Where was I again???

Holy cow! I still feel like I just got back from Paris. (Did I mention my recent trip Рyou know, the trip I took across the pond, to PARIS???????) And, yet, almost an entire month has slipped away.  I have so many thoughts and pictures and, as if to spite me, our internet provider seems to be conspiring against me. Our phones work fine Рthe computers? Not so much. I have ginormaous thumbs and doing this stuff without a real keyboard defeats me. Spectrum (aka Bright House) wins this round.

As my life has been marching on since Paris, my plan was to just put up an album of my favorite (and we all know I’m a terrible photographer) pictures and call it good. Most of my blog is for me anyway. (I’m certainly happy if you like sharing my weird life but I love being able to go back over the years and be reminded of crazy stuff that I would never have written down anywhere else.) I’ve put comments on the pictures but if you have questions I’d be happy to tell you the whole story!

Part I: Sooo … did I mention my trip to Paris?

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Me and Tony doling out champagne on a tour of the Seine River. I may never drink Champagne again this was so perfect!

So, yeah, I did go to Paris. Got back around 10 o’ clock last night. It’s midnight (US) now and I’m not sure what planet I live on. I wanted wine with breakfast this morning and now I feel like I should be making breakfast. It’ll sort out, I imagine.

Paris? Awesome. After a full day of travel (18 hours total to get home) and then weird today, I’ve been trying to figure out how to blog about my trip. I didn’t bring my lap top and I’m glad. Sometimes, trying to stay in touch takes away from the actual experience. That said, I missed my lap top. ¬†The biggest thing for me about any kind of vacation or break is who I am with. For Paris-week – I was with my mom, Judy (my mom’s cousin and someone who I’ve always thought of as a cool aunt) and Tony (Judy’s husband who has always been my cool uncle).

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L-R – Bing, me and Judy. What you can’t see is us shivering! So cold and rainy waiting outside of Notre Dame to see the Westminster Choir. ¬†What you also can’t see is the laughing and snorting we were doing while waiting. So. Much. Fun.

Judy and Tony lived in Paris for several years when I was a little girl. They’ve always gone back for a few weeks at a time and have always encouraged all of us to come visit them. I finally did! (My mom has been to Paris a few times before). We stayed with Judy and Tony in their real Paris apartment in a real neighborhood in Paris. That alone made the visit different than had we stayed in a hotel.

The apartment was in an old (19th century-ish) building. There was a small (incredibly functional and storage-savvy) kitchen, a small bath, a lovely living room with HUGE ceilings featuring gorgeous molding and two small bedrooms. In Paris, you can’t beat it. The owners of the apartment have kept it the same since they bought it 30 years ago. I love it. Old, old floors, awesome high ceilings and all over perfect. Sure, ¬†some HGTV stars could bring it to life but it would lose its charm.

Short story? I loved Paris. I loved the opportunity to stay in an apartment in a real neighborhood. Mostly, though, I loved getting to spend time with Bing, Judy and Tony. I don’t know that I have ever spent time with all three of them without crazy kids.There were ups and downs but mostly there was a lot of laughing going on.

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Wine Tasting in the Loire Valley. Judy and Bing.

I think it’s the laughing and just being comfortable that I will remember more than anything we did or saw. Judy and her napkins. Tony trying to herd the three of us through the Metro and beyond without actually stamping his feet. ¬†My mom putting her hood up in the rain only to further drench herself. These are the real things. These are the things most of us don’t photograph (because there is no need). I have so many of these wonderful “snapshots” in my head.

I have so much more to share about our visit. But, to me, the biggest thing about my trip to Paris ended up being the time I spent with people who have known me always and who have been so integral in making me the slightly-off person I am today. At 51, it’s kind of nice to be treated as a 12-year-old again by people who you love and who love you. ¬†I imagine we would have had as much fun going¬†anywhere. BUT, I’m glad we had THAT much fun in Paris. Thank you – Mom (Bing), Judy and Tony ‚̧

Uncle!

cropped-a3de5-typewriter-bmp.jpgOkay – this is my 18th post for September and the month will be over in 23 minutes. I don’t think I can hit 30 posts. In another world this would bother me a lot more than it does in this world. I really do like to accomplish what I say I’m going to do even if it means inconveniencing me and those around me. But, not quite as much as I used to like it. And, to think, I arrived at that conclusion without a single yoga class! 8)

Still, September ended up being a good month. Andy is off to a very solid start with school with little if any snark. Going back to making soap has been awesome. I even got a chance to teach a friend how to make soap over the weekend. I am so thrilled that she loved it almost as much as I do. We have plans to try a couple of projects together in the future. It’s not often you meet someone who has great enthusiasm for lye and things like super-fatting.

