Fall Memories

It’s been a gorgeous fall…



It’s been a busy Fall…

I made a quick visit to Arlington to see my parents and brother…

My friend and I took a weekend trip to New York to see our kids…IMG_9191

I’m always amazed at how much Morningside Heights has changed since I was a graduate student. It’s a little disconcerting, (but awesome)! that there’s a farmer’s market right on Broadway.


The Guggenheim has always been my favorite New York museum. The scale of it is just right for an afternoon visit…But first we had to wait in a line that literally went around the block for Pay What You Wish admission.

We caught a two-day art installation projected onto the side of Rockefeller Center by neo-conceptual artist Jenny Holzer.IMG_9234

Kehinde Wiley’s “Rumors of War” statue has just moved to its permanent home in Richmond, Virginia at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, but we got a sneak peak while it was still in the middle of Times Square:


Back home…OKAX4117

I tried (and tried and tried) to convince my husband that the perfect I-survived-cancer, 50th birthday gift would be a puppy…IMG_9263


Will he cave?


“Heart of stone”

For now I’ll have to settle for visiting my friend’s adorable new pup.

I took the kids to see Adam Silver talk about The Business of Sports…

My book group buddies and I went to Pennsylvania for the weekend. We sat by a campfire, made terrariums, and befriended the local fauna.

A weekend visit from a dear friend and a trip to Carter Mountain apple orchard inspired two more trips to pick the most delicious Fuji apples!IMG_9351

We went through shocking quantities of Fujis this Fall..

IMG_9501IMG_9500IMG_9497IMG_9533Working on college applications and the dreaded FAFSA…


We’re always running a little behind…hence my daughter’s Halloween party in November:

A too-short but sweet visit from my California girls:


Signing off for now. Hope to be back in this space a little more regularly.

Old Friends…

Earlier this week we spent an evening with friends.

IMG_0189We were celebrating the 12th birthday of their daughter. Our girls met each other as toddlers in the Little Sisters Preschool in our old neighborhood. When I did the math, I realized our girls have been friends for a whole decade: a marvel!

IMG_8031When I was a child, my family blew around from town to town like tumbleweeds, wherever the winds and my father’s schooling or career took us. At my daughter’s age, I had moved six times and had never been in one place long enough to make lasting friends.

One of the great joys of finally settling down has been the ability to forge friendships with longevity. It makes me happy to think that my kids will have friends they’ve known since they were tiny. Although I’ll never have that experience, I am delighted and amazed to have friends I’ve known for decades.

Last week I spent a long weekend in Tucson, Arizona with some of those friends. A few years ago my college friends began getting together once a year. Three out of the four of us live on the East Coast, but Debbie moved to Alaska and has missed all of our reunions. This year, we made a special effort to plan our reunion around her already scheduled visit with her daughters to Arizona.

“Hey! I was your age when I met your mom for the first time!” I exclaimed to her 17 year old, whom I had just met for the first time. “Your mom was so sweet, she took me out for dinner for my first birthday away from home. Your poor mom! I was so homesick, I cried the whole time!”

That was then:


After our first year, we moved out of the dorms and into an apartment over a clothing store called Rosey Jekes.


If I learned anything in college, it was that a side bun is never a good idea.

This is now:


More on Arizona tomorrow…




Weekend Snapshots 45

We’ve been getting ready for the holidays…img_2148Around Halloween time, I was wandering around the dollar bins at Target. In my mind I could hear my mom’s repeated admonition: “DON’T BUY JUNKS!” But her voice was overpowered by the siren call of the best Target dollar bin loot ever! I got three white ceramic houses with holes in the back into which you can insert tea lights. On Saturday I went back to buy more. Tragically, they were all gone. Shoulda bought more junks when I had the chance!

img_2145That evening my daughter and I got dressed up for my son’s piano recital and realized our outfits perfectly coordinated. Obviously, a photo was in order! The dogs insisted on getting in on the action:img_2181


After the recital we raced back home to welcome some very special guests…I feel very lucky to have a close friend I’ve known and adored since we were just twelve years old. She lives in California, so we don’t get to see each other very often, but as is the case with the very best kind of friendships – time and distance don’t matter. I was so happy to get a chance to catch up with her and to finally meet her fiancé.

img_2187-2img_2190Looking forward to going to their wedding next September!

Happy reunions…

My favorite part of any holiday is the chance to spend time with family and friends…After spending a few days with my family in Arlington for Thanksgiving, we returned to Charlottesville to host our friends, who moved to Michigan this summer. We were so happy to reunite with them on Saturday and to host an open house so that our mutual friends could get a chance to see them too. This is now officially my favorite way to entertain! We just piled food and drinks on our dining room table, and friends came and went all through the day and into the night…

img_7479-2img_2045img_2056img_2051img_2054img_2046-2img_2057Everyone was invited…even a couple of equine friends:

img_2060At the last minute, we decided to switch the sleeping arrangements. My daughter raced around her bedroom tidying it up as fast as she could so that our friends’ daughters could share her larger bed, while she took the smaller bed in the guest room. As per usual with my kids, “cleaning up” meant stuffing everything willy-nilly into a closet:


Phew! It’s always so nice when guests leave a good review!


