A House in the Woods

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week's topic is

Here is my 5 minute free-writing.

And, go. This is a pre-scheduled Finish the Sentence Friday post, and I can only hope that they didn’t change the topic out from under me, and that this isn’t posting optimistically early on a Friday morning, only to be completely irrelevant to.. everything. I’m going to assume that didn’t happen because the FTSF team wouldn’t do that. And even if so, hi! Here I am! I’m talking about home today. I fear I’ll waste five whole minutes on the introduction alone, but that’s ok. Once upon a time, well before amazing home renovations and the like, I realized this was our dream home. Or at least it had all the potentials of it. When we moved here, I was six months pregnant and we had an October blizzard. No power for 36 hours.

(This isn’t unlike last week’s April Winter Weather Advisory) We moved here and I was six weeks pregnant. I didn’t like the smells, only because there were any smells at all. It took me a long time to shift and adjust to this house, and I’m sure it felt the same about me. The truth is, it has good bones, and I think I do too. Des was settling inside my bones, and I was settling inside these bones. Since then, we have only made it better. There’s still room for a ton of growth, and I’m ready to take any plunges. My five minutes are up but here’s a piece I wrote when I figured it out. The dream, the dream, the dream:

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week's topic is

“When we were kids, my maternal grandparents were snowbirds. Now that they’re 98 and 100, they’ve been permanently locked in the Fort Lauderdale area for over a decade, but my parents and siblings and I remember our New England summers well. They weren’t as flashy as our annual Myrtle Beach, SC or Ocean City, MD vacations. Those were filled with hot beaches and amusement parks and junk food galore. Our just as annual, but not as riveting, New England summer vacations were more subtle in ways I didn’t fully appreciate until I got older. The houses changed over the years.

Sometimes they’d get the same one in Grantham, NH. Once or twice the house was in Vermont, surrounded by golf courses and moose. Often, the house was in New Hampshire amid quiet highways and what I used to think were very tall mountains, until I moved to the west coast. Though the location changed over the years, some things stayed wonderfully the same.

Creaky hardwood floors. Breezy summer nights with open windows. A breakfast bar to gather around. The constant smell of pine. A loft area we loved to stand up on and yell down to the first floor from. Sometimes we even threw things down.

I always knew we were close when driving through the tall trees, we could see windows of light from the houses deeply nestled in the woods. I always knew we were close because the radio would go down and all we’d hear was the sound of tires on a gravel driveway. Then we had arrived, truly. What would follow were long days of book reading or going to the lake, or for the more adventurous of us, we’d go all the way into town to the one restaurant – a pizzeria, and the one place of entertainment – a lonely arcade. Sometimes we’d drive an hour on the suspiciously empty highways to go to a children’s museum that was somewhere..in the middle of nowhere. I honestly don’t know where we were. I love the air of mystery.

On a somewhat related note, during the summer after my father died we did make our trip up to New England. Instead of five siblings, this was back when it was just me, my sister and my mom. This was a year or two before the Brady Bunch marriage. We stopped somewhere in nowhere, Massachusetts at a diner. I really wanted a waffle but they only had pancakes. I was a grieving but adorable four-year-old and the waiter actually, proudly, somehow, had made me a waffle.

I think he put pancake batter in the grilled cheese press. Years later, we still bring up that memory. After I moved from NJ to California to Massachusetts, my mom, uncle and I pieced together where that diner was. In Florence, Massachusetts. Florence is part of Northampton. I live in Florence now. We went to that same diner, years later, when I was pregnant with Scarlet, and sat in the same booth. We also went after Des’ 20 week ultrasound to celebrate our unborn son’s health.

I don’t know the towns and cities we stayed in or trampled upon in New Hampshire and Vermont all those summers ago. However I’m sure somehow I have retraced some of those steps in my adult life. I’m sure I’ve been drawn to them like mosquitoes to the light. Somehow, I always find myself back in meaningful places, without having any conscious way of knowing how to get back there. I do remember that every year, my grandfather would take us to Dartmouth to browse the bookstore. It was mainly my thing so he sometimes would only take me, and we’d eat at a Dartmouth dining hall.

We were restless and easily bored kids, I think. I don’t think that’s unusual. The pace of life in a remote New England town was something I had to grow into. These weren’t your beach New England vacations with clam chowder or lobster in a pot.

This was life in the deep trees, as I always imagined it.

I can’t find any pictures from there, although I’m sure my parents have millions, but here’s a sampling of what my poor elders were dealing with during those trips. They probably just wanted to read and relax for days. We were quite the haul:

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Years ago, Scarlet spent the day with her grandmother. It couldn’t have come at a better time because I was on day two of complete laryngitis and would not have been able to be with her all day without being able to talk to that cute face.

Scarlet was brought back to us near her bedtime, after dusk had passed, and darkness had fallen. We heard the telltale sound of tires on a gravel driveway. I looked out the window to the tall, tall trees. I heard footsteps on the wooden-planked ramp to our front door. And then she was returned to us, sleepy putty in our arms. I was overcome with memories of being that slumped over, half-asleep child being handed from the car to the bed under the watchful New England sky.

