The view from here.

view
I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Clearly, I have been doing something other than writing here, right?

I started this blog on January 17, 2005. Ten years ago.

Ten.

My kitchen was green and white – country-style – as it was when we moved into it sight-unseen late summer 1999.

My business was growing, but I was unsure which direction it was going.

My sons were 9, 7, and 6.

I read bedtime stories every night. And loved it.

I was a little freaked out about being over 40.

I baked challah every week.

Andrew and I had time together every night after 7:30 pm. Except poker night. On poker night, I went out, bluffed, and laughed with my friends.

I blogged nearly every day.

This place. This blog. It’s been a wonderful escape and a way to express myself. Back then, it was a way to connect with the world outside my world before we all were so very, very connected. I’m grateful for so many things and so many people – and among them, my earliest ‘fake’ friends, Lori, Jenne, Leah. They, and so many others, made my world bigger. And better.

I think we all knew where this online thing was going… and that we’d be here – where we are now – at some point. Maybe we didn’t know exactly what was coming. But maybe we did.

So, I know what you’re thinking. “You’re quitting, right?”

No. Not right.

I’m just introspective. Ten years have passed and my life is unrecognizable.

My sons are 19, 17, and 16. The oldest is in his second year of college, the middle one starts this fall and the youngest will go fall 2016.

If I read at night, it’s to myself.

I’m sometimes a little freaked out about being over 50. Right now, I’m a little freaked out that my baby sister is turning 50 in a couple days.

I bake challah and pies and French bread and you-name-it all the time.

My kitchen – and my home – suit me. Perfectly. It’s a peaceful, happy place.

My business is growing and I’m learning and challenged every day.

Andrew and I get a little quality time each day, but as the boys get more and more independent, we have freedom we barely remember ever having before the kids were born.

And contrary to my expectations, I’m not sad that they’re independent and busy. I’m excited for them and love who they are and who they are growing to be.

My life has changed. That is true.

But it’s going swimmingly.

I’m not quitting my blog. I’m recharged.

Creating Quality Time With My Son and a Power Sander

table

Originally published July 15, 2014 at the fabulous TueNight.

I love junk. I like old stuff. Interesting shapes. Putting together odd combinations and using items for something other than what they were intended to be used for.

I was also an obsessive flea marketer and garage saler before it was considered stylish. (Is it considered stylish?) I was an upcycler before upcycle was a word.

My husband, Andrew, is an enabler like no other. He humors me on early weekend drives while we follow signs to the next sale or as I pull out my phone to scope them out using iGarageSale and Garage Sale Rover. My teenage sons? They tolerate it. Sometimes.

My oldest son just finished his freshman year of college. He’s an art major. He’s quiet and he likes his solitude. But I really wanted to figure out a way to spend time with him — something that involved a shared goal.

And then it came to me! This kid has the best taste. He’s always decorating his future home in his head, and I am often the delighted recipient of links to gorgeous furniture he’s found online, as well as unusually beautiful ensembles and fabulous homes. Plus, my son knows his way around tools. The natural conclusion was that we make a sofa table together. I’d been looking for one for some time and could not seem to find what I wanted. And much to my joy, when I asked if he would help, he was all in.

So one Saturday not long after, when my fabulous sister-in-law Liz asked me if I wanted to go barn sale-ing, I jumped at the chance. And I brought my son along, too. We took measurements for the table and started the hunt.

We found an old door at our first stop, which was a cute vintage marketplace called Sweet Clover. The piece was leaning unobtrusively against the wall with a $50 price tag. It had lots of personality, in addition to lots and lots of splinters. But hey, we have a power sander.

Fifty bucks seemed a little steep, especially in light of the fact that we were simply planning to take it apart and use a third of it, but before we even had a chance to haggle, the vendor told us she was pulling all her merchandise out that day and “how does $30 sound?”

It sounded great. Sold.

