Ah – Summertime – Sweet, Sweet Summertime.

It’s June 23rd. The days are long but we’ve past the very longest day of the year – which might make me melancholy – accept I’m forever mindful of that schools out schedule, and so feel that summer stretches before us still, in all it’s short sweet Canadian glory.  apple blossoms

The apple blossoms have faded but the peonies are still blossoming and hanging their lovely heavy heads. yellow peony

It’s disheartening to know they will droop and scatter their generous petals soon but in a few days the garden vegetables will be ready and my favorite – the raspberries – will follow.

 

One of my earliest memories is of picking raspberries beside my grandmother in a magical patch of juicy red sweetness that absolutely enveloped me.

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And there will be days and nights at the lake – kayak and canoe trips sliding over the still water, swims at sunset and campfires after dusk. rose swims

 

 

Evenings with family or friends gathered around an outside table slurping up the sweetness of peaches and cream listening for the call of a loon on the lake and seeing flashes of fireworks on another shore. girls play

So the longest day has come and gone but summer is only just begun …

Do You Remember the Feel of Bike Pedals On Bare Feet?

Remember long July afternoons  when you were maybe, say ten? I do.  I can sit on the front steps with the sun on my face today and recall sucking on homemade orange Tang popsicle while I plotted the rest of my day. Or sharing secrets with a friend in the park, both of us perched on big wooden swings, our feet scuffing in the groove in the earth below us. Or how about being sent off walking to swimming lessons with my siblings, with our underwear rolled in a towel and a quarter for the locker.  Or the jubilation of the hottest nights when my dad said yes, to the sound of the ice cream truck.

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For all of that late July is just the most languidly indulgent time of year. Schools long out, and summers in full swing. The never ending winter is almost forgotten – not like in the crisp days of late August when you can hear it whispering again, “I’m coming, I’m coming.”

But now the afternoon sun heats the sidewalks and bee’s and cricket’s sounds make me lazy and nostalgic for days when I rode a bike in my bathing suit – helmet-less in the days before safety rules – and sometimes even barefoot. Do you remember the feel of bike petals on bare feet? You had to slow down your ride by bumping over the curb and onto the lawn. Or how about summer vacations and roasting a hot dog over a fire that someone else was managing – your bare bug bitten legs hot from the flame, your butt cold from the night temperatures. You couldn’t eat the hot dog fast enough cause after it came the marshmallows – gooey and likely burnt. And if you didn’t bother the grownups around you too much, you could run off after that into a sandy tent or cabin bunk and read Archie comics, or share some giggles with a friend or cousin before you were shouted at to go to bed.

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And so I promise myself on this hot July vacation morning that I’m going to just float in the lake and watch the blue sky, and not chastise myself for this weeks calorie ridden snacks by doing laps from the dock to a buoy and back. I’ll skip the Archie comics and barefoot biking, but I’ll bring out the new bag of soft fresh marshmallows and perch by the fire, immersing myself in a moment in time under the full moon. Which reminds me that the shooting stars of August are coming. Ah August and beach blankets spread over a grassy slope for falling star gazing. Okay – August then is very fine

…if you’d like to read more of my writing check out the book Text Me, Love Mom – available at http://www.amazon.com/Text-Me-Love-Mom-Girls/dp/1771800712

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I’ll Be Home For Christmas

“I’ll be home for Christmas; you can count on me” … such simple words, but where is home? – I suppose my immediate answer is where my mom and dad are.  I did spend all my Christmas’s with my folks until I became a parent myself – I recall the bustle of Christmas Eve, so pleasurably and wildly chaotic with five siblings and later  girlfriends and boyfriends and always so much to do, the early dusk arriving and still wrapping perfume sets, or walkie talkies  and macramé plant hangers, someone calling out for tape, or shouting for their turn in the shower, or sneaking into the once-a-year-special marshmallow peanut butter squares, too sugary delicious to wait for, then curling our hair for church and marching through snow drifts to get to the car.

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“Please have snow and mistletoe And presents under the tree” … And suddenly there was a transition.  I was married with our first little baby and though my parent’s house was just a ten minute drive away – home had shifted.  I wanted to leave the jumble of family at my parents and wake up with my tiny girl and husband to share something sweet together around our first tippy decorated tree.  Since all those years ago we’ve usually managed a crazy mix of several homes, my parent’s, mine and my in-law’s  -except the two years that we brought home our wee baby boys, both born weeks before the holiday.  Those years we stayed put on the coast where my husband was in law school, more for the baby’s sake and mine.  On each of those home came to us – our parents or siblings arriving with tiny outfits and trinkets to fill the stockings of bright new Christmas babies.

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“Christmas Eve will find me, Where the love light gleams”…   My four kids are grown and have almost always come home for Christmas.  I’ve felt the exhilaration of them returning from university with plane loads of students, most thrilled to be away leaving independent lives, but back in parents arms at the airport you can hear the audible sigh of home. The first year that one of our four didn’t join us for the big unwrap fest and Christmas morning wife saver egg strata with o.j and champaign, all three of the females in the family hid our weepy tears. Our eldest son was gainfully employed working through the holiday season as a liftie on the slopes of Whistler resort, and the rest of us couldn’t have been more conscious of the miles and miles between him and home as we steamed the Christmas pudding, carved turkey and settled in around the table.

