Post #5 – New photograph, willing spring to arrive, and rounding the bend of the Whole30

Dear Reader:

When I started my blog I wanted to use a photograph of my children, but, being a bit backwards when it comes to technology, I couldn’t figure out how to take this photo from my phone and make it my header.  I started to ask one of my children for help, but decided it was time for me to pull up my big girl pants and figure it out.  So I did!  I took this years ago on our last trip to Cape Cod together.  We spent time there for 17 years, visiting my aunt who took a place every summer right on the beach in Truro.

We started going when I was married to their father and the youngest was maybe six months old, but very shortly afterwards our marriage began to crumble and soon it was just the four of us and my aunt.  She provided a dependable situation during a critical and difficult time in their lives and mine – – a week or two at the beach in August, just before school started; no internet or TV or outgoing calls; card and board games galore; crossword puzzles; unlimited high-end art supplies (she was an artist); nightly movies (usually oldies/classics) piled upstairs in the loft with blankets and pillows on the bunks and bowls upon bowls of popcorn; pop tarts for breakfast; sandwiches and chips on the beach; days spent at the beach, exploring the lighthouse, P’town, the occasional flea market or art gallery and shops; bonfire cookouts on the beach, followed by star gazing until the little ones fell asleep; games of flashlight tag; and the promise of one lobster dinner over in Wellfleet followed by ice cream at A Nice Cream Stop.

Being a born and bred Southern, and raising my children in the heart of New England, tradition is the cornerstone to my life.  And making sure my children had traditions they could count on and recall (when their own lives were turned upside down and often unpredictable) was of great importance to me.  Almost every aspect of my parenting style has been centered around traditions.

For the past 31 years I have been a wife, a divorcee, a single gal, a wife (again), a widow, single for a long time, and a wife (yet again).  But for 27 of those 31 years there has been one constant in my life – motherhood.  Although I have also worked at various points in the past 31 years, my identity has been as their mother.  In many ways, I cannot think of myself outside of them and I also feel they are my greatest achievement.  That is why I wanted to use this photograph as my header.  If you knew us, you would say it very clearly says quite a lot about my children, my mothering style, and us.  An old friend used to say we were quite the force, a total unit.  Also, I took the picture and I think it’s cool!

I hope you like it.

Although we are closing in on the last full week of April, the temperature here in northeast PA is still on the chilly side.  Just 10 days ago we were still getting little snow storms off and on for almost an entire week!  The high today was supposed to be 62*, but it never felt that warm at all.  It was so windy!  Since the end of March/early April, we have had a day or two here and there of spring-like weather, but it was always short lived and back we went to cold and snow or chilly and rainy.

Although my winters in New England were terrifically cold and very snowy, and often seemed endless, for some reason I am finding this winter the one that doesn’t want to end!  When I lived north of Boston, I lived in a typical New England town that was built around a small main street area and in conjunction with a private boarding school.  Our streets had sidewalks and, therefore, it was safe to walk all over for miles and not worry about cars.  All I had to do was get dressed for whatever the weather was and head out my door.  Talk about easy!  My favorite route was up the street, through the downtown and into the campus of the school.  I have so many pictures taken at various times of the year to document how the seasons changed.  Here, in the bucolic mountain area of Northeast PA, there are no sidewalks.  While our views are stunning and we have so much privacy, as we are surrounded by small mountains, I am very uncomfortable heading out for a walk or run.

I usually walk the dogs with the professor once or twice a weekend, and sometimes during the week when it is not too cold.  But the ease I enjoyed before, of walking out the front door without worrying about cars, is not the case here.  We have to navigate roughly a mile of windy road until we arrive at a local school where we can walk for another two miles in the woods.  There are similar routes without the woods option, but all require me to navigate windy roads and passing cars.  There are nature trails that are beautiful, but they involve getting into the car.

