Friday, November 30, 2012



Noon prayer with my monks. Gregorian chant. Peace. Devotion.

All in eight minutes.

It's incredible to me that not only do I get to participate in this almost daily, but I'm encouraged to.

One of them stopped by my office before Mass this morning.

"I like that you pray with us."
"I like that you welcome me."

He told me he wasn't always so pious, and that when he was younger he would tell his father he was going to Mass and instead would go walk around the park for an hour. He laughed that his friends were smarter; they'd at least stop by church first and pick up a bulletin. It was their "Mass receipt," proof for their parents that they had gone.

"Have you always been religious?" he asked with a smile. I shook my head. "Nope, and I wouldn't say I'm more religious now. I just see things differently."

I guess I might say I am more in touch with my faith. It was always there...I just didn't pay as much attention to it.

These monks, these holy men who fight their own faults daily, continue to amaze me. They are so in touch with their faith, way more than I could ever be, and yet they have the same human struggles I do.

They give me hope.

Not too shabby for eight minutes a day.

Thursday, November 29, 2012



Well, all the work I should have done last night caught up to me today, so there was no time to look for an image, much less shoot one. So here's yet another ubiquitous cat shot.

Poor Max. He's a muse and a last resort. At least he's consistent.

I am glad today is over. It wasn't bad, just heavily scheduled. We kicked off the day with a 2-hour meeting in our unfinished freezing cold house. I still can't feel my feet, and it got up to 60 degrees today. It was warmer outside that house than inside at 7:30 a.m. From there I ran to work and raced against a deadline, until I had to leave for a business lunch. Back in time to chip away at the deadline for 45 minutes until a webinar for which I registered last week started at 2. When that ended at 3, a colleague and I stalked the headmaster through both the high school and the junior school to get approval on a new fundraising logo. (We succeeded!) Finally back to my desk where I was able to wrap up the project that had been looming all day, leaving at 5:30 when it was already pitch black. Home to empty the dishwasher, clean the litterbox and feed the cats, shove some food in my mouth and snuggle with my kid before heading to my first faith sharing group. Which would have been perfect if I could eliminate the 15 minutes of politics that popped up right in the middle.

Tired now, and ready for bed. Tomorrow has more meetings but promises to be slower overall. Thank goodness!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012



I have work to do.

I have personal images to edit.

I have thank you cards to write.

I have a house to pick up and a Christmas tree to put up and a litter box to clean up.

I do not feel like doing any of these things.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012



The man is a force of nature. He can go without sleep. He can carry the workload of five colleagues. He rarely gets sick.

It's finally catching up to him.

It kills me that I can't help him sort his stuffed in-box or complete his duties as club president or finish the status update email he already started for the GC or handle even one iota of his job.

All I can do is love him, and try to make him laugh every once in awhile. And maybe, if I'm lucky, I can hide the crazy for a bit.

I have other images from today. Traditional "pretty" images.

But this one really captures where we are most days. Or nights, rather, after long, long days.

This 365 project has truly covered a wide range of experiences, and I think it's important to accurately show us, our authentic selves. The Japanese call the beauty in imperfection "wabi-sabi." We are all perfectly imperfect, and that's where we are most real. So to me, this photograph is the most beautiful image from today.

Monday, November 26, 2012



Our elf, Henry, arrived overnight much to Zoe's delight. She talked to him while she got ready for school this morning, which was completely adorable. She asked for an iPhone and a chicken for Christmas.

Girlfriend is going to be disappointed Christmas morning when she discovers Santa brought her age-appropriate presents and no barnyard animals.

Sunday, November 25, 2012



After a day cleaning the house (party room this time, plus project rooms and garages), I needed something good. Something magical. So while Zozer sang in the shower, M and I put up her purple Christmas tree on her dresser. She was thrilled!

With the purple Christmas tree comes Henry, her elf. He always waits until her tree is up, then he arrives for the season. She wakes up to find him perched amidst the branches, and then comes screaming in to let us know he's here.

She was a little concerned that he might not know where to go since we are living somewhere else right now, but we assured her that part of Henry's magic is that he'll always know where to find her, no matter what.

We just snuck in and found Henry a comfortable spot. I can't wait to hear her squeal in the morning.

