Sunday, September 29, 2013

This is mine.

He'll catch me just looking at him, sometimes, and ask me "what?" or make a face at me or toss a pillow in my direction to get me to stop. But when I look over and see him there, when I look over and know who and what and why, I am completely undone. There is security and comfort and ridiculous joy and immeasurable love so deep you cannot see its outer edges. I never did a thing in my life that I should find myself deserving of all this rich blessing and yet. Yet there he is, this man.

And sometimes I just have to stare at him, in silent disbelief, with a heart overflowing in gratitude. This is mine. My very own happily-ever-after.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

TV Loves and Hates: September 28, 2013

Disclaimer: Some shows I watch live and with others, I tend to be fairly behind on my tv watching. Even so, consider the fact that there could be spoilers ahead. All I can do is lead in with the show and episode. You read at your own risk!

**(How I Met Your Mother, S9E1 "The Locket," S9E2 "Coming Back") The Mother, The Mother, The Mother! I love her addition to the show! She fit in seamlessly with Lily when they met on the train. I think she is adorable. And that "flash-forward" scene, showing her and Ted a year later and back in the lounge at the hotel where Robin and Barney are having their wedding, finally together was so darn *sweet*. ::happy sigh::

**(Unforgettable, S2E7 "Maps and Legends") The sniping between Eliot and Jo is awesome. Conflict didn't work between Carrie and Al last season; they're far more suited to casual flirtation.

**(Mom, S1E1 "Pilot") I really like Nathan Corddry. So I kind of hope he's a nicer guy than he came off in the pilot.

**(The Middle, S5E1 "The Dropoff") Bed Bath and Between. HA!! This show always comes up with the greatest "alternative names" for places. Also, Axl's palm tree and sand? Nailed it.

**(Chicago Fire, S2E1 "A Problem House") I can't think of a more appropriate title for an episode of this show about the firehouse version of Seattle Grace/Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. Seriously. Now they/Severide are being targeted by a serial arsonist, while the house is on the brink of being shut down *and* there's a mole lurking? Not to mention that Severide may be tricked into thinking a baby is his that isn't, leaving Shay out in the cold for a baby of her own; Dawson *still* can't seem to decide between Mills and Casey; Casey is caught up with the widow of a fallen fire fighter who just got arrested for drunk driving; and Mouch is going to run for Union President. *Way* too much workplace drama...unless you work for a problem house.

**(CSI, S14E1 "The Devil and D.B. Russell") Fourteen seasons in and this show still makes me gasp when it's on track. Never suspected Ellie, so when she shot Morgan, my mouth hung open.

**(Last Man Standing, S3E1 "Back to School") Kristin and Ryan are back. And still annoying.

**(Low Winter Sun, S1E3 "No Rounds") I could have really used a violence warning on that opening scene when they cut (no pun intended) directly to that guy's foot getting sawed off. Sheesh. You have to prepare a girl for that sort of thing!

**(Dexter) It is really difficult to avoid series finale spoilers when you've only seen the first five episodes of the final season and you won't get to finish it until after Christmas. I can't reasonably expect people who've watched not to discuss it, but what about some spoiler warnings!

**(Low Winter Sun) Why doesn't anyone question just how much time Frank and Joe spend in the bathroom with the door locked, considering how much suspicion is on Joe in this IA investigation?

**(The Bridge, S1E11) How does Ray Childress manage to not get himself killed? He keeps making supremely stupid decisions -- like poking around the executed people in a drug dealers' den instead of getting the heck out of there in double time -- and yet, somehow, he remains alive.

**(The Big Bang Theory, S7E1 "The Hofstadter Insufficiency") Why do I always fall for Sheldon's dreams? ::smacks forehead:: A Kraken.

**(The Middle, S5E1 "The Dropoff") How much do you suppose the actor playing "Kenny the roommate" got for that performance in which we never heard a sound, other than computer noises, or saw his face? Do you suppose that was actually a human being or just some sort of prop?


Friday, September 27, 2013

Five Things on Friday: September 27, 2013

Five Baseball People the Game Wouldn't Suffer For If It Had More Like Them

Some of them no longer part of the game, some who will be poignantly missed on the day they last step off the field, be it a planned retirement or an unfortunate and unexpected departure. By no means a comprehensive list (poor National League, I just am not as exposed to them, so they don't spring as readily to mind) and in no particular order.

1. Dustin Pedroia - We talk about players who play hard every day, but he brings it all: intensity, love for the game, determination, ridiculous smack talk, fierce competition. And what's more, he leaves his entire heart and soul right there on the field. If you gave me a team of Dustin Pedroias, I can promise you a team that would never be boring to watch.

2. Jim Leyland - He's the gritty, gruff sort of old-school manager that I appreciate. He's completely unpolished. The sort I imagine strikes the perfect balance between taking no crap from his players but also unquestionably has their back. Hardened and leather-faced, but when his team wins the division, he wipes away tears, not at all unaffected, regardless of the number of times he's managed them into the post-season. He's not the only type of manager that I can appreciate, but he's my favorite kind to watch.

