How it’s been

The Lily and Mom Sunday G.O. (get out) project continues – though a rainy Easter almost had us abandon the project today in favor of movies and cozy blankets. Instead we forced ourselves out for a rainy hike in Forest Park and were both happy we did. I forget how much I love hiking in the rain, especially when you know dry and warm are waiting for you at the end of the day. Afterwards we had a late lunch and then home to dry off and warm up again. On the way home we listened to Emmy Lou Harris spotify and a song by the Story Sisters came on – a song I absolutely love and couldn’t have been more perfect to end this day –

And I will hold you dear
While my shadow’s long and my eyes are clear
I know these days will pass away
So, I will hold you dear

And a catch up from last week – we both had a lot of work so instead of a hike, we visited a new coffee shop. The Stacks Coffeehouse in North Portland – it is a library (you can get a card and borrow books here), writing cafe and coffee shop in one small storefront – instant favorite.

G.O.od Days

Lily told me that this summer, she wants to make a PLAN. Her plan involves actually doing stuff when the days are long and the homework is absent, so another summer doesn’t just vanish before her very eyes. I told her – you had me at “plan”. I do love a good plan. I upped the ante and said – what’s stopping us from starting now? It’s the worst season of the year in PNW, but instead of going deeper and deeper into our seasonal depression, let’s push ourselves to just do some stuff. We decided that Sundays, rain or shine, we would go do two things we’ve never done each week. One is meant to get us OUT. Hike, see a play, get on the water, whatever. The second can be a small thing – go out to eat somewhere you’ve never been (my guess is this will pretty much always be our thing two). After ten years in this city, I’m embarrassed by how little of it I’ve actually explored.

We are calling it the GO project, for Get Out. Neither of us is exactly a fount of creativity but it works for us. Sometimes I do worry that I’m turning Lily into a Golden Girl at the age of 16, but I love that she is not only willing to do kind of stuff with her mom, but she is the one coming up with THE PLAN.

Today: a chilly walk around Mount Tabor with Oscar the fattest dog on the block. If you want to feel better about humanity, take your dog for a walk through a Portland park on a weekend. So many friendly good boys and good girls to say hello to, so many butts sniffed. Afterwards, we warmed up with Chai and donuts at Pips. To be fair, neither of these things was completely new, but we had never taken Oscar to this park. And we had never had the Chai at Pips.

Five stars for the park walk with a special nod to the rare appearance of SUN, three stars for the chai (sorry, Pips, we like Grand Central chai better). Infinity stars for hanging out with a teenager who actually seems to like me (some of the time).

Pictures or it didn’t happen:

Not so small wins

She would be the first to tell you, life has not been so easy for the Alice the past few years. Suffice it to say, her world has shrunk down to a space that feels rather limiting for the time being. And for such an expansive soul, that has been a hard, hard lesson. And as it is her story to tell, not mine, I’ll leave it at that in this space.

Still, she’s got an irrepressible spirit. The way she can find a way to carve out some light and hope and agency, a sense of possibility, an idea of future, even from what can feel like a relentlessly oppressive present. She said, “mom, let’s do reading journals this year.” Ok. I read about a dozen “real” books last year (I don’t count the books I won’t even admit to on my Goodreads shelf. Those ones that are like candy – consumed in a day and forgotten in about half that time). It was a stressful year and you really see it in my reading. So I’m game to do better next year. Reading is one of the places I’m so keenly aware of the finiteness of our time on earth. So many books so little time, as they say.

So I pulled out a journal and wrote a header: 2023 book goal: 25. And numbered 1 to 25 down the side so I can write in my books as I read them. I guess this is how a left brain person tackles such a task. Done and done.

My artist had a different idea. She scoured the internet for inspiration, and this is the start to her reading journal. As usual, she blows me away. My sad little list vs. this meticulous and gorgeous creation? I declare her the winner of a contest she didn’t even enter. No matter how many books she reads.

I know New Year’s resolutions are at best considered trite, at worst vaguely unhealthy, but I still love setting a goal in the darkest time of the year that says at least I have the hope for Something in the next year. When life feels impossibly small, setting even a small big goal can feel like a lifeline. So here’s to 2023, hope and many more books to read.

T-5 days

Margaret is starting to turn the mountain of ikea and garbage bags full of her stuff that was brought home from her apartment into our den into a single suitcase to take to Seoul for four months. I suggested she think of it like writing a paper and this is her first draft of packing but before I could even get the word “revise” out of my mouth she cut me right off “Mom, that doesn’t work for me, my first draft is always my last draft.” She is self aware, this one. She may not have any socks for four months, but she will know why. T-5 days until she is off!


