10: I guess I don’t know what day it is…

because I think I have miscounted the days of Advent.  Typical.  Let’s blame the wine, not my utter contempt for calendars and watches and all that fancy stuff.  

Wine: Chenin blanc (I threw the bottle away, so I can’t tell you what it’s supposed to taste like, but I’ll say this: it smells way sweet, like Welch’s white grape juice.  Isn’t sweet immediately, but has a very sweet finish that won’t quite go away.)  If I’m being brave enough to call it on my own, it’s pear-y. 

Cheese: Gouda. Again.  And today, I flipped over the calendar and noticed the nutritional information…for 5 cheeses.  So, I think I have a few more red Leicesters in my future.  But!  Edam was also listed, and I haven’t had that yet, so there’s something to look forward to.  I have also probably ruined the mystery of the Advent calendar. It might to early to tell, but I think next year I’ll just buy the wine calendar (because fun) and just pack my fridge full of cheese so I can pair that myself.  Who am I kidding?  My fridge is always full of cheese.  

I’ve been wondering all day about what I might write about this evening, and haven’t quite come up with anything enticing/enthralling/engaging and all the other “en-” words.  It’s finals week at the university where I work.  I’ve been watching these kids gear up for the final hurrah of 2018, the end of their first semester or final semester, and it’s been fun.  But also hectic and nostalgic, in some ways, too.  I’ve taken the scenic route for the duration of my education.  My BA took close to 6 years and two schools.  I worked weird jobs, then fell into libraries.  The MLIS came next, and I’ve worked in public, special, and now an academic setting.  I’m THISCLOSE to finishing an MFA (which is all I really wanted in the first place, but that is an entirely different story).  I had a professor at my first undergrad school who said that “our transcripts should look like passports” when we’re done.  Well, Dr Janice Dewey, wherever you are, I think I might have accomplished that. If nothing else, maybe that. But I want to scream at these kids, “You’ll be fine! Whatever happens, you’ll be fine!!”

I did fire off a letter to the publisher of our local paper today.  If I have any news on that front, I’ll share what my beef has been about.  What’s that?  Oooh..a teaser!

And for no good reason, here’s a picture of Jasper Jasperillo the Weimaraner and yours truly, messy morning-style.

7 & 8 : Merlot, Malbec, and Monologues

7: Merlot (We’ve been here before, and it’s the same) paired with Gouda

8: Malbec (Argentina, notes of plum and licorice), paired with the blasted red Leicester again)

My small town is Appalachian, Rust-Belty.  All the terrible things that have happened to small towns have happened here.  The booming industry of the 40s-60s have long since vanished, and unemployment, generational welfare, and opioids have taken their place.  In fact, there has been a lot written (mostly negative) about this town in the last 15 years.  From The Washington Post to The Guardian, and just about everywhere in between.  We were even the subject of an Intervention special episode, where I, very pregnant and very sober, was filmed on a street and along with my best friend, implicated in prostitution (Hi, Mary!).  Yes, it was bizarre.  No, I am not a prostitute, nor have I ever been. We were just women standing on the street after a production of the Vagina Monologues.  I was sitting at home, breastfeeding, when my phone started doing the DING DING DING, all with messages resembling this: OMG ARE YOU WATCHING? YOU AND MARY WERE JUST ON INTERVENTION!  Yes, I was watching, along with my parents, who were in town to visit the newborn. Try to explain that to your parents sometime.

All that being said, there has been a pretty wonderful transformation in our small town within the last couple of years.  People have started to take an interest in our present and future, while paying tribute to the past.  Old buildings have taken on new lives.  Young people are challenging the status quo, the “good ol’ boy” mentality that has ruled here for decades.  “The way we’ve always done it” is being questioned, and it’s wonderful to witness.  This town successfully supported its first Pride event, is organizing a Women’s March in tandem with the national march next year. These are no small feats.

I will admit that I have not been as involved as I should be, and that is a New Years’ resolution that I am making early.  Get more involved, be the change and all the buzzy phrases.  There are always opportunities to make things better, and I want to be part of that.  It’s hard raising kids in these weird times.  I know it’s always been hard (and probably every parent has said this before), but these times feel different.  We’re living in a world where division and anger and intolerance and violence are rampant, even lauded.  I want no part of that, and I want my boys to see that their parents are helpers.  That we stretch a hand out to those that need assistance.  

