Sunday, May 29, 2011


My azaleas finally bloomed, and are almost gone again.

Today was spent wandering around Newburyport, at their Springfest.

There was a playground...

And a balloon guy who obliged Cooper by making an X-man X vest.

Otherwise it was walking around and checking out the sites. Hope you are all having a good weekend.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The one in which I learn to hate T ball...

I like baseball. I love the sounds of baseball, specifically if it is being listened to on the radio while someone is washing the car and there is a cold beer glistening on the step nearby. The hum of the cicada in the background, the buzz of a lawn mower in the distance. The sounds of summer.

I hate T ball. This is our first year experiencing the exquisite torture that is the one hour of T ball. And I am pretty sure my kid feels the same way.

The glove is for what?

Spinning in the outfield. Similar to spinning in soccer, but with a hat and glove.

And finally giving up and just laying down.

If he isn't doing these things, he is doing this (he is in the center of the picture being spoken to by The Bob):

The problem is, you see, that 4 - 6 year olds, with a few spectacularly talented can hit and throw like they are in Little League already exceptions, are not any good at baseball. And no one expects them to be. But this means that those batting take FOR.EVER to hit the ball, and the ones out in the field, who barely understand the difference between first base and a sandwich are B.O.R.E.D. Which leads to spinning, laying about, goofing around and generally not listening or paying attention.

Two weeks ago Cooper was so bored and got so sassy with me about doing what the coach was telling him to do I ejected him from the game myself. I gave him 2 chances to get off the ground and go up to bat, and he chose to first tell me "I caaaaaaan't heeeeaaaaar yooooouuuu" and then lay down in the grass between second and third base again. So we left. Because while I don't particularly care if he is any good at anything he does, I do expect he will listen to the adults in charge and follow basic instructions.

I want him to experience team sports, and if eventually he tells me he does or does not want to play again, we will do what he wants. But Lord have mercy I dread this hour where it seems like it is one long discussion about just paying attention. We have two more "games" this season, and I have already told The Bob that unless Cooper expresses a distinct interest in it next season, we may be sticking to just soccer, and possibly clown school.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

This Day Will Never Come Again...

A friend, the endlessly talented David Hansen wrote in his own blog "Let the basement crumble. Let the garage collapse. This day will never come again." He took the moment to revel in the accomplishments of his daughter, the wonder of his son, and just the general goodness of life.

It is a lesson we forget too often, to JUST BE. To embrace the moment, let the grind of the day fall away. Last night our little band of merry men had the inaugural sprinkler moment courtesy of neighbor Dave and his new sod. While reprimands to STAY OFF THE LAWN were needed frequently, it is quite obvious that the moment was siezed.

Spring has finally sprung here, the weather is fine and my garden may actually grow! Have a glorious day everyone.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

On Growing and Remembering...

Summer Savory

Well, nothing is actually growing, yet, other than the plants I purchased as plants. But if all goes well, we will have heaps of herbs, tons of tomatoes, pounds of potatoes, lots 'o lettuce, and plenty of peppers of all varieties.

I have never tried potatoes before, but I figure if they can be grown on almost every continent, in almost every condition, by almost anyone, I certainly can get them to grow in my yard. I purchased a small bag of seed potatoes, although supposedly you can use the ones you get from the store. They can be treated with a product to suppress eye growth, so that is not always successful. Seed potatoes are, so I have read, the best bet.

In other news, my parents graciously gave me a new camera. I have been jonesing for a dSLR, and now I have one!! A Canon Rebel iT1, I think. It is at home, I am not. But it is definitely a Canon Rebel. I was a bit overwhelmed by the buttons and doodads and features, but at least I have figured out how to take a basic picture, using auto focus AND manual focus, and I can download them to my computer. The rest is stuff I can figure out when I have time and brain power. But it did allow me to document the spinning that goes on during soccer practice:

Ah to be young and carefree again.

Finally, today is May 10th. Since I can remember, I have always thought of May 10th as Donna's Birthday. She was my first best friend, someone I had known from birth. She and her large Irish Catholic family lived next door to us for the first 8 years of my life. She was a year older than me, with firey red hair and freckles, with the kind of skin that went straight to 2nd degree sun burn in one afternoon. We didn't always get along, particularly when I didn't agree with what she wanted to do, such as Swing and Sing. It is exactly what it sounds like, we would swing on the swing set in her back yard and sing really awful renditions of the latest songs. In particular I recall singing Bobby Vinton's Beer Barrell Polka (Roll Out the Barrell). I often wanted to ride bikes. Especially after my fifth birthday, when I scored a very sweet ride, metalic green I think, with a banana seat and streamers on the handles. It looked much like this:

Who WOULD NOT want to ride that all afternoon long? Donna. She would call me a creep and go in her house and tell me she was never going to play with me again. But she always did. It was my first lesson in how mean kids can be to each other, but I still recall our hours of playing together, making up an entire world of people who lived in the woods next to our houses, and story lines to go with all of these people, with extreme fondness.

