musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the tag “holidays”


Something of a rush of days and years has led to this moment. Well, really, to Sunday.

A womb cocooned time prior to that day for his bedrest pregnancy and suddenly, years, an entire childhood has gone by and he can vote in the next election. He is preparing to leave for college. He has spent the last two 2nd half of the weeks out of the house for Choral field trips. Last weekend in a competition in DC with his school’s Jazz Choir, also a day this week out of town competing with his school’s Jazz Band, and this weekend he is in the All-Virginia Choir in Richmond. He has a job.

How does this happen?

Here he is at 5, his little sister’s age, enjoying/putting up with a trip on Papa’s sailboat on a hot and windless day on Long Island Sound in August 2000.

photo (8)

It is very him.

I am very proud of who he is, though I kid and call him Mr. Cynic. He is a well-rounded, talented, smart, compassionate, and passionate young man. He has grown up exactly how I wanted him to, with his eye on goals, his heart in tune with the world around him and ready to be a force for good.

18 for 18

1. Mr. Cynic is a loyal friend.

2. He doesn’t put up with crap.

3. He questions everything that should be questioned.

4. He plays 3 instruments and sings.

5. He writes songs. They’re catchy.

6. He was a pretty little guy, and he’s grown into a handsome young dude.

7. As a toddler, when he ran, he ran looking behind him and would run into walls, because he liked how the wind felt rushing through his hair. I guess he wanted to see it, too.

8. Mr. Cynic has a huge heart.

9. He speaks a secret language with Toots, consisting completely of raspberries.

10. He reluctantly and loudly puts up with Captain Comic, but if anyone else treats him with anything other than respect, he becomes as protective as their Mama Bear.

11. He strums, a lot, behind closed doors.

12. He will sing and play for anyone else, but hides it in the house.

13. But I hear him.

14. His head is on straight. I don’t think he’ll get into too much of the stupidity that some of us go through in college.

15. He knows he can call me if he does, and I won’t kill him. I’ll just let his conscience take care of that for me.

16. He has weathered many ups and downs and challenges in his young life. I think he’ll be able to handle anything life throws at him.

17. He’s at the edge of the nest, and while I want to go ahead and shove him out, I want to hold him near just a little while longer. Get in as many hugs as he’ll endure. Tell him how much he really is loved and how that will never change.

18. Something new is coming for him. And it’s him.

photo (9)

she’s 5

Happy birthday, Toots!

chloe 5Easter dress Roller derby girl because Honey wanted to protect his little girl now that she has a big girl bike.

roller derby easter 5

Five things about Toots in honor of her fifth birthday:

1. She is a delight both day and night. Except when she’s not, because she is normal, but even then, she is so darned cute, aw forget it. She is a delight both day and night.

2. She makes up songs about everything and nothing. Her breakfast, imaginary friends, how much she loves you, whoever you is at any given moment, and whatever she likes at any given moment.

3. Purple is her favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavoriteSUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUperfavorite color in the whole wide world.

4. Look at that perfect point in the Easter dress roller derby pic. She is as flexible as I used to be. I should start her in dance. Maybe she has matured enough not to run around and around the whole room by now and will listen to the teacher.

5. She’s smart, she’s observant, manipulative, adorable, charming, shall I go on?

I love her. She’s my girl. She’s Daddy’s girl, too.

Happy birthday, Toots, my littlest.




Toots abandoned her Valentine necklaces before preschool.

Looks like I get to wear them today.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. Be kind to those you love.

belated and looking forward

Merry Christmas as well as anything else you may celebrate.


The year is winding down, and the way much of this one has gone, I’m glad to put 2012 in the rearview mirror: too many losses among friends and family, a lot of hard knocks. While I muddled through, I did remain grateful and had a lot of fun, too.

My dear old college friend, BJ Timoner is back on the road, on foot, to walk across America for Pancreatic Cancer Research. This is his second trek,  he had a heart event in the middle of the heat of Texas, and got back on the road east in 2011. You can imagine just how important this is to him, that he is willing to risk his very life to raise awareness and funds again.

Please click on his link at top right to learn more and to donate. This is one of the lowest rates of early detection and one of the highest death rates of all cancers.

You likely know someone besides Steve Jobs, who has passed quickly from this disease.

Please help BJ’s efforts and donate and pass the word.

Thank you, and have a stupendous 2013!

13 has always been a lucky number in my book. 🙂


not quite nanowrimo

This was the third time -or the fourth?- I attempted Nanowrimo and had similar results, but this year I did not stress about it.

