everything old is new again


There's not a whole lot I'd ask from the universe than more days like these. A deserted beach. Sun-lit fog. My family, walking with me, goofing off. You name it.

Our first day in Isle of Palms was glittery sunshine, and we took a long morning walk before heading into Charleston for brunch. After that, the weather for the week was a mixed bag, but it never dampened our mood. Rain on Shem Creek while we ate shrimp and grits dockside. Rain again for fried oysters in the same spot a day later. And then there was this. This brilliant, foggy seascape that seemed lit from within. The air fairly glowed. I could have wandered in it for days, searching for distant surf and watching shadowy shapes appear and disappear. Layers and layers of gray on silver-spun gray.

It was a lazy, slow moving week. Fender-benders and fathers-in-law aside, things have been rather stressful behind the scenes here at Casa SPL this past fall, and slow moving was just what we all needed. Cal taught his grandfather how to play chess, and I read actual books! I wasn't reflective or thoughtful or ruminative. I simply sank my feet into the sand and soaked it all in. Time enough to ruminate in the days to come, I suppose.

Our last night in South Carolina was New Year's Eve. My sister-in-law, who'd done most of the restaurant planning, felt (and we agreed) that traveling into Charleston might not be our best bet, so we opted for the party at the resort where we were staying. It was unexpectedly sweet and lovely. Held in a ball room and packed with families, I was immediately reminded of Dirty Dancing (another movie Cal needs to see!). The sweetest dad and his pre-teen daughter were there together on a "date," and he was up and dancing to every Cupid Shuffle and Electric Slide with her. It was awesome. Little girls giggled in corners and teens shuffled into slow dances together. One older couple, they had to be in their eighties, danced nearly every dance, from Bollywood to New York, New York together. Like I said, it was awesome.

The music was just a little dated. Not quite the right set of songs for the teen crowd (or their moms who listen to the radio in the car with them), but it was still pretty perfect (Although I draw the line at Lady in Red. I nearly left the room at that one.).

If you know me IRL (that means "in real life," mom), you know I tend not to be a dancer. It's just not my bag. I'm more of a watcher than participator in many things, but this especially. And yet.

Yet. I found myself on the dance floor, dragging Cal and then Neel with me. And as it turned out, I ended 2014 and started 2015 by dancing. I thought, as I looked down at my impractical wedges, this has to be a metaphor for something. I'm still working to figure it out. Maybe it wasn't a metaphor for anything. Maybe it was just fun.

Here's to more fun in 2015. Here's to more time behind my camera and with my guys. More sunny walks on the beach and more foggy ones too. Here's to slowing down and sinking in. I have the feeling that exciting things are in store for us this year, and I can't wait.

summer flashback :: dinner above olympia


As you know, I grew up in the mountains of East Tennessee, and where we live now, in Coastal Virginia, it's...  F L A T. Seriously, our highest point is an area called Hilltop which is like 9 feet above sea level. So, it felt really, really lovely to travel the hills of Greece.

The bus ride was wind-y and at times terrifying, but it was really lovely. After our trip to Olympia, our group headed high into the hills above the historic site for another lovely dinner.

I could do a whole post on our dinners in Greece, actually. They were the best part. I know I've talked before about how the organizers of the conferences go out of their way to find local spots with gorgeous, abundant, authentic food. Emphasis on abundant. Above Olympia the mezze was plentiful: platters of eggplant, lamb, insalata. The food kept coming. And, again, this was all before the entree! The wine was copious and the food more so. And then there was the view. We were perched high on the hillside, looking down into the valley where the original Olympians competed, and as the food came to us in waves, the sun slowly went down and the lights grew brighter and twinkled along the the mountainside.

The dinners can be hard too. A lot of science talk. Over our heads a bit for me and Cal. But people start to relax (the wine helps) and the talk flows as freely as the food. Regularly we sit at the table with men and women from all parts of the world. Italian, Swiss, German, French, Iranian, South American, Asian... Really. I could go on and on. So we share things. Like how early (or late) the sun sets. Or how much gas costs. Or who eats lamb and who eats beef. Whose kids start school in September and whose kids go year round. Science fades away for all but a stalwart few as cultural differences, and more importantly, similarities are shared.

Cal was taught some snippets of Swedish and Italian, and I taught one woman who spoke no English at all how to use her phone camera and edit a photo. It was great.

Because of scheduling issues, this same meeting will be held in the fall next year. If Neel can go (it always boils down to funding), we're torn. It's fall, and right at the start of school for Cal and Neel too) It's hard to miss school, for sure, and still. When I think about what he could gain by traveling to Greece even during the school year, I think about those dinners.