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Family 2The clearing skies after our pre-wedding Shark Party gave our friends a chance to become all one family by the edge of the sea.

Family at Sunset

Topsail Beach, North Carolina.

Quote of the day: “What is family? They were the people who claimed you. In good, in bad, in parts or in whole, they were the ones who showed up, who stayed in there, regardless. It wasn’t just about blood relations or shared chromosomes, but something wider, bigger. We had many families over time.”

Daily gratitudes:
Love
Mr. Man
How proud I am to call MKL my husband
Hugs at work
My aircraft carrier-size bed

MKL and I got married on Saturday. Yes, we did. And it was absolutely perfect. There were so many highlights, I don’t even know how to share them with you, and I will share more pictures over the coming months, but here’s a start:

  • Our open house the day before the wedding had the beach house bursting with friends (who are family), blood kin, and love. And the shark tacos were a hit.
  • At the end of that party, the rainy skies cleared to a beautiful sunset and a wide calm beach, and we all migrated to the water’s edge to walk, talk, take pictures, and play ultimate.
  • No one was eaten by sharks (the shark tacos made it the reverse) and the post-wedding day stingray stab on LJRH’s daughter was dramatic, but not debilitating, making for an excellent story for her to take back to Missouri.
  • My loved ones made the house and the deck (E-bro’s, rented down the beach, with more room than mine) look spectacular, and perfect for an inside (rainy) or an outside (sunny) wedding. The sun cooperated and we were outside.
  • An arc of rainbow appeared behind us as we were sitting together after the ceremony. God and my parents were smiling down on us.
  • Painkillers – the drink of the Soggy Dollar Bar, courtesy of my much loved friends Dave and Amanda, who are my family met at that spot 11 years ago – flowed like the sea.
  • The two small and gorgeous girls became fast and immediate friends. In fact, all the people, many of whom had never met, became friends.
  • Beth K., the daughter of my late parents’ best friends, and a true and beautiful warrioress, joined us. We had never met before, and now I feel I have another sister.
  • My three new stepsons, all of whom are treasures: one was the most perfect ceremony officiate ever, one steamed and bustled me and made sure I looked perfect, and one led the toasts that brought me to tears.
  • My brother and sister-in-law and their wonderful children opening their hearts and home to us.
  • My sister and niece flying quickly and crazily in from Colorado to share the day and capture it in photographs.
  • Having my uncle and aunt and darling cousin (now one of my best friends, after a gap in time of some 35 years) made me feel like my parents were there.
  • Our across-the-street neighbor who lovingly provided a sandcastle cake, delicious crab dip, serving trays, a steamer, and her and her husband’s warmth, affection, and light to our special days.
  • JJ, who continues to allow me to come “home” every year for a few brief weeks, to the house on Topsail Beach.
  • My stepson T’s toast, which touched me deeper than my heart.
  • Having the Swine Sisters – aka my two best girlfriends from when I was 17 – reunited again as if no time had passed.
  • The girlie-hen-party that was a part of my getting dressed for the ceremony. I really feel like I have lots of sisters now.
  • I sparkled. And I glowed. And my dress was awesome.
  • Wearing my mother’s rhinestones that I used to play dress-up in, and carrying my father’s handkerchief.
  • MKL’s shirt matching the sky, and being my “something blue”.
  • Beautiful bouquets from Surf City Florist, and a lovely centerpiece created from grocery-store bought flowers. And my daughter’s swagging and shell-arranging skills were front and center.
  • All the vows, including those read by the officiate, handwritten on the back of placemats from the Breezeway, our favorite beach restaurant. (I’ll share a photo later.)
  • My most darling daughter, who not only wore a dress for the occasion, but looked gorgeous, and bailed me out when I pulled her aside just after the ceremony had started and told her I had forgotten MKL’s ring and she needed to drive like a bat out of hell to fetch it from our house. She did so successfully, saving the day, and allowing her to maintain her dignity by not bursting into tears during my vows (which she read the next day).
  • Another wedding down the beach releasing Chinese lanterns after dark – it was if they were ours, but we didn’t have to go to the trouble. (Fire and I are often not a happy mix.)
  • Seeing the Milky Way in the sky for the first time in years; it was here that my father first pointed it out and explained it to me.
  • Remembering almost nothing about the ceremony but the look in MKL’s eyes, which as always looked sparkling like the sea, with a hint of aspen trees.

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Topsail Beach, North Carolina.