I’m not a big fan of the win or lose aspect of it. I will take that the number of words I wrote earlier in the month was a darn good number of words, and an excellent and imaginative new story start with a lot of possibility.

My reality is: I have three kids going in three different directions, at three high needs stages of their childhoods. Well, Captain Comic is always high needs, a given, and my presence is needed daily at his wrestling practices to keep him focused.

Toots is in an afternoon session of preschool, which seriously cuts into my writing mojo, as she and I have the house to ourselves most mornings…a prime time writing time for me if i did not have divided focus on her- some writers are night writers, some are early morning writers. I find my most productive writing time falls after I take care of setting up the minutiae of the day and when a regular school day ends, approximately 9am-3pm. so when I drop her off at 12:25pm, and can run errands alone, I fill the rest of that time pretty easily without much writing.

Mr. Cynic’s senior year first semester is full of college application stress (though he has already been been accepted to one!) and finally taking care of getting his driver’s license. He has a job and a music studio mentorship that happens up the highway in Williamsburg. He is now officially licensed, but I do not feel he is ready to drive that jaunt alone just yet. I feel better about him driving within a two mile radius to the house. I know, that is inverse reasoning when most accidents occur within a five mile radius of driver residences. But I’m his mother: if he’s going to be involved in a wreck, I’d rather it be close to home. Give me a few weeks of riding up the highway with him, and I might change my mind.

And then there are my other writing projects. So, I started off Nano pretty well, taking it easy on myself, so that I wouldn’t cause writer’s block out of word count pressure. I was really excited about freeing up my imagination after spending the last few years in pretty solid edit mode for my longest term project. I am really happy about what came out and where I may go with it.

Then life happened, as it always does, between this time of year’s onset of colds and flu, and the usual doctor’s appointments, etc…then Thanksgiving, etc, then I really felt like moving back to edit the old project. Then I got another great idea, and wrote a first draft of a sermon to give at my UU Fellowship.

So, I may not have ‘won’ Nano – but I sure didn’t lose. I have edited a little further toward the end of my first children’s novel, I have a great new next novel to work on, which makes at least two viable projects that have arrived because of Nano. And I wrote in a completely new genre that has a deadline presentation in the spring.

I call that a win. Maybe an incomplete one, but the bottom line is I wrote more this month that I did in the prior few, and got some writing mojo back.

My writing group hasn’t been meeting as consistently on Tuesday mornings twice a month since this summer. One of the two meetings per month was moved to evening, a precious time for my family, a time where I am mentally and physically crashing, and up the road in Williamsburg, so I have thus far bowed out. I’ve missed seeing my group regularly, partly because it held me accountable to set aside at least a couple of days of several hours per month to focus strictly on writing and do so in good company.

The two of us in the group who are most local to each other have made a commitment to each other –and to our writing– to meet every Tuesday morning, barring appointments for her aged parent and the mayhem we both have with our teens and Toots.

And that is a win, indeed. I wrote for five hours straight yesterday and barely got out of my chair. Quite an accomplishment for yours truly,  Ms. Highly Distractible.



At 12:31am on August 26th, 1998, my baby, my little monster, the funniest kid in the world came into the world. He had a mug like Edward G. Robinson. He got better looking.

Now he’s bigger than me.

Here are 14 things Captain Comic would like you to know about him:

1. I have a huge collection of Godzilla DVDs and figures.

2. I use the figures to make stop motion movies.

3. I am currently working on an action comedy animatic.

4. I tend to wander, a lot.

5. Mom tells me not to hold the cat, but she’s  SO FLUFFAY!

6. When mom tells me to do something, something else always pops in my head to go do first.

7. Sometimes when Toots bugs me, I want to crush her like one.

8. But I don’t. Mom would kill me.

9. Mr. Cynic is the antihero in my life. He sometimes is a jerk, but also has my back.

10. I love slapstick and campy stuff. The picture above is an example of my humor.

11. I am compulsive about hugs.

12. I wrestle a giant big polar bear plush in the backyard.

13. I feel sympathy for the dog. Well, any dog. People, not so much.

14. THERE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A FOURTEEN! Scratch that. My favorite thing to do is draw comics and make movies on the computer.


Happy birthday, kiddo. I love you and have got your back, too.

breaking the block, life and stuff

It took a while, more like a month, possibly more, before I could really engage with the manuscript. On Tuesday, at my writing group, I seem to have finally broken through the block.

It took until then before I could even read it without going crosseyed and my brain shutting down in the first paragraphs. I’m not sure if a channel remains that puts the rainbow stripes up and that tone at a certain hour of the night, when programming ends. I am not sure if any of you remember awakening on the sofa to that sound that happened after a rendition of the national anthem and a stock photo of the flag flying, but that is what happened every time I opened my manuscript until Tuesday. Minus the flag and anthem.