“I’ll be home for Christmas….” Of course, home is here now in this house where I raised my kids. I’m cooking today for Christmas Eve tomorrow. In the wee hours I searched through recipes for something new, thinking that perhaps I’d switch it up, try a fish pie or seafood casserole, but sometimes you just want the same in this life.  Like the year I finally got too embarrassed of the poorly stitched oddly shaped stockings I’d made when the kids were small.  I bought lovely, bright, too big felt ones – who knew that my four darlings were quite attached to my sloppy efforts from years past?  I imagine they’ll be looking for the same old-same old Christmas Eve fare – cracker crumb fried oysters, rice pilaf and rich butter tarts.

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It’s quiet in the house this morning. Snow is falling in the backyard, covering the urban rabbit tracks.  The peace will change soon with adult kids home for the holidays, coming and going, calling out to each other. Tape will be missing again and showers coveted.  But that same son, who left us for Whistler years back, had a rare chance to go travelling.  We’ll try to be more grown up about it.  He’s in Thailand where I imagine on the eve of the 24th in a quiet moment it’ll be odd for him, too.  He’ll imagine us gathered around the tree or the table and maybe, despite his exotic location, he’ll close his eyes and for a few moments – our boy be home for Christmas, if only in his dreams…

You can read more Text Me, Love Mom tales at  http://www.amazon.com/Text-Me-Love-Mom-Girls/dp/1771800712

Interviewed by the Wall Street Journal On Texting My Kids!

Texting, text, text, text. Text, text, text. Texting. It’s what we see all around us.  We are all staring down at our phones. Aliens spying from the heavens would believe it is the way us humans choose to communicate.  Sitting in a restaurant recently, gabbing away with a big group of family, we observed two young women sitting opposite each other in a booth waiting for their meals, but not looking at each other, just  texting, texting, texting.  One of the teens in our party suggested that they might be texting each other.

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I titled my book about the years my kids were departing home and all the transitions and escapades and sometimes strange and frightening times – Text Me, Love Mom; Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest (available from Amazon).  It’s doubtful as I first started typing  away in my little office –  looking out over a snowy back yard, and then fresh buds of spring turning to leafy summer foliage, followed by autumn leaves scattering across the yard, and so it went round and round the years – that I could possibly have imagined how much even I would text.  Text, text, text. Text, text.

My pace was slow walking along Vancouver’ False Creek Seawall while texting my eldest daughter back in my home city. Walking and texting – one of those things you say you won’t do, but you do. The ding of an old-school style email interrupted the trill of another text.  The email was from Sue Shellenbarger, a journalist for the Wall Street Journal and the author of their ‘Work & Family’ column. Shellenburger was asking if she could interview me about how parents and children communicate via text.  Wow, could she ever.  It’s a hot topic that I am known to go on about a bit too much, even as I continue to evolve my texting style with my twenty-something kids.  I’d tell her how the guys text differently than the girls, how my peers text differently than young people and that my sons have actually given me direction on how to illicit responses from them.

Nervous about being interviewed, in the next forty-eight hours I met up with or called, and yes texted, Zoë, Cole, Hudson and Lily. It was fun, and again educational to chat purposefully with my kids about texting.  I took copious notes and referred back to my own book. Shellenbarger was a calm and reassuring interviewer.  We had a long and engaging conversation.  I don’t know how that will translate to what appears in her Sept. 9th column in The Wall Street Journal.  It’s always curious to see how an interview is interpreted into a column.  I’ll share a link to it in a blog post next week, and if she doesn’t cover all my tips on texting with adult kids I’ll share those, too.tmlm with backpack

Vancouver, Canada’s most splendid west coast city has had a dry, hot summer. We were there to see our son Hudson’s film, Faith, win the  Audience Choice Award in a student film festival.  The weather turned the next day and the rains beat down as I drove to our cottage in B.C’s interior on the shore of Shuswap lake. Yesterday the clouds hung low, with rays of sun dappling the still green leaves only intermittently.  There was a melancholy mood to the day as I prepared for my upcoming departure to our Calgary home, stacking lawn chairs, scooping water out of the paddle boat before covering it for winter, bringing in a geranium too beautiful to be ravished by fall storms.  Yet, during all that I was involved in text conversations with all four of my kids. That isn’t a common occurrence anymore.  Days and days can go by without me communicating with some of them.  (The boys anyways.) They all had something novel come up and were sharing it with me; exciting, frustrating, a new challenge.  Each kid’s texting was representative of their personality, from fervent and fast-paced to calm and sporadic. kayak with feet

Today is different.  They’ve all gone back to their other tasks. It’s my sister and a friend whose texts trill to me this morning. The lake is calm. The sun is out. I vow to leave my phone in the house and go out in the kayak to paddle and wonder what Sue Shellenbarger will make of our conversation about text, text, texting in her ‘Work and Family’ column in The Wall Street Journal next week.  Stay tuned.