Sunday, March 31, 2013

Priceless jewelry

Jewelry has never been a wild facination of mine. Good friends of mine could spend hours shopping, talking about and comparing jewelry. I shudder to think about how much time they spend debating which pieces to wear on any given day.

I like nice things, don't get me wrong. But I don't have a lot of capacity for thinking much about it beyond seeing great stuff on other people and fleetingly thinking I should be paying attentio to stuff like that.

Jeff insisted that I go along when he bought my engagement ring. It took him approximately six years one day to narrow down the selections.

We ended up having the jeweler ( a lovely man who closed his shop not long after when he'd become a widow and the city had plans for his prime real estate) design a set of engagement/wedding rings that when joined form a circle of small diamonds around a larger one. I'd fled to the nearby shopping mall long before the final decision was made.

I love my rings. Wear 'em every day. But I can't claim a lot of credit for creating them.

Another ring I wear every day is one that a dear friend of my mother-in-law's gave her as a remembrance after the friend had been given a terminal diagnosis. I know what it meant to my mother-in-law and when I see it on my hand, I think of her and true friendship.

When my friend, Lynda, was seriously ill, a few of us took to wearing a piece of her jewelry (Lynda LOVES jewelry) to keep her close while she recovered. She insisted we give it back once she'd escaped the hospital. (sigh)

To help my friend Julie recover after she donated a kidney to her son, my Book Club gave her the gift of housecleaning. In response, her mother made jewlery for anyone who'd ever spared Julie a passing positive thought. I happened to spy a necklace that matches perfectly a rare purchase of mine from an art fair. It seemed like fate.

Today, my sweet friend Denise and her lovely husband Scott came over with a box of jewelry that Denise had in mind to offer to Alison. They're moving soon, and she's trying to downsize their possessions. The pieces in the box were those that she loves -- each has a story -- but she doesn't wear much anymore. She was looking for a good home for one or all of them.

Alison was thrilled, and both she and I were taken back to a tearful but joyful time when we sorted through the last of my mother-in-law's jewelry with my sister-in-law, Jen.

I'm not the most sentimental of people, and it was a bit of a shock to me to realize today how many things I have in this house that I'm hanging onto (and will never let go) because they touched special people in my life. I have my grandfather's jewelry box and the tie-pin he wore to church every Sunday.

My collection isn't limited to jewelry, though.

I have my maternal grandmother's bookcase that she kept stuffed with Harlequin Romances. I have some notebooks my paternal grandmother wrote on just because it's her handwriting. I have a note my friend Jackie's mother wrote me after an incident in school that was not my most stellar moment but she got a kick out of. I have a $10 bill that I won in a bet with an Indiana mayor hidden behind the framed Irish wish he and his right-hand man gave me when I left that town.

Jeff and I sleep under a quilt my sister, Donna, made for us. Ali has sheets that Donna embroidered for her back in Ali's Littlest Pet Shop days. I have Jen's throw pillows on my couch and we use dishes salvaged from my childhood home in those last days of estate disposition.

I have pillows and a quilt my grandmother made for me and gave me early out of fear that she'd be dead before she could give it to me, as was her tradition, for my wedding gift. (Turns out, she was right, but did at least get to meet and approve of Jeff.)

I have flowers in my yard that I dug up from my parent's yard and near my grandparents property. On my key chain is a charm my cousin Howard gave me when I was 16 that says, "Slow me down, Lord." (An unaswered prayer if there ever was one.)

I have a pew from the church my grandparents built and my dad modified to a two-seater. Yes, in MY house, I have a church pew. I get the irony. We have stuff from Jeff's family, too: the toybox his grandather made him, a milking stool -- all kinds of stuff.

I used to make fun of the collectors in my life, whether it was Beanie Babies or cast iron, or this or that type of glass or figurines. I didn't realized until this minute that I'm a hoarder just like everybody else.

When Denise opened up her box of jewelry, I blinked back some tears. Sad ones because she's leaving and while we didn't spent as much time together as we should have, it's going to be even harder with her states away.

But some were happy tears because we are quite literally keeping pieces of her. So she won't be far no matter where she goes. And neither, apparently, will anyone else I've loved in my life.

