Category Archives: quotes

Comings and Goings

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It’s been a weird month with lots of comings and goings.  During the last week of April, my family members went in all different directions, and I was left here at home. Patrick was away on a business trip; Hubby was away on business.  Hubby came home, then Patrick came home (he lives just a mile away).  William was home for 36 hours and took his girlfriend to Prom, then caught the shuttle back to college to study for finals.  Eve was working her job and packing to move, then she was in Spain with friends for more than two weeks.  She came home and was in town less than 24 hours before she packed up her little car to drive up the mountain and report up north for her new job.

All of these comings and goings are hard on a mom.  When someone is leaving, I worry and fuss over them, wanting to lessen their load by helping with luggage, travel snacks, copies of passports.  “Is there anything else I can do?” I ask (too many times, which I’m sure is annoying).  And then while they’re away, I worry that some terrible thing has happened.  I wake with a start at 3:10 am—did something happen to Eve in Spain?  I’ve heard about people getting a chill, waking at odd times, somehow knowing when a loved one is in trouble.

But the most torturous part of comings and goings are the returns: I’m filled with anticipation and can’t wait to see my peeps. One recent Friday, William finally arrives and is here for two minutes before he’s whisked away by his friends, me barely getting a minute to give him a hug and notice he needs a haircut.  Especially deflating was the day Eve returned from Spain.  I knew her flight was landing at 9, so I was happily cleaning the house and had favorite “Eve foods” in the fridge.  I kept looking at my phone and at the front door.  I was positively GIDDY! Her flight was late, and she texted when she landed.   Ruby and I nervously watched the driveway through the front shutters, and finally at 1:30 I texted, where are you?  She’d gone to her boyfriends and it wasn’t until evening that she came by for a short while.  I felt ridiculous—she is 21 and of course she wants to be with friends.  Expectations are everything—why haven’t I learned that lesson yet?  That was supposed to be the best day ever, and instead it was a terrible day for me . . . and I have yet to hear the complete travel report about Spain.

Of course part of all of this is I am grumpy to be left behind. I’m a big baby about that. Picture me sitting in my quiet house, the only interruptions being the occasional cat fight, or Ruby barking out the window at dogs walking by, or maybe the ring of the phone with people wanting to sell me solar panels or home security systems.  I sit on the couch reading a novel, occasionally looking up at the front living room window, sighing dramatically. Then I remind myself to plant my own garden, to decorate my own soul, to seek out friends when the house is too quiet.

But mostly what’s hard these days is the missing of my kids being here at our house with us.  I want to see their faces, I want to hear their stories, I want to laugh with them over some silly thing, I want to eat a meal with them, listen to a favorite song together.

I read this poem and understood exactly what Tyler Knott Gregson meant (though I think he wrote it thinking not of his children, but of his wife):

I will miss you
always,
even in the moments
when you are right
beside me
and I do not think
it is a weed
that will ever stop
growing.
It will always live there,
but my god
it grows the most
spectacular
flowers.

This is the life lesson I’m trying to learn right now:   To accept the comings and goings and instead of being angsty and demanding and an obligation to my grown children, I want to be a calm wise thoughtful person—a person my children want to return to to share their stories.  I’m so proud of all three of them, and I’m happy for all their adventures.  I want to be peaceful and patient and serene, knowing deep down in my heart my children will return to me when they are able.  Like in the children’s book, The Runaway Bunny, I want to be the tree they fly home to.

Cheers,

Mary

Waiting for the Mango Man

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I’m in Mexico.

All day I’ve been watching for the mango man.  He wears a huge straw hat and pulls a small cart through the sand. In his cart are ripe, juicy mangoes, which for only $3 he carves into a flower and hands it to you with a smile.  This treat is so pretty you almost don’t want to eat it . . . but you do, and soon your hands and chin are dripping with mango juice and sweet tamarind syrup.

Hubby and I had a smooth drive down to Puerto Penasco yesterday with only a short wait to enter Mexico.  We got the green light so got to drive on through without having our car searched or Ruby’s dog papers examined.  This was a HUGE relief, since I’d worked myself into a minor frenzy after reading tourists’ bad border experiences on FB pages devoted to tourism in Puerto Penasco.  I was believing every car was being searched from top to bottom.  I believed the line to get in was always two hours long, and that they were harassing people with dogs.  I heard the border guards were taking all meat, fruit, and vegetables.  I emptied a corn flakes box and stowed my tomatoes, oranges, and limes in it, then put the plastic sleeve with the cereal back on top.  I asked Hubby to pretend he was searching the car.  He picked up the now three-pound box and said, “Dios Mios, what heavy cornflakes!”  I’d frozen our deli meat and hidden it under the carpet in the trunk, along with Ruby’s prescription dog food.  The reason the Mexican people are not as welcoming to the American tourists as of late is quite obvious and will not be given any explanation here except to say these three words,  “Build a wall.”

