Thursday, December 26, 2019

Christmas after all

On Christmas eve, my husband climbed into bed sometime in the afternoon and just slept, a sure sign he was under the weather. He seldom lays himself down like that, but this time he listened to his body, and rested, because we would be traveling in three days, and he needed to be well. I confess I didn't mind the thought of staying in when he lifted his headachy head and said he didn't feel up to attending Christmas eve carol service, followed by our usual Christmas eve gathering at the home of two friends. Later that night, though, I missed the social connections. The usual cues were missing, I didn't feel Christmasy. The sadness crept in.

My daughter kept in touch from upstate, where she was spending Christmas with her boyfriend's family. She sent me this picture of her and her love in matching jammies with Nina, the dog they sit for every Christmas. That helped. Meanwhile my niece was at her new love's house, meeting his whole family for a holiday meal. Her happiness carried us through opening presents the next morning, and then I climbed back into bed, binge watching season three of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (loved it), and crying in between. I thought of my cousins in Jamaica, living through their first Christmas without Aunt Grace. It was reason enough to cry. I texted a dear friend, a soul to whom I could tell the whole truth of the dark place I was in. That let in some light.

My son was coming over later. As a newbie firefighter, he had to work the holiday. My niece's new boyfriend would also be joining us for dinner, as well as a young woman who is one of my heart daughters, and a gentleman friend of hers. My husband, bless him, was cooking the meal for us all, while my niece was baking a cake. No one was requiring anything of me, I had it easy, so why was I wallowing? I made myself get up and shower, and afterward, while playing Dvorak's cello concerto in B minor, performed by the incomparable Jacqueline du Pre, I began packing for our upcoming trip to Jamaica. The music and the activity lifted my spirits a bit, and then I heard my niece, who is a wonderful cellist, start playing Christmas music in her room. So I turned off my recorded music to listen to the live music in my house, and that lifted my spirits even more.

I went into her room to tell her how beautiful it was, and she offered to play me the theme music for Game of Thrones, which she had been wanting the score for, and which I gave her for Christmas. She might not know it, but those wailing chords pulled from her instrument finally melted the bubble of sadness around me.

My son came in soon after. He had caught a huge fire on 69th Street earlier in the day, his engine was the first on scene, and he and his fellow firefighters were inside that flaming top floor apartment, dousing the inferno. Thank God no one was seriously injured as they got the flames under control. He was exhausted but exhilarated when he got here, showing us the response video and pointing out exactly which window he was inside of, as bright orange fire licked out of it. They opened up a hole to the roof to vent it (if I'm getting it right), and that conflagration on the roof at about 6 minutes into the video is what he and some of his squad put out, while other members tackled the fire shooting through the front windows. You can see my son at 17:53 after the fire’s out and he’s exited the building. I have to not think too deeply about what a day at work is like for him. I told him he'd performed a great Christmas Day service in taming that flame.

Someone took this picture of some of the firefighters afterward. That's my brave boy, second from left. He hadn't eaten all day. The firefighters on duty were just putting lunch on the table at the firehouse when the call came in. And yet, after our boy greeted us all, picked at the baked honey ham and opened his Christmas gifts, he curled up on the couch under a blanket. Shall I make you a plate, I asked him. No, he said, I'm too tired to eat. And then he was asleep. There is something about my children sleeping under my roof that fills me with the utmost peace.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

12 Nights of Wine

See that red box and that white box on the table? They're gracing my workspace these days. Outside, the ground is hard with ice and salt, yet sunlight fills my house. So different from the last few days, which brought unrelieved rain and snow. Last Friday, on an especially rainy, sleety night, my daughter and her boyfriend were supposed to come by. Given the weather, I wasn't surprised when my daughter called to say that she'd just gotten home, had walked the dog, and now she couldn't get up off the couch. But, she said, her love still planned to come over because he was determined to give us the Christmas gifts he’d got for us no later than that night. "You'll see why," my daughter said.

It turns out he had got my husband and me a Vinebox each, an advent calendar in the form of twelve different wines, each glass vial containing a perfect 6.3 ounce pour. Last Friday was the first night of Christmas, and he wanted us to be able to have a wine tasting on each of the twelve nights before Christmas. It's a stupendous gift, but best of all was his excitement in giving it, his joy as he watched us open and appreciate it. My mother and aunts always said 'tis more blessed to give than to receive, and his obvious enjoyment in giving made his thoughtful and entertaining gift that much more special.

