Category Archives: general

lately in the garden

I have some posts started that I hope to finish this weekend. Last weekend was pretty relaxing, but we were out of the house a lot. Friends from undergrad and grad school were in town visiting, and our Sunday brunch extended to mid-afternoon. E was on the tech crew for a local musical production, and they had three shows over the weekend, and then an afternoon cast party. F had a new camp friend show up on our doorstep with her parents on Saturday as well. Some weekends we’re sort of an island of four; this weekend we were social butterflies.

On Sunday afternoon, the house was empty and quiet and I spent a few hours cleaning the house from top to bottom. We engaged a cleaning service just after the holidays, but suspended it for the summer since the girls were home more and able to pick up more of the slack during the slower summer months. They keep things picked up and vacuumed and mopped and cleaned, but the house was in need of a deeper clean and a clear out. I turned on music and really focused and got it done – top to bottom. It was nice to start the week off in a clean space.

M worked all Saturday on revising our house package in between dropping off and picking up E at the theater. I’ll keep you posted on how that’s going when I know something new. I spent some time sorting through some of my Forest Park photos for a mini-project, and it got me excited and energized for cleaning up a lot of our photo files. But it’s also a daunting task, so I’m not sure that I’ll get to it anytime soon.

We’ve had really cool weather the past four or five days, and it’s been lovely. It’s nice to have a break from the relentless heat, but it also reminds me that summer is winding down, and I’m not ready for that yet. I love fall, but my head isn’t there yet. The years seem to zoom by, and once school starts it really flies. I can’t believe I’ll have a sophomore this year. I hope the year drags by!

I beefed up my library hold list, and now I’ll probably end up with too many books to get through. I do love a good book stack on my dresser. We need to go through our shelves again and pack up or donate a few books, we’re overflowing. It’s a good problem to have. F’s interest in reading has really taken off this summer and I love it. She’s into the new graphic novels of the Babysitter’s Club books that I read when I was a kid. We’re about to dive into some more Judy Blume as well. I have a treasure trove of old paperback books of mine that are perfect for a fourth grader.

I’m running out of little tidbits to write, but I’ve still got a lot of photos in this post. Maybe just scroll through the rest and enjoy what July looks like in the Midwest. It’s lush and colorful and good.

I hope your summer is going well.

family vacation


This is sort of a random collection of photos, but I have an explanation that seems tedious to explain. The short version is that I currently don’t have a working cord for my phone – it was severed in transit to the beach. I need to replace my old phone, and I never seem to get around to figuring out what to buy next. And so I’ve stalled on buying new parts for an old phone. I charge it in my car, and stay off it to preserve the battery. It’s a quirky thing, but so am I. So while I waffle on decisions that cost a lot of money, I have vacation photos on my phone that are just sitting there. I realize there are alternative ways to access them – but again, tedious and lame, I’ll own in.

So here is the random collection of photos from my nice camera. I didn’t use it a whole lot during the week, but I like the photos that are on it.

My parents were gracious enough to invite our family and my sister’s family to join them this year. We’ve done this a few other times, and it’s always a lot of fun. There’s a different dynamic than when just the four of us go, but the bigger group trips are both fun and relaxing. In fact, this might have been one of the most relaxing vacations we’ve had in awhile.

We kept everything really simple. Planned meals and grocery runs ahead of time, and limited the number of times we ate out. We’ve discovered that we really like to maximize our outdoor time, and getting cleaned up for dinner cuts into that quite a bit. My sister’s family spends a lot of time at the pool each summer, and my parents hit the beach several times a year. But these seven days are what we’ve got, and we try to get the most out of them.

I kept up my ritual of waking just before sunrise and going for a run each morning. With the shift to Eastern Standard Time, that means I’m waking up at what feels like 4:45am each morning. But it’s worth it. I just know that by nine each night I’m ready for bed! I set a goal to run the equivalent of a full marathon over the course of the week and I broke that. I averaged a 4.5 mile loop each day for six days, and walked the same loop on the last morning with M. I took at least two to three other beach walks a day, and would have taken up residence on the paddleboard if I could have. It was excellent paddleboarding weather – smooth seas and not a lot of chop. It was a pretty active week, but I loved it. It was just what we all needed.

We managed to remain sunburn-free by tearing through an extraordinary amount of SPF 50 each day. There was some pool swimming and splashing, but mostly a whole lot of beach time. M and I had a porch off our bedroom that faced the ocean. We sat out there often, and could easily see where the rest of the family was. We could hear voices below or across the yard, or see cousins walking down or back across the walkway over the dunes. I loved having the shutters open – even when we walked into the condo at the opposite end, we could see the ocean at the other end of the hallway. I miss that view. Until next time…

So, What’d I Miss? A (New) Portrait of History

Tomorrow is GIveSTLDay here in St. Louis – a day set aside for giving to non-profits across the region. In the week leading up to this day, members of the We Stories community have been sharing stories about their experiences. Today I share the story of why we give, why our family has prioritized this work. Here’s the story as it goes live this morning. And here’s the link to GIVE!

