where I’ve been

It’s been a busy summer, especially with three weeks teaching at a music camp, and then last week we had the luck and privilege of renting a house on beautiful Lake Michigan in which to stay with friends and family.

Husband’s daughter and son were there for half of the week, First Son and Only Daughter were there the whole time.  First Son made the trip from Cleveland via Greyhound. Text message: “I’ve become really good at discouraging people from sitting next to me.” My reply: “Do you pick your nose and mutter to yourself?” Response: “Only when I’m competing with someone particularly scary sitting across from me.” Plus Husband’s brother and family all the way from Vancouver Island and my bff Jackie and her family from Chicago – a friend who’s more like a sister, who I’ve known since 1987 – stayed the whole time. Second Son had band recording sessions and gigs, and no gas money to drive back and forth, so we missed him. Maybe next year.

It was a beautiful week, and so much fun to spend it with so many people we love. I had a gig the first three days, so drove back and forth from the beach to the gig, and was sad about missing some of the fun. But we took turns preparing delicious meals, drank gallons of wine as well as the occasional gin and tonic or margarita, took dune rides that were “just like roller coasters,” and went horseback riding. Well, the kids and I and Husband’s brother went horseback riding, the rest of the derelicts adults snuck off and went wine tasting, apparently because they were being plagued by someone mowing the grass — at least that’s their story and their sticking to it, but we find it a little suspicious that this wasn’t mentioned BEFORE the horses strolled off in their well-ordered lines. And be careful about telling the “Wranglers” that you rode a lot as a child — I ended up on the biggest horse in the corral, with a back as wide as a Volkswagen, and had some serious knee issues by the time we got back. The woman tells me, at the watering trough, “You can get down now” and I think “Not so much.”

Okay, so he doesn’t look that big in the picture. But the stirrup was at my shoulder, and I somehow managed to a) put my foot into it and b) hoist myself up without falling in a heap in the dust or putting my back into spasm. This is a big accomplishment for me, who thinks of any form of exercise as something I should do more of, but would really like better if it weren’t strenuous or painful in any way. And the woman did not lead us by the bridle the entire time. Just so you know.

Stepdaughter and First Son have become close friends, especially because they coincidentally ended up at colleges 40 minutes apart. What was really fun for me was watching First Son entertain 4 girls 10 and under after Stepdaughter had to leave — countless card and Monopoly games, taking them out to the furthest sand bar on their little rafts. He is so much older than Only Daughter — 21 years old to 10 — that I believe he will just be a faint memory of her childhood, and it was nice that they had a week to hang out together.

There was also a fair bit of Girl Drama. We won’t speak of it here, except to wonder why it seems so necessary, everywhere. We did learn at camp that the Intermediate Girls division is now bigger than all of the boy’s divisions put together, which required the institution to hire extra psychiatrists. I’m not making this up.

I digress.

Of course, there was no Wifi, and my iPhone could only pick up satellite signals about half the time, so we were basically cut off from email and texting and phone calls. This was frustrating once in a while, but really nice for the most part. The hardest thing about coming back to Reality was how much stuff needed to be dealt with on such a persistent basis. I’d really like to live my life more like how so many of the Italians we met do — friends, family, good meals, LIFE! I feel way too much of my time is spent chasing the clock and answering incessant emails and dealing with people who don’t treat me with civility or respect. They probably have that problem in Italy, too.

My bff Jill couldn’t come for dinner on the night we invited other friends for because her elderly and somewhat addled mother fell and broke her arm in two places and apparently spent some time lying on the floor either too injured or too confused to call for help. This is sad. One of the friends who did come for dinner also has an elderly mother in the hospital, waiting for a stay in rehab. My mom is fighting two kinds of cancer simultaneously, which really sucks. I guess we’re all at that age, now, but I don’t want to be. I guess not wanting to be of a certain age hasn’t really been proven to be an antidote to aging, which is really too bad. Something should be done. I’d like to be 43 again, for a really long time.

When we got back there were mountains of laundry to do, and a fridge full of questionable food remains and nothing edible, and then our cat escaped and was missing for four days. I have a pile of mail, although this pile is garbage

and this pile needs to be dealt with.

What’s up with that, anyway? What a waste of resources — fuel, paper, stamps, time. I even started a facebook page once (Stop Sending Me Crap, feel free to join; I think there are 11 “likes” so far, so apparently not a movement that’s spreading like wildfire. Even if it should.) because I got so disgusted by the number of catalogues and unsolicited solicitations. Do we really need constant reminding of all the stuff we can buy that we don’t need?

Only Daughter and I walked all over the neighborhood yesterday putting “Have You Seen This Cat” flyers in people’s mailboxes. It was hot, and really humid, and I stupidly wore flip-flops so ended up with a really bad blister and had to walk the last 1/2 mile back barefoot. We got home rather disheartened, as much by the fact that of all the doors we knocked on, only 2 people answered, and one of them wasn’t really all that friendly. And no sign of Sophie the Evil Cat (she’s a heroin addict, except for the heroin is yarn) anywhere. While we were walking around I looked at the map of our neighborhood on my iPhone and realized there was this little side/private street that bumps up right against “our” woods, so when we got home I printed up a few more fliers and drove there. I noticed that some of my piano students who live on that road were home, so went and knocked on their door, and lo and behold, the mom had just gotten an email from someone down the road who had a Siamese meowling in their garage for the last 3 days, so I drove over there and found her in their back yard. She (the cat, not the mom, that would be weird) then spent the night causing mischief and lurking in the hallway for me to trip over on my countless trips to the bathroom fighting some weird stomach bug I still haven’t fully recovered from.

Also this week I took Second Son shopping to outfit his dorm room, and Only Daughter clothes shopping for fashions appropriate for a 5th grader who is 10 going on 20. (I have to stop saying this, because now, when people ask her how old she is, she says “10 going on 20.” Sheesh.)

The latest questions from her include: Do I ever worry about going out in public when I have a pimple, and, Am I proud of having big boobs. (I don’t, except maybe compared to hers, and I keep telling her they’re only called “boobs” if they’re fake and mine certainly are not. Anyway.) As part of the “appropriate” clothes shopping I bought her a “training” bra. I don’t really know what we’re training here — is there an Olympic event I don’t know about? Do breasts need to do some kind of conditioning or they come in all misshapen or flabby? It’s basically a tank top that ends at her midriff, but she’s wearing it under everything now, and asking me how often she needs to wash it. (She’s also quite convinced that she needs to start using deodorant, but the only thing she ever smells like is shampoo or cranberry juice.)

So here we are. Summer’s over, the academic year looms before me, we all keep getting older, and I renew my vow to grab time for the big important things and not waste so much energy on the little unimportant ones.

I’ll let you know how I do.

1 Response to “where I’ve been”

  1. 1 jill
    August 25, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    Sounds like a very fun week at the cottage. Wish we could have made it. The good news is Mom is back to her usual level of addledness and making progress with her arm.

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