Saturday, June 30, 2007

I'm Ready for Sunday

It was touch'n go there for a while. It was the central 3 that opened it up.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Why won't I turn the paper over?

I've been working on the Sunday Boston Globes sudoku for 4 days now. Not constantly -- after all someone has to drive to summer school, band camp, sports camp, food shop, etc... But in between stints in the drivers seat, I pull it out of my purse and look it over. The it being the entire Globe magazine folded in half, so I can't see the answers at the bottom of the page. Why do they put the answers on the same page?

Last night I finally made some headway. Filling in one block and two columns completely. I thought I was made in the shade. Thought I had finally found the key sequence that would lay open the entire puzzle. Nope. And then the little one asked: Why don't you just turn the paper over?

Why not look?

When I extracted myself from the puzzle, to put the finishing touches on the kitchen, she looked."Your answers are right so far." Usually they are. I never guess in sudoku. It's too painful to back track.

But I know why I won't turn the page over. Once I look, the fun of the challenge is over. And then where would I be until next Sunday.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Ten years ago I bought a rhubarb plant for the manly motorcycle man. Through stories, I had learned eating rhubarb right out of the garden was one of his family traditions. I didn't expect, or require, that he would water it, weed around it, or do much of anything, besides eat its tangy stalks. No worries. And slowly, eating rhubarb is becoming a tradition for our own children.

Slowly, because during those first few years, there were few stalks big enough to eat. I watered and fertilized, but surprised the plant wasn't doing better, consulted my aunt whose rhubarb plant rivals any downtown building. "Are you composting?" she asked.


"Try that. They like cantaloupe compost."

No worries, there is a lot of cantaloupe in our compost. And it helped a bit, but still the plant didn't spring back from the abyss of limping along.

"Does it get enough sun?" she offered again.

"I thought it was..." So I moved it to an even sunnier location. The next year, even though the stalks were more plentiful, and hoops and hollers of delight went up, they were still scrawny. Then for the next two years... not much of anything.

This spring I decided it was do or die, something had to be done. But I was nervous. I bought this plant for the man the year we got married. If I killed it, would it be a sign? Should I just leave well enough alone and limp through another unproductive season? For a week I stewed. Finally I said, "I'm going to move your rhubarb. It's not doing well where it is. He said, "Fine." What else would he say? "No, I like watching it wither year after year by the driveway..."

I prepared a new spot, rich with compost, in a very sunny part of yard. I dug up what I had preceived as the symbol of our marriage, replanted, and watered it. The deed was done. Except for the watering and fertilizing on my part, it was up to the plant. That night when I went out to check on it, it was all wilted over. Panicked, I watered it more. Hoping it would recover.

The next morning it had perked up a bit, but I noticed that most of its leaves were turning yellow. I watered it again. Thinking for sure it was over. Daily, I watched as the leaves, one by one, yellowed, shrivelled up and died. Still I watered, and added compost. Finally, about a week later I noticed a new leaf peeking out of the soil. Was it possible? Would this plant live after all?

And now a month later, dressed in brand new bigger than ever leaves, the rhubarb is looking wonderful. And I find myself closing the parallel I had drawn between plant and life. Saying, when you've given life your best shot, and still there is no growth. It might be time to move on. It won't be easy. You risk losing all your leaves, or worse. But with a little faith, hope, love and watering, all things can be new again.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Heat Is On!

Heat is an amazing thing. (Humidity is something else.)

Last week, when our corn plants were no bigger than over grown crab grass, I thought I must have planted midget corn. But these last couple of days, with all this heat, they've been shooting towards the sky, and starting to look more like their midwest cousins.

When I lived in Illinois, the corn would grow so fast that the farmers said, if you stopped along the side of the road, you could hear it grow. I tried this a couple of times, and I'd have to agree. Corn fields can be noisy. But our garden holds only a dozen or so plants, so I doubt you'd hear much over the double row of beans right next door to them. Who have also started a growth spurt with all this heat.