The door fit easily in the minivan and the three of us talked about what kind of legs it might pair well with as we drove home. We decided to order midcentury iron pin-style legs from eBay that night. And the next day, my son and I started disassembling. We pulled nails. We struggled to get the rusty hardware off. It wasn’t easy, especially since we wanted it to stay intact so we could put it back together once the wood was finished.

We sweat. We cursed. We cut wood. Together.

My son and I thought about finishes and tested different ones. We strategized and struggled. We cursed more. But we sure did laugh. And it’s amazing where the conversation can go when you’re not trying to make a conversation.

And did I say we sanded? Oh yes. We sanded and sanded and sanded. Then came the polyurethane and even more sanding. And more poly.

Then we put it all together.

The result was the best five days of my summer. We didn’t just make a table; we made a memory.

New Riders of the Purple Sage

Weinberg Center
Walking past the Weinberg Center in Frederick the other day, I remembered going to see the New Riders of the Purple Sage. We got a flat tire on the way to Frederick. Was André driving? Joe? I can’t remember, but I do remember walking to get help. It was cold. Very cold.

And we didn’t have cell phones because it was February 1979. Here’s an ad for the show:

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 2.48.46 PM

I need to remember that my parents let me go at 17 with friends to a concert an hour away. With no contact method. We had a problem and we solved it.

It’s a great reminder now that my guys are making bigger and bigger asks.

Bedtime stories.

Books

If you were to ask me what I miss most about my boys’ younger years, I’d be quick to tell you I miss bedtime.

No, not because the days were long and I was exhausted. (Though the days were long and I was exhausted.)

No, I miss bedtime because there is something magical about reading those stories again and again with a child. I loved the giggles and the drowsy eyes and the questions. I loved the cuddles and the long hugs. I loved the “one more thing” as I was leaving the room and turning off the light.

I loved transitioning from picture books to chapter books. I loved moving to young adult books. And then, they didn’t want us to read to them anymore. It was gradual. I don’t remember exactly when it ended.

But, I miss it so much.

I’ll tell you this, though. All my guys know the surprise ending of Dinsmore and none of them would ever stand on a swivel chair and they all know how to make Mrs. Peters’ birthday cake.

Sitting at the bottom of the pool.

Diving Helmet
Diving Helmet

When I was a kid, I was a swimmer. I was on the JCC team and we’d swim miles a week. It was hard, I remember, but I loved it. Sure, I occasionally vomited from swallowing too much water and sure, I hardly ever won a race. Still, I loved it.

I loved the quiet of it. I loved how the thoughts in my head were all mine and that I could think – really think – without the outside world or any other thoughts or sounds peeping in. Being underwater was this peaceful place that I owned.

When I was around 10 or 11, my family built a pool in our backyard. We’d swim all day long when it was warm enough, though no one had the stamina of my sister who would do laps until someone made her stop for dinner or bedtime.

So speaking of quiet and being underwater, my dad bought this diving helmet. It was just like the one pictured here. I looked it up:

This helmet was produced in the USA in the 1970’s. In those days it was sold for $49. It was used together with a 12 Volt or 110 Volt air compressor.People used it for fun in their pools or to inspect their boats. It is in fact a modern shallow water helmet that needed extra weights.

We would take turns putting on the heavy helmet and walking into the deep end and hanging out there. My father did it best; he’d take a folding chair with him and set it up the deep and and sit in the quiet. The only sound was the air coming in through the tube at the top.

We were talking about this the other day and he told my boys about the time that my brother wanted to get his attention and pulled on the cord – ala Jacques Cousteau – and disconnected the air cord. It’s funny to laugh about today, but imagine sitting there minding your own business at the bottom of the pool when the water starts to pour in. Scary! And that thing was heavy. (Obviously, my dad was okay and he laughs like crazy when he recounts the story.)

