Thursday, November 3, 2011

Remembering Katie at 21

11/11/11 will be "what would have been" our daughter Katie's 21st birthday.
I spent all of October dreading November because it is the beginning of "sad dates" for me. So, when we found out on Monday that my husband has pneumonia, it did not sit well. Pneumonia is what killed Katie, at the young age of 7 years and 3 months.

So, tonight I was talking on the phone with my sister and mentioned the "11/11/11" fact. Her reply was, "Really? Oh, my God! That makes me feel so old!" Silence...disbelief...other thoughts unmentionable...

Then she said, "What do you think she would have been doing?" I responded, "Well, I'm not sure, but it would have been something and I would have loved to watch."

But then it was time for the Rachel Maddow Show, so my sister had to go because she could not miss the interview with Michael Moore from Denver. Whatever.

And my family wonders why I feel forgotten out here...will they remember on 11/11/11 that it is an important date - an especially difficult date - for me? Probably not. They haven't in the past. They probably just think we're over it.

Well, I'm here to say - once again - that YOU GET THROUGH IT, BUT YOU NEVER GET OVER IT.

And that is the truth. Remember your friends, and keep track of important dates and send them love. Especially if they are far away, without family support. They get tired of telling the story, and since you already know it, remind them that you do...and that you remember...and that you love them.
I'm just sayin'.

Happy Birthday, sweet Katie. I'm posting this early, because you deserve all the greetings I can muster for you on your special day. I miss you, and I love you, and know you are just fine.
Love, Mama

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Inspired by the ocean...

A few weeks ago we took a day trip to the coast. We packed a picnic lunch and drove to Parker River Nat'l Wildlife Refuge. There are several beaches there. This day, hardly anyone was around so it was a real treat - especially since the weather was drop dead gorgeous. Here is a little photo blog of our time there. I love the ocean. It soothes my soul, inspires me and makes me feel whole. It was nice to have the space to really soak it all in this day. As you can see, the sky was incredibly clear and deep. The lines you see are all jet streams from a nearby airport. Isn't that fascinating?

After we left the beach, we drove to Newburyport where Jonathan got to spend some time with his friends who moved there last year. They had a wonderful time, while Warren and I sat in the sun in the Town Common.
On the way out of town we drove by the SSJE Abby to see if there was anything of interest in the way of foliage. This is the road we drove in on...and out on. Wow!

Driving back to Worcester, the traffic was horrid. But we listened to some great music and I kept looking at my photos, holding on to that beautiful day.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Make new friends, but keep the old!!

Last weekend, I flew from Boston to Detroit to Akron. As promised, Juliann was at the airport to greet me. She looked "the same" even though we have not seen each other in 17 years.

Thursday, the day I arrived, was Juliann's 60th birthday. We went out to a lovely Italian restaurant for dinner...great food, wine, good! And we talked, and we talked, and we talked. It was as if time had stood still for us. We just picked right up where we'd left off.

That, to me, is the sign of a true friendship! We shared our lives and our hopes and our sorrows and our disappointments and our dreams. Can you say "BEAUTIFUL"?? It was.

Happy New Year, dear Juliann! Thank you for letting me help you enter into a beautiful new life. You have so much going on - you really care about people and you're smart and funny and nice. Maybe you should run for President! But I hope you don't. Life will be good to you. Be patient. Keep smiling...and perhaps, along the way, teach me how to do the same. XOXOXOXOXO

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Winding Down The Season...

This afternoon I took a drive out to my favorite farm stand. Even though they are in the midst of harvesting, it still felt like things were missing. Things like the best radishes I've ever tasted, and a lack of fresh carrots. It reminded me that the summer is coming to a close. Pretty soon, the farm stand will close as well. Sigh.
But there are still many wonderful items for purchase, and I took advantage of the fresh white corn on the cob, escarole, apples, cauliflower, and green beans. The colors!! Eat your heart out.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

God Bless Graham

I have lost a friend.

Graham Harling died during the night between Monday and Tuesday of this week. Graham is the beloved husband of my dear friend Tereza. They live in South Africa. I have never met them, but I love each of them dearly.

I know Tereza from CCS. She tells of her life with Graham: celebrating their anniversary; enjoying visits from children and grandchildren; shopping in the nearby village; enjoying each other's company and having lunch at local restaurants.

Tereza is a wonderful portrait artist. You should do a Google search of Tereza Harling Art and see what comes up. She is famous. I've never met her, but I love her.

I've shared my joys and sorrows with her. She's shared her frustrations and expectations with me. And then Graham got very, very ill. He never bounced back from his surgery. One day, he had three months to live. Another day, it was down to one month. And then, two days ago, he died. I am very, very sad.

But I know that Graham is sitting at the banquet table in that far off place, sitting next to all the people I love and miss! He's a vegan, so I know the table is full of fresh fruit and roasted vegetables. He is smiling, and he feels good. He misses his Tereza. She misses him, but she know he is okay. I know he's okay. Dear Lord, please let his spirit live among those who will miss him on this earth!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Happy New Year...To Me!!