I love having a garden. Watching it grow. Leaning over to listen for leaf expansions. Sending the girls out to pick the fruit of our weeding and watering labors. Cooking with fresh herbs. There is something about living closer to the land rather than the super market. A magic cover of calm and freshness the permeates the kitchen and fills our bellies.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


My dear ones started camp(s) yesterday. And as I was dropping two off, and thinking about my next appointment with the drivers seat for the other, I realized I had signed myself up for a whole lot of shuttling. Breaking up my day into almost unusable bits and pieces of time. Only almost unusable because in between the first drop offs by the track, and the second, I can squeeze in a walk. I guess in any situation, a sliver of a silver lining can be found.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Family for a week and then some

(not my photo)
This past year, once in the spring and again last week, I've had the honor of creating digital slideshows for friends. Both were for their parents' 50th wedding anniversaries. Both involved fast paced close knit working relationships for about a week. With hours of reviewing image sequences, and justifying an image's lifelong significance. And in the end, when I hand off the disk, I experience a profound sense of loss. I want to say, "Wait for me!" And I know from the experience in the spring, when I see these friends, I'm going to ask, "How is the baby?" or "Did the kids go to camp again this year?" or "Any travel plans?"

Crazy. They're not my family.

But for these shows to work, I need to know the deep personal details of the family. And I know a show has these details when each and every time I edit it, I have tears in my eyes. And I mean each and every time. Last week, as I spent hours tweaking transitions, and making sure there was balance among the image subjects -- that all the grandkids were well represented, the pools of tears in the corners of my eyes grew deep.

Crazy. They're not my family.

This past weekend, I got to be there when show was played for their parents, family and friends. It was an experience I will never forget. I was nervous to say the least. Would they like it? After the magic show and dessert, the screen was lowered. I situated myself towards the back, by the door. Very old pictures of relatives, only there in spirit, flashed upon the screen. Shouts of surprise and amazement filled the room. People were trying to take pictures of the pictures... Their lives unfolded for all the see. And there were tears, rivers of them. Not just in my eyes, but in everyone elses.

The mom found me. She thanked me, and I replied, "No, really thank you." Thank you for allowing me to be apart of your family.

Crazy. But they're my family now.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Empty Pew Syndrome

Last night, all under the age of 16, in this household, were participating in sleepovers. This morning, I went to church alone. Through out the Mass there were no fights to settle. No one climbed up on my lap. No one argued over who could sit on my right, and who was on my left. I didn't have to tell anyone to kneel or stand. I didn't have to remind anyone to listen or to stop touching their sister. My hands didn't rub anyone's back or hold anyone's small hand. Honestly, I didn't know what to do with all that calmness. It was unsettling. I even asked Mr. S. to pick at fight with the woman next to us. Just so I could feel more at church. He laughed. He smiled. But he wouldn't fight.

I did get to ride my motorcycle to church. That part was wonderful.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Good Day

A good day starts with a motorcycle ride. Alone with the wind. Feet and hands remembering the drill: clutch, break, shift, accelerate.
A good day starts with a stint at the track. Walking fast. Muscles working. Quiet laps, and a view of my bike waiting to take me home.
A good day starts with a marathon of Dora the Explorer Bingo. Roja, rosada, amarilla, verde
A good day starts with warm sunshine and cool breezes. A hammock, and a basket of wool to be spun.
A good day starts with a call from my brother. He'll be over for another motorcycle lesson sometime.
A good day starts and the best of the day follows.

Friday, June 22, 2007


I've been thinking about death lately. Not about my own; but others and about fading friendships. And after days of pondering, I think, it all comes back to death being a part of life.

An x-relative passed away this week. An x due to a painful divorce. My entire family, except for me and mine went to the wake and funeral. We didn't go due to the little ones, distance, life here, and basically when that decree went through that was it for me. Call me cold, but I find it hard to camp on both sides of a fence. There was no ill will. There just wasn't anything at all. So, when he passed, I said a prayer, said more than one, wished the best for all, and sent a sympathy card to his daughter.

And all these thoughts reminded me of other deaths, like when friendships dissipate. It starts with unexpected canceling of plans. A quick phone call; sorry can't make it, a promise to call back, and then nothing. At first the space is noticeable, but it gets pushed aside. There's panic and a sense that this can't be happening. And then you grow to expect it. The usual isn't the usual anymore, and life has moved on.

Still I wonder, if things can be made new again. I don't believe in chasing down relationships, forcing myself into the lives of others. It's something to do with that Jonathan Livington Seagull quote about if you love something let it go. If it comes back it's yours, if not -- it never was. So it goes.