In the mean time, I have been trying to stop staring at the computer so much and engage more with Toots and when the heat wasn’t thoroughly oppressive (index of 113F one day last week, and near that for about two weeks) walking the dog, since Captain Comic isn’t here to do so.

I had a moment when Toots seemed more discouraged that I could rotate my hoop so easily, and rethought buying one in my size with the idea I could teach her to hula by example. She hasn’t gotten the hang of it, yet, but I will keep trying with her.

I am off to the library today to edit some more, going to try to treat my writing more like a job, and get myself out of the house and someplace I can focus on it with minimal distractions. When I try to work on it at home, I can find anything to do instead far too easily – because things need doing.

I hope you had a happy Fourth of July, if you’re American. I am pretty happy to live here, even if there is a lot that I would like to change. Both sides of my family have been here since colonial days and longer, and though I have strains of the Celtic and Anglo-Saxon folks of old running in my veins, I don’t think you can get anymore of a place than my family roots in this land.

boston and berks

Life is crazy mayhem lately, including kitchen renno (post to come, I won’t say soon, based on how long it took me to get to this one) and trying to manage the garden plots, reconfiguring the flower and bush beds out front and finally planting some vegetables out back, which I am still in the middle of…okay, okay, I’ll get down to business and make it quick, too.

I love Boston. I love it like it’s my spiritual mother, my home, my long lost love, my raison d’etre, my weather report, my seasonal compass. I know its seasons and weather  by the ionic change in the atmosphere, I can tell you exactly when the pussy willows out Beacon, by the Charles Street Extension, just before you reach Kenmore will bloom by it, I can tell you when the tulip trees along Comm Ave will burst in an explosion of petals and when they’ll rain down and coat the sidewalks. I’m giving you spring examples, because this is the current season…but I can also tell you when it will snow, when the February winds will take hold and not let go, when the September leaves will burnish and flame into October by the shift of light and the scent change of metal in the air, the charge of life, the ionic existence of the city I love.

Along  I-90, The Mass Pike, as the Boston City Limits road sign rolled by Bertha’s window, I hooted, I hollered, and then I burst into tears.

My kids and spouse think I am crazy, but that is how much I love this city.

Most of these are taken in Copley Square, where we met friends and my niece for lunch, which was too much to squeeze in, really, and it was great to see all, though our visit was cut even shorter by events that transpired including the passing of a kidney stone by one of our party and a call to 911. It’s not for me to spread their business, or who it was that passed a kidney stone, but this just goes to show, even when the circumstances I set up are mayhemic already, random unrelated mayhem will happen in my vicinity. It’s guaranteed. Life’s an adventure, what can I say. I will ride those three bucking broncos, hanging on by a rope til the day I die. I am well practiced already, so I’ll just keep hanging on and see what happens next.

The purported reason for our ‘side trip’ to Boston on the way to my college reunion in the Berkshires, was to take Mr. Cynic to tour Berklee College of Music, the one place he wants to go. I took no pics, becasue we were too busy keeping the couple of Berzerkers, Toots and Captain Comic from getting into what ever they were going to get into with each other, which wasn’t fun for any of us, and highly distracting for Mr. C. Also it was Freshman registration day and the place was crawling like ants with people who didn’t know where they were going, either, and we had no tour guide, just the gaggle of us and a map with highlights, given to us in the Admissions office.

Needless to say, mayhem. Did I mention that the “campus” is integrated into the city? Luckily, a couple of decades ago, I hung out with a band in the practice rooms a lot, so I had a vague recollection of where buildings were…

A note about the couple of pics at the end of the Boston portion of the gallery, Toots is standing with a lion at the Hynes Convention Center, and he is a fendyee yion and those horse statues by Neiman Marcus are part of Honey’s photography portfolio from eons ago…he was commissioned by the artist to photograph them before their installation and create an exhibit poster with one. Sorry, don’t have a reference pic, if I did, I’d put it here. If I find one, I will edit it it in. 🙂


We headed out to the Reunion and I saw so many great people, and was so happy to see them, I didn’t take pics of them, but I did take pics of frogs that as soon as I told the kids not to poke, they poked. Mr. Cynic did not want to be on my old campus for anything. Toots made friends with everyone else’s kids in her age range, who danced or ran while adults ate. And Captain Comic mostly just wanted to go home and let everyone know about it, particularly on the last day we were there.

