Archive for April, 2011

April 30, 2011

Twenty-eight Glorious Years

April 23rd was Jim’s and my twenty-eighth wedding anniversary. Jim has been an integral part of my life for thirty years. We have passed the point where we have been in each other’s lives for more years than we weren’t. Life without Jim is not only unthinkable, it isn’t really even a memory any more.

 I think we have done a pretty good job of learning to love and live together. I often consider the many people who are unable to stay together in marriage. I wonder what separates us. Why are Jim and I still together, a team, and they have come unglued. I believe it has a lot to do with determination. I can’t imagine what else it might be. As much as I love Jim and as much as he loves me, we still bug the heck out of each other sometimes. We fight sometimes. We wake up cranky and aren’t as nice as we might be to each other. We drive each other nuts. But we never reach the point of not wanting to be together. I do not believe we have, either of us, felt that we would be better off without the other and that intention is the glue that holds us together.

 We make a pretty good team. We have born and raised three very special and wonderful children. We have created a family that is close and loving and that hangs together in good and tough times. We have raised children with strong and positive values and of whom we are very proud. That is good teamwork.

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April 25, 2011

Kindness Reigns

Three things in human life are important: The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”
 Henry James

 There are some lessons which seem to need to be learned over and over again. Kindness and speaking softly fall into those categories for me. The world always needs more kindness especially these days. It is so easy to be kind to other people. It just takes some thought and a little effort. Making someone smile, holding the door, asking someone how they are and meaning it. Those are all gestures which brighten the day. It is a lot harder than it looks to hold that intention every day.

And it isn’t just strangers who deserve kindness. No matter how strong and good my intentions, sometimes I find myself speaking more sharply than I intend. Maybe I feel rushed or a little cranky or am just distracted and then I say something which just doesn’t sound the way I would like it to. Most of the time it isn’t intentional, but that doesn’t make it any better. Most often it seems my children are on the receiving end. When I see that look in their eyes, it makes me shudder. Not only do I not want to be sharp with them, I don’t want to teach them to be like that either.

I wonder if Henry had the same problem.

April 20, 2011

Musical Memories

De-clutterization continues sporadically in the Frost household. There has been overall significant improvement especially if we exclude Peter’s room from the overview. However, one eyesore remaining was the stacks and piles and shelves of dusty cds sitting in the basement.

At one point, Jim had asked Peter to organize the cds. I believe there was even some forgiveness of debt involved. Peter made some relatively ineffectual piles, but after that one fleeting afternoon spurt of activity, no further progress was made. Last Saturday the spirit moved me. Without taking time to consider my actions, I headed to the basement in the mood to do battle.

Piles of dusty cds were divided by musical genre and alphabetized. Quite a few orphans were reunited with their cases. This was incredibly satisfying even if my back and legs were screaming. We don’t have a full basement and most of the space only allows one to move bent over at the waist. Sorting cds would best be accomplished by someone 42″ tall or while seated. I figured this was really good for my glutes and inner thigh muscles and in point of fact I felt them all for the next few days.

Musing over the decades’ of accumulated music reminded me of my childhood and how we bought music back then.

My best friend, Betsy, and I used to walk over to Wiebboldt’s deparment store on the corner of Lake and Harlem. This was a big emporium filled with goods, but on the first floor there was a music section. If we pooled our allowance, we could buy the newest 45 rpm’s and we spent time carefully considering each purchase. Betsy often needed some reminding of a particular song and she would urge me to sing it so she could recognize it. I hated standing in the store softly singing the newest hit, but it never occured to me not to do Betsy’s bidding. Let’s not even address the fact that my painful rendition bore little relation to the original. With years of accumulated wisdom, I am now wondering what Betsy’s true motivation was for asking for impromptu weekly concerts.