And then the flip side, life is a river that carries you along with so many wonderful people. You float along together, riding the rapids, enjoying the eddies, slipping over warm stones, and then the current can take you one way and sends a close friend another. And it's okay -- because that's what life is all about.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer Reading Group

Last night was the first meeting of the middle one's summer reading group. They are reading the Nancy Drew Mystery, The Bungalow Mystery.

The summer kick-off was last Friday when we saw the new Nancy Drew Movie together. I took it as a good sign, when they all had excellent behaviour. They sat, paid attention, and didn't throw food at the screen.

And last night, after making Mapleton Mikeshakes, a recipe from my childhood Nancy Drew cookbook, we discussed Chapters 1 through 4, looked up the word embezzlement in the dictionary, and then each girl took turns reading pages from Chapter 5. After each page I asked questions about word meanings, the plot, and if they had any predictions, etc... The hour flew by.

Next week, it's make another recipe out of the cookbook while discussing Chapters 5 - 8, and then more reading aloud. I was surprised they all wanted to read. When I was there age, I hated to read out loud. (A secret I will never tell them.)

My goals are to keep the girls reading during the summer, and to forge tighter bonds between them. They are all great kids, and I've noticed that great kids stay great when they have a solid group of great friends. And when food is involved... it's a done deal.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Plymouth Plantation

If I could spend the summer my way, I would spend a lot of time at Plymouth Plantation. I love it there. I love talking with the historical interpreters. It's a process by which you can devel into the past with a personal touch. We've cooked there, cleaned there, worked on a mishon, talked about present day Wampanoag life in a wetu.

Each time we go, I make sure the girls have a few questions already in mind. Last time the big deal was over child labor laws. Probably because my own have just inherited the task of washing the table after dinner. Unfair, was the cry that came from the masses. Yeah, right -- was my response. Wash it.

To their surprise, at the age of six, children of Plymouth were expected to act, and take on more responsibility, like adults. I was all smiles when I heard that one. Especially when they set the middle one on to milling corn for the corn cakes. Of course, every other child in the house wanted in on the fun. I wonder how much fun it would be, if it were their real job?
Of course, I am lucky. On a good day the girls are asking what they can do to help. I guess, they are really hungry and would do just about anything to get dinner onthe table. I've handed off more carrots and celery for salad that way. And by the end of the day, I'm greatful for the help.
It's just too bad, when their bellies are full, they need to be reminded to wash the kitchen table.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Breathing Easier

Now that summer is unofficially here, life is all about breathing easier, and getting more exercise into our lives. So far we've been to the track three times. Mommy walks, while the girls walk, jog, ride their bikes, play ball and ask on a regular basis, "Are you done yet?"

Someday, when they are mommies, their words will haunt them. They will remember all to well the litany of, "I'm bored. Can we go? My legs hurt? There's nothing to do..." For now, I walk, breathe in and out and tune them out. Good mother that I am.

My only reply has been, "Give me 45 minutes and the rest of the day is yours." And it's true. Give me time to feel good about myself and I'll see that you have every opportunity to have fun. Of course, in this house, that's not the whole truth.

Summer, in this house, means summer homework: reading and math. Each day starts with the usual breakfast, dishes in the dishwasher, brush hair and teeth, and then as soon as school ends, tacked on to the end of the list is: math and reading. For only by doing summer homework does one earn TV time.

Please don't think they go calmly down this path like sheep to pasture. It takes a week of gentle reminding and tantrum ignoring for me to get the reminder across, that this summer is no different than any other. Homework first. Fun second. And squeezed in between there somewhere is track time for mommy.

Yesterday afternoon the girls filled their afternoon up with a hundred trips down the water slide. So far, (both times they've used it), it has proven to be a good investment for summer fun.

And while I sit and supervise the fun, "NO jumping off the top of the slide!", I've been spinning and knitting. It's very slow progress processing the wool from two sheep. But I have a whole summer, and then some before me.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

One of my favorite photos

I seem to be in a photo phase. It must be the great weather. And finally being able to get outside and get into the garden. Although if you looked at my gardens, you'd wonder... Does she really get out here and do anything?
The corn is up, but I doubt it will be as high as an elephant's eye by the 4th of July. And we have one small tomato fruit on one of our eight store bought plants. The compost generated plants are only a few inches tall. Maybe we'll see fruit in August or September.
The real question is can a ground hog and a gardener coexist? We have a guest in our backyard. Their residence is split between a gapping hole under cover of some day lilies and the beneath the shed. So far, all that is being eaten are the bluebells that grow wild. And those I don't mind sharing. But the tomatoes, peppers, basil, beans and the corn; there is where I drawn the line. So far I've just been keeping a watchful eye for signs of munching.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Concerts on the Green

I lived in this town ten years and I can count on one hand the number of times we've been to the Friday night Concerts on the Green. But it would take a show of everyone's hands to try and attempt to show the amount of fun we have while we are there. What a blast! And it's free. Since when is wholesome fun, free? Complete with free give aways for the kids and ballons to boot.

