I’m in love

Summer crashes in waves around us, cool mornings rising into bone-baking heat, quiet nights shaking into riotous days, weeks of unstructured play and family camping shifting into time-demarked camps and faux school.

And I am in love with the season.


The amazing benefit to having Seasonal Affective Disorder is that summers are downright manic. So while I spend winters in front of a lightbox, forcing exercise, and wearing bright colors to make it through, from May to August I stockpile joy. I’m cramming all the sunshine I can into my cells. So I don’t forget what good feels like.

I watch my children slurp and mangle the melon my grandmother taught us was the single best treat ever grown. Canary yellow rind, orange and green flesh, and fragrant, nectar-flavored flesh not too firm and not too soft. She insisted on calling it Juan Canary long after marketers decided it would sell better with just the word Canary. And from the May-or-June moment I spy it in stores until the moment my children toss the rind gleefully into the compost bucket and grab more, running past me and out the backdoor in our pretend game of “don’t you dare eat another slice of melon, young man, that melon is the legacy of my grandmother and you may not have anymore, dagnabbit,” I am in love with the taste of nostalgia and happiness.

I wake each morning in the cool, already-loud house, stretching my gloriously midlife body and aching back into the eleven-year-old bed and listen to my children navigate what will be the most important relationship of their lives. And I know soon they’ll spend more time with peers than with a mother and brother. And I know my days of influence are waning even now, even while they’re as young as eight and four. I luxuriate in their giggles and teasing because it’s my morning. This time is mine. This place, this body, this family is mine. And none of it will last. Cool will become hot, slow will become quick, giggling will become screaming, achy will become strong and active. And I am in love with the day.


Visitors from far and near have peopled our days with fun and love. My new camera has captured more than 2,000 images seemingly on its own, for I have been present, breathing in the wonder and the joy and the fights and the mess. Focus pulls fore and back, swallowing mountains and lakes and trees and flowers, always somehow capturing two wild little boys exploring, yelling, learning, laughing. And reading. I photograph them reading because whether they read together or apart, their bodies are still for a moment while their minds race. I am in love with the flux, and I get weak-kneed at the joy of photographing our oscillations.

We went camping as a family and learned that our new, separation-borne calm kindness extends to family gatherings. So we’re doing well as a family that lives in different houses and as a family that takes trips together. And they’re doing well as three guys who develop their own rules and boundaries and rhythms. Once we returned to the house we still share but don’t really, I spent time with a friend, relaxed into myself in the way that work, run, eat, work, sleep, and more work makes parents feel like regular people who can turn off their ears and attention and fetching arms for a while. I am in love with having a self.


It has been three months since the boys’ father and I decided we have to change a situation that brought out our worst. It’s been two months since he moved into an apartment and we thoughtfully began working out the logistics of getting us both as much time as possible with the kids. I’m up late every night researching and drafting and emailing to hammer out logistics. And I’ll be honest: I don’t like this part at all. Disentangling is a pain in the heart and in the neck. But then I make lunches and bake muffins and work on deadline and wash off my new fancy-pants blush. It’s all going to be okay. Because the days are full of play and photography and mountains and lakes and family and friends and beach and music.

Oh, the music.

Since the house lost one resident, I have been playing music almost non-stop. Old favorites and new discoveries, I have a need for the creative spark and emotional salve that music offers. Two weeks before we decided to change our marriage, I asked the googles for help finding some new music based on my preferences. I blindly bought two CDs, which is something that old people do, usually with a pang of nostalgia that they can’t go to a record store and debate between a tape and vinyl. The CDs languished, unheard, on my desk until I had to send that desk, empty, to its new home. I shifted all my work paraphernalia and personal treasures onto an underused table and nestled it into a corner recently made empty in the bedroom. And I played the first CD.

I haven’t stopped playing it for two months. Both my computer and car play the same CD on a loop. I don’t know why this acoustic-guitar songwriting duo has so captivated me. But only one CD into this new relationship with two younger men, I am in love.

Enjoy your summer. Eat many strawberries and nectarines, splash in some sort of water, photograph those you love, and perhaps invest in a new blush. Just see what happens.