At dinner that night, Jim and I shared some history with our beloved offspring. Egged on by the incredulity of our children, we continued our dinner table dialogue with a discourse on the philosophy of albums and the structure of tracks. Jim contributed his memory of his favorite and first 45 rpm. Twist and Shout on one side, I Saw Her Standing There on the flip. I won’t insult you by naming the group, I think we all know that.  My father had an old Victrola in the living room when I was growing up. He had purchased it complete with a collection of old 78’s which were played by a Hawthorne needle. He also had a player piano and we loved loading the rolls on and watching the songs unfold with the tinkling action of the keys.

Dinner over, Peter and Ellie headed to their lairs. Peter rarely takes his earbuds out of his ears so we’re never sure what he is listening to, but Ellie likes to play her music loud on her speakers. Sometimes we think they don’t hear us, but all week we’ve been treated to the Beatles playing Twist and Shout and Blackbird.

Guess the bottom line is that whether it is a 78, a 45 or a dusty cd, the music has no chronological age.

April 11, 2011

Difficult Choices

Back in January when Ellie was having a small meltdown about not getting into college, I told her that I wished for her a flock of difficult decisions in April. At that time, Ellie said that she would be happy to have difficult decisions to make before a May 1st deadline. Happily, I was quite right on that front. Ellie has five tough decisions to make. So much better than the alternative…

Deciding where to go to college is, I think, the first big decision most kids have to make. Ellis is approaching this decision with the same methodic and thorough manner in which she managed her applications. I have been so impressed and proud of Ellie throughout this process. She has been in charge of selecting the schools to which she wished to apply (with some help from Meg Lahey, a college counselor we retained, who happens to be a Smithie…) and she managed the process of writing essays and meeting deadlines. There were some late nights and last minutes, but all in all she did a great job. Her essays were well-crafted and she had a lot of them to write. She also implemented a program of follow-up emails and contact with the various Admissions Offices of which I have never seen the like. She made a calendar and developed a schedule for reaching out and continuing to acquaint the schools with her accomplishments and personality. I think it made a huge difference.

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April 4, 2011

Craftaganza Q1 2011

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 These days it seems I never have time to sit and play. If I am not doing something vaguely constructive, then I feel consumed with guilt. Knitting, beading and reading have unfortuantely fallen into the not-so-constructive category. To counter this, I have continued to work on small projects and especially to design items which can use up odd bits of stash.

I actually have really enjoyed having this framework to define what and how I spend my crafting time. Going through my stash and finding partial and single skeins of great yarns with which I have worked in the past is fun. It is one part wander down memory lane and one part creative re-purposing. Ah, look at this moss green yarn…

Gosh, I remember getting this on that small farm up in Maine. We saw the sign by the side of the road and I only had to beg a little to get Jim to turn off. The woman raised sheep in her backyard. They were mostly Romney and she knew each one. She had goats, chickens and dogs, too. Her husband worked for the cable company. I wonder how they made ends meet with his salary and her expenses. In the front yard she had a little shop out of which she sold her yarn and some locally crafted buttons. It was a cute little wooden playhouse. The yarn she had was barely processed and her dyes were a wonderful palette of soft yet rich colors. I designed a vest with the yarn from her place. I had just over a skein left over and it was this skein that became one of the baby sweaters pictured here. Those happy memories are part of the sweater I have knitted.

I still have the goal of taking a table at a craft fair and selling the sweaters, booties, beaded earrings, etc. which I have made. I am curious to see if people will actually buy them, the value they are willing to assign to them and how I feel sending these things off with other people. I think it will be a fascinating exercise and maybe help recoup some of the “investment” I have made over the years in stash and beads. I love the idea that someone might buy one of the sweaters I made for a baby and that then that new mother will have the pleasure of wrapping her baby in warm Romney wool. Or that someone will buy a pair of earrings I have made and that each time they pull them out to wear them they will think how pretty they are. That would be a tremendous rush.

So, I will continue to make things. I enjoy the process more than the product and at some point someone else may well be able to enjoy th product.

Romney MommyBaaaa!Mommy and kids

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