So now every night we get to try a red, rosé or white with no sugar or additives. Many of the wines I've never tasted or even heard of before, but every one so far has been beautifully balanced and delightful, at least to my humble palate. Last night's offering, for example, was a flirtatious Loire Valley 2017 Tuffeaux, a mellow, full-bodied red with apple and clove notes that went down just fine. The man and I are having great fun trying to describe to each other what we're tasting, as our respective Vineboxes offer different selections each night. Can you tell we're both enjoying our wine advent calendars? I didn't even know that could be a thing.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The season, the season

My girl and I went Christmas shopping last night, mostly to figure out gifts for the five people in her department at work. Then we went to dinner and figured out the menu for our time in Jamaica. We travel in nine days. Last time we stayed at the villas where we'll be, I sat down with the housekeeper on the first day and came up with a menu with her, but this time my niece, whose wedding it is, wants all our menus beforehand, and she's the boss. Planning a wedding, especially from overseas, is a lot.

It's been busy over here. Choir concerts, a cello concert, a tree trimming party, putting up our own tree, and trying to figure out Christmas gifts. I've spent way too much, but that train has left the station. When boxes arrive at your home and you don't immediately know what's in them, that's a sure sign you are over-consuming. Guilty as charged. I didn't meet with the personal shopper on Monday after all. I decided to wear something already in my closet to the wedding. At some point, you've got to stop spending.

What would it be like, I wonder, to be a svelte, graceful human, athletic and strong, walking serenely through the world, at ease in the body you inhabit, showing up everywhere without angst? Speaking of angst, the book is going much too slowly. I'm having a hard time concentrating. Also, if you can't find the exact right adjective, use no adjective at all. I think I'll spend the morning wrapping gifts, get that out the way. I'm feeling so scattered.

Here's a New York story my daughter told me. She was on the subway after work, it was already jam packed with commuters when the doors opened at Times Square. A woman stood on the platform outside and shouted, "Everybody make way. I just got divorced and I can't spend another moment in that man's company!" A woman's hand reached out of the crowd inside the train, grabbed the other woman's hand and pulled her in just as the train doors slid closed. The two women, one black one white, stood crunched against the door, almost nose to nose, talking in audible tones about their divorces and cheering each other on. Everyone in the train car hung on their every word. It was quintessential New York, my daughter said, and oddly uplifting.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Here comes the sun

As I sit at my dining table working, I'm entertained by the changing light. I take the same pictures over and over, marking the seasons, the hours of the day. I have a desk in my bedroom that looks out at a sturdy tree, but this clear wooden expanse of table in my living room is where I generally prefer to be.

I read an editorial yesterday that argued that the reason the Republicans keep screaming at us through the television screen is to provoke so much annoyance that people turn off the TV. They're staking the future of their party on low information voters—people with their heads in the sand. It might be working.

We are just two weeks away now from our trip to Jamaica for my niece's wedding. We'll be staying in a villa on the north coast, at the same property where our family reunion was held some years ago now. It's going to be so much fun. I'll be surrounded by all my favorite people. So why am I anxious about what I'll wear? I have no proper island clothing anymore, nothing floaty and colorful to wear to the wedding, and as for climbing into my bathing suit, well, let's just say some sort of beach coverup will be employed.

I called the very lovely personal shopper with whom I won a complementary session a couple years ago. I have an appointment with him next week. We shall see if I come away from that with my silly yet enervating appearance anxiety calmed. Why is showing up, even when surrounded by the people who know me best, always so damned hard? Here's another work table photo. Those sunbeams reached right into my house and posed for the picture.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Bearing witness

I do believe we are watching my niece, who lives with us, fall in love with a young soldier who appears to be as smitten as she is. After he braved the throngs of her family at Thanksgiving, she traveled with him to South Carolina to attend the Marine Corps ball as his date this past weekend. He was a gentleman, she said, making sure she was cared for throughout, even as his fellow marines partied wildly in the post-ball part of the festivities. He introduced her to everyone as his girlfriend, leaving no doubt. She sent us pictures. His uniform made us all weak-kneed. I won't post any of those crystal clear images, because I don't know what's okay for this military man. I'll let this blurred screenshot from my niece's Insta story suggest the mood. Witnessing new love happen is the sweetest thing.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Angel voices

Here is a picture of me I can stand, soft focus, good light, all that. After I posted that photo on Insta, it reminded me of another image—one of my mother, taken on a Sunday morning many years ago, when she'd just returned from church. I suppose it was the red scarf that made me think of it, also the similar shapes of our faces, the identical line of our noses. Usually, it is my father's face I see in the mirror these days, but in this photo, I look more like my mother. Perhaps that is why I like it. Much as love my father, it's disconcerting to see his face staring back at me in the bleakness of morning. This photo of my mom makes me wish I could have this day back, though I know to be happy that we had it at all.

