Dear Betsy…

I said I wasn’t going to write about you anymore, but I have to say something tonight because I had lunch with your girls and my mind is racing.

I miss you.  I really do.

Today what really overwhelmed me is how much I want my son to know you.

It isn’t fair.  Everything is so hard for him already and he has to make it in a world without you and my dad.

That can’t be right.  It isn’t right.  It hurts me and I hate it.

I can’t stand the image in my head of what would have been.  I don’t want to know how easily my son would have fit into your life.

You would have gathered him in your arms and your heart and kept him safe, just like I try to do.

You would have helped him learn and laugh and love.

I know that as sure as I breathe.  But I don’t want to know it.  I really don’t.

Sometimes, I try to tell myself that we wouldn’t have been friends if you had lived.

I try to tell myself that we were drifting apart.

I try to tell myself that we were not interested in each others’ lives or kids or homes or hobbies or dreams anymore.

But that just isn’t true.

We drifted apart regularly, but we always drifted back.

We fought a lot, but we always made up.

We found each other ridiculous, annoying, rude, uninteresting, boring, petty, maddening…all the time…and then we didn’t.

So I know that picture of what would have been is accurate.

You would have loved my son.  You did love my son.

So I miss you for that, you know?

I miss you because you loved my son.

♥♥

Long Beach Flea Market

I don’t know how often I can come on here and say the same things.

Life is hard.  And easy.  And ugly.  And beautiful.

Life is hard…

because my autistic son needs everything to be a certain way and, despite the good intentions of everyone in my life, very few really understand how insanely difficult it is to parent him.

He seems so incredibly normal – whatever the hell “normal” is.  He is beautiful.  He is smart.  He is talkative and cheerful.  He is happy and animated and very cooperative.  Until he isn’t.

Over the two-week break, he hit me a few times.  😦  He pushed me too.  On one of the days he had a meltdown like I can’t even describe.  He screamed, he broke things.  The usual.

He yells about everything.  “No take the plate to the kitchen!”  “No mama say!”  “No mama singing!”  “No music!”  “No.  No.  No!”

And then there’s the OCD stuff…

He has a thing about the pantry door.  He has to close it a certain way, at a certain time, repeatedly.  He chants his little chants, he swings it shut and pulls it open and swings it shut and pulls it open and swings it shut and pulls it open and SLAMS it closed.  And all of the things that hang from the inside of the door go crashing to the tile below.  LOUD.  LOUD.  LOUD.

And the bathroom door.  He closes and opens it too.  All the time.  Just because.

He writes math problems for himself every night.  He leaves the papers all over the table.  He does this when I am in the pit of the day’s fatigue.  Consequently, his math papers never get picked up.  Our house is an overwhelming wreck.  It depresses me.  I am tired and life is hard.

Life is easy…

because I have three fabulous moms and a good friend who listen to all of it.  Life is easy because husband knows how it is and he’s here everyday seeing it, feeling it, and being in it with me.  And when he isn’t here to make it easier on me, he’s out there to make it easier on me.  He works so that I can take care of our kid.  And our house.  And our laundry.  Our never ending, steaming mountains of laundry.

Life is ugly…

because of stupid, evil, mean people who make me sick with worry for my son…and his future…and the potential dangers that await him.

Life is beautiful…

because the yelling, pushing, screaming, toy throwing little boy is also sweet and kind and funny and he makes up songs about silly things like my jiggly arms.  😀  I love him.

Life is beautiful because I get to see my good friend every few months and we always have a great day together somewhere.  On Sunday, we went to the Long Beach Flea Market and I bought a water fountain.  It’s perfect for our little yard, but it weighs a gazillion pounds.

Life is beautiful because the vendor wanted $75 and we talked him down to $50.

Life is beautiful because my friend carried the dirty top part of the fountain a great distance to my car for me.

Life is beautiful because there is ibuprofen to ease the pain and stupidity of carrying the lower section of the fountain by myself.  Day four and I am still achy breaky.

Life is beautiful because we had a very pleasant lunch at Bono’s Long Beach with the best creme brulee I have ever tasted in my life.  The portion was HUGE and my friend didn’t want any.  🙂  Thank you, silly friend.

Life is beautiful because I also found a book for my brother, a liquid timer for my son, and some Bit-O-Honey candy at Powell’s (best old timey candy store ever) for my husband.

I got these guys for me:

Their bodies are hinged so you can sway their little legs back and forth if you want to.  I know you want to.  🙂

Life is life.

Happy Wednesday!

