#DearJerry

Ran into some old friends...

I didn’t go to the Dear Jerry show at Merriweather expecting to see The Dead. Those of us who enjoyed those shows, back in the day, know they can’t be replicated. No, I went to this show because I do really like the songs and I like so many of the artists who were performing.

Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann’s Billy & The Kids, Bob Weir, Allen Toussaint, Buddy Miller, David Grisman, Eric Church, Grace Potter, Greensky Bluegrass, Jimmy Cliff, Jorma Kaukonen, Los Lobos, Moe., O.A.R., Peter Frampton Railroad Earth, The Disco Biscuits, Trampled By Turtles, Widespread Panic, Yonder Mountain String Band And Communion Featuring Phil Lesh, Stu Allen, Grahame Lesh, Ross James, Alex Koford, And Jason Crosby

And I also went – maybe most of all went – because Andrew wanted me to.

Here’s my review in bullet points. I’d elaborate, but I’m very tired (it was way past my bedtime) and I have work to do. But, if I don’t do this now, I won’t do it. So here goes:

  • Beautiful weather and I always love Merriweather. It’s pretty and they have enough bathrooms. And the food doesn’t suck too badly.
  • Our seats were great. I almost got crabby about the guy infringing on my right, but he backed off with the infringing.
  • At one point, I wanted to sit down and needed to nudge him. I said something like, “Feeling old, need to sit a minute. Can you excuse me?” And he replied “Well, for tonight, you’re not old.” and made way for me to sit. I had two thoughts: 1) I walked straight into that ugh and 2) Who says that? I assume he meant get in the flow and feel the youth and energy but what came out was, you can pretend you’re young for a night but, you actually are pretty old.
  • At about the beginning of hour 3, I started to become aggravated with my pavilion neighbors singing badly over the bands.
  • Not everyone sitting near us smelled fresh.
  • O.A.R. was amazing – probably my favorite.
  • Seeing Jimmy Cliff was incredible.
  • Loved Grace Potter on Friend of the Devil.
  • Someone said “Far Out” to me. I had no idea that anyone still said that.
  • If you drop your water bottle on the floor, it’s over. Because there are so many water bottles on the ground, choosing one is like Water Bottle Roulette. I chose to stay parched.
  • It’s fun to get out and do something different – especially smack-dab in the middle of the week. Shakes things up.
  • We saw so many old and new friends. Love those girls in the photo above; some I see semi-regularly. Some? It’s been years.

Setlist

Set One:

Communion with Phil Lesh: The Wheel > Uncle John’s Band, Standing On The Moon, Liberty
Allen Toussaint with House Band: Get Out Of My Life Woman
David Grisman with House Band & Sam Bush: Shady Grove
Peter Frampton with House Band & Bill Kreutzmann: (I’m A) Roadrunner
Buddy Miller with House Band: Deal
Jorma Kaukonen with House Band: Sugaree
Jimmy Cliff with House Band: The Harder They Come
Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Dave Schools, Bill Kreutzmann & Jimmy Cliff with House Band: Attics Of My Life intro > Fire On The Mountain

Set Two

Billy & The Kids: Help On The Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower
Disco Biscuits with Bill Kreutzmann & Tom Hamilton: Scarlet Begonias > I Know You Rider > Scarlet Begonias
moe.: Loser
O.A.R.: St. Stephen

Set Three

Los Lobos with Bob Weir: Not Fade Away > Bertha
Trampled By Turtles: Brown-Eyed Women
Yonder Mountain String Band: Shakedown Street
Bob Weir with House Band: Days Between
Grace Potter, Bob Weir, Matt Burr & House Band: Friend Of The Devil
Eric Church with House Band: Tennessee Jed
Widespread Panic: Morning Dew
Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann & Mickey Hart: Touch Of Grey
Most Of The Evening’s Performers: Ripple

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That fresh feeling.

Photo credit: http://www.freeimages.com/profile/sskies
Photo credit: http://www.freeimages.com/profile/sskies

Before we moved to a house with well & septic, I took flushable wipes for granted.

Yes. Let that sit a second.

Okay. So, right, this isn’t exactly dinner table conversation. But, who doesn’t want to feel fresh? As in clean? And sometimes, that toilet tissue just doesn’t do the trick.

Back in my previous life, I snickered at husband#1 for using Tuck’s. I mean seriously…. what 20-something uses Tuck’s? I secretly (or maybe not so secretly… oh my, is this a recognition of my part in the relationship problems?) laughed at this. Don’t even get me started about his desire to take long walks after dinner for digestion reasons. And on that note, don’t ask me about the gas-emissions on said walks. But I digress.