I'm off to Queens this morning, where our choir will perform the first of three concerts for the season. I've enjoyed the music this term, and yet another of my friends has now joined the group, bringing the number of people I have brought to our choir to three. It's lovely to see my friends every week and make music together. I actually have four dear friends in the group, as it was my closest ghostwriting cohort who first invited me there. One of my neighbors then joined, followed a year later by a woman I grew up with in Kingston, Jamaica, who lived with our family when we were in high school (her father was my dad's best friend, and he and his wife were working overseas at the time), and with whom I shared a bedroom for several years. As you can imagine, we know each other like sisters. 

Then last Spring, another friend of mine joined, a woman I met on the first day of college orientation, my very first friend in New York City. We were standing next to each other in a line to register for courses; she was a Math major who was nervous about our freshman English requirement, and I was an English major who was nervous about Math, so we pledged to help each other and have been best buds ever since. All my friends in choir have wonderful voices, far better than mine, but I know when to just mouth a note that's too high and would come out as a squeak, and my ear for pitch is fine, so all is well. 

My husband, who knows my solo singing voice, shakes his head at my brazenness in actually joining a choir. But he shows up for our concerts anyway. He and our children and their loves are all planning to attend the family and friends concert later this week. My daughter and her boyfriend, bless them, attend every time. So does my friend Leslie. Choir is, for me, a completely stress-free activity. It's a performance, and yet I don't get nervous at all. Perhaps it's so outside my sphere of talent that I just embrace the experience. Plus I really enjoy our choir director and my fellow choir members, a lot of them delightfully quirky souls, including, I dare say, my four angel-voiced friends.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Thanksgiving album 2019

This year we had a larger crowd than usual, twenty-seven people all told, and my left leg had decided to ache something awful, so picking my way among all the bodies and legs made me appear even more hobbled than usual. A lovely time was had in the end, even though someone turned off the oven by accident halfway through the cooking of the turkey on Thanksgiving morning, so dinner was an hour late, and the din of voices was at such a pitch that at one point I fled to the back room and just sat on a bed. My cousin Nicky noticed me disappearing down the hall and followed me. She sat with me chuckling and telling me to breathe, because she knows her cousin like the sisters we truly are. Meanwhile my niece Leisa—who is temperamentally somewhat like me and was also feeling overwhelmed—decided to just keep plying people with wine. She kept opening bottles and giving people refills, which made the mood even more festive but with a manic edge. Finally the food was served. It was all delicious, and everybody's energy settled to a murmur, and it was smooth and joyful sailing from there. At the end of the evening, we counted bottles and realized we had consumed fourteen bottles of wine, some from our own stock as well as bottles people brought to the feast.

People who weren't sleeping over left at around midnight, and the twelve people who were sleeping under our roof, plus my daughter and her boyfriend who ultimately slept in their own home, chatted and laughed and debriefed on the evening for two hours more. At some point my daughter and my four nieces began the clean-up, all of them refusing to let me into the kitchen to help. My son was fast asleep on the couch by then, as he'd worked the night before and all that day, arriving at 7 PM to join us from his 24-hour shift at the firehouse. As new man on the totem pole, not yet a year in the job, he will likely be working on Christmas day as well.

My niece Dani invited a young man she's been seeing to the gathering, and we all thought him very brave to agree to meeting the hoards at once. Dani's whole family was here from Orlando, as well her her aunt from Trinidad and many assorted other aunts, uncles, and cousins. Her young man, though a bit shy, held his own. When he left, Dani walked him out, and when she came back into the house we all started chanting "Dani has a boyfriend! Dani has a boyfriend!" like we were in grade school, just to balance our scrupulous effort to avoid making things awkward while her young man was there. She collapsed onto the couch laughing and covering her face. At that moment, my youngest niece, the one who was here last year applying to college, and who is now in her first semester in St. Paul, Minnesota, announced, "I am never bringing a plus one to Thanksgiving!"

