Friday, February 17, 2012

Nowhere in Particular

Do you remember Mr. Toad? He was in the Wind in the Willows, but is more famous I think for his "wild ride" at Disney World.  I haven't been there in years, so I can't say for certain if the song they play is the same one he and his horse friend sing in the movie about his adventures.  It's a catchy tune about merrily travelling along to nowhere in particular.
......We're merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily on our way
To nowhere in particular
We're merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily on our way
Where the roads are perpendicular

We're always in a hurry
We have no time to stall
We've got to be there
We've got to be there
But where we can't recall

We're merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily on our way
And we may be going to Devonshire, to Lancashire, to Worcestershire
We're not so sure but what do we care
We're only sure we've got to be there
We're merrily on our way to nowhere at all ......

Our house was taken over by the stomach flu this past week, so there was plenty of couch time, which lead to movie time.  So the girls and I watched Mr. Toad and his adventures and the song reminded me of my adventures with my sister Mare and how this song fit perfectly many a journey we have had and hope to have again.   Not that we need actual songs, we can pretty much come up with a parody in seconds flat to suit any situation.  I've noticed my girls doing this from time to time, does a momma proud, it does.

You see, Mare and I could make a vacation anywhere, BUT we used to have alphabet weekends.  Sadly it's been 9! NINE! years since our last official, full-on letter weekend.  Sure, I've had two gorgeous girls in that time frame but I think we're gearing up towards a weekend.  It's long overdue. 

So in preparation, let me explain.  Kinda like "Fight Club" in that the first rule of a weekend is that there are no rules.  But in including or should that be inducting? my niece, Mare's daughter, in a one-night stay not too long ago, we realized, gee, there really are a lot of "no rules" rules.   First, naturally is the letter.  Now you may assume, like most do, that we've gone in alphabetical  order and you'd be wrong.  The order was simple chosen by the place we were going to.  If we were going to Maryland, then the letter would be "M".  Then the food, music, movies and - clothes. Yep clothes, costumes really, must all begin with that letter.  The "M" weekend would have included maternity clothes, Minnie & Mickey Mouse, men, and so on. Sticking with the "M" weeked here the menu included Milkyway Cake, pasta w/Mushrooms and since we're vegetarians, it was all meatless.  

We always need champagne.  Moet was good for the "M" weekend, but some other weekends proved more of a challenge causing us to come up with creative names for it, like "golden goodness" or "entitled effervescence".  Here's a pic of a typical weekend refrigerator.  There's always guava juice b/c we're always trying new champagne b/c it has to match the letter and sometimes, it's awful.  BUT throw some guava juice in there and even the worst champagne is totally drinkable. 

If it's not the state driving the letter, sometimes it's the name of the town or the hotel.  Like the "P" weekend was at the Powhatan Plantation in Virgina.  We were actually there twice, so the second trip was an "R" weekend for "repeat".  Dressing like Royal Rastafarians while listening to reggae was one of my favorite memories from that trip.  Ahh, good times, good times.  But it's serious business!  The correct bed must be chosen by jumping on all of them of course.  (Don't tell that to my kids!)  No matter the letter Carol King's Tapestry album always comes along and we can always find a reason why it's allowed.  It's funny,we would literally fill up the entire car, back seat and trunk both with all our equipment. We'd need all CD's even if it was for just the ONE song that began with the letter that we were going away on...the movies that were in the queue for the weekend,  I vividly recall freezing the part "Time Cop" when Jean-Claude Van Damme jumps up on the counter several times when were in Truro, MA.  Now, in the nine! 9! (still can't quite get over that) years since we've gone, there are iPods and we wouldn't need to bring 100's of CD's or bring a TV and an ancient VCR - yes at one time we actually brought a VCR and had to drive into the town looking for cables. Though on that last trip we brought my nephew's playstation to watch DVDs and then proceeded to call him 14 times to ask him his code and then ended up having him come to the hotel where we were staying (hysterically it was only about 9 miles from my sister's house) to help us out.  And you know what? It was all good, because it was the "V" weekend and he was a visitor. 

There are games, did I mention the games? Oh, there are games. Like hopscotch, hungry hungry hippos, skip-bo, rock-em-sock'em robots, you get the idea, normal games that we grew up with, then ones we make up like, blindfolded bowling. Hey, we have a weekend to fill! No boredom allowed, not that it stands a chance anyway.    

We also decorate as soon as we get there.  The "V" weekend we decorated like a varsity game and later dressed like cheerleaders in varisty sweaters, naturally we were also vampires that weekend, this was waay before the "Twilight" craze.  "H" weekend, was a Hawaii, Happy Birthday, Hillbilly kinda thing.  We dressed in housecoats called ourselves Honolulu honeys.

And flowers, always have fresh flowers. See for the "F" weekend they could simply be just flowers, but for the "R" weekend, roses, the "P" weekend, pansies, "V" weekend violets, etc.  

More on the menu ~ We have a no rules rule here too.  There is one elegant dinner the last night, where we save the third? to the last best bottle of champagne for; the last being saved for the morning we're leaving to have with our super decadent dessert breakfast and the second we had our first night.  Got that? The 40 in between, well..they were just fillers.  Sometimes we have to drink other stuff too (poor things that we are), like Beefeater gin on the "B" weekend - Blue Curacao was also along that trip - I barfed blue just to keep things in the spirit of the weekend.  Gin - ew.  I happened to be blond for that weekend - you see how far we're willing to go for this?  This is serious stuff people.  We even wrecked the car on the "W" weekend.  Well, I wrecked the car, Mare's car.  She was recovering from ACL surgery so I was driving.  We were attempting, not for the first time, to get to Falling Water - yea - still haven't seen it. 

