Should Auld Acquaintance…

And so it goes…another year has passed. The memories can be fleeting or quite significant. Depending on which direction you turn, you may think Kim Khardashian’s pregnancy is a big deal (really??) or more than likely something closer to home has been etched into your brain’s Rolodex (remember that?).

WashDC_20111203_65 IMG_0130In no particular order, here are some biggies that you may relate to:

1. Son graduates from high school

2. Son is accepted to college (and gets fairly good financial package)

3. Son gets through his first semester relatively unscathed

4. Our jobs/business/marriage/life-in-general continue to go well

What’s next? Presuming we all survive the fiscal cliff and skip resolutions involving food and fitness, we can look forward to:

1. Pitchers and catchers report around Feb. 14

2. Boating season springs anew – possibly as early as March

3. Another vacation is planned (Woo-hoo! It’s a big reason for living)

4. Family and friends gather often for good times

There’s a line in the movie “Bridges of Madison County” that applies today as we begin another year and think about change. National Geographic photographer Robert Kincaid played by Clint Eastwood says it well: “Things change. They always do, it’s one of the things of nature. Most people are afraid of change, but if you look at it as something you can always count on, then it can be a comfort.”

So fear not – change will come – embrace it – and have a glorious new year.

Those Days are Gone

During this time of year when we say, “Happy New Year” until around January 15, we can wax poetic about days gone by; say “farewell” to old habits while we welcome new ones and just plain old, move forward.

Today’s winter sky has been crystal blue with some high clouds, but the big news is we get about 45 minutes more of daylight during January. These long, dark nights are just depressing. Not to mention we are seeing the seasonal affective disorder stories starting to pop up. While I took a moment from working to look out the window on my neighborhood street at this 3 o’clock hour, one of the school busses stopped letting elementary school children off. Four little ones scurried across the street, while the fifth child – a boy – broke into a full-out run up the street. About 50 yards away was his dad walking toward him. The boy continued running right into dad’s waiting arms and he swung his son around.

The little boy is gone.

My heart went pitter-pat. Those days are gone for us. At 16, our son still says “I love you” when he leaves the house or at the end of the day, which I am grateful for, but there’s very little hugging and certainly no running into our arms. He’d crush me. The memories of those days are still sharp. It’s lovely to go back to the photo albums (before we had digital photos) and see the shots of Adam being held up over our heads or just in our arms. I remember visiting him at camp during his first year. He ran to our arms on visiting day and cried like a baby when we left. This past year, we got to have dinner with him after visiting day. I think he was glad when we left.

But, we move forward. It’s time to register to take the ACT and SAT tests; he’s going to a dance with his freshman girlfriend and before long, he’ll be ponying up the big bucks for his junior prom. At least he says “I love you” at the end of the day – this I look forward to.

Water Pumps, Saxons and Tubing

They say you can survive without food, but not without water. We have now survived just about 18 hours without water at our lake house and all is well (or is it water well). The water for the lake house is pumped from a well and the motorized pumping sound is sort of like an air conditioner hum – you know it’s working well – until it’s not. Around midnight Monday, the pump kept cycling through with the “contractions” getting closer and closer until I knew something was wrong. You see, at that hour, no one was using water, so WHY would the water pump be operating? Turns out there was a crack in the housing and water sprayed all over the basement creating a 1/4 inch deep pond. Our attentive house owner was contacted and he arrived around breakfast time to begin cleanup and let us know the plumber was on the way.

The day was not lost. Even without a shower (we showered before the pump had broken), we managed to brush our teeth with bottled water, ate breakfast at a nearby diner, then packed up the boat for Doug’s treat for the Camp Robin Hood Saxons- a jaunt in the boat and tubing. I had decided to treat the Saxons to pizza so the day became a lunch-time, afternoon event.