Next week, I start a swim class. It’s been 25 years or more since I really swam. (I used to swim laps back in my advertising agency days before work.) So this class is a stroke improvement and endurance class and I figure, I have no place to go but up. Thinking of the days when I could swim miles without even blinking, I wonder if I can make 10 laps without major effort. But we’ll see.

I am looking forward to the quiet.

Sunday in Paris

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No offense to you curling fans out there, but I find it very amusing to be in a hotel room in Paris watching the sport in German on TV while keeping my sick son company as my husband and other 2 sons venture out to a nice dinner. Aside from snacking on the amazing baguettes we picked up earlier, I plan to order the Japanese dinner from room service. And finish the bottle of wine Andrew & I started late this afternoon after my solo field trip to Marais. What an adventure.

This morning, I hung back with the sick one when the rest of the guys visited Versailles. They loved it. And afterward, I took them to find a pharmacy & to a really nice (and very French/not touristy) lunch.

Now, I’ll look for a pay-per-view movie to watch with the kid – assuming I can bring myself to switch the channel from the curling.

Jumping for joy.

wendyjumping This is me at Blissdom last year. Alli took the pic. And I love it.

In 3 days, I’m jumping on a plane and headed to Dallas. Yes, to Blissdom! I’m having a tough time deciding what I’m most excited about:

  1. Seeing old friends
  2. Making new friends
  3. Teaching/speaking about Using Data for Creative and Impactful Marketing
  4. Hearing Chris Mann sing
  5. Seeing C.C. Chapman speak about Living An Amazing Life
  6. Sleeping in my own room (Sorry, Andrew. But, it’s just 2 nights!)
  7. Offline time with some of my Cabot colleagues

If you see me there, please say hello!

Life’s a beach.

Wendy & Amy Sanibel 1978
Today is my sister’s birthday. Yay!

My mom took this photo of us in 1978 in Sanibel, Florida. Years later, my sister (who is a photographer!) did something to it to make it look like this. She sent me a framed copy. These days, we see stuff like this all the time via Instagram, etc. But when she did this, it was really different. And awesome. I’ve had it on display ever since.

I love you, Amy. Happy Birthday.

xo

You know what sucks?

vacuum cleaner

Are you ever doing something totally mundane and get a memory flash? Well, that happened to me yesterday and it was so odd and funny to me. Let me back up a sec.

We have a new shower. It’s lovely, really lovely. Did we plan to get a new shower? No, we did not.

At any rate, the construction of this shower had a few rippling effects. One: The house got really, really dusty and dirty. And that is not to say that the crew didn’t clean up after themselves. It’s just dirty stuff. Two: Rosemary, who cleans our home bi-weekly, couldn’t come last week because of the construction. Why am I sharing all this? It’s a long way around to telling you that I spent a good part of yesterday cleaning the house. It was filthy. Filthy.

I scrubbed and rubbed and cleaned and vacuumed.

I don’t know if you vacuum your hard floor surfaces, but I do. Our vacuum allows us to turn off the brush so the wood floor doesn’t scratch. It’s nice. And it does a better job than sweeping. So, I vacuum, then use a Sh-Mop to dry mop, and then go back over it again with the Sh-Mop and Method Squirt & Mop.

So I did a lot of vacuuming yesterday. Hardly the most exciting news of all time. But when I finished, I was exhausted. Burned out. Numb. And, without thinking, I started wrapping the cord.

No, not in just an oval. But around and around and crisscross and crisscross and around and around. And the plug hit in the wrong place. Know what I mean? It hit so I couldn’t connect it to the cord to make it stay. So I unwrapped it and tried again in a different pattern.

I just wanted the plug to hook onto the cord.

And that’s when I had the vision. The vision of wrapping the cord on the Hoover that we used growing up. I did that same thing. The around and around and the crisscross and crisscross and around. All with the same goal as I had yesterday; to get the plug to stay put.

It was just so weird that I had this muscle memory, this automatic action.

Who does that? Are you an all-around wrapper or a crisscross wrapper? Does your plug just fly in the wind or connect to the cord?