How Neel and my friend Shoshana conspire to make my morning bright


Dear Shoshana,
See that jam? That lovely orb of purpleness? You made me this jam a long time ago. You made it for a lot of us actually, and I'm probably the only one with any left. Partly that's because I don't eat breakfast much. But I'm also a hoarder. I savor slowly the things that are lovingly made for me. I don't want them to end. I liked knowing it was in the refrigerator waiting for me almost as much as I've been enjoying eating it.

I know I thanked you at the time, but I wanted you to know how much I've appreciated it this week, particularly. This week of waking up and clock-watching and having to shower at a certain time instead of waiting until I feel like it. In this week of hollering about brushed teeth and "we need to go NOW!" your jam has been a sweet way to start my day.


A few weeks back Alicia said that when she started blogging, she thought that blogs were about what people had for breakfast...and they are! And while I usually don't eat much of a breakfast I do know that it's the most important meal of the day, blah, blah, blah, and I'm trying to stat the school year off right. Neel makes me coffee every morning. Even if I'm up two hours before he is, I usually wait. Coffee is always better when someone else makes it. In the summer, we'll share a cup together before Callum gets up, but now that the school year is back upon us, Neel'll bring it up to our bedroom while I'm showering. It's funny how you so quickly fall back into familiar routines. I'd forgotten about coffee in the bedroom until Neel carefully rounded the corner yesterday morning, and yet his appearance in the doorway, mugs carefully balanced, was instantly familiar.


And Neel is a careful coffee maker. He could set the timer, but likes to grind the beans each morning. It only takes a second or two he points out, and tastes so much better. Then he always puts my coffee in my favorite Tracy Porter Artesian Road mug, and always puts his in a totally different mug so we can tell them apart. These are from the Crate and Barrell outlet north of San Diego. Man, how I miss that store. And I love these mugs. Now that Tracy Porter has moved in, I rarely drink out of them. Neel had a meeting at school on Tuesday, so he took Callum in and left his coffee behind. I obligingly finished it for him and was surprised at how different his mug felt against my lips.


So while it's coffee most mornings, this week it's been a little more. Sliced peaches with a sprinkle of sugar and nutmeg. Whole wheat waffles with Shoshana's jam. It's not fancy. I use EGGO waffles. I am not loving these whole wheat ones however. I have to toast them three times and they're still a little soft in the center. Shoshana's jam more than makes up though.


These are mornings of shifts. New rhythms to be sure. I'm still figuring the blog thing out. How to have the juice for it after spending the day at the computer. When to write and what to share. It'll all shake out. Soon I'll have as many mornings with my coffee here, buy the computer, as I do at the shower. Just bear with me for awhile, 'kay?

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30 is the new 20

Yesterday was my friend Rebecca's thirtieth birthday. (She's a baby.) I've said before that our neighborhood was tight, and Rebecca's mom invited all of us to her house for a surprise-ish birthday dinner. I say surprise-ish because even though we staggered our departures, Tyler gave her the hairy eyeball when she pulled out of her driveway before he did and she was instantly suspicious. Smart cookie, our Rebecca.

It's fascinating to me that people who grow up here don't tend to leave. I've lived in four different states since leaving home for college (and I have friends here who have nearly doubled that), but most of the folks we know in our neighborhood live just a matter of a couple of miles from the home where they grew up. While it's hard for me to imagine living in my old hometown, part of me envies being able to breeze into my parents' home, as comfortable there as I ever was.

Rebecca's parents' house is a real stunner. It's a gracious old Southern house in a gracious old Southern neighborhood. There's a beautiful formality to it that doesn't at all feel stuffy. A lot of these houses make it hard for me to imagine propping open the door with my butt while I flip through the mail and drop my keys on the counter. Hard to imagine my own day to day in such rich surroundings. This house is elegant, yes. But mostly warm and welcoming.

Her dad is an architect, and her mom has a great eye for design and color. Marry that with this uncanny ability to find the most gorgeous things at TJ Maxx and the Dollar Store and you have Jan's house. Sky-high ceilings don't hurt.

Dinner table, set for many.



They have this great wall where dozens and dozens of friends and family, cousins, brothers, aunts, neighbors and dogs have their height measured. Here's Callum showing how he's grown since the last time he was there. This is something else that I have trouble wrapping my head around. Staying in one place long enough to make a mark like this. I'm used to moving every 5-6 years, and when we were childless, I kind of liked it. I feel the tiniest bit itchy even now, just four years in. Will we stay in the little gray house forever? I don't know. Do I want to? Not sure of that either. It's like I have to adapt to long-term thinking. And that feels odd.

Just look at these lovely ladies. Color-coordinated no less. And in heels! Wow. This is something I'm not very good at yet. Dressing for dinner the way the Southern gals do. I wore a skirt, for sure, but with a plain white tee shirt. It's my uniform for summer. Not at all dressy, just cool and comfortable. I suppose I should have put on some lipstick. I wouldn't mind at all pulling on a dress or two. The heels, I'm not to sure about though.

