Friday, June 28, 2013
Except for the first four years of my life, I've always been in between. In those earliest years, I was the little sister and the youngest child and grandchild. And then my brother came along. He arrived as Hurricane Agnes roared and swirled and danced angrily around us our little house on Halleck Street. I remember waiting with my older brother and our neighbor, "Aunt Al," for my dad to come home and reveal the arrival of a little sister or brother. I was terribly upset that I had another brother ... not because brothers were bad; more likely because I wanted a real life doll to put in my baby carriage with Raggedy Ann and Andy
Forty-some years later (how can that be?), I'm glad I grew up in between two brothers. If I'd had a sister, I fear that we would have been the fighting, mean kind of sisters, not the Hallmark ideal of sisters who share secrets and giggle over boys. God, thankfully, blessed me with friends who are my chosen sisters.
But back to the brothers. We each very different, but in some ways the same. I can see the indelible markings of our birth order and upbringing - either because of or in spite of - in our personalities and life choices. Our beliefs span the political spectrum (which can lead to lively interactions that give me a headache). Two of us live near one another, one is far away. One is single, one is married with two younger children, one is an empty nester after having helped raise step-kids. We majored in sociology, business and political science in college. We all love to read (thanks to our mother's commitment to taking us to the library). Our personalities are different, which can be very good and very challenging. We are not emotionally open with one another, we're not a touchy-feely, bare-your-emotions siblings.
But this I know. When the chips are down, I know my brothers have my back and I hope they know I have theirs. Sometimes it's the simple things like listening, sending an encouraging card or e-mail, or saying "I'm proud of you." Sometimes it's the bigger, tangible things like showing up at a funeral of a sibling's dearest friend or taking over a responsibility when one of us has a crisis in our immediate family.
During my growing up years, I wasn't thankful for growing up between two brothers. And while some of those frustrations still intermittently rear their childish heads, my perspective now shows me that in between is right where I'm supposed to be.
Friday, June 21, 2013
It all goes well until the rhythm is broken. Broken by a squirrel, a rabbit, a dog, a motorcycle, a bicycle or a person. So many opportunities for cadence to be disrupted.
When Shelby girl joined our family, the humane society trainer warned me that we may not be able to walk her together with Cooper. That lasted all of about three days. While walking is my primary form of exercise -- OK, only form of exercise -- I don't have all day to walk two big dogs separately. They quickly found their rhythm and walk together well.
Until a distraction appears. And then it's all I can do to wrangle Cooper in, attempt to open Shelby's locked jaw to remove whatever "treasure" she's determined to hold onto, call out an apology if needed to a fellow pedestrian. (My neighbor and I think we should have shirts that read, "Just wave. Don't speak. It'll disturb the dog.")
When our rhythm is broken, I am easily frustrated, just like when the routine of my days is unexpectedly disrupted and doesn't go the way I planned. This is one of the many life lessons I've learned while walking my dogs.
Be flexible. Do the best to keep the rhythm, but when life skips a beat, keep on walking until you're back in sync.
Friday, June 14, 2013
A few weeks ago, I received the above Pinterest pin from a dear friend. We've been friends for more than two decades, and for most of those years we've lived at some geographic distance. Initially, it was a manageable two hours, but then her family decided to move to an entirely different coast (!) so our time together is more infrequent than ever.
But when we are together, we pick up right where we left off. And that generally includes going out to dinner or to the beach or to the park and just being together ... while we listen to other people's conversations. I don't think of this as eavesdropping, exactly. It's more of story collecting. Our first year out of college, when we lived close enough to meet for dinner, Friday nights would usually find us enjoying dinner out ... and saying very few words to each other. Oh, the stories we've heard.
And while I find listening to strangers most delightful when she and I are together, I find myself listening to others fairly often. When I was out for a birthday dinner with my husband, we were in a charming restaurant with fabulous food and seated in close proximity to our fellow diners. It was impossible not to overhear the conversations taking place around us. We were seated beside a charming older couple, probably in their 80s, with New York accents. Their interactions intrigued me and I couldn't help but listen. (Note: My husband gets my listening issue and sometimes joins right in with me.) Their conversation turned toward the temperature debate that is present in so many marriages.
Wife: You have spent all of your married years turning off the heat and I have spent my married years turning it back on. I remember when we had a wee baby at home and you left for work and when you left, turned off all the heat which I found to be very inconsiderate of you ...