♥♥

Antique Store & Flea Market Treasures

Thought I’d share a few pix of some things I picked up recently…

Beautiful, generous Leighann gave me several goodies when we met for the Rose Bowl Flea Market last month.

Here is a little spoon that I just adore:

Leighann also gave me a very amusing bunny by artist Debbee Thibault.  I love Ms. Bunny’s serious little face, her bright red dress and that heart dangling from her hand.  She goes well with my new beaded strawberries.

I bought the berries in my mom-in-law’s favorite little shop in downtown Brentwood.  They were fifty cents a piece.  I should have bought ten more.

I can’t say enough wonderful things about the shop.  It’s called The Vintage House.  They don’t have their own website (that I know of) so I joined yelp just to help put them on the internet map, so to speak.  Go here to see my review.

The Vintage House also had this sweet little rusty blue birdcage.  It cheers me to own this.  I am still looking for just the right spot to put it.

My small collection of blue and white figurines grew by two at the Flea Market.  The salt & pepper shaker pair on the right called out to me very loudly.

Despite the fact that I already had an almost identical little boy (on the left), I had to buy both of them.  You can’t break up a set, after all.  Right?

I don’t really know what I’m doing with this collection though.  I don’t think I want to grow it any larger.  I sort of like having just this one little corner of blue and white cuteness in the cabinet, but we’ll see… 🙂

At a thrift shop, also in Brentwood, I found a mason jar unlike most I’ve seen.  I stole mom-in-law’s idea of using it for measuring spoon storage on my counter.

I wish the picture were a little better.  The jar is marked on the sides with measurements too.  Very cute.

Last, and maybe least, I picked up this swirly candle sconce.

It’s made of light weight wood and measures almost eighteen inches long.

I was drawn to it because of my friend Erin and the similar sconce that she painted bright turquoise and listed in her etsy shop.  I love Erin’s unstoppable energy and am hoping to channel it myself to make something of my strange purchase!  I’ll post pix if I do!

That’s about it.

Happy Tuesday!

P.S.  The boy is back to school tomorrow, so probably no post since I will be out exercising my freedom somewhere.  😀  Look out thrift stores, here I come!!

♥♥

What a Lovely Weekend

I spent last night alone at the Marriott in Pasadena.

I drove up by myself, walked all over Old Town, popped into a few little shops, and took myself out to Il Fornaio too.

I had forgotten how much I enjoy eating all by myself in a nice restaurant.

It’s so fun to people watch, and somehow, the solitude makes you really savor the textures, colors and flavors of your food.

I started with a Caesar salad.  It was very fresh and just the right size, but I was not a fan of the croutons.  There were only three and they were almost too crunchy to eat.

The bread that came with the meal was similarly crunchy and also difficult to eat.  The olive oil and balsamic vinegar helped.

Next, I enjoyed ravioli filled with butternut squash and walnuts.  It was served with brown butter, tomato sauce, and crispy sage.

The sage was great.  It was actually dipped in something a little denser than a tempura batter and then fried.  It was unusual and a very welcome addition to the plate.

My only disappointment with the entree was the amount of the tomato sauce.  The ravioli needed a little more oomph, but there wasn’t a lot of that sauce to do it.  The flavors were all wonderful, just not quite proportioned properly.

Of course, none of that stopped me from cleaning my plate. 😀

I got dessert too.  I ordered by sight from the cart and really didn’t know what I was in for.  To say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement.  It was possibly the best chocolate mousse I’ve ever eaten.  It included a layer of fresh raspberries and it came in a pool of cream fraiche and raspberry coulis.  Another raspberry sat on top.  Delicious.

The entire day was delightful.

And long overdue.

I haven’t needed a break that badly in quite a while.  😐

This morning I got up early, ate some cereal in my room, then drove to the Rose Bowl to meet a friend for the monthly flea market.

We both had some cash to burn this time, so it was a lot of fun.

When our feet could take no more, we drove back into town, bought a couple of teeny bird figurines at  Goldbug, ate a very pleasant, leisurely meal at Mi Piace, and then looked at every single item in Lula Mae.  I LOVE that place.  So sweet.

We parted company around 4:00 p.m.

On the way home, I stopped at Cost Plus World Market to finish out my fun.

Now, I am exhausted and ready to hibernate.

I’ll post pictures of my new treasures in a couple of days.

I hope you had a good weekend too!

Happy Sunday!

♥♥

Rose Bowl Flea Market and Pasadena

I met two friends at the Rose Bowl Flea Market yesterday.

It was a long day and the weather was chilly, but we had a great time!

