Monday, March 02, 2015


The year JT was born, late Winter found me making the trip 35 miles west each week to take my baby to be weighed by the pediatrician’s office.  After that visit, we’d stop by the grocery store for our weekly shopping before we’d head back to our small hometown.  At the grocery store that March, they had bouquets of fresh daffodils for $2.  Each week, I chose a bouquet to bring home with me, enjoying those flowers as my baby steadily grew.  This week, my Wegmans market had daffodil bouquets.  I picked one up as I shopped in advance of yesterday’s snowstorm.  It will cheer up our snowy March and remind me of the Winter not that long ago when I had a baby by my side.

That’s happy!

Sunday, March 01, 2015

March 1: Peach Tree

Last week was cold but the days were sunny.  Winter is making a return today and the week’s forecast promises more snow and ice.  But I am treating the arrival of March like a treasured event.  It signals a lot of things worth celebrating: JT has started baseball practice; Spring Break starts on March 6; next weekend we move our clocks forward and enjoy more evening light; in 21 days, Spring officially arrives.  Spring.  In my world, those are some heady and most-welcome developments.  Even so, for now the backyard remains still.

The peach tree’s corner has snow.  More is on the way, confirming March’s reputation as the month that comes in like a Lion.  But we’ve turned our calendars nonetheless and that means the season of cold stillness is coming to a close.

Friday, February 27, 2015

A Successful Season

Baseball is JT’s first sporting love.  He’s been dreaming of being a part of our school’s baseball team since he first began playing Little League.  That’s a lot of time to dream and the arrival of the baseball season seems a bit unreal.  Unreal or not, baseball practice begins next week.  This week, in preparation for the season, gear was distributed.  Yesterday, he came home with his uniform, complete with his name and number on the back.  He took it directly upstairs and hung it is his closet.  That is the first time he’s hung an item of clothes in his closet without a specific order from me.

The baseball season is already a terrific success.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Your Weekly Amaryllis: Week Eight

Each morning when I get up, the amaryllis awaits me at the foot of the stairs, sitting on a plant stand facing the window.  When the sun begins to pinken the sky, the amaryllis will have a first glimpse of the light.  The sun is coming up sooner and sooner each morning, a welcome sign of Spring.  We are tantalizingly close to a bloom on the bulb.  Even as the cold tightened its grip on us this month, the flower determined to show itself.

One morning soon the bulb will bloom, a most welcome development as this bitterly cold Winter considers releasing its grip on us.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

On Willpower and Winter

Because of my well-established aversion to pants, my Winter wardrobe requires a collection of tights to keep my legs warm.  I stock up in September and eagerly await the first cool weather in November.  When temps in the low 50s arrive, I happily pull out my tights and feel toasty.

As the Winter drags on, the tights and I have a love-hate relationship.  I love that they keep me warm and match my skirts and dresses.  I hate the way that they sometimes feel uncomfortable and binding.  Invariably, there are a few mornings when I get them on twisted and spend an entire unpleasant day with an uncomfortable tight feeling behind my knee.  By January, I no longer welcome a morning wrestle with my tights.  In February, I start counting down the days until I need not wear them again, blaming them for the time they take from my morning.  It’s worth noting that while I take account of the weather in the Fall and don’t pull on tights until the temperatures are cold enough to require them, come March, I don’t give a damn about the weather.  In my tiny mind, March means Spring and Spring means I don’t have to wear tights anymore.  

By mid-February, I have my eye on the calendar in preparation to give up tights for the season.  We have Spring Break for the 2nd and 3rd weeks of March and during that time, I will pack up the tights and switch over my closet to warmer- weather clothing.  No matter how cold late March is, I will not wear tights again.  In the Middle School, sneakers are allowed and so I will bridge the chill gap with sneakers and socks.  Sometimes, they will match my blue legs.  But the tights will be gone, no longer tormenting my mornings.  

Should the days remain a bit chilly, a likely prospect considering the last few months around here, there’s always my pride to keep me warm.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


I know that it’s temporary, but after last night’s 6 inches of snow finished falling, sunlight and warmth drifted our way late this morning.  It’s 42 degrees as of this writing and a day that started covered in icy white has begun to mellow.  However temporary, the melting on our streets and sidewalks is a welcome reminder that this winter can’t last forever.  

When I lived in rural northeast Nebraska, and a slightly warmer wind came blowing our way toward the close of Winter, we called it the Chinook and it generally signaled warmth to come.  I know today’s Northeastern Chinook won’t last because I’ve seen the forecast for our next 10 days.  But right now it feels lovely, as if Spring is just around the corner.

We’ll take it.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Pantone Color of 2015: Marsala

Pantone’s color of 2015 is Marsala, known to the rest of us as maroon.  If you want to be more bold, we could go with dark red.  Pantone, of course, is hoping you don’t take my simpleton’s approach.  They want you to embrace the color and the idea of Marsala.  And they want you to head right out to the mall and buy truckloads of Marsala clothes, Marsala accessories, Marsala appliances, and Marsala furniture.  Seriously, what in hell are you waiting for?  BUY SOME MARSALA.

