Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Forward Into The Fray

I feel like I've been away forever.  There was nothing to write about, and there was almost too much.  I've been busy catching up at work for all the time I wasn't there last week when I was helping the kids move, but that's almost been my safe haven.  Work is where I don't have to think, and life is easy.

My dad phoned the other day that he'd been to the oncologist, and he'll be starting chemotherapy this Thursday, with new infusions every 3 weeks.  I shouldn't be surprised, but he's been living with prostate cancer for about 20 years.  Your start to ignore the ugly beast after that long.  (Well, I'm sure HE didn't ignore it, but the rest of us got pretty complacent.)  He's 82 and has always been in great health - well, except for the cancer.  He's tall and exercised, and rarely gets so much as a sniffle.  He laughs at headaches.  To compensate, it seems life has handed him the double whammy complete with nasty medicine.  Now he'll know what it feels like to be sick, I'm sure.

He and Mom were going to go it on their own, and I spouted the obligatory "Well, call me if you want me to help."  You know how it is - you WANT to help, but you don't know quite what to do, and heaven forbid you should be in the way or seem pushy.  But afterwards I was talking to my daughter and she mentioned a quote she had heard recently that the very definition of a friend was someone who didn't wait to be asked to help - you just dig in and start helping.  So I rethought what I should do, and thought that it would be better for them if I went with them.  NONE of us knows what to expect - whether he'll feel nothing for awhile, whether he'll be sick right away, etc.  And my mother is a tiny little thing - too small to handle things if he's not feeling well.  Plus she can't see where she's going, so she can't drive.  No - better to be safe than sorry, so I called my dad this morning and told him I would come down and go with them.

To my surprise, he didn't argue at all.  No fuss.  No objections.  That's how I know he's scared.  We're all scared, but I do better when I take action, so I'll go with them.  It takes the mystery and the boogie man out of it for me.  I can picture what it's all about, and then it's not so scary.  I'll load up the Kindle with a book or two and sit and wait.  And maybe pray.

In addition to all of this, my aunt took a big spill.  She was on a walk, and missed the step up to the curb.  She totally face planted, and she has an impressive pair of black eyes, and cuts and abrasions.  Thank goodness she didn't break anything, and she didn't knock her teeth out.  Of course it all took a toll on her mentally, and there was a little bit of touch and go the last week or so with her remembering to take her medications and encouraging her to eat.  Oh yes, the nurse practitioner and I are practically besties.  It seems like she's rounded the corner, though, and will be healed up soon enough.  I've got to figure out a way to get her to slow down and act her age, or she's going to kill herself.

L's shoulder surgery went well, and he's back to work, but it's still sore.  We have our friend Mike, the physical therapist, making a house call tonight to get that stiffness worked out.  And then, if we're lucky, we can go on a moonlight bike ride.  Last night the moon was almost full.  The air was cool, and it was so peaceful, just the two of us and our little blinking lights.

Let's see, I'm trying to remember all of the sweet bits to tell you.  Mia has been picking up her room and keeping it spotless.  Not an easy task when she has Hayden following behind and making a mess again.  Now she knows how Mommy feels.  But she's got a her eyes on the prize: a new bike.  You may remember that her old one was lost in the move to Massachusetts.  Mom and Dad told her that things like bikes need to be earned, and so she's become quite the cleaning nazi in her zeal to earn that precious bike.  She asked her mom the other day to take her picture so she could send it to Mema - so Mema would see what a good girl looks like (her words).  And this is what I got:

If that's not a good girl, I don't know what is.  L is so proud of her hard work that he's already purchased the bike and had it sent for whenever they feel she's ready to have it.  Life is exciting when you're 6.  Our other 6 year old, Lexi, starts school (FIRST GRADE!) in a couple of weeks.  When you talk to these little girls, there is nothing that is beyond their range.  Life is just one big bundle of exciting choices.  Their little noggins are so full of bright intelligence that I'm already looking around for the amazing events they will no doubt bring about.

