Thirteen: Today’s sunshine. It’s above O°C, for starters, and that is always a bloody beautiful day this time of year. But the sun – whooo boy do we need it. I take vitamin D supplements but there’s an extra dose of something in that sunshine – like some secret vitamin that worms its way through your pores and bones and finds its way to your soul.
But it’s more than that today – the sun is different today. It's closer, more present. I could feel it enveloping me down there on the ground, as opposed to just shining down and filtering its way through the blanket of winter. It’s as if spring is hovering at the door deciding whether to come in. I say come on in Spring – you’re never more beautiful than you are when you’re hovering at the door.
Fourteen: This post by Steve. My friend – women everywhere are going to be jealous of your beached goddess. Finding wonder in long-established love, what could be more beautiful?
Fifteen: This cookbook, which I bought on the weekend. I have to make myself not buy cookbooks; I could sit and look at them forever. But I allowed myself this one because I buy the magazine often and I justified the cookbook thinking that instead of buying the magazine every month, I would buy this at the cost of less than two issues. (Who am I kidding? It’s a beautiful magazine.)
These days I'm particularly enamoured with cookbooks featuring natural, unprocessed food. Natural food is of the most beautiful gifts this planet shares with us, and meals that are simply and lovingly prepared from it is more beauty for the soul. This winter I’m in love with food more than I’ve ever been – maybe it was my way of enduring embracing the winter months. When my television is on, it’s on Food Network most of the time – when I'm not cooking and eating, I'm watching somebody else cooking and eating.
Recently I had to put a moratorium on kitchen activities because I had too many things saved in the freezer for my lunches and dinners. I’ve used it up and am rocking the kitchen again. Last night I made Turkey Chili Taco Soup and I’m counting down the minutes until lunchtime so I can eat it.
Sixteen: How I feel when I do yoga. My body is not a lot of things. But it continues to be flexible and bendy and for that I feel fortunate, because the little bit of heaven I feel at the end of a yoga session is something you just can’t bottle. I’m so ready for serious some outside action again, but in the meantime, daily yoga makes me happy – and beautiful.
The other day I go down to the atrium for a cup of tea and a quick read. Not long after I sit down an old guy sits near me. His wife follows right after, fiddling with a bag and says, “so you’ll just wait here until I get back?”
“Yeah! I’ll wait here,” he snaps as she walks over to a medical office.
The man’s voice is as craggy as that of his demeanour. He looks to be in his late 70s, but perhaps the demeanour ages him. He flips open a cell phone and calls someone’s voicemail and complains about what he calls an unfair charge and demands, as a 35 year customer, that the charge be rescinded.
I’m annoyed. I came down here for a few alone moments with my book and it seems I’m going to have to listen to this guy’s private conversations. As I’m considering finding another place to sit, the man connects with someone else, presumably a friend.
“Listen Jimmy I don’t want to make you mad or insult you or anything, but I need to talk to you about what you said to Dotty the other day…
“Listen, when you told me, in front of her, that I need to talk to her nicer, you made my life a living hell. Now every goddamn time I open my mouth she’s on me for not talkin’ nice to her…
“No… listen, I’m not mad, but you gotta know what she’s like! You have no idea. When you see her, when she comes by, she’s all nice and sweet. When it’s me and her, my life is HELL.”
And then he starts to up the tone – and the ante.
“Ya, ya, but wait. You really don’t know her. You don’t know what she’s like at home. She LIES.
Wait, wait – here she comes.”
The offending Dotty returns and fusses in her bag again and her craggy man has magically switched his voice over to a conversational tone and is talking about the Blue Jays and the weather. She returns to the medical office and the agitation is back.
“Your words are now written in stone man. EVERYTHING I say to her makes her fucking jump all over me saying I don’t talk nice to her and she deserves fucking better and all that. She's a BITCH.
He’s like a pot coming to a boil. Sitting at the edge of his seat his voice gets louder and I get more uncomfortable, wishing I could say “Yo, buddy – I’m right here! I didn't need to know this!”
“Nobody knows how she talks to me. She’s nice when everyone else is around but with me. Well… no… listen, really… Jimmy… Jimmy! She’s a BITCH. I have to be so fucking careful and it’s impossible to please that woman. Maybe if someone gave her a hundred thousand dollars or somethin' she’d just fucking leave…”
Finally the Craggy One seems to notice he’s not alone and walks away to another area to finish convincing Jimmy of Dotty’s double personality. His voice has raised up another notch and I hear regular crescendos of the emphasising the wrath of Dotty because Jimmy said the Craggy One should speak nicer to her.
I think about the years that have passed in the life of Dotty and the Craggy One and wonder when it was that love turned to such bitterness. I wonder if they’ll, at some point, look back on their lives together and see any value in their days turning over, seasons evolving into the next, and their having grown old together, choosing each other to finish out their lives with.