Although I'm tired of being displaced, of living in a state of transition, I'm so happy about this holiday season. The early Christmas carols aren't bothering me, and when I popped in to the mall this morning to pick up some moisturizer I was thrilled to see all the decorations.

Maybe it's Zoe having enough spirit for the two of us. Maybe it's all the years of M working so hard to make the season special. Maybe it's that my Christmas present this year is the house of our dreams. Who knows. Whatever it is, I'll take it. It sure beats hating the holidays as I have most of my adult life.

On the first day of Christmas, my family gave to elf in a purple Christmas tree...

Saturday, November 24, 2012



I vacuumed my house today. My NEW house.

With a shop vac.

Yes, I realize this is not appropriate.
Yes, I realize my control freak is showing.
Yes, I realize my GC will hire a day laborer to clean before he drywalls.
And yes, I realize the day laborer probably makes minimum wage and doesn't give a shit about this job, whereas I happen to give a very large shit. Since I plan to live there forever and all.

Turns out that building a house produces an astronomical amount of sawdust. And wood shavings. And nails and wire cuttings and all sorts of little ephemera that I'm sure is essential to building a house but which I don't recognize in the slightest.

It's also very, very dusty.

Not so much anymore. It's not eat-off-it clean, but it's a far sight better than it was. He could start drywalling tomorrow and I'd be happy with it. All the wall cavities are spotless, and my invisible baseboards.

I'm tired and sore but incredibly happy. Never been so happy to clean my house, actually. Although I hope when it's finished it's physically easier. And won't require a shop vac.

Friday, November 23, 2012




Thursday, November 22, 2012



Thanksgiving is a great day to gain perspective. And we are lucky enough to have our celebration continue tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012



Beautiful morning with dense fog.

Later, I received a reminder that no one is really safe, anywhere, at any time. It's unsettling and startling and not something one wants a reminder of the day before Thanksgiving.

So. I'll do my best to tuck that away for a bit and enjoy the holiday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012



Zozer had a half day, and I offered her the opportunity to come to work with me. It's hard to say who was more excited.

She hung out and drew pictures, worked on a fun school project, read a book, and played on the iPad. She ate lemon drops from the jar on my desk and enjoyed popcorn and juice and lemonade. She met some of my colleagues, and squealed, "Ooh, look! A monk!" when she spied them out my window. (This happened often, as my view includes the church and the path from the monastery to the high school, where my office is located.) She watched part of a movie. She commandeered my red couch as if she owns it. It made my heart happy to look up from my desk and see her there. We watched some of the boys sing (and man can they sing) and visited the library where she picked up a few bookmarks and more candy from the librarian. She told Father Gregory, my monk, that she wants to go to school there. Given that it's been a boys school since its inception fifty years ago, her request elicited a laugh.

I think she had fun. I hope she had fun. As we walked to the car to drive home, she said she wanted to come back the next time she has a half day. "Or, Momo, I could come for a FULL day!"

I can't wait, either. My wonderful office is just that much more incredible with a little visitor.

Monday, November 19, 2012



An end today. A release.

I organized and packed up all my Corvette club newsletter files and burned them to a DVD, happy to hand the title of "editor" on to someone else. M's term as VP (and then acting president) is nearly over.

We just finished Zoe's outdoor soccer season, and M's coaching responsibilities are complete for the year (along with mine as Wife of Coach, lesser but still present). She's playing indoor, but we are mere parents in the stands.

It feels liberating to release responsibilities. It feels good to be just one of the crowd. It's odd for us, as we are both of the "hey, let's see how we can improve that" variety.

Today, I let some work friends know I would not be participating in the cookie exchange. I didn't even entertain the idea. Not worth the stress of yet another obligation. Six dozen cookies ready by December 5? No, thanks. I'll just eat Oreos. Or better for my hips, nothing at all. I was very proud of standing up for myself and doing what is ultimately best for my well-being.

The house is moving along well. We seem to be in a good rhythm now, with regular meetings and appropriate expectations.

All in all, things seem to settling a bit. Just in time for the craze of the holiday season!

Sunday, November 18, 2012



We did so much today that it feels like we got up Friday and just kept going. All great stuff, and worthy of being tired.

