Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

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My trip to NYC with C

~ Sunday, November 6th, 2011

It was a long, fun day. I spent the night in NoVA so I could get up bright and early (OK, early) the next day at 5:00 AM and get ready for meeting the bus at 6:30 AM in Annandale. C must have heard me running my bath, because she woke up on her own and was excited to get ready. MA made us a nice lunch, with healthy snacks and C picked out 2 each of her Halloween candy for us to snack on for the trip.

We got to the church and the first thing they are doing is grouping the kids with their buddies. Unless I had a good friend coming with me to an event, I always hated this part. But thankfully, we saw E, who looked like she matched up perfectly with C (I’m not sure if they had bonded prior, but it worked on this day).

I was paired with C & E (and her Dad, Z) along with E(2) and K. We got on the bus and off we went. We arrived in Long Island about 1:00 PM and the kids practiced fast, then performed, then we were off to Planet Hollywood in Times Square for an evening meal, a photo op in Times Square, a quick shopping spree, and then on the bus again to finally get back to the DC area by about midnight. Thank god for the Fall forward hour we gained due to DST.

Some things of note:
1. C loves screens. She had a couple of movies on an old iPhone and she was committed to watching them all and it was her go-to activity during unplanned times.
2. J, a guy in the older Treble choir, was fun to watch, as he was in awe of everything as he was on his first trip to the Big Apple, and he pulls out his music notebook and studies it during the journey, at a quiet moment. That’s so cool, despite the easier distractions (4 movies!)
3. Z was a great chaperone to pair up with, as, I think, he is a teacher and knows the ins & outs of dealing with kids. Thank god for teachers!
4. Some of the chaperones reminded me of the conversations I’ve had with MA about helicopter parents. They really just seemed so tense!
5. These NoVA kids eat really healthy snacks (hummus, snap peas, carrots, pretzels).
6. Ms. C, the choir director, is charming, talented, delightful, and supportive of her kids.
7. Kids at 9 yoa are very comfortable having an iPad on a trip like this.
8. A 9 year old boy is singing a song from “Rent” on the bus and that makes me smile!
9. I have confidence in the tour group, Kewl Tours.
10. Would rather have a g-daughter that checks out and wants to read a library book about the Middle Ages than knows the words to the latest pop-culture boy/girl band song that was blaring outside the Planet Hollywood, as some of the other choir girls rocked out and knew every lyric (along with their moms)
11. When shopping for souvenirs, C asked if we could buy something also for her friend Katherine. That’s really neat.
12. Loved the little notes that C left for her family at the breakfast table.
13. Loved the little note that C’s mom left her in her bag with her choir uniform.
14. The Delaware rest stop is the best one on the way from/to NYC/DC.
15. Times Square is my least favorite spot in Manhattan. It gets even more “least favorite” status as I attempt to keep up with a group and/or C or an elusive E(2), who likes to just take off to explore. “E(2), come back here!” “Hold my hand!”
16. Next time, pick a seat that isn’t directly ahead of the girl who can’t sit still, and has to constantly visit her “chaperone” parents (not near any kids) at the front of the bus.
17. While crocheting, many kids complimented me on the blanket I was making for GiGi, and told me about their own craft/knitting/crocheting/needlework projects.
18. Planet Hollywood is not a G-rated place, at least the one in NYC. We saw girls pole dancing, guys/gals in mini-bikinis, and several times K asked me “was that 2 guys kissing?” (I have no problem with that, btw) while the videos with MTV, on steroids, played on the 50 screens that were viewable from any angle.
19. An iPhone 4S battery can last more than 12 hours if you turn on airport mode frequently.
20. An iPhone 4S GPS is very useful if you are trying to meet up with people in S, VA when your bus arrives from NYC in A, VA in the middle of the night.

Finally, what I learned, I’m not too old for this (yet).

Sometimes the only way to say it is in a poem.

~ Monday, July 18th, 2011

My brother Ted recently read this poem to our 85 year old mother and he reported that “when I was done she had tears in her eyes.” I can see why. Absolutely lovely.

The Lanyard – Billy Collins

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

50 Things I Learned at the Wild Goose Festival

~ Friday, July 1st, 2011

1. MaryAnn is a great driver and doesn’t need any help from me putting on the passenger side imaginary brakes or adding sounds from me to the sights in the rearview and side mirrors, warning her of impending “danger.”
2. Margaret is a child of endless energy, and when there’s a “party” and people around, she doesn’t want to miss a thing, with something as unnecessary as sleep.
3. When I think that Caroline doesn’t want to be involved with the yarn ceremony because she’s sitting there looking rather unengaged, I shouldn’t assume that. Truth be told, she may have been more involved with it than anyone else.

