Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life…

... It turns what we have into enough, and more.

(The day started with mist hanging over the mountain but became bright and sunny by 10 am)

This Thanksgiving was the first time we were all together at the mountain house. I had those urchins here for the long weekend- Dan and his Sarah came from Ann Arbor. Abby came over from Duke and Misha flew up from Florida where he is finishing his final few weeks of a business degree before he too moves to Durham. I hadn’t seen Rich for a couple weeks as he’s been in Florida and Melissa also came from Michigan. Lots of snuggling! Added to that our best friends from Chicago, Donna and Larry, flew in especially to join us so, all in all, it was one very grand reunion. And if your Thanksgiving was half as wild, fun and high calorie as ours, you’ll be recovering for days. Nine bodies, three meals a day for four days gave the new kitchen a real workout. Plus, all five starter people graze. Constantly. Always. Never on a schedule. Endlessly seeking food (the goopier or crumblier the better) and drink (the stickier the better). Never ending. And then they slept at odd hours and went out at odd hours.  Just to mix things up they dragged out five giant rubbermaid tubs of family photos and spread them absolutely everywhere, screaming with laughter at each other’s bare-naked toddler antics, weeping over dead cats and chinchillas and whining about who had the best baby book (Dan. Abby’s consisted of a calendar with four stickers: Baby Arrives! Baby Comes Home! Baby’s First Smile! Baby sleeps through the night! Poor Abby. I told her she was the better for the second child neglect.) And then they played euchre, played the piano and watched comedy central on TV and then they got restless and went out to listen to Blue Grass music. And came home at 3am to eat more.

(Making cheddar dill scones for, oh, about a hundred.)

Melissa has typically spent Thanksgiving with her mother and family in Missouri. We lucked out having her here with us this year. She works so hard in her life that it was wonderful to watch her relax, sleep, knit, play with McCloud (who is the cat of her teen years) and enjoy the commotion on this side of the family. I still remember her first family meal with us years ago; I think she was sort of shell-shocked with the rambunctious nature of her soon-to-be step sibs. Donna and Larry were our front condo neighbors in Chicago and we miss them constantly. Donna thinks that they may be about all I miss of Chicago. I enjoyed seeing how much they marveled at the peace and quiet and views from here, in contrast to big city life. On the other hand, sans children, they don’t typically have so much indoor noise…(The lot of us, taken with the camera precariously balanced on a mountain of boxes of old photos.)

Everybody went home again Sunday and Rich drove back to Florida with McCloud. (We re-unite in a week when I go down to teach another workshop and then he comes here for half of December  and Christmas and then we return to Florida for the winter, where I will teach at the Morean and get back to those rascally raptors I’ve been missing.) Yesterday I tackled the laundry. Lots of sheets, towels, tablecloths, napkins. I really didn’t mind at all; I used the time folding laundry to reflect on my family and all the life that was in this house over the past few days. This year was a real treat because, although they are all now adults in their own right, they still came together with the energy I loved in them as children. I hope they never flip completely over into the dark side of too-serious adulthood.

(Dan and Sarah. She is so wonderfully calm and a perfect balance for Dan, who sometimes is not. It’s probably because she’s a teacher of children, don’t you know, as well as being a gifted artist. Dan makes her laugh. He makes us all laugh.)

Several things were striking about the weekend, not the least being that my two children are night and day different and yet curiously similar. We say that Dan is completely right brained and Abby left and isn’t it too bad that they each got just half a brain but that is just a joke. They are, of course, well- rounded and delightfully full of personality. Also, intensity. Have I ever mentioned that these two are quite intense? Yes, well, together they almost spontaneously combust as they feed off each other’s humor and wisdom and talents.

(Abby and Misha have spent a semester apart as they continue their educational pursuits and they miss each other a lot. Just a couple more weeks to go and Misha, with English as a second language, 40 hours a week of outside work and credits mangled in transition from Russia, will graduate from USF.)