Best part of all was welcoming M back home. Tonight we walked through the Winter Wonderland of lights at Tilles Park, where today's photo was shot. Lots more happened, but these were the highlights and I'm too tired to write any more.

Will fall asleep happy happy tonight. Hoping the cat will leave me alone so I can get some sound sleep. (He tends to stay away more when M is home, so my odds look pretty good.)

Saturday, November 17, 2012



Fantastic day capped by extraordinary night. My head hurts with the awesomeness of it all.

And since some idiot scheduled a first grade girls indoor soccer game at 7:50 on a Sunday morning, I'm going to bed now. Good night!

Friday, November 16, 2012



Sitting in my office this afternoon I happened to glance out the window at just the right time. The setting sun was lighting the bell tower beautifully, giving it a warm glow.

So of course I grabbed the iPhone and ran out the door and across campus, willing the sun to stay up just a minute longer. I got my shot, and then wondered if any of the monks saw my sprint and what they may have thought. Then I remembered that they've all seen me photographing with my iPhone at one time or another and so they are used to it. Or used to me, rather.



We saw M off to his retreat tonight. I'm so proud of him...he's going into this with an open mind and an open heart. He's been resisting for a long time, and I'm still not entirely sure why he changed his mind, but I'm glad he did and I'm excited. 

He was shockingly at peace with leaving his retinue of technology behind. No laptop, iPad, Blackberry. A complete disconnect. He said he was looking forward to it, and I believe him. 

I think I'm having a harder time with the disconnect than he will. We came home and I saw his gadgets scattered about and it felt weird. Like I am with my iPhone, he's never without the Blackberry at the very least. Over the last year he's been slowly giving up the laptop in favor of the iPad when we travel, so that's not too odd. Except that BOTH his laptops are here, along with his overstuffed backpack. 

And that's when it hit me. I had more communications access to him when he was around the world in Dubai than I do for the next 2.5 days. 

This weekend will be a time of growth and faith for us both. I will pray for him, and all the retreatants and team members. I will miss him, and love him, and give thanks for having him in my life. We will get to see himSaturday night, briefly, at his Candlelight, and I can't wait. Then, Sunday morning, he comes back home to us, hopefully renewed and filled with spirit and peace. 

He'll plug back in, just like I had to, but he'll see things differently and it will be good. 

Please pray for my M this weekend, if you're so moved, or send him good vibes or positive energy or whatever floats your boat. I just want him to know how much he's loved. 

(I sent this to the blog last night, but it appears it didn't post. Sending again...)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012



My craft project for the Daisy Girl Scouts today was a turkey napkin ring for Thanksgiving. It went remarkably well, although I learned that the phrase "a LITTLE glue" is highly subjective, and that Elmer's is way more runny than I remembered. The girls seemed to enjoy it, and I got a kick out of watching them color their turkeys. The blue one is a favorite, as is the one with the purple tank top and pink hot pants (not shown).

Overall the meeting went well. The girls know what to expect now and are reasonably well behaved. There are a few who struggle to remain engaged (and respectful and focused), but overall they are really good girls.

Except for the screaming.

Ohmygosh the screaming.

I think my ears were bleeding at the end of the two hours. Our mom volunteer for this meeting looked at me wide-eyed halfway through. "Holy cow. Are they always like this?! Thank you so much for taking this on!"

Zoe loves it, and I love that she loves Girl Scouts as much as I did. We all had fun, and I hope we continue to for many years.

Gobble gobble gobble!

(Zo's end-of-season soccer pizza party was last night, for which we ordered a cake with a team photo and made arrangements with the pizza joint, and then cleaned icing off the tables, chairs and floors. Between that and today's GS meeting, I'm pretty well done with hoards of 7-year-olds for awhile. We send M off on his ACTS Retreat tomorrow night, and I'm looking forward to a quiet evening with my favorite 7-year-old. Who doesn't scream unless provoked.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012



Visited our countertop and cabinet folks today, to rummage through the granite boneyard. We need a smallish piece for our master bath and were offered the opportunity to save considerable $ if we could find something we liked among their remnants.

