Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sky Between Her Thighs

A long, long time ago, back when I was even more neurotic but hid it better (or did I?) a new girl in my town was courting me to be her friend.

It was odd. Mostly because I knew pretty much everyone in the town so forming a new relationship was as rare as bumble bees in December. But also because up to that point, I doubt anyone new had ever tried to enter my life.

I remember two things from that short-lived friendship.

1. When she told me that I should have one really good friend and that friend should be heavier than me so I would look better. (Remember how she was courting me?  Let me know if you need help figuring out who was who in this scenario.)

2. When she told me that her brother (I don't know that I ever met him but she made him into this totally cool, older guy with impeccable taste) had a rule about who he would date: "I like a girl who has some sky between her thighs," she quoted him as saying.

I'd never heard that expression before and clearly, it's stuck with me. I know I should really worry for that girl and hope that she's overcome her issues -- or recognized that she has some. I hope I rejected her Rule No. 1 outright. I know it was short-lived.

But I do fret that the second one adhered to my adolescent pyche like a layer of cholesterol on your arteries: potentially deadly, difficult to scrape off and definitely something you should avoid. 

So yes, I tried desperately to figure out how to get some sky between my thighs. I dieted until I passed out on a shopping trip with my parents. Tighter jeans didn't work. And it's harder than you think to give yourself bow legs -- or to maintain that pose.

I thought about that eff-ed up  phrase from the past the other day when I read about a study of a new and dangerous body image problem among girls. They call it the "thigh gap" -- http// . A little less offensive than  sky between their thigh but still enough to make you want to punch someone. (Like, that guy, maybe.) 

If you're a mother to girls -- hell: if you know a young girl --  it's worth your time to google the term and fight like a demon to keep her from falling victim to this sick, perverted, one-more-thing-for-a-mother-of-girls-to-worry-about thing.

Here's the thing: I'm stocky. My thighs will never evoke imagery like beautiful blue skies or let that color shine through. The only weather-related phenomenon that might spring to mind is thunder. No matter how thin I get, I'll never be one of those girls who can stand with their feet together and have parades of small animals or even large toddlers pass through their legs. 

And that's O.K. Really. It's better than O.K. It's as it should be.

It's taken me a while to get here, but I'm definitely in the camp where being fit and healthy is more important to me than anything else. Sure, I want to look good but looking good is relative. I'd much rather hang out with people who care more about doing good than looking good. Generally that's where the most fun is anyway.

I'm not sure why the genectic code had to make some people naturally thin; others have to struggle to stay moderately thin; and others to be chunky no matter what.

But I've stopped hoping for an apocolypse just to watch the skinny girls die first. 

For one, my body fat would keep me around so long the horrors of the apocolypse would eventually come to Indiana and I'd suffer, too. For another, my daughter is a skinny girl and I don't want to see her suffer.

Plus, I'm pretty sure that in an apocolypse, there'd be no chocolate ice cream. And who wants to live like that?

Another reason is that I'm nearly blind without contact lenses or glasses and in the apocolypse, I'm not sure I'd have access to good vision care. When you can't see the horde of starving skinny girls coming at you (and you know they'll travel in well-groomed packs) , it might be your thunder thighs for dinner. And again, who wants that?

But enough about body image. My birthday has come and gone again. Jeff missed most of it because of his softball tournament so I actually got two celebrations. After presents the morning of the actual day, my friends at work took great care of me and even sent me home with new champagne. Ali and I had ice cream and silly girl stuff. She fled for Jenna's on Saturday, soJeff and I had a weekend of updating some photo walls, biking and having a really decadant tapas dinner with champagne and movies at home.

We got a late start on the bike ride and had headed north. We talked about going out, but that would require showering and getting dressed up, so I was sweating, pedaling and thinking up alternative dinner ideas. It was Jeff who remembered that we'd found one of our favorite champagnes at the Vine and Table in Carmel, about seven miles from our house. 

I don't know how much six bottles of wine weighs, but as the only one of us with a basket on her bike, I can tell you that it's not insubstantial. The bottles are, however, easily broken and not inexpensive. So biking home with champagne in your basket is not for the faint of heart or delicate of build.

A skinny girl probably couldn't have done it.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Friends and Family Plan

In all the world, I'm not sure there's a sweeter image than a father dancing with his newly married daughter.

Especially when the father doesn't look right unless he has his cowboy hat on and she looks like a fairy princess come to life. 

OK. Maybe I have a few of Alison and Jeff that would rival the shot of my cousin, Howard, and his lovely daughter, Micajah Green Grassick.  I would like to say I have sweet pictures of the newly married David Cowan and James Reed but they're goober boys and didn't provide any great poses while I had my iPhone ready.