That's what keeps us oldie oldsters engaged and moving forward - that enthusiasm for life and all of it's curiosities.  That's something my dad has always had.  He loves to learn, and he has boundless curiosity.  And when he eats a cupcake, he still licks all the frosting off the cupcake paper, enjoying every little bit.  He's a funny mix: brilliant intelligence that can be blinding in it's quickness, and then there's that childlike enthusiasm for life's little pleasures - from sweet treats to good books -  that through all of his almost 82 years he's never lost.  I can picture him sitting in chemotherapy sessions quizzing the nurses and finding out all about it.  I am like him in that respect, because to me, knowledge is power.  When you arm yourself with it, and look for the goodies along the way, you can take on anything.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Moving Day (in which a piece of my heart moves to Austin, TX)

Moving day.  I woke up with a pit in my stomach.  Took my time getting ready.  Actually fixed my hair today and put on makeup.  I'd hate having Scott and Ashley remember me like I've looked every day for the past several days: no makeup, hair up in a bun, hot and sweaty and dusty.  So today we classed it up a little bit.
There were 5 guys loading things out to the truck when I got to the apartment, and Scott's dad was in the truck fitting everything in like a giant puzzle.  At first the truck looked enormous, but (as usual) when you fill it up with your entire life, it gets a little bit crowded.  Box after box went out, swallowed up by the cavernous truck.  Larger pieces of furniture started heading out the door, and up the loading ramp.
Ashley and I left to get everyone some sandwiches and drinks.  When we got back there were only a few things left to load.  The puzzle inside the truck looked like it only had a few open spaces left, and that's where it got tricky trying to fit the remaining items in.  As I walked back towards their apartment, I noticed there was a storage cabinet in the carport in front of their Nissan Murano.  I asked the kids if they'd emptied it and was greeted with blank stares.  Of course they had forgotten all about that cabinet and out came a few more bins and boxes to load.  One of the boxes in there was a pizza maker that had never been used, and it found a new home with one of the guys who had been helping with the move.  Sometimes the rewards of service are immediately felt.
This is how the house looked yesterday as we were still packing up boxes and boxes and more boxes:

We all felt like we were being swallowed up in the piles of boxes, bins, and bags full of things like hangers and other miscellaneous items.

It always surprises me how many things we accumulate in our lives - even if your life together has only been 2 short years!  It was overwhelming to pack up the practical and the sentimental, and still remember to leave out the things they'd need for their 3 weeks in India BEFORE they move into their new apartment!

But gradually, over the course of several days, everything was boxed, bagged, or bubble wrapped.  The precious things were carefully wrapped, and the random things came out of dark closet corners to find their proper place on the truck.

At last, the truck reached maximum capacity, and luckily, there was no more to load.  Magic.  A few more tweaks, a final check for stability, and it was time to shut the door and padlock it.

The time had come.  The moment I'd dreaded all day.  I hate goodbyes.  I cried a little bit to Ashley.  I'm going to miss that girl and her funny sense of humor.  I'll miss her amazing sense of style and her plethora of accessories.  She has the perfect hat, belt, scarf, or bracelet for any outfit.  I surprised myself and didn't cry in front of Scott.  My Scott...  I can't even begin to explain how much I'll miss him, and the way he can make me laugh like no other.  He is the most stubborn person I've ever known, and also the sweetest.  Austin, Texas is lucky to have him, that's all I can say.
Earlier that morning - when I'd first arrived - I tucked a little surprise into his suitcase with Ashley's help.  It was the Halloween blackbird that we've always sent back and forth between us.  The last time he gave it to me, it was in a dark parking lot in Utah, and he put this soft thing in my hand.  My first thought was "dead mouse."  It was that freaking bird.  So tonight, when he opens up his toiletries bag to get his toothbrush or toothpaste, the little worn out bird that's missing an eye will greet him.  I hope he screams like a girl.  *satisfied smile*  (It will probably be under my pillow when I visit though - fair is fair.  That's why I need to stay in a hotel.)
They will arrive in Austin on Friday and unload their things to a storage unit.  On Monday they'll go to Houston and fly to Chicago where they'll meet the rest of Ashley's family.  From there, they go to India for three crazy weeks.  It's a schedule you could only keep if you are young.
The Indian side of the family has planned a huge wedding celebration for them, since they missed the real one 2 years ago. There will be all kinds of activities.  But the picture in my head that is keeping a smile on my face is the one where Scott realizes his dream to ride an elephant, his arms stretched wide over his head in welcome as he yells "Hello India - my people!"  And he high fives the monkeys hanging from the trees.  Maybe you have to know Scott to picture that.  But it's hilarious if you can.