Last night we went. My motive was to sell raffle tickets for the 4th of July raffle basket. Valued at $350, including $125 in Stop and Shop gift cards. And to remind people that Late Night Catechism is TONIGHT at Marian High School. House opens at 7:00 PM.

The pay off was watching the girls playing and dancing with their friends, and teachers. I got to see people I hadn't seen since school ended: yesterday. And we chatted as if it had been monthes.

"How's your summer going?"

"Have you been swimming yet?"

"How long do you think the summertime good behavior will last?"

It's been a day. I love summer time. We've been to the movies with the Girl Scout troop. To the track twice so the oldest can start training for freshman soccer. And to the concert on the green. The girls want to go back every week. I hope we do it. I hope you do to. It is so much fun.

Friday, June 15, 2007

They're sleeping in

They're still sleeping. Summer is here. A blanket of unregimented relaxation has settled over the house. Yesterday we went to the track just to do a few laps. I straightened out the game cabinet. Two mind bender puzzles are out on the kitchen table. Last night it was a little spinning and knitting. A little baking, a movie and the town concert are on today's docket.

I know the pace will pick up with summer scene, swim lessons, and, dare I say, band camp, but for now, for a while, it's a breathe in and breathe out schedule. Enjoy the cool days of summer. Rumor has it the heat will enventually come to town.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ready or Not

Self portrait... I'm the one with the camera covering my eye. And I think I know why my pictures are sometimes crooked.
It's the official last day of school. I'm happy, sad, and nervous, all at the same time. Happy the schedule will relax, and the only homework they will have is the reading and math we give them to keep their brains from leaking out their ears. Sad that once again time has passed so quickly that I'm sure I've missed opportunities for praise and love. It's the daily details that splinter family into an endless to do list. A list, that at the end of days -- was for not.
And nervous that all too soon, I will be blogging that the little one is graduating high school, the oldest is married, and the middle one has conquered the stars.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

End of Year

This picture really doesn't have anything to do with what's going on these last days of the school year. I just like it. There will probably be more of these from the sing-a-long over the next couple of days.

School is just about over. The little one gets out today. The oldest has technically been out since last week. They've just forgotten to close the doors. Or better put, they've installed a revolving field trip/assembly door on the school. In the past three days it has been three different field trips. For the next two days: two different assemblies. Today is the Awards Assembly, starting at 9:00. This allows me 0 minutes after dropping off the two little ones, to race to the assembly. I suspect she not getting one of the dozen or so savings bonds for academic excellence, but she should.

I have never met a student that worked harder than my own. A student that put forth more effort than she has over these past three years. I never met a student who would actually sit and study night after night for the MCAS. I just hope she gets "something": a certificate, a handshake, a pat on the back for three years well done. I can tell her everyday that I'm proud, but all that praise pales in comparison to the school saying just once, "Hey kid, you done well."

Tomorrow is eighth grade graduation. Start time - 9:00. I'll have the little one in tow, as I thank God our last name does not begin with A. Being towards the middle of the alphabet, I have a good chance of being there when her name is called. Still, this assembly is going to be tricky on both ends. The start for the reason listed before and the end... well, I have to get the middle one off the bus. Since she has a half day as well.

And then it will be over. Another year gone by. I remember those first days of school as if they were last week. February break seems only a few days ago, and April break was yesterday. Where does the time go?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I'm at a lose

Missing items: one library book, one cell phone

I have been through all the places a missing library book could be. All but one; the place it is. No one else seems to care. And it's not my book that is missing. Oh, I took it out on my card, but I really don't have any interest in Scooby Doo. I laid down the laws: No dessert until the book is found. No computer time until the book is found. No TV....

Nothing seemed to ignite their spark to look, until I said, "If that book is not found, you are paying for it."