No matter. I attended my second wedding in two weeks on Saturday. It was traditional country wedding and my date was the lovely Kirsten Jasheway. My family calls Jeff "City Boy" or just "City."  They only briefly got to meet Kirsten, who is so much more city than Jeff can ever hope to be.

She grew up in Australia's capital city of Canberra and spent her early adult years in Sydney. Yeah. Indianapolis is rural for her.  And I took her home with me.  She silently took in the corn and soy bean fields as we drove. Sure, I was driving fast because we were running late and she might have been struck dumb by terror (It's happened before.) But she didn't let on. 

I was forced to slow down around what I think of as Knuckoll's Curve in Clay County. We saw two boys running through a field, one holding a rod and reel and the other wielding their catch high over his head with two hands. It's Mayberry with a slight twist. "That's awesome," she said.

When we slowed for the turkey crossing the road on the way to my sister, Donna's house, she asked if it was going to be Thanksgiving dinner. And when she came out of the bedroom after changing for the wedding to see most of Donna's family standing about in tee-shirts and jeans, she just swallowed hard.

They were going to a dirt track race instead of the wedding, but she didn't know that. 

Sadly, we didn't have time to chat, so we flew off to the Lebanon Baptist Church ( I should have entered myself in that damn race and thank you very much local police for not being around...) where the ceremony was lovely but brief for the girl used to Catholic ceremonies and had once attended a 4-hour Indian wedding.

We were among the late arrivals to the capacity wedding and thanks to my Aunt Shirley, my sister Nancy (just kidding, sort of) made room for us in their pew. We had the good fortune to run into Jeff Blanton, one of my favorited people in all of Greene and Clay counties. Like my cousin Howard, he is rarely without his cowboy hat and I've never seen him without his humor.

We got to talking about prior get-togethers where he, Howard and Jeff indulge in fireworks fetishes and I told Kirsten about how Jeff and his wife Bridget would take the kids on Gator-wagon rides through the woods.

Warming to a new audience, he threw out his hands and said to Kirsten, "You know what three things a redneck's best day has to have?"

She shook her head no. "You need three things," he said. "Something you can blow up. Some cold beer. And at least a little bit of nudity."

I told him we'd work on the third ingredient for our next time at the lake. What I didn't tell him is that he could have had one of the three later that same night when Kirsten and I changed out of our wedding finery  for the drive back home. (I didn't want to backtrack to Donna's and it was dark. We were buttoning and zipping up before anyone came down the path.)

We had to get back home so we left before the bride and groom departed but we did have cake (beautiful and yummy) and we applauded Micajah's choice to substitute the garter ceremony with a quiz that involve her and Kyle answering questions back to back, holding up either his or her shoe to answer which one of them was best suited to the answer.  I hate that garter thing.

Jeff and Alison spent their Saturday -- 6 hours of it -- at the Indiana State Fair where Ali and her friend Breanna Tabor apparently rode every ride 12 times and the threesome sampled just about every food item the fair had to offer. (Thanks, Aunt Cindy!) 

"I only almost threw up one time," Alison reported.  

I'm not sure Kirsten can say the samething. I did drive more slowly going home though.

Oh! One more thing: we were honored (and I mean that sincerely) to see Denise McFadden and Scott Cunningham on Friday. They were in town from Charlottesville, Va., and we dropped in for another fabulous meal at Petit Chou. 

They are amazing people and we're lucky to count them as friends. They're the kind of people who make you realize you need to do more for the world. And they're really funny. Well. Denise is.  :)

Anyway, it was a lovely weekend, which will be capped off for Jeff and Alison tomorrow when he takes her to her first concert: Bruno Mars, with opening act, Fitz and the Tantrums. 

Scott, whose children are both nearly grown, informed Jeff that he represents everything that's wrong with American parenting by letting young Ali go to a concert ON A SCHOOL NIGHT.  "I hope you got cheap seats so she can't see anything and has to lean down to hear," he said.

"Nope," Jeff confessed. The seats are center stage on the floor.

Scott groaned but took some small comfort in my interjection: "Uh, Jeff wants to see the opening act. It's not ALL for Ali."

Jeff has informed his daughter that this kind of event won't be coming along for a long, long, time, and that she will have to get her homework done, prepare her school bag on Monday evening like normal AND get to school on time on Tuesday. He claims I'm the one who indulges her. He is the strict one. The enforcer.

Right. I'm pretty sure that's the kind of thinking that my cowboy hat-wearing cousin had when he first was confronted with the possibility of making his eldest daughter smile. 


Monday, August 12, 2013

I do. I do. And I would again.