Wife: ... which may have been why I burned your shorts in the oven.
You cannot script dialogue that fabulous!
Thursday, June 13, 2013
And for a little Jeopardy humor, check this out. At :23, the contestant is a freelance copywriter (like I am) and I swear I had that hair, those glasses and a very similar high-necked blouse in 1984. I could probably find the yearbook photo to prove it!
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
I got a new bike for Mother's Day/my birthday this year. It's a real bike from a real bicycle shop. I feel a little special, although in reality, my height - not my skill - is the reason I got a real bike instead of another department store version. This bike just fits me better. I wouldn't have gotten a bike at all if I didn't refuse to ride the bike that broke on me last year, causing me to crash in front of the local medical center. Something about the handlebars completely falling apart caused a rift in my relationship with that bike. Trust? Gone.
So B bought me a new bike and once again, I started spring with high aspirations for riding my bike more this year. (Last year's bike crash occurred on the season's inaugural ride and happened in the last half of the summer, so clearly I have good intentions and less than stellar follow-through.) And so, while I haven't been riding as much as I'd like, primarily thanks to Seattle-like weather around here, I have been riding more. Today, my destination was the library, where I wanted to check Consumer Reports' ratings on smartphones because mine is dying a slow death and I'm unlikely to avoid a trip to the Verizon store much longer.
I learned a few things today on my ride to the library:
- Vehicles don’t consider bikers waiting at the crosswalk to be pedestrians. Technically, I suppose they’re correct; however, when an actual pedestrian is also waiting to cross the road, stop already, people! It's the law and those signs telling you to stop are more than a suggestion.
- There is a drainage/barrier pipe at the end of the bike path where it meets the highway. You cannot ride your bike across this barrier. You must stop and lift your bike over the barrier at the very busy intersection, unless you've already got it figured out and ride on the road instead of the bike path, like the cyclist who passed me.
- My bike tires are too big for the bike rack at the library.
- While sitting in the quiet section perusing Consumer Reports, I realized I have peanut butter from lunch smeared on my black shorts. Nice. Hand the girl a napkin.
- Consumer Reports didn’t really tell me much that I didn’t know/assume about smartphones, although it did rate the iPhone #10 in the 2013 buying guide, which just made me chuckle at all the Apple advocates I love. Haven't quite crossed over to the
- The bike lock won’t close unless the code is aligned. I guess this makes sense, but I'm not sure why, exactly, that's necessary.
- I had time to get home and write my dad’s Father’s Day card and get it in the mail since I can ride my bike through the neighborhood quicker than the mailman can drive his truck.
- I have about as much confidence (which isn’t much) riding my bike as I did when I was eight despite the fact that I was wearing a bright yellow cinch backpack that reads “Do more of what makes you awesome.” However, I only flinched a little when the dump truck passed me. Just a little.
- I’m glad I wear a helmet. All the cool kids do (as if I've ever been cool) and really, how can I not since I'm still sporting scars from that last year's incident?
Friday, June 7, 2013
I am a summer girl. 100 percent. I am perpetually cold, so I appreciate the heat of the summer months, even when others find it unbearable. Probably my second favorite season is fall, even though it means saying good-bye to summer, fighting the blues as the days grow shorter, and bracing myself against the winter to come.
Fall is back-to-school, something I never dreaded. New notebooks, new pens, a fresh start, reconnecting with friends. It's been many years since I prepared for back to school, but the season still brings with it the possibility of the months to come, before lessons become rote, teachers become challenging, and enough is enough.
The colors of fall are bright and crisp. Red is my favorite and seeing the brilliant crimson light up the landscape makes my heart happy. It's God's seasonal masterpiece before the leaves fall and color disappears for a few long months.
Fall is when I celebrate marrying my best friend. Our wedding day dawned bright and clear, photos attest to the beauty of the season. The temps were warm for Pennsylvania, but perfect for our special day. We've not always been so lucky with weather on our anniversaries, but God designed that perfect day just for us, I think.
I love going to the beach in the fall. Summer crowds have dissipated, the pace slows, the temperature still permits long walks on the beach and toes in the sand. It's like stealing a little bit of summer to store up for winter hibernation.
I love throwing on a sweatshirt with shorts for early morning jaunts with the dogs and lingering on the patio after dinner. A fire in the fireplace to cut the chill and warming up around a campfire with marshmallows and good conversation.
What's your favorite thing about fall?