Quote of the day: “There is nothing more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.” — Homer

Daily gratitudes:
A couple more days by the sea
Long walks holding hands
Shark’s teeth
The smell of sunscreen
Love

Only a few days away…the sun will be rising from the ocean, instead of setting into it, but I’m not particular. In the meantime, I had to see my little baby girl off on her first cross-country drive last night – she’s going with three other girls, and I think it’s just a taste of how hard it will be to send her off to college. At least this trip, I will see her on Friday.

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Anna Maria Island, Florida.

Quote of the day: “Bring me the sunset in a cup.” — Emily Dickinson

Daily gratitudes:
A good night’s sleep
Outlander Book #2
Packing
Having a strong, independent woman as my daughter
Juggling to-dos

Today is my birthday, and as it winds down, I must say it’s been very nice. Quiet. Work (though it’s too slow right now for my taste). Lunch with MKL, and a beautiful card. A tour of the vaults in the Broker Restaurant in downtown Denver. A yummy cupcake and card from a lovely co-worker. Facebook greetings. A call from my daughter. And now I’m cuddled on the couch watching The House of Elliot. I realized yesterday that MKL makes me feel so special every day, and has helped me gain so much confidence in myself, that I don’t need my birthday to be a particularly special day. Every day feels special.

I’m glad I was born, and there were years when I couldn’t say that. I did indulge in a turn of the “Happy Birthday to Moo” spinning musical cow when I got home tonight. Because it is my birthday.

Birthday
Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “…we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand.” —  Robert McCannon

Daily gratitudes:
The woman I passed who smelled like lily of the valley
Guiding a new town resident through the grocery store
That my parents had me
The occasional cupcake
A nice walk today

You are perhaps wondering why you are reading a blog with a picture of a parking lot. There are two reasons tonight. The first is because I believe in seeing beauty in everything – even the light cast in the darkness of a parking lot, catching the glint of a stream of still puddles. The second is because parking has been a significant issue in the life of my darling daughter throughout her last two years of high school, since she’s been driving. Her school offers rather elitist parking alternatives. Either pay to park in the senior lot (but only if you’re a senior) or park along the 1.5 mile stretch of road alongside the school grounds, which are situated in the middle of a nice neighborhood. She’s a bit of a socialist (like me) and believes it’s wrong to have to pay to park in the lot of a school that you’re attending, and particularly unfair since not everyone has the financial means to do so. Which leaves her with free on-street parking. Needless to say, this free parking is only parallel parking (which even at my age is a nearly impossible challenge) and spots anywhere near the school fill up incredibly early. So for the past two years, I have received texts in the morning that say things like “I had to park in Nebraska and it will take me three hours to walk to class. Do I have to go to school today?” or “Everyone is stupid.” or “I. Can’t. Even.”

This image is not of that parking area. This image is of a spacious parking area that represents freedom and possibilities and how light can shine from the darkness, and that there are places where parking is not a struggle. In other words, today was my darling daughter’s last day of high school, and she will never again have to endure the frustration of parking along Greenbriar Boulevard. And she is to me a shining light that will brighten the future for more people than she will ever know.

Parking Lot - 2

Quote of the day: “My turn shall also come:
I sense the spreading of a wing.”  — Osip Mandelstam

Daily gratitudes:
Dinner with Kelsea
That no one was hurt when a car hit my bus this morning
How much Mary Roach’s books make me laugh
Chats with Christine
That my Texas friends in Runaway Bay survived the tornado with minimal damage

Remember me? I don’t even know how long I’ve been away from you all. It’s been a rich mix of work, varmint infestations, identity theft, and who knows what else. The pleasant things interspersed have been baby goats, the Stanley Hotel, spring (albeit slow-starting), and of course, the wonderful constant of MKL. I have yet to download a lot of photos from recent adventures, so let’s all remember where my spirit truly lives with this image.

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Little Exuma, Bahamas.

Quote of the day: “My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there.” — Rumi

Daily gratitudes:
That Cheryl and Pete are on Anegada
That I loaded three of my own mousetraps this afternoon
Scaling Laundry Mountain
Open windows
People who do nice things for you when they know you are having a hard day

I have been far too busy to write anything but work, but some moment, when I was buried in Proposal Land, spring started to birth. I will have a bit of a break over the weekend and next week, and lots of beauty to share. But for now, please accept my humbling offering in the spirit of the end of winter.

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Spring in Colorado makes me smile.