The festivities continued until last evening, when we delivered the last of our house guests to the airport. Things are back to normal today, meaning it's time to get back to work—and to a more mindful eating plan. As anxious as I get before Thanksgiving every year, wondering how we will pull everything together in our small New York City apartment, I'm always happy afterward to have spent such intensive bonding time with my loved ones.

For my own record more than anyone else, here are some photos from another epic Thanksgiving celebration in the books.

That last one is my house this morning. Everything was so quiet after our week of revelry, a hush made deeper by snow on the ground outside. I'll be around to catch up with everyone soon, but right now I have to do a phone interview with a woman who was the high school best friend of my book subject. I have done absolutely no work since a week ago. It was a good break, but slightly nerve wracking as I'm feeling somewhat behind my chapter schedule.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

A year of my life

Linda Sarsour's memoir, We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders, challenges every stereotype about Muslim women, uncovers dangerous bias against Muslim Americans, and teaches readers how to organize for justice and kindness in our own lives. This is a rare book that leaps off the page and into our hearts."—Gloria Steinem

"Linda Sarsour's moving memoir is a testament to the power of love in action -- a fierce, courageous, joyous love for all people of all religions, genders, races and backgrounds that reaches across all borders and boundaries. If you're wondering what kind of activism holds the potential to free us all, this book offers an answer." —Michelle Alexander

Candid and poignant, this book offers an intimate portrait of a committed activist while emphasizing the need for more Americans to work against the deep-seated inequalities that still haunt the country. A powerful memoir from a dedicated fighter for social justice.”Kirkus Reviews

"Sarsour’s passionate memoir powerfully captures a unifying moment of social protest." —Publisher's Weekly

Coming March 3, 2020. 

I spent most of the last year working with this extraordinarily committed activist, courageous mother, and deeply kind woman on her book. She's controversial. Believe only the good. 

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Random youth

This turned up, a photo of me at 18. And then a couple of days later, another photo showed up, this one of my man when he was 18. I wonder what it means, this twin blast from the past, our innocence almost painful. You can see our dream of the future, right there at the surface. And now here we are.

A man we know, who we saw recently at our friend's art show, was saying how we all wish we were young again, but really, our twenties were the most miserable decade, we had no idea what we would do with our lives, whether anyone would love us, or how we should feel about anything. In truth, my twenties were desperately lonely, less so after I met that string bean of a man who opened his heart to mine.

I'm sorry I've been scarce in these parts. I'm trying to write the book. It's hard going right now. But as someone here once said (Denise, it was you) you just have to sit yourself in the chair ready to write each morning so the muse can find you.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

She looks happy

Here's my darling girl with Beau, a dog she sits for regularly, one of her very favorite canine pals. I love her joy in this picture, and that's reason enough for this post.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Bleak season

That's what the trees in Central Park look like now. We've had rain and a cold snap this week. Winter is here. As I sit at my dining table working, the impeachment hearings are on, but I find that I cannot stomach the deceit of the Republicans trying to create soundbites for Trump's cult of followers who won't look any deeper into the proceedings. These Republicans literally make me nauseous. I finally muted the sound.

What a barren time we're in politically. History will record Trump's America as very much akin to Hitler's Germany. People used to insist that was an extreme view. Not anymore. And if you think those children in for profit concentration camps and cages on the Southern border aren't being trafficked, think again. It helps, doesn't it, that border agents have kept such poor records of names and actual numbers of those who have been officially kidnapped, never to be heard from again.

Update on November 20: Ambassador Gordon Sondland is singing to congress like a canary who very much enjoys the sound of his own voice. And who has nothing left to lose. There's a twinkle in his eye as he burns the White House down. As I told a friend, I suspect he's imagining the impeachment movie, in which he will appear as the star witness. "Everyone was in the loop," he said, and then he named all the names. This doesn't mean the Republicans in the Senate will impeach. I'm not that naive.