Most of these are documented in a journal and with some pictures.  We even had a week once ~ "N" we were in Nantucket off season.  Beautiful.  We had an entire house of beds to jump on...and fake noses.

This was back when I was juggling a completely different set of struggles, work and the stress of wanting a family and a house and here I am now juggling those struggles...careful what you wish for! :)
But there's no need to worry about that, there will always be struggles to juggle as we walk through life...a weekend however has been way too overdue.  AND after this upcoming week off from school that my kids have - I'm really going to need one, especially since my oldest said I should give up wine for Lent.  This was during a discussion about what to give up for Lent and I jokingly said that St. Paddy's Day was during Lent so I knew I wasn't giving up beer because I had to have a beer (or 3) on St. Patrick's Day, to which she replied, then give up wine. OUCH. Smartass.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mirror, Mirror

My neighbor has a beautiful house, immaculately maintained, professionally landscaped, just lovely.  They are always working on it, big, huge, sometimes even mysterious projects ~ when they're in the USA that is.  A few years ago they had a house built in their home country and now spend their time between the two.  It actually seems like within hours of their arrival back in NY, the contractor's van is outside and the sounds of the next project have begun.  This last one was especially noisy, I'm still not exactly sure what they had done, but I do know that the workers were cutting marble, bricks, tiles, etc. for hours on end, for weeks on end (which as a migraine sufferer was NOT peachy keen) and now it often smells like burning wood.  So since the work as done in the garage area and they already HAVE a fireplace, my guess is a wood burning stove, hence the smell of wood burning!   My husband thinks it's a brick oven, but I think that's just wishful thinking on his part, because who would be making pizza at 7:00 in the morning?

My point, one of them anyway, is there is always something going on next door.  I keep thinking, "Hey, you want a really big project? Come help fix up my house, it'll drive up your property value!" LOL Our house looks so sad next to theirs!  So today I was washing dishes - old houses are not equipped with such amenities like dishwashers - and I see something new in their yard, which I can see some of from the window over the kitchen sink.  I couldn't tell what it was at first, had me really perplexed for a while, then I realized it was a mirror.  A very long mirror.  What plans she has for it I don't know - she's pretty crafty on top of everything else!

I'm looking dead on at a mirror and I'm not seeing myself.  No, sorry, much to my daughter's disappointment we're not a family of vampires.  Having a lot of dishes to get through (how do 4 people create so much mess?) I have time to ponder this.  Naturally I understand distance and how improbable it would be for me to be reflected back from inside my kitchen, etc. etc.  what I mean is, I start thinking about where else am I, or people in general not seeing  themselves?  I've said before in another post about labeling ourselves and how mirrors can't reflect our true selves.  This isn't what I'm getting at here.  Here I'm talking about NOT seeing, NOT being there.  I don't know, maybe I'm just in a melancholy mood, but it seems like from the minute we're born we're on display and then all the people in our lives, parents, teachers, friends, lovers, bosses, spouses, the media all throw these parameters, these, ideas about how we should be, act, talk, look.  How, when do we actually, if ever, know our true selves and how do we recognize them?

I don't recognize myself sometimes when dealing with my children.  I catch myself too late thinking of a better way to have said something, explain something - like the irony of shouting at them to stop yelling. LOL  I've never been an angry person, so when I'm frustrated at them for giving me a hard time at bedtime yet again, I'm uncomfortable with myself.  I keep thinking of the Talking Heads song "Once In A Lifetime"  the line that goes "...well, how did I get here?"

Another train of thought I had is how often do we look at something or maybe someone and not really see it/them?  Are you so busy in your life that you don't really see the people you pass everyday? The cashier at the supermarket who never smiles, the woman walking her children to school with her iPod on instead of interacting with them?  I think we are moving so fast these days that we don't see anything anymore.  That we're always looking for something to post on Youtube that will go virual and give us our 15 minutes of fame, but not for truth, for peace for ourselves.  We're blinded by Hollywood, by reality shows that aren't even real that we're not even paying attention to what's right in front of us.  There is so much going on in the world, so many terrible things that I cancelled my newspaper subscription because I couldn't take in the bad news anymore.  Obviously that doesn't change what happens, but it does change the vibe in my home, what we discuss, etc and I can still keep up on big news online or on the radio.  Though I may cut these out as well - we'll see. I don't know.  I'm not too big on ignorance, but they do say it's bliss!  And I save money!

As often happens since there is that jukebox running 24/7 in my head, Ten Years After's "I'd Love To Change The World"  starts to play ...."I'd love to change the world, but I don't know what to do, so I'll leave it up to you."  Maybe that IS what's wrong, too many people are leaving it up to everybody else.  Let's start by leaving it up to the people we see in the mirror.  You with yours, me with mine ~ but not the one in my neighbor's yard as seen from my kitchen window ;D
George Bancroft: "Conscience is the mirror of our souls, which represents the errors of our lives in their full shape."
Eugene O'Neill: “Life is a solitary cell whose walls are mirrors.”
Ernest Holmes: "Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.
Rumi: "We are the mirror as well as the face in it."
And of course there is the wicked Queen from Snow White, "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?"