Pantone is stepping up its press release game this year, as you can see for yourself.  However, if you’re the type to loll about while others gather facts and do the hard work for you, I can sum it up.  Marsala will enrich your mind, body and soul and help you to exude, “confidence and stability.”  It’s “dramatic” and “grounding.”  I don’t like to point fingers, but that’s a damn sight more effective than the therapist you’ve been seeing for years.  Imagine how many Marsala-hued goods all those co-pays will buy you?

Marsala is “sophisticated”, “stylish”, and “natural.”  You could do worse.  Much to my dismay, Marsala doesn’t take a hit on last year’s color of the year.  I guess that time-honored act of Pantone passive aggressiveness has gone the way of 2014 and Radiant Orchid.  That’s personal growth, Marsala, the kind of growth that can only be achieved by your “embracing warmth” and the “radiance” you exude.  Good for you, Marsala!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Your Weekly Amaryllis: Week Seven

Mardi Gras was this week and that means only six weeks until Easter.  The calendar promises that Spring will officially arrive in four weeks.  In two weeks, we spring our clocks forward, adding more sunlight to the end of our days.  Today, pitchers and catchers report for the start of Spring training.  Despite these very promising signs of Spring, this morning dawned a cold 13 degrees.  It's supposed to drop below 0 tonight.  We’ve had snow on the ground for more than a month and one of the coldest Februarys in New Jersey history.  On a day like today, it’s rather hard to believe  Spring will ever arrive.

Thank goodness for the amaryllis, which is faithfully seeking the sun and growing taller each day.  The promise of a bloom looms large.

That’s happy!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Fifteen years ago today, JT was born.  At 7 pounds, 9 ounces and 20 and a 1/2 inches, he seemed awfully tiny.  So tiny that we marked ounces and inches.  But tiny can be quite demanding and his needs quickly reorganized my world.  Back then, I was the center of his world and he was the center of mine.  

Things have changed over the last fifteen years.  Today, he is 5 foot, 10 inches; 175 pounds of mouth and energy.

What is most remarkable about the transition from then to now is how quickly fifteen years flew by.  It was just the blink of an eye before my sweet-smelling baby turned into a chatty five year old.   

The five year old was eventually replaced by a charming ten year old.  

The baby has vanished; the five year old is long gone.  The ten year old has disappeared.  In their place I have a tall teenager who shaves and looks a lot more like a man than a little boy.  More than anything else, the transition to high school and the 9th grade has revealed to me how rapidly time has passed.  In less then four years, he’ll head out the door of our home to college and the world beyond.  Such independence seems an unthinkable development from the small bundle that I once held all day and night.  But unthinkable as it is, the years march by quickly.

JT & Tiger

JT & Lucy
More than ever, I’m aware that these days my job as a mama is to send him forth in the world to be his own person.  High school has a way of urgently driving home that point.  We spend a lot of time in the car together, driving to the next early morning athletic practice or coming home from a late night game (or meet….the language varies by season).  Things in our world are planned week by week; athletic season by athletic season.  Once home, he retreats to his attic space.  The toys from what we used to call the playroom are gone and it's now a place to study, complete homework, rest with a cat by his side, and laugh with his friends.    We’re a long way from five and even further away from the baby who once needed me for everything.  

Where we once spent every minute together, I’m now involved in the deliberate process of preparing him to be away from me and on his own.  That means that his school and team obligations often come first.  I don’t complain about 7 am Sunday practices or team busses that return long after dark.  In this way, I show with my actions that I believe in him and his choices.   

I am mindful now that my job is to prepare him to leave the nest and soar.  His need for safe independence grows daily.  Step by step, I am preparing myself to let go.  This year, I’ve began to truly absorb how fleeting JT's childhood has been.  He’s the very center of my universe; the core of my being.  His birth made me the the person I am today.  That I am systematically preparing him to leave my side seems like a self-inflicted wound.  But that is what a mama does.

Happy Birthday, JT, you’ll always be your mama’s baby.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Earning My Spring

My first real experience with an actual Winter was the season of 1989-1990, when I spent my first year outside of California, living in Nashville, Tennessee.  There was ice and measurable snow and, for the first time in my life, owning a wool coat was actually a good idea.  I enjoyed the cold and especially welcomed the arrival of Spring, which began in late February when the sunny, yellow daffodils began to emerge.  That Spring, I felt like I had actually earned the blooms, the green, and the glorious warmth.

Fast-forward to more than 25 years later and I am in the midst of a daily bargain with Winter whereby I put up with day after day of unusual cold for the pleasure of Spring.  Unlike Tennessee, Spring will arrive more toward the end of March around here.  But that’s a little hard to believe on a day like today, which began with temperatures hovering around 0.  The forecast calls for snow tonight, which will bring a temporary warm up —— highs in the low 30s before another plunge into the cold.  As I wrap my scarf around my neck and pull on a hat, coat, and mittens just to go outside to take out the trash, I remind myself that Spring will eventually arrive.  This year, I really will have earned it.