Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Naked Lunch

I haven't been this excited about doing something in our home in a long time!  After the birth of our daughter last March, renovations have slowed to a crawl.  We have the kitchen mostly completed, but there are the little things that get left until the end and sometimes never get done, especially when you have a husband who really doesn't mind minor things, like mismatched light switches and gaps in the trim.  Five years ago or so, my brother found an amazing set of vintage diner signs for sale on the side of the road and bought them.  I was living in Miami at the time, but I made him promise to save me the other half of the "Lunch" sign; I would find some way to get it, I vowed.  He now has his own sign hanging in his family room; these are like our version of two halves of a "BFF" necklace.

Fast forward a few years, and we're now living in an old farmhouse in Michigan, with the Lunch sign stored in our barn.  My husband claimed he didn't like it, but I suspected that it was more that he was overwhelmed by how we would hang such a large, heavy sign.  In my former life, I worked for an art services company that, among many things, hung artwork for museums, galleries, etc., and one of my favorite tricks is hanging heavy things with a cleat.  You cut a piece of board to fit behind the object, screw it into the studs, then hang your objet d'art from the board.  In this case, we cut a piece of 1x4 oak that we had in the barn, then screwed the sign directly to it through some holes that were already in the sign.  It looks like it was originally lit by roping a strand of lights around each letter with some broken clamps that I removed when I was cleaning the sign.  I love the idea of adding lights back to it someday, and using it as a nightlight for the kitchen.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Fragrance of Peonies

Up until this summer, I have been hesitant to cut flowers to bring into the house.  Part of the reason was that I didn't know how long the blooms would last in a vase, and another part of me felt that flowers should be left outside to grow.  This year, I realized that we have an abundance of flowers, and clipping a few really wouldn't do any harm.  Earlier this summer, I cut some sprigs of lilac and loved how our home filled with the sweet fragrance.  We also had a few hydrangea branches that were almost as short-lived as the lilacs, and pretty, but no scent.  Tonight, I risked being devoured by mosquitoes to cut an armful of peonies before several days of predicted storms, which ruined our peonies last year.  When I first walked into the house with them, I dumped them in our farmhouse sink, and loved the way they looked, spilling over the edge.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Those annoying people who think their kids are so cute...

Yes, I am one of them.  And I can't help laughing every time that my four-year-old son says that he "bomb-ed it" when he means that he "vomited".  Maybe it's just that it's so rare now that he gets something wrong - gone are the days when he pronounced "sandwich" as "flatherch", said apples as "appoos", and called our dog Good Girl, because he thought that was her name.  He used to say that the moon must love him, because it followed him wherever we went.  Once he told me that the crescent moon must be really hungry, because it was so thin now.  It was months later that I made the connection: a full moon and a hungry moon.

Now, he knows the truth about so many things that I wish he didn't.  He tells me things that make me angry and break my heart and make me despair that I am an inadequate parent.  He asks for toys and video games and candy and ice cream and soda and all of those things that I have to remember I longed for, too.  He refuses to wear the expensive clothes and shoes that I buy him, things that my own parents could never afford, claiming that they're too tight or too loose, too long or too short.  He tells me that he wishes I would leave our family, then cries when I go into the bathroom and he thinks I've gone.  He tells me that he is a frog, then a baby cow, then a king, then a dinosaur, and when I find him asleep in his bed, he has wrapped one of my sweaters around himself, the arms of it encircling his tiny body like a phantom hug.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jeffrey

It's been a few years now, and I suppose it's finally sinking in that you will not somehow reappear or just call me to talk, and that I will not miss you less and my heart will not stop breaking each time I think of you.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to write about you this year, because sometimes it's easier to avoid the memories.  Still...

When my husband and I were married in Greece, you told me that of course you'd be there.  By then, you had moved to New York, and we'd gone from seeing each other every day to weekly phone calls.  When we arrived in Chios, I didn't hear anything from you, and you hadn't booked a flight, so I assumed you weren't coming.  My parents and Janelle were staying in Karfas, and as we walked to the taverna to meet everyone for dinner (my mom and Janelle giggling the whole way, keeping you a surprise), there you were, looking like you'd planned this all along.  Which, of course, you hadn't.  You went to a travel agent in Manhattan on Monday, got a lower price for your ticket than any of us, ran home to pack your bags, and went to the airport on Monday afternoon for your flight.  You had no idea where you were going, only that you needed to get to the island of Chios, got a taxi at the airport, and when the driver somehow took you to the area of Karfas Beach, you saw my mother and shouted her name.  Then you got a little room with a sea view across the street from where my parents were staying.  The matronly proprietress adored you and was washing your clothes for you and inviting you to dinner with her family.  That night at dinner, we held hands and fawned over each other, and I saw George's dad looking at us with narrowed eyes, until he came to the likely conclusion and relaxed and smiled at you.  We talked about reading "The Dogs of Babel" and quoted "I remember my wife in white" to each other.  It's bittersweet to think of that now.  We and the dear friends who had also made the long trip across the ocean, spent a day on scooters in the fortress village of Pyrgi, where we dreamed about owning one of the crumbly little houses, and then at my favorite beach, sunbathing on black lava rocks and wading in the breathtaking blue of the Aegean Sea.  On my wedding day, I asked our florist for wildflowers and lilies, and you commiserated with me when my bouquet was a ball of roses and I cried in the melodramatic way that brides do.

Only Jeffrey, I thought.  Only you would arrive with elan on an island in a country to which you'd never been, with no names, addresses or phone numbers.  Only you would book a flight for a song at the last moment, find my mother within minutes of landing, get the best room at the best rate, and on a whim, continue on to other islands.  Only you, in that selfless way you were famous for, would replace my wedding bouquet with an armful of achingly beautiful lilies that we put in my honeymoon suite and reminded me of how much you loved me.

Only you.