of spreadsheets and screened-in porches.

This week I had an eerie—though good—sensation of being lost in a spreadsheet, and then jolted suddenly back to life by the sounds of my family returning from an outing. Two little girls swinging their sticks and water bottles up the walkway, clanging and chattering as they push past each other into the screened-in porch.

Other happy things:

  • Plant pots lined up under a sunny window
  • Sunset on a river-beach, hot and quiet as the vultures look on
  • Spraying the garden hose mist into the air and letting the kids run through it
  • Matching pink blazers with a work colleague
  • Cora’s sour face when she tastes lemonade
  • A first day of school family ritual, with feet pressed into paint and a little prayer
  • A string quartet in the park, for free, just because
  • Cupcakes and coffee and string lights on a dark, drizzly day
  • Birthday Zoom-bomb, with a generous gift and an original illustration of me and a sweet card and each little square containing a smiling face that I’m proud to work with
  • Socially-distanced soft serve
  • My kids’ hair flapping in the wind on the deck of a pontoon boat
  • Cora with her arms outstretched in perfect glee
  • The utter peacefulness of being on the lake again: the wind wiping out any other sounds, the sky and fresh air surrounding us, the familiar land masses around every corner, toes pressing into synthetic waterproof flooring, the click of a children’s fishing reel locking into place
  • Homemade pasta with pristine basil leaves laminated into it by a fancy friend
  • A note from Matt’s grandmother ordering me to “shop for something pretty”
  • Questions pulled from a card deck at dinnertime: When asked what she would ask God if she could ask God anything, Morella said “For a beach house. And not one to rent, one to own.”
  • A takeout picnic on a cool afternoon, with NO MOSQUITOES
  • A new sweater, emblazoned with bats 🦇
  • The first fire pit of the season

of sparklers and sungolds.

In a recent musing by the rector in the church’s email newsletter, she asked a beautiful question that I’ve been turning over and over in my mind (and maybe have always been turning over and over in my mind):

“What treasure have you found, or do you long to find, in the hidden places of your life?”

Some recent treasures:

  • A quote from someone talking to researchers about why they like to learn about new things when they read: “I learn those things and I’m slightly more enchanted by the world, because I learned about something I never knew.”
  • The calm at High Bridge Trail State Park as we flew on two wheels over the treetops.
  • Old blue-glass electrical insulators glinting through the trees from their pole perches, tiny antiques winking at me because I knew I could not have them.
  • The girls splashing in the park fountain, squealing and chirping, socks discarded on the sidewalk.
  • The tiny frog, no bigger than my thumbnail, who hitched a ride on the hood of my swimsuit while swimming in a lake.
  • Cora touching my face lightly, tracing it all over as I lay next to her at naptime on a Sunday afternoon, eyes closed, singing her a lullaby.
  • Two friends running in a large field at night, swinging sparklers around wildly.
  • The absolute coziness of reading the book Snow and Rose to M, in all of its soft-capes-and-woodland-quaintness glory.
  • Deciding to start playing a video game again, as an intentional non-work, non-laptop, but still rainy-day-friendly way to relax, and all the wonder and despair this unlocked in me.
  • Putting on a liberal amount of perfume just to sit at my desk alone all day, and not regretting it.
  • Matt Tetris-ing things into the mini-fridge due to the big fridge having a protracted death scene during a weeks-long heatwave.
  • Emails from British coworkers using the word “lovely” a lot.
  • Homemade blackberry milkshakes.
  • A drippy, slippery hike next to a babbling stream down to a waterfall, where beautiful moss covered everything.
  • A large bucket of cheeseballs, dispatched with gusto by this family.
  • The girls playing in the rain together, clomping around the yard in their raincoats and rubber boots.
  • An afternoon spent dividing friendship plants (Pilea peperomioides) and potting them in little cups to be delivered to friends, and another afternoon spent clipping my very overgrown spiderwort (Tradescantia zebrina) and using up every jar in the house to receive the clippings for making future plants to share.
  • Actual tomato varieties from our next-door neighbor’s garden:
    • Park’s Whopper
    • Juliet
    • Sungold
    • Black Krim
    • Lemon Boy
    • Pink Girl
    • Candyland

of bits and blue sky.

The days melt one into the other, though not unpleasantly.

What I’ve completed:

  • Lots of baking (including ye olde apple galette).
  • A career leveling framework for my team at work that’ll promote transparency in what’s expected at various levels and help with knowing how to grow.
  • Caught up on the Castlevania animated series, whew 💀💀💀😅
  • A couple of books, miraculously! I know, what a surprise. It was accomplished only by brute-force-ignoring other things that needed my attention.
  • Slack guidelines for my org at work, which should promote healthy Slack usage and banish distractions (with a big emphasis on setting good boundaries).
  • Starting to feel genuinely rested again, maybe for the first time since becoming a mother ~seven years ago?

What I’m working on:

  • Finding and nominating officers for next year’s PTA, with a goal for officers’ demographics to mirror the school’s as closely as possible.
  • Going through and labeling all the photos from the past year and a half that I just finished editing, so I can actually find them when searching.
  • Digitizing all my recipes so I can properly archive or trash the paper.
  • Updating more documentation at work 🤓 and trying to continue to support my team through this year, which has been rough on some of them (especially those who are used to and very much enjoy being in the office).
  • Thinking of more / creative things to do outdoors with the girls, who at some point will tire of the kiddie pool.

Things I want to remember:

  • Cora’s voice yelling “Mama! Time sushi!” from my office doorway. 🍣
  • Cupcakes are a powerful motivational tool for small girls.
  • Sweating and picking up trash with friends around the neighborhood.
  • Looking at a picture of a friend’s new baby and feeling my life force restored.
  • Chatting with neighbors over the fence in the June heat.
  • Morella sniffling as I read the chapter in On the Banks of Plum Creek where the grasshoppers destroy the wheat crop.
  • A friend delivering good news from her front porch as I dropped off a bottle of wine.
  • Two little stir-crazy faces in the rearview mirror in the packed-full car on the way back from the beach.
  • Sinking into a plastic adirondack chair, dropping my feet into cold kiddie pool water, leaning back, and listening to the wind.