Beach bound

We leave tomorrow, bright & early, for our annual trip to Salisbury Beach. I. Can’t. Wait. My bag is packed, I’m ready to go. My favorite girl made a count-down sign and has been packed for a week. The two male members of this household have yet to pack but will throw trunks & toothbrushes in a bag at some point today. Between now and our 6 a.m. departure tomorrow, a few important things need to happen, including one last swim as I attempt to hit my goal of 800 meters before I let myself go completely to pot on vacay; delivering a birthday gift to our favorite 18-year-old (happy birthday, Alexis!); and one last cooking club gathering tonight with some of my besties. We’ll toast the waning of summer while sipping bubbly in the pool.

My math may be off, but I think this is our 9th year to make the beach trip. Two summers ago, I was benched by the heinous post-mastectomy infection. Missing the trip was as tough as the ordeal that caused it, and I’m still in do-over mode. I usually invoke a 10 a.m. start time for drinking on the beach, but in true do-over fashion, I may just relax that rule and say anything goes in the beverage-consumption department. 

The beach trip is always special and much-anticipated for many reasons: spending time with our surrogate family, escaping the brutal Texas heat, lounging on the beach, eating lobster, and going to Fenway Park for a Red Sox game or two. The trip has taken on additional relevance for me in the wake of a health crisis, because it signifies the light at the end of the tunnel and the reward for making it through the really rough stuff. It symbolizes a return to normalcy after a hellish span of time.

The bittersweet part of this year’s trip will be leaving our little piggie behind. While she would be a fun addition to our beach party, the logistics of getting her from here to there and back again are too stressful — for her and for us. She’ll be in good hands, though, with Keely the piggie-loving pet sitter. We stocked up on provisions for our little piggie, so it will be business as usual for her as she fills the hours in between breakfast and dinner. 

On the way home from Costco, with a half ton of produce in the backseat, I saw this car and smiled to myself. I viewed the whimsical paint job as a harbinger of good things to come: fun, carefree, colorful days in the sun, surrounded by the people I love the most. I couldn’t help but notice the placement of the Modelo billboard just beyond the St Arnold’s Brewery tie-dye car as I prepared for our big trip–that’s some good karma right there.

This beach trip will be full of all of our favorite things, and we’ll have the added bonus of sharing our favorite beach with none other than Amy Hoover, my medical sherpa, and her 3 boys as they make the long journey home from Maine. Salisbury Beach is right on their way home, so we’ll rendezvous on the beach. How fun!

We’ll be doing a whole lot of this

and some of this

with a little bit of this

and a pinch of this

and of course, a healthy dose of this.


Loyalty

The news of our beloved Red Sox trading Kevin Youkilis got me thinking about loyalty. It’s an under-appreciated trait, IMHO, and its value tends to be most noticed in its absence.

Youk was one of my favorite players, both for his on-field production and for his feisty attitude. He spoke his mind and took the heat that ensued from fans and press who prefer their players to shut up and play. He was part of the Red Sox from 2001, and was an integral part of the roster that my family fell in love with in our early days of Sox indoctrination. I’ll never forget this little Sox fan asking me what his beloved Nomar did wrong when he was traded in 2004. This loyal fan didn’t yet understand that baseball is not just his favorite game, but a business as well, and players are commodities that are moved and used to ensure financial success. It’s a hard-learned lesson and one that removed forever a piece of my little guy’s innocence.

Despite Youk’s last name, he’s not actually Greek but this Greek girl considers him an honorary countryman. In the wildly successful book Moneyball, author Michael Lewis christened Youk “Euclis: The Greek God of Walks” and the nickname stuck. I appreciated Youk for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was his record for most consecutive errorless games at first base (until Casey Kotchman came along, anyway). He’s scrappy and intense, and as Boston Globe writer Jackie MacMullan so aptly described, “He does not look like an MVP candidate; more a refrigerator repairman, a butcher, the man selling hammers behind the counter at the True Value hardware store.”

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I’m thinking he could easily pass for a crew member on “The Deadliest Catch” as well. All part of his charm. His Gold-Glove-Award-winning, three-time MLB All Star, and two-time World Series champion self will be greatly missed by this member of Red Sox nation. Upon my first visit to Fenway, a decade ago, I couldn’t understand why fans uniformly booed Youk when he came up to bat. I quickly realized they weren’t booing but chanting “Yoooooooooouk!”  I hope to see many jerseys sporting #20 when we go to Fenway in August. I’ll be wearing mine.