The Saxons at the Friedman's camp on Lake Ossipee

After picking up $125 worth of pizza, I drove to the home of Jack & Jane Friedman and their son, Myles and wife Virginia. Jack is a cousin of my mother-in-law. Jane’s family has owned the Lake Ossipee property for well over a century. I arrived with the pizza just as the Saxons arrived at the dock. They were hungry and grateful and dug right in. I spent nearly two hours talking with the Friedmans about family history and listened to stories from the past.

The weather was hot, with a light breeze. The Saxons swam and tubed for a while, then collapsed in the beach area outside. I ventured back to our cottage to check out water pump progress. The owner was continuing to wet-vac the basement and dry out belongings that were soaked. Rich, the plumber from Federal Piping in Freedom was just about finished by 3:30 p.m. We had water and a new pump once again.

Doug was exhausted from the Saxon jaunt. I prepared a simple grilled chicken and vegetable dinner with a salad. I watched the Phillies get clobbered by the Dodgers (though they tried to claw their way back), and it was lights out by 11 p.m. Another day at the lake with an adventure in water pumps.

It’s Time for Mom

So many people call Mother’s Day a “Hallmark holiday.” It’s not a holiday in the true sense of the word, but it is a great time to take a moment to remember what that woman did who brought us into this world. (I seem to remember the expression,”I brought you into this world; I can take you out.”) OK, maybe THOSE moments are not the one’s we’re remembering. This is surely a tough time for people who have lost their mom. Maybe to many of them, it’s just another Sunday on the calendar.

My mom has always  said what she values most is time spent with my brother and I. Now, as a mom myself, I whole-heartedly agree. Weather-permitting, we’ll be on the Delaware River Sunday taking my mom and dad for a cruise on the water. Mom wants to pack lunch and dad just wants to spend time on my husband’s new treasure. I can already see my mom smiling with the wind blowing back her silver hair and my dad laughing and making jokes about jumping in the river. (They already made sure we have enough life vests on the vessel – we do).

While I enjoy my parents this Mother’s Day, I think about some people in my life who span the emotional realm of “motherdom.” My one friend is a new mom. Their lovely new baby has had quite a battle and is growing so unbelievably stronger every day. She and her husband have incredible support from their bosses and co-workers and a wonderful family. Her husband is a prime example of the sandwich generation and has worries about his mom and dad and their health. For the moment, it appears they are OK. Her mom is a treasure who has been living with them for some time and I know she is grateful every day. Mother’s Day will be so special in their home.

I think of  another girlfriend. She’s a wonderful friend who I have known for years. During that long span of time, she has never had a relationship with her mother. I only know pieces of the story, but it makes me sad that her mom is around and there is a void that will probably never be filled by that person who brought her into the world. She accepted the situation a long time ago, but now that she and her brothers and sisters are older, the void has worsened in my estimation. She talks about how she doesn’t feel as close to her siblings; they are married; she is not and without the connection to their mom, the void is deeper.

Another friend of mine lost her mom to cancer a few years ago. They had a strained relationship in her final years for many reasons. I would listen to the hassles she had with her mom and the struggles made worse with her brothers after her mother died. But now, my friend says she has let go of all the bad things that have happened and the things that were said. She wishes every day that her mother were back for just a moment.

I think of the friends I know whose mothers and fathers are struggling with dementia and Alzheimer’s. What a strange time it must be to honor mom and think back to the times before this terrible disease enveloped their mind.

In this journey over the past couple of years, I have tried to take a moment to remember the good things in life. Yes, it’s a cliché, but you have to stop

My boys - Ocean City, June 2007

and smell the roses. Our children grow so very quickly. Looking at my friend’s baby and smelling that incredible baby smell made me remember what it was like to be a new mother, never having changed a diaper before and dealing with the monthly changes as our son grew so very quickly. Now, he is nearly 16; the baby is long gone, but to quote from my favorite children’s book, “Love You Forever-” I’ll love you forever, I like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.

Happy Mother’s Day – every day.