…..

We exit the Hall of Presidents and head down the stairs to the first floor of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Along the way we notice the lengthening line in front of us. The museum is buzzing with excitement over the Obama portraits, and we are a part of that hum. People still waiting in line smile at us in anticipation; we assure them the line moves quickly enough and is worth the wait.

Arranged chronologically, visitors pass through several rooms of presidential portraits – from Washington to Lincoln, Kennedy to  Reagan – to form another line to see the latest installation, artist Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of Barack Obama. He is seated in a chair against a lush, green background that seems to glow. It is the first portrait to hang in this hall created by a black artist; its subject is the first black man to hold this office. There is no need for additional narrative in this space. We feel it, I feel it, our girls feel it. We have walked past dozens of white men, dressed in the robes of their time, framed in the gilding of the moment – we’ve passed history to see history, to stand with history, to listen to the thrum of history in the murmurs around us.

Downstairs we enter another wing of the museum and enter the current exhibit, Unseen: Our Past in a New Light. The first portrait we see directly across the room is an oil painting of Thomas Jefferson. It is similar in style and technique to the portraits we’ve just studied upstairs. But this painting has been unfastened in the upper lefthand corner. Without the staples holding stretched canvas to frame, it drapes like a heavy curtain pulled aside at the entrance to an old, dusty parlor. The portrait of a young slave girl representing Sally Hemming is revealed on a second canvas beneath the first. Artist Titus Kaphar has titled this work Behind the Myth of Benevolence, and we move from piece to deconstructed piece in this exhibit – reexamining the visual history we are all taught first through portraiture, challenging the collection in the very institution we are exploring. It is the first full day of a weeklong exploration of our nation’s capitol – the first visit for both of our daughters – and we leave this gallery with the energy and desire to dig deeper into the story of the founding of our nation.

We will encounter Mr. Jefferson many more times along our journey. We will climb the steps of the temple erected in his honor, and read his words that feel both powerful and hollow in the context of history. We will meet him again in the underground galleries of the National Museum of African American History and Culture where he stands regally carved in bronze in front of a wall of Monticello-like bricks, inscribed with the names of the six hundred slaves that he owned, several of them his very own children. We will walk through his reassembled library on display in the Library of Congress while recalling the exhibits we saw the day before that detail the lengths that slaveholders would go to maintain the illiteracy of those enslaved. We pass the ceremonial office of the current Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, the first female African-American appointed to this position, and then stumble upon her working office. We seek out hidden and surprise moments of history-changing among the foundations of buildings erected by slave labor. The week is rich in opportunity; it is steeped in moments of contradiction and retelling. It feels like a gift.

…..

When I first learned of We Stories I was intrigued. I have always had a deep love for children’s literature, and I find the genre compelling and powerful and essential. I turn to our own book collection on a daily basis for guidance and nurture and joy. I grew up in a family surrounded by literature, and with the example that there is almost always a deeper, untold story to every history. The mission of We Stories so closely aligns with our own family’s mission, that I had to know more.

I am grateful for the opportunity to now sit on the board of this organization and to watch this community grow in number and power. I still believe in its mission, and am energized by its reach. Its community helps to strengthen my own voice; its presence spills over into other moments and movements that I support; its commitment bolsters my own, and is a living, breathing example to my children of the values that I hope to pass along to them.

…..

Throughout our week in D.C., my husband and I kept pointing out to the girls how much had changed since our own childhood visits to the capitol. The story is changing, the narrative is deepening, the opportunity for reflection is more abundant and more challenging. This shift must be fueled by something, by a deeper calling for realization and reckoning. It can start with a simple shift in the way we confront our past in our own families. It will gain momentum when we ask, and then demand, a more complete story. It is possible because we can see it. I returned home to St. Louis renewed in my faith that this change can happen here as well.

It must become a priority for the St. Louis region moving forward. We must challenge the narrative that seeks to divide us. We must tell a deeper, truer story that resets our region’s trajectory, centering growth and progress on the foundation of equity and inclusion and the owning of our shared narrative. We must seed this work in a generation of storytellers that we are nurturing and raising within our own homes, and in our neighborhoods and our classrooms and on our playgrounds.

And in this family, it is our priority too. That’s why we give.   #thatsWHYwestories

*Information about the image: Behind The Myth of Benevolence, Titus Kaphar, 2014

UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light, The National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C. 5/18-1/19

Kaphar’s work examines traditional portraiture and reveals the unseen stories in a sculptural way. Artists have traditionally taken liberties with history in their artwork in order to present a certain narrative; Kaphar plays with that idea of manipulation to challenge that narrative and re-frame the way we look at historical figures and events.

#thatsWHYwestories #FueledByFamilies #GiveSTLDay2018