Bing, aka my mom, adopted a dog. ¬†Gigi is a Boston Terrier/Chihuahua mix who was found by a rescue group on the streets. She is ridiculously cute – a Boston Terrier with a nose and a tail – it’s funny stuff. She’s about seven years old. ¬†Clearly someone took very good care of her as she can follow many commands and is a polite little thing. She did pick up some bad habits during her stint in the ‘hood but, I think with time and love she’ll get even better. Bing loves the company. For some reason, I really want to dress Gigi up. I am seriously THAT girl-deprived I guess. ¬†You know the lady who made the calendar of her sleeping baby (who messes with a sleeping baby?) where she arranged the baby in scenes from books and familiar songs? Next time Bing leaves town and I get Gigi – I have BIG plans!

Tim and Ian are thoroughly immersed in all things school and work. ¬†I see Tim about as much as I see Ian despite the fact that Tim lives here – I mean right here in the house – and Ian is living in Tallahassee. ¬†I miss them both but am very proud of them. Dan and Christi are doing great in Ann Arbor. Christi will finish graduate school in December and is all-school-all-the-time right now. Dan is accepting the fact that he’s married to a musician and that television gets boring. He still enjoys his full-time job with an engineering firm but has resumed tutoring math and science as a way to fill the evenings when Christi has gigs and to pad their bank account.

Mike is still methodically working on his plan to get the yard back in shape. The parts he’s done already look amazing. There is still a lot to do. Every weekend he discovers a new statue or plant or mini-garden. It’s kind of crazy. Fun too. I think it’s more fun for me because I’m not out there in the 95-degree heat “discovering” stuff. Left to my own devices, I’d pave it all.

How I spent my summer vacation …

Well not really my summer vacation (for that I went to the beach) but, I did get some really nice down time from rowing and all the rest of things. As I ease back into our school/life routine, though, I want to take a minute to share some of my bad pictures – I try but photography escapes me – of things I’ve been working on. No reason except I do like being able to come back to the blog just to check I’ve made progress every couple of years or so.

 

I.  Kitchen Table  When we moved in, I put our awesome garbage pick-Ethan Allen table in this space. It was a grekitchen-tableat table but it was simply TOO BIG. I found this table a couple of weeks ago at a thrift store. Perfect size. I painted it and distressed it because who are we kidding? Between me, Mike and the boys Рany table we own is going to be distressed. I just decided to end the suspense and do it first off. (Can you see Dolores-the-Cow waving at you?)

II. Bread Box

When I first started blogging (10 years ago!!!!!) I found a bread box. It delighted me then. It delights me now. It’s a bread box. It needed an update after a decade of hard use. ¬†I like it. I was even inspired enough to go find a new sandwich bread recipe. If you’re into making bread, I highly recommend it. I had the best grilled cheese sandwich ever this afternoon . . . from the bread in my bread box. ¬†Guess how big it is? ¬†(Sorry, I’m going to breathe into my paper bag for a bit before I write anymore.)

III. Suitcases

When Mike and I were young and beautiful and living in an awesome historic cottage when Danny was born (remember those times? – “It’s so cute, we don’t need closets or central a/c, look at the molding!) ¬†we lived next to an old, old man who was funny and facing leaving his house to move to an assisted living facility. He was going to toss some old suitcases and I asked if I could take them. He thought I was a loon. These suitcases have served as storage/night stands/coffee tables and one was even a depository (would that be the antonym for suppository?) for cards at Danny’s wedding. But, they were old and sad when I brought them into this house. I painted them, added new linings and even practiced transferring (imperfectly) prints to surfaces. ¬†They look just at home in the entrance way. All I need now is an umbrella stand and a coat rack (you know, the essentials for FL living).

