Since election day, I’ve been in a state of nervous agitation on top of being unusually busy with work and home duties. Happily, my Thanksgiving break starts today, and I’d like to start it off by applauding some smart, courageous, and creative people I know who are doing admirable and inspiring things. For example, one of the smartest women I know just sold her house, loaded up her young children, and hit the road in search of “where she really wants to live.” Quite a bold move! A friend from high school is serving as the Regional Board Chair for the Anti-Defamation League in Los Angeles. She’s fighting bigotry and championing women. A former colleague– a most excellent English teacher, counselor, and yearbook adviser– opened her own exercise studio with her sister. I’m extremely proud of her because I know that opening a dance studio has long been her dream, and she is working hard and taking risks to make it happen. Then there is this astounding intellectual endeavor co-written by the mother of a former student! I knew that Philippa was accomplished and brilliant, but to create a play like Margaret of Anjou is something so original and audacious that my jaw drops. I’m finding comfort in knowing that brave, smart women are daring to try new ventures and work for themselves and others. So I salute all of us: those working to design new lives, art, or businesses, and those of us working to keep up with laundry, weeds, and essays. Keep fighting the good fight.
We recently celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary, and I am still astonished that we have been married so long. No, not because we don’t get along, but because the time has passed so quickly. As a later-in-life bride, I feel like we’ve been married two to maybe six years. Five, I can believe. Ten, not so much, and certainly not fifteen. Yet we were married in 2001, so that makes 15!
Many things in our life reflect the passing of time. We’ve gained weight, and our hair tends to sparkle more in the sunshine. Our house looks very different from the yellow, transite covered box we moved into, and both the front and back yards are completely free of the lawns we inherited. We started our married life with two cats: a tabby and a super fluffy masked Black and white. While we still have a tabby and a tuxedo, they are not the kitties who came with the marriage. The “older” generation of our family now consists only of our two moms and one uncle on each side.
All these experiences and changes make for a busy and satisfying life. So, why am I so mystified that fifteen years have passed? Maybe it’s because the feelings haven’t changed as much as everything else, and we’re still stumbling through a happy marriage.
Today is a glorious fall day full of slanting sunshine and soft breezes. And, since it rained last weekend while we were away for my sister’s wedding, the yard is full of redwood duff. It’s on the patio, the deck, the path, in the plants, in my hair, and where ever else it may drop. So, I’ve been sweeping and raking up duff and debris this morning (after a very pleasant walk to breakfast at WesCafe and a stroll through the farmer’s market on the way home), and I know I’ll be sweeping again next weekend. The fallen branches and tiny cones are our backyard’s version of autumn leaves. Yet, it’s hard to imagine that our (hopefully) rainy winter is around the corner because today is warm and clear and beckoning everyone to come outside. Still, there are hints of autumn. When outside, we have to notice the elaborate Halloween decorations created by many of our neighbors. Jack-o-lanterns and gravestones and my three year old friend who wore his bumble-bee crash helmet as he walked and rolled his scooter all through his parents’ pumpkin carving party are all surely signs of the season. My cats are getting fuzzier and sleepier, and the drug store is full of Christmas decorations, so fall must be in full swing! Enjoy the day. Enjoy the season. Enjoys the changes.
Imagine a giant button that reads “I’M SORRY!” My sister threatened to wear such a blanket apology to her high school reunion, and we laughed because, well, we knew her back then. She could be hard to live with. She threw things. She borrowed clothes and shoes that mysteriously got lost or ruined. (One pair of running shoes showed up at a friend’s flooded house years and years later.) Her sarcastic remarks were legendary as was her tendency to answer a question with an attack. I think that she was probably a little nicer at school than at home, but maybe she wasn’t. Yet, when I think of her now, that mean girl is hard to imagine.
My sister has grown to be humorous, generous, kind, and the person who keeps the family together. She opens her home for all the celebrations, and she makes everybody feel welcome. She dotes on our niece and nephew, buying them great presents and arranging fun outings. She drives Mama to appointments and deals with the doctors. She makes sure that we vegetarians are fed well in the land of barbecue, and she hasn’t thrown anything at me in decades. And as a real testament to her humanity: her almost grown children (who have inherited her flair for showmanship) adore her and want her to be happy. I do too.
So, my darling sister Susie, I wish you every happiness as you officially tie the knot with your sweetie. I think grown-up love is swell. Cheers and love, and yes, you can borrow my shoes.
We have a lovely new front-office person at school. She’s charming, friendly, and extremely capable. She also likes the way I dress! She even asked where I shop! I suspect that the fact that we are both tall, mature blondes in a sea of younger folks may be behind the inquiry. While I love the compliments, they surprised me since I tend to dress for comfort over style these days. My high heels, for example, are long gone, and my waistbands are stretchy as often as not. Still, I do like the recognition. And yet, I feel a little pressure to step up my game! Maybe it’s not too late for me. Then again, I usually have coffee spots on my blouse by 9:30 am.
Coincidentally, I recently discovered Accidental Icon, and I’ve been quite taken by her fearless style and intellect. What other blogs are out there for women d’un certain âge?
I fret over too many things that are well beyond my control. I fret over my mother’s health and the upcoming election. I fret over traffic, truth, and the demise of a 35 year old turntable. Feral cats, students, my squinky eye, or just about anything can hijack my brain and set it to spinning a recording of worries that is not productive. To counteract this ridiculous loop, I turn to something that I can control: weeds. I pull weeds, and I try to meditate as I do so. Yep, weeding is meditation. I select one part of the yard and start pulling. Today it was the front path and the thin planting bed next to the house. I pulled with my fingers or with the fork and yanked those suckers. I gave the pulled weeds the name of a problem and dropped them in an empty kitty litter bucket. At the end of about an hour, I had cleaner planting beds, a clearer head, and a tiny sense of control. But I have really dirty fingernails.
The freight train that is the school year has started and is pulling me along with it. Granted, I am hanging on to a handle and flying behind, but I have a few moments today to think back on the summer. I call this one a small summer because we didn’t take any big trips nor did we complete any big home improvement projects. We tackled small things, and–when we did get away–long weekends to destinations under 4 hours away were our trips of the summer. So what did I notice about this small summer? Here are a few thoughts: Continue reading “Lessons and Reflections from a Small Summer”