I'm hoping that sounds more spiritual and sentimental than creepy....

Photos this week are of Ali with Denise and Scott and wearing her favorite piece from Denise's collection and a couple of the Easter cake pops Alison made. She's decided she needs to make cookies today, but I won't let her make more sweets until her current batch is gone.

She went up and down our street distributing the cake pops and Easter greetings so I'm off to the store for supplies.

Happy spring, everyone!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Paradise Lost

It's deceptively sunny out today -- just Mother Nature's way of smacking around those of us who came home from paradise to find forecasts of snow for the coming week.

I was prepared for colder weather after our week in Turks & Caicos where even the harshest breeze is but a carress and the one shower we got was just another fun way to get wet.

I've needed this weekend to get my mind wrapped back around our ordinary lives. I'm not quite there yet. Vacation was blissful. While we had plans to meet up with some good friends, we never made it off the resort property until it was time to go.

As you know, I sometimes fret that Alison is growing up too fast and that I'm not ready for her teenage years. So while she wants to be a teen and wear grown up clothes and heeled sandals, I noticed that she'd packed her two Allahs for the trip. They kept her company on the flights as well as in her bed. So I guess I have a little more time.

Some fun stuff from the trip:

Jeff's brother James works for a company that does some work with the U.S. military and as such, there's a list of countries he can't visit. We were joking about that and Alison didn't understand why he was limited. We explained that some countries aren't friendly to the U.S. and might think James would be a good target for kidnapping or even torture. She pondered this a while and then said, "Cool."

Later, at the airport as we were coming through customs, she pulled me aside rather urgently and asked if Japan was a country Uncle James could visit. "What?" I said, distracted by trying to find where to go next and wondering if she was going to suggest our next travel destination.

"Are the Japanese after Uncle James, too?" she asked, looking furtively behind us and pushing me along.

"No," I said. "Why?"

"Oh, good," she said. "That guy back there keeps checking him out."

I refrained from offering any other suggestions for why that might be.


Alison found a tee-shirt for Gary that she had to have one year for a Christmas present, I think. It says something like "Beneath this shirt is the world's coolest Grandpa."

Gary wore it one day as he dutifully trod around the resort under doctor's orders to get his back in shape after a fall at home. Apparently it made him the hit of the island with women of all ages stopping him to comment.

I'm pretty sure he'll be wearing that shirt a little more often...


We snorkled twice and the first time at a reef just minutes down the beach, Alison terrified herself thinking a shark attack might be imminent. Later, when paddleboarding with me, she saw what I'm sure was a rock and had another little episode. She apologized later for me having to row us both to shore while she lay paralyzed and explained that it's OK to be afraid, it's how to deal with your fear that she needs to think about.

A day or so later, we went out on a boat to a reef farther from our home beach, and I'd gotten chilly and had to pee so I left the water early, only to find the boat bathroom wasn't working. It's one thing to pee in the sea and quite another to get back in the water knowing everyone who sees you get back in knows why you're in the water. It was a long ride to shore.

But anyway, I was sitting there with my legs crossed and I heard a family talk about the two sharks they'd seen. Alison was still in the water with her father. As more people got back on the boat, there was more shark talk.

I was hoping against hope that Alison would be back in the boat before she got wind of this. I could just see Jeff having to tow her back in. The only question in my mind was whether she'd be comatose or screaming.

So she gets back on board and Jen tells Jeff about the sharks, which he hadn't seen. I breathe a sigh of relief. Then Alison comes trotting up to me and says she saw them too. I was so shocked I forgot my bladder was about to break loose.

"What did you do when you saw them? I asked.

"Well, I was following this blue fish and was a little away from Dad when I looked down and there they were below me," she said. "I started to freak out a little bit but then I just said, 'Swim away. Just swim away.' So I just went back to Dad and headed straight for the boat."

Love her.


Jen, Peter and I were true to our workout routines, though Jen took her run to the beach. Peter and I were sometimes in the gym together and just like last time, he offered up some ideas for me. One because I was apparently neglecting my triceps and another form of ab torture. Peter is pretty buff so his advice is good.

I'd show you a picture of how buff he is but my arms apparently were too sore to snap any pictures of him...


