The Company of Friends

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Judy and I at Moosewood.

 “Talk between women friends is always therapy…”
Jayne Anne Phillips

After a rather glum couple of days, missing my kids as only a mother can, I looked forward to a quiet evening alone. It was Halloween and at least one of my kids was trick or treating. They had rides already and didn’t need me. Alan had a date with one of his boys to watch the made-for-tv version of IT and I had a date with Scrivener, the program I just downloaded free for the duration of NaNoWriMo 2017. I needed to get comfortable with it before diving into writing.

As butternut squash, portobello mushrooms and onions roasted in the oven for dinner, I sat at my desk, trying not to hunch over my laptop. I was considering an Instagram post, starting to compose it in my head and enter the photos into Layout, when my phone rang.

It was a close friend, calling to ask if I’d like to rummage through her collection of fabric and take whatever I liked for my craft business. We talked shop–various fabrics and where to find them, craft fairs she knew of that I didn’t, and books, of course. Always books.

“There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature.”
P.G. Wodehouse

We moved on to deeper subjects like close relationships, work, and health issues. And we talked of her coming over for dinner in the next week or so. Just the sound of her voice and the interaction over the phone brought such warmth and encouragement to my whole self.

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Ellie and I at The Watershed in Ithaca.

Although I didn’t realize it until she called, I needed a friend, a person who knew the real me, even if we were talking of weighty things. I didn’t mind that, but I was craving the connection, those minutes listening, learning, sharing and laughing as only two people who know each other can do.

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Sandy and I at Hector Wine Company.

After we finished our conversation, my whole outlook brightened; the night no longer seemed lonely. I felt nourished inside instead of starving. I felt hope, possibility, and the joy of an afternoon or evening together to anticipate.

If you’re wondering if a friend or family member needs a phone call, text, or a letter in the mail, don’t hesitate, act on your hunch. If you’re feeling in need of a friend, reach out. We are healthier and happier with meaningful connections. We live longer. Let’s be grateful for the friends we have and nurture our treasured relationships.

“A good friend is a connection to life – a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.”
Lois Wyse

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Laurie and I at the Rongovian Embassy right before they closed.

 

Day 21: Doing All the Things

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I woke up at 6:40 yesterday morning, ready to say hello to the day. That’s rare. Especially since I went to bed close to 1AM. The sun sparkled over the lake and hillside as I put all my craft stuff into the car, kissed Alan goodbye, entered the address in my phone GPS and headed toward Searsburg.

(FYI: The night before, Alan had offered to help me, but since I had nothing heavy, I didn’t bother to wake him. When he came downstairs right before I left, he asked, “Why didn’t you wake me? I said I would help you.” I assured him he could help me unload the car when I returned home. And of course, he did.)

I arrived at the Grange first and asked if I was setting up there. They said they were full and I must have a table at the church. So I drove around the corner, parked and descended a short flight of stairs to the basement.

If you’ve been in church as often I have, you know the familiar church basement smell. Damp, but not unpleasant, with the cozy memory of many potlucks lingering in the air. The ladies had soup and sandwiches available for sale, so the smell of several delicious soups filled the room, as did sound of pleasant and comfortable conversations as women and a few men set up their table displays and chatted.

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I had a whole table and a half for myself, which provided ample room for my pillows and wreaths, as well as the natural body care products, felt dolls and ornaments I displayed. The people were very friendly and helpful and I felt immediately at home. My cousin, Erica, and her daughter were there, selling floral arrangements and jewelry. It was great having family there!

The day passed by fairly quickly. It wasn’t very busy, but people came steadily, two or three at a time, and walked around the tables. My friends, Laurie and Grace and Kathy and Dawn came, as well as my Aunt Judy and cousins, Jayna and Kaylee. Seeing them was the high points of my time at the sale.

At 2pm, I packed up and was just about to go, when Erica’s daughter came over and held out flowers in a cute Halloween vase. They were for me, she said. Isn’t so humbling and wonderful when someone does something so sweet and unexpected? I thanked them both and drove home feeling grateful for the generous-hearted people in my life.

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After lunch and a nap, Alan and I finished getting the kitchen set up, prepared food and started applying our makeup. It took an hour and a half! Oh my goodness, I was so ready to be done. Alan’s makeup came out looking better than mine because he was more patient and careful, (story of my life), but we finished, cleaned up and threw on our costumes just as our first guests arrived.

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Lights were on, decorations lit, Alan’s Halloween playlist going and we talked, danced, ate and drank until 2AM. Each guest raved about the spooky and fun atmosphere and our costumes and had a great time being here. We went to bed happy and satisfied we took the time to make this party happen.