IV.  Living Room/Office

This house has a “formal” living room space. We don’t really need that. What we need is a place for me to make my messes and not have to spend an hour every night putting everything away. So we’ve decided to make the formal living room my work space. ¬†Andy can use the little office in the back for school. I moved the awesome Ethan Allen/garbage table into the living room. I can write, sew, paint, knit, whatever in here. If we’re expecting a crowd, it’s easy enough to clean up and have a decent sized dining room. ¬†It’s a work in progress but, I’m so happy, I have craved this kind of freedom/space for years and years.

The chair? Awesome thrift store find! The fabric is so perfect. (In fact, my mom is working on a water color based on the chair – JUST FOR ME!) The table – big and perfect for all my mess. The reddish cabinet – I’m still working on that but it’s going to be my sewing station. ¬†Now I just need to find me a dressmakers dummy.

V.  FAMILY WALL

I’ve been collecting frames from thrift stores for months – I try to get them at $.99 (preferably in the 1/2 off color of the week) and I ¬†sand them down and spray paint them black. Amazing how a single color can unify a bunch of unrelated frames – at least well enough not to make my eye twitch. I have a ton of pictures that are perfect for the weird wall in our family room. I got started this weekend. Now I just need more frames.

You can kind of see where I did new pillows for the couch but they look awful because, gasp, Mike, Tim and Andy were actually using them! I’ll get a picture another day. They’re kind of fun – houndstooth, an old wool sweater, a great turquoise shower curtain and some remnants from Hobby Lobby. And a bit of burlap and ribbons.

Okay, not terribly exciting but I hope parts were interesting. So far, I’m on schedule for September. I think.

Tomorrow . . . let’s talk soap. Who wants soap. Who wants to learn to make soap?

 

 

Weekend Update

From last weekend, here is Ian in his new suit on his way to his friends’ wedding.¬† How do I have kids old enough to go to their own friends’ weddings?¬† Once you get past that horrific thought, though, doesn’t he look handsome?¬† (It’s not really a question . . . of course he does!)

This weekend was the OARS Regatta.¬† OARS is the team Andy is rowing with (Orlando Area Rowing Society) and the Regatta is our main fundraiser of the year.¬† I spent most of Friday at the lake helping to set things up. I kept having Buff-the-Vampire-Slayer visions as I was pounding wooden stakes into the ground.¬† It all came to a peak when I was sent to help assemble a gigantic tent that “just happened” to be encased in a coffin-like wooden box.¬† I’ve been wearing garlic ever since.¬† Yesterday was cold and windy and cold.¬† Did I mention how cold it was? It was amazing to see so many parents who took time from work to come out and help.¬† We all worked hard and still it felt like we’d never get done.

Today, Mike had to be at the lake at 5 am to help direct parking.¬† I was not scheduled to work until 10 am. I packed up a couple of blankets and a pillow for Andy.¬† He left with Mike at 4:30 am, slept in the car until six and then on to his races.¬† I think there were 23 teams there today.¬† Each team comes with a bus or a car line of parents, one or two trailers with the boats and usually another trailer with team stuff (tents, food, extra gear) in them.¬† Mike and his fellow nerdy parking buddies were in heaven.¬† They had vests, whistles and flashlights.¬† I’m so happy I missed it all.¬†¬†

Over 1000 kids raced on Saturday and the weather was perfect! They stayed on schedule and the thousands of people there all seemed to have a really good time.¬† I did.¬† Andy got bumped up to two varsity races yesterday. It was so nice to finally have some people around me to ask what it all means. Mike and I both learned so much today.¬† Andy’s boats did really well.¬† They finished second in both of their flights and ended up earning the bronze medal for the day.¬† I still have some studying to do to figure out how that all works, but I feel better equipped.¬† (Andy is in the black boat, in the fifth seat from the left.)


You can see from the pictures what a gorgeous day we had!  My mom was able to come out and see things today.  We hardly ever see Andy during these events, he sticks with the team.  But, as I was going back to my volunteer stuff and my mom was heading out, Andy caught up with us at the snack place where we were getting water.  Gross and sweaty as he was, he gave Bing a big hug and you could tell from his face how happy he was she was there. Me? He acknowledged me, but we see a lot of each other these days Рno hug for me.  (This pic is of Mike and Bing walking into the team tent area.)