I think the fact that I could easily get out and about safely when I lived in New England helped to alleviate any possible feelings of winter blues.  It did take me about a year to get used to it, but, once I had dogs, we were out almost every single day for a three to four mile jog.  Unless the sidewalks were icy and dangerous we were outside enjoying nature.  Thankfully my back yard was fenced in and solved the need for daily outings when the conditions were poor.

It is a funny mix of emotions for me.  I can stand in my kitchen and look out upon mountains and feel so at peace and filled with gratitude.  However, I can also think longingly back to my morning outings with my dog and feel sad at the loss of that easy daily activity.

Finally, I am nearing the end of my Whole30 experience and I could not be more excited!  I know I won’t be going back to my milk and sugar coffee habit, but just knowing that I will have the freedom to make choices again is glorious!  I’ve been doing research on grain-free and dairy-free baking and am eager to put my research to the test.  Wednesday morning of next week…

All-in-all, I have felt really good the past 10 – 14 days.  I continue to learn a lot about myself and my relationship with food, and about food in general.

With the end of April comes preparation for exam week in mid May at the U.  Once exams are under way, the professor and I can happily start to think of our summer plans and heading up to Maine to get our New England fix!  We have a little cottage up there, nestled against some woods, along the mid coast.  Not only is it private and woodsy, but it is also very close to the beach – – close enough for a four or five mile bike ride.  I have two gardens I love to tend and we go on daily walks with the dogs, often along the rocky shores.  We have comfy sofas and chairs for reading books and napping and a back deck perfect for lounging and cooking out.  It is our little slice of heaven!

I guess my high/low today is connected – – the sun was out (HIGH!), but it was pretty chilly (LOW!).  Another high was figuring out how to put one of my favorite photographs on this blog.  All-in-all, it has been a good day.

Until next time…

E.M.

P.S. – I have just made an Instagram account!  The account name is elinor_may_.  Guess I am not the only person named Elinor May.  It was hard to find a handle that wasn’t already taken.  I think of my name as being rather unique.   Oh well.  At any rate, I haven’t posted any photographs yet, but I will soon.  I hope you will follow along.  And, as always, I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

Post #2 – Getting started and other thoughts

Dear Reader –

I thought I would have something for you before the weekend ended, but I couldn’t seem to find a way to close out the piece I have been tinkering with recently.  UGH!

Last week I decided my first real post should be about something that has been occupying my mind for a couple of years now.  I spent a lot of time thinking about how I would approach this topic, and yesterday while my husband was napping, I started to put ideas onto paper.  But for the life of me I could not corral it.  When I started, it seemed like it would be focused and easy enough to write.  I mean, I have been living with this for more than a year, so how hard could it be?  Today I worked on it again and tried over and over to pull it together, to make it shorter, easier to digest.  Finally, I had to put it aside, admit defeat for now, and start on something else.

I did some research before attempting to start my blog.  I wanted to make sure I knew the right and wrong way to go about this.  You know – – make sure I set myself up for success and all.  Basically, while I learned there is no real “right or wrong way”, the general consensus seems to be that concise is best until your readership has made the commitment to stay the course with you.

Since this is only the beginning, I think it is fair to say a commitment has not yet been made.  I am laughing at myself as I write this.  I mean, how many people are really reading my blog so far?  I have only made one post, and it wasn’t what I would call a real post any way.  It was merely an “About Me”, an introduction of sorts.  Who knows how many of those first readers will come back to see what I have to say today.  And after that, the question remains – – will they continue to return?

With that in mind, I will strive to keep my posts under control for now.

I will start with my “low”.  It was cold and wet today.  I have no patience for cold, wet days, especially in mid to late February.  I always get homesick this time of year.  My birthday is this month and when I was growing up, the weather in February was always nice.  It wasn’t hot, but it certainly wasn’t cold either.  There were a few years when it might have been in the high 50’s, but mostly I remember bright, clear, sunny days where the most you would need was a sweater or a light jacket when you set out in the morning.  But not here and not today.  Today was all about boots and gloves and warm coats.  And umbrellas.  One of the things I miss the most about the deep south is spring. Just about this time each year, the first signs of life to announce its arrival are the early bulbs and flowering  trees/shrubs, and the hordes of birds singing as the sun rises.  Some days could be windy and kinda of crazy, but cold and wet they definitely were not!