Again there were mishaps, misadventures and mayhem, because I was involved, but it was fun, steamy, beautiful and wonderous besides. A couple of weeks later, the exhaustion is wearing down, but I am still riding the highs, having somewhat gained control of those broncos that gallop my life through everything.

I love my people and places and these two places are influential in my life, because of their landscapes, the times I spent in them, becoming, and the people I love within them…

bridges, back home, trip part 1

Last Thursday, we piled into Bertha and headed North. After we were on the road a while, I recalled the location of the camera…back home on my desk.

At the juncture of routes 17 and 301 (this route we have discovered avoids clusters of traffic around Richmond and DC and a good chunk of I-95 and other traffic hazards) we usually make a pit stop and tank up at a place called Horne’s. Apparently they have started producing their own bottled water.  All pics from here on out taken with a cell phone camera.

We crossed a lot of bridges, including a tenuous bridge I feel very trepidatious about while crossing the Potomac, even though its name is Nice. Click on its name for an example why, and read the description. It gives me chills every time I cross it, a handful of times per year.

DMB, not Dave Matthews Band, the other DMB

Here we are crossing the Delaware Memorial Bridge headed toward Jersey and the George Washington Bridge headed into NYC.  When I was growing up, we trekked annually at minimum from Connecticut to visit my grandparents and extended families in Georgia and Florida. So now that I live in Virginia, I find myself making the opposite trip. Once when I was about 11 years old, our station wagon broke down in the middle of the DMB. I will never forget coasting in neutral to the Delaware side and the picnic on the side of the highway as my father walked to an emergency call box and we waited for a tow truck and the adventure that ensued from there, but that is another story for another blog, maybe, eventually. Needless to say, every time I cross the Delaware, or almost any other big bridge, I think of that day and pray.


For the record, I detest the traffic (and because of the fog, we couldn’t even distract ourselves by viewing Manhattan skyline) from North Jersey through Southern Connecticut to my parents’ house. Someone always needs to pee, and there’s no way to get over or stop or anything but grind your teeth and pray a car seat doesn’t get soaked. This time, it did. I was just thankful that it wasn’t mine. Poor Toots, she tried really hard to hold it for hours and hours. I swear that that traffic zone is always about half the time of the whole trip.

She’s going to hate me for putting that on the interwebs in a permanent way, when she finds and reads this at age 14-40, right?

First official stop: my parents’ house in Connecticut. 

Not sure I fully appreciated how nice it was to grow up here, but I did appreciate the trees to climb, the back yard hill to sled with the glacial erratic in the midst of the sled hill that all the neighborhood kids loved to jump then land in the pricker bushes just past it,  I broke my arm going off it on a bike one time, too. Now I appreciate the free roaming around the neighborhood and well out of bounds of the 70s and early 80s by bike or on rollerskates, with dogs.

My nephew stopped over for dinner with us. Can’t believe he is 20 now.

I always thought there’s a resemblance between Mr. Cynic on the left and my nephew. For one, they are both skinny as all get out, but there’s something in the jawline, general placement of features.  They share a smirk, too. My parents are camera shy these days and I wasn’t thinking a whole lot about taking pics without an actual camera. Most pics I took on the whole trip were pretty random and spontaneous and a bit nonsensical considering all the shots I should have taken.

Our trip timing prevented our seeing my brothers and the rest of their families. Biggest nephew has a new habit of eating dinner at Gaga and Papa’s house a couple of times a month or so, and playing poker with them after. So good to see him and hear him and Mr. Cynic connect on bands and stuff.

We washed Toots’s car seat, spent the night and headed further north to Boston and the Berkshires for loads of mayhem and adventure, which you will see in part two.

of friends, berries, ferries, and gulls

For Mother’s Day, a bunch of friends’ families went strawberry picking and rode a ferry home. Admittedly the ferry is the long way, but it was fun adventure and free!

It was a beautiful day, and yes, I got a wee sunburnt, but loved it.

College Run Farms has season crops for public picking throughout the growing season, and right now is strawberries.  And the best fresh ice cream in the world.

Nothing more heavenly in this world than the scent of sun-warm berries and tasting them in the rows. Toots took off running, throwing strawberrycaps in her wake, Captain Comic was overdressed, regardless of the pleas and orders to change, and Mr. Cynic roasted his scalp under his black straw fedora, but fun was had by all, even if Captain Comic kept tugging on my arm, “Can we go now?”

Here is a smattering of the pics of our adventure:

A long unusual moment occurred between Mr. Cynic and a laughing gull who rode the back draft of the ferry. Either the laughing gull was trying to commune with him, or wanted to peck his eye out. I prefer the former option…

I hope you had a lovely Mother’s Day, too!

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