And try some Juan Canary melon.

It tastes like love.


Ode* on Music and Typography

In the mood for a good swoon? Below lies a link to a soulful duo who sing beautifully then take a break to discuss the historical origin of a ligature.

photo from americansongwriter.com

photo from americansongwriter.com


Even if you’re not into their music, which I am—most certainly, unabashedly, devotedly— I do believe you’ll enjoy the The Milk Carton Kids’ Lincoln Theater Concert.

What part of the hour-plus should you watch?

Perhaps at 5:28, where Joey Ryan, duo’s resident comic and poet, discusses their choice of ampersand over the word and in “the Ash & Clay” (that song follows the brief interlude and is hauntingly beautiful).

Perhaps begin your viewing at 9:17 where Ryan mocks his partner for adding a perfectly placed comma in the song “Honey, Honey.” The song follows, and is one of my top three favorites lately.

But certainly you’re going to want to watch at 42:00, right after the gentlemen finish a gorgeous version of their popular song “Michigan” (which begins at 35:38) where there is a righteous, hilarious, and awkward typographical history lesson that blows my hair back as much as the resonant harmonies and instrumentation of the songs themselves. Y’all, this rock concert takes a break to discuss the etymology of the word ampersand. It goes off the rails a bit before “Snake Eyes,” but I don’t care. Both men are irresistible: funny, talented, soulful, and a bit shy. I think I’m in love.

And if the glorious per se discussion piques your interest, listen in on their Portland Sessions.

A wonderful friend asked me as I drove her to dinner the other night, “Why are you playing this depressing hippie music?”

Now, she might be one of the best humans who has happened into my life, but she totally misses the point here. Aside from the fact that I love, love, love depressing music, for I do. The Milk Carton Kids, however, are cheerful, hipster acoustic folk, not depressing hippie music. Remarkably wordy, funny, compelling, and dreamy.

Duh, anonymous friend. Duh.


*Yes, I know an ode demands a lyrical stanzaic structure quite different from this Teen-Beat-esque post. But I don’t much care. I’m tired, there are ligatures, and I’ll be damned if I’m pretentious enough to actually compose strophe, antistrophe, and epode about my music crushes. And I wasn’t going to get much traffic with “Ekphrasis on Erudite Concerts.” Just let me casually title my posts and get back to singing in my car, would you please?

Sweetest sounds

I’m taking a poll in my house (unfortunately I’ve only been asking one person, but now that I have you, the pool might expand a bit…)

Which is the sweetest sound:

a) Early morning, birds singing, cats stretching; the bedroom door across the hall opens. Tiny feet pat softly into the bathroom. Lid goes quietly up, and moments later a faint tinkling means the first battle of the day won’t be one. You can hear the sound of your own back cracking as you stretch, sigh, and wait for the feet to continue their journey to you.

b) The din from the next room distracts you, makes you anxious, bodes poorly for your ability to blink much. You’re pretty sure there won’t be a nap. There’s been banging and crashing and yelling and singing and self-negotiating going on in the bedroom ’round the corner as you sprint to check email, write a blog post, proofread an article, find the best price online on organic crackers, and upload pictures so you can make a picture-filled Mother’s Day gift for the five women in your kids’ lives. Suddenly you realize it’s *still* in the other room. Not calm before the storm still, but blissfully, restoratively quiet. Options expand before you and the shoulders you have come to believe are glued to your ears drop, silently, effortlessly to their rightful place atop your clavicle.

c) Large feet stomp out of the room. Drawers slam, a door is swung wildly on its hinges, then all stops. There is a pause. The same feet walk, slowly, placed carefully one before the other until they are quite near you. A gentle voice, disarming in its difference from the hollering nasty voice of moments before, asks, “Please tell me you’re not blogging this.”

As my college roommate purred, “can’t we have both?” Or all three? Do we have to vote for just one?

You’re welcome to add your own favorite sounds. Please do. I’d love to hear them (or, more realistically, read your description of them. Because I ain’t coming to your house to listen to you uncork your favorite bottle of “help me get through to bedtime”. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care.)