Years later, when the boys were babies, Andrew & I (like most of you) used diaper wipes on our kids. Of course we did. Who doesn’t? But then, then graduated to those toddler diaper wipes.

And you know what? They were awesome. (It’s possible that I used them, too.)

Once the boys were independently handling their bathroom issues, we started buying flushable wipes targeted to adults. (Not Tuck’s mind you.)

But then, we moved from a house with public sewage to a house with well & septic. And now? Those things would totally put a wrench in the system. And so, no more wipes.

Except.

At my gym? They have wipes in the bathroom.

I am not suggesting that I have the need at the gym or that I wait to #2 there so I can partake. But…. it reminds me.

I miss my wipes.

Who – really who??? – doesn’t want to feel fresh?

College Applications. See? I made you sweat.

image credit freeimages/iprole
image credit freeimages/iprole

I remember all those years of back-to-school shopping buying those hard cover composition notebooks. And then, my oldest son graduated to the spirals. Wide rule.

The wide rules were harder to find; it seemed as if those college-ruled spiral notebooks were everywhere. I smiled to myself knowing it would be years and years before he was ready for these grown-up books. Heck, he still had fat pencils.

Time sped by faster than I could have ever imagined and even faster than the strangers at the grocery store told me it would.

Andrew and I strongly believe that college is a wonderful opportunity to grow up and find your passions. We always hoped our three sons would go and we started saving with a 529 state savings plan when they were very small. We’ve been consistent in letting them know that we hoped that’d be college-bound some day.

Some day crept up quickly and before we knew it, Davis took the PSAT exam at school. It was 10th grade and we were petrified to start thinking about what was coming next. He was a self-starter and assured us that he was doing the SAT Question of the Day – every day. He let us know that he intended to take the ACT exam, also.

We encouraged him early to find his passion and in 10th grade, he began taking studio art in addition to his challenging AP and GT coursework. He loved expressing himself visually. Encouraged by his teacher, he found a summer program at Maryland Institute College of Art. It was hard work. But it sealed the deal. By his junior year, on the AP Art track, it became clear to us all that he wanted to pursue an art degree. But what we learned was that the resources to navigate that path were a lot less available than a traditional academic path. And we had no idea where to begin.

Somehow – probably through our school’s attentive guidance department – we found out that there was an informational session in our county for students interested in pursing visual and performing art. We learned so much and talked to representatives from art colleges and liberal arts colleges with art programs. I think that was our biggest challenge – which to choose? Art school or a school with art? How to decide? What we learned – together – was that there are pros and cons and lots of good choices. We also learned to open our minds.

And then, the real work started. Davis started a list of schools to consider and began creating a cohesive (and fabulous) portfolio. At the same time, he took the SAT and, soon after, he took the ACT. He worked with an incredible coach to hone in on his school choices and on his essays.

Oh, the essays. I was so intimidated by the essays! Article after article (and maybe I should have stopped reading so much) told of the perils of a not-so-great essay and went on to describe what a good one actually was. His coach was amazing though and, after a couple re-starts, his essay brought me to tears and also made me smile.

My husband took him to visit schools to the north. I took him to one to the south of us and to Chicago. Divide and conquer. Of the 8 schools he’d decided to apply to, we visited 5. We just couldn’t swing the time or money to see the others.

Here’s the thing. I was overwhelmed by the process. I was freaked out that my baby was going to leave and that all these details needed to be managed and that there was so much to do. But, HE managed it. He studied. He wrote and re-wrote his essays. He worked his butt off to get his portfolio ready and he set up Skype and in-person portfolio reviews with his first choice schools for input. He filled in the applications and got teacher recommendations. HE applied for college.

I was over-the-moon proud knowing that he was ready for the responsibility of GOING to college. And I was proud of him for getting into the 8 schools he chose to apply to. I can’t resist telling you that a couple of them were extremely competitive.

His decision process once he had the acceptances was easy – well, easy to get to 2 schools. I asked him just the other day (he’s a sophomore now) if he thinks he made the right choice and he thinks that he did. I think that he did, too.

Our middle son is wrapping up his essays and will be applying to 6 schools within the next couple weeks. It was a lot less daunting the second time around, but it was completely different. Our third will be applying next year. I feel confident that that will be different, too.

All a long way around to say that the college application sounds really scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Letting your teens lead the conversation is a great start. Getting great advice from a coach, the school counselor, and other terrific resources is helpful.

Don’t Freak Out! Trust me, it does NOT make it easier.