We did, quickly and easily (it's amazing how un-picky we can be when it comes to saving this case we didn't mind compromising as we had selected a rather conservative pattern anyway and so it was easy to find a relative match - would not have been possible with our red kitchen counter and our lime green bar top), and then I wandered about cursing myself for leaving the DSLR in the car. Bugger.

The warehouse is in an old manufacturing facility. It's ripe for my kind of shooting. I could easily spend several hours in there, and probably still not be finished.

I snapped a few images with the trusty iPhone (the best camera is the one you have with you!) and we left so as to not waste any more of our contact's time. Jeez, though. The missed opportunity!


Monday, November 12, 2012



I totally had another image lined up for today, but sitting on the couch tonight I spied this. Max's green eyes and the green blanket...too hard to resist.

Trying a little experiment with kitty tonight. I'm keeping him awake as much as possible to see if he'll sleep through the night and therefore let me sleep through the night.

Also, it's fun to annoy him just as much as he annoys me.

Yes. Feline retribution. My amusements are both simple and sad these days. I have indeed sunk to new lows.

Sunday, November 11, 2012



"Here, take these ciabatta rolls and stick 'em in the freezer when you go down to do laundry."

"Okie dokie."

Heads downstairs.
Opens freezer door.
Sees the second Ice Age manifesting itself.

"Son of a bitch!"

Defrosting the freezer was not exactly how we planned to spend 10 pm to 11 pm on our Sunday night. It actually went remarkably well, and unbelievably quick. But still.

Somehow the door hadn't been closed all the way. Which is ironic because we are having a problem with the fridge upstairs where the freezer door pops open when we close the fridge door. We have to make a concerted effort to ensure both door are properly closed. We just discovered that this weekend as well.

We are not having good luck with the Winter Bungalow. It will be a miracle if it's still standing when we leave. And here's to hoping our disastrous homeownership karma stays here and doesn't go with us to The New House.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

nice to meet you


Today we...
Looked at and selected stone for the fireplace.
Cheered on Zoe at her last soccer game of the season.
Ate lunch outside, in November in STL for Pete's sake, under the bright autumn leaves.
Looked at and selected a fireplace enclosure and gas logs.
Stopped by to check on the house and picked up some debris blowing in the yard.
Went to Mass.
Met my mom's half brother and his wife. Before yesterday, she hadn't seen him since she was 13 and they were at their father's funeral.

Fantastic day overall, but that last one really sent me over the edge.

Gained two awesome family members today, and saw my mom really, really happy. Pretty damn great.

Friday, November 09, 2012



I got up at 3:15 am to go to the bathroom, which isn't unusual, but I careened around the room and into the hall like I was highly intoxicated, which is. I figured I just got up too fast, but when I almost fell off the potty I realized something was wrong.

Remember when you were a kid and you'd spin and spin until the whole room turned when you stopped? That's exactly what it felt like. I tried walking up and down the hallway, and kept listing to the right, running into the wall. It freaked me out.

I tried to go back to sleep, but I kept feeling like I was slipping off the bed. My right arm and leg tingled like they were asleep, but it wasn't getting any better. A quick check of my pupils in the mirror gave me hope that I wasn't having a stroke, but I was still pretty weirded out.

I called M, waiting to board his plane in Boston, and let him know what was going on. He freaked and called his folks, who rushed over. My MIL stayed with Zoe, while my FIL drove me to the hospital.

We walked into a quiet ER and I told the woman at the admitting desk my symptoms. Before I was even done she calmly picked up the phone and called a team to Triage 1, and stuffed me into a wheelchair and took me there herself. Once there, people swarmed all over me and I hadn't so much as produced a form of ID or my medical insurance card yet. In fact, I had barely given my name. No wonder my blood pressure was high in that first reading!

Hours later, after an IV, CAT scan, some meds, and admittance, and an MRI, plus multiple in-room stroke checks, my hospitalist decided I have some sort of inner ear problem that's causing the balance issues. I was given a script for meclizine and sent home. Been sleeping much of the day since, and am ready to go back to bed now.

We did make it to our weekly meeting with the GC and the architect, where I sat in a chair when I felt woozy but otherwise made it through ok.

That's where I snapped today's photograph. Our brick layers brought their own patio furniture, I guess for breaks. The listing chair looks like how I felt.

