The Queen Bee’s Excellent Vacation Adventure

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Me and the Kids … 1991-ish

When I was younger and had three little kids, life was busy. I loved being responsible for the care and feeding of three little humans (It was the best job I’ve ever had!) and I sometimes tried to imagine what life would be after they flew the nest … less laundry, less cooking, less busy. One of the things we all liked best was going to the beach with my mother (GranJan).

I used to pack up the “mommy van” (yes, it had wood paneled sides) with three little kids and drive from Central Ohio to Connecticut and then on to Rhode Island. They loved staying in a cheap Knights Inn somewhere in the middle of the trip. They “hated” Pennsylvania because it took such a long time to drive through. But the drive was always worth it when we got to the beach. All of the kids spent every summer there until about the year 1999 or 2000. Since they spent more years there, my girls have a greater connection to the place. The girls have returned to visit or drive through a few times. Kate met Heather at the beach. Her family owned a home there until about ten years ago. She had visited at the beach with Heather a couple of times and, as facts would have it, even slept in the house that I rented.

Anyway … we planned for a week in the late season and as it turned out the timing was perfect. The house was perfect and well equipped. The original part of the cottage was built in the late 1800s. It has a living/dining room, kitchen, a couple of bedrooms and a bath but over the years, we figure, they added on bit by bit. Now there are three bedrooms and two baths in the main house and another two bedrooms and two baths in the new addition. There was plenty of space for all of us and room for another family, too. The kids and their significant others and their dogs all had space to live comfortably for a week. And we did!

The Nest with a Handsome Visitor at the Door
The Perch (the new addition)

We spent a lot of time outside. It’s an easy walk to “sea glass” beach or the “kiddie” beach and we enjoyed both. Since it was after the season, we were able to enjoy the beaches with the dogs and alone. We looked, but there is not much sea glass at “sea glass” beach these days.

We spent enough time at the beach to get a good dose of sunburn and that felt really great! We also spent a lot of time in the yard. We had a nice patio and yard with a grill and picnic table or two where we could enjoy the view of the ocean from the house and some smores.

Ahh! A View of the Ocean

We ate well, we stayed up late, we played fun games and had a puzzle-palooza competition. We filled the recycling container more than once with La Croix seltzer cans, wine and beer bottles. We visited Watch Hill for ice cream cones, peach, of course, and a bit of shopping. We had some trouble finding a place that was open for lobster rolls but we found a brewery in Westerly that had a great summer ale for $10 a case.

And my heart is full.

Nothing makes this mom happier than being with my kids. We haven’t spent time like this together for a long, long time. We think the last time we were at the beach was twenty-two years ago, plus or minus a year or two. I’m not sure that we’ve all been anywhere together for a week since then, actually. We’ve had weekends here and there, we’ve had some of us together (during the first pandemic summer) for a week or two, but not all of my kids for a week all together. The pile of shoes left at the front door was life affirming. The laughter around the fire pit was, too.

I am so grateful to have been able to spend this vacation with my three kids, two husbands, a girlfriend, my sweet, patient husband and our seven dogs. We had a great visit with my aunt and uncle who came all the way from Lake Tahoe to visit with our family and we had a visit from a summer camp friend who happened to be at the next beach over on business. It was, in a word, good!

I’ll forever be grateful to have been able to do this with my kids. Spending time together, reconnecting, getting to see their relationships, getting to know their significant others better. It was a walk down memory lane and a memory-making vacation that we all enjoyed. AND we are already planning our vacation for next year!

I have been knitting … more on that later!

Gone knitting.

Gifts of Art

We have had a very busy last week, filled with guests and puppies and gifts of art.

I was at a board of trustees meeting on Wednesday night when I got a text from a high school friend. A very dear high school friend. She and her husband were coming to visit.

Back in the day, we had perused the Sunday paper for vans to buy and convert so we could go camping together when we were 17. Sharon and her husband just bought their camper van and we’re coming to park in our yard.

What a blast! We spent the better part of two days reconnecting and connecting with each other’s husbands. And I didn’t take a single photo of us. But they signed our guest book and Chuck left is this beautiful gift of art.

Our shore by Chuck Cornellis

A gift of art is a personal, thoughtful, almost intimate gift. We were touched and moved. and we can’t wait to get together again. As Chuck said, it could have been really uncomfortable and he had never met us. Sharon and I haven’t spent significant time together since 1976 and a lot can change in that long. But it wasn’t difficult or uncomfortable. It was wonderful. Time flew by and I’m still smiling.

