Anne Notations

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cool end to a hot day

It was sweltering in the city today, but when I got home around 6:30 pm the breeze rippled cool air over our little peninsula. We ate a quick supper, then Michael and I went for a walk around the bike path.

Sometimes life feels so fine, the Eeyore in me expects doom to be lurking around the corner. Maybe feeling fine isn't a reward that can be snatched away by fate; maybe it's simply a state, neither deserved nor undeserved. I'll try to wear it naturally, comfortably.

We headed off the path and stood on the beach at Brushneck Cove so I could take a few photos of the sunset. I backed up into Michael and he put his hand on my hip; I nuzzled his whiskery chin. For a few moments I was 17 again, strolling through the cool summer dusk on Ned's Point with my boyfriend, sharing sweet kisses, listening to the rigging ping against aluminum masts at the yacht club. Same breeze, same beloved salt-water smell, same sunset, same thrilled young heart. Or so it felt.

A kayaker headed out into the cove as the sun dove for cover behind Buttonwoods. Behind us, the full moon rose.

There really is a rising moon in the background. Click on this photo and maybe you'll see it.

We turned for home, greeting beach-goers packing up their cars for the day, putting away an absent neighbor's garbage cans left at curbside, calling the tame feral cats for some stroking and purring at our porch steps. A short while later I walked to the beach to check on the moon. My camera battery went dead after just one click of the shutter. Time to put the camera down, stop recording, and just breathe it all in.

Only one chance: best I could do.

Be, see, feel: a new mantra?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Not a moment too soon

Early Girl lived up to her name: Our first tomato from the garden was ready for picking this evening, and there are more right behind it.

Ripe red tomato: Check.

Fresh fragrant basil leaves: Check.

Note to self: Buy buffalo mozzarella.

Don't skimp on the olive oil! Bon appetit.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Caught up

An amazing thing happened this morning at around 11 a.m. Michael and I were sitting on the front porch sipping coffee and eating sliced pineapple, melon, and strawberries and watching the sun and wind dance on the whitecapped bay. Every few moments, my body would shudder a bit, and not from cold; the temperature was perfect.

My body was itching to get up and do something. It believed, out of habit, that there was some chore, errand, or job to do in the kitchen, on the computer – anywhere.

And there wasn't! We had spent several days preparing for our combined family reunion and Melinda's graduation party yesterday (see below). The morning of the party, I had finally – after one year!– finished organizing my sunroom-office at home.

Michael and I had hung the pictures on the sunroom wall above my computer.

At work last week I had gotten signoff on a draft report that had been bouncing back and forth for many months. I was at the "almost ready to write" stage on several stories for the internal news page at work, and that felt good.

I don't owe anyone a birthday card or other mail. My latest eBay auctions ended last night and the packages are ready to ship. There is so much food left over from the party, I won't have to cook until Tuesday night!

How rare, how unsettling in fact, is the state of being all caught up. It took effort to stifle my "get to work" impulse and relax in the porch chair this morning. I had all day to do whatever I wanted! The sun was shining, the water was blue and wild, and it was neither too hot nor too cool. I could (and did) chat at length with Michael and Melinda, putter in the gardens, listen to some music on iTunes with Kevin, read the Sunday paper, snack on leftovers.

What is especially amazing is that in every sense I am sated. Two years after purchasing this property, we have finished the interior and exterior work on our house and yard. It's beautiful, in my biased opinion. On a midsummer day I am convinced we're living in my personal paradise.

I don't need to buy anything. I don't need to eat any more, for a while at least. *snort* I have all the clothes and shoes and sandals and pets and other possessions I could want.

Now I just need to re-learn how to enjoy leisure time – a lesson I can savor.

A few photos from yesterday:

Melinda and her graduation cake.

Our longtime babysitter Diane and her three charges (plus Caroline).

Mom Leslie and Caroline playing pattycake. Notice my Syracuse-themed floral arrangements!

Melinda and some of her friends opening presents.

Somebody can't resist the cake icing!

My sister-in-law Karen and my brother John. They rode in on his new Suzuki motorcycle.

Friday, July 11, 2008


It was a perfect day.

It was a perfect day for a long walk on the bike path.

It was a perfect day for wildflowers at the beach....

...and in vacant lots near Iggy’s Clamcakes and Chowder.

It was a perfect day for Queen Anne's Lace.

It was a perfect day for the jungle gym with the slide at the beach.

It was a perfect day for patting the small kitty....

...and greeting the great big cat named Tux.

It was a perfect day for putting on the bathing suit and the water shoes and walking down the road to the beach. It was a perfect day for little girls and older ladies to splash in small waves and throw small rocks in the water and get very wet and then very warm in the bright yellow sunshine and then make a pail full of seaweed soup garnished with clam shells and stirred with a shovel.

It was a perfect day for sitting on the front porch and admiring the new flag Poppop mounted on the big post and showing your flower to Nana.

It was a perfect day.

Click to enlarge photos!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Moon indigo

A high cloud bank lingered for more than an hour this evening as the sun set. Eventually, as dark fell, it released its bright hostage: a slice of moon.

I love the indigo or midnight-blue color of the sky soon after sunset, don't you?

This scene was worth a few mosquito bites. So was the leisurely talk I had during the previous hour on the deck belonging to our new neighbors, Betsy and Kim. It's been a while since we could drop in on folks down the street – open the gate and wave hello, and be welcomed for a chat. Our Providence neighborhood wasn't the type for socializing – planned or serendipitous. Here, it's happening more and more often. I'm thankful.

