Monday Musings: On moms, no TV and crowdsourcing.

Happy Monday to you.

This girl needs a vacation. At least a massage or three. And a facial. Maybe a nap. All of the above, really. One of my friends posted a picture last week of a Post-It note she wrote to herself at work. It said: “Do one thing at a time.” I so know that feeling — of being overwhelmed with work and life to the point that you just don’t know where to start. Paralyzed by the enormity of it all. This too shall pass, but for now I’m going to try to take that advice. And get that massage. That vacation — maybe.

This might be the first year in several that I haven’t taken a big, international trip … but who has the time?? It’s a vicious circle.

I had moms on the brain this weekend. First because I started reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, about her hike across the Pacific Crest Trail after her mother’s death. And because I was able to spend this Mother’s Day weekend with the two mothers in my life. I was also thinking yesterday of those whose moms aren’t with us and how incredibly painful that must feel every year (well, every day.) I’m blessed to still hug my mom, and Mimi in all her 95-year-old glory.

mothersday

I’ve been lucky enough to know both of my grandmothers into their 90s, as sharp and strong-willed and stubborn as ever. Aging is pretty rough, on the person and on everyone around them. But I love being able to sit with my grandmother, who can remember the stock market crash of 1929, newlywed life in Savannah during the war and the totally undeveloped Hilton Head Island of the 1960s. We should cherish our elders — my, the stories they can tell.

When I arrived at Mom’s this weekend, I learned that the cable was out and would be until this week. That meant no TV. All weekend long. You’d think I’d have gone into the withdrawal shakes, but it was actually fine. We cooked, we sat, we read and — quelle horreur! — we actually talked to each other. How refreshing.

While we’re (sort of) on the topic of vacation, let me try a bit of crowdsourcing. My family’s talking about cruising to Alaska next summer. Does anyone have recommendations? What line should we cruise? What passage should we not miss? Should we leave from Seattle or Vancouver? Send me whatcha got.

Have a good week, all.

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I'm (not) gonna soak up the sun.

Oliver and I spent a few days at the beach last weekend, for the first and only time this summer. I had grand ideas of slathering myself in sunscreen and pitching a chair on the strand all day with a stack of reading material. Then I realized how much of a hassle that is. It’s hot. I’d have to shave my legs. I don’t swim in the ocean. And I don’t particularly like sand. I’ll take a pool over the beach any day. Plus, the older I get the less I really care about a tan.

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London, Day 6: Last night in town, in the p.m.

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I was back from Highclere Castle at 4:00 p.m. The weather in London looked a bit clearer, so I considered what was left on my to-do list. I hadn’t yet even glimpsed Big Ben, which is probably some sort of sacrilege while you’re visiting London, so I headed in that direction.

(Side note: just last week I saw that they’re going to rename Big Ben the “Elizabeth Tower” in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee. Raise your hand if you think that new name will stick …

{{crickets}}

Yeah, that’s what I thought.) 

Big Ben is also near Westminster Abbey and the Cabinet War Rooms. I’ve visited Westminster Abbey every time I’ve come to London, and it’s one of my favorites. But with the day waning, I had to choose between those two sites. I hadn’t seen Churchill’s Cabinet War Rooms since the first time I was in England when I was nine, and I’ve learned and come to admire a lot more about Winston Churchill and England’s role in WWII since then. So the War Rooms was actually an attraction I didn’t want to miss. I quickly grabbed a photo of Big Ben on the way out of the Tube and ran up to the War Rooms entrance around 4:30 p.m. I had until 6:00 p.m. to speed through the exhibits. A guided audio tour is included, one of those “push this number to hear more” deals. I tried to go quickly, but also to listen to as much as possible and do it justice.

  

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Lollygagging.

It’s not often that I am truly at leisure. Even during the weekends, there’s always something pulling me away. A dog that needs walking. Homework that needs doing. Friends that need seeing. Plants that need watering. A meal that needs cooking. A garden that needs weeding. A wall that needs painting. A whole house that needs cleaning.

You get the idea.

But a week ago today I quit my job. Don’t worry, there’s one awaiting me. I just decided to take a much needed vacation during the job transition limbo. And because God’s timing is perfect, my vacation happened to fall in summer and near a national holiday … which meant I could enjoy July 4th weekend at the beach. So I’ve been lollygagging for the past few days, with nary a care in the world. There’s no work to be done, no phones to answer and no dire emails to be returned … at least for now.

It’s a revelation to wake up every day after a 10-hour slumber, have coffee on the porch in the humid ocean breeze and wonder what I’ll do with my day. Sun? Reading? A walk? Television? Playing on the Internet? A nap?

These days we live to plan each night’s dinner, and the wine and spirits flow at 3 p.m. Even though the plan was to be home by now, we’ve all looked at each other for several days in a row and said “Wanna stay another day?” Sure. Okay.

You’d think I’d be bored out of my mind by such leisure, but it’s nice to slow down, walk on some sand, soak up the sunshine and enjoy out of doors. I’ve already read two whole books and am working through the third. Most importantly, I was appointed cook during our visit. The farmer’s market is nearby, so we’ve relished the season’s best produce. I’ve been practicing all the southern delicacies that are traditions of summer:  pimento cheese, boiled peanuts, squash, okra, butter beans, creamed corn, lowcountry shrimp boil and many, many peach cobblers. Someday I’ll get around to posting some of those recipes.

The point is that it has been bliss. Extraordinary, uncommon bliss. And I can appreciate it because I know it won’t last.