When we got home this evening, I had an email from Bing with a book recommendation.  I picked it up on Audible.  I think Andy and I will listen to it next week during our drives.  It has great reviews.  I will let you know if The Boys in the Boat is as good as the reviews make it sound.

I win!

I have the coolest mom ever.  I should have said that about 35 years ago, but here it is now.  This morning Dan and my mom, aka Bing, celebrated their Sept 4/5 birthdays by skydiving.  They left here around 8 am, both looking a little gray, but in good spiritis.  Andy and I waited until about 8:30 to leave.  :::sigh:::: I got lost, of course, so we missed it all.  Fortunately, Deland Skydiving takes care of this stuff.  

By the time we caught up with Dan and my mom, they were celebrating in the bar/restaurant.¬† Dan bought my mom a Bloody Mary – breakfast of champions!¬† They were so excited and happy.¬† I’m just floored that my mom jumped out of a plane – on purpose!¬† Dan, I kind of expect that from him, but MY MOM????¬† She’s already talking about her next jump!¬†¬†

Here are some pictures to give you a feel for their adventure!  Honestly, how many people can say they spent their 21st birthday skydiving with their grandma?  How awesome is that????? 


Dan is ready to go!











So they threw him out of the plane!












Bing might be having second thoughts.¬† Unfortunately? Lucky? for her that cute guy behind her is strapped to her back.¬† Don’t tell my dad, but they’re talking marriage . . .¬†









And, she jumps!!!!!!












Dan lands safely!












Bing lands safely.  











More tomorrow!

Whew!

Ian is home safe and sound.¬† He had an amazing trip to NY and CT.¬† Based on my nightmares last night, I’m happy to have him home without a giant, ugly tattoo on his neck.¬† I cannot wait until he puts his pictures onto his computer.¬† Everyone . . . “Yay, Ian.”¬† His initial comments included being happy to have visited a truly big city before heading to Europe.¬† He was able to test his backpack for carry-on eligibility and ease of use – he gave it an A+.¬† He used the subway system and feels better about facing the Metro in Paris. (He’s SOOOOO going to thank me for Latin when he gets home.)

Talked to Dan and my mom (aka Bing) tonight.¬† Their birthdays are a day apart.¬† Dan turns 21 on 9/4 and Bing turns something bigger than 21 on 9/5.¬† To celebrate, they will be skydiving together.¬† GAH.¬† There’s a good chance that Andy’s godfather, Gregg (who turns 50 in the same week), will be joining them.¬† Yep.¬† Three people I love dearly, hurling themselves out of an airplane.¬† I think I will stay home and make martinis for everyone who comes home alive.¬†¬†

We’ll probably do a cookout after the event with birthday cake(s) and all of that.¬† I figure we have a couple of themes to work with – death, airplanes, parachutes . . . I could go on.¬† If anyone has a good idea for a cake or food or anything, please let me know.¬† I think I’ll make wee parachutes for everyone to have in their drinks.¬† For the kids in the crowd, I’ll attach the parachutes to little plastic army men rather than trying to stuff them into soda cans or water bottles.¬† Heck, if everyone survives, I may let the younger folk up on the roof to launch their parachute people.¬† If the party goes late enough, I’ll toss in glow sticks.¬†¬†

In other exciting news, I’ve been spending a little bit of time each night working on my t-shirt yarn rug.¬† I had made a lot of progress, but the stoopid thing would not lay flat and I spent a week or so dismembering it.¬† I’m back at it and nearly at the end of what I had originally finished.¬† This rug might be done when I turn 70-80-ish.¬† Still, I like the sewing – it’s relaxing and allows me to watch shows like House of Cards and Downton Abbey and, even, Grimm.¬† Fun stuff.


Tomorrow is lining up to be an exciting day (technically, I guess it’s today not tomorrow).¬† Here’s our garage door chalk board – I cannot believe how handy this canvas has become.¬†

And, June begins . . .

Nothing like starting the month with a tropical storm.¬† The fact that this is the first storm AND the storm is named ANDREA (oddly, the same name as my mean neighbor) has been kind of funny.¬† I convinced Mike that putting a giant sign that read “Go Away, Andrea!” in the front yard was a bad idea.¬† Besides, that’s kind of Key West thing to do.¬†

Anyway, the storm, for us, has been mostly lots of rain and some tree-cleaning wind.¬† Sadly, it’s been just enough rain to do in my garden completely.¬† There will be no more tomatoes or peppers or zuchhini or :::sniff:::: anything this year.¬† In the fall we’re going to try straw bale gardening and see if we get better results.¬† I’ve been reading about it and it seems like a pretty cool alternative.¬† I’ll keep you posted.