It may be that I have dipped into the second glass of wine (liking this Malbec more than the merlot, and to be perfectly honest, the Leicester isn’t the absolute worst), but I am feeling especially hopeful today. For all you locals who haven’t, check out Winterfest, organized by The Friends of Portsmouth. You won’t regret it.  Seeing Second and Market decked out for the holidays is worth it.  Go “glice” skating.  Spend your dollars here.  That’s an easy way to make a difference.


7: OMG White Zinfandel

I thought it existed only in my nightmares.

However, it’s real. Paired with Havarti.  I feel like Aldi has given up at this point.  Yes, this is the first white zinfandel, but I’ve had havarti at least once already.

I spent the afternoon with my work friends (and they are amazing) and the evening with my mom.  I made us weird Keurig drinks with hot chocolate, Baileys, and Woodford.  We watched a Hallmark movie, and it was good.

My dad’s drink was cabernet. It’s not my favorite, but I’ve been trying to develop at taste for it.

My dad’s cancer started as head and neck cancer, and there were maybe a few alarm bells that we should have pursued, but one I will never forgive myself for.  My dad, with his beautiful Gibson Hummingbird, sang Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.  And I thought his voice was a bit raspy.  Thought he didn’t sound just quite right.  But he would keep me up at night when he visited, with the cabernet and the Hummingbird, and I would listen, trying to harmonize, even though I knew I couldn’t hear the right notes. I miss those nights with my dad, the nights I wanted to go to  bed so desperately but also wanted to stay up late with him, hear his interpretation of  Jefferson Airplane’s Good Shepherd. I told him so many times that Jorma was practically a neighbor. Fur Peace Ranch, just up up the road. But we never made it there, together.  

One for Paul

One for Silas

Oh good shepherd, feed my sheep

5 & 6: I already fell behind

But, I have a good reason.  Well, like three.  But one big one.

World, Jasper.  Jasper, world.  

Wine: Merlot (Chilean, intense cherry and plum) & Shiraz (Australian, cherry and plum, hints of pepper and vanilla)

Cheese: Gouda and Havarti

Additional food: Aldi bleu cheese and pear flatbread, because two pieces of cheese wasn’t going to do it this evening

So yes, it’s a two glass night.  Darn.

So this dog is Jasper (aka Malachi, but when I brought him inside from the car, my husband said, Oh, he’s not a Malachi.  He’s definitely a Jasper). He comes to us from the Louisville Weimaraner Rescue.  If you know us, you know that we had two Weims previously, Moby and Joni.  It’s a breed that has our hearts. Look at that face??  Who couldn’t love that? I mean his.  I’ve looked better.

So, yes, I’ve fallen behind here.  And I’ve fallen behind on a couple of other things, too, so this weekend is going to be a major catch-up for me.  I feel like I play catch-up a lot, so by now, I should be used to it.  I’m just going to take my time and make a list and trudge forward.  What I get done, I get done.  What remains uncrossed off stays there until later.  After all, Advent is the season of preparing, of getting ready, of waiting.  Nothing happens all at once.  Every day, every turn of the wheel, gets us closer to where we want to be.

Day Four: Always We Begin Again

Wine: Pinot Grigio (yaaaassss!)

Cheese: again with the Red Leicester, which is irritating.  I wasn’t crazy about it yesterday, I probably won’t be tonight.  So, I grabbed some white English cheddar from the fridge to supplement (also from Aldi)

Always we begin again, attributed to St Benedict.  I look at it each morning on my fridge, hanging there with a hummingbird magnet.  It’s a reminder: the day ends, a new one will begin.  I can wash off the hurt, frustration,failures of today and start fresh again tomorrow.  I tell my older son this at bedtime quite often.  So we didn’t do our best today, dude. Today got us by the pants.  It’s a good thing we have tomorrow to try again. Isn’t if funny how we tell our children these things in order to let them know it’s okay to screw up, that just over the dark horizon, the sun is still spinning and waiting to light up the day again, but as adults, we choose to continue to focus on what went wrong instead of the newness of each day?  I know I don’t speak for everyone, but I certainly find myself getting stuck in that trap. I suppose that’s my Advent goal for myself: to remember that I’ll begin again tomorrow.  I’ll do better.

Needless today, I’ve had a rough couple of days.  All of my own making, don’t get me wrong.  But still, rough.  I opened my eyes this morning and just wanted to stay tucked in, wallow some more, cry some more.  But I put on those proverbial big-girl panties and went to work, and what I found were that my co-workers (and I’ve only been in this position since August) have become my friends.  My wallowing ended and I laughed and felt like a part of something good.  They don’t know how much I needed to hear my own laugh (which is loud and pretty obnoxious).