Something light

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and the kids, by which I mean the two I birthed and assorted nieces, were pressed. Our microwave hasn't worked predictably for over going on two years. Sometimes it warms the food, and sometimes it doesn't, with no discernible pattern. The man and I made do. We'd received our first microwave as a wedding gift from my Uncle Charlie, along with a can opener—a broad joke that if my husband hoped to be fed then we'd better have a microwave so I could warm up canned soup. We laughed along with my uncle, who wasn't a chauvinist but had been raised in an era when women cooked for their men. He didn't know that in our home, the chief cook would be my husband, so much so that my children grew up thinking that in families, men were the traditional preparers of food.

As my man typically prepares food using the stove and oven, we limped along with the finicky microwave. But after Thanksgiving last year, the warming up of leftovers proved a challenge. Sorely overworked, the microwave simply quit for hours at a time, frustrating everyone. In the week after, it began working again, often enough for us anyway. Again, the man and I went along. There's a vague plan to renovate out kitchen at some undefined point in the future, so I think we both figured  we'd get a new microwave then. All of that is background.

A couple weeks ago, my daughter texted me: "You have to get a new microwave for Thanksgiving this year. We want to melt marshmallows." I think I texted back a thumbs up and promptly forgot about it. Then on Sunday, our niece Dani, who's been living with us since she graduated college last summer, came into the living room, plopped down in a chair, and said, "I'd like to read to you from our group text." "Who's in the group?" my man asked. The group included her and our daughter in New York City and three of our nieces who are Thanksgiving regulars: Leisa in Dallas; Leah, who lives in Jamaica but now attends college in St. Paul, Minneapolis; and Dani's sister Alexis in Orlando. "Okay!" my husband said. "We're listening." It went thus:

Everyone was crying we were laughing so hard. My husband went out to the big box appliance store and bought a microwave that very afternoon. Dani went with him, and took a video of him paying for the new microwave and sent it to the group. The GIFs that poured in were hilarious. I wont share them here but trust me, laughs ricocheted from New York to Dallas to Orlando to St. Paul. A new round of hilarity ensued when the man took a picture of the shiny new appliance installed on our counter and texted it to the group.

Turns out the melted marshmallow tradition is a powerful incentive for mob activation, which in this case yielded an immediate desired result. 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Vivaldi by candlelight

On a site called Secret NYC, I found out about these classical concerts by candlelight being performed inside beautiful churches around the city. Most were taking place in the West Village, but one featuring Vivaldi's Four Seasons, headlined by the Highline String Quartet, was happening right in our neighborhood, so I snagged a pair of tickets as a birthday gift for the man. Just in time, it turned out, because every candlelit concert stretching into January was sold out an hour later. I knew he would love the program, because we used to play Vivaldi's Four Seasons at a rousing volume in our car on road trips as young marrieds, before our kids were born and before CD players in cars became defunct. We'd hum along with the music, filled with heart-opening joy at this experience we got to share. I figured it would be fun to call back that feeling. And it was. The performance was thrilling, so emotively played and utterly immersive. It's always wondrous to me how four instruments can create such a robustly layered sound, now soaring, now dancing, now whispering only to us two. It felt like the most romantic of dates, both of us harking back to the sense we had when everything was brand new and we felt so incredibly lucky to have found each other.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Fire sky

Here are some shots of the sky last night as I sat working at my dining table next to the window. The spun gold leaves are gone, and the sky is bringing its fire. I'm trying to hold on to the fact of such blazing beauty in this painfully galling moment. I'm watching the impeachment hearings. I have goosebumps to tell you the truth, because really, this feels momentous. And yet it is unlikely that the president will be impeached in the end, because the majority of Republicans in Congress have no moral center. In fact, it appears that their strategy this morning is to muddy the waters by interrupting committee chair Adam Schiff with all manner of ridiculous questions and comments that are either misleading or outright falsehoods. I feel so riled up right now. Sociopaths are setting fire to America in full view, and no one on the political right seems to care. I'm trying to maintain perspective, but it's hard. Acting U.S. Ambassador Bill Taylor, a 50-year career diplomat, is giving his opening statement now. He is the soul of credibility, reasonable, principled and clear, and he's calming me down somewhat. His testimony will surely be followed by Republican lies and obfuscation. Here is what the sky did when the fire burned itself out, and night began to fall. There's a metaphor in there somewhere, but I can't quite suss it out.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Resistance and its opposite

Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cotez, now known by her initials AOC, gets so much hate from the right that I feel a need to balance the scales a bit and send her some love. This brilliant and brave young woman is out there fighting for us on so many fronts, not the least of which is her signature issue, climate change. If we're smart and deserving (and right now we're anything but), she could be president one day. She'd be a damn sight better than the current occupant of that office, that's for damn sure. 