Yesterday my sweetie and I took a walk down the road. Our blackberries are ripening and in the mailbox was a second gift of art. My little cousin sent a beautiful picture thanking me for “magic towels.” You’ve seen them, I’m sure. Little discs that when placed in water, expand to be a little cotton washcloth, often with a picture of something. These were Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Thanks by Penelope

I love art made by children. It’s so pure ans expressive and Penelope is an artist. Her dad said she was very excited about me getting her picture. I was excited to find it in my mailbox.

Both fabulous pieces of art will be proudly displayed at our house. We are grateful.

Gone knitting.

My Daughter’s Wedding

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My daughter was married on September 30th in New York. It was a perfect weekend spent with my family and now-extended family, too.

IMG_1670IMG_1680.JPGWhen a family grows by birth or by marriage, it is a time to count your blessings and celebrate life. I counted my blessings so many times that weekend.

I’m grateful for my wonderful husband who loves me and supports my crazy yarn obsession. (Note the picture above of us all in front of Purl Soho!) I’m grateful for my “new” big brother and his family that we’ve had in our life for almost ten years now. And that he is once again healthy. I’m grateful that my other brother Rick’s back is healing. I’m so thankful for the friends and family that gathered for my daughter’s wedding and for my new son-in-love’s family and friends, too. I’m thankful for friends who cooked us a wonderful brunch, for the beautiful weather, an adequate AirBnB apartment that allowed us to rest. Mostly I am thrilled and grateful for the happiness that I see in my daughter. I am so grateful for the man that loves her. I’m grateful that she’s found her person.

When I was pregnant with her, as the due date got closer, I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough love in my heart to give to this second child of mine. I loved her sister with all of my heart. When I held her in my arms for the first time, I found that there was an infinite amount of love in my heart for my child and that I would do anything within my power for them. I feel that way today as much as I felt it then.

On Sunday we had brunch at the home of friends in lower Manhattan. It was a perfect opportunity to let the bride and her new husband spend some time with their friends who traveled from all over the country for their big day. We had a walk around Battery Park and the 9/11 Memorial Site. It’s a remarkable area, full of history, and my heart healed a bit more. I had not visited my old work site at the World Trade Center since before the attack.

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Being a mother means living with your heart outside your body. My heart is full today with the memory of my daughter’s wedding and having my family around me. I will never forget.

Life is good!

Gone knitting.

2017! Happy New Year!

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I feel fortunate that 2016 was a wonderful year for me and for my family. One daughter bought a new home, another daughter became engaged, I married the love of my life and we had all of our children in our house at the same time (for the first time). Our children are gainfully employed, healthy and happy. We are both working at jobs we love and are paying the bills, we have food on our table, a warm home and we are healthy. What more can you ask for?

I am eager to see what 2017 brings and what opportunities in the fiber world I will become involved with. I am excited to continue teaching knitting and creating in my every-improving atelier! This year’s goal is to add some serious shelving to my studio for fabric and yarn storage. I am already realizing that my “cheap fix” is not going to work long-term … fabric and yarn multiply when packed into small spaces and despite working hard to knit from my stash, it’s only minimally smaller.

img_7778We had a quiet New Year’s Eve at our house. A summer camp (childhood) friend and his son joined us for a lobster feast and a glass or two of sparkling wine prior to midnight. The guys all stayed awake after the power went out but I claimed the black-out as an opportunity to go to bed “early”. This is our photograph, grainy though it may be, from around 10:30pm. I love selfies with this guy and can’t wait to see what 2017 brings to add to our life together.

My goals for the year are to attend and help with, perhaps, the fiber week at my old summer camp. I’m looking forward to Maryland Sheep & Wool, too. I want to do more in my community – attend events, help my neighbors, life my best life and speak from my heart (not usually a problem). I want to floss more often and remember to listen to myself and speak my truth. Having lost my voice a long time ago, it feels wonderful when I speak out and speak up and feel heard. I’ll keep working on that piece.

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Wishing you blessings in 2017. I’m hoping that it’s the best year yet for all of us!

Gone knitting.

The Generosity of Knitters

It was without thought that I made a scarf for a charity project.