3. Mike Lowell - They can't all be Hall of Famers, but there is something about the consummate professional. The quiet guy who shows up and does his job. Who laughs easily in the dugout and who makes the game look easy on the field. He won't put up monster numbers year after year, but he'll be steady and reliable, on the field and at the plate and in the clubhouse. (The slow-burn smile isn't a bad bonus either.)

4. Jim Joyce - An umpire who, like any of the rest of us, will make a mistake, but *unlike* most of his colleagues, will own his mistakes and strive to call a fair game, a good game, a consistent game. He doesn't show a power trip or alter his strike zone from pitch to pitch. In fact, other than his good, clear, loud strike call, you can almost forget he's there: a necessary and crucial piece of the puzzle, but not the one that we're there to see.

5. Mariano Rivera - The very definition of class, of competitor, of talent. He commanded respect from everyone in the stands, including the fans of his team's greatest rival, as surely as he commanded his signature cutter. Never a bad word spoken by or against him. Never a question that he took a moment of it for granted. Never a doubt that he played the game properly and with integrity, the way it was meant to be played. Professional to the core but not to the point that he took himself too seriously. He was only serious when it was time to close it out, fans and players of the opposing teams cringing to see him stirring in the bullpen. A special tip of the cap to Mo as he finishes the final season of a storied career. A first ballot Hall of Famer or Major League Baseball is doing something terribly wrong.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cooked with love.

Creating each dish links me to a long line of mothers and grandmothers who, often unacknowledged, bound their families together with the ritual of food. (Kathy Seal)

I feel like food is one of those multi-sensory experiences that becomes inextricably wound into the stories of who we are. I can tell you about my Gramp's favorite summer meal or my dad's favorite pie. I can talk about the days I spent in the kitchen with my Gram, helping her to measure or stir. There are funny stories, like the time my high school boyfriend's mom (dear, sweet lady) experimented with a grits quiche. (Seriously, the only inedible thing I ever remember being served during the many years I was a guest at their family dinner table.) There is the inexplicable appeal of The Christmas Tree Cookies. The orange Jello salad with the crushed pineapple and shredded carrot that Gram always made for Easter. And a hundred other snippets I could include, and then this would be a cookbook without actual recipes.

For months now, I've had a taste for something that I couldn't shake. My Gram used to make pickled beets fairly regularly. I hadn't really thought about them in ages, but once the memory surfaced, it hung on like a burr to a woolen sock. You know the kind of craving: the kind that won't go away until it's been satisfied.

So, after much procrastination, which I later realized was a concern that I'd fall short, I set to work in an attempt to recreate Gram's pickled beets. (Cue the flood of "Why didn't I pay better attention and ask more questions?" self-berating.) New recipes can be intimidating at best, if only because you have no idea if the actual recipe itself will be to your liking, no matter how well-executed, but add in that emotional rider and I still had to eye those beets in the refrigerator crisper drawer for a week before I actually put them on the kitchen counter with intention.

As I chopped and boiled, poked and sliced, measured and stirred, I thought of her. I thought of thousands of meals at her table. Dinners served that reflected the seasons and the produce readily at hand. Dishes made because someone she cherished loved them best. The way she knew I liked my veggies a little more firm than she served, so she'd pull mine out early and set them aside, special, for me. As I moved methodically through the recipe's instructions, I communed with my memories and I smiled, knowing, *feeling* that she loved me as much as I do her.

I still feel like the recipe needs a slight tweak (perhaps a different type of vinegar?) but when I took a bite of the leftovers, it settled over me like a cozy blanket: it was close enough to make me feel linked to my Gram through the ritual of food. Even though I could have asked her a thousand specific questions I never thought to, she imparted to me the Golden Rule of her kitchen: cook with love.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Seven years ago today, the Pacific Ocean lapped at my fingers, so different from the Atlantic I'd known all my life -- more foamy and grey than blue, always a little rough and rocky, a bit more brooding than its western sister -- and I fell in love with it. There is something about the pull of the Pacific that calls me back to visit regularly. There is no question that I am where I belong, an East Coast girl, but the Pacific remains my paradise and my escape.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Photo-a-Day: Week 38


Sunday, September 22, 2013


1. What first tells you that autumn is here?
Back-to-school, crisp days and brisk nights, and a smattering of color appearing among the green leaves. The Mum Festival parade and apples ready for picking and The Big E. Now that I live in Florida, though, I rely on the calendar, the arrival of pumpkin muffins and donuts at Dunkin', and the way my summer-weary self grouses over all the proclamations of beautiful weather plastered all over Facebook and Twitter.

2. Name your five of your favorite distinctively autumn habits or customs.
Switching over to autumn-scented Yankee Candles. Breakfast dates to Dunkin' that include something pumpkin-flavored. Forming my plan of attack for Epcot's Food and Wine Festival. Planting fresh mums in my flower garden. Fewer blonde highlights in favor of a darker, warmer color.

