dozen tables outside.  The walls were covered with firefighter memorabilia.

     When we walked in, we didn't know a soul in the place.  I was surprised, because we live in a REALLY small town.  The crowd was clearly made up of locals, though.   The bartender was a young woman who I'm sure has lived here her whole life. This was the kind of place you order a beer, a shot, or a rum and coke.  The men in the room were a mix of plaid shirts, tee shirts, and polo shirts.  The women were all well put together, but not fancy.  No big hair.  No bling.  There was one couple that must have been from out of town.  Probably friends of the musicians on stage.  She looked a bit like a middle-aged Stevie Nicks.  He looked a bit like Brett Michaels--long blonde hair, straw cowboy hat, sleeveless tee.

     It would be a stretch to say there was a band.  Actually it was two guys with guitars and a computer.  They could play.  They could not really sing.  At all.  Not that it mattered, because they played songs that everyone knew by heart.  And the folks at the bar all sang along.

     Two guys sat next to me.  Turns out they were the fellows who worked the kitchen.  One of them was definitely a local boy.  Dark hair and the distinctive accent of the locals of French Canadian descent.  The other guy recently moved here from Florida.  He was very chatty.  Told us about his gypsy past.  He's lived all over the country, doing all kinds of work--commercial fishing, carny, line cook...  He was even a camel handler for a small circus.  Yes. It's a real job.

     The owner of the place came over and the gypsy cook introduced us.  He and my Personal Chef talked shop for a while.  I watched the crowd.  And suddenly I realized that this is where we live.  This is our community.

     And I'm okay with that.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Late, but not too late

My VERY long day in a nutshell:

Long ass day at work that largely sucked, but got better just at the end.

I fell asleep sitting up.

I made an incredible comeback.

My Personal Chef and I  had fun discovering that you can't really go home again.

AND  Realizing that HERE is where we live.  We live here.

Seriously. This really tiny town is our community. And I love it.

I still want to write.   Even if it's quarter to midnight.  And I'm talking in gibberish.

I promise to expand tomorrow.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Oasis of Awesomeness

So, I called a Do Over and it turned out to be a pretty good day.  Work was WAY better today.  I officiated my final Rotary meeting as President of my club.  I got more prizes in the mail today (which I cannot write about yet, because they are part of a surprise for some special folks, but I promise I'll post pictures next week).  And best of all, when I came home, I found this:

For as long as I've known my Personal Chef, he has talked about "one day when we get a hot tub."    Turns out, today is One Day.

Thing 2 has been painting the pergola.  He has decided we should call the area the 
"Oasis of Awesomeness."

I'm inclined to agree.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Inverted Midas Touch

It's been one of those days.  Everything I've touched has turned to shit.  I cannot even begin to list the stuff that went wrong today.  Well, of course I could, but  I cannot even stand to think about it anymore.

None of it is life threatening.  Really, an honest-to-God Yale trained  psychiatrist has assured me of this.  So, I'll cry a little.  Lick my wounds.  And start over again tomorrow.

A couple of bright spots in an otherwise dismal day:

  • I work for some of the best people in the world.  The worse my work performance got today, the more encouraging and supportive the administration at my office became.  I love my job. 
  • Thanks to the US Postal Service, I am the recipient of a good, old-fashioned  hand-written thank you note from a beloved cousin AND a book about maps that I've been excitedly anticipating. I have always loved getting--and sending--mail.  I'm such a geek, I know.
  • I have some really, really wonderful friends. Actually, they're more like family.   The family I chose.  They love me even when I'm not particularly loveable.  And they always have my back.  I never have to question that.  
  • My family is pretty terrific, too.  I really got lucky there.  Thing 1 has checked in on me a few times today (initially to get an "oh poor baby" about one of her problems).  Thing 2 cleaned up the house for me--an unexpected, but VERY welcome surprise.  The Evil Genius got recognized at school today for staying after school to help a teacher clean up a room.
So, it's takeout for dinner.  Some friends over to watch the Bruins in the Stanley Cup playoffs.  And tomorrow is a new day.  Despite it all, I know I'm blessed.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Two by Two

It's day 2 of  my attempt at developing a blogging habit.  And it's raining here.  Torrentially.  Again.  My Personal Chef, who is also mighty handy with tools, may have to build us an ark.

I'm not complaining about the rain, mind you.  I actually love the stuff.  I know. I'm odd  like that.  I particularly love how when it rains this time of year here in the northeast, everything is colored in varigated shades of green greys.

My mood has been in varigated shades of green greys, too.   It's somber, perhaps, but not without hope.  It's very much like the ruggedly beautiful landscape of my beloved New England.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Habit Forming

Conventional wisdom insists that it takes 21 days to form a habit.  I could argue this point, as I'm pretty sure that my bad habits took WAY less time to become one with my soul.  Still, it is what they say.

So, here it is my friends.  For the next 21 days, I intend to post daily.  That is probably way more often than you have any interest in hearing from me, but this isn't about you, is it? [insert smartass grin here]  See, if I'm ever going to call myself I writer, I reckon' I'm going to have to, um, write.

I have no idea what I'm going to write about, so I can't make any promises. Except for this:  see you tomorrow!

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Official Summer of Awesomeness To Do List update

     Some good headway was made on two items from the FabFam's list this weekend.

        In March, The Evil Genius and I took the Coast Guard Auxiliary's boating course, which is required in most of the New England states for youth who wish to operate motorized water craft.  Years ago, Thing 1 and Thing 2 took the class with their grandparents.  The Evil Genius was just a little fella, though.  Now that he's 12-going-on-13, he's finally old enough.  As soon as he earned his boating license, the Evil Genius--and his grandfather--started looking for something with a low-horsepower motor.  "Getting a boat" was one of the first things my boy suggested for the Official Summer Of Awesomeness To Do list.

My stepdad came across one almost a month ago.  Keeping the secret until we could get the lad up to the lake house has been TORTUOUS. It was totally worth it, though.

To quote the young skipper, "This is the coolest toy I ever got!"

     While we were up at the lake, I got the chance to visit one of my "we have to get together soon" friends, too.  Karen and I became friends when I was 20.  She worked with my roommate.  Turns out, she grew up with the guy I was dating at the time.   We hit it off and were fast friends. Eventually, we became close enough to be the maids-of-honor in each other's weddings.  We had our babies together.  We've been sisterfriends for decades.  


    She and her husband live almost 4 hours from my home (only an hour away from the lake house, though), and our lives got busy like lives do, and we just didn't catch up with each nearly as regularly as we should have. In fact, it has been almost a year since we were last together.  I wasn't going to let this weekend slip away without seeing my dear friend!  With her daughters staying near their college campuses for the summer and her husband working, Karen found herself free to come visit me at the lake.  

    We had a wonderful day.  We caught up on our family news and the gossip about our circle of friends.  We joined my family on the "big boat" (now that the Evil Genius has a "little boat") for a ride.  We ate too much for dinner.  We laughed a lot. It was exactly the kind of visit I'd hoped for.