I just thought it was the right thing to do. My heart was wrapped around the idea and I wanted to participate and make a tiny (yes, TINY) difference in a world that becomes more and more hate-filled, violent, disconnected, concerning, on a daily basis. I believed that I could make a little bit of a difference knitting. And when hundreds of fiber-crazed people like me also make a tiny difference, all of a sudden, we change the world. Together our tiny differences all combined make a huge difference.

I got a lovely email this week from a woman who I have never met and yet, feel that I know her because we share the heart of her project. We love people. We love Boston, we love our homes, we know someone who ran last year in the Marathon. My scarf and what little promotional effort I made to mention the project on my Facebook page (because I believed in the project and wanted to participate) … I got this lovely message:

Queen Bee!

Love your name and love the fact that you’ve not only participated in this tender ministry, but you’ve promoted it. Thank you.

When my scarf partner and I started this project we had no idea of the extreme generosity of knitters and crocheters everywhere.   Amazing!

Thank you for being such a great cheerleader and thanks for your beautiful scarf!

Please send to:

Scarf Project

Old South Church

645 Boylston Street

Boston, MA 02116

I hope we meet again….

 

Yes, knitters and crocheters are extremely generous people. I think that’s why I feel so at home with these folks. Recently, here in little Orlando, a “last minute” addition to the event’s program was a scarf and hat “Warmies” project. The representative was overwhelmed by the collection of hand-made garments given to her organization. It’s just what we do.

Penguin sweaters, blue and gold scarves, chemo hats, helmet liners, tiny purple hats … whatever it is that the world requests from knitters and crocheters, they turn out hand-made unique wonderful projects by the dozen (or hundreds). Created for strangers, often hundreds of miles away, with love in every stitch.

I’m so proud to be a member of this community of selfless, caring men, women and children. I’m so proud to be considered a “cheer leader” for such worthy charity projects by such a caring soul. I’m so proud to have this wonderful craft that I am able to share. My life is full of so many blessings and I’m grateful for every single one of them.

I hope we meet again, Marilyn. And though we have never met in person, I’m so glad to know you.

Gone knitting.

P.S. – There is still time to knit a scarf for the Marathon Scarf Project! Details can be found here! Thanks for caring!

Re-homed

Re-homed

Re-homed

When you’re a knitter, occasionally your projects take on a life of their own.

This one sure did! I had intended it to be a Christmas gift but one of my college friends (who I adore and with whom I share lots of fond, fun, singing memories) loved it and asked if I would sell it to her. Well, after figuring out what it cost me to knit, I decided to send it to her with the hope that it will not only keep her neck warm but that it will also keep her heart warm.

I know it will look wonderful with her beautiful blue eyes!

I may not be knitting a whole bunch but I am so glad that she loves her new scarf!

Gone knitting.

First Morning in Maine

Messalonskee from the porch

Messalonskee from the porch

I slept almost twelve hours last night. We were in bed before nine. So goes life at “camp” (our home in Maine.)

We’ve got internet now. It happened a couple of years ago but we’re still fighting the idea of bringing in a television. It’s never been here. It, frankly, doesn’t seem to fit here. We watch some TV and movies on our computers but … no cable. We read and knit and play games and just sit. Since my knees and feet seem to be working better, I’m looking forward to some hikes, too. And a lobster dinner!

This is my first morning … with my coffee and dogs (all three of them and not without some growling) and it’s perfect. My little family is back together where we would rather be. There’s one fisherman on the “island”, crows are “cawing” (is that a word? I just know the spell check is going to “ding” me here!) the breeze is blowing and the sun is shining. It’s a bit hazy but perfect none the less. I have a lot of unpacking to do but I think it will wait until I have a second cup of coffee and sit here awhile and soak it in.

Gone knitting (maybe.)

The Risk of Loving & the Rainbow Bridge

I heard or read somewhere in recent weeks that the risk of loving is loss. Until today, this didn’t really “hit” me.

Today, hearing that a friend’s beloved pet was sent over the rainbow bridge, it is hitting me. And I’m remembering the deep grief that my family has experienced with the loss of a beloved pet. Sam, Nouk, Kelly, Tasha, Lille, Max … all critters who lived with me and were such a big part of my family at one time or another. Who wagged their tail or sat on my lap or went for a walk in the woods with me. Fur family.