3. What is your favorite smell of autumn?
Anything spicy mixed with apple, pumpkin or vanilla.

4. What is your favorite taste of autumn?
Any sort of baked good that is apple or pumpkin. Although to be fair, I would happily eat those flavors at any time.

5. Favorite autumn memory?
Road-tripping with my dad through the Catskill Mountains to Cooperstown.

6. What is your favorite part of autumn?
In New England: the colors and the weather. In Florida: the arrival of Food and Wine Fest.

7. What's your favorite quintessentially autumn food? Least favorite?
Favorite: warm apple crisp with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Least favorite: tie between pecan pie and mushy winter squash.

8. Go-to autumn beverage?
Hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick.

9. Least favorite/most annoying thing related to autumn?
There isn't one in New England (see this favorite quote of mine by George Eliot: "Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."), but in Florida, it is most definitely that it's still. flipping. summer. And I am over it.

10. Place you'd most want to be in the autumn: the lake, the city, the beach or the mountains?
Hmmm... assuming there are trees around the lake, I'll go with that because the only thing better than autumn foliage is autumn foliage reflected in the surface of the water.

11. Your absolute dream autumn day would be:
Somewhere deep in New England at the peak of foliage color. The day morning would be brisk and include a stop at Dunkin' Donuts. The day would be cool enough for long sleeves but warm enough that I don't need a jacket. There would be plenty of time spent outside. And I'd have my camera close by. There would be a spectacular sunset, and then I'd need a sweater and my cheeks would be rosy as we watched a high school football game with mugs of hot apple cider warming our hands.

12. If you could go anywhere on vacation in the autumn, where would you go?
Anywhere that has autumn color would be fine with me, but even better if it's some place I haven't been before. (How is it that I don't know where else gets all that glorious color??) *Or* to Fenway Park to see the Sox play in the post-season!


Saturday, September 21, 2013

I Watch TV: 2012-2013, Finale: Other Networks

And finally, there are all the random shows are random television stations.

List shows watched:
AMC - Mad Men.
Showtime - Dexter.
CW - The Carrie Diaries (new).
TNT - Dallas. Monday Mornings (new).
Bravo - Top Chef.
FOX - Fringe. The Mindy Project (new).

1. Best overall show of the television season? 
Fringe. One of the shows I've enjoyed most over the past few years. Kind of a surprise for me, because it's a genre of tv that I'm not typically drawn to.

2. Most overall disappointing show of the television season?
Dexter disappointed me in the fact that I only got five episodes in before the great CBS-Time Warner Cable staring contest and now I'm stuck waiting for the rest of the final season until it's released on DVD. Of those I watched, though -- or should I say *attempted* to watch -- that would be The Mindy Project, which I gave up on after three episodes.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) show of the television season?
Monday Mornings. I didn't know a thing about the show until I saw it promoted during an episode of Dallas. I watched it on a whim and was hooked.

4. Show(s) you recommended to people most this season?
Mad Men. Dexter. Fringe.

5. Best new show of the season?
Monday Mornings.

6. Show you most anticipated this season?
Fringe. Final season and all that jazz. I had no idea if the new direction they were going would work.

7. Favorite character(s) this season?
Peter Bishop (Fringe) - Nailed it with the emotions.
Sally Draper (Mad Men) - Gosh, she's come into her own.

8. Least favorite  character(s) this season?
Bob Benson (Mad Men) - Left me unsettled all season.

9. Most memorable character(s) this season?
JR Ewing (Dallas) - C'mon. Larry Hagman was *classic* in this role. Plus those eyebrows were an entity unto themselves. Rest in peace, Larry/JR.

10. Best new character this season?
Young Carrie Bradshaw (The Carrie Diaries) - Anna Sophia Robb was spot-on *and* adorable.

11. Any specific episode(s) that stuck with you?
"An Enemy of Fate" (Fringe) - The way they wrapped up a story that, at times, seemed unable to allow happiness made *me* happy. Plus, they gave a nod to so many episodes throughout the series. Well done!
"In Care Of" (Mad Men) - I am still so mad at Ted Chaough for how he treated Peggy. So mad that I have to call him by his first and last name. I'd middle-name him too, if I knew it.

12. Favorite comedy from this season?
Well, the only comedy on this list got cut from my DVR schedule so...

13. Favorite drama from this season?
Fringe. It's good to be given a satisfying goodbye from an old friend.

14. Best season finale?
I like the way Fringe wrapped the series up, but surprisingly, I thought it was The Carrie Diaries that ended the season on just the right note.

15. Did any shows end this season
Fringe - Went out on a good note.
Dexter - Although the season is in a holding pattern for me.
Monday Mornings - Sadly, canceled, which is a shame because it was probably the best new show nobody watched. Likely because no one knew it existed.


Friday, September 20, 2013

I Watch TV: 2012-2013, Finale: NBC

Tackling NBC today. Remember when NBC had all the best shows?