PS: I received this wonderful text message from Scott at 1:15 am: "Your present made me smile big" along with this little photo:

The joke lives on.  You can see how this little dead-looking bird could make your heart stop - for just a second - when you discover it in a surprise place.  We've been sending it back and forth to each other for...oh... about 7 years now, and it's looking even more worn and scary than it did originally.  I have no doubt that I'll be reunited with it  on my first visit to Austin.  So all is well with my little band of gypsies - the text and Instagram made ME smile, and I went right back to sleep.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

One Comes Home, The Other Ready To Leave

L is back from his Utah sojourn.  All went well with Andrew. The new apartment is all set up and looks really nice.  Poor L is all wiped out from a weekend of putting together beds, and picking up U-Haul trucks, moving furniture, and the stress of trying to make it all come together in a limited time frame.  To top it all off, when he got to the airport to fly home on Tuesday morning (he'd been planning to be at work at around 9am) they announced that his flight was cancelled.  He was put on a flight to Oakland instead that finally got him to LAX around noon.  To have to go to work after all of that took every ounce of self control he could muster, I'm sure.
When he finally dragged through the door last evening at about 6:20, I quickly fed him dinner, and then had to leave to go help Scott pack up his kitchen.  I felt bad about that, but in all reality an evening of solitude and quiet was probably a welcome relief.  And tonight is more of the same.  Scott and I went through almost 2 rolls of bubble wrap packing up the dishes and glassware.  He's going to go get another roll on his way home, and we'll pick up where we left off - but most of the breakables are packed.  Tonight, it will be more of the easy things: pots and pans, things in the spatula drawer, the silverware drawer, some appliances, and the random casserole/baking dishes.
I'm relishing every minute of time I get to spend with Scott.  Ashley has been working late so it's just been the two of us.  (Ashley is a smart girl, now that I think about it...)  When you've never moved before, it's nice to have someone come and show you how it's done.  Next time, they'll know how to pack things up.  I AM a good packer though - if I do say so myself.  And I do say so myself.  But it's been great to spend some good time with them before they go because I am really going to miss these two.

I talked to Katie for a little bit this afternoon.  She said that Mia is getting to be quite lethal with her little Brave bow and arrow set.

I'll have to sleep with one eye open on my next visit, apparently.  She has a target that she's been practicing with, and I understand she is quite the dead eye.  Yikes...  our own little Katniss Everdeen in the making.  Katie said Mia came to her this morning and said "I miss Mema... this morning when I woke up I just said softly {and here she whispered} 'Mema.'"  She has indeed inherited her Mema's flair for the dramatic.  Another reason to keep my eye on her.