The same sights and sounds. The same smell. Just 10-15 years later in a different state, but with the same geography and atmosphere. I could close my eyes and barely tell the difference between the present, and the time that had passed.

It’s funny how we find ourselves back to the places we once found ourselves in, but never imagined we’d settle. Maybe my summers in New England planted the seed in my brain that this was where I wanted to be. Maybe I would have found myself here anyway. It didn’t seem likely in the fast-paced and populated Jersey life I was so accustomed to. It didn’t even seem likely when I was about to move to California and I was pretty sure I’d embrace that lifestyle forever. (I still might)

Yet, here I am in my house in the trees. Gravel driveway and no visible neighbors. Grown up and grown into these bones.”

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “My home..” (5 minute free writing) And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin: HERE.

What would you say?

10 Things I Hate About You

“Why are you so angry all of the time today?”

Scarlet asked me that yesterday, and it stopped me in my tracks. There’s nothing like questioning your crankiness after a sweet little voice questions it first. And to be honest, her voice is sweet and little, and was even a little hoarse yesterday, but she was throwing me a lot of attitude right back. THAT is why I was cranky. I hate the word “hate” but there are things I hate. I hate crowds, which sometimes translates to others that I hate people, which is absolutely not true. Although I do hate feeling trapped or overwhelmed or anxious. I hate that I think people can be so incredibly oblivious, but I hate even more the fact that it’s true for me too and that people don’t use their brains to their full capacity. Ohhh, I’m guilty of that.

The thing is, the range of things to hate is so vast. I hate the feeling of a hangnail, and how if you don’t clip it or have access to clippers, you can’t let it stay like that. So you pull it and it HURTS, and then continues to hurt for hours or days. It’s small, though. I hate racism, and that’s quite large. I hate my own inadequacies, of which there are plenty, but I hate more how trapped I feel sometimes – completely unable to rise above – and react, heal, combat, surrender, let go, and deal.

That’s what I hate.

Hate is a bad word in my house, along with “stupid” and “fat” which are the really bad “s” and “f” words. That doesn’t mean they’re not words, though, and that we don’t sometimes fling them with meaning. When Finish the Sentence Friday proposed this topic today: “10 things I hate more than anything”, they joked that maybe they made a mistake with the topic, and that we’d have to be cranky to participate. To be honest, I am cranky today. I’ve had two sick kids home with me for most of the week and I have SO much to wade through before two business trips within the next week. I don’t even feel that well but it’s allergies that are making me paranoid it’s more. I haven’t even been out in the world to hate anything.

You don’t have to be cranky to write this post. You do have to properly examine some tough stuff, though, and your reactions to them. I decided to break mine into categories, and to say things I hate about each one. Fun? Well. We’ll see:

1 – Foods. It’s so hard to pick a least favorite. I used to say raw onions, but I think there might be worse things. Like cilantro, truffle oil, stinky cheeses, octopus, and duck liver! That fake grape flavor in candy and kids’ medicine. YUCK.

2 – Destructive Human Behaviors. Where to begin? Lying. Violence. Stealing. Cheating. Bad habits. Bullying. Greed. HATE. Gosh, we really are a weird bunch, aren’t we? Luckily, we happen to exhibit such positive behaviors too.

3 – Driving patterns. People are greedy on the road, aren’t they? Sometimes people drive as if you can’t die while driving, and others are just annoying. I’d say driving slowly in the left lane for awhile is an oblivious or malicious behavior.

4 – Bodily fluids. I can’t think of any to be a walk in the park, but vomit is my most hated!

5 – Animals. I really don’t love scorpions, spiders and snakes, but I’d let them all live. I will carry a tiny ant to safety and I have almost zero violent tendencies to speak of, but as far as I’m concerned, mosquitoes and ticks can DIE.

6 – Unpleasant physical feelings. I’ve been lucky to experience this minimally, and only from reading in the car, but I think motion sickness feels SO MUCH worse than any virus or food related sickness I can imagine. And it LASTS so long.

7 – Weather. There’s a lot to hate out here. There are those endless thick-clouded days in March. We have dangerous ice storms, cold rain, steamy rain, or just plain gloominess. I think the endless thick-clouded nothing days are the worst.

8 – Other people’s habits. Audible eating and close talking are in the lead!

9 – Places. I’ve had some dark times in Delaware. And Rahway, NJ isn’t my idea of a peach. There’s that congested driving area near, but not in, NYC and it’s just my idea of the worst places to live. Pollution and houses right next to each other.

10 – World crises. Terrorism, poverty, hunger, and polar bears clinging to icebergs. Gun violence, polarizing political views, racism, homophobia, intolerance, fear, hate, and hurting animals. Hurting ANYONE. Religion wars. CANCER. Just stop.

My list of things to love? It’s nearly endless. I can’t count that high! It’s raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. It’s eyelashes on Des and love with anyone. Basically this was hard for me, because I’m mostly all about the LOVE!

Feeling cranky today? This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “10 things I hate more than anything.” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin: HERE.

What would you say?