List shows watched:
Revolution (new). Deception (new). Parenthood. Whitney. Law and Order: SVU. Chicago Fire (new). Up All Night. 1600 Penn (new).

1. Best overall show of the television season? 
Parenthood. It blows everything else on NBC out of the water.

2. Most overall disappointing show of the television season?
1600 Penn. And that's saying something in a lineup that includes Up All Night. 1600 Penn was truly unwatchable.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) show of the television season?
Parenthood. Mostly because they went the route of "character with cancer," but didn't make it depressing. They kept it feeling real and sometimes humorous and Monica Potter just hit a grand slam in her role as Kristina Braverman.

4. Show(s) you recommended to people most this season?
Parenthood. If you're not watching, you're missing some excellent television.

5. Best new show of the season?
It was slim pickings. Revolution, I guess, but only because it showed some hope for improvement in the finale. Talk about a show that had no idea who it was all season though. Wow.

6. Show you most anticipated this season?
Parenthood. I look forward to it every season. The Braverman clan is awesome.

7. Favorite character(s) this season?
Everyone on Parenthood, end of discussion.

8. Least favorite  character(s) this season?
Everyone on 1600 Penn, but most especially Skip. Made me want to claw my ears off.

9. Most memorable character(s) this season?
Kristina Braverman (Parenthood) - Seriously, she should win awards for that performance.

10. Best new character this season?
Hank Rizzoli (Parenthood) - I found Ray Romano endearing in this role. Yes, you read that correctly.

11. Any specific episode(s) that stuck with you?
The entire season of Parenthood. Do I sound like a broken record yet? Sorry.

12. Favorite comedy from this season?
Whitney. Yeah, I know, I know. But look what I had to pick from. And it actually got better...right before it got canceled.

13. Favorite drama from this season?
Repeat after me: Parenthood.

14. Best season finale?
Shockingly, Whitney. It got an ending that really made me happy.

15. Did any shows end this season
Deception - This show just...I wanted it to do better but it just couldn't get there.
Whitney - I don't know why NBC can't find really good comedy anymore. They used to be so good at it!
Up All Night - Man, did *that* fall apart quickly.
1600 Penn - Thank. God. This show was a disaster. It was not funny. It was obnoxious and annoying.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

I Watch TV: 2012-2013, Finale: CBS

Moving rapidly along to CBS, as I feel the new season breathing down my neck...

List shows watched:
The Good Wife. The Mentalist. How I Met Your Mother. Rules of Engagement. 2 Broke Girls. Mike and Molly (new to us). CSI. The Big Bang Theory. Person of Interest. Elementary (new). CSI:NY. Blue Bloods.

1. Best overall show of the television season? 
Person of Interest, although I wrestled a bit with the decision.

2. Most overall disappointing show of the television season?
Rules of Engagement, with its too many annoying characters problem, although the first half of Elementary vexed me tremendously.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) show of the television season?
Elementary, or rather the second half of the season. I was so aggravated most of the first half that I fully expected it to continue down the same annoying path. And then it didn't.

4. Show(s) you recommended to people most this season?
The Big Bang Theory, always good for a laugh, and Blue Bloods, because it's not just a crime procedural. Also? Tom Selleck.

5. Best new show of the season?
Ha. Elementary. Not much competition there!

6. Show you most anticipated this season?
Blue Bloods. It's comical how much I look forward to watching characters get "Danny Reagan-d."

7. Favorite character(s) this season?
Amy Farrah Fowler (The Big Bang Theory) - Truly, she somehow makes this show even better.
Frank Reagan and Danny Reagan (Blue Bloods) - They definitely make my personal top three list. They seem so...real.
John Reese (Person of Interest) - I can't figure out if they write his character to be so humorous or if that's just how he pulls it off, but I love it.
Alicia Florrick (The Good Wife) - She really came into her own this season.

8. Least favorite character(s) this season?
Russell Dunbar (Rules of Engagement) - Ew.
Oleg (2 Broke Girls) - Also ew.

9. Most memorable character(s) this season?
None really stand out as extraordinarily memorable more than any other season. Just favorites and decidedly not favorites on CBS.

10. Best new character this season?
The mother!! (How I Met Your Mother) - I realize we've only glimpsed her in the final seconds of the season finale, but THE MOTHER!!!

11. Any specific episode(s) that stuck with you?
"Death of a Client" (The Good Wife) - John Noble's guest appearance was fantastic! He is such a charismatic actor.
"The Parking Spot Escalation" (The Big Bang Theory) - Sheldon, sitting naked in Howard's car. I just can't even!
"The Closure Alternative" (The Big Bang Theory) - I was howling with laughter as Sheldon slowly lost his mind while Amy tried to break him of his need for everything to have proper closure. Even more, when, after her departure, he went through and finished everything left undone!
"Snow Angels" (Elementary) - I can't even say for certain what was so memorable about this episode, except that it resonated with me on a very sensory level. Not so much the plot of the episode but the way they captured the "feel" of the blizzard.
"The Final Page" (How I Met Your Mother) - The Barney and Robin proposal!! So perfectly them.
"Something New?" (How I Met Your Mother) - I loved the reveal of Ted's house and his open vulnerability and all the things Lily said to him.