Back when Jeff and I got married, our brother-in-law (in heart but not yet in deed) said he'd bring his camera and maybe take a few shots.

To say that David is a professional photographer is a disservice. He's an artist. And the few shots he took were amazing. He put them together in a beautiful album, which was his and James' wedding gift to us.

So when we were asked to join them at their wedding, and they hadn't hired a photographer, I made David give me his camera. So there do exist some shots of the wedding, but they're in David's camera. And they will in no way capture the lovely moments were for fortunate the share with them.

It was small ceremony in a church built on Monhegan Island, Maine, in the 1800s. There were just 11 of us, not including the minister, who was on a two-week rotation that he and a bunch of other men and women of faith take part in so there's an official at the church. They're all sorts of denominations and I think their tours of ministerial duty are a great expression of how godly people ought to act. They just take their turn and respect the other. How cool is that?

The ceremony was short. The words were lovely, but I remember mostly a phrase that was something like, "marriage isn't the pursuit of a great partner; it's being a great partner."

It was totally and wholly wonderful and I feel blessed to have witnessed it.

Also a blessing was when Peter saved us all when he noticed a candle had lit up one of the blooms on the table. It became a great momento/corsage.

We met David's friend Frances Kornbluth, who was a wedding guest and was once a cover girl for National Geographic. She's in her 90s now but she still paints in her studio, which is in her summer island home, which is one house away from Jamie Wyeth's home, which is a few hundreds rocks away from the Atlantic Ocean.

We visited her studio on Sunday morning as part of our island exploration. I found a print of brilliant reds and orange and blues and kept asking people where I'd seen it before. Was it on a print? A tee-shirt?

Not looking up from where she was looking for something for David, Frances said, "You've looked out over the water on Monhegan at sunset. That's where you saw it."

It was a short but great visit. The place is just soaked in serenity where every dirt path can lead you to new kind of inspiration. Jen and Peter probably covered the most ground, though I think we all made it to the lighthouse and the rock that proclaims John Smith (Yes that John Smith) was there before you. 

The Monhegan House, where we all stayed is at least as old as the church. All but one of the bathrooms are on the second floor. None of the rooms have keys. They all have windows that open to the breeze.

After the wedding supper, I was wiped out. I went upstairs for a minute and made the mistake of laying down. Two hours later, I wandered downstairs again where most of the wedding party was yukking it up. We ended up on the porch and James found an open bottle of wine.  

Ever the gentleman, he asked if I wanted to share.  I declined, saying, "I said I'd never drink again on Thursday night."

From the dark reaches of the porch came this Eastern drawl: "But it's Sahtidday night now."

Early Sunday morning, I came out of our room to meet David's brother, Steven, as he emerged from his and John's. We gushed about the beautiful light that was streaming in. 

He couldn't wait to get downstairs to walk about. I was just as enthusiastic and we struggled for a moment to describe it.

"It's like, it's like, it's like I've just put on my glasses," he said. "I have to get out there. Plus. I've gotta pee."

It's a very practical place, Monhegan. They tolerate the tourists. Ali and I had walked down to the beach to check if the tide had left more sea glass. As we left, two older ladies stopped us to remark on our hair and said just the previous week they'd had redheads too.  So unusual. What brought us to the island? 

"Oh the wedding!" they said. Of course they knew about the wedding. James and David have been visiting for years and there are only a few families that live there year round. There's a sign somewhere that says "If you can't stand the winter, you don't deserve the summer."

I don't deserve the summer. But I'm glad I got to experience it and to meet a few of the people there. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine....

You know that song, You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

I'm so tone-deaf I should qualify for some kind of special assistance. Certainly anyone who's been within earshot when I think I'm alone in my car and belt out a tune should get some sort of compensation.  

Despite this, I used to sing that song to Alison when she was too little to do anything about it. God bless her little heart, she didn't cry and she even sometimes went to sleep. I'm hoping it was long enough ago that she'll never actually remember it.

I have the song in my head because I watched "Trouble with the Curve" this weekend. Clint Eastwood has gone kind of right wing batshit crazy in his golden days but my sister had Two Mules for Sister Sara on her TV last weekend and when he came on again, I had to watch. The bad guys in this latest movie are as one-dimensional as his spaghetti westerns, but life is  complicated. Sometimes you need a simple story. The sunshine song played a bit of a role. 

So it's been in my head. And it led to the photo part of the PhotoShoot today.

She IS my sunshine. But then, again, I have so much more sunshine in my life than storm.

Thanks for being part of the light, everybody.

And, you're welcome for now having that song on repeat in your head.... :) If you've seen the movie, I sing it even more badly than Clint does....