Tomorrow, August 21st, is my birthday. I thought I'd share some photos with you from the past year, just for the fun of it.

This was taken this aftenoon at Cournoier's Farm in Paxton, MA. They have the most wonderful, fresh vegetables in the world! I can't wait to try and paint this.

Let's not forget the horrid winter we experienced here in New England. UGH. It was a long one!

And how can I forget the wonderful trip we took to visit friends in Austin, TX in February? What fun, and such a great place to have good friends.

I had so much fun learning to draw and paint at the Worcester Art Museum! I'll be doing more of that, for sure.

I can't forget to mention how much Jonathan has grown during the last year, can I? Isn't he handsome and wonderful?

Oh, and when I was in Texas in February I got to meet my friend Malinda from CCS! We had a great time together - she's as crazy "live" as she is online!! Love you, Malinda!!

I'm trying to decide if I should take an "intense" acrylic painting class or learn about watercolors...I've really loved playing with watercolors the last few months, but love this acrylic landscape.

We're just a few days back to reality from our camping trip to Maine. It was so awesome. I miss the ocean so much! Wonderful times with incredible people, with so many great memories.

And so there's a "picture" of my year. This year is going to be a good one, I just feel it in my bones. Stay tuned for more information.

Thanks for looking!


Friday, July 29, 2011

Making Faces

I belong to CoachCreativeSpace, which is a social network of very interesting people...all creative in one form or another. Tereza, who is an accomplished artist from South Africa, started a challenge whereby we "recreate" in our own style the work of a master. Her first offering was from Modigliani - a portrait of his wife Jeanne. You can do an internet search to find the original, but here is my first version of her, done in graphite:

Not being completely satisfied with myself, I went to my conté crayons and gave Jeanne another shot:
I'm not trying to be a "master" but it's so much fun re-creating something like this a la Mary!! In the next week or so, I'm going to try another one of Modi's masterpieces and see what I come up with. If you are so willing, please give this a try! There are no rules, except to enjoy the process.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


This week, St. Luke's Worcester has been hosting vacation bible school - what we have always referred to as Summer Celebration. From 9-12:30 each morning, we've hosted 70 children from all over town for a taste of just how God's love still reigns.

On Monday, the children banded their t-shirts to be tie-dyed. On Tuesday morning, when they returned, here's what they were greeted with.

Tomorrow is (already!) our last day. The heat has been intense, and we're working hard to keep everyone hydrated. But these kids - I tell ya! They are constant reminders that God is watching over us! They'll be the first to tell you, too.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Nothing like a good cry!

The alarm went off at 3 a.m. and we both jumped out of bed in anticipation of seeing Jonathan in just a couple of hours! His flight was to arrive in Boston at 5 a.m. My feet hit the floor...I felt like a bus had driven over me during the night...then I remembered.

Jonathan has been visiting his cousins in Colorado for the last two weeks. The first week, he was in Granby at my in-laws' home. Warren's sister and her family joined them up there. After Warren returned to Worcester, Jonathan went to Denver and was entertained by my siblings. He had a wonderful time.

Yesterday, my brother David was good about keeping me informed of their whereabouts by sending me photos regularly. The last one he sent - just as I was going off to "early bed" really got to me. Here it is.

He's standing in front of our house on Utica Street in Denver. It's the house we - his new family - brought him home to at the age of ten months. It's the house where he learned to walk and throw a ball and ride a bicycle. It's the house where he walked to school from for Pre-K at Centennial School (who could forget Ms. Garbish?). It's a house of wonderful Hicks family memories - fun family events on the deck, with our great big back yard and wonderful swing set. It's the house where I learned to love to garden. It's the house where we had neighbors...and we knew their names, and they knew ours and we looked out for each other, all up and down the street. It's the house where Katie picked marigolds to take to her 5th grade teacher that Fall that seems so long ago...the Fall before she died, right there in that house. It's a house of some sad memories. But mostly, seeing it makes me very happy.

So when I saw this photo, my heart just swelled with happiness and sadness and prosperity and loss. And I had the most incredible cry - loud and tearful and unabashed. Nobody heard me, as Warren was upstairs asleep. That's okay, I didn't really want any sympathy or attention. I just wanted to cry. I just needed to have a really good, hard cry.

Jonathan is home! It's so exciting to have him here. We're celebrating his birthday with his favorite meal this evening - corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots. He's such a good boy. I love him so much, and am so very thankful that he waited for us.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Rules or No Rules?

I've just completed my nine-week Portrait Drawing class. And, for the last two weeks, I have been very busy doing abstract creations in my Art Journal.

My heart is much happier after I finish a piece in my Art Journal that it has ever been after one of my drawing classes. So...