Alison, Jen and I indulged in massages -- a luxury Alison is ready to add into her ordinary life. Ali also befriended most of the housekeeping staff -- in part because she's a friendly girl but also because she wanted to add to her collection of trial sized bath products. Her haul sent our luggage over the weight limit. Seriously. The chocolate croissants have likely sent me over mine as well, but given the coming snowfall, it's still sweater weather and thus, hide-able.


We got back late Thursday and spent most of Friday slowly doing laundry and Saturday chores. At one point, Ali texted Jenna to find she was having boy trouble so we invited her over. They chattered away, we saw the Croods -- inspired by an unexpected gift from Jasheway left in Ali's bedroom. They were on fish duty and apparently had screened the movie in addition to getting our mail and keeping the lone survivor swimming in Ali's tank.

This morning, the girls cracked into my limited make-up supplies and gave themselves mustaches after they decided they didn't like whatever they'd tried first.

On the way home, Jenna was telling us about her friend who'd been sick but was now on intermission. We don't know who she was talking about but are hoping for the best for her.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Down but not out

I talk fairly often about how lucky Alison and Jenna are to have each other. but this week, they're in the back seat.

Jeff had been sick the previous week and I'd tried to avoid him but it was catching me. I started getting sick the day before I was to leave for an overnight work trip to New York. It was really important and I'd been looking forward to it in that anxious kind of way of hoping it would go well, that the storm would hold off, and that I wouldn't get the boss sick.

The night before we were to leave, the boss's daughter caught the flu. So there we were, trying to keep our germs to ourselves and doing our best to make the trip a success.

Bolstered by too much DayQuil than was probably good for me and cough drops by the handful, I powered through. The flu may have been left behind. We'll see about that. It was a really, really good trip.

So I get home. I'm out of DayQuil and while I consider getting more, even I knew I had to give in to the cold. I didn't get to work on Friday. But I was scheduled to host Bunco on Friday night and it's just too hard to get us all together anymore to cancel it. I had made lasanga the weekend before and Alison wanted to make cupcakes for dessert, so I didn't have to touch much of their food.

While I wasn't great company, just listening to everyone was so much fun. And so worth it even though after dinner I fell asleep twice and finally gave in and said I was going to bed. I told them to stay as long as they wanted and that I'd clean up in the morning.

I went straight to bed. Before the Nyquil took me, I heard someone complain (I think repeatedly thought I might have hallucinated) "Hey! I got three dishDRYERS and one dishWASHER here. Get on it!."

Later, I think I heard, "Next time I have Bunco I'm gonna pretend that I'm sick so you bitches will clean my house."

And lots of giggling. For a minute there I thought it was Jenna and Alison in the kitchen.

And then I slept.

Yes, I should have cancelled Bunco. But I love my Bunconians. Everyone should be so lucky to have friends like mine.

P.S. Jeff and Ali have been great, too. I am not always a good patient and Jeff and I recover from things differently, something he struggles with.

Bunco is an exclusive affair, so Jeff took Alison to dinner and Plato's Closet to cash in on a Christmas gift from her grandfather. I haven't had the modeling show yet, but apparently as they walked into the shop, she spied a pair of shorts she fell in love with.

Zebra-striped, they were, as Jeff described it, "There because they had just stripped them off a dead hooker."

Thankfully they were six sizes too large. He assures me she came home with appropriate clothes. I'll let you know how that goes...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

"You can ask my mom. She held the bag."

We've been fortunate, again, to have Jenna for a little bit. You'd think that at nearly 12, the girls would be past sharing bubble baths.

But Jenna spied one of Alison's bath bombs, they are hoping to end up in the Jordan Y pool anyway, so they've been waterlogged now for about two hours. The pool doesn't open to general swim until 1.

They've giggled and sang and made up hand-slapping routines to terrible, awful prose. And they've giggled.

Along the way, somehow they got to talking about having to pee at inopportune times. As is their wont, they were one upping each other until Jenna quieted the house with this one.

"I once pooped in a bag."

Alison expressed her disbelief silently.

"I did. You can ask my mom. She held the bag."

I could go on, but why, really?