A classical vacation..almost interruptus

A visit to Tanglewood

A visit to Tanglewood

Do you remember that commercial where a group of friends around a lake, presumably on vacation, throw their cell phones in the lake? THAT’s what I need to do over the next week: silence my phone and NOT take it with me when I’m out supposedly ON VACATION.

This final prelude leading to a week in New Hampshire included seeing off some family going ahead of us to their vacation rentals in NH, a bit more laundry and a walk in Great Barrington with my husband.

Tonight, Doug, Adam and I had dinner at Tanglewood with my mother-in-law and her concert friends. The site there is gorgeous and serene in the hills of Lenox, MA. Mostly adults, but some families and 30 somethings choose their patch of grass or a favorite tree to have a picnic supper in the twilight before tonight’s concert led by conductor Andre Previn and the Boston Symphony

Grounds of Tanglewood

Grounds of Tanglewood

 Orchestra. Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet performed Liszt Piano Concerto No. 2 in A which was preceded by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 in B-flat.  In reality, Adam didn’t find enough around the grounds to interest him, so we took him home after dinner and a walk around the grounds. While the three of us were on that stroll, my cell phone rang. We have caller ID for a reason. And I reacted, rather than realize WHO was calling; WHEN they were calling and that I probably couldn’t do much about what would be on their mind. Ten minutes later, I had to handle this situation; make an executive decision and execute it. Fortunately, it did not ruin my evening. Live and learn.

Now, after the serene and classical evening, the temperature has cooled down; windows are open, there’s a book to read. Despite the work-related drama a few people tried to create earlier today, the world will turn, no lives will be lost and life will go on. So will this vacation. Cheers!

Vacation is..forgetting what day of the week it is.

I often wonder what stratosphere vacation falls in. You can go through every work day knowing exactly what time it is, what task is underway, what comes next, what is on the next day’s “to-do” list. Start your vacation and everything revolves around trying to make the day last longer.

This vacation day wasn’t particularly notable or unique, but I had to keep thinking, “Is today Thursday or Friday?” Doug and I walked out into the morning dew with a light fog hovering over the fields. Our morning exercise took us about two miles from the house. We noticed the homes for sale; discovered that pianist George Shearing lives in one of the houses I’ve been walking past for years. I looked deep into the meadows to the left and right hoping to see the family of deer that once bolted across Devon Road mere yards in front of me, creating a vision that will always be in my mind’s eye. On this day, it was a great conversation with Doug about life, home, relationships and more. It’s amazing what you can get done in an hour.

Sweet Larissa before dinner

Sweet Larissa before dinner

Later in the day while Doug worked on his mom’s “honey-do” list around her house, Adam finally

Sketch by Carol Kardon of First Congregational Church of Lee, MA

Sketch by Carol Kardon of First Congregational Church of Lee, MA

got up. We went into town to pick up a few things. He finally was hungry for lunch. So I had a lovely conversation and some food while sitting on the restaurant porch. We looked across the street where the historic First Congregational Church of Lee has stood in several different forms since the 1700’s. The church has one of the tallest steeples in New England and looks just like the one that sits in the middle of the wide shot of the opening of the 1960’s night time soap opera Peyton Place. We noticed the paint literally falling off the church and worse yet, the top of the steeple is rotted away. Adam said we should cross the street after lunch to take a closer look after lunch. As we walked in the shade of the old trees lining the sidewalk leading to the church which sits just behind town hall, Adam said that he really liked the feel of the small town. We read the sign that has been posted in front of the church indicating that it has qualified for an emergency grant to restore the facility. There’s no indication work will start any time soon. In fact, it appears they have an interim pastor whose name isn’t even posted on the sign outside the church. The tall windows gracing the sides of the church are cracked and crying for attention. Every inch of the outside seems to be peeling away inch by inch. Church members of the sexton have made every effort to make the place welcoming to all by putting big, potted plants outside. But the facility is just so sad looking. The restoration will take many hundreds of thousands of dollars. I hope the next time I visit, we see scaffolding and work crew who will skillfully bring back the First CongregationalChurch of Lee back to its glory. The building was twice destroyed by fire; now it is being destroyed by time. Adam noted, “At least the clock on the church still works.”

