Archive for April, 2012

Strawberry Fields

Living in the city as we do, and not having a proper garden, just a patio – our food ordinarily comes from the grocery store: pre-picked, pre-packaged, and most of the time, trucked in from another state in frozen storage compartments.  Growing your own fruit and vegetables was something my great grandfather did on his allotment back in England.  So today we did something out of the ordinary – we went strawberry picking with dear friends.

The great thing about Texas is that being so big, even when you live in an urban environment, it doesn’t take long to get to a local farm.  Thirty minutes away – once we figured out the GPS and the maps – we were loading our buckets with the sweetest berries to be found.  The kids had fun (and did most of the picking), we got to visit and catch up, and all of us came away with a good five to ten pounds of tasty fresh strawberries.   Not to mention the wonderful barbeque lunch we shared afterward just down the highway and the delicious smoothies we made when we got home.

We may have missed church this Sunday morning, but we shared a little slice of heaven today.



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This week – according to Target and Julie Andrews – was the first National Princess Week.   In fairy tales, more often than not, the girl gets the guy, the baddie gets his or her come uppance.   Maleficent turns into a dragon and is killed, Jafar is banished into a lamp for 10,000 years, Rumpelstiltskin disappears into the ground when the Queen guesses his name.  True love’s kiss breaks the spell for Snow White and Aurora.   Belle falls in love with the Beast before the last rose petal falls.  It’s once upon a time, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Appropriately, last weekend, we went to see Mirror Mirror  – the comical take on the story of Snow White starring Julia Roberts, the lovely Lily Collins (daughter of Phil) and the dashing Armie Hammer. The new movie offers a twist on an old tale.  The seven dwarfs don’t work in a mine, but are now bandits in the forest, becoming outlaws when the Evil Queen declared that they were anathema to her sight.  The Prince is a clueless adventure-seeker who inadvertently becomes part of the Queen’s plan to get rid of Snow White.  Snow herself, instead of waiting for her Prince to come, actually does something about it and saves him herself.

***Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the movie yet***

During the final battle in the woods, as the Prince is held against a tree by the claws of the evil Beast, he entreats Snow White to kill the dragon and save them both.  Instead Snow destroys the black magic with her father’s dagger, the spell is broken, and the King returns, having been enslaved as the Beast for the past ten years by the Queen’s dark powers.  Father and daughter are reunited. Not a dry eye in the house.

At the age of 28, I was reunited with my own father.   What followed were many years of great conversations and good times together with our blended family.  Since he passed away, I miss hearing his voice and those wonderful bear hugs he gave most of all.  It’s the same for N with her father – she misses his rib tickles, the “secret meetings” they shared together, his unconditional love, and his big hearted “family hugs”.

A while back, N told me she had a dream about him.  “Was I in the dream?” I asked her.  “No, mommy, it was just me and Daddy.  We were playing together on the swings.  It was a sunny day and he was happy.  I miss him, mommy.”

Alas, true life is no fairy tale.   The King will not return.  When someone dies, that’s it.  What remains is your memory of who they were, and what they meant to you.  I cannot bring N’s father back, nor my own.

The love we all shared, however, hasn’t died.   It may change form as time passes, but if you have truly loved someone, and been loved in return, you will always keep that person alive in your heart.  And in the end, love is all you need.

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Anywhere But Here

The inestimable Benjamin Franklin once said that “nothing is certain but death and taxes”.  I’m not so sure about the death part as I still seem to be in disbelief over my husband’s, but the taxes bit is certainly true.  It’s been seven months since I last posted anything here and while I have been successful at avoiding the blog, avoiding the taxes is not possible when they are due tomorrow.  Not to mention that the federal returns for 2009 and 2010 haven’t been filed either…..oh boy.   Sigh.  So a rainy Monday afternoon was spent working on three years of stuff and in fact wasn’t as bad as the filling I endured in a wisdom tooth this morning.  Not sure why I procrastinated this long but owing the government money probably had something to do with it.  Anyway, they are all done and ready to go.

Not that it’s a valid excuse really, but my procrastination had a lot to do with travel.  N and I have been anywhere and everywhere lately.  St Louis, San Diego, Paris, London, New York.  Anywhere but here.   Family called upon us, and we responded.  St Louis, his hometown, wasn’t the same without him. California was a welcome holiday break including a day in the happiest place on earth.  Paris and London had to be seen in the spring while we had the opportunity to share the adventure with my mother.  Surprisingly, the trip I was anticipating the least turned out to be the best – in terms of recharging and revitalising my soul.   Easter in New York, New York, so good they named it twice.

I had been to the Big Apple only twice in my lifetime.  The first as a naive 19-year old coming off an exchange year abroad in Canada.  I arrived off the train from Buffalo and immediately stepped into a humid overwhelming melting pot.  What was supposed to be a pleasant day seeing the sights turned into a nightmare as I took the subway from South Ferry to the upper east side instead of the west, and with the train windows clouded by graffiti emerged from underground into a derelict and somewhat intimidating part of town that certainly was not Riverside Drive.  Not wanting to go back down, I thought I would walk – because of course, “how far could it be anyway?”.  About 60 blocks including the Central Park reservoir path and a horrible heat rash later I finally found my way back to the apartment I was staying in and vowed to myself that I was Done with New York.  The next day I moved to a different location to stay with the parents of an acquaintance and found myself on the 53rd floor of an apartment above the Lincoln Center with an unobstructed view of downtown Manhattan on three sides…..a change of opinion was warranted as I spent the night on a pullout couch gazing at the city that never sleeps.

My second visit many years later with a few friends  – our limited hours in the city wasted in a Greenwich Village pub – drinking beer and eating cheap pizza.  As we walked to the train station in Hoboken at the end of the evening, I remember looking backward one last time at the distinctive downtown skyline, the twin towers glittering and graceful against the winter sky.

September 11, 2001.  September 8, 2011.  A sunny day in September and lives changed forever, ten years apart.  My heart aches at home. It’s no wonder I wanted to be anywhere but here.

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