I think what this is telling me is that:

1) Knowing how to draw is important, and you have to practice to really ever "get there"...unless, of course, it comes naturally to you.
2) Following the "rules" of drawing (or, of my drawing instructor) irritate me.
3) Having "no rules" in the process of making abstract art makes my heart so happy!

So, I'm not going to take any more drawing classes. But I'll keep drawing because I understand what I've learned is important, and it would be a waste to lose that. I've figured out my "style" and enjoy it.
BUT, I'm going to keep doing abstract art until there isn't any left inside of me. It is so much fun to just sit down, grab a medium out of the blue, and "see what happens!" No rules, baby. That's my style.

Here is some of what I've been working on lately.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Super 8

I have not seen a new-release film in its first few days in a long time. Tonight, we went to see "Super 8" and I am here to tell you - "DON'T MISS IT!"

I am not a fan of horror films. But I did love "Stand By Me."

"Super 8" is a combo of "Stand By Me" and SciFi Horror. Somehow, magically, this movie ties it all together in a soft, meaningful way. Afterwards, you will discover all the ways they make fun of directors and Hollywood and horror. But while you're watching it, you will be tied to your seat, eyes wide open.

Jonathan was "all over me" by the end of the film, he was so frightened. But when we were driving home, Warren mentioned how it all came together for him when the guy in the row behind us yelled (towards the end), "LET GO OF THE GUN!" We all laughed out loud, and that's when the horror became entertainment.

Go see this movie! It's worth it. It could not have worked better with a famous cast. It's beautiful and touching and stupid and scary all rolled into one. It's also PG-13. Do not take your young children. There was a couple in front of us with their grandchild who must not have been ten years old. I found myself looking over at him several see (and you'll understand why if you see the movie) if he was vomiting. Really, it's fun! Go see it. Tell me, PLEASE, if you do.

I can't believe I sat through it and loved it!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Jumping With June Joy

I've been a member of Coach Creative Space for almost four years, and this month CCS is celebrating its fourth birthday. Members were asked to share, in our "favorite form" what we have gained from the myriad of people and discussions which make up this community. Here is what I submitted:

I have grown so much - especially with my artistic expression - from being part of this group. The friendships that have come with it are just icing on the cake...and they are genuine, good friends. We all come and go, but we all keep being there for each other and encouraging one another to keep after what makes our hearts happy. So, to "Dan the Man" and all my special friends at CCS, "Happy  Birthday and Thank You!" from me.

Check it out if you need a place to share your creative mind and spirit with the world!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Better than Christmas!

Today was a SURPRISE...nearly every part of it. You have no idea how my spirits have been lifted as a result of an unplanned, spontaneous day. Who knew how badly I needed this?

I woke up early and drank coffee and listened to the very vocal birds while I waited for the Sunday paper to be delivered. Warren woke up and started getting ready "for work." The paper arrived, and I sat on the porch and devoured it, enjoying more coffee and the wonderful coolness of the bright morning.

After I got Jonathan up, I made a decision that "today is my day off, and I'm going to use it as such!" Jonathan came downstairs in his new suit (what a handsome young man!), had breakfast, and left for church. He had a "duty" this morning, so sending him off alone was not a problem. I watched him (eagerly, full of anticipation) go down the sidewalk to the church. I locked the door and nearly RAN upstairs to my "play room." I opened the windows and turned on the fan. And I sat down at my work table and finished a journal background page that I started yesterday. Layers and layers, a little texture, some more layers of color. I love it.

Warren called and said, "How about going to Newburyport today instead of tomorrow?" "GREAT!" was my reply. Are you kidding? A trip to the coast which might involve a trip to a beach? NO PROBLEM.

When Jonathan came home, I told him about our plan. He has some wonderful friends (who used to be our neighbors) who live there. He asked if he could call "the girls" and of course, I said "YES!" These girls are identical twins and they and Jonathan have a bond that will last forever. He was so excited, and I could hear them screaming through the phone when he told them we were coming.

So...we left Worcester about 1:00. There was a bad accident on the highway, which added about 30 minutes to our drive. But we arrived to find a wonderful festival going on in downtown Newburyport! Arts & Crafts and food and all the stores were open and it was awesome! We met up with the girls, and they suggested a walk to the boardwalk, where it wouldn't be so crowded. So, Warren and I followed behind...until we realized we just couldn't keep up. That was okay. They were okay. We'd catch up with them, they'd take off. We'd meet them somewhere, they'd say "Hello!" and be gone. They were safe. We were just having a wonderful day outdoors in the sunshine.

Later, they asked if we could go to the beach. Warren looked at me and said, "Well, I'm not sure if Mary wants to go to the beach or not." Jonathan's face dropped about a foot. I started to laugh. I was so excited you could have raced me in a car and not beat me to get there. The surf was high. The kids got soaking wet and Warren took wonderful photos. The girls' mother came to the beach and she and Warren took more photos. I found a wonderful stick to add to my corner of "found sticks" in my garden. The water felt so good on my feet. The sand felt so good on my hands. I think I might love a beach more than any other place on earth.