Fat chance

That goal to be in bed by midnight? Yeah. Pipe dream.

Thursday, November 08, 2012



I signed off on all the cabinets and vanities today. This makes me both anxious and thrilled. I'm happy that it's another of The Big Three checked off (plumbing...check, cabinets...check, lighting...groan) but anxious because it's So Much Money And What If We Hate It.

I just gotta push forward and trust it'll all work out. That's what I did with the brick (resulting in another pit of the stomach feeling) and that worked out better than any of us expected.

This weekend we tackle the fireplace. Which gas logs? What stone? It feels never ending.

I sat on my butt for twenty minutes tonight before realizing with a start that I had a shitload to accomplish before bed again. What was I thinking? Sitting there with a tummy ache and nerves all ajangle...pshaw. Get back to work! So I built a presentation deck for the headmaster, sorted mail, picked up the house, and am now settling in to pay the bills for the month and balance the checkbook.

The tummy still rumbles, but I can see my desk again and I'm hoping to be done around midnight. An early night!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012



Fun girl night tonight. We had nothing on the schedule, which was fantastic. Lots of snuggling and cuddling, and she got her favorite wish of falling asleep in my bed. I pretend I do it as a treat for her, but really I love it, too. Helps with the loneliness when M is gone.

Week is flying by. Long days and long nights. Not sure how long I can keep this up, but right now I have no choice, really. All is good...I am happily overwhelmed. My goal tomorrow night: pay bills and try to go to sleep before 11 p.m. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012



Democracy in action is simply awe-inspiring to me. How lucky are we to live in this country where we get to vote? I love election days, and I love America (warts and all).



Cold and rainy today, and still I was able to find beauty and peace.

I walked past these dropleted leaves as I hurried into work this morning, thinking briefly about shooting and deciding I was too loaded down and preoccupied with work.

I left after lunch to run an errand and lo! They were still there. They had somehow managed to escape the footfalls of 500 students, faculty, staff, monks, parents and guests. It was a sign. Or maybe they too noticed the beauty and avoided them as I had. Even though I had just as much junk as the morning, I set down what I could and hoisted the rest into a precarious position on my back. I'm sure I looked pretty interesting, squatting out there where the parking lot meets the sidewalk.

Given that it was darn near the only thing I photographed today, I'm glad I stopped.

Spent much of tonight working on a huge spreadsheet that captures all things plumbing in the Dream Home. I am now a plumbing goddess. I should start wearing my pants low, I'm so into plumbing.

My efforts resulted in ratcheting down our plumbing expenditures from $18,500 as quoted by Crabby Fixture Lady to a more reasonable $6k plus change. Thank you, internets!

And with that, I'm off to rest my weary head. I shall dream of rough-in valves and trim kits and copper supply lines.

Sunday, November 04, 2012



This was taken really, really early this morning, but it WAS today so I'll go ahead and use it.

Especially since today was spent cleaning up/out Zozer's room, picking up the house, scrubbing the bathroom, doing laundry, and finishing a newsletter. All necessary, but none photographic.



Today was incredible.

I got to sleep in a bit.

Zozer's team won their soccer game.

We visited the central vac store to learn about options for the new house and discovered the. coolest. thing. ever. (More on that later, but in short it involves Hide-a-Hose, which is cleaner than it sounds, both literally and figuratively.)

Shopped for ceiling fans, and purchased Zoe's and the guest bedroom's. This is huge, because although we're paying for the house thus far, it's rather removed as we pay the bank and the bank pays the title company and the title company pays the general contractor. It doesn't really feel like we've bought anything concrete for the house, which is ironic given the amount of concrete (and shingles, and 2x4s and 2x6s, and bricks, and electrical wire, and PVC) is already in our house. But today! Today we purchased, on our own, Things For The House. I'm sure I will get sick of this, but today was a milestone and so I shall celebrate.

Worked on one of my last newsletters as editor of my Corvette club's monthly publication. Something had to go, and this is it. December is my last issue, and I'm gleefully looking forward to being "just a member" again. (I told you 2013 was my Year of No. I'm starting a bit early! Or laying the groundwork at least.)