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Is it strange to feel so sad seeing our current favorite player hugging an outgoing Sox mainstay? Is it weird to feel bereft about a player’s departure from a favorite team? Is it naive to want everything to stay the same? Sometimes loyalty brings great sadness; to pledge oneself opens one up to vulnerability. And unfortunately, loyalty does come and go. I learned this firsthand when given a cancer diagnosis.

A crisis, whether health or other, galvanizes some and chases away others. Friends show their true selves, for good and for bad. Some of the people I most expected to be there for me upon diagnosis and in the trying days beyond were the first to depart. The reasons are as varied as the people. I imagine fear is top among the list of reasons people flee when a close friend is given shockingly bad news. While everyone knows in their rational brain that cancer isn’t contagious, the proximity of a dreaded disease causes some people to distance themselves from the afflicted person. Personally, I don’t get that, as I was brought up to believe that a time of crisis is the best time to be by a friend’s side. This lesson was reaffirmed and underscored tenfold as new friends appeared on the scene in my hour of need. Y’all know who you are, and I thank you, again and again. Another reason for the exodus is lack of loyalty. My sweet mama used to tell me it’s easy to be a good friend when everything is peachy, but the real friends, the loyal friends, will be there when things aren’t so peachy. As usual, she was right.

Confucius said, “The scholar does not consider gold and jade to be precious treasures, but loyalty and good faith.” I’m not much of a scholar, but I do treasure loyalty.

 

 


Good news for Ells

A mere 5 days ago, baseball was dead to me.

The season was over before it even really got started.

My favorite player suffered a nasty injury as his shoulder was crushed by the Rays’ Reid Brignac. Speculation ran rampant that the hottie center fielder would be out for the season.redsox.com

Brignac had dislocated Ells’s shoulder, causing my favorite player a lot of pain. Shame on you, Brignac.

According to the ESPN article, “A minor dislocation typically requires a minimum of four to six weeks, but if further evaluation reveals additional trauma to the shoulder, such as tears to the rotator cuff, labrum or other muscle or tendons, Ellsbury could be in jeopardy of missing months more.”

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine had no info on Ellsbury’s condition after the Sox-Rays game, saying only that he expected another outfielder to arrive in Boston on Saturday. Raise your hand if you’re surprised that Bobby V didn’t have a clue. Raise your other hand if you think that moron has a chance in hell of being able to find his brain with both hands. Bring back Tito! For the love of all things holy in the great sport of baseball, bring back Tito!

As Sox blogger Dan Lamothe says, “We’re on the cusp of a year that will be filled with more annoying drama than your average Adele song, and there’s nothing we can do to about it. At the center of this, of course, will be the transition from Terry Francona to Bobby Valentine.”

Amen.

After reading about Ells’s injury and DB Valentine‘s lack of info on this time-stopping, all-important topic, I hung my head, dried my tears, and channeled Doris Kearns Goodwin with thoughts of “Wait ’til next year.”

Alas, there is good news for fans of Ells: Orthopedic surgeon Lewis Yocum reviewed Ells’s MRI results and agreed with Sox docs that the injury is treatable and won’t require surgery.

Hopefully we’ll soon be seeing less of thisthe bleacher report

and more of this

and this

and this

That Ellsbury won’t be out for long is the best news I’ve heard in a while. Come on, Ells! Heal fast, ok? The game isn’t the same without you.


The Thanksgiving list

 

It’s Thanksgiving and I would be remiss if I didn’t remark upon the things for which I am thankful. This time last year I was fresh off the post-mastectomy infection train and trying to navigate life as a survivor. This year, the infection is finally in the rear-view mirror, and 8 surgeries later I’m on the road to reclaiming my normal life.

I’m contemplative on this day of everything good in my life. Not gonna think about the bad stuff today. Here’s a short list of the things I’m grateful on this day of Thanksgiving.

My family. And the beach. Two of my favorite things at the same time — good stuff!

Living in Texas, where it’s warm enough to swim on Thanksgiving. People joke about how Texas is a whole ‘nother country, and it’s true. Everything is bigger here, and better.

My kids. Every parent thinks their kids are amazing and wonderful and I am no different. 

As the grow I see more and more the people they are becoming, and that will always be a source of pride for me.