After a couple of hours at the beach, we all hugged and said our goodbyes for awhile. My family drove down the road a little way to "Bob's Lobster" just as the sun was setting. I have seen many sunrises on the East coast. I've seen sunsets from the East coast, too, but not over water. I could have been sitting on a beach in Mexico watching this sunset. It was huge and bright red and in full bloom. My breath was sucked out of me when I realized I was sitting on the East coast of a country, watching the sun set on the other side of that same country. I nearly cried.
 Here's a photo from my phone. Warren has better photos, which I will share. It was an awesome experience.
All the way home, we listened to the Americana Music Nominations show on satellite radio. So very good.

 It's like I took the right dose of medicine when I got up. Everything about today was just perfect. Thank you God, thank you Warren, thank you Jonathan and the girls! Wow.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Drawing Day!

If it's Monday, it must be time for my drawing class! This term, I am taking Portrait Drawing. Today was week three; we've had a life model (not naked) every week. This is all very new to me.

Today's exercise was to draw quickly, with broad strokes for both emphasis and shading. We were to "draw as if the person you're drawing will get off the bus at the next stop, and you want to capture everything."

So, we had some 10-minute drawings, and some 15-minute drawings, and some 20-minute drawings. Whew! Three hours goes quickly when you are drawing.

Anyway, here a couple of my results. The first one is done with charcoal, and is 18"X24" on drawing paper:

The next one might be my favorite of the day, but I'm partial to "mug shot" drawings...apparently. It was fun to work in color and not be able to erase.

I left class today feeling sort of frustrated, but more challenged than anything. I keep telling myself, "Baby steps!!" but it's hard because I want to be good at this yesterday! Anyway, thanks for looking. I'll be back!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Unfinished Business

In January of 2008, just about one month after my mother's death, I started this painting. I have worked on it several times, but not at all in the last year. It sits on top of my piano to "remind" me to keep after it, as it feels so unfinished to me but I do not have a clue what else to do. There is a story behind it, which has to do with my mother after she died.

The morning of her funeral, she was sitting on the edge of the bed of a family friend when he awoke. She said, "I just wanted to make sure you were okay. I'm fine, I'm going to Westport!" My mother's Irish roots are in County Cork, which is not close to Westport (County Mayo). None of us had ever heard of Westport. We do, however, believe this story to be true.

So this painting is "Coming Into Westport" and it is filled with lots of emotion. Some of it is anger (the dark, low clouds) and some of it is relief. Maybe it is finished; maybe I'm just afraid to admit that I painted something I like!

What I would like to hear from those of you who choose to do so is, "What do you think is missing here?" My goal was to present this to my baby brother on his 50th birthday. From the moment I started this painting, I knew it would be for him. I still have time, but would really like to get some feedback.
Thanks for looking, and I look forward to your comments.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Big News

I just want to share with you the sermon my husband, The Rev. Warren Hicks, gave this morning at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Worcester, MA. He talks about his reaction/response to the killing of Osama bin Laden. Call me prejudiced, but this sermon is brilliant.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

New Life

Tonight a very dear friend told me that there's a chance her husband will get a job in another state - 3 1/2 hours away from here. My heart sank.

She's excited, and has been doing some internet searching about the possible new home for their family. My friend has never lived outside of her zip code, so this is a great big deal to her. I get it.
I remember just five short years ago, wondering where it was God was calling Warren and me and Jonathan to begin anew. And, here we are in Worcester, MA! It was not my first choice, but it wasn't the worst choice! Life happens, and you make it your life. I'm really trying to do that.
But I think about this friend of mine and what she is going through. Yes, there's excitement! It's an adventure! Who doesn't love an adventure? Nobody brought me here kicking and screaming, and this is what I remember every time I say to myself, "What in the hell am I doing here?"

Five years later, I'm beginning to figure out how to get places without using my GPS. (This is huge!) Five years later, I'm bonded to some enough people that it would make me cry to leave here, if we left. But we're not leaving. Of that, I am sure. So my job is to make this life my life, and create a life in this place that still feels foreign to me.

Although I will never (probably) call Worcester "home" it is a good place, filled with good people. My job is to find those good people and make them part of my every day life. We've done alright, but we can do better. It's time to stop standing around with "deer in the headlight eyes" and start being "bulls in a china shop" and making our presence known and our desire for friendship and fun known and quit hiding behind the doors of this house which is not ours and say, "Come on in!" (By invitation only, please - that's another post!) We're going to be here.

And so, to my friend who is at a possible huge crossroads in her life, can I just say this: "Enjoy the adventure! It's fun, it's exciting. Once all the fun and excitement wears off, make sure you make friends of your own. Don't just be your husband's wife. You deserve the best.