Adulting and Other Adventures

I had a conversation with one of my friends recently about a curious phenomenon she’s noticed lately. Whenever a crisis arises, she immediately looks around for an adult to handle the situation…and then suddenly she remembers she’s an adult. I could immediately relate to this. It’s always a shock every time I realize I’m no longer a child, or even a young adult.

Last week was all about adulting. For example, after YEARS of saying “We’ve GOT to write a will!” – we finally did it:IMG_6010.jpgWe also came to terms with the fact that our youngest child no longer needs a babysitter. Every summer our friend and former neighbor would host “Camp Barbara” for my daughter and some of her friends. She would take them on adventures, teach them manners, introduce them to new games, cook with them, and throw parties for their birthdays. Whenever I tried to sign my girl up for any other camp or activity, she would complain bitterly and say,  “No more camps! I only want to go to ‘Miss Barbara’s’!” This year Miss Barbara announced that my daughter and her friends were ready to be on their own this summer. This was highly disconcerting for her young charges, who were not yet ready to be kicked out of the nest. To tell the truth it was just as disconcerting for the girls’ parents, who were not yet ready to face a summer without Camp Barbara. The girls had the lovely idea  to show their love and appreciation for their beloved Miss Barbara by throwing a (surprise) party for her for a change:IMG_6028 (1)The day after the party, I hit the road for the almost five hour drive to Charlotte, NC.

A little side note here, to explain the thoughts that were in my head as I headed down 29 South…When I was a little girl, I went on a field trip to our local fire department. The fire chief impressed upon us the importance of planning an escape route in case of a fire. The minute my dad got home from work that evening I shared with him what I had learned and begged him to come up with the fire escape route forthwith. Being an amenable sort, he agreed. We walked up to the second floor and he walked me down the long, narrow hallway from my bedroom to the bathroom. He cast his eye about the bathroom until it landed on a plastic hairbrush. He placed it on top of the toilet tank and demonstrated how to use it to break the window. “And then you can jump out the window!” he concluded. It never occurred to me to ask him why I couldn’t just open the window. I didn’t sleep a wink, so certain was I that our house would become a blazing inferno that very night. I would have to have all my wits about me to make it to the bathroom, avoid piercing my jugular on the jagged edges of the bathroom window, and to leap far enough out of the window to avoid dashing my brains against the stone patio two stories below.

With the same sense of conviction that I had those many years ago, I was absolutely sure that, having just written a will, I was definitely going to die en route. But this year was my 25th college reunion. (25 years – WHAT?! How is that even possible)?! I’ve never once been back to my college since the day I graduated, but I have kept up with a few of my friends. Last year they came to Charlottesville. This year we met up in Charlotte. Sometimes, adulting means doing things that terrify you. And so I made the drive…

Even though we’re adults, 25 years out of college, we played in the rain:


We visited the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art:

IMG_0520…and had a blast in the open studio playing with watercolors:


We fell into a comfortable rhythm: eat, nap, play, eat, nap, play. (Perfect for babies AND old people adults)!

We ate at wonderful restaurants, but my favorite was Amélie’s, a French bakery and café. with delicious food and charming décor:



IMG_6033.jpgIMG_0526IMG_0523We promised to meet up again next year, because when you do finally grow up, you realize you never outgrow your true friends.IMG_6042

Dear Tina

One of my closest friends is moving far away in just a few weeks. This is a bitter pill to swallow. Tina was one of my first friends in Charlottesville. Our children have grown up together. We‘ve grown up together. I had always assumed that eventually – we would grow old together.

One of the many things we did together over the years was to build a network of friends through a book group made up of kind, generous, brilliant, creative, and hilarious women. One of them rightly stated that it’s been Tina, who has been the glue that has bound us all together. She has hosted our get togethers every month for years and has plied us with dishes so decadent as to banish the thought of any foolish resolution made in a moment of self-delusion. On a diet? Forget about it! Gluten free? How adorable! No sugar diet? Pssssht! Lactose intolerant? Too bad! You might have to pay for it later, but in the moment? Oh, but in the moment you could not help but indulge in the sinful concoctions she would whip up for us. We would come dressed in our pjs, adjust the recliners just so, and settle in for a night of food, conversation and so much laughter. Tina would buzz about refilling glasses, cutting outrageously large slices of cake to put on our plates, draping comfy throws over our legs…

On Sunday it was our turn to host Tina. Our book group got together to take her out for dinner and to send her off in style. It was graduation weekend here in Charlottesville, which made it impossible to book a table for nine locally. We decided to take our party over the mountain to go to the award-winning farm to table restaurant Zynodoa in Staunton. I told Tina I would pick her up in my Chariot of Fire, aka my 14 year old beater minivan with 250,000 miles on it, but as a special surprise – one of our friends booked a limo.