So here we are, on a practically deserted stretch of beach, with the sun shining above us, a light breeze blowing over the blue ocean waves.  It is 75 degrees on our patio–just right not to be too cold or too hot in our swimsuits.  I’m reading the witty Lauren Graham’s book called Talking as Fast As I Can which, being a huge Gilmore Girls fan, is very enjoyable, but if you aren’t a Gilmore Girls fan, I can’t imagine finding it appealing.  I’ll be ready by tomorrow to finish Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole.  I’m reading it for my art book group, and I’m not yet seeing the connection to art.  Because the author is black, there may be a tie in with the Kehinde Wiley paintings we have at Phoenix Art Museum.  It’s a collection of 50 essays on politics, photography, travel, history, and while some of them are interesting, I’m glossing over some of the more ponderous essays.

But where is the mango man?  A few minutes ago I heard the tingaling of a bell and grabbed a of handful of pesos, but alas, it was only the helado guy.  I honestly don’t know how they pull that heavy cart through the sand.  I am not a popsicle person, though now I’m remembering the joy of hearing the ice cream truck when I was a young girl in Illinois.  A shiny dime could buy you almost anything on that little truck, and I always asked for a banana popsicle.

I packed for carefully for this three-day trip, which I usually don’t have time to do.  I brought cute hats and swim suit cover ups and actually held my swimsuits up to the light to make sure I didn’t pack any that had the derriere portion dissolved by pool chlorine–NOBODY wants to see that!  But there is nobody here except Hubby and me, so I’m still wearing leggings with a pair of Hubby’s socks and an old tshirt that used to be Patrick’s and is very soft for sleeping in which has these words on the front:

They lied to us.
This was supposed to be the future.
Where is my jetpack,
Where is my robotic companion
Where is my dinner in pill form, where is my hydrogen fueled automobile
Where is my nuclear powered house
Where is my cure for this disease?

Pretty dark right? (I love it.)  I look a mess.  I’d better change into my cute beach attire. Because the mango man might be here any minute.

Cheers,

Mary

Life Moves Pretty Fast

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So many exciting things have happened in the past few weeks! Our oldest son, Patrick, and his fiancee, Samantha, bought a cute little house just 1.5 miles from our home. A small crew of us spent a weekend painting over the hideous colors on the walls which required a base of primer and two top coats of “Linwood Sands” by Lowes, a very calming beige color. I painted from 10:30 til 8:30 with only bathroom breaks and a small lunch break for pizza, and when I woke up on Sunday morning, I said, “OOOWWWW!!!”  Everything hurt.  My arms had rollered all day, I’d squatted to paint at the baseboards, and I’d gone up and down a ladder 100 times to do the areas at the top.   I hope they will enjoy being homeowners, and since both sets of parents are can-do people, their house will look “House Beautiful” in no time.  Seriously, I could not be more proud of our kids.

This week Hubby  got a new iPhone 6S plus– which is a Very Big Phone.  The first day he had it, he complained that his thumb did not reach the huge screen, and I suggested he create a “thumb extender” out of clay. Hubby looked it up, and apparently someone else already invented this apparatus. DRAT.  You may recall I invented the Concert Diaper which I thought of during a Dave Matthews Band show when beer vs. body collided, and I missed my favorite song while waiting in line for the loo at Desert Sky Pavillion back in 2009.  I had another “inventive” idea this week after a friend told me she’d been offered a shawl at a fancy restaurant.  I thought that was hilarious, but . . . wouldn’t it be fun to have a “costume” restaurant?  Guests would change into formal wear when they arrived. You’d be offered sparkly sequined or poofy ball gowns, tuxedos in many sizes, and bow ties and top hats, and tiaras, and faux-diamond necklaces.  We’d serve old-fashioned elegant dishes like Beef Bourguignon, Oysters Rockeller, Vichyssoise, and Chateubriand. We’d have chandeliers and lots of mirrors on the walls so guests could admire themselves, with low lights and candles on the tables . . . and people could feel like they were someone else for a few hours.  What to name it.  Hmmmmm.  The Cultured Cafe.  Chic Bistro.  Cafe Chandelier?  I’ll ruminate on it some more.

William was home for a whole week for Spring  Break, which was so wonderful.  But then the week was over too quickly and as he drove away on  Sunday afternoon to return to NAU for seven more weeks, I allowed a few tears to fall.  I felt sad all afternoon, but I know he’s where he is supposed to be and is working hard. I must say, all this coming and going is really hard on a mom (and a dad–Hubby was sad, too).