 

 

Play, fun and celebration are important to the human experience and make us healthier and happier. Our days may be full, but we need to make time for the kid in us.

What are you planning in your life that is purely for enjoyment? I’d love you to share in the comments.

Day 10: Good Friends and Sushi Dates

9F3F83E8-76E3-4054-A04B-5ADF8994DD4FI needed today to be the Tuesday it turned out to be. The pressure to make, create, be brilliant, to learn new skills was weighing on me.

The “Not Enough” and “Too” gremlins were barking loud, “Not enough–not enough creativity, not enough skill, not enough ability, not enough time, etc.” “Too–Too fat, too dumb, too stupid, too slow, too untalented, too late, too old, etc. ” After working out and cleaning the house this morning, I just wanted to go back underneath the covers and hide from them.

But my friend was coming over for lunch, so I chopped fennel, carrots and leeks and sautéed them in olive oil, added white wine, vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, white beans, salt, pepper and oregano and brought it to a simmer in my Le Creuset French Oven.

(I adore that piece of cookware. It’s purple, it cooks like a dream, cleans up easily and I’ve wanted one for twenty years. Actually, I adore French cookware and bakeware in general.)

We had roasted beets and butternut squash earlier to add to the salad. So there was the roasted vegetables and homemade vinaigrette. And of course the gluten free vegan carrot cake I made yesterday for dessert.

I’m so glad my friend came. My spirit was lifted, I calmed down, the gremlins’ barking faded away and we had a lovely afternoon catching up. We ate lunch unhurriedly, then took our cake and coffee to the gazebo.

What a relaxing time with the view of lake and now-harvested cornfields surrounding us. We drank in the natural beauty and nourished our souls with real conversation.

When she left, I took a nap and then tried to drum up enthusiasm and an idea for dinner. As I sat in the darkening bedroom practicing my ukulele, Alan came in and asked if I’d like to go to Capital Corner, the sushi restaurant we love in Ithaca. YES! Of course, I did.

So off to Ithaca we went and had a quiet and delicious sushi dinner. Miso soup for me first, of course. It’s so simple yet always richly comforting. If you live around here, you ought to try Capital Corner if you haven’t. They never disappoint.

When we finished, Alan said, “I want Starbucks.” I did too. Since we had to go up to the mall, we stopped at the Starbucks in Target where he got a Pumpkin Spice Latte and I got a Coffee Frappuccino with almond milk, no whipped cream or dairy and an extra shot of espresso.

We searched for a Halloween store, but the mall had none, so we went to Party City. That store had more Halloween items than last year. We tried on hats and masks and noted prices on pieces we need for our costumes. I got a couple of things for my costume. Then we headed to Wegmans and came home.

Oh, and the gremlins are gone. At least for today.

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Day 9: Tulip Bulbs, Dean Koontz and Carrot Cake

After a busy weekend when we play out, Mondays always seem like I’m trying to find all the pieces of me and reassemble myself.

I woke late, went to the gym late and then planted sixty-one tulip bulbs around the gazebo. Yes, that’s a lot and my back can testify.

My sister-in-law sent me a very generous birthday gift of one hundred tulips and fifty daffodils. They arrived Friday.

I’m thrilled when I think of the beauty coming up next Spring, but now is the time to plant them while the ground is wet and the temperature mild. So I planted a little more than a third of them today and will work on planting them the rest of this week.

After I came in and showered, I put a gluten free vegan pizza in the oven for lunch and sat down to finish The Silent Corner: A Novel of Suspensethe Dean Koontz book Alan gave me for my birthday.

It wrapped up nicely, but clearly a sequel was on the way. And indeed, The Whispering Room: A Jane Hawk Novel is now available.

Jane Hawk, the protagonist, is definitely a badass, but one with a heart of gold. Everything she does is to protect her son, avenge her murdered husband and save the world. No big deal. If you like suspense novels, add this one to your list.

Next up on my fiction list is Neil Gaiman’s American Gods: Author’s Preferred Text.

My afternoon was spent sewing felt dolls and birds while watching The Tunnel on Amazon Prime.

And then it was time for carrot cake. Sarah Bakes Gluten Free is a blog filled with delicious gluten free and mostly vegan treats.

I have a friend coming over for lunch tomorrow and wanted a classic dessert to serve her. This recipe will produce a carrot cake you won’t forget. I subbed carrot for the zucchini and added 1/4 almond flour. With vegan buttercream frosting, it’s scrumptious.

What was your Monday like?

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