12. Favorite comedy from this season?
The Big Bang Theory is still my favorite current comedy, across the board.

13. Favorite drama from this season?
Tough call, because there are some favorites here, but I think Blue Bloods takes top honor.

14. Best season finale?
The Good Wife floored me with the last two minutes. When Alicia rushed out of the after party, I expected it to be yet another meeting with Will, *not* Cary!
How I Met Your Mother, because, hello! THE MOTHER!!

15. Did any shows end this season
Rules of Engagement - After a lot of foolishness and eye-rolling, the series finale was actually pretty sweet.
CSI:NY - My personal favorite of the CSI franchise, I was happy that they gave the crew a good wrap-up. I hate when a show, especially one that I've watched from the start and that continues for several seasons, gets unceremoniously canceled without proper closure.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I Watch TV: 2012-2013, Finale: ABC

Ack!! New shows are starting!! How did I not wrap up *last* season yet?! Actually, I know exactly how: I got confused by this new trend of running original programming over the summer now, so I can't tell where the season should end! I've decided on September through August as the television season...*but * should that be shows that start by the end of August or shows that have finished by the end of August?! I don't know. And now it's mid-September and my DVR schedule is filling up with season premieres and I am being all Libra, hemming and hawing over a decision. So. Shows that had their finale by the end of August it is!

Let's start with ABC...

List shows watched:
Once Upon a Time. Private Practice. Body of Proof. The Middle. Modern Family. How to Live With Your Parents (new show). Last Resort (new show). Grey's Anatomy. Scandal. Motive (new show). Last Man Standing.

1. Best overall show of the television season? 
Wow. ABC has some of my favorite shows, so this is tough. I think it would have to be Scandal. I love that it's different from everything else I watch. I love the script and the acting. I love that I am invested in the characters. It's a great show.

2. Most overall disappointing show of the television season?
How to Live With Your Parents. (Also wins for worse show title, maybe ever, especially since that mouthful is the truncated version.)

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) show of the television season?
Grey's Anatomy. It's faltered a bit the previous couple of seasons and it started out...questionably. But somehow they made me care about the characters again. That was a pleasant change in direction.

4. Show(s) you recommended to people most this season?
Scandal, for sure, and Once Upon a Time, for those looking for a show that's well off the beaten path.

5. Best new show of the season?
Last Resort. Unfortunately, it wasn't the type of show that would ever stand a chance on Network television. It needed to be picked up by a Showtime or even an FX. 

6. Show you most anticipated this season?
Oh, without a doubt, Scandal. we got a seven-episode teaser for season one and I was dying to know how season two would play out!

7. Favorite character(s) this season?
Meredith Grey (Grey's Anatomy)I always love me some Mer. I loved her even more this past season as she navigated pregnancy and buying the hospital.
Olivia Pope and President Fitzgerald Grant (Scandal) - Holy on-screen chemistry. Swoon.

8. Least favorite character(s) this season?
Kristin Baxter and Ryan Vogelson (Last Man Standing) - Could there be a more annoying couple on tv? Because I'm not convinced there could be. I could tell you how much I would like any given episode of this show based on whether or not these two bozos made an appearance in the opening scene.
Julian Tatham - How to Live With Your Parents. Princess Aurora - Once Upon a Time. Whoever the heck "Greg and Tamara" are - Once Upon a Time.

9. Most memorable character(s) this season?
Huck (Scandal) - There is something so haunting -- or maybe it's haunted -- about him.
Brick Heck (The Middle) - Can't even tell you how many times we do a "Brick whisper."
Peter Pan (Once Upon a Time) - One word: creepy.

10. Best new character this season?
Tommy Sullivan (Body of Proof) - I wasn't sure how I would feel about him joining the cast but his chemistry with Megan Hunt just worked.

11. Any specific episode(s) that stuck with you?
"Seven Fifty Two" (Scandal) - If I'd done this season wrap-up sooner, or at least started making notes as the season progressed, I might have a few more to add, but even without thinking hard, the backstory for Huck was so heartbreaking, there's no way it wouldn't have stayed with me.

12. Favorite comedy from this season?
The Middle - Made me laugh far more often than I expected and I really liked the stories they told for Sue and Axl.

13. Favorite drama from this season?
Scandal - I just can't say enough good things about this show.

14. Best season finale?
Oof. Scandal, by a hair, with a major bombshell. Last Resort was a close second, as it wrapped up the story in a way that felt like closure.

15. Did any shows end this season
Private Practice - It was time for this one to wind up. I thought the ending was satisfcatory.
Body of Proof - I'm a bit disappointed they only gave this one a single chance with the new cast. I liked its chemistry. They did give it a good finale though, so there's that.
How to Live With Your Parents - Not a shock that this one only made it one season.
Last Resort - Sad that this one didn't get the opportunity to shine. It had so much potential.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Photo-a-Day: Week 37


Saturday, September 14, 2013

When the light found me.

