friends

Bending by Susie Lubell

Bend Oregon

A little stumptown coffee froth to show our love for Bend, Oregon - home to 80,000 ridiculously fit people who run, bike, kayak, raft, ski and swim 365 days a year. A little intimidating for this postpartum mama. We stayed with friends whom we hadn't seen in six years and, in fact, getting together required a little bending from both sides - a story for another time. Our three and their three were six peas in a pod. They played outside with the neighborhood kids (something that never happens in our neighborhood), they biked, the made up games, they splashed, they even went rafting. One of our friends in a rafting guide and took our son down the Dechutes river through Big Eddy rapids. The pictures are hilarious - a lot of terror. And jubilation at the end. We were sad to leave them.

After a night camping in Eastern Oregon at a beautiful hotsprings we drove straight through southern Idaho and found ourselves latenight at Denny's and the Western Inn. Yehaw! We're off to some National Parks for the next few days. Be back sunburned soon.

Giveaway by Susie Lubell


Just a quick note to let you know that Liv over at Choosing Beauty is hosting a giveaway - up to $40 for the print of your choice from my ETSY shop. You have to leave a comment with the name of your favorite print (and there are ways to be entered more than once to increase your odds). The giveaway ends tonight. Go comment! I once commented and won two beautiful prints by this lovely artist and friend.

Also, Liv has launched a terrific website called Feel Good Deal of the Day with all kinds of great deals on stuff you love anyway. I just got 40% off my order from Esprit.com and one of the things I ordered is stretchy enough to fit me even now! That's some stretchy-ass material!

What else? My pal Aimee is teaching in what looks to be a fantastic e-course where 21 artists share their techniques. You listen and learn at your own pace and it runs from April through August so you have plenty of time to soak it all up.

A few months ago my mom unearthed a series of emails I had sent ten years ago while Mr. Rosen and I were traveling the world. I think I will post a few in a "Ten Years Ago Today" series. Can you remember what you were doing ten years ago? I hardly remember what I did yesterday. Thank goodness for the digital paper trail.

And last, thanks to everyone for your support as we navigate this period of mondo-transition. It is enormously comforting to hear your stories too.

Special Ops by Susie Lubell

Special Ops
Second Generation Special Ops Reconnaissance Unit circa 2006

So my son goes to the parent participation school in our neighborhood which I know I've moaned about because it means I teach there and I get more emails than President Obama and it has generally taken over our lives. And yet we couldn't be happier about the place and the community and the education that our son is getting. Our closest and oldest friends in the area also send their son there and even though the boys are not in the same class they play a lot at recess and are generally happy to be together at school. The funny part is that the husband of this couple and my husband were in the Israeli army together. Basic training and the whole bit.

Fast forward twenty years and these two comrades in arms are sitting in parent education class for entering kindergartners at a public school halfway around the world. We were laughing about that the other day. I mean what are the chances?

The story goes that on the third day of training the parent education chair, a tiny woman from Hong Kong, asked for five volunteers for a role play activity and this friend leans over to my husband and whispers, in Hebrew, oh man, this is going to be rough. As if their commander had called everyone into formation and shouted, I heard that someone fell asleep on guard duty last night...

Oh man, this is going to be rough.

Running with 80 lb. packs for six days? Good times. Long reconnaissance missions in the dark with no food? Easy. Crawling through artillery fields along enemy territory? No problem. Getting up in front of fifty parents to act out some positive discipline concept? We surrender!

Friends Forever by Susie Lubell

Bear Valley
first day of trip

Best friends
last day of trip

We've been gone. Again! But we're back. Much to write about and reflect upon. Much laundry. Much to celebrate now that my kids are in camp for the next two weeks. I'm pretty much done with summer folks. Need me some Autumn.

Last weekend we went camping with a family that once lived close enough that we could get together on weekends for trips and hikes and adventures but then they abandoned us for the east coast so now we hate them. But they came for a visit and we had a great time camping in Bear Valley which is out in the Sierras. Our kids are about the same age. In fact our son and their oldest daughter are only five days apart and even though we never lived close enough to their family for the kids to be best friends in the whole wide world, they are fairly close and they recognize they have a special childhood bond. So they had fun reuniting. And we had fun watching them and planning their wedding.