I have so much to look forward to!  It’s been a slow few months, but April 1st will find us at our favorite beach in Rocky Point for a long weekend.  April 11 we are seeing Bastille (my favorite band) who are playing in town at the Comerica Theater, and we are driving to seem them AGAIN at the Cosmopolitan Resort in Las Vegas on April 14 and staying for the weekend. Hubby is going to Berkeley, CA later in April on business, and I’m trying to talk him into letting me come along.  I’ve never been to that area of California and think it would be fun. William is coming home to take his best girl to Prom in early May, then just a few weeks later, we’ll be driving up to pack up his dorm and move him back home for the summer.

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in awhile, you could miss it.  I hope you all are taking time to enjoy life in this beautiful first week of Spring.

Cheers,

Mary

 

 

 

 

 

On Friendship

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Some people knit or crochet.   Others like to scrapbook and craft.  Some people like to collect things.  Me?  This may sound weird . .  . but my hobby is friendship. That’s right: Friendship.  I like to spend my spare time with friends!  I friend every chance I get . . . and I friend with all my might.  I remember friends’ birthdays and anniversaries and the ages of their children.  I am ferocious in my friending, which sometimes scares people.  But overall, I find people are accepting of my strange hobby. I remember strange tidbits of stories told to me, which friends often find creepy.  My oldest friend, Amy, shudders when I recall embarrassing events from back in the day—things she’s completely blocked. But tell me: What on Earth could be more interesting than interacting with another human being, hearing their stories (sad and happy), and having adventures together?

Giving up my full-time job has given me more time to friend. One day this week I had lunch with some of our “Europe Gals” at Pita Jungle.  We met four summers ago on a budget tour from Tempe to Europe. With our families we  visited London, Paris, Florence, and Rome in ten days.  It was fabulous, exhausting, irritating, and educational.  I’m so glad we went!  Seven of us women have remained friends.  We joke about the horrible 12-hour trip on the night train from Paris to Florence and say, “Once you’ve ridden the night train together, you’re friends for life!”

I joke similarly with the teachers I’ve done playground duty with.  It may sound easy if you’ve never done it, but negotiating a school playground can be a tricky, nuanced job. You have to know the troublemakers du jour.  You have to be aware of the potential for harm, for example, is it Stick Month when all the sticks fall from the trees?  If it is, you have to know which of the huge herd of children are likely to be using those sticks to hit their friends.  We duty teachers develop a sort of ESP, and even though you’re separated from your peers by a half football field of grass, with minimal gestures and meaningful eye contact,  you’re still able to keep 60 or so children safe.  It’s my firm belief that once you’ve done playground duty with someone, you’re friends for life.

All week I’ve smiled thinking about something Mary Ellen said over chicken shwarma at our Europe Gals lunch. She said, “Once I’m your friend, I’m your friend for life.  You’re stuck with me.  I’m loyal.” I LOVE THAT!  I’m the same way, and over the years when friendships have died, it’s not because I didn’t try my damnedest to keep them alive.  I miss my school friends so much so you can imagine how happy I was yesterday to have a chance to help out in the Three’s classroom.  It filled my heart to see their dear faces (and that of my students) after a month away!  I left school with a lightness in my step and in my spirit.

Friendship isn’t only meeting over lunch (“more ice tea, please” and “can I have a side of Ranch with that?”), but is also taking care of each other when we need rides, or are stressed and need an ear, or need a home-cooked meal when we’ve lost a loved one or are having health concerns.  I feel honored to do those things for the people I care about.

I love songs about friendship like this favorite song about friendship by my dear Dave Matthews.  I love sappy quotes about friendship.  Here are two favorites from Leo Buscaglia:  “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”  And this one:   “Love is always bestowed as a gift – freely, willingly and without expectation. We don’t love to be loved; we love to love.”

I will leave you with my all-time favorite friendship quote (from Arlo Guthrie) which sits front and center under a magnet on my fridge for many years now: “Just give your love, and don’t look back to see if anyone takes it.”

Cheers,

Mary

Green Thumb

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My winter garden has done very well considering the bed in our side yard had lain fallow for four years and was built in a place that does not get enough light. I’d forgotten how much joy a small vegetable garden can provide!  Every day I announce in a cheerful voice, “Let’s go check the garden!” and the pets who are allowed outside tag happily along.  Cosmo (elderly Siamese) gingerly walks through the rows and I remind him it is NOT a litter box, and Ruby (trusty spaniel) wags her tail so vigorously she threatens to knock over the banana pepper plant growing near the edge.  The mesclun and rainbow chard are beautiful and tasty . . . the pole beans less so.  Did I plant them too late?  I have parsley, oregano, and chives for seasonings, and ten small tomatoes which should be salad worthy in a week.  Does anything smell better than a tomato plant so crisp and fresh?  Perhaps basil, though mine died with the last cold snap.