I went to her first communion, which as a non Catholic was a very odd and fascinating ritual. All I know is I was seriously jealous of the very cute little white dresses and vails all the girls wore. Congregational churches are so BORING.

I stayed at her house the night my brother was born. I remember very clearly my dad coming into their kitchen first thing in the morning to tell me I had a baby brother.

I remember her uncle - there was always some extended family member stopping by their house - who owned a Vespa or some similar type of scooter. I wanted to ride that SO BADLY but sadly my mother, who loves and adores me I KNOW, did not allow it. Something about safety and dying a horrible tragic death.

Donna was diabetic, severly diabetic, and over the years struggled with it. She was a real life Steel Magnolia. After having two children, her body no longer could handle the stress, and began shutting down. She was on a list for a kidney and pancreas transplant, getting dialysis daily. She lost that fight years ago. The last time I saw Donna was at her oldest sisters' wedding back in the late 1980's. Yet, someone who was so pivotal in your early life lives on in your memories, and every year on May 10th I remember Donna and the fun we had. Happy Birthday, my first very best friend.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pick up the phone, talk to someone

Today is the day they officially say goodbye. Goodbye to a friend, a sister, a daughter, a wife. But they will never stop wondering. They will never stop missing her.

Reading the posts on her memorial page on facebook, you would never know that there was a desperation so deep, an aloneness so wide, that she could feel compelled to take her own life. How does someone who by all accounts touched so many lives with joy, laughter, happiness, singing, and love feel so sad that she could take a gun and end her own life.

Suicide doesn't create just one victim. It takes one life, but it brings pain and suffering to many, many more. Every family member, every person who cares about and loves that person is scarred. The people left behind cannot help but wonder what if...What if I had called at just the right time. What if I had reached out and been more persistent. What if I hadn't missed the signs. What could I have done differently to make this end differently. It is impossible to stop the questions, the wondering.

The suddeness of it, the absolute starkness, the switch that has been irreversibly flipped from here she is, now she isn't is probably the worst. There are no more chances to say I love you again, no possibilities for good bye. Just silence and space.

I have never been in a place so bleek that I contemplated ending my life, and for that I am extraordinairily grateful. I have not experienced depression that envelopes me like a heavy wet blanket of doom and makes it hard to think much less move. I have never been so sad, even at my saddest that I didn't want to keep living and breathing. But people do experience this, more often than we realize. And some of them succeed at ending the pain by ending their lives. But that is not the answer. No matter how dark it gets, no matter how useless you feel, there is someone who loves you and thinks you are worthy of that love. Someone who wants to see you again, hug you again, laugh with you and cry with you and eat popcorn with you.

For anyone who has been in that place, or knows anyone who has been or is in that place, there is help. You are not alone, and you can find someone to talk it through with. There are many resources, but one is The Hope Line a project that grew from a tragic loss of one mans' wife. He decided to help people like his wife find hope and help.

It is as easy as dialing 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433). With that last bit of energy, that last small voice in your soul telling you to try one more time, pick up the phone and talk to someone. Don't give up, don't leave those who care about you here, wondering and missing you for the rest of their lives. You are worth so much more than that. Nothing is so broken it cannot be fixed, nothing is so damaged that it cannot be renewed. There is always help.