And incidentally the day before we saw them I did a little video and photo shoot for Shutterfly talking about a photo book I had made for this same family as a going away present almost two years ago. I went to a fancy hotel and a real make up artist did what she could to make me look awake and for two hours I told them all about the book and our friendship and the kids and our upcoming reunion (and a bunch of other books I have made). And they paid me! Suckers. They thought that since they know me from work (I used to work there) that I'd be as charming and intelligible on camera as I am in real life. Little did they know that I am even less photogenic than 95% of the rest of the world by my last count and that in front of a camera I mumble and twitch and sometimes pick my nose unconsciously.

Full circle by Susie Lubell

Sabbath Circle

It's been a year since I left my day job to pursue my dream to be a working artist. A YEAR people. And to celebrate I had brunch with my friends Laura, the life coach that helped get this party started, and Chelsea, a hugely talented interior designer and friend from the coaching workshop we did with Laura. What fun to have come full circle and to be, all three, balancing our commitments to our families and doing what we love.

And apropos full circle, here's a little preview of what I've been working on lately. Lots of circles. And lots of tiny little icons. I came across an old friend via Facebook (of course) and it turns out that we have more in common than we ever knew. Last year she decided to follow her dream of working as an artist and she creates some of the most amazingly intricate paper cut designs and ketubot I have ever seen. Much of her work is circular and it just got me daydreaming of tiny little drawings spinning around themselves. Here's the first of three that I finished today. More to come.

Treasured by Susie Lubell

Blue Skies Treasury

I made my first ETSY treasury today while on a break from painting. I've been meaning to make one for a long time but it used to be kind of painful and difficult and life's hard enough without waiting til 2am to snag an open treasury spot. I'm up late enough a it is. And let's just say that I'm not planning to apply for a merchandising job over at Anthropolgie or anything, but I'm happy with how it turned out. Plus, these are all works by folks I really like and in some cases absolutely treasure.

Go here to see the whole thing and then click on everything and leave us some love.

Who's who:
Maya from Spring Tree Road makes the juiciest hand-spun yarn you'll ever see. And her photography is terrific. She even wrote a little tutorial on her blog to get that macro lens look without having a macro lens.

Valentina Ramos makes gorgeous pen and ink drawings. And lately she's doing all kinds of 3D stuff that I am loving. Plus she's bursting with positive energy, if you're into that kind of thing. She's addictive.

Michal is someone I actually met (!) in Israel. She sells at a biweekly open air market in Tel Aviv and everytime we visit I buy something from her. This time I got up the courage to introduce myself and we gabbed about ETSY because she'd just opened a shop. There's just something about colored enamel and silver that makes me giddy.

Rachel is one of those rare people you come across who fills you up with her words and thoughts and her gift for capturing moments. We've been meaning to do a trade now for months but I simply cannot choose.

I don't know Stephanie but I love her work. We have similar trajectories, at least the American moving abroad after college and meeting a local and staying for a while part of it. She's been in Germany for 13 years (maybe more now) and I left Israel after a five year stint. Anyway, I was introduced to Aimee through her blog so if I ever make it to Munich I'm going to buy her a big fat strudel.

And then Jen. Polaroid toting, wine sipping, book making Jen. I love the simplicity in Jen's work. It's like she's a Scandinavian trapped in America. Plus she's funny as all get out. And she loves a good adventure which makes me think that there's a chance we will meet one of these days...

Aimee. Aimee and I have exchanged emails longer than some of the papers I wrote in college. For real. She is genuine, brave, intuitive and hilariously funny - all of which comes out loud and clear in her magnificent doodles.

Amy from Elemental is a metalsmithing mama and her comments on this blog continue to crack me up. She's also inspired  me to take baby environmental steps so I, and mother earth, owe her a debt of gratitude.

I met Catherine at a local craft fair. My kids were close to breaking half the stuff on her table so we had to scoot along but I loved all of the little birdies and insects that she incorporates into her work. She even has a plate with cockroaches on the top. I love a potter with a sense of humor.