When Dan first chose the saxophone as his instrument of choice in 5th grade I would often suggest that, really, there was no need for him to practice and if he had to, could he please do it in the garage. I was such a nurturing and supportive mother. I missed this entire episode until I was downloading photos; I must have been down in the garage bringing up more food and drink. When I realized there was a little video on the camera I watched it and laughed and cringed and laughed and cringed. This was so much our life when we all lived under the same roof. With Abby on piano and trumpet and Dan on sax plus anything that he could use to generate sound, there was always a lot of music bordering on noise or vice-versa and I was always on the edge of squealing, “Enough! Stop! Go on! Get!” Actually, not so much on the edge. And yet, despite my efforts to suppress their energy and enthusiasm they appear to have grown up unfazed. And right when I realized they were leaving and Rich fortuitously dropped into my life, that energy and enthusiasm came back. Now, when children and husband unite, it’s a virtual overdose.

The other thing that really hit home was that they have all successfully, happily and responsibly made it into adulthood. They all contribute to making the world a better place as they create music and art, teach children, protect the earth, care for themselves, each other and those in their circles of life. Amazing.

Today it’s raining and gray, the two of us cozy and quiet. Sophie has been sleeping off the commotion and I’ve begun to turn my attention back to my big project of the moment: getting my fiber arts website up and running. I do believe I’m really going to do it within the next few days. Since last we visited, I’ve been to St. Petersburg for a weekend, completed my holiday inventory for the Florida Craftsmen Gallery and turned that over to them. I planted close to a thousand Spring bulbs here in the woods and on the hill. The bears haven’t hunkered down for the winter yet, the birds are lined up endlessly at the feeder and I’m excited to go get a fine North Carolina Fraser fir later this week. Even though I’m not always around here at this haphazard blog (thank you for the nudge, Bonnie dear), life is full and I am too, with gratitude.

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11 responses to “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life…

  1. Does that mean the “children” got to see the bears? 🙂 Everybody looks (and sounds) wonderful. A blessed weekend in your mountain home. Love to all of you, Vick.

  2. Sounds like you had a wonderful first Thanksgiving in the new forever home.

  3. Yay–another blog from you. Yes, you have been remiss. I did enjoy your description of a raucous house; it read quite reminiscent of times we have had when our two adult children plus spouses come home.
    Absent, of course, the glass musical concert.

  4. We were not raucous… very quiet and very restful. Now, I have too much to do in two weeks and too little time and too few young muscles with good knees to do it all. Perhaps I will simply take a nap. And 1,000 bulbs? I have the tulips and need to get them in the ground.

  5. I felt like I was a little mouse in the corner, I could feel the warmth, fun and love of this entire group. You, truly, have a lot of Aller in you!

  6. What a lovely update. I love the photos and love the music makers!!

  7. What a wonderful story! I am so glad that your Thanksgiving was so great. Lots of love and happiness. But, what about the crap sale? We want to know how the crap sale went!

  8. PS Those two couples are going to have beautiful children together some day but don’t tell them I said that. Stunning and smart the lot of them. And you can see the love in their eyes.

  9. I was looking forward to more bear stories too. Maybe with the aroma of Thanksgiving leftovers wafting over the hills, that’ll be your next blog. Trying to match names with faces, I’m guessing that Melissa must be the short-haired dudette sitting on the far left.

    Nice job catching up. Thanks! Speaking of busy kitchens, I heard yesterday that U of Michigan football coach Rich Rod has three full kitchens in his house. Not breakfast nooks or dining rooms . . . three full kitchens. We treat our football coaches well here in Ann Arbor. Let’s hope some day they repay the favor.

  10. Hello, hello,
    Looks delicious in your sweet mountain home. Tell me, why are you working in a (presumably) warm kitchen wearing long underwear and two sweaters?

  11. Lovely ladies, gallant gents, epicurean edibles and distinguished digs!

    Your prodigious progeny and their music makin’
    Reminds me of founding father, Ben Franklin
    Who, after hearing a concert on wine glasses (Newfangle!),
    Invented the armonica which means “voice of an angel.”

    Dead Poets Joke (reward/punishment for updating here):

    An English landlady had a couple of struggling poets for tenants.

    When the poor fellows got behind in their rent, the landlady was unable to have them evicted. Instead, she decided to murder them.

    She baked a large cheddar dill scone and put some poison in it, then invited the poets down for tea. She served each of the chaps a cup of tea and half the scone. The poison worked as advertised, but of course crime does not pay, and the awful woman was soon arrested.

    Feigning innocence, she demanded to know with what she was being charged.

    The police inspector replied: “Well, it seems, Madam, that you have killed two bards with one scone!”

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