The pinot grigio is good, a little boozier than I like, but passable.  It definitely pairs better with the cheddar I already had.  I also really hope that’s the end of the red Leicester. At the end of the day, though, especially at the end of a series of days like the couple I’ve had, I never turn my nose up at a glass of wine. 

On a completely random tangent, I am coveting these bibs from Patagonia.  I have an old pair of Dickies that are about 5 sizes too big and every time I wear them my husband laughs and tells me I look like a huge toddler.  But these are sophisticated bibs, right? And by sophisticated, I think I mean expensive.

Day Three: Disaster?

Wine: Chardonnay

(Generous and vibrant with ripe tropical fruit flavors and a burst of peach and melon on the palate. This ripe, fresh wine is balanced with a long finish)

Cheese: Red Leicester

(This cheese smells like Kraft Mac and Cheese, which is not a deal breaker for me)

I don’t have a photo to share this evening, but I do have a lot of thoughts.  First, there is a nice melon finish to this chardonnay.  Second,I really wish that Aldi would specify the cheese and wine.  Name them, dammit, so I can go buy them if I want.

I was checking books in today with some of my co-workers,and one of them noticed that one was signed. The book was The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.  I posted the picture of the signed page to a social media outlet, and one of my aunts had an interesting take (we saw the movie together, but this has to do with the book.)  She told me that as an incoming freshman at Ohio State, her son was assigned The Glass Castle as a community read. My young cousin asked, “ Who is to blame for those kids’ lives, the mom or the dad?” My aunt said she didn’t get a chance to answer; my young cousin answered that “Of course, it was the mom”, to which my aunt said, “I’d never even thought of placing blame”. 

This small exchange makes me think about how much responsibility we place on mothers. How there is this ideal that comes from somewhere, and if we don’t live up to it, we feel like failures. Mothering looks so different from family to family, and from child to child.  I struggle with it every day.  My boys are Irish Twins, 16 months apart.  The things that they need are so closely  related, the things that I must give them are so closely related, that it’s tough to make each one feel special. They know that they are THISCLOSE to mom.   And I love that; my boys know how much I love them, I think.       

I know this blog/entry/ whatever isn’t funny.  I haven’t had a very funny day.  However,  I have talked/emailed/texted with so many people I love .  Old girlfriends, my brothers .I might even be brave enough to tag y’all.

It’s not a secret that I’ve been working on an MFA.  That one of the major themes in my poems is motherhood.  Some days it feels like a win.  Some days it feels like the farthest thing from that.  I guess, again, the idea is balance, which I just can’t always get a handle on.

Day Two: Cabernet, Guilt, and Joni Mitchell

Night Two: Does Cabernet Pair With Dirty Laundry?

Wine: Australian Cab

(Supposed to have notes of blackberry, black currant, cherry, and vanilla.  Add a crust and it’s a pie)

Cheese: Mature Gouda

I’ll just say upfront I am not a cabernet kind of girl.  If I’m going to drink something that makes my teeth look like dirty vampire fangs, I’ll choose a pinot noir.  But, I’ll take one for the team and drink this cab.

I’ve had these Joni Mitchell lyrics running through my head lately:

I’m always running behind the time
Just like this train
Shaking into town
With the brakes complaining

And it’s probably the holidays, the stress of wondering if I’m going to give my kids a “good enough” Christmas (fearing a look of disappointment if they don’t get that very exact thing that they wanted), the grief of missing loved ones, the packed calendar and wanting to say no to some things. Then the overwhelming guilt finds me. The fear of not measuring up is always at the front of my mind. And I’m always running late, it seems.  Always wanting to push myself to be more and everything to everyone, knowing that I can’t. Sometimes I hear my brakes complaining, and usually I ignore that groan.  I find it hard to stay in the moment, or in the now, or whatever.  I have friends who swear by yoga, by meditation, prayer, or all of the above.  I haven’t been able to train my brain to find that sweet spot, the place where I can see the ledge, but haven’t yet gotten there.  The place where I can just inhale and start stepping back.  Surely I’m not alone, right? 

But back to the wine and cheese and away from my fears and inadequacies.  The cab is pretty good.  Cherry forward, I’d say. And the buttery fat of the gouda is a good match. It balances out the dryness of the cabernet. 

I’m always looking for that balance.