And I will support you and love you, because I realize and understand what you're going through. It's tough, but give it a few years and it will be well worth it. But I will miss you - terribly. XO

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Those Nasty Sneezes!!

I apologize for posting two new entries in one day. But I remembered an interesting encounter I had with Jonathan a couple weeks ago, and wanted to share it with you. What brought this back to my memory? Well, if you must know, I am in the midst of a horrific sneezing fit...

Anyway, one afternoon after Jonathan came home from school I sat up and said, "Let's go to Starbucks!" I still had some bucks left on a gift card, and Jonathan was ready and eager to accompany me. He has learned to love and appreciate coffee that last six months or so. A pot of coffee in the morning is not always enough......I'm learning to share! (Warren usually drinks tea.)

So we drove to Starbucks - about a ten minute drive, and at a busy time of day. Then, any time after 2:00 in Worcester is a busy time of day. Once the high schools get out, traffic increases tremendously. Anyway, Jonathan and I pulled in to Starbucks and found a spot to park in the back aisle. As I pulled in, I was overcome with a horrible stench. It was easily recognizable as "one of Jonathan's farts" and I easily reprimanded him. "Could you have waited about ten seconds until you got outside before you did that?" "WHAT?" he asked, dumbfounded. "THE FART!! Couldn't you have waited?" He just looked at me like I was from another planet. We got out of the car and started walking across the parking lot.

He said, "Geez, I'm sorry! But hey, I don't get all over you when you have your sneezing fits!" I stopped dead in my tracks and just looked at him.


Do yours?

They Said It Wouldn't Last!

Yesterday - April 4, 2011 - Warren and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. If you were one of those people who were part of our companion crowd 25 years ago, you'd probably be shaking your head thinking, "That is unbelievable!" We've changed a lot over the years...

We met at a Denver Zephyr's baseball game at Mile High Stadium. Between innings, Warren asked me to dance to a Glenn Miller song they were playing ("String of Pearls). So, our first encounter was dancing on the bleachers. We might have had a few beers tucked away at the time...
And then, out of the blue a few months later, WE WERE GETTING MARRIED!! And we did, and we've had a wonderful/adventurous/exciting/heartbreaking/heartwarming life together. 

Last night, over sushi at Haiku Restaurant (el yummo!!), we both agreed that our children were our greatest accomplishments. (This was before we came home to discover that Jonathan had talked on the phone all night and had not done any of the items we listed for him to take care of while we were out...) 

And we agreed that it's been hard - adopting two children, dealing with their special needs, missing Katie, being parents of an almost-16-year-old...and missing lots of the things and people we've left behind over the years. But we're not sure if and/or how we can change that. So, it's still sort of hard. But not horrible.

Happy Anniversary, dear Warren. You are a wonderful husband. I will dance on the bleachers with you any time. XO

Saturday, March 19, 2011

March Madness

Life has been c.r.a.z.y. for the last month, but something tells me it will begin to slow down just a bit. I hope so.

Here it is - Lent, 2011. I've always enjoyed greeting people with "Happy Ash Wednesday!" just to get a smile out of them. This year was no exception. I hope you all had a Happy Ash Wednesday, and have a Happy Lent!

I've been loving my classes at the Art Museum. It's hard to believe there are only two weeks left of my drawing class, and three of my painting class. It's been good for me, and now I need to see what offerings lie in store for the next session. Last week, we painted a piece of fruit.

It's been fun working with Acrylic paints from a tube instead of those inexpensive craft paints I've been using for my journals and altered books! Who knew?

Life goes on. My goal for this Spring is to get my 3rd floor space in order to spend all my creative time up there - in a "Mom Cave" if you will - and clear off the dining room table! My incentive? The in-laws are coming to visit over Holy Week/Easter. I have the greatest incentive in the world to get this house in "mother-in-law acceptable" order. Not that she'll have much to say about it, but - trust me - she will notice! (This is the same woman who said to me years ago, "If you're going to be a priest's wife, you're going to have to learn how to keep house." I kid you not.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Unhappy Camper

