Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Favorite Book is Back in My Bag

I recently found a favorite book in a box full of my son's things in the back of his closet. I remember carrying this little paperback, dog-eared copy with me for years when my son was little. It was often found in the diaper bag, under the seat of my car, in the toy bin, in his little toddler bed, in my purse...

Written in 1955 by Crockett Johnson, Harold and the Purple Crayon is the story of Harold who creates his own world and adventures by drawing them with his purple crayon, always with the moon following him. There is a dragon who guards an apple tree, a "very hungry moose" and a "deserving porcupine" who eat pie, and Harold's adventures by sea, mountain and balloon. The drawings are simple, the story is charming and the creativity is wonderful.

I don't know why I'm carrying this little worn copy in my purse again. My son is too old to be read too but as I re-read the story I imagine my little boy as Harold all grown up now and creating his own adventures in the world and always with the same moon I can see following him.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Great Gatsby Inspires a Summer Party

Recently Paul and I both re-read the classic, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. If you haven't read this beautifully written novel about the Jazz Age, you should read it as soon as you can get your hands on a copy. Especially after an article in last weeks Chicago Tribune called this "the Year of Gatsby" and before the latest film version is released later this year starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby.

As we were reading the book over the winter, a particular section in chapter 3 sparked the idea for a summer party, "There was music from my neighbor's house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars."

So we started planning a party. Paul created an amazing invitation, we rented a roulette table, hired 3 college kids to work as dealers for roulette, poker, blackjack and video horse racing, bought some vintage clothes and before we knew it, we were hosting a 1920's inspired lawn party in the afternoon and a speakeasy in the evening. The party was a huge success and all but one of our 40 or so guests dressed in 20's attire, some guests even wore 2 outfits, an afternoon and evening costume. There were gangsters, flappers, bootleggers, gin, jazz, gambling, croquet and lots of laughs, it really was a party to remember. (The image above was taken after we changed from our garden party clothes into our formal wear for the speakeasy party. My vintage fringe flapper dress was found on eBay, my feather hat is also vintage and was bought at an antique mall.)

Now we have to figure out a way to top this party, we've already started planning...

If you've read Gatsby or you're going to read it for the first time, here are a few of my favorite passages from the novel:

"I've been drunk for about a week now, and I thought it might sober me up to sit in a library."

"The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other's names."

"And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.  He did now know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night. Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us...So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back carelessly into the past."-The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Follow Up Read-Worth Fighting For by Lisa Niemi Swayze

Back on March 1, 2010 I blogged a book review for the audio recording of Patrick Swayze's autobiography, The Time of My Life. I was very  moved listening to Patrick's story, especially knowing that he had recorded his memoirs in the final weeks of his life.

Two years later and almost 3 years after Patrick's death from pancreatic cancer, his wife Lisa has written her story of Patrick's fight against cancer and their life together. Once I started reading Worth Fighting For: Love, Loss, and Moving Forward, I couldn't put it down and finished it within a few days. Lisa's honest and emotional retelling of Patrick's diagnosis, his strength during the brutal treatments, his final TV series (The Beast, filmed here in Chicago in 2008) and his last days is inspiring but very sad.

Lisa was Patrick's wife of over 30 years, his business partner and in the end, his full time caregiver. Upon Patrick's diagnosis, he was given weeks to live but lived for 20 months, largely in part to the sheer will of his spirit and the dedication to his medical care from doctors in California and Chicago. But it was Lisa who learned how to care for him, how to research new treatments, and how to keep him comfortable. One of the most interesting aspects of this book is the evolution of their marriage from lovers and partners to fighters, their only goal was to keep him alive.

What I wanted more of...the Moving Forward portion of the book. There is only one chapter written after Patrick's death and a short Epilogue, not nearly enough on how Lisa is doing or in fact how she is coping without her partner of 34 years. Maybe it's too soon. Maybe that will be in yet another book. Until she is ready to share those stories, this book tells of the 2 years they fought cancer together and like their first book is a true love story.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

19 years

19 years ago this evening I enjoyed a delicious Italian dinner, saw Jurassic Park at the movie theater, went into labor and delivered my son. It was a long night. He was born so quickly only his father, my best friend Wynter and a nurse were in the room at 3:30 am on June 15, 1993. We were home from the hospital 24 hours later.

I remember every birthday of his life...his 1st birthday party with his own little cake he could smash into his fists and stuff in his mouth, the birthday parties at indoor amusement parks, his 4th birthday when he erupted in chickenpox at the party, his 5th birthday trip to Disney World to find Peter Pan and all the parties that included dinosaurs, Harry Potter, Legos and water gun fights with his friends.

This will be the only birthday in his 19 years that we have not been together. As a mother I hope that even though he is in bootcamp being pushed to his limits, that he knows that his family and friends are thinking of him and sending him love.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"The Doll House"

For the first time in 19 years I am living alone. After my son left for basic training it took me a few days until I was ready to pick up the towel he left on his bathroom floor, wash his sheets, put away his laptop and clean up the "man cave" basement where he hung out with his friends during his last weeks at home. Now that I am beginning to adjust to my life as an empty-nester I'm finding it fun to have a home to decorate without sports equipment, video games and boy stuff.

As I settle into my new routine, my fridge and pantry are full of fruits and veggies instead of meat and dairy, the windows are open, and my favorite radio station is playing music from the 30's and 40's whenever I am home. I have more wine in the house, more high heels scattered around the house, clothes and hats on tailor mannequins, bowls full of jewelery on tables, new girly smelling soaps and lotions in the bathroom and vintage pictures on the walls.

My 1950's bungalow is full of period details and because I purchased it from the original owners it was well loved and rarely updated. I'm adding my own touches such as my home library, remodeled basement, raised vegetable beds in the large newly fenced-in yard, new landscaping around multiple patio areas and lots of vintage pieces.  I'm considering adding large mirrors to a wall in the basement with a ballet bar to create an area to stretch and dance.

Although I am sad my son is not around to ask me repeatedly, "What are you making for lunch Mom?" or "Where are my shoes?" or "Is there gas in the car?" and I miss cooking his favorite meals, watching movies together, and waking up in the middle of the night when he comes home and wants to talk, I'm adapting to finally having a little home exactly the way I want it. My own doll house.