She Wore Scarlet Begonias Tucked Into Her Curls

My mom, and many others, feel that you should choose a mug that speaks to you.

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It’s true. I have one at her house, that is one of a few that she also favors. It’s cream-colored, soft around the edges, and smooth to your lips and tongue. I do lick that mug. I lick the whipped cream around the edges, as well as the remnants of brown or raw sugar. And I can feel it now – curved under my palm – smooth, cool, and comforting. The coolness is a contrast to the hot liquid. The whole experience is heightened from that one mug.

I promise you that.

At home, we have two “Scarlett’s Country Inn” mugs that made it in one piece on a cross-country flight – no doubt wrapped and padded with baby clothes and socks in our suitcases. I won’t even go to Google to try to link up a website for “Scarlett’s Country Inn” – just in case it doesn’t exist anymore. That, I couldn’t bear. I invite you to go see if it still exists, but you don’t have to tell me the results. My favorite mug is the light blue one above.

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

This post is for two people, no longer here. Connected by grace and strength, and the fact that they both impacted our lives enough to contribute to the naming of our firstborn – Scarlet Bella. This post is for FTSF and for these women. This post is part naming convention and part belated eulogy. And it’s partly for our firstborn.

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When people ask me how we came up with Scarlet Bella’s name, I hesitate because there’s no one clear answer. It’s like our “how we met” story. I don’t know when I first thought of Scarlet as a name but I know it was somewhere around ten years ago and that once it came to be, it felt like it’s been there all along this journey.

And maybe it has. I have always thought I’d have a daughter. Sometimes you’re trying to remember or create something, like the name of a movie star or an idea for work, and you can go through your daily life normally while your brain sub-consciously gets closer and closer to it and the – LIGHTBULB – the answer seems to come out of the blue? And you know it’s not coming out of the blue and that your brain has been on auto-pilot all along.

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

“How about Scarlet?” I blurted out one day. I can’t remember when this was, whether it was by email when we still lived 3,000 miles apart or if it was when we were sitting together in our San Francisco apartment. Cassidy agreed to it like that. And I know this was before any talk of babies, or even a wedding. Even after we had discussed this name and held it secretly close to our hearts, this name that had followed me in my past and was circling us in our present, it was still to creep up in our future – actually right when Scarlet was conceived.

Here’s a list of a few of the ways in which “Scarlet” has played into our lives. This is why we called her that:

1 – I went to Rutgers University (Douglass). So did my father, my dad, my sisters, my grandfather, and probably more family than I can remember have all gone to Rutgers University. Their mascot is the Scarlet Knight.

2 – When I was in fifth grade we did a unit on rain forests and I became OBSESSED with Scarlet Macaws. It’s part of my rainbow obsession!

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

3 – “Scarlet’s Walk” is a Tori Amos album and a song on the album. Nothing could replace “Under the Pink” for me – but this album did heavily influence how I look at lyric writing, America and road trips.

4 – Different shades of reds have been my favorite colors for as long as I can remember. I love reading different red descriptions in catalogs like Victoria’s Secret and Land’s End. I most would want to buy a Scarlet dress.

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

5 – In our wedding vows, I vowed to explore the magical realm of the Grateful Dead. Before that, I had only known “Touch of Grey.” So a lot of my schooling happened on our two and a half week road trip to move back East. We listened to the Dead something like 80% of that trip and they calmly sang us through one of the most harrowing moments of our lives – getting off of a giant mountain during a freak blizzard in the Rockies.

“Scarlet Begonias” is a favorite song.

6 – When Cassidy and I got back together, we stayed with our friend Scarlett at Scarlet’s Country Inn in Calistoga. Our Scarlet’s name has one “T” but we dream that she will grow up to be as elegant, kind-hearted, dream-catching, timeless, and as wise as Calistoga’s Scarlett was. I think it was Cassidy’s mom, Ruth, who first found the B&B. We went any chance we could – to celebrate our engagement, to get away from the city, to say hello and goodbye. The first time I was there, Scarlett made us the most delicious french toast I’ve ever had and gave us advice about running a B&B. She had a boisterous new puppy – a Pomeranian named “Chewbacca of Kashyyyk.”

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The second time I went there she had rescued a beautiful bird that had been left for dead that she believed to be a Stellar Jay. She named him Stella. She nursed him back to health but he always hung around, eventually becoming wild enough that she couldn’t always tell him apart from other Jays. He still hangs around there, I’m sure. The third time I went there, I believe she had two more dogs than the previous time. Her mother had recently passed and she had inherited the dogs. Her mom must have been 110!

The fourth time I went there she revealed, rather shyly, that she had rescued a tiny field mouse that had been left for dead. She kept him in the house and fed him with an infant dropper. She held our Scarlet in her arms and we told her she was part of the reason we gave our baby that name. Then we talked for hours over strawberries dipped in sugar and sour cream. I’m so glad we told her about the naming inspiration. She knew!

Scarlet Begonias

A year later, Cassidy excitedly called her up to make a reservation for a wine country wedding. We found out the tragic news that she had JUST passed away three weeks earlier in a car accident. I found it near impossible to wrap my head around the news. Scarlett was one of a kind and I always wished for an annual Scarlet/Scarlett get together. At least they did meet once. I know she had a long life that must have dramatically touched the lives of everyone around her. I’d only seen her four or five times in my life and I believe I’m a better person because of it.

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7 – Scarlet’s middle name is Bella. That was my grandmother’s name. No Isabella – just Bella. She was magic. I could write on and on about her with tears streaming down my eyes but I think I’ll just post the few paragraphs I wrote about her in the “We Remember…” dedication section of our wedding program:

“When I think of Bella Klein, I always think of the phrase, “larger than life,” because she lived life so big and true. There was not enough room in this world for her huge heart; as well as there is not enough room in this world for our pain at losing her. The quintessential perfect Jewish grandmother, she taught us how to dip bowls of ice cream into rainbow sprinkles and how to be properly tucked into bed at night. This involved yelling “Alley-oop!” and throwing blankets well over our heads as we shrieked with laughter.