The response, "How much?" As if they are the Rockerfellers.

My answer, "Three hundred dollars. That includes my finders fee."

Then they searched a little. The truth be told, the replacement cost is four dollars. It will be two from each piggy bank. I'll head over to the library today. My head hung low while I hand over the cash and beg for eternal forgiveness.

The cell phone went missing on a field trip. The very venue that I picked up the second phone for -- a way to call when you are far from home. There was a hole in a bag...

We called the park. We went back to the park. We searched the grounds. We called School Bus Transportation. We went to the school. We looked in the locker. No phone. We terminated the service.

Maybe someone picked it up and we'll get it back today. Really, I think making the phones as small as they are, is a ploy.

Phone companies make small phones.
Phone companies sell small phones to frantic mom with teenager. (Providing long distance invisible apron strings... I'll take two, please.)
Teenager loses phone.
Mom, frantic for other reasons now, searches for phone.
At least teenager is very instrumental in search. "I ate lunch there, and then walked this way to the beach here, before running to the bus there."

In the end, in this household the final word is: Teenager pays to replace phone. When the subject was brought up, it was the teen that mentioned the cash layout, but prefaced it with, "Can I give you the money after today's field trip? I need money for lunch."

Monday, June 11, 2007

Girl Scout National Sing-a-long

There are no words that will describe what it was like to be in a sea of 120,000 Girl Scouts. Girls and adults from all across the United States: Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Massachusetts gathered in Washington DC on the National Mall. All singing, all smiling, all enjoying each other's company.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

What brings tears to my eyes

I chaperoned my daughter's Brownie troop to Washington, DC for the Girl Scout National sing-a-long this weekend. It was a wonderful event, but I'll blog on that later. Touring the monuments prior to the event, as we walked through the World War II Memorial, I was crying. I had to find the Massachusetts pillar. I absolutely had to photograph the plaque remembrance of the Battle of St. Lo.
Special Private First Class Billie Kouri from Worcester, MA and Lt. Charles Boss died as a result of their injuries at the battle of St. Lo. Billie Kouri was real flesh and blood; the uncle of a friend. Charles Boss is a fictious character from my book. He lived only in my heart. For both, I cried.
It is so amazing how real Charles is, to me. I close my eyes and I see Martha and Charles walking in the St. Louis botanical gardens, strolling along the Mississippi River, marrying in a quiet ceremony at their home in Stockbridge , MA. I can visualize the rocking chair, and the cold breezes that blew through their house. The loneliness they carried.
Thursday, I received an email from an agent asking for the first chapter. For the two and a half days we were in DC, I wondered if a request for more was sitting in my inbox. When I got home... it was the "Thanks, but no thanks, email that greeted me."
It's okay. Charles Boss is the Caretaker. He's as real as you and me. And he'll take care of everything.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The last of the slippers

There are just a few left. But I was reassured for next year by their tell tale two leaves, a footprint, as such, of promise. And I'm hopeful for many more springs with many more walks. High hopes, keep me from dwelling on the possibilities and circumstances that would take these walks away. But the truth is, we never know.

We never know if today will be the last time we see someone. If that good night kiss or morning snuggle will be the last we share. Life gets so hectic that this fact tends to elude us (me). But in the quiet of the early morning, I know it to be true. And make promises not to take people and circumstances for granted.

Yesterday, during our walking chatter, my friend piped up and said, "But I guess I'm quite a bit older than you." I smiled. Not about whether it is true or not, but because I said similar words (but in reverse) to my mentor Marty, many many years ago. At a time when I thought we would all live forever. And if heaven is on earth, it's true, and she is here. (Especially with her pictures in front and behind me as I sit at this computer.) Reminding me as always to get out of the computer room and get some fresh air. When I close my eyes, I can still hear her saying, "biovax will be here in the morning..."

Marty loved lady slippers.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

This Old Flute

When I was growing up my family wasn't rich, but we weren't poor either. Always having enough money to cover the essentials like, mortgage, food, clothing, medical. But there was never much left for the extras that my kids have today: camp, music, dance, karate. Growing up, I had always wanted to play the flute but didn't get the opportunity until my junior year in high school. Where I could take lessons in school for free. So I did. With a rent to own Armstrong student flute, that in the end cost $125, I started.