4. A shower under the stars works wonders for the psyche.
5. I don’t really need to shampoo my hair every day. It felt clean even after 3 days of heat and sun and hat-hair.
6. Frank Schaeffer would have been a great preacher like his Dad, but I’m glad he is doing what he’s doing and writing what he’s writing. My favorite line of his from his latest book: “One of the things I love most about being with my grandchildren is that they only know me now.”
7. Peter Rollins continues to make me scratch my head about what he says, but I enjoy him while he’s saying it with that cute Northern Ireland dialect.
8. Billy Jonas is a true gift from god.
9. Air conditioning is not ever overrated.
10. It makes my daughter sad that I’m so hooked on being connected and that I shy away from the sounds of silence.
11. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese tastes the same cooked over a Coleman stove as it does cooked in our home kitchens.
12. Ticks are painless and you only know you have one on you if you really examine your whole naked body.
13. Unitarians can have fun at a “christian” festival, or at least a “spiritual” festival.
14. Heat does strange things to people, and a good night’s sleep works wonders.
15. Duct tape doesn’t fix everything.
16. It’s really pretty easy to strike up a conversation with a stranger.
17. Kids need an ice-breaker (glo-sticks) too when meeting new kids.
18. Jim Wallis’s advice to our leaders (President Obama) is easier said than done.
19. North Caroline is a very pretty state.
20. Ostrich burgers taste a little like beef and a little like chicken.
21. If you’re going to camp on an incline, you absolutely should not put your nylon sleeping bag on a slick air mattress.
22. My skepticism a year ago when I first heard about them wanting to hold a Wild Goose Festival this year is not something I’m proud of.
23. 2 sprained ankles don’t slow me down much, unless I sit for a couple of hours and then try to walk on them.
24. Robert Dana is the “go-to” parent for my granddaughters when everything else fails to comfort them.
25. I am delighted when someone comes up to MaryAnn and asks her what her last name is and upon hearing it they say “I’ve read your stuff” (or something to that effect).
26. I can actually go 4 whole days camping without getting one mosquito bite (and no, I never even touched the bug spray).
27. Sunscreen is not ever overrated, and I’ve got an appointment with a dermatologist to check out that strange little spot on my arm.
28. Porta-potties aren’t all that bad, if they are tended to regularly (but you still shouldn’t look down).
29. Poison ivy can easily be avoided.
30. Wild blackberries are sometimes not black, but red, and wonderfully sour.
31. When carting my camping gear from my apartment to the metro, I got tons of stares from people, probably thinking “well, there goes another homeless person.”
32. I can still dump a ton of money on a 4-day campout if there are books and CDs to buy.
33. Crackle Barrel is still the go-to place for Val-o-milks, biscuits, and fried okra.
34.Walmart doesn’t have everything one needs.
35. The engineering of outdoor camping gazebos has changed over the years, for the better.
36. A Barbie movie on my iPad is a good thing to wind down to, if you’re 5 and 8 years old.
37. Not hearing the news for 4 days isn’t the end of the world.
38. Having enough wifi to see that NY passed marriage equality on Friday night was a thrill.
39. I can actually go several hours after I wake up without coffee.
40. Clogs are not as good as tennis shoes when walking over uneven terrain.
41. How does anyone camp without having bags of ice, readily available?
42. Music soothes the soul, but sometimes you just wish they would have closed the Main Stage a little earlier.
43. It was fun to camp with the families, but I sometimes wondered what kind of mischief the other campers were getting in to.
44. Although camping at Woodstock ’99 prepared me for any camping experience I may have going forward, Wild Goose was no Woodstock (but that’s a good thing) (although I loved Woodstock!)
45. Really enjoyed my Monday back at work…sitting at my desk, in A/C, with a potty down the hall, and all my creature comforts.
46. You don’t need a man to set up a tent.
47. Kids can go days without ever missing the fact that they haven’t had a bath.
48. Just when you think you’ve got it all planned out, it’s necessary to hit the reset button, make a new plan, and go with it. We learned from Friday and Saturday benefitted from it.
49. I-95 isn’t always horrendous.
50. I want to go again next year.

There once was a person named Sherry…

~ Friday, March 18th, 2011

I wrote this poem for Sherry when she turned 50. It was hard to find photos of her without me in them. She had my back. My world, the world, is a better place because she was born on this day, March 18th, in 1948.

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong

~ Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

01) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

02) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

03) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

04) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn’t changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can’t marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

05) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britany Spears’ 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

06) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn’t be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren’t full yet, and the world needs more children.

07) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

08) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That’s why we have only one religion in America.

09) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That’s why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven’t adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

(reposting Mitchell Sturges)

More little girls can look forward to that special day — even two at a time!

~ Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

From the Washington Post comes this…

The biggest day of her life: Elena Kagan, Chelsea, and Prop 8
By Alexandra Petri

It’s that day every little girl dreams of. It will mark the beginning of a new life as part of something bigger than herself. Centuries of tradition have determined what she’ll wear, what she’ll say. Some have objected, but they’ll hold their peace on the big day.

Forget Chelsea’s wedding! I’m talking about Elena Kagan’s confirmation as a Supreme Court justice.

Weddings, confirmation hearings — potato, potahto! They’re practically the same. Both are the focus of years of longing and preparation. People wear funny outfits and family members cry. If you’re lucky, Antonin Scalia is there! (Okay, maybe that’s just my dream wedding.)

Still, there was something in the above paragraph that probably made us think “wedding.” Why do people still see “little girl’s long-awaited big day” and think white gowns rather than black robes?

When Chelsea Clinton wed Marc Mezvinsky (I bet they were attracted to each other by their mutual alliteration), I was struck by many things: the dress, the fuss, the security officer who kept insisting that I leave. But what stuck with me most was the comment, from Bill Clinton to Ryan Seacrest, that “it’s the biggest day of her life, probably.”

This remark struck me as a straggler from another era, the way it would have if he’d said, “I’m giving them a Model T!” or “She’s spent the last decade furnishing her hope chest!” For me, the idea that a wedding is the biggest day of a little girl’s life falls somewhere between “I’m going clubbing-and-dragging-back-to-my-cave” and “I’m going clubbing!” I always thought that for my generation of women, sure, weddings were important, if only because they allowed you to put tiny scale models of yourself on cakes without people thinking you were some sort of weirdo, but they weren’t that important. If you didn’t marry and wound up becoming a Supreme Court justice instead — who cared! As long as you threw a nice reception with those toast things, wore something blue and invoked the Fifth a lot, or whatever it is you’re supposed to do.

But I think I was wrong. There’s still something about marriage.

The news of Kagan’s confirmation followed on the heels of something else — the judge’s ruling that overturned Proposition 8. Somehow, the only objection to that I haven’t heard is “Not more weddings! Weddings aren’t important! No one cares about them!” Everyone, it seems, still puts a value on these things.

Perhaps that’s because, while only three in every 100 million of us will turn out to be Supreme Court justices (better than the odds of being killed by a shark, a fact I will attempt to use with the next shark that bothers me), the odds are pretty excellent we’ll get married, sometimes six or eight times. It’s one of those rituals we all go through at some point, like learning to drive or accidentally killing a hamster. Everyone cared about Chelsea’s big day because a wedding is something everyone can experience — from your neighbor who wants you to fly to a beach in Ontario to Bristol Palin (oh, wait).

It wasn’t just Chelsea. This day is big not because Bill doesn’t expect his daughter to lead a fulfilling and exciting life — but because it marks a special occasion that is qualitatively different from a professional milestone like being elected president, the kind that stands out even in a rich life. It is a celebration of finding the proverbial needle of love and commitment in the haystack of the singles scene. Johnson called second marriages “the triumph of hope over experience.” Given the divorce rate, so are first marriages. Yet we have them anyway. And with the Prop 8 ruling, more little girls can look forward to that special day — even two at a time!

Now we just have to see what happens when it gets to the Supreme Court. Talk about big days, probably.

Live Together, Die Together

~ Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Live together, die together

Live together, die together


Last week’s episode of LOST was very sad in many ways. I love all the press about this final season.

From ew.com comes this:

When I asked her how she prepared for Sun’s final Island moments, Kim told this story: “Right before we started shooting, [director] Jack Bender took me aside and told me about story that he read a long time ago, about this woman who was missing her dead husband, and how she had this beach ball that he blew up before he died. Every day she took a little breath from the beach ball. And that really got me right into the emotional core of where I needed to be to play that scene. Can you imagine that woman, taking that breath little by little every day, just to feel her husband’s presence?”

I kind of know how she felt, that woman with the beach ball…

Recently, I was wearing one of my sister Sherry’s robes that I had not worn before. An unused tissue was in one of the pockets. I held it to my nose and stroked my face with it, hoping to get just a little of her presence.

“I found a neat leaf”

~ Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

said C, on the walk to the Metro the other day. It was yellow and triangle shaped.
Fall Leaf in DC
We walked a little further and she said, “Look, that’s the tree that my leaf fell from.”
Tree with Fall colors

I already knew that C was talented in finding 4-leaf clovers and pennies on the sidewalk. She had “looking down” down pat.

But now I realize that she spends just as much time looking up.

I hope I can do the same.

On Golden Pond, 83s the new 35

~ Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Mother found her real calling this year in Gladwin.
Get your motor running!