One of my friends knows the market like her own backyard, so she played navigator.  That worked well for me, because I got turned around at the end of just about every aisle.  😕

We shopped for hours, saw very few things twice, and still didn’t cover even half the venue.  The Rose Bowl Flea Market is BIG.

The parking is free and plentiful.  The 9:00 a.m. general admission is only $8.00 and worth every penny.  You can pay more to get in with the early birds, but my friend cautions that sometimes vendors are still unpacking before the regular crowd gets there.

Deep in the rows, there is a lady who makes caramel apple muffins from scratch in her own kitchen and sells them for $2.00 a piece.  My friend buys one every time and raves about them, so I was happy when the three of us arrived at her booth well into the morning and still found three muffins left in the basket!

They were really delicious – sort of an angel food cake with a center of brown-sugared, tender, appley goodness.  Yesterday was nothing, if not a thoroughly delightful food day.  More on that a little later.  😀

Another vendor sells art plates from old books.  There are stacks and stacks, black and white as well as color, as beautiful and varied as the people who buy them.

The bibliophile in me grimaces at the dissection of what were surely amazing whole volumes, but I appreciate the art in the single leaves and I couldn’t go without this page:

Not far from the front entrance, there is a vendor who sells colorful tablecloths from Provence.

French linens are very cheery, usually made well, and have always appealed to me, but they are typically out of my price range.

I stopped at this booth because she also has a table full of batik stamps!  Woohoo!  I chose this one for my collection:

I also picked up this teeny little rabbit for my blue and white family:

a tiger clicker for my son:

and a small gift for a friend. 😀

As always, there were a few things I regret leaving behind.

Most of those were slightly out of my price range, but are regular items that I could acquire with better planning on a future visit.

Some were unique items I just wavered on and will absolutely never see again.  I guess that’s okay.  If I waver, then they’re probably not meant to be mine.

On our way to the exit gate we stopped by the food vendor area to say hello to my mom and Lou, who had also driven up for the market.

They arrived after we did and were taking a quick break, but were heading back in for a little more shopping after we headed out.

Departing from the Rose Bowl was an adventure.  😐  I lost my car, worked up a sweat looking for it, and finally had to call my friend to enlist her navigator instincts to find it.

Then I sat sheepishly behind my wheel and watched as she deftly moved a giant traffic barrier by hand just to get me pointed in the right direction.  So embarrassing.  😳  Funny, but embarrassing.

At least this all helped me to warm up after being so chilled by the cloud cover.

I followed my friends into Old Town Pasadena for a little more shopping and some late lunch.

My favorite store this time is Lula Mae.  Teeny, charming, colorful and packed full with “gifts of wit & whimsy” –  this is definitely my kind of place!

My friend and I both left with Andy, the Black Sheep:

I love him.  He is made of cast iron and weighs a LOT.  Don’t ever wanna drop this boy in my tiled house with my bare broken feet nearby.  Oy.  Gotta find just the right place for him.

I was amused when I got home to find that Lula Mae had wrapped Andy in French Fry tissue.  So funny.

From Lula Mae’s clearance bin, I picked up this hand-stitched house ornament:

and this cloth Tooth Fairy bird:

I love the idea of this, but I will probably just hang him from my Christmas Tree since we have something else for our son’s Tooth Fairy exchanges.

I rounded out my Lula Mae purchases with two yards of wired chenille ribbon.

I have a definite weakness for pretty ribbon, especially when it has a drastically reduced price.  🙂

That about covers my purchases for the day, but the treasures I brought home also included two amazing gifts from my friend.

She gave me this spectacular chair:

and this gorgeous, charming butter dish:

I am in love with this big Sun Lion.  In love.  The colors, his face, his swirly handle tail – all of him.  In. Love.  Thank you, Leighann!  😀

And the chair.  It’s beautiful.  😀  In fact, it’s officially the nicest thing in my house.

The most unusual shop we visited is definitely Gold Bug.

I’m not sure the merchandise is my taste exactly, but it is very intriguing and I wish I’d stopped in on a slower day and hadn’t felt so claustrophobic.  It’s a very small shop and there were a lot of people in it.

If you’re in the area, particularly on a weekday, you should definitely stop by.  It’s unique and has a lot to look at.

For our very late lunch we went to Mi Piace, one of my favorite places in Pasadena.  Wait, have I been anywhere else?  Who cares!  Mi Piace is really good.

Unfortunately, they were completely out of the Butter Nut Squash Ravioli with browned butter and sage.  Big, disappointed, collective sigh.

We buried our sorrows in good hot garlicky bread chunks served with balsamic and olive oil.

