Monthly Archives: March 2014

smile factors…

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On Saturday night my friend C called and invited me over to watch a movie at her house. I obliged and after wandering up and down Netflix, we decided in favor of baseball’s opening day on Monday; to watch Bull Durham, the Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins film. Set against the backdrop of Minor League baseball’s Durham, NC team, the Durham Bulls, the film tells the story of one man’s rise (pitcher) to the Major leagues with the help of a seasoned Minor league (catcher) player whose only time spent in the majors was a short three weeks when he was younger. The movie is hilarious, provocative and romantic, offering some of the best quotes and theories about the sport in which we all love, Baseball.

A few weeks back I signed a petition to make the Opening Day of baseball a national holiday-I wish the petition had worked! Baseball is my sport of choice-the mark of Spring, the joys of Summer and the first tastes of Fall. I grew up loving the smell of my mitt; the feel of the ball, the desire to use a round bat to hit a round ball squarely and the “Whack” sound that bat makes when connected properly to that ball. The sights and sounds of baseball are unmistakable and boy, am I happy today is the day they start all over again.

I grew up a Yankee fan. Please don’t hate… While my parents and Grandparents were die hard Detroit fans, my older brother Bill fell in love with Mickey Mantle and that’s all it took to poison the rest of us siblings against the Tigers. Sometime in college I became bored with baseball in general.  My favored Yankees were always winning; bankrolling team after team. The spirit of competition wasn’t there and the sport no longer held my attention. Though I loved the game as a whole, I just couldn’t bring myself to root for them any longer; I needed a change. So in 1991 I switched alliances and began rooting for the worst team in the American Leauge…The Cleveland Indians-who finished the season 57-105-dead last in the American Leauge, period. Now some of you might ask, “Why not root for the Tigers?” Well for a whole slew of reasons, most of which come down to an inability to root for any Michigan team and continuing to root against my parent’s team was fun.

My new team has made baseball interesting and fun for me these past twenty years. The powers that be created a team of youngsters-all signed to long term contracts and then watched them grow. Oh sure there were tweaks made here and there-trades (Most notably SS Felix Fermin to Seattle for Omar Vizquel), demotions, bring-ups etc. and the core team began to play better. As the young pitchers improved team confidence grew. The worst team in the league was fun as they progressed from worst to first in four short years. Best of all…they did all this winning on one of the lowest payrolls in the game. In other words, the Yankees high payroll didn’t buy them winners that year. And though we fell short of winning the the World Series in 1995, my team has continued to be fun to watch-even when they broke our hearts and imploded two years ago going from first to last in a months time.

Today we’re standing on the precipice of another season…the Indians already predicted to not repeat last years’ surprising run to the playoffs. But that makes no difference to me. Yes, Baseball is back and for the next six months you may hear me griping about team play or blown saves or cheers for fantastic catches or runs scored…and I couldn’t be more happy. As the umpires like to say, LET’S PLAY BALL!!

GO TRIBE!!!

Take me out to the ball game, Take me out with the crowd;
buy me some peanuts and Cracker JackI don’t care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team, If they don’t win, it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out, At the old ball game.

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Time…

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“TGIF!!” I said to the doll as she grabbed her lunch box on her way to the front door. “Why are these days going by so fast?” She asked me this morning. Smiling back at her I replied, “Because that’s how life goes…” Giving me a look like that was the lamest answer ever she replied, “Well I don’t like it at all!!” Think about where I’m sitting…” I said and smiled.  “It’s dumb if you ask me” she replied and then left for school.

****

Last night when I finally arrived home for good, the second half of the Dayton v Stanford game was about to begin. I walked into my house, sweat dripping having just finished my nightly worked out and starving. Looking into the kitchen, I found the boy, eating a snack and drinking a glass of milk. “Hi Momma, how was your workout?” He asked. I smiled and replied “good” as I crossed the kitchen to find the left overs from dinner. Entering my living room I glanced over to the love seat, where the doll sat, furiously trying to get to the end of her recent book conquest. I found a vacant seat, sat down and began watching the basketball game. A short time later, my husband approached and we shared a nice hug before he announced he was going to bed.

I had been home about ten minutes.

*****

This past week I’ve found myself preoccupied by the song “Time” from the newly released “My Mother has 4 Noses”; a companion CD to the off Broadway play (with music) with the same name. The artist, Jonatha Brooke, is a long time favorite singer of mine. She created this play as a tribute to her mother who passed away last year, after a long bout with Alzheimer’s and frankly, to help her deal with her own grief. Her show has been in production for about three weeks now and she’s posted a few production clips from the play’s musical segments on her Facebook page; in support of the album and show.