Family time today brought more family to my mother-in-law’s. First the afternoon was filled with puttering around the house and conversation about family; who did what to who and expectations of things to come. Dinner was a zoo!  Burgers and dogs on the grill may sound simple enough, but when you factor in three young cousins, a teenager and seven adults. It gets very loud. The New England mosquitoes decided to kick into overdrive, so plans for dinner on the patio evolved into  finding a place at the table. There’s nothing like watching our son totally entertain his three young cousins. They couldn’t get enough of him. Dessert was followed by quick good-byes. The little ones needed to go to sleep at their nearby hotel with their mom and dad.NHLeeMA_20090814_08

Sleep on vacation is nothing like day-to-day. Dreams are more pleasant; sleep is more sound and waking up brings that, “What’s next” feeling. Tomorrow is…Saturday; What’s next?

Another Chapter

The perfect age is 38. I made this declaration on the eve of my 51st birthday as my husband and I talked about the significance of this birthday. My 50th birthday came and went last year; I got a few more birthday cards than normal. This year, the usual smattering of cards along with some Facebook greetings, emails and text messages. But, as they say, it’s all good. This surely has been a transition year. My career change; deciding to begin a PR consulting business (What’s Next Productions) and actually signing my first client (Plato’s Closet franchise owners in the region).
We spent the weekend in Ocean City just as we have one weekend in June every year for years. My parents, brother and his wife and the three of us enjoyed family time with an ocean view. Doug and I spent a few hours on the beach Saturday. There were high school seniors soaking up the sun. Their toasted bodies showed no wrinkles or lines. Their smiles were carefree and (for the most part) their hair color was untouched by chemicals. Now looking at the groups of happy-go-lucky groups lying on colorful towels on this perfect beach day in June, I felt all of my 51 years. Your mind jumps into “oh-my-god” mode. How did the time go so quickly? Why didn’t I study in Europe? Why didn’t I take that OTHER job? What would have happened if… And then I stopped. I know the phrase, “count your blessings” is so cliche. But there’s a reason: it’s TRUE! I have a wonderful husband, son, family, a new career path, friends all the things you have no idea about when you’re 18. Now, when your 38, that’s PERFECT! You’ve been through all of the growing pains, trials and tribulations, breakups, career hiccups and missteps of your 20’s and 30’s. Finally at 38, you’re perfect. You’re in reasonbly good shape and have the stamina to stay that way, your career could be fairly stable (though probably not in this economy) and your hair is likely looking good just the color it has been for years without modifications. I must say, I am now in better shape than I was at 38. I was looking at a photo album the other day from a vacation in 1992. That was NOT a pretty picture of me. A few weeks ago at a party, a 16-year old girl was in disbelief that I was turning 51. She’d never seen me before and really thought I was younger. God bless her, her tight skin and naturally-colored hair.
The one thing I have now that I didn’t have at 38 was the patience to carry on. During my long career in radio news, deadlines were constant. I didn’t know any other way. Every minute was critical in getting stories and newscasts on the air. Even today, there’s no other way to approach radio. It’s hard to automate local news (though I’m sure they’re trying to figure out how to do that). Today, without that radio deadline clock in my face, I still have deadlines, but they are self-imposed AND forgiving. That’s the key: I forgive myself for being a little behind schedule. I’m thrilled when I come out ahead of the game. Come in on schedule: perfect.
So, friends, at 51, I’m the boss of me. I listen better now; I understand more with an open mind now; I’m able to turn the gray skies blue when the days are not so bright.
Give more, hope more, love more. Happy Birthday to me!