Monday, May 31, 2021

Operation GraceLove

Mistah and I make a calendar every year.

It's a year full of Bill's beautiful photos and we put it together in December and give it to assorted family and friends at Christmastime.

It's a pretty great calendar, if we do say so ourselves, and oh we do.

A few years ago, our great and glorious friend Jessica brought hers with her to South Sudan where she works tirelessly and fearlessly with MSF (Doctors Without Borders to us English-speaking types) and she reported to us that her great and glorious colleague Grace loved the calendar too.

We've never met Grace but we've heard so much about her -- what a remarkable woman she is, how smart and educated and hard-working and unique she is in her adopted country. As Jessica said, "And Grace is just, well, you can't be near Grace and not feel good."

So the next time Jessica went back to South Sudan, we sent a calendar back with her for Grace. And Grace loved it.

When we made the calendar for this year, we asked Jessica -- who was not headed to South Sudan this time around -- how one could go about getting a calendar from New London, Connecticut, USA to Juba, South Sudan.

If you know Jessica, you know that she does not take this kind of challenge lightly. Operation GraceLove was born.

Jessica reached out to her MSF friends who might be headed to various countries in Africa and who might be willing to carry a package to Grace in Juba, but nobody was conveniently headed that way.

And then Jessica was hired as medical coordinator for the Somalia mission, based in Nairobi.

Although Kenya and South Sudan are abutting countries, Nairobi and Juba are about a zillion miles apart, plus each woman was firmly ensconced working in her own country. During covid.

But if you know Jessica, you know once she was on the African continent, that calendar was going to get to Grace.

(that was meant to be "compasses" obviously ... damn auto-correct)

(we riff on this for a while, folks . . . )

"If only," we continued . . . "if only . . . "

Jessica kept me apprised and updated throughout the entire international operation . . . 

But then, a fly in the ointment! The calendar was on its way to Juba, but Grace was going on maternity leave the following day, which was also a holiday in South Sudan . . . 

. . . it was a race against time.


And then?

Last week Grace preformed a miracle of her own:

Grace asked Jessica to name the baby ("South Sudanese culture is so different.")

I asked: "Well? What's the name?"

"There's no way I'm naming that baby."

Then, finally . . . 

On Thursday Jessica texted, "Get ready... to cry..."

I assumed Grace named her little one Jessica -- because I certainly would have.


Samreen Ellie!

That's right, my friends. I have found myself with a perfect, gorgeous little South Sudanese namesake. I'm beside myself with joy and love and incredulity and honor and I am utterly gobsmacked.

And the fact that I'm my Mom's namesake? Well, if you're sitting on a chair, this is the part when you fall off. Jessica certainly did.

Welcome to the world, Samreen Ellie. We already love you like crazy.

Oh, and Operation GraceLove? That was a success, too.

Grace got her calendar.

Monday, May 24, 2021

One Year, Two Months, Three Days

I went back to work.

On year, two months and three days later, I went to work.

And everybody who walked through the door did so with the most gigantic smile upon her or his face which I pretended was just because of me. Ha. So despite missing my one year, two month and three day sabbatical, my return to the workforce felt pretty marvelous indeed.

Welcome to the Brave New World.

Monday, May 17, 2021

The Best Day

Have you ever had a magical day when all the pieces fell into place and all the elements flowed and everything clicked and it was nothing but pure awesome?

We had ourselves one of those on Saturday.

Our great and glorious friends Nancy and Jonny happened to find themselves on the Cape of Cod the same weekend Mistah and I found ourselves on the Cape of Cod and they came up to Provincetown to join us in some Ptown fun and that fun never ever stopped.

We started by meeting them in the morning for a 14 mile bike ride through the Dunes of the Cape Trails and you're just going to have to believe me because we took no photos. 

What? We were too busy pedaling up giant hills on our collective almost-first bike rides of the season to remember to stop and take photos of our badass selves.

When we were done, however . . . 

. . . take photos of ourselves we most certainly did indeed do.

We biked back to town and hung out on our front patio watching the world go by and eavesdropping on snippets of conversation and basking in the suddenly-summer sun.

These friends of ours . . . 

Nancy was the star of the show and I quite simply do not know what I would do without her.

She's my girl.

We finally got off our couches and headed into the world to find some luncheon for ourselves. Mistah had scoped out places with decks on the water, and we settled on The Club . . . 

A restaurant, people! A real live restaurant!

We sat in our primo seats and ordered food and drink and I looked over and said, "Oh my God, there she is!"

Background: A few days earlier Michelle texted me, "Lea Delaria is in Ptown right now!" I responded, "I don't know who that is but yay!" "OITNB"

And there she was. We gawked and got busted doing so, and our new bff came *right* over and schmoozed with us and entertained us with her stories.

We had a wonderful time . . . 

Big Boo is nothing but charming and lovely . . .

And we also discovered . . .  

She owns the joint!

What a funny world.

We finally wandered back to our front porch couches and lit the table-top fireplace and continued sharing approximately one million laughs then after a while Nancy and Jon left us for reasons we still can't discern . . . 

. . . but Mistah and I bravely carried on . . . 

. . . set loose on the town on our own.

The day was still brilliant -- deeply so -- but man did we miss our friends.

We consoled ourselves with Smoked Seafood Chowdah on our little balcony and reminisced about the magic.

The next day we got back on our bikes . . . 

. . . and this time took a selfie to prove it.

And we basked in the glory of that magical place.

Some afternoon weather blew in and Nancy sent us photos of ourselves from across the Bay . . . 

And as is often the case in Provincetown, the Magic continued.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Motherly Love

 It's not that often that Mom gets half of her daughters in one place at one time . . . 

. . . throw one of the world's most awesome granddaughters into the mix, and you've got yourself a Mother's Day for the Ages.

It was so lovely to be with my lovelies, and we even had about twelve seconds of sunshine . . . 

But then we had to get to work . . . 

We rolled wada like nobody's business, and these photos are just too weird not to include . . . 

It was a highly successful operation except for the fact that Mom was on a zoom call with her siblings and she couldn't hear them because we could not shut up for one second.

Nope, not this crew . . . 

I'd show you the giant bucketload of our finished product, and the incredible Lebanese meal that Jacquie created for us, and the gorgeous spread on the table, and the fabulous wines, but, well, we were too busy partaking in it all to take photos.

But it was One for the Ages, truly. My half-Irish / half-Lebanese sisters, and my Irish Mom, and my one-quarter-Lebanese niece proudly carry on our Lebanese food heritage and man oh man, am I grateful to be a part of this particular team.

Thanks for a great day, everybody. Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Meanwhile, back in the old days . . . 

We had ourselves a pre-game Time in the Whaling City . . . 

The Fun never stops around here . . . 

. . . whaddaya say we have some more?

Monday, May 3, 2021

'Bout to Bust Loose

We are poised . . .

 . . . we are ready . . . 

. . . we are 'bout to bust loose.

Everything is growing and changing and metamorphosing right in front of our very eyeballs . . .  

. . . and I'm not just talking about the Earth and the Plants and the Spring.

The World is changing. And so there is trepidation, there is worry, there is uncertainty . . .

. . . there is, therefore, only one thing to do at a time like this . . .  

. . . let's bust loose.