Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Picking Up Where We Left Off...

I spent today with my friend Grace.  She used to live in the duplex next door to me when I moved back to Providence after my divorce from my first husband in 1985.  Grace and I became fast friends.  I was working full time at a law firm and she stayed at home spending a lot of time with her sisters and their kids and helping her boyfriend, who later became her husband, with his jewelry business.  We had dinner parties together and hung out with her nieces, sisters and my daughter on the weekends.  On rare occasions when my daughter was sick and unable to go to daycare or school, Grace always offered to babysit.  

Grace and I would talk about everything, and I mean everything.  She knew all my secrets, even the embarrassing ones.  She knew the few secrets I never even told my husband and I knew hers.  There was always plenty of drama, for her with her sisters and future in-laws.  For me, there was the ongoing saga of adventures with the big love of my life, my one that got away.  Grace was there through all the sordid details.  We were partners in crime and confidants, spending countless hours talking, laughing, planning, dreaming and simply hanging out.

She and her husband eventually bought a house in a neighboring city and I had my sons.  Shortly after my son Michael was born, Grace gave birth to her beautiful daughter.  We were invited to Zoe's first birthday party but only stayed briefly as my boys were quite a handful when they were younger.  We exchanged Christmas cards every year, but other than that, we had lost touch.  

I was pre-occupied and overwhelmed, wrapped up in a world of autism and food allergies.  My social life was pretty much nonexistent up until a few years ago and I lost touch with not only Grace, but a couple of other friends I used to hang around with in my single days.  

But I really missed Grace.  I missed the fact that she did not live next door to meet up with on a whim. I missed our spontaneous and planned dinner parties.  I missed being able to share what was going on in my dysfunctional life and hearing what she was up to.  She had her new daughter and also suffered through some health issues.  The months apart turned into years.  I would run into her father-in-law at the market occasionally and catch up a little on the news, but we never connected in person until last week.

I was putting my bike on the bike rack when a tan SUV pulled up in front of my driveway.  I thought it was my neighbor but it was Grace!  We stood outside and talked for an hour and it was like I had seen her a day ago, not 10 years ago!  She hadn't changed a bit.  We made plans to go out for coffee and fully catch up.  She texted me later that day saying how she was smiling all day, so happy that we talked.  I was smiling all day too, reminiscing about our escapades two decades ago.   Today we lounged on her couch with our coffees in hand.  We talked about the kids, our husbands, our mutual family issues.  We have many differences, yet are so alike.  Again, for the second time in a year, I was thrust back into the 80's.  25 years ago.  Half a lifetime for both of us.  Then we went to lunch and talked some more.  She gave me a new perspective on things I had been struggling with this year and I hope I did the same for her.  

I don't know why it took us this long to reconnect.  I don't know why she picked last week to drive by.  But I am so grateful that she did.  This time I know we'll make the effort to not lose touch.  Although the convenience of living next door is gone, a city away is not that far.  I have been smiling all day, looking forward to our next 'play date' when the kids will meet each other for the first time!  And this time, I simply will not allow life's ups and downs to interrupt our friendship.  True friends are a rare commodity.    

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Boston Tribute to Mariano Rivera.

September 15 at Fenway Park was our last baseball game of the season.  Sure, there's another month left of baseball, but only on TV for us.  The Red Sox paid a tribute to New York Yankee Mariano Rivera, one of the games greatest closing pitchers who is retiring this year. He is one of the most respected baseball players of all time.  

Reporters flocked the field and Mariano's interview was conducted in front of the dugout only a few feet from our seats.  He was presented with gifts from the Red Sox which included a painting and a donation to his Panama charities. 

The Yankee team has been riddled with injuries all year and they have been struggling.  Last year Mariano himself was out with a knee injury.  We were hoping to see him pitch in person before he retired, but the games we've been to were played when he was injured last year and were losses for the Yankees this year.  Nevertheless, the boys were thrilled to see their Yankees so close in person, Curtis Granderson autographed our ball and we were front row to the Mariano tribute.  

Enjoy your retirement Mariano, you deserve it!  And in a few years, I'm sure we'll see you in Cooperstown!

(And of course we were unable to get a photo with Jeter, although he did wave to us this time!)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Bike Path and Bruce Willis (well, not exactly)

The summer of 2013 was unbelievably fantastic.  Labor Day is behind us and school is now in full swing.  Finally back on the bike path, I logged nearly 75 miles in four days this week.     

And while I missed the bike path throughout this summer, I didn't really dwell on it much.  On Monday, however, I realized just how much I missed my rides, all by myself, with my assortment of 80's rock and current pop hits playing on my iPhone while I pedaled on, thinking, planning, dreaming.  Everything was pretty much the same as I left it in June.  The train was running, great blue herons were out, birds were chirping, Canada geese were honking and I played dodge 'em with the little chipmunks scurrying across the path.

The same people I saw in April, May and June were still riding, and with a smile and wave we passed by each other.  And yesterday I saw Bruce Willis.  Well, not really Bruce.  I swear this guy is Bruce's double.  He even smirks like Bruce Willis.  And it makes me smile every time we pass.  If you have previously read my blog you may already know that Bruce Willis is my big celebrity crush and meeting him is a major bucket list item.   