There is nothing I enjoy about this.
Warren is off to Connecticut for a conference this week - some sort of "clergy crap" as I lovingly refer to it. So, that leaves me here - "single momming it" - with Jonathan.
Call me spoiled, but usually I get to sleep in and Warren gets up at 5:15 with Jonathan. I arrive later, usually, just as the frenzy of getting out the door is ending. This works, according to Warren, because sometimes a third person just adds fuel to the fire. Okay! See you at 6:15! There is nothing, to me, even halfway attractive about anything before 6 a.m. I'm just sayin'.
So, I've set my alarm for 5:15 every day this week. So far, it's working. I get up and get dressed. I wake up Jonathan and go downstairs and start coffee. Then I holler upstairs to make sure Jonathan is out of bed. Then I go back to the kitchen to figure out what to make him for his lunch. Then I holler up the stairs one more time to make sure he's vertical. Then I remind him that the dog needs to be taken care of.
So, downstairs he comes - usually without shoes on, and no dog. "Go put shoes on and take care of the dog." He looks at me like nobody has ever told him this before. Then he turns, and follows my "orders." If I put a banana on his plate with his breakfast, he asks for a knife...not to cut up the banana, but to cut off "the ends" because for some stupid reason, he does not like the little pointed ends of the banana. Whatever. Breakfast for me!
After he eats, I tell him (every day) to go upstairs and brush his teeth and put his bands on his braces. By this time, he has 20 minutes left - plenty of time to get ready and organized and make it a relaxed exit. But 15 minutes later, I'm yelling up the stairs, "Did you brush your teeth?" "I'm getting there!" he yells back. "WTF?" I think to myself. Then, I'm "nicely" yelling at him to hurry it up because it's almost time to leave.
He grabs his things and throws them into his backpack. "Do you have your lunch?" I always ask. "Oh, crap!" he says, as he runs to the kitchen to grab it. "Do you have bands in?" I always ask. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. So I explain that he's just wasting his own time by not wearing them. But he always has them in his back pocket! You know the rest of that story...
Out the door...on time, if I drive him to the bus stop. I'm a stickler for being on time, so we always have a few minutes to wait and chat. We figure out his schedule for the day. He seems to know a lot more about handling time than I do. What is it with 15-year-olds, anyway? Time for the bus, so I kick him out of the car and come home. Home to quiet and noise and signs of life that is now sitting on a bus headed to Worcester Tech. And I miss him. And I miss him all day, and can't wait to see him at the end of his day...I want to hear all about it and listen to his stories. He tells such great stories, and he's so excited and enthusiastic about them all! Then, I like to watch him do his homework while he has a snack. He's always so ravenous, and eats with such aplomb it's amazing. And then he eats dinner like he hasn't seen food in a week.
So, yes, I miss Warren. I hate being a single parent. But I love my boy. So, if I have to be a single parent for a week I'll just suck it up and enjoy the stories. Maybe I'll have a few of my own by the time Warren gets back on Friday. Maybe I'll even get up early to tell them to him.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

How Y'all Doin'?

We are just back from six really, really, really fun days in Austin, Texas. Since we lived there from 2000-2003 while Warren was in Seminary, it was easy to choose who to see, what to do, and where to eat. We stayed with our friends who even loaned us a car for the week. We had privacy, freedom, and they had low expectations. All they asked was a couple of dinners together. Wonderful!

Sunday night, our hosts invited some of our St. David's Church friends over. We put together a pot of poblano chile stew, made a salad, chilled some beer and had a feast. A burning fire pit topped off the special feeling of warmth and love, sitting and chatting with good friends.

Monday, Jonathan and I drove south to New Braunfels where I met my CCS friend, Malinda! I've known her for years through CCS and it was just like we'd talked yesterday, once we met. We all went to lunch in Gruene and putzed around some antique stores. Then we drove back to New Braunfels so we could go to a gallery we'd both read about. It was such a fun day, and a thrill to be able to meet and spend time with Malinda.

Tuesday we had lunch with some seminary friends...some still work there, some don't. But we are all still connected because of our relationship with ETSS, and we all had a great time together. While Warren went to a meeting on campus, Jonathan and I strolled around and re-visited some old "haunts" on campus. Most things look the same, but everything is different. The new offices are way too quiet, and even the campus didn't feel lively. Maybe it was the day. Maybe it's because I've changed. At any rate, I'm glad we spent some time there and I'm glad to have those friends.

Wednesday was a day without an agenda, so we decided to do some sightseeing at Central Market. It's the most fabulous grocery store in the entire universe! The produce left us gasping, it was so fresh and beautiful (and even cheap!). We bought a few things for dinner, and were happy about our adventure. Later that evening we all went to Antone's for a tribute by women artists to Gilbert Antone, who started the club way back when. We mostly were excited about Marcia Ball being in the lineup, but had no idea how much we'd love everyone who performed. There were some men on stage, too, but not singing. It was fabulous, and we stayed until 1 a.m.

Thursday we did some more sightseeing at Waterloo Records, and also at Tesoro's, a wonderfully eclectic shop full of interesting imports from Mexico, Peru, Inda, Vietnam...beautiful things and so much eye candy! We dropped a few dollars there, but it was more fun just to look. One more lunch of Tex-Mex and Happy Hour with seminary friends and we were back with our hosts, enjoying another feast, playing Dominoes and having a wonderful last evening together. Here's Warren with one of our hosts, Anne.

And now we're back in Worcester. I've decided not to say "I'm home" because I realized this week that I'm not sure where home is. Worcester is where I keep my stuff, but it's still not home. Not to me, anyway. I'll figure it out. Maybe I'm just a Vagabond and will feel a part of the many different places I've lived and enjoy visiting them. Who knows. At any rate we are back.