On the home front it's been a busy week, unusual in the sense that I've been out of my house and running around the city every day—choir rehearsal on Monday evening; a long interview with my book subject on Tuesday, which was also election day; my annual physical on Wednesday followed by my Wednesday evening wellness group; and yesterday morning, the funeral of the grandmother of my niece's new husband. My daughter took the day off from work and she and I attended the service in Brooklyn even though we had never met the grandmother. When I asked my niece, who flew in from Dallas, if she thought we should attend, she said, "It would be nice. It would blend our two families more." Indeed, our families are becoming ever more connected, with the parents of my niece's husband now part of our Thanksgiving gathering as of last year. Our children have brought so many lovely people into the ever expanding fold.

The rather excellent part of yesterday was that after the service, my daughter and I got to hang out together, wrapped in blankets and chatting and watching the latest episode of Survivor and then Crazy Rich Asians for the umpteenth time. The temperature had fallen precipitously, going from the low fifties into the thirties, making our living room seem like the coziest place on earth. Watching the movie, my girl dozed off, and I busied myself tidying the kitchen and generally straightening up with a feeling of supreme peace imparted by the simple fact of my daughter sleeping serenely under my roof.

Meanwhile, I miss my friends. We've all been so busy with our lives, and I suppose the political news exhausts us all, so that when the workday is done, we hunker down inside our homes, trying to hold on to sanity, hoping the votes we cast will actually count in the face of so much chaos and corruption. There's a plan to for some of us women to get together for coffee on Sunday afternoon. I hope we can make it happen.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

The season of gold

The publishing contract for the book I'm collaborating on was signed yesterday, and now it's official. In theory, I'm not supposed to start writing until my first payment is received, but my subject is the soul of integrity, so I have been writing ever since our kickoff meeting at the end of September. It's hard finding my way in. I have to somehow break open the chapter summaries I crafted for the proposal, set most of it aside, and rethink each chapter more spaciously. In the entire month of October, I managed a single chapter, the second one, since chapter one was already written for the proposal. I drafted the introduction as well, though I'm not sure it will survive in its current form, but for now it's there, holding space. Chapter two was hard to figure out, as my subject's memory from that period is sketchy, and secondary sources are only partially accurate. But now, I have 5,524 words of a chapter, and in editing what I'd written yesterday, I happened upon the perfect sentence to open it, a sentence that was originally halfway down the first page, and when I got to it, it shimmered and said choose me.  I love when that alchemy happens. I'm still editing, as the chapter is pretty rough yet, but I will start on the third chapter next week. I'll begin by doing a fresh interview with my subject to get new stories for it, or new takes on old stories, and I've already made a list of areas to pursue that will take me beyond the lockjaw of the three page summary in the proposal. Writing is hard, y'all. I'm not yet at the stage of hearing celestial choruses because I love the work I do. In fact, right now I think I just imagined that there ever comes such a stage.

It's been a rather special couple of weeks in my family, and I have a raft of pictures I've not yet shared. Here are some.

Last Saturday, our two families celebrated our children's engagement to be married. There was so much laughter and shared joy. My son's fiancée has felt like a daughter to me right from the beginning, so I couldn't be happier that she and my son will be making it official. 

Here's my son's lovely fiancée with her sister-in-law (her brother's wife) on the right and her sister-in-law to be (my daughter) on her left. One of the realities of young people hitching their lives together is the linking of families. When it's congenial, it's a gift indeed.

The newly engaged couple posed with her grandmother, who I'm told adores my son.

These two got teased all day with suggestions that they would be "next up to bat." 

I brought home tulips for the man on his birthday.

 My daughter and her boyfriend are fostering a hyperactive six-month-old pup named Sarah. We all fell in love with her, especially my niece and my son.

We are a family that tells stories, especially the men named Radford.

 Definitely not an HGTV kitchen, but there was something about the light. Heck, I was even feeling some affection for the well-trod look of the scuffed floor.

And now back to work. No such thing as weekends when you work for yourself. I love writing at the dining table when the trees are so boastfully spilling their light. In a week those branches will be bare. I'm relishing nature's extravagance while I can.