In spite of the dreary weather, I managed to have a pretty good day.

I decided not to give anything up for Lent this year.  The moment I say I will give up something is the moment I am sure to crave it so badly you would think I had an addiction.  Over my lifetime I have had a few Lenten successes, but I was not feeling confident enough in myself to take that challenge this year.  Instead, I decided to add something to my life.   It’s part of this burning question with which I have been struggling – “purpose”.  Specifically mine.

I am struggling with the concept.  Truth be told, it started taking up more and more real estate upstairs not too long after I hit the big 5-0.  A lot has changed for me since that birthday, but I digress.  I will eventually address that in another, most likely much longer, post.

Back to Lent.  I started reading a daily devotional of sorts.  I wondered if I would grow weary of such intense religious thought, day in and day out, for 40 long days.  So, in typical fashion when I fear failure, I made the commitment with some trepidation at the very last possible moment, which was the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday.  So far so good, I am happy to report.  I won’t bore you with details of the readings or my thoughts on them just yet.  This is not meant to be a religious blog in any way.  It is meant to be a blog about life in general, mine in particular.  Of course, religion and spirituality are a part of my life, for better or worse, so I suppose from time to time the subject might come up in more detail.

For this past week, I have found I am more focused on the positive and less obsessed with the negative.  There was one day when I didn’t get going early enough, so I felt I couldn’t take the time to read, reflect and pray.  In the evening, I realized I had grown more and more grouchy as the day progressed and thus ended my day feeling resentful.  If nothing else, this daily quiet time has helped me to focus of what is good in this world and in my life.  That is always a plus.

Another “high” today was the unexpected gift of a charge-free visit from my new plumber.  Our dishwasher is not yet two years old, and my husband, who was living alone for a number of years until we married last May, had not used the brand new dishwasher until I moved here in June.  Since then, we have made a habit of using it at least three times a week.  Long story short, after Christmas I noticed it smelled musty; then I realized it was not properly draining.  My handyman suggested I call a plumber, which I did.  He came, figured out the issue (not really a big one), and was out in less than half an hour.  He refused to charge me, and now we are friends for life!

On that high note, I will say good night and sign off.  I will continue to work on my epic post, trying to whittle it down to a more manageable length.  Purpose is weighing heavily on me, as I think it does on many women my age, and I want to talk about it here, but I fear it is a hard subject to keep short and simple.  Wish me luck.

Until next time…

xo

E.M.

Post #1 – About me: A New Start

Greetings and salutations!

My name is Elinor May.  This is not my first time at the rodeo.  I have tried my hand at blogging in the past more than once, but, as they say, apparently the timing was never right.  This past year has brought some important changes to my life, and now it would appear all the stars are aligned for me to give this the old college try.  I am nervous, but very excited!  Before we get started, here are a few FAM (facts about moi):

  • This month I turn 55.
  • I was born and raised in a small town in the deep south.
  • I was educated in the northeast.
  • I am my father’s daughter.
  • I am the youngest of five – – but also an only child.
  • Besides my home state, well below the Mason Dixon Line, I have lived in five states since 1980: New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, (New York again), (Massachusetts again), and Pennsylvania.
  • I have been married and divorced.
  • I have (also) been (re)married and widowed.
  • I raised three daughters, mostly on my own.
  • They are my greatest accomplishment.
  • After eight years on my own, I took the plunge (again) – – this past May I said “I do” for the third time – – so I am, in essence, a newlywed (again).  Ain’t love grand?

Continue reading “Post #1 – About me: A New Start”