Thank you, Warren, for this wonderful Christmas surprise! You really know how to love a gal.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Remembering, with Love

Today I remember my mom, who loved Valentine's Day. My sisters and I used to compete to see who could find the mushiest card to give to mom, because she did not like mushy! In later years, we'd send mom a really mushy card but sign the name of one of our sister's, so she never really knew who she was getting "that crap" from. It was fun!
I'm not big on celebrating Valentine's least it's been a long time since I went to any effort to give Valentines to friends. This year was different, and I'm glad. Eleven friends over at CCS had a little Valentine's Day swap, and it was really, really fun. Making the valentines, making the envelopes, picking out the perfect postage stamp, and then receiving all these beautiful works of art from them in my own mailbox! Now I have a mantle full of love and friendship and beautiful, sweet Valentine's Day art. I'm so blessed!
I recently learned a new little art form called "Iris Folding Paper" and have had so much fun with it, especially when making the valentines for my friends. Here's the valentine I made for my husband (before I wrote "You Drive Me Crazy!!" on it...just kidding).
Happy Valentine's Day
to all my wonderful friends!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Learning To Draw

A woman said to her niece, "I'm going to take a drawing class!"

"Why?" the little girl asked, "Did you forget how?"

Such is my life! I am taking a drawing class at the Worcester Art Museum. Today was my third week of ten weeks, and it was as wonderful as the first time. Our instructor is so encouraging and thoughtful, and the class size is small so we each get a lot of attention!

Today we worked on drawing negative spaces. I've done this before, and loved it. Today, not so much! What we were given was a large twig/branch to draw from. I kept losing my place, and then someone moved and sat across from me and it changed everything. I felt very frustrated.

Then, Teacher said, "Okay, let's take a short break now and go downstairs to see the special Goya exhibit!" I almost swallowed my tongue! Warren and I had spent over a half hour scouring these beautiful etchings and lithographs during the museum's recent "Flora In Winter" exhibit. What drew us to the Goya gallery was NO PEOPLE! It was funny, while we were in there two women breezed through, looking for flowers. One said, "Nothing in here!" and they breezed out. If they only knew what they were missing.

Look here. Look at the negative spaces. Look at the emotion on the faces. Just look. Then, look again. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Monday, January 31, 2011

Sitting On My Lap...

To make a long story short, on Sunday morning, Jonathan fainted. Scared the living daylights out of me!

On Saturday, helping us slice potatoes for a "new recipe" he cut the pad of his thumb on the mandolin slicer...and proceeded to "disengage" the flap that remained. So, he was left with a bit of a chunk of thumb missing...not too horrible, and we did not take him for stitches or anything. It's healing nicely. He's fine.

Warren and I went to a dinner party on Saturday night. When we got home, I asked Jonathan what he'd had to eat. He said, "Oh, I just had a couple of granola bars...I didn't feel like fixing anything else." (We had left him with numerous options for easy-to-fix meals. I was a little upset, but sent him to bed. After all, we had a big day as tomorrow was Sunday!

Sunday morning, I woke Jonathan up and told him to get showered and dressed and come on downstairs and get some breakfast. A little while later he came into the kitchen and said, "Mom, my thumb really hurts!" I took a look at it (he'd removed the bandage after showering) and told him to come with me to the bathroom so we could put a fresh bandage on it.

While my head was inside the closet, searching for the perfect bandage, Jonathan was behind me...feeling faint...reaching for the edge of the sink, but thinking he needed to get to the living room and sit down. I heard a scuffling noise and backed out of the closet. To my utter shock, Jonathan was lying in the middle of the floor outside the bathroom. Flat on his back. In his underwear.

I didn't freak out. I could see that he was conscious and okay. He'd bumped his head on the way down, but nothing horrible. First, I called Warren. I was afraid to try to move Jonathan because i didn't know how steady he'd be on his feet. Of course, Warren did not answer his phone! So I dialed the church. Deacon Jane answered, "St. Luke's!" and I said, "This is Mary. Please tell Warren he needs to come home!" Warren was here in a this time the reality had set in with me and I was a little beside myself. Poor Jonathan was lying on the floor - in his underwear - and a little tear was creeping down the side of his face. He was scared, too. It broke my heart to see him crying.

Warren helped me get him up and into the living room. He sat and held Jonathan for several minutes. Jonathan cried. Warren and I traded seats. Jonathan kept crying. It was obvious that he was okay - he knew his name, the date, etc. Warren fixed him a PBJ and made sure I was okay with him going back to church. I was, and so was Jonathan. 

After Warren left I said to Jonathan, "If crying is what you need to do to feel better, then you just keep crying until you feel better." And he did. And he sat on my lap and let me hold him and catch his tears on my shoulder. And it was so beautiful.