For most of the end of May and the beginning of June, I’ve been helping my mom empty her art studio/room and reorganize it.¬† I hope to have pictures soon.¬† I had some great before pictures – until I dumped a cup of water on my cell phone.¬† :::sigh:::¬† But I have some middle pictures and my mom has some finished pictures. Here is one “middle” picture.¬†¬†

We had so much fun.¬† Sorting through all of my mom’s artwork was like traveling back in time.¬† There were pictures I remember her painting when I was very young and we lived in Pittsburgh.¬† We found old cards and pictures that me, my sister and my brother had made through the years, along with work from all the grandkids.¬† We found some paintings from my Grandma Gerry too.¬† Grandma Gerry’s paintings led to a discussion about why she and my mom can draw and paint so well, and I can’t.¬† (I’m creative, yes, but not an artist)¬† So, now I’m signed up for drawing classes for six weeks starting next week.¬† I’m beyond nervous and excited.¬† I have never done anything like that and what a great birthday present!¬† (You all know it’s my birthday month and presents are encouraged, right?)¬† I’ll post pictures of what happens and if I get beyond mortification and stick figures.

It was interesting to me to see how different my mom and I are even though we are very much alike (I saw her the other day right there with me, though I was decidedly alone, in the mirror of a dry cleaner’s.¬† Uncanny. And the kids constantly hear my mom’s voice when she’s not here. Go figure.)¬†¬† I am a thrower-away-of-things.¬† My mom?¬† Not so much.¬† And, just the way we group and organize things is so different.¬† In that department, I think we both learned a lot.¬† We managed a trip to IKEA (and did not get lost this time, thank you very much) for some awesome shelves.¬† We also found the most amazing grey paint and painted the room while it was empty.¬† And, because no house is complete without words painted on the wall, we painted a quote on the wall.¬† (Mom, help!¬† I need pictures)

Not too much else here.¬† I’ve been “pimping my ride,” as Mike and the boys like to say.¬† The new-to-us car is adorable now.¬† I found cute seat covers and sort of bedazzled the steering wheel and made it smell girly.¬† Yep.¬† The boys can drive the nasty, dented, stinky Suburban.¬† Hah.¬† It’s been wonderful to just be able to go and do what I need to do without checking in with five people and working around their timetables.¬† And, because I’m not on such a limited car schedule, I have been able to avoid Walmart quite a bit.¬† (I’m not opposed to Walmart, but it DOES wear you down.)¬† Of course this means I have to put on clothes other than my pj’s, but so far it’s been worth it.

What IS art?

My mom and I decided late yesterday to attend the Orlando Museum of Art’s Festival of Trees this afternoon.¬† We have missed the past couple of years and it was was fun to go back.¬† It was extra fun to simply WATCH the people with little kids and strollers without being part of that group!¬† I love little kids, but I do NOT miss having them. It is also fun to get a chance to spend time with my mom just by myself.¬†

My favorite tree this year was not a tree, but Tupperware.¬† This picture does not do it justice! They had a totally cool 70’s set-up – see the chair in the back?¬† It was really fun and different.¬†¬†

I loved a lot of the other trees, but was a little confused by the trend to completely hide the tree.¬† Why not just get a gigantic tomato cage and decorate that? (And, now that I’ve typed that, why not? You could stick some greenery in to give the illusion of a tree?¬† I don’t see Mike going for it, but it’s something to consider.)¬†

On our way out of the museum, my mom and I were both struck by the museum’s¬†most recent acquisition. (There is a MUCH better picture at the link.) I guess it’s effective because I’m still thinking about it.¬† But,¬† I don’t know.¬† The little sign next to it said that the artist hoped to inspire people to think and dream and visualize their lives in different ways. Maybe it’s just me, but a headdress of ugly porcelain birds, Mardi Gras beads and a hot pink Halloween wig is not inspirational to me. The knitted bottom piece? A little more inspirational, but not too much.¬† I just don’t know. ¬†¬†