For Alicia ~ Peace

Monday, May 2, 2011

Existential baseball and the unbearable lightness of soccer

My dear child is 4.5 years old, and since it is that time in life when one begins trying out organized sports, we signed him up for both soccer and T ball. We have been to two soccer games. Games is a term I am using veeerrrrrry loosely. So loosely that one might consider finding a completely different term to define what goes on for that hour when 8 or so kids in the same color tshirt assemble in the same rectangular space on the field, which butts up against many other rectangular spaces on the larger field where kids in different colored tshirts congregate accordingly. For the first half hour, the coaches run some practice drills. Dribbling, shooting at the net, passing to each other. These are 4-6 year olds. There is a lot of time being spent chasing balls that have wandered off into other teams' rectangular space. If you are my kid, there is a lot of time spent on your back, having flung yourself on the field after pretending the ball has exploded. Every time one of the coaches turned and looked at Cooper, he was on the ground. They would pick him up asking if he was OK, not having seen the preceding 10 seconds where he very elaborately fell to the ground acting out the blow up sequence. The other kids on the team may not be any more interested in playing soccer than he is, but at least they appear to be listening and make a half hearted effort to follow instructions. The second half of the hour is spent in a scrimmage against another team. Usually in 5 on 5 pods, with no goalie. So far our orange team has scored one goal each "game" and the other teams have scored a bazillion goals. I don't really care that our team has not "won". But watching my kid play, when it is his turn to be in one of the pods, makes me wonder for his future in ANY organized activity. Because while he is running down the field trying to move the ball in one direction or the other, he is usually in the back of the pack, doing a series of leaps and kicks and flinging his arms in a way that only because I am his mother do I know represents him acting out any number of super hero moves. That one with a kick and leap is probably from Avatar, the Last Air Bender. That move with the arms and legs is Iron Man fighting Whiplash, with a dash of War Machine thrown in.

On the one hand he just makes me laugh. I mean, I have always wanted to be someone who didn't care at all about who was looking and what they were thinking, and just do what I wanted to do. To revel in the joy and exuberance of whatever was going on, leaping and falling all over the ground. On the other hand I worry that my kid is The Weird Kid. Or is at least well on his way to being that kid.

T ball went pretty much the same way, except he had a partner in crime. His best friend from next door is on his t ball team, and the two of them could not have cared less that they were supposed to be practicing batting, or fielding balls. At one point there were about 20 kids in the outfield, with 5 third basemen and not one kid out there had the foggiest clue what they were supposed to be doing. It was a baseball game in theory only. Coop was out there with L, fake fighting and falling on the ground every 12 seconds. Then when it was their turn to bat, they were in the "dug out" which was a box spray painted on the ground, rolling around having super hero fights. Or knocking each others' hats off. I do not want him to squash down and extinguish that enthusiasm, but I do want him to pay attention and participate. So we have to find the balance. I don't care if he is good at any of it, but I want him to focus and try. In the meantime, I might have to suggest to the coaches that if they were to design their practices with super hero moves in mind, they might make more progress.

This video is from t ball. This gentleman is the grandfather of a kid on Coopers' team, and he kept us all quite entertained with his guitar. It was a good night.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

They Say They Come in Threes

First was Great Aunt Lucy. She had lived a long, fruitful life to the grand age of 95. She came from a long line of proud Italian Americans, with names like DePasquale, Cerretto, Gambino and Pannoni. She was a wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, great-great grandmother. She loved sewing and crocheting, making afghans for her children and grandchildren. She was my grandfathers' sister-in-law. I met her only a few times, but she always struck me as a woman full of grace and was devoted to her family.

Second was my good friends' sister, only 23 years of age. Again, someone I had only met a few times, but you couldn't be in her presence and not know it. She was larger than life in many ways, living with an energy most of us can only imagine having. Her death is a tragedy that her family will likely never fully heal from, because it is like having a vital organ removed to lose a child, a sister, a wife. We can hope to remember her as she was at her best, laughing and loving and dancing like that moment was the only moment that mattered.

Finally we had to say goodbye to our devoted, ever faithful companion, Buster the Beagle. Buster lived a long good life too, managing to make it to 14. Unfortunately Buster had a long list ailments, and being a Beagle, he was devilishly smart and had one fatal flaw - he loved food and he figured out how to break into the lazysusan cupboard. I came home on Thursday to find he had gotten into the cupboard and ate a large quantity of chocolate chips. The toll on his already challenged internal system was too great. His pancreas couldn't handle the toxins, and we had to bid him farewell yesterday. He had been The Bobs' dog for longer than I have known The Bob. He was silly, exuberant, crafty, devilish, and a couch hog. He snored, shed, and gave the best kisses. He will be greatly missed. But in heaven you can as much chocolate as you want. Happy travels Buster.

Everyone, every living being, eventually passes from this life to whatever comes next. These losses remind me that each moment is important, and reminds me to stop being so worried about the stuff that doesn't matter. To focus on the things that really are important - To hug the people I love as much as possible, to laugh as much as possible, to breathe, and be grateful for the joys and blessings I have. And to enjoy a good back scratch as often as possible.