And it reminded me about how wonderful and blessed it is to be a mother. And it reminded me of times when I was perhaps Jonathan's age and scared or sad, but wasn't encouraged to show my emotions. And that made me cry, too. Life is not worth living with feelings unacknowledged. I speak from lots of experience! I'm so happy to have a son who is not afraid of his emotions, even at the age of 15. What a precious boy.

And what a lucky mom I am...that he was willing to sit on my lap and let me snuggle him in blankets and hold him and he never shied away from any comfort I offered. It only took a few minutes, but it was blessed. A long lasting memory. Beautiful.

Jonathan is fine! Everything is back to normal...whatever that is! I am such a lucky mom to have a wonderful family! God is good, and thank God everything is okay and this was just a "fluke" event.

Next time we go to a dinner party, I will be sure to leave dinner in the oven for our boy. As much as I enjoyed holding him on my lap, I'm not anxious for another morning like that for a long time.

Thank you God, for little favors...unexpected...beautiful.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

'Snow Fun!

Feels like Saturday...
Looks like...Thursday?
We had 14" of new snow overnight, and I am here to tell you that if you live in the Northeastern United States, you are s.i.c.k. o.f. s.n.o.w.
It was a "definite" snow day for Worcester Public Schools. We tried to dig out a little before the contractor-snowblower-dude showed up around 1 p.m. By then I was thinking, "Am I going to be stuck here forever?"

Warren was insistent on feeding the birds, but getting to the bird feeders proved to be quite a challenge! Luckily, Jonathan could navigate the snow wearing his dad's snow shoes - which, it turned out, weren't a laughable investment two years ago!

He's a good boy, and he had a good time...shoveling, cleaning off our cars, feeding the birds...isn't he handsome? I think this photo looks like it could be in a Lands End catalog!

Tonight Warren and I went on a date! Granted, we were home by 7 p.m., but we went to the opening of Flora In Winter at the Worcester Art Museum! Warren had won free tickets, so it was a no brainer. It was so lovely. I was so taken by each artist's interpretation of the work of art vs. their floral display. Check it out here, but there will probably not be pictures from this year for a few days:

We picked up a pizza on our way home, and enjoyed one episode of "Seinfeld" while we had our "dinner." Then we all converged downstairs and read for awhile. I did some of my "Iris Folding Paper" creations, which are really fun and I love. Here's a sample.
 It's so much fun - I've made about 15 different designs this week...hearts and Star of David and flowers...really pushing the edge, once I get to know the pattern. Fun, fun.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Watching Icicles Grow

Watching icicles grow is not very exciting to most people. Yet they amaze me. Every day, I take inventory of the icicles - not only growing on our roof edges, but on the edges of roofs all around us. Each one has its own story to tell. I have my own story to tell. Each icicle changes every day. My story changes from day to day. Icicles fall. I fall. New icicles form. My life forms every time I wake up.

Today is one of the coldest days I can remember since living here in New England. Really, really cold. Bitter. Sunny, but c.o.l.d. Lovely, but c.o.l.d. Life - c.o.l.d.

Today I woke up excited and full of anticipation for what was to be a wonderful experience, as I attended my first drawing class at the Worcester Art Museum. This 10-week course is going to be a life-changing experience for me, and I am so thrilled! Why, oh why, didn't I do something like this years ago? So much to learn, experiment with, challenge myself - why have I let myself believe that I'm too old to learn? Obviously, I so yearn for this type of environment! This morning was one of the most exhilarating events of my life. There will be more on this, trust me!

And then I came home...happy, excited! And then our 15-year-old son came home...happy, excited! And then he proceeded to explain to us why his grades are going down. Nothing but lazy. Nothing but not using the tools he's been given. Nothing but thinking talk gets you everywhere. Well, let me tell you, the mood in this house - even eight hours later - is not one of "HAPPY!" This child of ours has been scolded, lectured, hugged, told what-for, loved, fed, questioned, and lectured again. I am so fatigued right now just from the worry factor.

Outside our house, another batch of icicles is growing. They are beautiful. I love them. They are so much like me. They blossom and melt and grow. When the sun shines on them, they look to be so happy! Then they get hit with a little blood-boiling heat and begin to melt. Sometimes they fall; sometimes they grow. But they are always new. Cold. Different. Me.

To add to it all, this afternoon my car wouldn't start! When my husband tried to help me jump start it, his passenger window quit working! So now we have a car with a new battery that "might" start in the morning, as well as a car with one window covered in painter's drop cloth with duct tape all around it. Did I mention that the dishwasher quit working today?

Apparently, the forecast calls for 'POURING RAIN' because that's what it feels like right now. The freezing weather will warm up; the snow will continue to melt off the roof, and the icicles will come and go. I, however, will be here - hopefully expectant of good news at the end of a school day, and highly excited about the opportunity for me to learn new things. And keeping a close eye on the icicles all around me.