A long long time ago, I had of what my life would look like. As if I were clairvoyant. Somewhere along the way, I got derailed. I watched those dreams extinguish, not in a puff of wispy smoke, but in that slow way a flame dies as a candle's wax is used up, shrinking smaller and smaller, until it is nothing but a glowing ember at the tip of a spent wick, and then it simply fades to dark, giving up its final hope of regaining life. I floundered. I spun in slow motion. I was directionless, as I watched new characters play the role I'd thought was mine. It was disorienting. The path I had put myself on had crumbled beneath my feet. I gave myself up for lost. I felt spent, used up. I wish I could say I wandered, but I couldn't even manage that.

I felt inferior. Cast aside. Yanked back by words that played on a loop in my mind, words probably meant harmlessly but that mocked me, chanting quietly, making me feel "less than." I hurt in a way I couldn't even properly identify. I masked it in anger but I knew otherwise. When you love deeply, you feel deeply, all of it. And most especially the hurt. I allowed it to carry me into places I never should have ventured. Places even darker. Places even more hopeless.

But even in that darkest of places, my happy ending was flickering to life. I just didn't know it yet.

There have been four significant relationships in my life, and if the first was my heartbreak, then the second was the unfortunate rebound, the one that deserved better and that, in hindsight, I would feel a sense of horrifying remorse and defeat over the way I acted. The third was my undoing. And the final is my final, the one that put my back together, piece by piece. The one that makes me light and grateful and wide-eyed with amazement. The one that is my greatest triumph over every dark place I've ever been. But if not for the three before it, maybe I wouldn't have this profound appreciation for this gift I've been given, this amazing grace of being wholly loved, despite my scars and my insecurities. If I didn't know how it felt to hurt in that way that makes it difficult to breathe, if I didn't know how it felt to cause pain and then live with it on my conscience, if I didn't know how it felt to be lost, well, then, perhaps I wouldn't see clearly how it is to feel my heart healed, to be aware of the privilege of being entrusted with the fragile heart of another, to know how it feels to be found.

Gratitude is a funny thing. It surfaces in the most unlikely places in our stories. The things you think might just kill you -- your spirit, if not your body -- become the teachers of precious lessons. We're told "without darkness there can be no light." I grappled with that for a small eternity. But it wasn't until the light flooded back in that I was able to see its meaning. It is not lost on me that my husband lists as his favorite quote: "When darkness is at its darkest, that is the beginning of all light." (Lao-Tzu) Indeed and how appropriate, because at the darkest of my darkness, he arrived, the beginning of all my light.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Photo-a-Day: Week 36


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Right Now: September 7, 2013

watching: The Red Sox score 54 runs over 4 games. The only word I can think of to accurately describe how this makes me feel is astonished.

drinking: A Pepsi tonight. Advil didn't kick that vague but annoying headache I had. Caffeine to the rescue. 

wearing: Light khaki-colored cargo capris and a Red Sox tee. Standard at-home attire.

eating: T's homemade beef jerky. The garlic-and-cracked-peppercorn is my favorite.

listening: To the Rays game while I blog. You know what they say: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

avoiding: Just the heat and the summer cold some of my co-workers have been passing around.

wishing: I could figure out what I did to my right foot/ankle. It isn't enough to slow me down or anything, but I can definitely feel it is unhappy about *something*.

feeling: Like I could use a vacation. Must power on though.

missing: My Gram and Gramp's house.

thankful: For a day spent with my husband. He makes me laugh like crazy. Also: SPF100.

craving: San Francisco weather.

wondering: If I just heard some thunder.

praying: For a couple of friends who have been hurting a lot recently. I hate that I can't fix what they're going through. 

needing: To plug in my cell phone and iPad to charge. Both are flashing me low battery warnings.

thinking: That it's about time to head to bed with my book. I'm almost done with it. I am also kind of tired after spending a good portion of the day at the beach. 

dreaming: Of finding the perfect things to start hanging on the walls of our home.

loving: The 2013 Red Sox. Nothing illustrates just how much was missing from the 2012 season as the embarrassment of riches -- not just the wins, but the enthusiasm and the heart and the never-say-die attitudes and the way this team very clearly enjoys being together -- we've been treated to this season. It has been a balm to my baseball fan's soul.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013


What with all my moaning and groaning about summer -- six months lamented every year, like clockwork, I know; I'd be apologetic if I had any energy remaining to dredge up anything remotely resembling sincerity but alas -- it may come as quite unexpected that I haven't always begrudged summer its very existence. It begs questions, not the least of which being, why on earth would I choose to live in this state of endless summer at all? (The other six months, friends. Truly.) Summer in Florida is not for the faint of heart -- though it may cause you to *feel* faint of heart, as the temperatures soar and the humidity levels keep pace. You haven't lived (or questioned yourself for choosing to live in it), until you see a temperature of 92 degrees with a matching humidity reading. I choose to contain myself in a climate-controlled bubble for as much of  June, July, August, and September as I can reasonably get away with, and my venturing forth during May and October is rather limited, though not to the point of actual hibernation.