I went to college quite close to her home and when I first started as a freshman, I was so nervous that my throat closed and her magical salad was the only food I could get down. I wish I had known then that my time with Grandma Bella was limited because I would have screamed to the sky and been around her 24/7 just to say, “I LOVE YOU” a thousand times. It would never have been enough. Luckily those were my last words to her anyway, thought I didn’t know at the time that they would be. Her funeral was on a clear, dry day in December.

We were all dying a little that day…until someone said, “Look up in the sky” and brought the ceremony to a standstill. I’m no scientist but vivid, full rainbows with arcs do not appear on clear, dry, wintery days yet there were two in the sky directly above our group. We all became believers of magic that day. However to know Bella alive was to be a believer anyway.”

Scarlet Begonias

I’m linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “They Call Me..” You can link up HERE.

What do they call you?


On a side note, remember the clothing store 5-7-9? If you came here looking for info about it, I found this.

On another side note, Des and I went on a big Thursday adventure today to a mall in Connecticut where we did some damage to our wallets at Disney Store and Lush, and we boosted the economy. So what can I say, except “You’re Welcome.”

5-7-9(What can I say except that this photo of Des looks more like me than any other photo I’ve ever seen, so what does that say about me? About my tongue? About my love for Grateful Dead bears? This is me!)

What can I say except, I haven’t done that sort of mall shopping trip in a long time. And we had gift cards. Not that I need to explain myself, but man, that used to be a lifestyle thing and now it’s maybe once a year – if I’m lucky? There was even a latte involved. And I wore a dress and a jean jacket. The sun didn’t come out, but what can you say, except “You’re Welcome.” (clearly that Moana song is in my head) We’ve been geeking out on all things Pixar’s Cars. I’m OBSESSED.

With my youngest starting kindergarten in the fall, and my oldest losing her first tooth, I'm really feeling the ripples of change #life #love #FTSF #family

I’m someone who’s currently obsessed with Cars, you’re welcome. I hope it lasts. I’m someone who’s a lot of things, mulling a lot of things, considering more than one thing in more than one category, dreaming about tons of things, and I’m someone who’s prone to mood changes throughout the day – elevations and de-elevations. Peaks and rises. My temperament is rather mild, but the emotions inside are affected by everything – including the weather. Or rather, MOSTLY the weather. And too many emails, or lack of emails. Too much work, or not enough work. Too many feels, too many fears, not even tears – when I need them. I’m someone who wears red dresses on random Tuesdays, but doesn’t know how to apply makeup to save my life.

*Unless it’s lipgloss and/or mascara. Then, lives can be saved.


I’m someone who can probably do a lot of things, if I put my mind to it, but I’m someone who never believes I can do anything – until I do it. And then it’s not like it’s consistent and I get it and I gain that notch of confidence/experience forever. No, my confidence and beliefs are prone to the same elevations and de-elevations, and peaks and rises that my mood is. It’s just life.

It’s all connected.

This post is about all the things I’m not, though. And I spend a lot of my life proving myself wrong about things I thought I couldn’t do, and things I didn’t think I was. What I’m not, is someone who can roll with the punches. I can adapt, but it’s not an easy transition. It’s like when I walk into someone’s house at any point between November and April, and they say, “Take off your coat and stay awhile!” And I say, “I will, but it takes me awhile to adjust!” Who can argue with that? I can’t.

I take my coat off eventually, on my own time.

With my youngest starting kindergarten in the fall, and my oldest losing her first tooth, I'm really feeling the ripples of change #life #love #FTSF #family

All the things I’m not.. is someone who can roll with punches. I feel things in my stomach, by long route from my heart. It’s the shifting seasons. It’s putting down a deposit at the movie theater for Des’ 5th birthday. It’s Scarlet being so very 7. It’s my marriage being 9. See? 5-7-9. It’s hanging up Scarlet’s dresses – because she can’t yet reach the top of her closet.

It’s lost baby teeth in a tooth box necklace from the school nurse. It’s Scarlet taking showers now – washing and combing her own hair – and putting on a bathrobe “because it feels kinda awesome.” It’s the fact that just last week, I still gave her a bath and carried her “like a baby” into her bedroom because that’s what she likes. Now I do that with Des, but then I help him into 5T pajamas, because the 4T clothes look like a flood is coming. Kindergarten is coming. Freaking kindergarten.

With my youngest starting kindergarten in the fall, and my oldest losing her first tooth, I'm really feeling the ripples of change #life #love #FTSF #family

Des being 5. Scarlet being SO 7. Our marriage being 9, with no nine-year itch. I realize it’s the seven-year itch but I didn’t have it then. I’m just perpetually itchy. I get itchy from odd years and odd milestones. Adult teeth rising behind baby teeth.

Something so adult and permanent on my first baby!

There are many adult things. She has opinions – strong and smart ones – about politics and God. Equality and equity. (although she’s totally fine if she gets 30% more chocolate eggs in her Easter basket than her brother.) She can throw out some quick, theoretical punches. Life is full of these gut punches. Sometimes I roll with them, but some are too big, too one after the other, and too heavy/heady, heady/heavy. These are my struggles, and life will never stop happening – in quick, punching succession – but maybe I’ll be quicker on my feet with time. Maybe the punches won’t go right to my head and to my gut.

Maybe I’ll learn to take them, and maybe I’ll learn how to give a good one right back.

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “All the things I’m not…” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.

Do you roll with punches? Did you shop at 5-7-9?