I just ordered two or Pixie's prints and when I get my act together I will frame and hang them in my studio. Pixie is honest and authentic and he work is so full it's overflowing. Plus her emails are spit out my coffee funny. And I don't miss a blog post.

I don't know PolishedTwo but I have one of her necklaces and I love it.

And Lori. I love Lori's style. I love her attitude, her openness. She once sent me a card of a woman in prayer pose and I return to that image when my chakras get out of line. Go look at her shop and get some happy.

There are four more in this treasury that I couldn't manage to nap in the screen capture. But if you go to the link you'll find them. One is mine. Hi. Two others I don't know but I admire their work. Laura George was suggested to me in what I think is a new part of ETSY favorites. I guess they suggest artist based on who you've already added as a favorite. Neat. And Nina In Vorm is someone I came across through Aimee. Finally there's Jane who's blog Spain Daily is one of my favorites. She's an expat living in Spain and has a great eye for catching daily life where ever she is in the world and a big heart for connecting lots of other cool people. You will love her too.

Play dating by Susie Lubell

Playdate

I have an afternoon problem. I pick up my kids from school after lunch, my daughter goes down for her nap, and my son and I are left to kill each other softly, one nerve at a time. We can't leave the house. We don't have much in the way of a yard, not that he wants to go outside. And there's only so many times a day I want to play (insert Zingo, Candyland, What's Gnu?, Guess Who?, War, Memory, Go Fish or Hungry Hippos). I mean if Candyland is not the most insipid game ever created, well then my name is mud. It gets to me. Sometimes we paint which can be nice. Sometimes we do a puzzle or a project. We often bake for part of the time. My thighs can attest. Sometimes he sorts the recycling when I'm really desperate.

And the thing is he has had plenty of play date invitations - to friends' houses, to the pool, to the zoo, to the library. He's in demand. But he won't go anywhere with anyone unless I drive and his sister comes. Two impossibilities since she's napping and I'm watching her.

The other day my daughter was fighting her nap so I decided to call our neighbor and invite her son, who's in kindergarten, to come with us to a park to ride bikes.  I could nearly see her beaming with delight through the phone. So we piled him in the car and threw all the bikes in the back and set out for the park. Keep in mind my son and her son have barely ever played together. I'm not really sure why. They're perfectly nice people. The kids are basically the same age. But that's how it is around here. We're all just too busy coexisting to be in each other's lives. It's the grown-up version of parallel play.

But the minute we got to the park and started to ride the boys were best friends. They only stopped gabbing long enough to sneak up on a squirrel and send it running up a tree in sheer terror. On the way home my son invited him to spend the night. We decided to save that for another day but I could tell the tides had started to turn. Solo playdates might be in our near future.

And as it happens, yesterday, after much persuasion, my son agreed to go to the library with his friend from school and then over to his house. And he LOVED it. He loved the library. He loved scanning my card. He loved driving in her fancy mini-van. He loved his friend's remote control train. He wants to go there again tomorrow by himself and every day forever. And I want to send a personal thank you to the patron saint of play dates for smiling upon my family.

Orange by Susie Lubell


Right before our trip to Israel this beautiful little hand-bound journal designed by bookmaking goddess Jen of Painted Fish Studio arrived to my home in exchange for, surprise, a painted fish. She also sent along some other little goodies including a slippery mood fish, the likes of which I hadn't seen in probably two decades, and some fruity Japanese tape dispensing thingy which my daughter quickly destroyed. My husband saw the journal and admired the craftsmanship and then had a chuckle. What is your thing with orange? 

I have no idea what he's talking about.

Teapot

File

Toys

Bag

Poppy

The end of the journey by Susie Lubell

Tunnel

Hi. We're going home today. Well, we're flying to London tonight and then to San Francisco tomorrow morning. Anyway, we're at the end of our journey. I would say this was our best trip so far. And even though politically this country is a disaster (maybe more on that later) it is a spectacular place.