That's it, my friends.  It's a slow day in the neighborhood.  I worked for 7 hours (YES - the hours are creeping up!) and now I'm waiting for L to come home.  He's having shoulder surgery this week, and he left work early to go get some pre-op work done.  He has some bone spurs in his left shoulder and a little muscle tear that have been giving him some pain for a few months now.  It'll be good to get the surgery over with and behind us.  If he gets home soon, we'll have time for a nice humid, muggy bike ride before I go to Scott's to help with the packing.  I'm sure he'll be laid up for at least a day or two before he feels like getting out and about, but it's so nice to have him home again I'm looking forward to pampering him a bit.  Hey la, my boyfriend's back...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Karen + Solitude = Crazy Town

I am incredibly bored.  L is in Utah until Tuesday morning helping our son Andrew move into a new apartment.  Over the course of the day I'm finding out some very unpleasant things about myself (which I thought maybe I'd outgrown) - not the least of which is the fact that I do not like being on my own.  I'm not afraid.  I'm not nervous.  I'm lonely.  Things I normally enjoy doing, like reading a book, are not things I like to do when no one is around.  If L is in the other room, or just gone for work or an hour or two, I enjoy having time to myself to read and putter around.  But when the solitude is involuntary, I'm just restless.  I walk from room to room, and I have a hard time settling down and doing anything at all. Nothing seems quite right, the usual things don't please me.

I was doing pretty well this morning.  I had a pedicure appointment, and I got my tootsies painted a beautiful shade of lavender - just right for my nephew's wedding next weekend.  I had planned to drive down and help my son pack a few boxes, but when I called him he said he wasn't packing, and sounded like he wasn't up for company.  Bummer.  Have I said how much I'm going to miss him?  We had dinner last night, and when we came back to the house we talked until 10:00.  The two of us can really talk, and I thoroughly enjoyed being with him.  But back to my unhappy solitude.

I thought about my painting project that I never seem to have time for during the week.  I'd bought a cotton decorative pillow that was pretty much a blank canvas except for the embroidered RL (Ralph Lauren) in the corner.  I wanted to paint a starfish on it, and I'd been circling that project for a couple of weeks, having a hard time diving in.  So perfect - I had nothing but time this afternoon, and I pictured happy hours and hours of painting.  Maybe even a couple of days worth.  I was done in 2 hours.  I guess I'm a little faster than I thought I'd be.  Here is the project:

I'm still not sure I like it.  Usually I have to leave whatever I've painted over night and look at it again the next day.  It always looks off to me right after I've stared at it intensely for a couple of hours.  But it's finished, other than heat setting the paint.  At that point it was 3:00.  What to do now?

I called a friend of mine who is single - no pesky husband to get in the way.  Not home.  There was a wedding reception this evening for a girl who attends our church.  I called another friend to see if they had enough help with everything.  The reply back was "More than enough."  Crap.  I can't even hire myself out as help for the evening.  That's when I started to really feel sorry for myself.

I thought about Scott who is moving to Texas in a week and a half.  It made me really sad.  By this time it was about 5:30 and time for dinner.  Since I wasn't going to pour red punch at a wedding reception, I thought I might as well fix dinner.  Steak tacos.  Meh.  I hate eating alone.  My daughter called and I talked to her like I hadn't talked to her in a month.  She was on her way home from a baby shower (she is 3 hours ahead in  Massachusetts).  Finally she arrived home and had to go.  Nuts.  She had suggested I go blog but I had nothing to blog about.  She told me to take pictures of my pillow.  So I did - more for something to do than because I'm in love with it.

Just as I finished taking a picture or two, the phone rang.  I could see it was my dad, (caller ID) but I thought he and mom were still on their Alaskan cruise?  But as I started talking to him I heard that they'd come home last night, and he was just checking in, letting me know they were back.  Now, you'd have to know my dad to fully appreciate this, but he is not a big phone talker - at least not with me.  He'll talk business with my brothers for quite awhile, but with me, after he's asked about the kids he sort of runs out of things to say and passes me over to Mom.