I’ve always loved plants.  I can name most plants on my desert hikes.   As a young girl in Illinois I was enchanted by the dainty Lily of the Valley which sprung up like magic every Spring by my grandma’s front door, the small patches of wild violets growing by the sidewalk that felt velvety to the touch, and with green moss growing in dark, unexpected places.  My siblings, cousins, and I spent hours in the Yellow Delicious apple trees growing in my grandparents’ back yard, and even though Grandpa Summers was very grumpy, I gladly followed him when he invited me to his large garden across the street, where we’d pick raspberries, asparagus, snap peas, turnips, and carrots.

I do not believe in this myth called “the Green Thumb;” the idea that some of us are born with an innate knowledge of how to grow plants is rubbish.  People who grow lovely gardens have these traits:  they appreciate beauty, they are in awe of nature’s capacity to create new life from a small seed, they have nurturing qualities and can remember to care for their gardens each day, they are patient, they appreciate learning from their mistakes, and they like to experiment.  A true gardener’s eyes will light up as they examine the seed display at the local nursery; their spouses will fuss at them for taking too long in choosing just the right annuals to plant near the front door.  These decisions are of the utmost importance!

This month I am obsessed with everything Beverley Nichols, a British author who wrote in the mid-20th century. I find this quote very appropriate for our times, “We both know, you and I, that if all men were gardeners, the world at last would be at peace.” (From his book Green Grows the City written in 1939.)  I also have this silly old thing from the 1950’s that I must share.  (I fear I may have been born in the wrong era altogether.)Image may contain: text

Cheers,

Mary

The Angel Shrugged

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Not working every day is taking some getting used to.  I’ve never been good at transitions, or being alone for more than a few hours at a time.  I become anxious and introspective.  I find myself eating potato chips at 9am and biting cheddar cheese off the brick and pacing around the kitchen island.  This quote by Henry David Thoreau (which used to be on the front of my fridge) says best how I feel when I’m alone:

It is easier to sail many thousands of miles through cold and storm and cannibals, than it is to explore the private sea, the Atlantic and Pacific of one’s being.

And this one (by Brian Andreas) which is meant to be uplifting, but holy crap, that’s a lot of pressure:

In my dream, the angel shrugged & said, if we fail this time, it will be a failure of imagination & then she placed the world gently in the palm of my hand.

So as to avoid standing in the kitchen eating cheese and reading sad quotes about introspection . . . and feeling the pressure of doing something fabulous because I’m holding the freakin’ world in the palm of my hand, I’ve been keeping busy.

This morning Gwen came over at 8:30, and we took a brisk one-hour walk.  How fabulous to be one of the women walking, the ones I would see out my car window as I drove to work every morning!  It was only 40 degrees, so I wore my hat and winter mittens and we talked about every little thing and were delighted when we came upon four snowy egrets and some ducks over by the fake lake . . . and then became lost.  Gwen was smart to bring her phone and it turned out we weren’t very lost at all.  She and I were in high school marching band together, and it always fills my bucket to be with my oldest and dearest peeps.  Gwen is upbeat, creative, wise, and silly, and it was such a lovely morning that I barely had time to think about missing my students and teacher friends and the morning recess bell and all of those dear things.

I met another old friend at 12:15 for another walk.  How lovely to see Sue Ellen’s new office where she works as a nurse midwife. We chose to walk through the nearby neighborhood and our conversation was interrupted by the many policemen cruising the streets. “They’d tell us if we were in danger, right?” we asked each other. Soon we saw the “criminal”–a grubby, very animated young man who was either high or having some mental health episode.  We chose to avoid the drama so turned around . . . and got lost. Neither of us had a phone and both of us are directionally challenged.  Ten minutes later, we laughed when we approached an intersection and discovered instead of going south, we’d gone north.

Currently my step counter reads 14,567 which is about 7 miles.  Not too shabby.  I’ve only had positive thoughts today and worked toward my goal of getting more exercise and diminishing stress (and the size of my belly).  I’ll end with this poem, by Namoi Shihab Nye:

A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn’t catch up to him,
the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion.
What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.
A victory? To leave your loneliness
panting behind you on some street corner
while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,
pink petals that have never felt loneliness,
no matter how slow they fall.

Cheers,

Mary