Summer Round Up

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Summer’s coming to a close and I think I’m ready. Sure, I will miss the long days and the family time, but I think I need to get back to a schedule and SHHHHHHHHH – I’m looking forward to the house being mine for a few hours each day. Is that so bad?

This summer was filled with activity – birthdays, Santa Fe, BBQs, fun. Block Island, as always, rated high on our list of favorite adventures. We didn’t get quite as much time there as we’ve grown used to, but the reasons were good. Dan’s job had him busy with travel (work is good), Anna had an amazing internship and started looking at schools (work is essential), and the best reason to miss Block Island time was that my brother Philip got married to a lovely woman who we are excited to welcome to the family. Welcome Kate!!

 

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This summer also included fun activities like applying for guardianship and Social Security for Jack. Although not as entertaining as time on the beach or celebrating a wedding, I need to share that Jack’s 18 Birthday Project has not been a disaster. There have been a few tears, some money, some doctor’s appointments, some paperwork and some long lines to deal with, but it hasn’t been as painful as I’d imagined.

I’m someone who prepares for the worst. I’m not sure if it’s a product of our “situation” or if I was born this way (I can’t really remember much about life before), but I seem to have a need to picture the worst case scenario. I know this sounds like I enjoy doom and gloom, but it’s the opposite. I worry that doom and gloom might someday kill me if I don’t brace for it.

So when I can, I prepare. When Jack has a fever, I pack a hospital bag. When I see we have a 1/2 tank of gas in the car, I fill it. When we are running low on wine . . . you get the picture. I prepare. So, when I know I need to complete a pile of paperwork providing information to prove that that my eighteen-year-old son is so disabled that he is never expected to be able to work or live independently – I brace myself for both the emotional pain and the dread of dealing with bureaucracy.

I hope I don’t jinx things, but so far, it’s been pretty painless. We hired an attorney that did a remarkable job at guiding us through the process of guardianship without making us focus too much on the details. And, we spent Monday at Social Security where we lucked out and were placed at a desk with the sweetest man. He calmly asked us questions and kept looking at Jack’s sweet smile and saying, “I really want to make this easy for you guys.”. I’m glad I brought Jack. I’m not sure I would have gotten that kind of treatment without him. So all of our paperwork is in and now we wait. I REALLY hope I don’t regret sharing how easy this all was . . .

Enjoy this last blast of summer before the chaos (or quiet luxury) of the school year begins!

Love, Jess

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FYI – The first round of edits of the book are complete. I still can’t believe this is happening.

laundry, sand and a fading tan

Anyone else finding sand in unlikely places? I haven’t walked on a beach in three days, but there’s still sand between my toes. After a month on Block Island it may actually be coming out of me. And, I’m pretty sure that there’s still plenty of wine in my veins. Oh, Block Island — I miss you already!

We had a great month away, but all good things must come to an end and I think the six of us are ready to return to reality. It’s a great feeling to be excited about getting home after a wonderful trip. We’re all recharged after weeks of sunshine, sand and family. If it weren’t for all the laundry, I could fully enjoy these first few days of reentry to real life. Luckily, I have Maria here helping me (she is a large piece of duct tape in our lives).

Yesterday Anna slept in and found Jack and me in the den just before noon (the life of a teenager). Jack was watching Zoe 101 and I was tackling a pile of bills. “There you are. I didn’t know where you guys were. I was kinda worried.”

Our house did seem to have grown during our month away. So many rooms and so much stuff. Not sure why we need all this space, but It is nice to enjoy the luxury of using the facilities without my family asking promptly, “How much longer?” or feeling the need to run up to my in-laws house in search of a little privacy. We love the tiny, hairy cottage, but this is our home. Four bathrooms may be a little excessive, but I wouldn’t trade this house for anything. I love every inch of it.

I have a few days to get this pile of laundry done and the sand cleaned up. By next week our tans will have faded and we will return to our school year schedule. Anna starts her sophomore year with a challenging course load and Jack is ready to face his “rehabilitate the gait” project. I’m looking forward to my next round of art classes and going to keep working on my writing. Dan will keep busy doing his thing — is it bad that I still don’t really understand what my husband does for a living? Even the dogs have fall projects. Keegan is getting retested (fingers crossed) and Finn is working on not biting people who approach our house.

The Maplewood Torreys are ready for the light to change, days to get a little shorter and digging out our jeans and boots. Wait — It’s 90 degrees outside. Maybe I will just focus on the fact that it is still VERY MUCH summer. I hope you all are enjoying every drop of these last days.