I first saw 'Bruce' in June, a couple of weeks before my family left for a month at the beach.  He was riding with a woman whom I figured was either his wife or girlfriend.  I had to force myself not to stare as the resemblance to Bruce Willis was uncanny.  He was a little heavier but other than that, I would swear it was really Bruce Willis.  I wasn't able to 'bump into' the real Bruce when his daughter Scout graduated from Brown University in my home town of Providence this past May.  Seeing his lookalike however, really made my day on the bike path.  I saw him several times in June and he was usually alone.  He would give a smile/smirk as he passed and I would smile at him.   I kept thinking about stopping to speak with him, asking him if anyone ever told him he looked like Bruce Willis, but was a little hesitant in approaching him.  My friends kept saying I should just ask him for a picture.  Even a couple of my twitter followers said I should ask him also.  I finally got the nerve up the day before we left for the beach.  I was going to do it.  I was going to ask him if anyone ever told him he looked like Bruce Willis and I was going to ask him if I could take a picture of him.  

And I did see him that day.  And that was the only other day I saw him riding with his wife/girlfriend!  Needless to say I didn't say a word.  And I left for the beach and had an awesome summer. 

Tuesday was the first day I saw "Bruce" this week.  He passed by with that smirky smile and I smiled at him.  That was it, both of us heading in the opposite direction.  Wednesday was really hot and humid here with the temperature predicted to be in the 90's so I planned on an earlier than normal start in the morning.  I was on the last mile when I saw 'Bruce' riding towards me.  He didn't smirk though.  He had a big smile, gave a little wave and said 'Hi'.  I said hello back and gave him a big smile.  After we passed each other I could feel myself grinning from ear to ear on the way back to my car.  Now all is well and back to normal in my own little world on the bike path.  I know he's not really Bruce Willis, but seeing him really does make my day!  

Friday, September 6, 2013

Sweet Tea Martini... I Think I'm in Love.

I have been hooked on my friend Mary Johnson's lemon drops for 2 years now.  It is a refreshing, skinny version of a lemon drop martini and I never thought there would be any other serious competition...Until...

While out to dinner in Boston, my daughter ordered a sweet tea lemonade.  I tried one and it was really good.  For some reason, I thought it was called a sweet tea martini and I googled it.  Sweet tea vodka and lemonade.  Well that sounded easy enough, except I don't like a lot of sugar.  Instead,  I decided to experiment with Mary Johnson's recipe for lemon drops, substituting the sweet tea vodka for the citron vodka and triple sec and using fresh squeezed lemons, water and truvia rather than a pre-mixed sweetened lemonade.  

It was just too much alcohol.  One martini shaker later, (about 2 1/2 drinks) and I had to take a nap.  Oh well, tomorrow would be another day. 

And so it was a couple of more tomorrows, getting the ratio of fresh lemons, water and truvia correct and I think I have finally perfected my recipe.  I think I mentioned in a previous post that I don't like to taste the alcohol in a drink and these taste just like iced tea.

I made them for Mikey's tutor, my friend Carol, and she said she thinks she likes them better than the lemon drops.  My daughter came over yesterday and I made them for her.   She said they were different from the ones in Boston. Different because in Boston they were Sweet Tea Lemonades, but she liked these as well.  For me, it's a hard choice.  I love the lemon drops, but these are fantastic as well and because they're something new, I have to say these are my preference for now.  

I am sharing the recipe below.  If you make them, please let me know what you think, I would love to hear your reviews!!  Enjoy.

Judi's Sweet Tea Martini 
(makes approximately 2 1/2 drinks using a standard martini shaker)

2 packets of truvia
4 oz water
juice of 2 lemons
4 martini shaker capfuls of sweet tea vodka (I prefer Firefly brand).

Fill the shaker with ice, shake and pour into chilled martini glass rubbed on the rim with lemon and dipped in truvia.  A lemon garnish just makes it really pretty!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Stowe Farmers Market

While the boys are beginning their new school year, I have been trying to organize the house a bit.  There were still some bags not quite unpacked from our beach escapades and our August Vermont trip.  As I was unpacking, I came across a bag with some goodies I found at the Stowe Farmers Market.  

We discovered the Stowe Farmers Market a few of years ago, and now make sure to include it in our yearly plans.  It runs from 10:30 - 3:00 on Sundays and not only has plenty of fresh veggies and meats, but also unique gift and home items.  There were jarred sauces including hot fudge in several different flavors.  Fresh fruit preserves and even pickled garlic could be found at this farmers' market.  Several booths to purchase prepared food and drinks were scattered throughout the market area.

We bought some garden veggies (of course), stopped by the BBQ tent for the most delicious pulled pork sandwich, and drank some freshly squeezed lemonade.  Then I found some really neat items - handmade slate garden markers and hot plates, a beautiful origami crane mobile, and a moose themed toothbrush holder and soap dish.  

This is definitely worth a trip when in the Stowe area.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Fall...A Time For New Beginnings.

Summer came, and in what seemed like a fleeting moment, was gone. We smile when we reminisce about the fabulous summer we had this year.  For now however, the beach chairs, umbrella and beach bags are stowed safely away until next year.  And we begin a new season.

Last week we began the routine of a new school year.  A very different school year as David started middle school.  He is also taking a bus for the very first time.  And though he tried to hide it, I could see he was nervous.  I was nervous too.  

An August 21 orientation went very well.  David practiced the combination lock to open a locker, walked his schedule to find his classes (alone) while my husband, Mikey and I followed behind.   We all met the principal, vice-principal and some of the teachers.  And the fears began to subside.

Mikey and I walked David to the bus stop on the first day of school.  The bus was on time and David gave a big wave to Mikey and me as he crossed the street to board the bus. 

I am very excited to watch my son grow into a responsible young man, but feel a twinge of sadness as he becomes more independent.  It seems like yesterday that he was in kindergarten and needed me for everything.  Where has the time gone?