My whining and I digress.

I was saying, I haven't always sighed heavily at the approach of summer, back when summer was about ten weeks long, stem to stern, and carried the promise of no school and zero responsibilities. The days stretched out before me, long and lazy, in the best possible ways. They were filled with blue sky and shady trees and fireflies and garden-to-table veggies. We didn't have air conditioning, but for those five really oppressive days in early August, we could endure with a couple of oscillating fans and copious amounts of lemonade in glasses that dripped round rings of condensation on the picnic table. The mornings brought dewy grass, perfect for bare feet. The evenings left windows open to the serenade of crickets. And afternoons scared up the occasional thunderstorm, rumbling in its approach and leaving a cooler reprieve in its wake.

The worst torment of summer was the wasteland of boredom (foolish child!), wondering what school friends were doing. Surely something far more entertaining than I. (I recall listening to tales of family vacations to Florida with some amount of jealousy. Irony, yes?) (Also, why did those parents hate their children? Who vacations in Florida during the *summer*??) Church was sparsely populated. All the other social activities revolved around the school year -- everything from coffee hour to Sunday school, babies to hold in nursery to "special" music during the services -- and summer was quiet, outside of the crackle of ladies fanning themselves with their bulletins and the un-muted whoosh of traffic noises on West Street on the other side of the opened stained glass windows, in the hopes of procuring a breath of a breeze for which to thank God. The days were uneventful and meandering, filled to the brim with nothing in particular.

Despite the sticky bare legs on the church pew and the longing for peer interaction, the hiatus of summer was crammed with abundance. Gram made such summer-only delicacies as "bacon and lettuce" (Gramp's favorite salad for lunch -- he would pack away plates of it, light and fresh, after working the land all morning long) and tomato salad, which was little more than slices of juicy garden tomatoes topped with a few slivers of onion (I'd pluck those off the top and leave them on the serving dish, something I have outgrown) and some thinly sliced crunchy bell pepper, all swimming in her own homemade vinaigrette (with bacon bits! I was enthralled by the bacon bits), mixed in the little plastic measuring cup with a long handled spoon. (That measuring cup had discolored with age and use, and its handle was cracked, but I believe Gram kept right on using it just the same, never replacing it.)

The summer days of my childhood were good. Memories ripe for picking, just as I picked ripe blueberries by the handfuls back then. I miss that, the not loathing of the summer. I've been seeking some silver lining to the relentless Florida summers I have chosen to inflict upon myself, but not finding any success. I like silver linings. I like to find that snip of positive, that whisper of something about which to find myself smiling with a little joy. Thanks to a high school classmate, I think I've finally named it:

The sunsets born of the heat and humidity are something to behold, the sinking sun warming the daily storm clouds still settled along the horizon after they've rained themselves out. I doubt I will ever embrace it (or give up muttering about the one-hundred-percent humidity pressing down on me yet somehow not raining), but with beauty like this, I could allow myself giving in to frequent reminders of a way to come to terms with my nemesis, the summer.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Photo-a-Day: Week 35


Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day To-Do List

1. Breakfast date with my husband.
2. Stop at Publix for chocolate chips and elbow noodles.
3. Fantasy football live draft.
4. Clean the bathrooms and floors.
5. Watch the Red Sox game.
6. Bake chocolate chip cookies.

Monday? This week, you win.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: August 2013

A photo of me:

1) Candle scents* this month:
Seaside Holiday. Storm Watch. Oceanside. Juicy Peach. Napa Valley Sun. Summer Scoop. Pink Sands. Sweet Strawberry. Honeydew Melon.

I love burning fruity scents during the summer. I feel like I'm walking through an orchard or a farmer's market. I equally love burning "beach-y" scents, though I'm not much of a beach-goer. But sometimes you want something that smells like fresh air and water and thunderstorms and a hint of sunscreen. That large jar of Seaside Holiday has been hoarded in my candle stash for the past several years, because it's an old, discontinued scent. I knew when I burned it, that would be the last of it (until the next time they bring it out of the archives for a limited release). I cannot tell you how many times I stopped to smell that candle as it glowed merrily in the evening in our bedroom. The jar is empty now (it was followed by a big jar of Pink Sands), but I can safely say I enjoyed it right to the very end.