But tonight I guess we both needed someone to talk to.  He was full of details and stories of their trip to Alaska.  They saw a whole pod of whales - babies and all - and a couple of bears.  Dozens of eagles.  Two glaciers.  They had enjoyed the company of the friends they'd gone with, and had met lots of other nice people.  A waitress in the dining room had given them all special treatment.  Best of all, there was food 24 hours a day, and he'd put on 10 pounds!  (Mom had put on 2 pounds.)  He went on, and on, and on.  And it was wonderful.  This is a man who has unlimited curiosity about absolutely everything. They had attended a wonderful presentation given by a naturalist, and had learned all kinds of things.  They'd seen a show that was comparable to Cirque du Soleil, and a comedian (my dad called him a humorist - that's so my dad...) that you could take your whole family to who was very funny.  I know it sounds odd, but I so enjoyed listening to him be so excited about everything they'd seen and done.  It tickled me right down to my soul.  And it brought tears to my eyes.  Because this man has such an interest in everything that goes on in this world.  He loves star gazing and solar events - can you imagine the stars he must have seen up in Alaska?  I'll have to ask him about that.

For a few minutes as we talked, we had a real connection.  For in that way, I am my father's daughter.  I have a weird fascination with odd facts, just like he does.  We both think about random things, and wonder about events most people don't give a second's thought to.  Fortunately, I also inherited my mother's sociability, so I'm able to hide my geekiness from others.  My dad's is out there for all to see, but that's part of what makes him so unique and lovable.

Am I being overly sentimental?  Probably.  I know I'm getting a little bit weepy over ridiculousness.  But my dad and I had a really nice conversation, and it was good to hear the enthusiasm and excitement in his voice.  He wasn't thinking about his cancer, or not feeling well.  He'd seen some wonders and was happy to share them with me.  My husband once made the comment that my dad will do very well in the next life, with his boundless curiosity and love of learning.  Yes, he will - but I'm not quite ready for that yet.  For today, it was perfect to have my dad all to myself and listen as he gushed about Alaska.  Especially when I was wishing so hard for someone to talk to.

So, to sum up: I'm lonely, and I don't like how quiet this house is right now.  To compensate, I've got my i-Tunes going here, and the TV on in the other room.  I need to work on being better company for myself, because I get a little dramatic and it's not pretty.  Talking to my dad made me ridiculously happy, and a little bit teary all at the same time.  (There's that drama, I think)   It's hard to explain - let's just say my heart was full as I listened to how happy he sounded.  It was a combination of relief that he sounded so well, love for his unique personality, and gratitude for being his daughter.  Another day he won't understand me, and I won't understand him.  But today we both got it right.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Clouds, Heat & Humidity: We're Dying Out Here

The weather was playing with us today.  No sun, clouds thick overhead.  Hot and sticky, at least 80 degrees out there.  This is a tragedy in coastal Southern California.  No bueno at the beach, no sun at the pool.  What are we to do about maintaining our tans?  Not to mention we're sweating.  It's like being in hell.

To add insult to injury, I went out to water the plants, and I saw (and felt) this:

Those are raindrops, my friends.  They say thunder and lightning can't be far behind.  Heaven help us.  We're on storm watch.

ps: I'm kidding.  Really.  I can be ridiculous, but not this ridiculous.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Not So Crazy Days Of Summer

We're into summer now.  The days have been long and hot.  The past two days I've tried to stave off turning on the A/C, but I've only been able to make it until noon.  Today it was even earlier - 10:00am. Too bad I have to work - I'd love to go sit by the pool, or grab a friend and head down to the beach.  But duty calls, the work hours are starting to pick up, and I need to make hay while the sun shines.

When the sun is a little lower in the sky, and the afternoon cools a little bit, I'll go outside and give all of the thirsty, hot plants a nice drink and a heavy misting.

Something to effectively tuck them in, and send them off to a cozy moist evening before the sun blisters them again tomorrow. 
And then there's this lovely - a gift from an Easter dinner guest 3 months ago!  It's still going strong, and I take extra special care of it because it cheers me up every time I walk into the living room.

