Sunday, August 28, 2011

Love Letter

Dear Cannon Beach,

   We have just returned from our annual visit to you, and I already miss you. I lost count a long time ago on how many times I have visited you since I was a child, but I know it's more than my fingers and toes combined. You have given me traditions like eating crab on saltine crackers doused with ketchup and lemon juice for dinner, and stopping to eat at Pig N' Pancake on our way out when we reluctantly have to leave town. You were there for me as I cried angry tears at the ocean a couple weeks after Vanessa died, and swallowed the message in a bottle I threw to you on the first anniversary of her death. You also made me laugh for the first time after she passed by sending a bazillion seagulls to swarm me and Jeremy as we unknowingly brought bread to share with them and barely made it out, running, with the clothes still on our backs. We know better now. You have given me the most beautiful sunsets to witness, ones where you hear trumpets sounding and see angels pouring down from the heavens if you look very carefully.

 We ate wedding cake with you as Jeremy and I held a romantic dinner for our very first wedding anniversary, remember? It tasted so good, and you didn't even get your sandy fingers all over it.
     This year, I was a little hesitant, because my sibs and I were spending our vacation with you all under one roof. We haven't been together like that since I was eighteen years old, and I wasn't sure what to expect. My worries melted as soon as I heard your familiar sound cloaked in darkness as we pulled into town around midnight. Morning light revealed grey skies, but sunny smiles from my sibs and families and we all had a blast together, minus poor Jazlynn who came down with a very high fever and the sickies about halfway through our visit. We had lots of fun, but were very worried about her.

Not even a teddy bear pancake could make it better.

Getting loves from her concerned parents. Poor Jazzy

   She tried to have fun, but poor baby felt miserable. Better health next year, for sure.
   You got to meet Sabina, who's feet will be pounding on your shores come next year. Cute, isn't she?

 Your spell on the other girls though, I have to say, made me nervous. I was known as the "mean auntie" when I took the two girls to the shoreline because they often frolicked too far for my liking, and would come back to a heated lecture from me almost every time.

Safe on shore, just how I like them.

Flying towards Haystack is faster than swimming. : )

Busting a surfer move. Cute, but get back here...girls??....GIRLS!!!!!!

     Next time, be a little quieter so when I am screaming frantically, they can hear me, K? I love you, but you do scare me.
     Thank you, for bringing out the best in my family, and for giving us a place to connect and truly love. It is because of your effortless beauty and hospitality that we will never tire of visiting you, to dip our feet in your icy shores, to have a good cry, to stare out into nowhere, to feel small in the world again, to be reminded about what really matters, to toast to new life and new love, to shop at your cute little beachy shops, to eat ice cream around a bonfire, or simply because you make us do this:

I will think of you often, and am already counting the days until I see you again. I have pictures to gaze upon, but it is just not the same as being with you. You will have plenty of company to keep you busy, but until then, sending my love to you, and sharing some pictures of our last days together:

Everyone thought they were twins, you included.

Biggest sandbox ever.  Go on, girl, make a mess

You made my brother so happy in his heart, he felt the need to kiss my husband.

A rarity for me to step in front of the camera, but you in the backdrop made it happen.

The only place my dad and Jeremy can fly their princess kites together with no raised eyebrows. Thank you.

See? Told you I was "mean auntie."

Remember these days? Yep, so do I...good multi-tasking, Sergey

Jazzy is still wary of you, but I am sure next year,  she will be all over you.

That was a blustery beach day. It was warmer to look at you through the window, but we had to come out for a quick visit. Didn't wanna be rude.

You make my girl dance and channel her inner Stevie Nicks

And her footloose moves too.

You also make kidlets stay up way past their bedtimes, but for you, it's totally OK.

And these girls just couldn't get enough of you.

I Love You, Cannon Beach.


P.S. One of just you and me....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Constant October

A few days ago I was walking in the yard and spied this:

And it made me feel like this:

My maple starts to turn early every year, but this year I just don't wanna hear any mention of Autumn. I love fall, I really do, but I'm still in summer mode, and want badly to stay in it.  August ushers in three of my most cherished months of the year; Aug, Sept, Oct. aka; harvest time. It is my last hurrah before I fall into the black hole that is November and emerge sometime in late January. Everything circles around November, and as it gets closer, no matter how much I pull against the tide, the memory of that one awful month in 2002 will  haunt me forever. It has damaged me on a cellular level.  Until then, though, I will be entranced by the crickets that begin their song, enjoy the garden harvest that is pumping out more than ever before, cuddle closer to those I love on those crisper nights, eat gobs of cherry tomatoes, make apple-everything, and smile big at my most favorite thing ever (just ahead of my obsession with Matryoshka dolls): Pumpkins. I love everything about pumpkins. Don't know why, but I do. I just love them. Gracie knows about this about me and at out last trip to the Library this week, she picked out this:

Tradition in our house is that at we make a certain cookie at the first sign of fall. With a summer that has felt more like living in a constant October, it was hard to know when to make them, but that rich red maple gave me that sign and said," Hey Marla. I know I'm early, but, make me some of those butterscotch gingerbread cookies, 'kay? I've been waiting all year for them.