Last I wrote I was dealing with a bout of nausea. So annoying. It passed a day or so later but I spent that day thinking about my friend Renee, a blogging friend I met a few months ago. She was dying of cancer, but through her blog, had quite a following.  We used to leave pithy little comments for each other. Heartfelt. Silly. Sometimes serious. Usually not. Her situation was serious enough. I actually felt loved by her, which I know sounds ridiculous, since we never met or even spoke on the phone. I knew her prognosis was bad and that the end was near but somehow I convinced myself that she'd be fine. Her posts and comments to me were so full of life, I could not imagine her any other way.

In the last month or so we stopped hearing from Renee and started hearing from her lovely daughter Angelique so I knew things had turned. In the last post where it seemed it was only a matter of days, hours. She was still suffering but fighting for whatever time she could have with the family she loved so much. I kept wanting to leave comments true to the style of our relationship. Renee! Go to the light! I am sure there is fast speed wireless in the next world! We'll all be waiting for your next dispatch from the great beyond. And tell god I think cancers blows. But I couldn't. It all seemed so grim and unfair.

So the nausea made me think of her. She was always battling nausea and everything else. Always in treatment. Always exhausted. But strong in spirit. And always with a sense of humor, or so it appeared to me anyway. And I thought, crimey, I can't even deal with a little nausea for a day and a half and this incredible woman has been in it for years.

Turns out she died on that Tuesday. And so many of us are feeling the loss.

A final friendship note by Susie Lubell


My mom and I used to have long conversations about who would come to our funerals. We're sick like that. It was always a funny conversation when it came up. And it always ended with whatever you do don't put crazy make-up on me and make sure to get the pine box and not some satin mahogany bullshit. These days the conversation would be different. It would be about who would be your fan on your Facebook tribute page.

An old friend of mine, someone I worked with at summer camp when we were much younger, was killed in a car accident on Saturday evening, and there are a thousand plus people coming out to her Facebook tribute page. Leaving messages, reading messages, posting pictures. People from junior high, high school, youth group, lacrosse team, camp, college, grad school, work, parents of the kids she helped, her running partners, every one in the whole friggin town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado where she lived with her husband. It's unbelievable, though not surprising. She was loved. And I'm at home refreshing the screen every few minutes so I don't miss one word.

Because unfortunately I missed the last twelve years. We enjoyed a few intense and wonderful summers together with a magical group of people, with some of whom I remain in touch. And I always got periodic updates about Jenna. I think of her every year on my birthday because hers is the next day. And then there's Facebook where I came to learn that she'd become a speech pathologist. And that she was an ultra-marathoner (that's when you run two marathons back to back basically). And how she got married in August on a lake in Colorado looking beautiful and just the same as I remember. And how she and her husband went to Nepal for three months for their honeymoon and did the same trek that my husband and I did right before we got engaged. Over the years her Facebook profile would pop up from time to time and I'd mean to send her a note telling her how much I admired her. But then I'd get distracted. Because that's all there are these days, right? Distractions.

How great it would be if we all had fan pages.  Where you could just write how much you cared about someone, indeed the profound affect they had at some point or another in your life. We used to do a web 1.0 version of this at camp. Friendship notes. Just little notes of gratitude written to your friends at summer's end. I still have a handful of them, my favorite ones from over the years. I still have Jenna's. She signed it Jenna Talia to make me giggle (that wasn't her middle name). Paging Jenna Talia. Please pick up a white courtesy phone...

The girl I remember is every bit the amazing woman she became. I remember a terrific sense of humor - the kind that vacillates seamlessly between silly and sarcastic in the best possible way. I remember a girl who cared deeply about people and the outdoors. She was creative, adventurous, inclusive, charismatic and deeply sensitive. She was the girl that everyone loved to pieces and she had the kind of smile you can picture even years later...

It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey. -F. Scott Fitzgerald

The world is a little darker now, without that smile, but brighter still, having known Jenna.

Someone old and someone new by Susie Lubell

Say it together with me.
Ahhhhhh....
I just came back from a much needed, too short and deliriously enjoyable weekend in Portland, a place I had never been, to meet one of my newest old friends and one of my oldest new friends.