You can do this.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Kaplan Test Prep. I received compensation to write this post, and any opinions expressed are my own, and reflect my actual experience.

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.

Dresses. Boots.

This post was sponsored by the nice folks at Country Outfitters. Compensation covered the amazing Frye boots in these photos. If you know me at all or have ever read this blog, you know my love for boots did not start here and you know that my opinions are, and have always been, my own. This is also a great time to tell you that the photos were taken, edited and arranged by the fabulous Megan Evans, to whom I am very grateful for this and lots of other things. Love you, Megan!

I don’t consider myself particularly beautiful.

Nor do I consider myself particularly trendy.

I’m not saying this so you’ll comment that I’m beautiful and always look great. Seriously. Don’t. I love how I look and dress. Because, you know what? I look like me and no one else. wendy boots blue

 

When I was a teen, my brother (who was a year ahead of me in school) told my mother that I created trends. It may have been the most flattering thing I’d ever heard about myself. I did put things together a little differently. I did wear feather earrings before they were cool. (Were they ever cool?) I did make choices based on what made me feel good rather than what everyone was wearing.

And I wore boots.

Always boots.

If you want to see my 2006 boot collection, here you go. Just saying that my love of boots is not new. Not new, at all.

Last year, for Valentines’ Day, Andrew bought me the vintage red boots I’d been dreaming about. And I’ve worn them with jeans, skirts, slacks, and yes, with dresses. This is my favorite match-up.

red boots wendy And because I love this so darn much, here’s a little more of that goodness: 2014-07-10_0033

Let me talk about confidence and bare my soul. I was not a confident teen. I was scared and insecure. Maybe all girls feel that way. I don’t know. How would I know? But I remember like it was yesterday walking down the hallway and feeling conspicuous. And I remember my mom telling me I was special and that what I had was different and I should embrace it. And I tried. I tried to

    feel

special and different and stand out. Because it isn’t something anyone can give you.

And my brother (the one who said I started trends) told me way back then some of the wisest words I ever heard: act like it’s true and it will be true. (Years later, I’ve always attributed “fake it ’til you make it” to my bro.)

Boots. They made me stand out. They were different. I wore them with jeans. And with dresses. It was a little radical. At least where I lived in the suburbs.

I was the one who reached for the boots even in summer. Even if I’d never seen them worn quite like that.

Since and still, there is nothing that makes me feel as confident and as special as a fabulous pair of boots with a dress. A short dress. A long dress. A frilly dress.

 

2014-07-10_0014

Disclosure

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.

Before you brag.

photo credit http://www.sxc.hu/profile/MeHere
photo credit http://www.sxc.hu/profile/MeHere

We’re all really proud of our kids’ accomplishments. I know that I am.

I try (not always successfully) to temper my instinct to tell the world about the amazing things my boys do. And believe me, they do a lot of amazing things. I’m sure yours do, too.

A moment that reminds me to stop and think about sharing…

One day, years back, we were driving down the road in the minivan. All the boys were in the back. One of them (I’ll protect his innocence though you have a 33.3333% chance of guessing correctly) said he was going to solve the Rubicks cube and then about 30 seconds later it was done. Done! It was remarkable. He was clearly a genius.

A genius, I say!

He handed us the cube. We gushed. We blushed. It was remarkable. I was about to call my mother (on my very modern flip phone) to share the news of our prodigy.

And then we realized he’d peeled off the stickers and re-placed them.

And then. We were glad we hadn’t called anyone and bragged. But secretly we were really pleased at his life skills. That he figured out how to most efficiently reach his goal of having each side of that darn cube be color coordinated.

I have to say that he’s gotten quite good at solving the cube in the ‘traditional’ way. But there is nothing wrong with being a little scrappy in this life. In fact, I have big respect for people who can figure out how to problem solve.

So yes, we were still proud. Just different proud.

1963 vs 2013

photo credit sxc.hu miguelima
photo credit sxc.hu miguelima

It’s 2013 and I’m the mother of three teenage boys. You probably know that. If you don’t, I’ll tell you – my guys are 14, 16, and 18.

They are incredible. They’re absolutely perfect and can do no wrong and I love them exactly how they are. And I am not saying this because they sometimes read my blog.

At any rate, if you’re a mother or if you’re not, you must know that life has its challenges. Personally, I was stunned by the depth and breadth of physical challenges when the kids were younger and now that they’re older, the emotions and worry and to-the-core wholeness of the experience are mind-boggling sometimes. Well, often, actually.