When the days are like this, and there are no trips planned to break up the schedule, the days all kind of run together.  Work, work, work, work, work, house chores and some fun, church and a peaceful day.  Rinse and repeat.  My days are probably a little more monotonous because I work from home.  I can go literally weeks without filling up my car with gas.  (I kind of like that part, though.)  I am the neighborhood watch, the neighborhood crazy Mrs. Kravitz sitting in my office window, watching everyone come and go.  L laughs at me because I know everyone's business.  For excitement I might do a load of wash, or I may even start the car and go to the bank or grocery store.
When the work is done for the day, I have various little projects to work on.  Currently I'm circling a pillow cover, wanting to paint a starfish on the cotton fabric.  Once I start it I'll be fine, but until then, I think and redesign, and over think the whole thing.  I usually dream about it, to make matters worse.  It's been years since I've painted on fabric, so I'm a little nervous to start.  But I have so many ideas for things I'd like to try after this project, so I just need to close my eyes and jump in.
Sometimes I'll watch Ellen at 4:00 (especially if Sophia Grace and Rosie are on!) and then it's time to start dinner.  That's the usual day.  So when L drives in after his workday, I have to be careful to control my approach, I'm so excited to have another human to interact with.  He, on the other hand, drives 39 miles each way to work.  He drives in really bad traffic.  He is soothed with XM radio on the way home, but it's a very long commute - at best 1 hour and sometimes it's over 2 hours.  And this week he's been on deadline with his magazine.  Ramp up the stress 100%!  Editors have a hard time meeting deadlines, and they tend to dump everything on him at the last minute.  (He is a graphic artist and lays out the magazine, making sure it all looks good and everything is coordinated.)  He's at the end of the food chain there, so if things are late, he's the person everyone complains to, even if it's not his fault!  Sorry.... I'm venting...  Anyway, last night, he came home, and I was a little grumpy because he was later than usual, dinner was a multi-step affair, and I was afraid it would all get cold before he got there.  I could tell at first glance, however, that he'd had a bear of a day.  So I quietly got dinner on, we got seated, and I let him decompress without pressing him to talk a lot.  TV off.  Just a quiet dinner, with occasional conversation interspersed with soothing quiet.

After dinner we cleaned up and got the bikes out.  The evening was still warm, but with a cool breeze blowing.  We rode through some nearby neighborhoods as darkness gradually fell.  Neighbors were out watering, letting children have a last ride on their bikes and scooters, or just sitting outside enjoying the cool(er) air.

We rode along, not talking much.  L tried to lead me back on the cul de sac where the big dog chased me down the street the other night, but I wasn't buying.  I'm not fond of being chased by big dogs.  But mostly, I just followed along, letting him have his thoughts to himself.  Our bike lights were on blink mode in the twilight - both of us have small red ones in back, and I have a larger white one in front - and as we rode along, I followed behind him with my lights blinking like little heartbeats in the growing darkness.
As we finished up our ride, I could see that L's shoulders had relaxed.  I love our evening bicycle rendez-vous.  They are my current obsession.  Sometimes we ride side by side and chat about our days, and other times (like last night) we pedal along silently to our own thoughts.  It's the perfect end to the day.  Just enough to feel better after eating dinner, but soothing enough to bring us back home ready to settle in for the evening.  Best of all, after a little quiet time, L is ready to sit back and let me chat his ear off after a long day in solitary confinement.  It's a win/win.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 4th - Food, Fireworks & Family Fun

The Fourth of July - one of my favorite holidays, occurring smack in the middle of summer, and full of summer sun, picnic food, barefoot relaxation and beautiful explosions of light in the summer night sky. This year was especially poignant for me as our son Scott and wife Ashley will be moving to Texas in about 3 weeks, thus making July 4th the last holiday spent together before they blast off.  Now every last one of our children will be out of state.  I know I shouldn't feel sorry for myself - there are plenty of people in the same boat - but both my husband and I grew up having our families around us, and it will be hard getting used to having the kids (and grandkids!) all scattered.  Travel is expensive too,  and not one of them, except one, live in the road trip range.
But that said, we all had a good day together.  Scott and Ashley arrived around noon, and we went to the pool and had ourselves a little picnic: ham and brie sandwiches, and BLT's with fresh mozzarella and guacamole on focaccia bread.  BBQ chips, drinks, and fresh baked cookies made it like a real celebration.  I'd bought myself a new hat to wear in the sun, and I sported it at the pool.  We pay lots of money for that beautiful hair color - no sense letting the sun fade it, I say.

