This has probably been the busiest four months of our married lives. We kicked off this run in May, when we traveled to Tampa, Florida to visit my dearest Uncle and Aunt. We mostly spent our time talking and eating my uncle’s outrageously delicious food (homemade bread! pizza! pasta!).
My uncle is about ten years older than I am and as a kid, I had a giant crush on him. He was so handsome, I used to moon over his high school portrait. One summer, we were visiting my Mom’s Ohio family. I was probably seven and he asked me to go for a ride in his car. I was thrilled. I saw this as the first of many dates leading to marriage. (Was this not normal on my part? Maybe not). As we drove along, I reveled in our budding relationship. I knew there would be talk (our age difference, and that pesky blood-relative thing), but I didn’t care. I felt alive. We pulled into a driveway to pick someone up. I wondered if another couple was joining us, or perhaps a friend of his. He asked me to hop in back, and his sweet, cute girlfriend climbed into the bench seat next to him. I was, I kid you not, devastated. Being the very big person I am, I have forgiven them and love them like crazy. And, I finally found a prince to call my own.
In between eating and talking and looking at old family photos, we drove to Ocala to visit the 800-acre Thoroughbred breeding facility, Bridlewood Farm, where we saw a newborn foal take his first few steps, and we met lots of beautiful babies.
From Florida, we headed to see my Mom in Wisconsin. She’s doing so much better, it seems like a miracle. We spent ten days moving her from the nursing facility into independent living. She is going on outings, making new friends, going to exercise class twice a day, reading her bookclub’s selection on a Kindle, taking art classes and laughing every day.
Next up, we headed down to Los Angeles to babysit our oldest’s three kid’s for eleven days while she and her husband traveled for his business. I would’ve married my husband within six weeks of our blind date and I love him more every year. But seeing what he’s like as a grandfather makes me love him more than I thought possible. Fun-loving, totally present, altruistic, optimistic, patient, strict, even-tempered, strong, athletic and smart, some of my friends call him “the baby whisperer.”
Given that my Dad and step-Mom live close to the grandkids, I was able to spend some really quality time with them as well, which was a rare treat.
We came home and I competed in a local horse show with my handsome horse Metro, and had a ball.
The week that followed was magical. This year we hosted “Gigi and Patrick Camp” for our niece by leasing a wonderful horse for her to ride every day. She improved quickly by riding so often, and she and Bear were cantering courses by the time she went home. My heart bursts with joy to watch how well she is doing and how much she enjoys these moments.
The day after our niece left, my mother-in-law Betty arrived for a wonderful two-week stay. During that time, we celebrated her birthday. Born on the fourth of July, her mother told her that all the fireworks and parades were for in honor of her big day, and she believed it for years. I love that story. We had all three kids, their spouses and six grandkids up for that weekend and everyone pitched it to make it perfect.
The interesting thing I notice is how many of my childhood memories spent with my grandparents are tied to food. My Italian grandmother on my Dad’s side made nutroll, poppyseed roll, pigs in blankets, pizzelle, spaghetti and meatballs, angel food cake to name a few of my favorites. My Mom’s mother made homemade noodles, coconut cake, mountains of mashed potatoes, and pies. They each worked on these dishes for HOURS and days. I find myself trying to do the same thing by creating food memories for our grandkids. I made homemade strawberry ice cream (a total flop), peach cobbler (insanely delicious), white chocolate dipped fudgesicles, pork carnitas, shredded chicken tacos, caprese salad, rosemary roasted potatoes, chocolate chip cookies, Pillsbury cinnamon rolls (OK, I know that’s cheating) and I forgot what else. They liked the desserts, but mostly just wanted to play in the vineyard and eat hotdogs.
Next up, I attended AltSF, a blogging conference in San Francisco in hopes of learning how to do all of this stuff better. It didn’t offer quite as much hands-on help as I need, but it was delightfully inspiring and I learned lots just from the smart young women in attendance. I plan to attend next year with all the new Sonoma blogging friends I have yet to meet. It was hosted by the stately Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill in San Francisco. Go visit if you haven’t. It’s a historic landmark and the art decorating the walls had me captivated.
Days later we were off to Laramie, Wyoming to visit my brother and his family. We flew into Denver and made the gorgeous two hour drive into the real West. Located on the high plains between the Snowy and Laramie Ranges the town rests at about 7,100 feet of elevation.
In many ways, it’s like a step back in time to less crowded, wilder days.
But it is full of young, hip, socially conscious outdoor-lovers and offers more vegan, gluten-free and organic restaurants than we have in groovy Northern California! People are incredibly kind and while the climate is not for sissies, it’s a wonderful spot.
From Laramie, we drove back down to Denver to attend a family wedding and stayed in our favorite spot, the Hotel Teatro. A beautiful mountain ridge was the site for the ceremony and the bride and groom created a fun, personal and outdoorsy four-day celebration for everyone.
Two more horse shows finished up July and kicked off August. My horse Metro is the fulfillment of all my childhood dreams and I love every moment I have with him.
This long update of our summer brings me to one conclusion. Life is whizzing by. Watching my mother struggle with the challenges of aging has been heartbreaking, and I struggled with depression for months, but it has served to teach me that I do not have forever. Even if I live to 110, I will lose the ability to do many of the things I adore doing today.
I’m working every day to savor each moment. I am not always great at it. I still don’t meditate, or keep a journal, or blog as often as I’d like, or cook or make jam, or meet new people or exercise, or write enough letters to friends and loved ones, but I am trying.
How do you do it? How do you slow down to capture memories out of this whirling life so full of details and lists? I’d love to know. Tell me your stories.
That was a great summary. I think we debriefed on all of it except the Ocala Horse Farm (how did you leave that out!?). Perhaps each one of us should keep a diary of highlights, as you did so nicely here, so that we remember the specific things to be grateful for. Everyone’s been saying, “where did the summer go?” But it went the way of all summers, full of sweet times with family, and watermelons, and trying to remember what we did, and wishing it could last forever.