As I was mind-numbingly surfing Facebook the other day, I saw my friends and my friends of friends and my acquaintances and my acquaintances of acquaintances sharing their minor and not so minor – and even really major experiences, fears and challenges. Some were hysterically funny. Some, frightening and frankly overwhelming,

I read the statuses and looked at the photos. I made some comments and clicked a lot of like buttons. A lot of like buttons. (I do think though that like isn’t always the right word, but that’s a conversation for another time, I suppose.)

I understood some of what these women shared. But some, I could never understand. I could be a friend, I could care, but I couldn’t really understand. Not all of it. But I could be a friend.

And these women? They’re always there with a like or a comment for me when I need it. You know?

But how was it for moms back in the day?

Sure, they talked on the phone more than we do. I imagine that my mom and her contemporaries had people to talk to and a great circle of confidants. But what about that 10:00 pm frustration? Who was there then? Or what if she had no one in her local circle with similar experiences? Who could relate?

We’re so immersed online, it’s easy take it for granted. But you know what? We’re lucky as can be. We can find our tribes – people with similar experiences – and people who are there for us any time night or day. The only cost for entry is caring back.

Progress. One stroke at a time.

photo credit orah - sxc
photo credit orah – sxc

Sometimes you set out to do something with a specific goal in mind. And sometimes, the actual results are surprising.

Several years ago, I was in the best shape of my life. I was strong. Thin, but not too thin. I went to the gym at least 5 times a week. And I felt great.

And then, I started having some weakness and pain in my left arm and shoulder. But I was busy and in denial and I did nothing. Well, nothing except exactly what I’d been doing. And then, one day it was worse. I’m sure it was getting worse all along, but it seemed that all of a sudden, it was a real problem. A real problem – as in I couldn’t fold sheets anymore. I couldn’t pass a dish at the table. I couldn’t do a lot of things.

And so, I finally went to my primary care doc. And she was alarmed by the muscle atrophy in my shoulder. My doc never is alarmed. And I found this alarming. After a myriad of tests and specialists, it was clear that I had some major cervical disc damage. So I started going to physical therapy and I worked and wished. And yes, I wished that it would get better, but I also wished I could go back and deal with this earlier. But too late for that.

And then, in 2011, I had the surgery.

Basically, it sucked. It was harder than I expected. I was depressed. And I was never going to be the same. But, life got back to normal. Kind of.

I got back to the gym as soon as I was allowed. Twice a week.

And I did my stretches (still do). But my life was markedly less active. I was just less comfortable than I wanted to be and couldn’t find my way to just push it. I wouldn’t say I became a potato, but I would say that I became a homebody. I guess that’s a nice way of saying I became a potato.

Time goes so fast. It’s not as if I realized I’d been doing so little for so long. I thought about all the active things I wanted to do. But I just didn’t do them. (And meantime, I wondered why my neck still was stiff and I was still uncomfortable. Hmmmmm.)

I looked at all the class schedules for the village and for the community college. I thought about yoga and thought about biking (I even got my bike tuned up) and thought about all sorts of things. And then, one day I saw there was a summer swimming class for stroke improvement and endurance at the community college.

I’m sure I wouldn’t have really signed up, except I said it out loud. In front of my teens. And at that point, I was sort of committed. Know what I mean? And so, I actually did sign up.

I was petrified. I hadn’t done any real swimming since my mid-twenties. And that is a heck of a long time ago. Like half my life ago. But I sucked it up. And I went.

I’m on week 3. Class is twice a week. And a couple of things have happened so far. First of all, my swimming has improved a ton. I’ve gone nearly 3 miles since I started (combined, not each class) and my stroke is so much better. Every class, I’ve gone farther than the time before. And I’ve gone to swim on my own outside of class, too. I know, crazy. But the other thing that has happened is that I’ve met these amazing women. It’s not a big class. There are maybe 8 of us. And we all came in at different skill levels and with different motivations, I’m sure. But I look forward to seeing everyone. And I quietly cheer on the classmates who have really pushed it and are doing great (you know who you are!) and I’m excited for the young woman who’d doing her first tri in 2 weeks and I’m worried about the woman who’s dad is in hospice and you know what? It is so much easier to drag my butt there because I feel like we’re all in this together.

I expected to be on this journey alone. But I’m not alone.

And you know what else is unexpected? I feel good. I feel energized. I want to do more. I’m walking more and getting out more and walking away from my computer more and I finally feel like I’m getting better – as in back to me.

And I’m really proud of myself.

Who know’s what’s next? If you could see my search data (and we all know that someone does!) you’d know that I did a search for beginner triathlons today. Is that my goal? Probably not, unless I plan to walk the run. But, I feel like my options are opening up.

And it’s incredible.