Unfortunately, Ashley (who manages a Sunglass Hut) got a call from her store, and had two employees fizzle out on coming in to work that day.  So off she trudged to take over.  Sometimes it's no fun being a manager...  Scott and L and I continued to enjoy the pool, until finally L had had enough.  Scott started playing with a couple of little boys in the pool, throwing balls to them and throwing the smaller one.  It reminded me of when Scott was 10 - we had just moved there, and Scott just loved any adult who would play with him in the pool.  He was really kind to those two little boys - made my heart happy.  The older one told him his dad was in "the bad place" (jail?) and so Scott gave him a little extra attention.
Back at the house, we cooled off and just sat and talked.  I could talk to Scott for hours.  His limit on talking to me is probably less, but he was a good sport yesterday.  Soon, though, it was time to start getting dinner together, and so he went up to do some writing on his website on my computer.  I was down in the kitchen chopping and stirring.  Earlier in the day, L and I had made a blackberry cheesecake, and that was in the fridge chilling.

For dinner we had grilled chicken, fresh corn, and blueberry salad.  It includes everything I've just said, plus celery, red onion, and blue cheese, barely covered in a really light dill dressing.  We had a bunch of fingerling potatoes that we wrapped up in foil with garlic and rosemary and roasted on the BBQ.  I'd also made zucchini fritters.  The potatoes were kind of a swing and a miss - it was hard to get them evenly done on the BBQ.  But the fritters were really good - lightly flavored with lemon zest. We had to kind of rush dinner because it was after 8:30 by the time we finished.  Dark enough for fireworks to start!

As it turned out, the kids (Scott, Ashley, and Ashley's brother Ben) took off to a local secret spot that is good to watch the fireworks from, and that you can also escape quickly without getting caught up in foot traffic and jammed up streets.  L and I stayed and cleaned up, and then walked upstairs, sank into chairs in front of our bedroom window, and had a wonderful view of another fireworks show being shot off at a local park a couple of miles away.  It was a win/win to have a few minutes of peace and quiet, watch the amazing display, and collect ourselves before the kids got back wanting dessert.  As I watched, I alternated between feeling love for and pride in our country, and feeling sad because I'm going to miss the kids when they move.  That's what it's like being me - my mind just won't relax and let me totally enjoy anything.  Not very often anyway.
The kids came back, and L brought out his secret stash of sparklers and small fountains he'd bought earlier that day.  We had fun out on the patio waving sparklers and watching the little cones go off.  I found it interesting the different ways people wave their sparklers.  It kind of reflects their personalities:

Scott had big, expansive waves

L's were tightly controlled circles

Ashley's were complicated patterns

But any way you waved them, it brought out the kid in all of us.  It reminded me of being small and watching my dad light the pinwheels (those horrible things that would break loose from the tree and chase you all over the yard), or the snakes, or the big fountains, and the wonder in our eyes as we watched them.  Sparklers were always the last thing we lit (don't step on a hot one in bare feet!)  And so it was last night.

It was a good day, and a good evening spent together.  I'm going to miss these two so much.  But I've never been to Texas, so now is a good time to make it's acquaintance.  Sometimes I think that our kids have moved to so many different places to give us the chance to explore places we're not familiar with. Blast us out of our comfort zone here in California.  So good luck to Scott and Ashley, as they prepare to start their new adventure.

Happy belated Fourth to everyone.  We live in an amazing country.  Lots to love, and much to be proud of, starting with our flag.  Love may she wave.

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