PTO President by day, Party Queen by night!

We rolled up to Tina’s house and I was dispatched to knock on her door. That’s when things got interesting. The evening started off with a no-holds barred wrestling match. There was blood! There was mud! And it was all captured on film! The next part of this post is in the form of a letter addressed to the woman who took me down like a cheap folding chair…


Dear Tina,

We’ve been through so much together over the many years that we’ve been friends…


“You don’t mind riding in my rattletrap minivan, do you? I did vacuum it just for you…”

We’ve had lots of adventures…


(I love that there’s some kind of tractor parked right next to the limo)!



We’ve had our ups…IMG_9509

And our downs…


But through it all, we’ve always been there for each other. We’ve dropped everything to help each other get back onto our feet when life (or say, a dear friend) has knocked us down on our asses…

We’ve laughed until we’ve cried. (And sometimes we’ve cried until we’ve laughed).


We’ve shared amazingly wonderful times with amazingly wonderful friends…




“Wait, why is my head three times bigger than yours? Are we even the same species?”


“You need to go waaaaay in front so that our head sizes can be even.”

Wherever you go…however far away you may be…

IMG_5673We will always adore wonderful, o wonderful you!

IMG_9545 (1)

The Holidays


We spent Christmas in t-shirts and shorts in tropical Princeton, NJ. The kids loved hanging out with their cousins. Such a fine looking bunch, don’t you think?!

Santa did not forget Daisy:

…whose workload dramatically increased with everyone’s arrival at her house:

We had our annual Talentpalooza:

When my daughter started playing her violin, Daisy began howling along. We howled right along with her:

New Year’s Eve

We were back home in Charlottesville to celebrate New Year’s Eve with our old friends with whom we have celebrated so many New Year’s Eves in the past.

They’ll be moving from Virginia later this year, so it seemed especially important to do things for auld lang syne…

Our dinner was wildly eclectic…the kind of weird dinner you could only impose on really good friends with whom you have serious history. The kind of friends who’ll stick with you despite whatever crazy thing you dish up.

We had Korean New Year’s soup as a starter. We had lasagna and pizza as our main courses. For dessert Round 1, my husband borrowed his dad’s recipe for Bakewell tart, an English dessert:

When we first began celebrating New Year’s Eve together, our kids were so young that we would have sleepover parties. Since this was such a special occasion, we decided to reproduce our earliest New Year’s Eve parties, sleepover and all. The kids humored us by posing as we tried to recreate some of the New Year’s Eve photos from years past, though as you’ll see, my second son was not at all happy to be up so far past his usual bedtime:



We released my early-to-bed, early-to-rise second son from the torture of staying up and the rest of us got ready for the countdown with dessert, Round 2: A galette des rois.

At the stroke of midnight, a new queen was crowned. We all stumbled to our beds shortly thereafter, with visions of New Year’s Eves past, present, and future dancing in our heads.

We’re going to miss these friends of ours, but I know we’ll take a cup of kindness yet for auld lang syne…

Wishing everyone health, happiness, and harmony in the new year.


We’ve been burning the candle at both ends lately in the lead up to Christmas.

We finally got our tree decorated last Friday:IMG_7586.jpg…and put out a few more decorations, just in time for an evening get together with some dear old friends.

IMG_7612.jpgThe next day my daughter had friends of her own over to decorate cookies. IMG_7590.jpgThe final products were charming:

IMG_7604.jpg…in a rather surreal sort of way!IMG_7606.jpgThe boys had fun decorating cookies of their own with a “Ninjabread Cookie Kit”:IMG_7601.jpgIMG_7614.jpg

On Sunday we headed up to Arlington. That evening my friend Victoria and I went to a Mount Vernon by Candlelight tour:


We sang Christmas carols all the way back to her house, where we ended the evening by lighting her Advent wreath:

IMG_7659.jpgIMG_7662.jpgOn Monday, the kids and I went over to my friend Janel’s house, where we decorated more cookies, sang more Christmas carols, and even caught a glimpse of Santa as he cruised through Rockville, MD on a fire truck!


I got to have lunch with this sweet friend today:

Afternoon tea at the St. Regis with my friendy Wendy:

And dinner with my family at an old favorite, Jang Won Korean Chinese Restaurant in Annandale:

Tomorrow we hit the road to head to Princeton, where we’ll be spending Christmas with the rest of my family.