My Fur Babies & My Guy

My Fur Babies & My Guy

Loving is being willing to take a risk. A risk that we can give a piece of ourselves to another being and be embraced and accepted as we are. It’s humbling and makes us very vulnerable when we let a person or a pet have a piece of our heart. The honeymoon phase of love is that new, wondrous, can’t get enough of it which then grows, if we’re lucky, to the place where we can trust and depend on the love to be there for us when we need it. And when we don’t need it. And in return, we show up for them, too. Protection from danger, a comfort when we don’t feel well, sharing in life’s experience both good and not so good.

Pets are so special in that they ask very little in return for the love they lavish on us. They don’t judge us when we don’t feel like taking a shower or getting out of bed. They still love us when we get angry at them because WE forgot to get them outside before they made a mistake. They’re happy to see us when we get home, greeting us at the door, tails wagging. They’re excited about the same old kibble every time we give it to them (in our house, twice daily). They become an essential part of our days and nights.

So, when a pet dies, we experience a deep sense of loss. Perhaps a deeper loss than when we lose human friends. Because who else but our pet can truly love unconditionally? And we can feel it.

Lola, Max and Boq

Lola, Max and Boq

I swore, after Lille died, that I’d never have another dog. It was too heartbreaking. But years later, Lola & Boq entered my life and I’ve made them promise that they’ll never die. And while, on some level, I know that’s not possible, it makes me feel better for now. We’ve started to heal from the loss of Max and have invited Monk to live with us in our family. I’m sure I’ll make him promise, too. For today, he’s lucky he’s cute … because he’s so much puppy in a big brown body!

I’ve shed a few tears today for Pokey and for all the humans who loved him. I know he’s romping free of pain on the other side of the rainbow bridge. While the people who loved him mourn his loss with aching hearts.

The risk of love is loss. It’s hitting me today.

Gone knitting.

Rainbow-Bridge-Poem

Big Brown Dog

I found one of these on the floor in the living room this morning. (They’re all finished and were in my bedroom waiting to be put away.)

Lady Grantham Dinner Gauntlet (a Jimmy Beans Wool KAL) in Lorna's Laces Sport

Lady Grantham Dinner Gauntlet (a Jimmy Beans Wool KAL) in Lorna’s Laces Sport

It must have been this big brown dog!

"Monk"

“Monk”

We’ve adopted/rescued Monk from a family in California and he arrived on Friday. We’d forgotten what it’s like to have a puppy in the house! Lots of walks and lots of ball-throwing in our neighborhood park.

IMG_1265My little dogs would like to send him back! (Not going to happen. We’ve already fallen in love with the big brown dog!)

Welcome Monk!

Gone knitting!

An Easter Story

When I got divorced, my life changed drastically. It was (I was?) all turned upside down and I didn’t realize that it would never be the same. I have been working for the last six (plus) years on building a new iteration of my life. Some parts are very, very different. Some are similar. I work to maintain threads of some traditions that we valued as a family even though the family is not the same. And there are some parts that I am grateful to have given up & thrown away. We’re making new traditions, too. Figuring out how to be a family after a divorce isn’t easy and it takes time and perseverance.

The part of my life that I love the most is my children and this “Easter” (at least the few days leading up to Sunday) I got to spend some time in New York City with all three of my children. There’s nothing like it. And I am so proud (I know I’m repeating myself) of the people they are becoming … productive, self-supporting, happy, and fun to be with. All following their passions and building lives of their own. What a mother wants for her children and yet, also, requiring her to let them go … a mother’s worst heartbreak. A double-edged sword.

But this post isn’t written to make you sad. It’s joyful. I’m so happy to have spent time together in New York. And my little dogs were happy to see their “kids”, too! We also got to meet my son-in-law-to-be’s family for the first time which was a treat. Despite her concerns that someone would start a conversation about religion or politics and that everything would explode, we all got along. We all love this young couple bunches. Enough to be there for them and support them, no matter what.

What I realized this Easter is that I am “rising up” into a new life where I will be happy; filling my life with people I love and following my passions, too. Leaving the world, I hope, a better place. Making a difference in the life of a child. Just as I taught my children to do, I am now encouraging the same bravery in myself.

I didn’t take enough pictures but I have a heart-full of  memories to carry with me. Until the next time we meet!

Gone Knitting.