The last few years we’ve created a little hummingbird oasis in the backyard by planting salvias and putting in a feeder to entice them into our yard and now if I’m sitting out there for any length of time, one or two always seem to come to visit. Recently, John added a bird seed feeder of which approximately 90% appears to feed the squirrels that have managed to figure out how to get to it, but the remaining seed and the seed they scatter on the ground with their antics has brought some songbirds to the yard too. I know literally nothing about birds and it is one of those things I find myself wanting to get more curious about. I want to feel more rooted to the natural world around me, rather than always passing through in a fog of my own stress and inner dramas. My default has always been to be very inwardly focused and I think I’m almost weary of it now.

A pair of what I was calling “speckled browns” have been visiting us, and this morning I was able to snap a few pictures and do approximately eight seconds of googling to find that they are a Swainson thrush. They have the loveliest song. There is a giant fir in the neighbors yard that is full of all kinds of birds, but now that I know what to listen for, I can pick out these gentle, happy thrush songs.

It’s nice.

So long, lake

We had a wonderful week doing very little. At some point every day we swam and paddled. We read. We napped. We snacked. In the evenings we conducted a vacation film festival – this year was Keanu Reeves movies. Speed, the matrix, Point Break, and of course Bill and Ted. Movies I had either never seen or hadn’t seen in years and the girls had never seen – it was perfect. We had some of M’s friends out for the day or for dinner which was also so nice. I felt guilty at times of how little we really did but I think this was the vacation we needed. Beautiful, peaceful, relaxing, and lots of just hanging out together. Here are few pictures for the scrap book. (Mostly pictures of me and the dog, but I swear we were all there, the celebrities who live in my house refused most pictures.)

Lake days

After sliding back into town after a 13 hour drive on Thursday, we packed up both cars, both dogs and all of the kids on Friday and headed out of town for a week to just float in all the ways that we so need to just float. I brought a suitcase loaded with books to read and somehow no underwear. Priorities. I drew the short straw (ok, chose the short straw and John owes me) and ended up driving both dogs (the old one and the carsick one) as well as the two passengers who least like long car drives. I distracted the unhappy people by letting them DJ the ride (how else will I discover new music?) and wonder of wonders, little dog did not get carsick once. Big win. First time I’ve let him ride without a crate and I think that’s the ticket – who wants to be confined for 6+ hours. Not me. Look how happy/terrified they are:

(Have ukelele, will travel)

Today was a strange start to all that floating – John rode a local hundred mile race (actually, he got off route of the poorly marked race so many times that he rode 113 miles, but 13 of them were accidental). Marg’s friend who is going to Korea with her came over to the house for the day and they had a zoom Korean lesson and then paddled out for an hour or so. The remaining people swam a bit and paddled a bit and then went off to meet the wayward father at his finish line. I left Margaret with him to drink a beer and sit for a bit while Lil and I went to get some sandwiches to bring back for dinner. We returned to a mortified Margaret who was still reeling over the fact that another rider asked her if she was John’s wife and I think the rider was equally mortified when she answered after a stunned silence, “No, he is my dad.” I told her she should have just looked at him and deadpanned, “yeah, he’s really rich.”

We ended the day with a sunset walk and then cuddled up on couches to watch that old cinematic masterpiece, Speed. Lily didn’t believe it was really Keanu Reeves, “the guy with the short hair? No mom, that is NOT him.” Yeah, Lily. I promise, it is. These are the days we’ll remember.


Just putting a few pictures for the memories of a crazy but wonderful 2 day trip to see my sister after three years of pandemic-related distance. Too long. I drove almost 13 hours each way for two great days and it was totally worth it. We hiked and ate and went through old boxes of mom’s stuff we packed up ten years ago and only now are starting to go through. We watched movies and puttered and it felt more like a week fit into two days. Even in a world where everything seems to change all the time, some things remain the same. My heart is full.


The “baby” turned sixteen last Sunday, and while it was a day that John had to work, it was, by request of the birthday girl, a family birthday. Lily and I were both up early so we went for an early breakfast at Tin Shed in what is becoming a new tradition of mom/Lily breakfast on her birthday. We had planned to go paddle around a local lake with Margaret and Alice in tow, but the weather wasn’t the best, so we settled on a movie which ended with Lily accidentally going into the men’s bathroom and her being utterly mortified while the rest of us were entirely entertained (ask me how many times I’ve accidentally done the same thing. A lot. It builds character. Or something.)

I made my every decade attempt to make a cake and it didn’t turn out awful – the cake was delicious and it even looked reasonably ok. Lily was happy and that was all that mattered. Summer birthdays are just hard with so many people coming and going, and sixteen has got to be the most overrated birthday ever invented, but I would say this one was a pretty good one. It did my heart good and I think meant a lot to Lily to have all the sisters together for this day. They weren’t even pretending to get along in the pictures. In fact, as we were driving to the theater at one point I reflexively told them all to stop arguing and they all protested – “we aren’t even arguing” in exasperation. I realized that I’m going to have to stop interpreting every animated conversation as bickering – after sooo many years of nearly constant bickering, it’s going to take some practice but that’s a nice problem to have for sure. Growing up is good.