Went to a First Grade Parent party. I'm not sure how we lucked out to have so many awesome people be parents of little Catholic first graders at the same time we are, but I'm sure thankful. So much fun tonight, hanging with old friends and meeting new. We had a blast, and I won the Dubble Bubble bubble blowing contest, which came after M and I held our own at shuffleboard. (I've been told I have a very interesting release style. Not entirely sure what that means, but since I'm a silver lining kind of girl I'll take it as a compliment.)

Also wound up in a conversation with the hostess' grade-school daughter who is a budding photographer and who has a great eye. I gave her some websites, and we exchanged email addresses. A college student overheard our conversation and jumped in. She loves photography, too, but doesn't know where to start. By the end of our conversation, one of them said, "I've always wanted to meet someone like you..." Which I will take as a wonderful compliment. I'm now on a mission to foster photography in these two lovely young ladies. (They are already asking about if they can go to the same retreat I went to. Yeah! Start 'em early! With Zoe, this makes three future shutter sisters, all in my neighborhood!)

Today's image was snapped on a whim, but it was snapped today, and was the only one shot with the iPhone, so here it is. I have a couple lovely shots from the party, but since they were exposed after midnight and I've so far been able to not fudge any image in my 365, I'll play by the (self-imposed) rules. I'm not even taking advantage of that extra-hour daylight savings thing.

So, not a great image to express the day, but an image nonetheless. The important thing was that I was looking, and seeing...and that's what counts.

A good day, indeed.

Saturday, November 03, 2012



My heart is full of love today.

Love for my incredible husband who supports my intense need to explore our world photographically, even though he doesn't necessarily understand it.

Love for my sweet girl, who brightens my life simply with her call of "Mommy?" and her little arms wrapped around my neck.

Love for my job, which gives me way more than I could ever give it.

Love for my shutter sisters, who understand and support and nurture me just by being out in the world.

Love for my Corvette friends, full of kindness and compassion and the feeling of true family, especially when tragedy strikes.

Love for my sister, for whom I'm so happy and excited about her new job. Way to go!

Love for my new home, rising steadily with the sure imprint of our little family of three. It is so distinctly ours, and it is amazing.

Love for music that has the power to move and motivate and inspire, regardless of my mood.

Love for the family and friends who surround us always, even when we disappear off the face of the earth and get lost in our to-do lists.

So, so grateful for the capacity to love fully, truly, deeply. Yeah, love is sometimes lined with pain, but it's so very worth it. We said goodbye to a friend tonight and it hurts like hell, but how could I ever regret having known her? No way! No regrets!

Just love!

Thursday, November 01, 2012



We met the GC, architect, electrician and brick layer at the job site at 7 this morning. I don't know how our experience compares to others, but it's blowing my mind to consider the magnitude of what we are doing. We aren't just building a home...we are building a custom home. OUR home. There is no other home like it, anywhere. It's a big ol' work of art, right there in my yard.

For years, I spent lunch hours looking over floor plans and elevations online. I remember printing out a few that had promise and bringing them home to M, where we'd go through them together before deciding they didn't work for us. They'd go in the recycle bin and I'd start over the next day.

When it came time to build, we considered going with a GC who has a portfolio of homes that one can customize. We decided that there was no way we could customize it enough, no matter how great the original floor plan looked. There are just too many goofy things we want. A digital darkroom? A workshop with access to the driveway? A bunch of outlets in the front of the house and along a long counter in the basement?

I suppose we could've made something work, using a spare bedroom for my darkroom (which would have been a lot of wasted space) and shoehorning in the rest, but it would always feel like something wasn't quite right. After years of living in a space that wasn't quite right, we were done with settling.

Our home is designed just for us, with every one of our needs in mind. It is being built to our specifications, at the level of quality we desire. Would I like the doorbell here? A light switch there? How high would you like your wall-mounted toilets hung, ma'am?

I stood in my front door today and watched the bricklayers work. Their motions practiced and fluid, every brick an exercise in artful grace. They stop every so often and throw a level on the top row, tapping gently here and there to make sure everything is just so.

Many, many years from now I will look at that brick and remember these craftsmen, and all who worked so hard to make our home truly ours, stripey brick and all.

And I will continue to be so, so thankful.