I go back to my office think I’d still like to grow old with someone. Whoever you are – let’s not let it come to that, ok?
I have a “blended family.” I think it’s the first time I ever said that. I heard someone use that term to describe us this past weekend and even though it’s a well-known term, it sounded so clinical. Especially when you consider that my family’s “blended” period is much greater than the “pre-blend” period. But the length of time we’ve been together doesn’t matter. What’s important is, at one point in time, after we’d all grown up, we made the decision to be a family and the word “step” stopped preceding brother and sister in conversations. This is who we are; this is who we’ve got. It’s a family in the truest sense of the word, and it pretty much doesn’t get better than it is when we’re together.
So, last weekend’s road trip to Pittsburgh to welcome a new sister-in-law into our world was much anticipated. My girls and I love road trips, and we love visiting new places and we’d heard great things about Pittsburgh and we couldn’t wait to get there. Imagine our annoyance when we find that half the population of Ontario had also decided to cross the border into the US on that same holiday Thursday, Canada Day, and the waiting-for-the-extended-family-party is eventually drawn out to more than double the expected time.
As we inch our way around the Golden Horseshoe toward Niagara Falls/Buffalo, we hear the line-ups at all three bridges are three hours plus. “Scott is dead” I text message to Cathy and Jeff, who, with their families, are somewhere ahead of us in the turtle race. It’s only natural we would blame the groom while we thought longingly of other Canada Days loafing about on the sunny deck at the cottage having happy hour with drinks and smoked fish and deciding what to barbeque for dinner. “It better be THE. BEST. WEDDING. EVER.” is my sister’s text response. Who else would you blame? I mean you can't blame the bride. That would be just wrong. Naturally, it fell on the groom.
When we actually set foot on US soil in Buffalo, it is the time we anticipated we’d almost be in Pittsburgh. And when we finally arrive there five hours after that and begin to follow directions to the hotel – carefully – as we’d heard the layout of the city can be “confusing.” As someone who could get lost driving to work in the morning, I had mapped the directions step by step.
At first it goes really well – and man are we thirsty for that six-hours-overdue cold beer and I say I am going to taunt my sister who’d texted ahead that they got lost finding their hotel. More than an hour later we drag ourselves into the lobby – exhausted and cranky. “Confusing?” That city is a giant jigsaw puzzle with some of the pieces missing.
Next morning Cathy phones to discuss our previously made shopping plans. She tells me the place we want to go is on the outskirts of the city, and I essentially refuse to drive. So we all squeeze into Carol’s van and navigate, with the help of her GPS system (“Rhoda”) and numerous opinions and eagle eyes, make it out to the intended destination only making a few wrong turns. (It’s okay Rhoda – you did good.) During the course of the day any frustration and crankiness evaporates and we have a good time shopping, having lunch and hanging out together, sisters and kids.
Back to the hotel we descend on Cathy and Stan’s room for a drink, and thus begins the two-day party. Down in the lounge en route to dinner we bump into aunts and uncles and parents and have a bit of a reunion over more beer. Those attending the rehearsal take off and the rest of us walk over to Joe's Crab Shack where we take over a long collection of tables and enjoy crab and more beer and lots of laughs. After dinner we move the party back to Cathy’s room with the pretty view of the Pittsburgh’s riverfront.
Next day, we awake feeling a little “toasty” but we walk downtown anyway for a bit more shopping and we get a little lost but we make it, stopping for a classic Pittsburgh sandwich consisting of thick slabs of white bread around a huge hunk of meat, cheese, a huger hunk of french fries (yes french fries) (yes, ON the sandwich) and coleslaw. We didn't care that we had to slide ourselves into pretty dresses later; it was delicious. And just the cure for a night of too much fun.
Later, we don’t get lost going to the church and we stand around in the vestibule admiring how darned good we all look. A short while later we sit in pews and brothers Scott and Jeff and the other groomsmen emerge and then, finally, down the aisle comes the most beautifully poised bride Jennifer – shining in her joy.
We heard it a lot over the weekend: “I love our family.” Gratifyingly – most often from the youngest generation. Indeed I got enough niece and nephew hugs to last me through July. We’re not perfect, but not everyone gets a family who so roundly LIKES one another. And I’m sure every one of us would say that this party, just like the one we had last year at this time, ranks with the “best ever.”
Jeff summarizes the moment in the first toast before dinner: “Here’s to being together,” and during the extended clinking (because everyone has to make sure to clink everyone else), I feel blessed.
Once, another beautiful bride in the family said that finding love wasn’t a happy accident. It was a choice. She chose her husband, and in doing so she chose love. Just like my family did a long time ago.
Happy marriage Scott and Jennifer. We’re so glad you chose each other and brought us all together to celebrate it.
And there were a couple who were missed!