2) What I am reading this month (you can find me on Goodreads!):
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Alan Bradley) - I really enjoyed this one. It's the first in a mystery series that takes place in England in the 1950s. The main character is an eleven-year-old girl and she's feisty and bright, giving the book a unique voice. I've already added the rest of the books to my to-read shelf. Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot (Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard) - I am far from obsessed with the Kennedy family, but I enjoy learning more about history and the style O'Reilly and Dugard use really brings it all to life in a way no history class ever has, for me. I liked "Killing Lincoln" better, but still enjoyed this one. I will absolutely read any others that get published in the future. World Without End (Ken Follett) - After reading the other two, I got back to this one. It's the second in the series, and I really enjoyed the first one. For the first two-thirds of the book, I thought I was going to like "The Pillars of the Earth" much better, which was disappointing, but then the last third of the book *really* wrapped things up well, with a great twist. I also grew to like the two "main" characters quite a bit. There was one question left unanswered, but it was a minor point, and wouldn't have had any bearing on the outcome; I just wanted to know. I recently learned that, after he finished the book he's currently writing, the author plans to do another book in this series. I am excited! So B. It (Sarah Weeks) - Labeled as "young adult" (but, hey, there are some great young adult books out there!), I thought this book had a rich enough complexity to give an adult some things to chew on as well. Not the least of which: "Sometimes people lie because the truth is too hard to admit." Sad and sweet, it was the story of a young girl who wants to know her personal history, but along the way, learns some valuable lessons about life. It was a fast, easy read, which I needed after the epic novel I read before it, and I'm glad I read it. And now I am working my way through something very different: Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game (John Sexton).

3) Top three songs I was drawn to:
1. The Change (Garth Brooks) 
"But it's not the world that I am changing
I do this so this world will know
That it will not change me"
2. Made to Be Free (Tim McMorris)
With each season comes a turn, for things to change, to start anew
They did for me, and things can change for you too
3. All My Days (Alexi Murdoch)
Now I see clearly
It's you I'm looking for
All of my days

4) Movies I saw:
No movies. Just baseball and DVR.

5) Calendar image for the month:
Biding time, calendar. This image makes me think you're summer-weary too.

This is one of my favorite signs at Fenway Park. However, I am partial to my own image from back in 2009.

6) New recipes tried this month:
Lasagna Soup. Blueberry Muffins.

7) Restaurants where I ate:
Tutto Gusto (Italy pavilion, Epcot). Five Guys. And a Dunkin Donuts breakfast date with my handsome husband, who clearly knows the way to my heart.

8) Five things I am loving this month:
1. This quote: “Here’s to gratitude and how it turns everything into enough.” (Emily Loerke)
2. Fresh plums. Sweet fruit contrasting tart skin. And that gorgeous color.
3. Jake Peavy made his 300th career start, when he pitched for the Red Sox on August 25. In honor of this, he pledged to donate $300 to the Jimmy Fund for every single strikeout recorded in the game -- by either team! I think that was kinda cool.
4. Editing my photos on PicMonkey. I find that site to be so much fun!
5. Only two more months of summer left.

9) Three goals I had this month and three goals for next month:
1. Tackle all the September issues of my magazines as they come in -- and after the slim summer issues, this will prove challenging! -- as well as finish the lingering August issue (Better Homes and Gardens) and another five issues from The Stack gone to recycling. (::hangs head in shame:: I have gotten through only three September issues, but I did send a solid ten out with the recycling in August, so there's that.)
2. Attempt to recreate Gram's pickled beets. (Seriously. Why am I so reluctant to get this one done?)
3. Get the DVR current, once and for all, before new shows start up in earnest in September. (I win at this one! The DVR has only two episodes of television on it and both of those episodes aired within the past week!)

1. September *and* October issues of my magazines perused. Five issues from The Stack out into recycling.
2. Make the pickled beets.
3. Find a lamp I like for the living room, since the last of the furniture for that room is being built as week speak! We're going from two tables and a wooden tv tray to three tables that will match each other and the entertainment center and bench. Right now, there are two matching lamps, but a third coordinating lamp must be procured, now that there will be a third table sturdy enough to hold it.

10) Something I learned:
A whole bunch when I read Killing Kennedy. I love reading about historical events. It's like people-watching across time! For example: I had not idea just how many health problems JFK had or just how mopey LBJ was or that MLK's great "I Have a Dream" speech almost flopped until he became dynamic and started speaking off the cuff at the end, which is the part we always hear. Fascinating stuff!

11) The best part of this month and the worst part of this month:
The best: A day at Epcot, despite the fact that it was silly, crazy, stupid hot. I've been missing WDW (I do all summer, when I almost never go), so it was a fun treat to venture over there and hang out with one of my best friends for a while.
The worst: This CBS-Time Warner standoff. We finally relented and canceled Showtime, because we've missed so much Dexter at this point. We'll just wait for the DVD now. We have the whole series on DVD, so it's not like we weren't going to buy it anyway. But still. Thanks for nothing.

12) A photo I took this month:
A Florida summer storm rolling in. The contrast is just so incredible to me! I couldn't resist playing with several variations on it. (That first photo? Barely edited; just the white balance, which I could *not* get right in the camera, not the way my eye was seeing it! The sky really is that dramatic!). These ended up being my two favorite, so I kept both.

*All scents are Yankee Candle, unless otherwise noted.


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