During my first viewing of the “Time” video I was amassed with goose bumps…and floored by how eloquently she captures how no one is ever ready for the end of life to come-especially with love as fierce as those shared between a mother and child. On subsequent views, the goosebumps remained, followed by tears, and the need to hear the song over and over…as if somehow her words are conjuring up old feelings that never really were put to rest…if that is ever possible. I totally recommend if you plan to watch the video, you do so with tissue handy

****

When the time came for the doll to go to bed, as is her nightly ritual, she came over to where I was seated, leaned down and kissed the crown of my head, before announcing she was going to bed. As she began to close her bedroom door behind her I yelled toward her, “Hey aren’t ya going to say goodnight to your old mom?” Opening her door she came into the hallway and said, “Really? Really? Like you didn’t notice that I already said goodnight a minute ago?” “Nope, come here” I said, feigning innocence. Leaning her head down to once again kiss the crown of my head, I reached my arms up, totally capturing her head in my hands and giving her a kiss on the forehead instead. In doing so, she had no choice but to wrap her dangling arms around my head and we hugged-awkwardly and began to laugh. “Goodnight doll, love you!” I said. “You too mom” she replied as we untangled ourselves and off to bed she went.

A short time later, after having given the boy an equally good hug and kiss I returned my attention to the basketball tournament (Go Dayton!!). As the game drew to a close, I realized why the song has been so haunting for me (besides the obvious)…

There will never seem be enough “time” for all the things I hope to do, become, watch, experience, love, live… Then again, let’s not even discuss the amount of time I’ve wasted playing games on the internet.

Time to stop being so serious and finish this darn blog. Time.

****

For information about Jonatha Brooke’s play, My Mother Has 4 Noses, please check out her FB page, https://www.facebook.com/jonathabrooke?fref=ts and her video “Time”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atvqubwXnrY Be warned and have tissues handy.

 

 

like the weather…not particularly

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The votes have been cast and our fair area of the country has won a most dubious honor. While it’s nice to see our city mentioned for something other than race riots or child/sex trafficking, I’m sure if you asked most folk around here, we would rather have not won this distinction too. What award is that you ask? The Weather Channel has crowned our city as having had the worst winter, period. http://www.weather.com/tv/tvshows/americas-morning-headquarters/10-worst-winter-cities-2013-2014-20140320?pageno=11

As you may well imagine, we’re pretty amazed to have won. I remember back in early January when we had -45 wind chills wondering what that temperature might feel like–but never bundling up to find out. However, as the winter wore on, I did get the chance to experience those temps whether I wanted to or not.  Another lesson learned was that cold temperatures have a way of seeping into the house; wearing one sweat shirt wasn’t enough to stay warm. Layers were the name of the game. I also remember lamenting about an 80 degree temperature shift upwards one day which still resulted in cold temperatures. “How was this possible?” I thought.  If the temperature is going to raise by 80 degrees it should result in warm temperatures, right?  Well not this past winter.

I guess having been named as having the worst winter does entitle us to some bragging rights-or as I like to call them, “Complaining Rights”. Yes, all you living in Chicago or Minneapolis or even Buffalo…sorry about all our snow…but our cold days and additional snowfall gives us the edge. Na na na boo boo!  Frankly I think this distinction puts another feather in the cap for “reasons to live somewhere else” more than anything….and if this weather pattern continues much longer…it won’t surprise me to see the mass exodus…to sunny, warmer climates-at least for a week sometime in the near future.

****

Never too far from the topic at hand: When the heck is Spring going to get here?

The doll approached me last night carrying a bottle of water. “Mom, what’s this about? Who do they think they’re kidding?” She said holding the bottle out to me and pointing at the label. Looking up at her I smiled and then said, “That is really lame doll”. Laughing she said, “Oh I know, I just noticed it said “Spring” on the label which struck me funny and I said to myself  “Oh yeah? Can’t prove that around here…” As evidenced by the hail currently falling from our skies, I’m inclined to agree with her…

Oy vey.

 

 

Eh…

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The other day, when Mary Alice and I were on our way home following a late lunch at  Panera’s I called home hoping to reach my husband but the doll answered the phone. My car is enabled with Bluetooth technology, so all telephone calls are routed through my car’s stereo-speakers. So as Mary Alice sat by giggling at what she heard, the doll and I had what should have been a simple phone call conversation-except she had me laughing by her total disinterest in the call.

Doll: Hi Mom!

Me: Hi Doll, how are you?”

Doll: Eh.

Me: Just eh? Okay how was school then?