Quote of the day: “The first real day of spring is like the first time a boy holds your hand. A flood of skin-tingling warmth consumes you, and everything shines with a fresh, colorful glow, making you forget that anything as cold and harsh as winter ever existed.” — Richelle E. Goodrich

Daily gratitudes:
Sunshine
The blanket Tamara left me
Tequila when it’s needed
Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel
A trip in the offing

And that I am so happy about marrying Michael. When I married the first time, I really wanted to get married, and I was with ex-Pat, so we got married. This time, I want to MARRY MICHAEL. Perhaps it sounds like a fine difference, but it is hugely fine and makes me radiate peaceful delight when I consider it.

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Lafayette, Colorado.

You know it’s not like me to be too Pollyanna-esque, but I am trying to maintain a sense of positivity as we seem to be diving back into the great white hole that is winter. It reminds me of the Great Blue Hole in Belize, where divers become so mesmerized that they simply keep going down and never return. I have never been there, but this is what it looks like, if you’re not familiar with it:

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Great Blue Hole, Belize (image credit: Atlas Obscura)

Quite a different view than from our snow-covered porches, eh?

Being a beach baby, I thought diving would be a wonderful experience for me. My first snorkeling experience was so magical, once I got the hang of it, that diving seemed to be the next logical step. Alas, it was not to be. I took the initial certification class, but unlike any of my classmates, needed an extra lesson before my instructor was comfortable signing off on me. I couldn’t get over the inability to breathe, and the pressure on my ears, and the growing sense of panic as I went deeper. And so, that dream was wrapped in a lacy lavender sea fan, and tucked away safely for the next lifetime. Even snorkeling now is a challenge, due to ill-fitting masks and random hairs and disorientation. But I have my exquisite memory of my first snorkel, playing alone with two Hawksbill turtles for twenty minutes. And accidentally brushing my hand against some fire coral, but that’s a tale for another time. It was after the diving lessons and a talk with my instructor that I realized I was a beach baby, not a water baby. That those two things were different, and that I need to be BY the water, and IN the water, but not UNDER the water. A dream trip to the Galapagos is still on the Bucket List, and MKL and I will brush up on our snorkeling and snorkel there like billy-o.

But back to the cold reality of a Colorado winter. Poor MKL has the flu and has had expensive car troubles since we tried to escape the -19 weather back in November. It seems to have tailed him like some sort of ninja, springing to beat him about the head and wallet with numchuks when he least expects it. And now he is terribly blue. Having just recovered from my own bug, and being swamped at work, I have not been able to bring him supplies (supplies being Sauza Tequila, which is the cure of all that ails one, Vicks VapoRub, chicken soup, and tender nursing.) I keep telling him that this too shall pass, and it will. It always does. The only certainty in life is change.

While I dislike winter as much as he does, and we are tempted to rethink our strategy for where we live after Kelsea gets out of college, I am trying to stay positive. Hence, today’s unicorn snow. Can you see the sparkles in the photo taken along the fence? It glittered as it was falling in the cold sun, and looked like some celestial unicorns were shaking off the last vestiges of a fine slumber. And the birds had not given up hope and were singing, even in the 8 degree morning. What choice does one have but to try to find encouragement in such signs of spring?

However, Colorado has only put a dent in its winter inferiority complex and will be providing us with more snow this week. Let’s see how far into the white hole I can dive without running out of oxygen.

Quote of the day: (As an aside, this was a favorite of my Mother’s and she had it in front of the bathroom mirror throughout her battle with cancer. It sits on my dresser today. I carefully brought it all the way home from North Carolina and dropped it getting out of the car and broke the frame. I’ve left it so, as there seemed to be some kind of symbolism in that occurrence.)

““In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” — Albert Camus

Daily gratitudes:
Getting the occasional ride to work with Elisa
Louis Bayard’s weekly recap of Downton Abbey in the NYT that makes me laugh out loud
Head bonks with Mr. Man
Planning surprises
My beloved

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Buena Vista, Colorado.

This was last weekend up at Cottonwood Hot Springs, where MKL and I spent a blissful three nights, with a lovely mix of sun, stars, and snow.

Here, we’ve had the hype of a Snowpocalypse, with everyone rushing to the grocery store, cleaning the shelves out of bread and milk, and creating checkout lines from the front of the store to the back. I suspect Colorado is having an inferiority complex because of all the snow in Boston and surrounding areas, so we are talking up this weekend’s storm as if it were the first one we’ve ever had. As it is, it’s snowing, yes, a good respectable snow, but nothing fancy. “They” say that we’re getting three storms from three different directions in the course of the next 24 hours, but I have my doubts.