I ordered Fettuccine Alfredo with julienne vegetables. It was priced a too high and would be more enjoyable with a small green salad (priced separately – grrrr), but it was extremely good.

For dessert, I ordered this Mi Piace Special:

It was three layers dark and white chocolate mousse and cakes, topped with black and red raspberries and accompanied by a beautiful puddle of kiwi and strawberry coulis.

My only complaint with this dessert is that it came with that completely white, unripe, unappealing strawberry.  I would have left that off the plate.  I just pushed it aside.

I devoured the rest of it, feeling only mild guilt for denying my husband any leftovers.  They wouldn’t have kept on the three-hour drive home anyway, right?

My friends and I parted company shortly after our meal.  I headed south and they headed back to the high desert.  We all had a great time and I can’t wait to do it again.  Maybe in March or April??

Love you guys!!

P.S.

The best moment of the day was when Bob Harper from Biggest Loser (or his clone??) finally left his table facing ours, so that we could relax and eat without his fitness guru-ish-ness monitoring our mouthfuls. 😦

The worst moment of the day was the insane coughing fit I had on exiting Lula Mae.  😳  Mortifying.  It was the kind of thing that makes strangers pull their kids in close and flee.   Embarrassing.

The stupidest thing I did was forget to bring water into the market.  $5.00 per bottle if you want to buy it there.  Ugh!

The smartest thing I did was bring my big purple purse.  Not super attractive, but it’s lightweight, cavernous and durable – perfect for shopping!

P.P.S.  While I’ve been typing this morning, the little boy has been stapling paper and drawing scenes from his computer games…

wearing my two oversized sweatshirts at the same time…

eating cheetos…

and being very sweet.

I sure love this little boy.  I missed him yesterday.

Gotta go play now.  Catch you tomorrow.  Maybe.

Happy Monday!

♥♥

Blob

It’s amazing how willing I am to let my parenting and housekeeping suffer when I don’t feel well.

So far today, the kid has eaten nothing but strawberry fruit roll-ups, a small stack of Pringles, and a handful of Apple Jacks.

He has been playing on the computer most of the morning and I haven’t even bothered to censor his games.

There’s a fat red gummy worm on the floor in my kitchen, a pile of dishes in the sink and sugar all over the counter.

But I have no guilt.

Guilt would require energy that I need for watching House Hunters and reruns of Friends.

I am a blob of sick today.

I can’t even make myself shower.

I just don’t want to do anything.

The idea of fresh air is somewhat appealing.  That’s an improvement from yesterday, I guess.

I may go out in the backyard and just sit for a while, but I’m not doing any housework.  It will still be there when I am well.

The little boy goes back to school on Tuesday.  I am dreading the latter part of the week when he realizes his aide isn’t coming back.

He usually does okay the first two days or so, but then the week drags on and he starts to lose his mind.  I am hoping I am wrong this time.

I have a ton of appointments scheduled in the next few weeks.  I postponed everything for the holidays and now I’ve got to cram in dentists and doctors and orthotics specialists and car maintenance and vet visits and a bunch of other junk.  And that’s on top of regular meetings with friends and family, which I always schedule first.

I have a lot of plans riding on the boy’s successful return to his classroom.  But if it goes the way it usually does, I’ll have to cancel things.

I guess I’m anxious about that and it’s making my stomach hurt.  On top of sneezing and coughing and aching all over, that’s just not ideal.

I am a blob of sick today.  Ack!

I hope your day is healthier, wealthier and wiser than mine!

Happy Friday!

♥♥

Friends Home, Health Gone

My friends are home from their long holiday in France.

I missed them.  Their cats missed them.  Their house missed them.

Cats and houses do that, you know?

My friends are full of stories.

I was first in line to hear a few since I picked them up from the airport tonight.

They brought me a beautiful pair of earrings and a really decadent chocolate cookie.  Really decadent.  Oh my.  Like shortbread, but chocolate.

My kind of presents.  😀

Thank you, traveling friends.

I love you and am so relieved to have you safely back in your own home.

And I like that I am the one who delivered you there.  🙂

This has been a weird week.

Much to my chagrin, I think I’m sick again.

I was sick the week before Christmas and now this.

I have sneezed at least a hundred times today.

And my eyes will not stop twitching and watering.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was having an allergic reaction to something.

Wait, do I know better?

The little boy made me smell about fifteen candles at Target the other day.

A couple of them made me feel itchy-faced and sneezey right away.

Could that be it?

You know what?  I just don’t feel well and it’s late and husband built a fire in the fireplace and I am in my jammies now and all I want to do is sit in front of the fire and feel pitiful, so buh bye.

Happy Wednesday.

♥♥