Flag, cloud, and moon in the light of the just-set sun, from our neighbors' deck.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Summer update

It has been hot and humid here, but my office AC is working fine, as is our window unit at home. (whew) The cool breeze off the bay makes sitting on the front porch very pleasant after supper, even if the daylight hours have been sweltering. Michael and I were excited that "our" hummingbird briefly visited the red nectar feeder just feet away from our porch chairs last evening. Such little busy things! There is a luxuriant flowering trumpet vine down the road, so that is also drawing the hummers to our area.

Saturday is party day. We're combining the annual summer family reunion with a graduation celebration for Melinda. We're expecting 30-plus people, which is actually fewer than we thought – it's hard to schedule events when everyone has summer vacation plans. Michael, bless him, hired a local Italian caterer to do various antipastos, sandwiches, and cold pasta salad dishes, as well as a sheet cake and some appetizers. The caterer takes care of all the dishes and cleanup, so I can relax and enjoy the company. The weather is supposed to be excellent. We're having a canopy put over part of the back yard, so if the sun is too hot or the forecast changes to rain, we'll be covered (so to speak).

Kevin started his two summer make-up classes on Monday at the local high school. Algebra 2 meets at 7:30 a.m.! Ha. Then he gets one-on-one tutoring in Italian 2, because he was the only student who signed up for it. He loves the tutoring as opposed to a classroom experience and says he is learning a lot more this way. "Can't I be home-schooled?" Do you really want Pop teaching you? "Oh, I didn't mean you guys – I meant by a real tutor." Nice try, kid.

This may be wishful thinking, but I am detecting signs of more maturity in Kevin. He has been cheerful and philosophical about the summer courses, and he hasn't complained about the early class hours, except on Sunday night, when we made him go to bed before midnight. He has also been going out for long walks or a 3-4-mile bike ride every day without being nagged, and each time I've asked him to do a chore, he has done so promptly and willingly... even cheerfully. A few days ago he responded to my call for paper towels and then cleaned out Daisy's crate after she had barfed twice in it. He continues to be smart, perceptive, and funny; and he is still composing music on his guitar and writing poetic lyrics. Some of his better attitude may be due to school's being out; he is certainly more relaxed. I have so much hope for the coming year. Fingers crossed.

Melinda is getting things together for college according to a list Syracuse sent to the new freshmen. We will go shopping soon for extra-long twin sheets at Linens N Things. She is going to wait to consult with her roommate about bed covers or comforters, so they can coordinate if possible. I keep looking at the calendar with dread: six weeks until we take her to Syracuse! I'm excited for her but already miss her. We have one of those intensely close bonds where one will say what the other is about to say. Ah well, parenting is all about getting the kids ready to launch so they can live without us. Good to remember.

The Rhode Island legislature passed a bill to extend unemployment benefits another 13 weeks for those laid off in the past year. Michael qualifies for this and will be processed over the phone this Friday. I don't know how soon the weekly checks will start. Little Rhody is one of 11 states officially in a recession in the U.S. and our unemployment rate is one of the highest in the country -- well over 7 percent. This short-term emergency measure will be a blessing to so many who are in danger of losing their homes. We are most grateful for the one-time boost. With luck and perseverance, Michael will find a job (and an employer that wants him) before the temporary funds run out.

Friday, July 04, 2008

So wrong!

The Craigslist random password generator needs a content editor, methinks.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Reeling in the years

Brown babes of ’73 at Caesar's Atlantic City: Anne, Beverly, Gail

Nearly 36 years ago, I moved into a suite of single rooms in Brown's Graduate Center dormitory with two senior girls I had known only slightly during our first three years of college.

Sometimes good things happen later rather than sooner in a particular chapter of one's life. Gail, Beverly, and I became fast friends that final year at college. We shared good times and a few misadventures that have taken on the sheen of legend in the retelling.

"Remember I had to park my Volkswagen heading downhill, and you would push it so I could pop the clutch to start it, and then you'd jump in?"

"Remember the time we hitchhiked home from Dartmouth?"

"Remember when we had a party and the graduate students upstairs called campus security on us, and I wanted to go upstairs and confront them, and the cops had to hold me back?"

These memories and a myriad of others kept us laughing and chattering for three days last weekend as Beverly, Gail, and I met in Atlantic City and then at Gail's home in New Jersey for a slightly delayed, off-campus 35th reunion. I had never been to the city of casinos before and probably never would have gone without my friends' urging. It is a giant, garish adult playground built on money. I had a great time there.

It wasn't so much my beginner's luck at blackjack ($75 in three deals) and the slots (well, I came out ahead $11). It wasn't only the superb steak dinner at Morton's, the champagne, the bumpity trip down the boardwalk in a human-powered "basket car," the drinks and dancing at the Trump Beach Bar with the Atlantic surf pounding just beyond the DJ stage.

On the boardwalk at 2 a.m.: Get a load of us!

It was all of these but mostly the sweetness of comradeship renewed. Gail's daughter had burned us two mix CDs of favorite songs from 1969-73, and we left Atlantic City on Saturday afternoon in Beverly's BMW convertible, attired in pastel baseball caps and singing with the oldies: Steely Dan, Marvin Gay, J. Geils, Sly and the Family Stone, Simon and Garfunkel, Santana, the Spinners.

We were hot stuff, I tell ya. Late 50s? Prime of life!

Time is passin', I grow older, things are happenin' fast
All I have to hold onto is a simple song at last...

I'm livin' livin' livin' life with all its ups and downs
I'm givin' givin' givin' love and smilin' at the frowns.
You're in trouble when you find it's hard for you to smile.
A simple song might make it better for a little while.

Sly and the Family Stone, "Sing a Simple Song" (1969)