Weekend Snapshots 32


A friend from my high school days came for a visit this weekend…


Back in the day, Victoria and I shared a locker, worked on plays together, and sang duets in the hallways after late night rehearsals when everyone else had gone home. It was a sad day for me when she left Yorktown High School to go back to her beloved Waldorf school. She knew back then that she wanted to be a Waldorf teacher, and that’s exactly what she is today.

She speaks so passionately and eloquently about the beautiful, organic way she teaches her students, it makes me sad to have never had that kind of educational experience myself. From our conversations I got the sense that the marking of time and the observance of cycles is an important part of a Waldorf education. I heard her casually mention terms I’d only ever read before, like Michaelmas and winter solstice. One of the first things she asked me when she walked into my house was, “Where’s all your advent stuff?!”

Ummm…in a box buried under other boxes deep in the bowels of my basement maybe?

OK, so we’re not entirely ready for Christmas, but we did go to my husband’s early music ensemble Christmas concert…


The photo reminds me of an article I forwarded to my very tall husband this weekend. It summarizes the finding of researchers at Konkuk University in Korea, who conclude that for a woman, the greater the height differential with her husband, the happier she is in her marriage. The effect, however, entirely dissipates after 18 years of marriage, which is exactly how long we’ve been married. But hey! This shortie is still happy after 18 years of marriage with her giant of a husband!

After the concert, my friend and I stayed up late into the night, chatting and folding and glueing stars together from special kite paper she brought, because that’s the kind of thing that happens when you hang with a Waldorf teacher!


My friend Katherine came over for lunch and we played with our food!


Peeling a massive Korean pear in one piece…

Did you know there’s a little bunny inside every peanut?

And a star in every apple?

Katherine left with a gift from Victoria:

Victoria and I made a quick trip to Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall…



I found some pictures on my camera that I didn’t recognize. My early-rising son had captured this gorgeous sunrise.


The gift that keeps on giving:

My children and I sang in the choir for the candlelight Lessons and Carols service, which means that the Christmas season is now officially upon us.

For the first year ever, we, or rather I‘ve decided to have a real live tree that we can plant after Christmas. We got it at this magical place just down the road from where we live:


Behold our adorable chubby little Baby Blue Colorado Spruce:

Now if only we could get motivated to actually decorate it!

Weekend Snapshots 25

Even I, dogged chronicler that I am, have to admit that some moments are impossible to capture in words or on film. This weekend was full of those moments…


My fifteen year old came back from his pilgrimage with his youth group to Arizona. I picked him up late at night in the church parking lot. I drove him home with a smile on my face as I listened to him talk about the adventures he’d had.

“The Grand Canyon is amazing. Even more amazing than you can imagine. Pictures don’t do it justice.”

As we pulled off the interstate we slowed down so that I could show him another of the world’s wonders in our own backyard. There is a scrubby, weedy tree to the left as you exit the highway onto the dark country road which leads to my house. I believe it’s called a Tree of Heaven. In the daytime you wouldn’t look twice at it. For the past few nights, the whole canopy has been full of twinkling fireflies. The effect is indescribably beautiful.


My very dear friendy Wendy, whom I’ve known since high school, came to visit me this weekend to say goodbye. After teaching elementary school kids in Arlington for almost twenty years, she is moving on to a new chapter of her life. Sadly for me, that chapter takes place all the way on the other side of this great big country.

There would have been more photos, but for the fact that we spent the afternoon, evening, night, and the next day doing nothing but talking, talking, talking. (OK, and maybe we ate a little, too)!

As we drove back home late on Saturday night, I was glad to be able to show her the firefly tree.


The next day as my friend prepared to drive back, I tried to express the ineffable sense of joy I felt for the new direction her life is taking mingled with my sorrow that she will be so far away.

“It’s NOT goodbye, Ada,” she said, using my old childhood nickname, “We’ll see each other soon, I promise!”

Later that night, I met up with my friend Katherine to go to the Charlottesville Free Clinic’s annual benefit concert at the Pavilion on the Downtown Mall. I was dismayed to see all of the signs forbidding any photography or recording. But as I sat with my friend in the sultry summer air and listened to the Indigo Girls and Mary Chapin Carpenter without once picking up my camera, I felt like I could swim in the music. For the final song – in gorgeous three-part harmony, some of it without any accompaniment at all – all three women sang The Water is Wide. I was spellbound.

On my drive home, I decided that I had to record an image of the firefly tree. I exited the highway, and pulled off to the side of the road where I tried and tried to capture the picture. No matter what setting or camera I tried, all I could get was a black frame. I finally gave up and drove the rest of the way home. My son was still up when I got back. We chatted about the music I had heard, and I looked up some of my favorite songs and played them for him on youtube. It just wasn’t the same. I kept finding myself saying apologetically, “It sounded much more amazing live…”

The truth is, sometimes the most beautiful moments can’t be pinned down. You just have to show up and be there.

Related Posts:

The Torpedo Factory with my Friendy Wendy