Youth sports. Being a part of a team, and experiencing the thrill of victory as well as the agony of defeat is a wonderful thing. 

Raising kids who love animals. Whether furry or slimy, cute or with a face only a mother could love, my kids adore animals and have learned compassion and sacrifice through caring for them. 

Good books. I love a good read. And I love that my kids are readers, too. My sweet mama the former English teacher would be so proud!

Natural beauty. Whether the rolling waves of Salisbury Beach, the mountains of Utah, or the public gardens in Boston, I’m grateful to have beautiful scenery to gaze at as I go about my days. 

Tennis. I’ve learned so much from the game, most notably humility, and continue to be challenged. People laugh when I say I started playing tennis because I like the clothes and had no idea how hard a game it is, but it’s true. 

Funny art and snarky humor. I hope I never outgrow my enjoyment of them. If I’m ever too old to laugh at something like what you see here, smother me with a pillow. 

Jacoby Ellsbury. Because he’s so fine. Oh, and baseball, too. I’m thankful for baseball. But mainly Jacoby. 

 

 

A legacy. The women in my family are strong and funny and kind-hearted. I hope to continue the traditions they’ve established. 

Mentors for my kids. I’m so grateful for the people in my kids’ lives who teach them, guide them, and love them.

Cocktails. Need I say more?

Great food. To soak up the alcohol.

Puppies! The more the merrier! Sometimes I think I like dogs more than people. Puppies especially.

Things that challenge me to get outside of my comfort zone. Like modeling in the Couture for the Cause a few weeks after my latest hospitalization last fall. Yikes. After wondering what in the sam hell made me agree to do it, I ended up having one of the single best experiences of my life. And plan to do it again in March. Get your tickets now, before it sells out!

Friends. Couldn’t have made it through the last 18 months without them. Whether buds from way back or newly connected, I’m imminently thankful for my friends. 

Cheers to Thanksgiving!


Slacker mom

That’s me. I admit it.

Yesterday was the first day of school, yet did I take one photo of my kids before they descended into the joys of another school year? Nope. Not even with my iPhone camera. How lazy & shiftless is that?

It occurred to me at some point last night that this will be the first year on record without a back-to-school photo, and I suppose I could have hauled Macy out of bed and pried Payton away from ESPN long enough to recreate a photo. But it would have been dark on the front step, where we always take the photo, and Macy would have had to change out of her jammies and back into her school clothes, which were no doubt in a heap on her bedroom floor. I had to admit defeat and accept that it wasn’t going to happen this year. A second-day-of-school photo seems too lame to contemplate, so this will be the year with no back-to-school photo. Macy’s entre into 4th grade and Payton’s into 7th will go unchronicled for time immemorial.

And yet, I think we will survive.

I’ll throw in a classic back-to-school photo, from Macy’s kindergarten and Payton’s 3rd grade year. That’ll do, right?

Chalk it up to cancer fatigue, or to pre-surgery jitters, or to me being a slacker mom. Either one. The reason isn’t all that important, really. The kids don’t really care if we have a photo, and I’m pretty much over it as well. I will state for the record, however, that Payton did indeed wear a Red Sox shirt for the first day of school, as has been his tradition since kindergarten. Some things never change. 

If you thought I was done with my slacker mom antics and were ready to forgive me, hang on. True, it’s been a rough ride. It’s been a long year, full of medical drama and pain & suffering. I feel perfectly comfortable saying I deserve a free pass from juggling all the balls, getting everything right, and catering to everyone’s individual  needs (ok, maybe that last one is going a bit far; I’m not much of a caterer).

However, life goes on and I’ve yet to find the slot into which I insert my free pass. I’m looking for something like the coupon slot at the grocery store self-checkout, but I haven’t found it. Also curiously absent is the “make it so” button — push the button and make it so, whatever “it” happens to be. In this case, it would be the back-to-school photo. I would push the “make it so button” and a photo would fall out of the sky, into my cupped hands. If only.

I certainly needed the “make it so” button last night, when Macy’s loose tooth came out just as she was getting into bed. She has been wiggling it for days, and it was hanging by a thread, or a root, or whatever loose teeth use to hang on. She emerged from her bedroom clutching a slightly bloody molar, grinning hugely and aquiver with anticipation about the upcoming visit from the Tooth Fairy.

Uh oh.

