...imagine my delight when the three girlies converged on NYC (thanks, Hannah, for the ride) and drew me into their warm embrace, to celebrate my belated 60th birthday.
Our "cruise director" was the newly minted bride, Gretta, and she had our path plotted for the most efficient use of our time. This included a bit of shopping (with all three acting as my "personal shoppers"), amazing food, thoughtful gifts, such kind words, gut-busting laughter, lots of walking, a bit of subway platform dancing and deep appreciation for this life we share.
Gretta (and Lindsey as her sou chef) created a healthy buffet for our Saturday supper and Ben added a Brooklyn Blackout chocolate cake with a blaze of candles. A perfectly timed "face time" call from Stewart in Portland, OR rounded out the evening.
Sunday morning bagels and a stroll in Prospect Park finished up our visit, then we hugged and went in our own different directions.
On the drive home to Vermont on Sunday I had plenty of time to look back over the many years of growing up with those wonderful kids.
-The days and nights that blended together with a newborn, the reshuffling each time a new child was brought into the equation, the books and books and books that were read aloud (by me, by Batman and by the kids).
-My mantra (call me if there's blood), the Third Floor Theatre, the homework that I didn't really believe in, the walks in the woods on weekends, "shops", hailing the cab in the basement.
-House cleaning on Saturday, meals at "camp credit cafe", being "the meanest mom" to teens, gathering so many of their friends around the supper table
-Listening to musical instruments being practiced, the sweet (and not so sweet) little hand written notes left on my pillow at night, the chore wheel, Christmas Eve and Robin Hood.
We raised them with such earnest intention and were young enough to have fun with them too. Now they are a delight to spend time with and I marvel at who they have become. Parenting, it seems to me, is being very directive when needed and getting the heck out of their way when it's not. The trick, I think, is knowing which is which.
I am still learning from these kiddos of ours. They challenge me, hold me accountable, cheer me on, laugh with me, make me uncomfortable...and like this past weekend....spoil me rotten.
...when one of your daughters lives in Brooklyn and she takes a field trip to one of the studio sales at Lotta Jansdotter's. She gathers a bunch of fabric treats and packages them up and sends them off to "a bit of earth" in Vermont. They arrive in the mailbox, are greatly admired, a bit is played with and the rest goes into the fabric stash. Time goes by, a house reno happens and suddenly there are windows that need curtains.
Ah ha! Isn't there a lovely bit of fabric in the cupboard that might just do the trick? The color is not exactly right, but in the interest of making do (and in the interest of rejecting the paralyzation of perfectionism) the project moves forward. There is just about enough fabric if it is used carefully. So, the raw edge at the top of the curtain is lined with a bit of old bias binding, and a small package of plastic rings are purchased (on sale). The rings are stitched on by hand (at my Mumsie's house last week), along the top. The hem is stitched. The rings are threaded onto a curtain rod (carefully saved from a window in the old version of the house).
Now there is a perfectly useful and somewhat pretty bit of privacy at the window...at a cost of $2.99 and an hour or two of time. And the thoughtfulness of a generous daughter who has inherited the family fabric genes.
Oh, how these April days do tumble one on top of the other!
-The raised beds got some compost and new topsoil and are ready for some spring rain and planting around Memorial Day.
-Batman crafted a cold frame from materials salvaged from the house demo. Snugged up against the foundation of the garage, it will be warmed by sunshine from the southwest.
-We do love to bring twiggy clippings in from the yard, popping them into containers and watching them open up inside.
Here in Vermont, we have had a string of warm, sunny days. The muddy roads have dried up and there are tiny bits of green sneaking into the landscape. These are the days that our winter weary selves long for. When they finally do arrive, we spend part of each day paralyzed by the intoxicatingly warm sunshine and the birdcall and the scent of the earth waking up.
-Some windows were washed and screens were put up. Sleeping with the windows open on a chilly evening is such a spring treat.
-Root-bound houseplants were repotted and fertilized.
-The house was tidied, the table was set, the grill was fired up and we had a lovely evening with cousins from near and far.
-Last week there was a trip a trip to my Mumsie's, to help her through her second cataract surgery. We hung out with her sweet kitty Honeybee, enjoyed a few rides through my old haunts and just rested up a bit.
-I turned 60 somewhere in the midst of all that, and was delighted to become fairy godmother to the sweetest little black Nubian goat kid down the road. The best birthday gift ever. Neighbors asked if I could look in on little Emma during the day, while they were at work. She was barely 24 hours old. What do you think I said to that???
What have you been up to these days, dear readers?
-The Letter, drypoint, softground etching, and aquatint, 1890-1891 by Mary Cassatt, at the National Gallery of Art.
-Parcel post box held 6 dozen eggs, early 1900's, at the National Postal Museum.
-Re-created railway mail car, where mail was processed by sorting mail aboard a moving train, at the National Postal Museum.
-Renovated stagecoach, "White River Junction+Woodstock", a gem from Vermont, at the National Postal Museum.
-My very own snail mail station, complete with stamps, pens, blank notes, cards and envelopes, home sweet home.
For a snail mail loving letter writer like me, a stop at the National Postal Museum was near the top of my list of things to see in Washington, D.C. We spent a good bit of time poring over the many fascinating exhibits, and came away with a renewed appreciation for what a tiny bit of paper stuck to an envelope can accomplish. E-mail has a place in the world, no doubt, but I remain convinced that snail mail can be far more satisfying and magical.
Some of my favorite exhibits were post secrets, mail call (the military mail system) and the pony express. It was also fun learning about the "King's Best Highway", or the Boston Post Road. Set up in early 1673, it became what is now US Route 1, running from Boston to New York City. If you go on over to the National Postal Museum website, you can explore all of these and more.
(My phone camera was a handy friend on this trip, but had varying results as far as photo quality is concerned. For better picture resolution and detail of some of these exhibits, the website may be the place to go.)
-Ash basket, 1840. Shaker. At the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.
-Birchbark basket, filled with fresh flowers. At the National Cathedral.
-From "Allies in War, Partners in Peace," a statue by Edward E. Hlavka. Basket held by Polly Cooper, an Oneida woman who came to the aid of Washington's starving troops at Valley Forge in 1777-78. At the National Museum of the American Indian.
-Maniwaki birchbark box, Quebec, Canada, ca. 1920. At the National Museum of the American Indian.
Last Wednesday, Batman and I climbed onto Amtrak's Vermonter and 11 hours later we hopped off in Washington DC. Would you believe it if I told you that I have never been there before? Well I haven't. And do you know that I spent the next few days channeling my wide eyed 8th grade self? We covered a lot of ground and took a bunch of pictures. I'm dreaming of crafting a little book for myself, with notes, photos and doodles, prompted by all the history and art that we saw. My brain has been swimming with ideas since we got home late Monday night. (And we have a list of things we want to see next time we go, for there is so much more to explore!)
Look for a post about snail mail here in the next few days, maybe one about baskets, and one about wonder. At least. :-)
Have you been to Washington, DC? What were your favorite sights? How did you save your memories?
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