It was me and Mr. Bruns, or me and a student music teacher, who played the oboe, one period every six days in a small practice room. I never felt I was good enough to play in the band. After all those kids had been playing for years. So I stuck to my music, practicing just for myself.

Years later, in college, a friend needed a flute for some church work she was doing, and I lent her mine. I was too busy with biology and chemistry, and I knew she would take good care of it. Then years later again my niece was taking up the flute and instead of buying one she used mine. Until she "out grew" my student flute, graduating to a really nice one, she played it.

Since then it has stayed in its case on the shelf, until days like yesterday. Yesterday, my middle one asked if she could play some songs on her recorder for me.

"Sure," I replied.

But the next thing I knew, we had out her older sister's old recorder and she was teaching me a duet. It's the first time I've ever played music with somebody else. It's wonderful. And the next thing after that, the flute was out. And magically my fingers have never forgotten the familar dance upon the keys. My lower lip laid on the mouth piece like an old dog rests his head on its owner's leg. And sweet tones filled the house.

"Can you teach me?" erupted from both little ones, whose hands are not quite big enough to span the keys.

"Sure," I said, remembering way back when, my first days. "First you have to get a tone out of the mouth piece." I showed them how to lay the mouth piece under their lip and to blow like your blowing in a bottle. To my shock the littlest one got it right off. (Too bad her hands are too small to span the keys.... maybe the piccolo?) The middle one struggled a bit, but got it, too.

We reattached the rest the flute, showed her the fingerings for G, A, and B. It's a stretch, but she's off. Playing the same song she just taught me on the recorder.

Next year, she'll have the opportunity to take a real instrument in school. For a while now, she's been saying that she wants to take clarinet, like her sister and the manly motorcycle man. But last night, she asked, "Can I take flute?"

"Sure, why not... and you can use this old flute." This well used, magical, always there, like an old friend - flute.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Weeds or Not?

I went out into the garden yesterday and it was wall to wall cantalope and tomato seedlings. Not that I planted these seeds on purpose, they are from our house generated compost. It wasn't a surprise to see the tiny plants. It's happened every spring since we started composting. But unlike previous years, when I let the plants grow to see what our garbage garden would produce, I hoed them under. Well not all of them, but most. I want to give our beans and corn a fighting chance at the water and fertilizer.

Monday, June 04, 2007

One More Gone

Well, just about gone... I am in the final stages of a school year long project. I'm burning 24 DVDs which hold a year's worth of photographs (274 out of probably a 1,000 shots) and singing for one of the classrooms at a local school. The show is over 27 minutes long... and I get to test them all for playability.

In September when this project started I didn't know any of the children's names. Now they wave to me in the hallways or at the market and some even know my name. They are all good. Some, I've even gotten the chance to play chess with, or chaperone on council field trips. But as nice as this process, (photographing a classroom over the course of a year), is -- I think this is my last one.

The work load is daunting. I must've visited this classroom 20 plus times over the course of the year. The best times were gym and music. Boy can these kids sing! I loved recording them for the background music. And gym was jumping rope. Some of the images are of the kids in mid air. I love those photos.

My next favorites are from crazy hair day, chess, art, the baseball game, and the world fair. It's interesting to look at their work from the beginning of the year and then again at the end. It's nice to see the improvement in their letters and math. Today was Author's Tea, another good photo day. Those kids have written some wonderful books. I could see them being published before mine. Lucky Ducks.

I'm proud of them, and they're not even mine.

Rained Out AGAIN!

If your vegetables, flowers, lawn, or small children require watering, just ask me to just think about taking my motorcycle, affectionately labelled, putt putt goes to the moon, out for a ride. Every time and I mean every single time I have thought about going for a ride, or using it to run a quick one person errand, it rains. At first I thought it was coincidence, a freak occurance, but over the past week I haven't had one opportunity to get back in the saddle.

And adding insult to injury, my little, but bigger, brother, who is just learning how to ride got a session on my beloved putt putt. He and his family came for an overnight, and his first session in the saddle. They came, he rode while I went off to a soccer game. On the way to the game I was thinking, "When we get home, I'll take the bike out for a jaunt. No one will mind." Well, halftime at the game, the thunder storms rolled in, the game was rain delayed for 20 minutes, then the sun came out, shooting the humidity up to 110%, as the game continued. (It is possible to sweat standing perfectly still.) And when it was all said and done, the roads were wet, children and other family members were starving for dinner, and the bike stayed in the garage.