Slacker mom was not prepared for this. See, Macy and the Tooth Fairy have a “special bond” as she described through her tears this morning. The Tooth Fairy doesn’t just leave a few bucks or some loose change, like she does for most kids. Her Royal Dental Highness knows that Macy isn’t at all concerned with or motivated by money. She likes stuff. She’s funny and quirky and a bit outside of the box. And the Tooth Fairy is usually well-stocked. Lip gloss, a stuffed animal, a stationery set…things like that rock Macy’s world. The Tooth Fairy usually picks up such items throughout the year, as she’s running her errands and comes across something that she knows Macy would like. But the Tooth Fairy was ill-prepared this time. Even though she knew that tooth was loose, the light didn’t come on and make her think, hmmmm, I better make sure I have a nice prize for Macy when that tooth comes out.

So the Tooth Fairy was forced to resort to the lowest common denominator, and she left a $5 bill. Macy was not amused. See, she had written a note to the Tooth Fairy, which she always does, and asked for a unicorn Domo. I imagine the Tooth Fairy said WTF?? I know I did. I’m fairly certain that a unicorn Domo does not exist. Or it does, but only in Macy’s imagination. I guess it would be a cross-breed between a unicorn and Domo. Interesting. But not readily available, and certainly not at 9:30 at night.  

 

See my dilemma? I had no problem finding images of these guys on googleimages. I even found a t-shirt of Domo riding a unicorn, which I was all set to order pronto but it’s sold out online. Of course it is. Who wouldn’t want a t-shirt like this? 

If I find one for Macy, I may have to get one for me too.

I can see why the Tooth Fairy flubbed this one, big time. Some requests are too tricky and unique, even for the TF.

Macy wrote another note, which she expects the Tooth Fairy will collect tonight as she makes her rounds. The “special bond” between Macy and the Tooth Fairy is splintered, but not beyond repair. 

 


He does it again!

Apparently my favorite Red Sox player likes having Texans in the house…since we’ve been here, he’s hit back-to-back walk-offs for Sox victories. Very nice. Last night’s was especially exciting because it was a walk-off home run.  Just as we were hoping against extra innings, Jacoby delivered.

There will be lots of happy Sox fans on the beach today. I’m heading down in a few minutes for more fun in the sun. Last night’s lobster feast at Markey’s was as good as ever. Macy had asked if she could have some of my lobster tail, and rather than share what IMHO is the best part of the lobster, I said, “Get your own, kid.” We figured she’d eat part of the tail and we’d have extra lobster to put in scrambled eggs this morning. Then we learned that there’s no such thing as “extra lobster.” That bug was picked clean. 

So there will be no lobster & eggs this morning. No matter; we’ll get more. That’s the beauty of being at Salisbury Beach — plenty of lobster, whether from Markey’s or steamed on site at the grocery store.

Trevor will be creating another sand sculpture today, to add to the two he’s already done: 

He’s taking requests, so if there’ something you want to see, by all means shout it out. His sand sculptures are pretty popular around here and are much admired, although I thought Macy might smack the lady who walked by yesterday and thought Perry the Platypus was a dinosaur. Sometimes being in the presence of art invokes strong emotions.

We’re all about traditions at Salisbury Beach. Whether it’s dinner at Markey’s or dessert next-door at Dunlap’s or sand sculptures on the beach, tradition rules, and this year our traditions are even more special. Like the Joni Mitchell song says, “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone,” traditions become more important when threatened with extinction. To say I’m glad I’m here this year is to be loaded with meaning. I’m glad I’m here, in Massachusetts among friends I consider family at a beach my family loves. But even more so, I’m glad I’m here.


Walk-off

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It’s a great morning at the beach. The Sox won last night with a walk-off hit by my favorite player, Jacoby Ellsbury. Hopefully the photo will load; I’m blogging beachside again and don’t want to interrupt my blissful morning to post on a real computer; if my iPhone and the WordPress app can’t handle the photo, I’ll get to it later. Maybe when a cloud passes overhead.

It’s unusually clear today, enough to see the Isle of Shoals. The sun is shining and the west wind is blowing. I’m pre-hydrating with a water course so I’ll be fully prepared for the beachside beverages, whenever they may appear. While the lure of the Bloody Mary is strong, I’m going to stay strong and wait for the pm bevvie.

Meantime, all hail Jacoby!


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