Doll: Eh

Me: Wow you’re talkative today…couldn’t you just say, “fine” or “good” instead of “Eh”?  I mean their both monosyllabic words, so it wouldn’t take more than a second to say, and they sound better than “Eh”. In fact they actually make you sound interested in talking to me…

Me: Hello…? You still there?

[Long pause between the two of us]

Doll: I’m currently glaring at you through the phone.

Me: Oh, (beginning to laugh), well good, glaring. I wondered what the pregnant pause was…

Doll: Pregnant?

Me: Just go with it doll…so is your dad around. I mean as fun as this conversation has been, I actually called to talk to him

Doll: He’s asleep on the floor

Me: Ah…so..how do you think he’s doing?

Doll: Eh

Me: Of course…kind of walked right into that one didn’t I?

Another pause…

Me: Doll…you still there?

Doll: What?”

Me: Could you tell your dad to call me when he wakes up?”

Doll: K

Me: Anything else?

Doll: Like?

Me: Goodbye mom, love you…?

Doll: Eh..

Me: Good-Fine-see two better words…than “Eh”

Doll: That doesn’t make sense.

Me: They do to me doll…they do to me. Plus as a bonus I got you to say more than just “eh”…  Okay…get your homework done…love ya..

Doll: click

 

optional conversation…

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“Tell me what’s going on in your world…” she said to me. “Well…nothing much really….” I replied, not sure if what happened in my mundane life would be of any interest to her. I was seated on a rather uncomfortable folding chair inside a small hospital room visiting one of my clients, Mrs. K; who was recovering from emergency surgery. Curious I asked her, “So what happened?” She looked pointedly at me and said, “Evidently I got sick and wound up in the hospital.” Not very forthcoming with her answer, I pressed further and received a similar answer in return. In other words, the reason she was there wasn’t as important as seeing someone familiar. Warding off an awkward moment I gave in and said, “Well the parish has two fish fry’s under their belt”  “Oh yes, I never attended the fish fry’s by myself…” she said. “I remember seeing you last year with some of your friends…” I offered.”Yes, I did get invited to a few. I had hopes of taking my daughter to the first one….” she began before trailing off.

Smiling at her I said “Well it’s a good thing she was home to help take care of you…” Mrs. K smiled at the memory and said, “Yes I suppose that was very serendipitous”. In the middle of February, Mrs K’s daughter flew in to spend a few weeks with her mom. On the day she was supposed to fly home, the area received 8-10 inches of snow-canceling her flight. She rescheduled her flight for two days later and was with her when she took ill. “I see from all your cards your family came into town…?” I asked. “Yes, my sons and a few grand and great grandchildren came into check on me and cheer me up” she replied. “My great grandson Christopher even played a game of scrabble with me…” she informed. “Oh, that’s wonderful. You know, since we haven’t played…” I said motioning back and forth between us,  “my game play on Words with Friends has suffered mightily. I need to get back into practice with you…” I added and we laughed.

All in all we talked for over an hour and a half; me talking about the boy and the doll and all they were up to and she listened intently, adding a few of her own memories to the mix. We enjoyed one another’s company, until the time came for me to go.”Do you think you’ll still be here on Friday?” I asked. “Most likely. Relearning to walk and lift my feet the right way and pick up a ball and squeeze it is quite fascinating-and not as boring as I thought it would be. In addition, I get to see other people and how they are coming along in their own recovery.” She said. “But I bet you’ll be happy when the time comes to go home…” I added. “I miss my house and my routine” she admitted. Well how about I stop back on Friday. I’m sure by then my kids will have done something worth talking about…” I said adding a smile. “Well of course they will…that’s what kids are for…” She said giggling in return. 

Before I left, I read to her a few “Daily Thoughts” which were posted on our parish website. One in particular brought unintended laughter…“The Man who can hold his tongue has enormous inner strength. It is a tell tale sign of virtue. It is likely that he who cannot control his tongue has lost control in other ares of his life as well…”  Purposely reading the well meaning thought wrong I said, “So…this explains how crazy my life as become….” And she laughed adding, “Well I for one am glad…” Smiling back at her I replied, “Heh, me too”. Then bid her farewell until Friday.

blessed elders….

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My kids are blessed in so many ways.

When I was 42 years old I came to the realization of just how blessed I’ve been in this life-by the people and love in my life. In turn, my husband and I try our best to instill the same realizations to our children. Yes-the reality is we’re broke financially, but we are rich in life and love; which makes this life worth living and continues to push us upward and onward.