Yesterday, was more of the same. I was running to the birthday party drop off and then the dance class photo shoot, when I thought -- After this I can take putt putt out on some church business. The brain synapse responsible for propagating this thought hadn't even completely finished firing when drops of rain started hitting the egg's windshield. Did it rain where you were, or was it just me and my own personal black cloud?

I might as well resign myself to the fact, that the way things are going, I'll forever be a rain out biker babe wanna be. Hmmmm..... on the positive side, maybe I could get in good with the Weather Channel...

Need a forecast, just call me and ask, "Are you thinking about taking your bike out today?"

"The thought did cross my mind. Definitely a day to plan indoor activities."

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Stuck between an egg and a aircraft carrier

With the rising cost of petrol, and an increase in the ratio of rust to paint on my old truck, we decided to put her out to pasture, and get something a bit more fuel efficient, and impervious to wind and rain. We ended up adopting a Scion XA from 2006. A small commuter car. A vehicle that gets 37 miles to the gallon. An egg, that I could possibly park in the back of our aircraft carrier sized family plus vehicle: "The Rig."

Not only is it markedly smaller, but the egg has a standard shift, on the floor, where as the Rig is an automatic on the column. It follows that the egg has a clutch and the Rig has, well, no visible means of clutching. And here is lies the problem. When I go to start the Rig, now my left foot reflexively goes for a pedal -- any pedal. And after backing out of my parking space, my hand reaches for the shifter were it isn't.

During the first few times I had to drive the egg, I'd rev the engine before it engaged into first gear. Or I when I shifted into reverse, I'd end up laying on the horn. Once it stopped traffic in the market parking lot. The second, and third time it happened in my driveway. Causing the manly man to come out of the house and mouth, "What?" I just shook my head, gunned the engine, while waiting for first gear to happen, then left on my errands.

But there is a positive side to a smallish pea sized auto. Like finding a parking spot in a lot where the vehicles are packed in like sardines. I had to take my eldest for an appointment where parking is such. Immediately upon entering the lot, you're forced into a circling motion like a shark. With the Rig, it would take me 20 minutes to find a spot. The egg - only 5. We weren't late for the appointment.

Over the past month I've grown fond of the egg that holds all five of us and a small shopping trip to BJs, found the clutch sweet spot, and more often than not can get it into reverse without blasting out my intentions.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Walking in slippers

Yesterday, as I drove to meet my walking companions, the rain was coming down in wet gusts. I wondered if I should bag it, and go food shopping. There wasn't much besides the half empty bottle of old catsup and a gallon of milk in the refrigerator. I'd been out straight with things to do. Shopping had taken the way back seat. How could I be heading out this morning for myself? How could I go for a walk?

Feeling more than a bit guilty, I drove on to the meeting spot.

"Should we go?" my friend queried.

I was handed my out, and replied, "Well, I do need to go shopping, and do some GS business, and ...." The list went from there.

"Let's wait and see what happens, just a few minutes. Maybe it will clear." We stood around, under cover, and talked town business, as usual. Mid conversation, I looked up and the rain had stopped. The question: To walk or not to walk was put forth again, and with nods of agreement we were off.

"I need to show you that ladyslipper," he went on.

It had been a few years since I'd seen one and I was looking forward to it. And as we crowned a small hill, on the left was a bloom. "It's beautiful" I gushed. "Is this the one?"

"No! and I've walked this trail practically every morning, and never saw that one."

And then there was another, and then another, and another. I thought to start counting, but we had passed so many, and each time, commented on its beautiful color or daintiness, that I didn't want to start an inaccurate count.

For slipper-lined miles, we noticed the blooms were nestled in soft pine needle beds, and hypothesized that they liked acidic soil. I found myself relaxing more, and more, the further we walked. The sound system dilemma was no longer front and center. The soft pink slippers were all I was thinking about. Them and the occasional thought required when discussing light topics like, cooking dinner for one verses five, have-a-heart traps, or fertilizing a vegetable garden.

That gentle walk was just what I needed. The soft rain moistened trail under foot. No mp3 player to keep my feet moving, just shared conversation and the hope of seeing pink slippers. And as I drove off to squeeze in a surgical strike at the market, in the quiet of the car, I heard, "See, you're not so tired anymore."

"Thank you."