Our hostesses' shoes. She matched the napkins too.

Unveiling, The Rebecca. (Oh my gosh, so flattered that she put it on right away!). Thank you, thank you to Jan and Bill for including us, and thank you, thank you to all of our wonderful friends who make me so happy just by being near. And to you dear Rebecca? Many, many happy returns of the day, my friend.

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the few, the proud

Our friend James retired from the Marine Corps last week, and we were invited to a party to celebrate this great event.

Because these guys are distant neighbors (who also happen to be school mates of Callum's) we rode our bikes the ten blocks down to the party.

The food and drinks took up three front yards and the band was in the back. It was a perfect Southern summer party, with barbeque, beer and sno-cones.

Roxanne's yard is a dream. She has all sorts of secret sitting places and pathways. I definitely have yard-envy when I'm over there.

The kids ran from front to back playing transformers or tag. The music was perfect, a thread of steel drums running behind friends and family meeting and neighbors getting to know each other. This is Max, the Party Dog, complete with lei.

My favorite part was the sno-cones. Like any seven year old, I love a sno-cone. I managed to limit myself to one, but Callum had three.

While I was slurping sno-cones, a lot of the other adults were enjoying drinks more along these lines. Rum and coke anyone?

I followed these guys around a lot. Seriously, they never let go of each other's hand. Let me grow old this way...

Thanks for a great time guys, and congratulations "Sleepy". Welcome to civilian life...and here's to a great adventure opening up before you!

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"greek dancing is very movemental, you know"

What a flurry of activity yesterday and what a fun evening. We have wonderful neighbors, and they were kind enough to step in and care for our pup for almost two weeks during our trip to Greece last month. What else could we do but host a Greek Night (Opa!) as a thank you.

We spent the day shopping. This is our local Middle Eastern grocery/restaurant. They had tons of Greek stuff that I thought would be tricky to get.

I cooked. AACK! Look at that mess! At one point I had every burner engaged. Neel is the chief dishwasher around here, and I even tried to call him to say, "Come and do my dishes!!" Interesting that he didn't answer his phone.

Callum he is giving Buddha a bath.

Thank-you gifts and ouzo with pineapple waiting to be drunk.

Even though it was a casual evening, we used Neel's mother's dishes, which I adore. They are Limoges, and we have almost the full complement. When I have time and money, I'll start searching out the setting and try to fill in the few blanks that we have.

I love setting the table for a nice dinner. This was my job as a child, and it stuck (although Neel frequently comes behind me to put the knives and forks in their proper place.) Soon I'm going to do a whole post about my dining room and dining room table. Now, settle down, it won't be right away. Still, I bet you can't wait to read that one.

Folks started arriving around 6 for mezedes and cocktails. Usually we see each other more in the summer, this is very much a front-yard kind of place, but we've all been busy, and it's nice to catch up. Lucy was wreathed in smiles and wagging tales. So glad to see everyone. It was as if we had the party for her alone.


The menu was pretty simple. I made Greek Salad, of course, pastisio and Greek-style green beans. All the rest were dips and spreads...I'm learning. And Mythos! Oh Mythos, how we loved you at lunch every day on our trip. I was thrilled to find it while I was shopping yesterday.


The babies were good. The grown-ups got full, and we all (well, almost all) danced.

My social son never ceases to amaze me. Neel and I hold our own at a party, and we've had some good ones here. Still, we prefer it quieter, more intimate. A couple of couples for dinner, just a quiet evening with a few friends. Not Callum. His heart soars when the house is full of people and kids. He shines in a crowd, unafraid to stand up and be seen and heard. Bossy only child, most insistent about getting us to dance, to move, dragging us into his orbit. I think it was after he'd danced around a Capri Sun pouch in lieu of a wine glass that he said it. "Greek dancing is very movemental, you know." We know. He's still crashed out asleep, worn out from all the fun.

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good day sunshine

My friend Megan obliged us by having her birthday on a day when the kids were out of school and the weather was perfect for the beach. It's embarrassing how many times we said things like, "What a great day," or "You couldn't have asked for anything better." We're smart women, part of me thinks we could have found a little variation to describe this unbridled beauty and joy.


We're old hat at days like this. It's our third summer of beach fun, and each year takes a bit of time to get in a good groove. We managed pretty well today though. Two of us hit the gourmet grocery store and met Megan and her kids at the beach. It's so easy to drop a load of cash at this place. Champagne with blood orange juice, amazing cheese (stilton with mango and ginger, and some lavender goat cheese), and all sorts of other goodies. We decided that anyone walking past our own little patch of beach would envy what a lovely spread we had. At times the kids hovered around us like seagulls. We'd throw them some crumbs (popcorn, pretzels and chips), so they'd scatter for a bit, and soon there were waves to be jumped and holes to be dug. Lots and lots of holes to be dug.

That's a hole, not a ledge!

With just one week left of school, this was a perfect tantalizing treat to kick off the summer.


Happy Birthday Megs, you are my sunshine.

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