 Not wanting to argue, I headed to the kitchen and filled it with the smells of red leaves, nippy nights, plaid blankets and hay rides. These cookie scream fall, and since summer skipped town, reluctantly, even though I love fall, I begrudgingly made them.

 They are from a Nestle recipe and I usually don't change it much except sometimes swapping chocolate chips for the butterscotch chips or just putting them both in. They freeze well, and if you are in need for some new bff's, share them at work. A note of caution when they are cooking, be careful, since they have molasses in them they brown on the bottom easily, so if you can, line your cookie sheet with parchment paper and do not over bake.

                                          Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

                  3 Cups all-purpose flour
                 2 teaspoons baking soda

                 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

                 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

                 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

                 1/2 teaspoon salt

                 1 Cup unsalted butter

                 1 1/2 Cups packed brown sugar

                 1 large egg

                 1/3 Cup mild or light molasses

                 1 (11 0z) package Nestle Toll House Butterscotch flavored morsels

         Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt. 

         In a separate bowl, or in the bowl of a mixer, beat together butter, sugar, egg, and molasses until creamy. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the morsels. Drop by large rounded tablespoons onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.

I hope you enjoy them as much as our family does. Sorry to nudge you into fall, but maybe if I write this, summer will take offence and get off it's lazy butt and show me how wrong I am. (cross fingers)  Happy baking!  ; )

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mommy police

 First off, thank you all for the kind loving words and support after the last post. I thank you for lifting my heart with your words, and will find strength in that to share more as I move through the stages of finding that all elusive solace. It is a hard thing, sharing. I went from keeping it all in to baring it all, on of all places, the Internet, where words can live forever. Maybe that's why I chose it, a way for Vanessa to go on through my words. I will learn to open up and slowly unfurl, but it will take time, and I don't want all my posts to leave you sad. So I will intermix tears with laughter, stories that provoke thought with musings full of fluff. Maybe some recipes too! Mix it up a little. For you. : )

 Yesterday was one of those days when Grace and I were just not on the same page. Maybe it was me, maybe she was just bucking authority, maybe the moon was in a grumpy phase, I don't know, but she just didn't feel like minding, and so my badge came out and I became the mommy police.  Privileges were taken away, threats filled the air, glares were passed around, and we were stuck in a showdown, you know, the kind where no one wins.

 So what is a mom to do? How about gathering up beach gear, grabbing the dog, letting all the restrictions vanish into thin air and head for the beach. And then go out for a Slurpee. Grade A parenting, right? Not so much, but we both needed to blow off some steam and I admit, I was tired. And thirsty. Too tired to deal with a bored sassy six year old with a bad attitude, so I let it slide, this one time, and let me tell you, it felt so good. It felt like a good day to let bad behavior reign. In fact, hey, can I join in?  My badge went back into my pocket, and she was released from room jail and we rolled the windows down and headed to KVI beach. I felt a little guilty for not following through on the heavy threats I had already handed out, but I can always regain my deputy status tomorrow and set a better example. Yes, tomorrow I will be a more effective parent, but today I need the day off from being one. This is my summer vacay too, and yesterday I felt like getting a tan, and darn it I was goin' to the beach and getting me one of those, sassy attitude or not : )

 The magic of KVI is the wonderful pure sand spit it lays out for you for only about an hour or so on low tide, where for one split second on a hot day you might think you are in California instead of in the middle of the Puget Sound. We hit it just right and along with a few other lucky souls we ditched our flip flops and frolicked in the hot sand. I breathed in the salty air and ran from one end of the sandy bliss to the other savoring this yummy slice of summer as the dog just about passed out from sheer happiness.

 On previous visits to the beach Daisy only gingerly skirted the water, but today, she swam. Since she's a low rider her little feet pedaled through the water at shin deep so it didn't take much for her to become buoyant. It was funny, and made me belly laugh a little, good medicine for a rough day. The bad morning melted into the surf as a freighter passed by to give us waves to jump over as the dozen or so other giggly bodies that dotted the spit all joined in for one collective jump.

 It was one of those hours where you feel truly present and fully aware of the free happiness that is there for the taking. Sun. Sand. The comforting constant sound of the incoming tide. The cry of a happy seagull that just found a crab carcass. Warm sand between your toes. Icy cold Sound water that makes your chest sting, but in a good summer-y way. All simple things, but true God given smile makers.

 We stayed for a couple hours and brought home a tired, happy, sandy dog, and two nicer people. For a minute. I wish I could bottle up some of that beachy happiness to sprinkle over Grace, and maybe some for me too. We weren't home but ten minutes and my badge was out and already flashing in her face. Your flip flops, didn't I already tell you TWICE to take them off? You see that trail of sand?.. Yep, that one...Hey,.. HEY!... I'm talking to YOU!!! Ugh. Oh, look! Jeremy's home! Shift change!  ; )!