Aimee is someone I met online. Huh? Yes, I met her online. I commented on her blog. And then she commented back. And then we started emailing. Very long emails. The kind you used to send in 1996 before people stopped writing in conventional language in favor of short phrases with no vowels. Yes, those kind of emails. And it just happened we were both artists with MBAs (so incongruous!) and mommies of small children and makers of ketubahs and well the list of similarities goes on and on. And so, one day, when we were both feeling the need to get away, we hatched a plan to meet in Portland. And that's just what we did. We flew in Friday night, I met her at her gate and we didn't stop talking until she left Sunday morning. And we wandered around freezing Portland and talked our heads off, drank coffee, ate amazing food, bought matching sweaters (well, different sweaters from the same woman at the Saturday market) and got lost in Powell's bookstore. It was like we had known each other our whole lives. And that is why Aimee is my newest old friend.




And my oldest new friend is Jenn. Jenn lives in Portland and is chef and owner of Lincoln Restaurant and Culinary Artistry. She is someone I worked with when I was 16 and a counselor at summer camp. We hadn't seen each other in nearly twenty years. About five years ago we were in touch briefly. And then about 8 months ago I saw a little blurb on her in Real Simple magazine so I nearly had a heart attack and looked her up to find that she had opened a restaurant in Portland. I immediately wrote to her and we even spoke on the phone. So when Aimee and I decided on Portland I knew I needed to see Jenn too. We ate dinner at Jenn's restaurant on Friday night and it was amazing to be in the company of two incredibly talented and creative women. Catching up. Getting to know each other. And eating the most delicious food I've had in a very long time. Maybe ever. Go eat at Lincoln if you're ever in Portland.

Aimee flew home early Sunday and I spent the rest of the day with Jenn. More talking. More eating. And even though in some ways it felt like we just slipped right back into the our old friendship, in many ways it felt more like our friendship, or at least this chapter of it, was entirely new.

So there it is. A weekend of grub and gab with two exceptionally inspiring and supportive women. It was just what I needed. Because, friends, I am not great at reaching out. I'm shy. I get intimidated. I assume no one remembers me. But I'm finding that the more I do it, the easier it is and the happier I am to be connected.

Miss Lorena and Miss Cassia by Susie Lubell

Everyday I ask my son how his day went at school and it's gotten to the point where we can actually have a pretty decent conversation about it. I ask about circle time and playing outside and what did he have for snack and did he do an art project and did he cut paper or draw with markers and who was there and who was missing and did he sing songs etc. He always has fun or at least says he has fun which is a relief for a guilt ridden working mom like myself. And I get a fair amount of detail about his day. I always ask who he played with today and he ALWAYS lists the teachers. He almost never mentions any of the other kids. Which makes me wonder if he ever plays with other kids or if he's that kid that the teachers all love but who has no friends. Here's how the conversation goes:

Me: Who did you play with at school?
Him: Miss Lorena
Me: And..
Him: Miss Cassia
Me: And..
Him: Miss Lorena called me a silly goose.
Me: Did you play with Antonio?
Him: No. Miss Lorena went home in her car.
Me: Is MIss Lorean your friend?
Him: Ya. And Miss Cassia.
Me: Did you play with any boys or girls in your class?
Him: Yes, Miss Tina.

When our baby was born and our son was peaking in his terrible two-ness we went to see a counselor to try to figure out what to do with him or what was wrong with him or what we were doing wrong. We described all of his crazy behavior and the counselor said she thought he was a classic example of a "spirited child" which is a nice way to say "pain in the ass". In truth, many of the behaviors she described as "spririted" were spot on - one of which was a preference to be with adults. Spririted children crave predictability and order. And there's nothing less predictable than a toddler. I don't blame him. Toddlers can be scary. I also prefer to hang with adults.

Although I was pleased today when I picked him up to see him sitting next to his pal Ayden, a beautiful and spunky little girl he's known since he started this school a year ago, and they were holding hands. But when I asked him if Ayden was his friend, he said, "ya, and Miss Lorena".