Love, Jess11666281_10207280584240249_2583005819993036187_n

tiny, hairy, and perfect

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She is a gray shingled cottage with a blue door. Far smaller than our Maplewood center hall colonial, but each summer we fill her up and call her home for the month of August.

Two bedrooms and one bathroom is tight for our family of six. The dogs seem quite large when navigating around the space. And, Keegan’s hair can be considered an extra occupant, taking on a life of it’s own. Labs shed, and when contained within our small quarters, a thick layer of blond is added to everything within hours. Luckily, a benefit of a small home, it only takes a few minutes to pass the vacuum. It’s one of my only chores on Block Island.

The fridge is full of snacks and beverages and the closets are stacked with bathing suits, jeans and teeshirts. There’s always a puzzle in progress on the table and Anna has piles of summer homework littering the living room. I try to tidy up the mess, but it always looks a little chaotic. As we get into vacation mode, it bothers me less and less. On slow days, Dan often sets up a tent next to the clothes-line providing us an extra room, perfect for reading or taking an afternoon nap.

The number of guests in the cottage varies. With the exception of last summer (Dan’s magical Garden Leave), Dan is not able to come for the whole month. He dutifully goes back and forth on weekends from NJ to RI for the first two weeks. Anna opened it up further with her Outward Bound trip cutting into August. It allowed Jack, Keegan, Finn and I to have a few slow days of quiet and then Mymom (my mom) came for a visit. The following week Anna arrived with 3 of the 5 Mackays. The cottage was jumping as the amount of teenagers outnumbered the amount of old folks. Just yesterday, Anna’s friend, Natalie, arrived for her second time on Block Island. It’s great to have her here again, but Dan is now here full time and five humans gets a little tight. Thankfully, my in-laws are gracious enough to allow kids to stay in the bunk room. Five in the cottage might have just ripped the vacation mode right out of me.

The cottage is not the only house full of friends and family within the stone walls of the property. My in-laws have a house full from Memorial Day to Labor Day and we’ve gotten to overlap with tons of family. Their house is just steps away from the little cottage and it’s always full of commotion and energy. We head over for family dinners and too many cocktails on the deck. Such a treat to have some extra square footage and great family right next door.

A friend called last night and asked about our vacation, “How’s the cottage?”

I looked around the little cottage and smiled, “It’s tiny, hairy and perfect.”

Thank you PopPop and Sue for our August home.

Love, Jess

a banana goes into the wild

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Anna leaves next week and I’m in a panic.

It’s not the first time that Anna has gone away to camp, but it’s the first time that we’ll likely not hear from her for two weeks. As parents we need to be willing to let go, but it’s hard for me. Our house is so quiet when Anna’s gone. People assume that Jack is the center of our family, but it’s really Anna who holds everything together. It’s her school projects and social life that are the main topics of dinner conversation. And, it’s her curfew that’s the main source of weekend arguments. When she’s gone, the laundry is cut in half and so is the energy at 26 Clinton Ave.

Dan and I agree that summer is time for adventure and Outward Bound caught Anna’s attention as soon as she opened their website. She leaves Tuesday to go backpacking and whitewater canoeing in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina for 14 days.

The idea of living outside for two weeks makes me shudder. Add to that the absence of toilets and showers, and I feel sick to my stomach. So why are we sending our precious Anna? Because she’s a Torrey. It’s in her blood.

Anna’s great, great grandfather, Raymond Hezekiah Torrey, was the founder of the NY/NJ Trail Conference and one of the original pioneers of The Appalachian Trail. He also wrote a weekly column for The New York Evening Post called Outings and The Long Brown Path. Anna’s grandfather, Raymond Joseph Torrey (PopPop), followed in his grandfather’s footsteps and completed The Appalachian Trail last year. As we celebrated this milestone (near the memorial for Raymond H. Torrey engraved on Long Mountain in Harriman State Park), I could see in Dan’s eyes that he longed to continue the family tradition. As soon as retirement starts, I’m sure the woods will call Dan. In the meantime, Anna will fill his shoes – not on the Long Brown Path, but in the beautiful Southern Appalachians.

Anna has seen a lot for a 15 year-old-girl and she understands more than most people twice her age. I hope this experience will add to her already broad assortment of accomplishments. We are all so proud of her. I know I’ll need to fake a smile when I drop her off at the airport next week. I will squeeze her a little too hard as I start counting the hours until we see her again. Then I will drive home and try to fill my days with projects. Thank goodness Block Island will keep us company for much of the time.

We will all miss you Banana, but are excited for you and can’t wait to hear the stories. And, if we get a few postcards, we might consider changing your curfew to 11:30.

Love, Mom

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