Yet this can be a hard concept these days, when every place you turn, the kids are inundated with distractions meant not to keep you focused-together, but rather pull you apart–the offer of the next “best” thing, upgrade, let go; our throw away society-if you will. Fortunately we are surrounded by wonderful role models who stand in the way of those distractions. One such woman is my husband’s Grandmother, Kathryn; who we had the pleasure to spend part of our day with yesterday. We took a nice two hour drive south to celebrate her 95th birthday; sharing time with cousins seldom seen, eating marvelous pizza and enjoying one another’s company.

The boy went down a day early and spent Saturday night visiting with his Great Grandmother, Grandmother (who also celebrated a birthday earlier in the week), Uncle and cousin. This morning he told me, “I had a bit of wanderlust” this weekend. “How so?” I asked. “I enjoyed visiting with Great Grammy and sleeping at her house-I didn’t sleep well here”. He replied. The doll on the other hand at twelve kind of found the whole exercise boring-in fact during our brief two hour birthday celebration visit she said to me, “It would be nice if there were someone my age to hang around with…””Doll I totally know how you feel, believe it or not, everyone on my dad’s side of the family is way older than me” I replied. “Doesn’t really help mom”. She replied.

Oh well…

We all sat and visited with one another, in celebration of Kathryn’s birthday. Talking with seldom seen cousins; getting a chance to visit with old friends; catching up with family members; sharing Dayton’s best made pizza and then eating ice cream and cake.  As we prepared to leave and gave final hugs goodbye, I jokingly said, “I’ll see you on *facebook* which (unfortunately) is our reality these days and then we departed. “Mom if Great Grammy is 95, how is just my Grandpa 92?” the doll asked as we drove away. Smiling I said… “It does’t really matter how doll, but rather that we ARE blessed/lucky to have both of them still here, alive and fluid in our lives.” She shook her head with some sense of reassurance, before turning her attention back to her book.

Blessed indeed.

 

in search of a thought…

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Yesterday while  at Mary Alice’s I made a bone headed move. I opened up her cupboard and attempted to put the pitcher of lemonade on the shelf–before I realized I really wanted to put the lemonade pitcher back into the refrigerator. “Whoops, wrong one” I said kind of chiding myself for the foible. Mary Alice looked over at me, giggle and said, “Don’t worry about it, I do that all the time…” Which for some reason didn’t leave me feeling all that reassured.

***

This morning when the doll emerged from her bedroom she said, “I had the worst nightmare ever…” The boy who was gathering his stuff for school asked, “Was I in it?” “No” she replied annoyed he had even asked. “Well then the nightmare couldn’t have been that bad…” He offered. “Well, you’d be a close second…” she replied. “Mom it had spiders in it…giant ones and I was in the middle of them and they were about to attack me when…blehhhh” she uttered as she raised her hands to her face and then shook her head back and forth in disgust. “Doll I don’t get why you are so afraid of spiders…I mean they’re good; they eat other bugs…” I offered. “I know they’re good..but they’re also gross and have too many legs and….I’d rather not think of them any longer” the doll finished. “What about Charlotte’s web?” I asked. “Charlotte was a good spider…” she replied. “How do you know all spider’s aren’t as good as Charlotte? I asked. “MOM I know what you’re trying to do…but it won’t work. I don’t like any spiders at all. Not big, small or those hairy ones they show on TV”. She announced. “The hairy ones are called tarantulas…and their not spiders…” I added. “I don’t care what they are, I don’t want to be in the same room with them or any other 8 legged creature. They’re just gross!” “Remind me to warn you the next time a tarantula gets loose in the house” I uttered . “You won’t have to, I’ll be the one standing on the table screaming Mom” she replied.

****

“Mom when I’m older please don’t let me forget what I’m telling you right now so I’ll remember to do it…” the boy said in the car this morning. “What?” I replied. “You know about the Appalachian Trail?” He reminded me. “Oh you mean your want to hike the trail after you graduate from high school?” I asked. The day before, ironically on our ride home from track practice the boy let it slip about his desire to hike the trail; the summer before college. “Okay, but don’t expect to walk the entire length in one try…” I said. “Mom it takes about 5 months of consistent walking to hike the entire trail. I won’t have that much free time.” He said, but then added “But when I’m buff and in better shape I’ll bet I’ll fair pretty well” He explained. “If you’re going to be “buff” dude, that means you need to continue working out and lifting weights long after Track is complete–like 5-7 days a week…” I said, not as a warning but more as a challenge for him. “Hmm well at least with Track this year, I’ll have a head start…” He added.

“True” I said with all the hope in the world that when I remind him of his dream to walk the Appalachian trail he’ll say “Yes I know  and I’ve been working hard at making that a reality…’

Instead of  ‘Well that was a dumb idea…’ later.