I’ve been so quiet because I’ve been working too much (and had zero connectivity during our three nights at Cottonwood Hot Springs). I realize that this is a pattern that has been in place since I first started working. Looking through my recently unearthed high school yearbook, I saw that several of my classmates said something along the lines of “Don’t work too hard!” It was the first time I had realized that I had maintained this kind of pace for almost 40 years, with only a few exceptions: when I took a year off when my baby girl was two, and when I got down to a half-time job for about seven months in 2010, as I was thinking my life was going to take on a certain shape. Fortunately, it took on a different shape than I had expected, but I picked up the work pace just as I had in the past. It makes me wonder why.

With my income(s), I am fortunate enough to be able to take vacations, have a home, pay my alimony/child support, buy books and groceries, go out to lunch with MKL most days, and (hopefully in the extreme) send my daughter to college so she doesn’t come out with student loans. I do not have an extravagant life, but it is comfy. Cutting back on my work would make it less comfy, and would make it more likely that Kelsea starts her adult life in debt.  But I don’t think those are the reasons I work too much. even though I don’t have an answer for why I do. I think it’s important that I explore this element of who I am. At least before I work myself to death.

And on that cheery note, please be advised that today, instead of working, I am writing this post, watching the snow fall, and drinking caramel cocoa as a special treat.

Stay warm, all.

Quote of the Day: “I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” —  Lewis Carroll

Daily gratitudes:
A carb day
Beaches
Lithium water
Taking care of Kelsea
The Birdcage

(As an aside, I started watching “Patch Adams” this morning, which began with Robin Williams committing himself to a mental hospital because he was suicidal. That was hard enough, but then he became roommates with Philip Seymour Hoffman, and I was done. It was too hard to watch. Just felt the need to share that.)

 

 

 

As a woman of a certain age, with two sedentary jobs, I’m not surprised that I feel the need to be in better shape – and lose a few pounds. It’s a thing for me, not for MKL, who loves me just the way I am – which is probably a lot of the reason why I feel better about losing those few pounds – because they matter to me, and he’s not judging me. Because he’s awesome.

I am a stress-eater, not a hunger eater. That started during my Mother’s final days, when I would realize I hadn’t eaten and go in the kitchen in the dark and eat half a pie. And while my stress level is nothing like it was at that time, it’s still pretty high. And I still have that bored-eating, stress-eating thing.

Exercise has, does, and will help, but time is my most precious commodity these days.

We can talk about fitness later, but the good news is that I have lost a few pounds, and will continue to lose more. How did I do it, you ask?

It’s the mouse in the pantry.

Whereas, in the pre-mouse days, I would wander into the pantry and scan the shelves, finding something to nibble on, if I wasn’t sure what to do with myself, or I hadn’t had a proper dinner, or the timing of eating was weird. I’d inevitably eat something not healthy, and eat too much of it.  Now, in the post-mouse-olyptic era, I won’t even go into the pantry without making a lot of noise, and cringing, in case he (or one of his clones) skitters within my line of sight. And furthermore, because the first two consumed almost $200 worth of pantry staples, what’s left (or replaced) in the pantry is now in those big, lidded, storage bins.

I don’t want to move the bins, because he might skitter out from behind one. Which means I don’t open the bins. Which means I don’t nibble in the pantry. He does that now.

I also recognized that most of the stuff in the pantry is carbs, and when I want to lose weight, I quit eating carbs. HE still eats carbs – I’m surprised the two I’ve removed so far haven’t weighed 10 pounds each. Perhaps skittering is exercise for him, and it helps him stay slim. So now, I’m eating lots of good healthy proteins, not much processed food, nothing sweet, and I’m losing weight bit by bit. I’m sure it lights a fire under my internal calorie Bunsen burner when I have to approach the pantry (which is also the laundry room) because my blood pressure shoots up like a fountain.

So that’s my story in a nutshell – oh, wait, the mouse has eaten all the nuts. Never mind. My final words of wisdom: if you want to lose weight and you have musophobia (yes, that’s the real term for it), just put a mouse in your pantry. Trust me. Don’t trust the mouse.

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Grand Lake, Colorado. (And by the way, Mr. Man finds mousing beneath him.)

Quote of the Day: “If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.” —  Walt Disney Company

Daily Gratitudes:
Early treatment for my conjunctivitis
Catfish
Hawks in flight
Metaphorical juggling
MKL

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