Sunday, October 28, 2012

So close and yet so far...

After posting up a win 17-14 on Wednesday, the Tigers were back in action this afternoon. They led every bit of that stinking game until the last minute and a half or so.

Sadly, they fell 13-11. Alison Reed, #22, had four fouls and no baskets. But at least we had no broken bones this game. Last game, our star play did, in fact, have her ankle fracture and everyone was worried we'd finish the season with nasty, soul-sucking blow-outs.

Happily, we almost pulled it out. So all is not lost. Coach Reed, if not a happy man, was at least not prostrate as he was a few weeks ago, cursing mightily in his head and considering a deal with the devil.

Had we won, I might have thought he'd actually pulled off that devilish deal. With due respect to Satan, Jeff is a tough negotiator and I'm sure that he'd have wrangled wins, not heartbreakers. in a match with Mephistopheles.

We have one game left in the regular season. And here's a nice little bit of news. It's CYO -- Catholic Youth Organization -- basketball, so there's a prayer before the game and no one gets really crazy. (I try very hard to confine my cursing to mutters.)

Jeff got an email from the coach of St. Pius -- the team we played when Riley had her ankle broken. Scott Dorsey -- yes, that Scott Dorsey, the CEO of Exact Target, was the coach.

He sent an email asking if his team could send a get well card to Riley. Now that's a classy move.

In nonsports action, I bagged a gazillion leaves this weekend and am hoping the rest just stay attached through winter. Or until I convince the CKS 8th graders to raise money for their DC trip by doing a little fall lawn care work.

While Alison had a sleepover with Jenna, Jeff and I had a fabulous pre-birthday dinner with our Jasheway friends. If you haven't been to North Side Social yet, you are missing out on a lot.

If you see the Captain tomorrow, be sure to wish him a happy birthday.

At the last minute, Alison decided she wants to be a vampire for Halloween. Scary, isn't she...? :)

Hope your Halloween is all treats and no tricks.

Here's what has made me happy as of late:

This morning: Happy to have celebrated Jeff's birthday a little early with Duane Jasheway and Kirsten Greiner Jasheway last night at our new favorite restaurant, (North Side Social) new favorite waiter (Pete) new favorite cocktail (don't remember its name but man it felt good on my lips) and now breakfast (thanks, Pete!) It WAS the best cornbread ever to grace my plate.

Saturday: Happy today to be snuggling in a warm bed. Baby, it's cold outside!

Friday: Happy to have dodged the doughnuts and pizza today. It was a close call but tonight I'm celebrating a high honors kid and need the points in the bank.

Thursday: Tigers win! Tigers win! Christ the King Tigers, that is....hard not to be happy about that first win. Also happy that our little Tiger brought home a high honors report card last night. And that that basket she shot in the wrong end of the court as the clock clicked slowly down did not go in... And that Alison was the player who dribbled out those final, excruciatingly slow seconds stretched out.

Wednesday: Happy today to have gotten a look at Wreck-It-Ralph last night. Just because you're a bad guy, you don't have to be a bad, guy! Great (not preachy) message of acceptance for who you are -- whatever that may be. Love the rebranding effort from Satan.

Tuesday: Today I'm going to be happy that the Fever won; my candidate spanked his debate partner and that I have great friends and family.

Monday: Today I'm happy there were no police cars patrolling my path to work. Fun drive.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Nothing broken about this Fall Break, by gosh, by golly

I read a news story today about Mitt Romney's predilection for using words from the 1950's -- gee, golly, gosh -- that had a photo with women looking like they could be friends with Mrs. Cleaver and a quote from a woman who said she likes Romney because he could bring us back to the 50's - her unashamed goal for Election 2012.

I identified more with the former Romney staffer who later in the story confessed to trying rile the former governor so much to get him to say real curse words. (I reveled in some similar moments with a different gentleman governor, who would, albeit rarely, let a good honest curse fly.)

Not that I lived in the 50s. I'm not THAT old. Even though I have had some great times in my life, I wouldn't go back. Not to my childhood. Not to high school. Not college. Not my reporting days. Not my time in the Statehouse.

Like Edna Mode, I prefer to live in the now.

Or maybe yesterday when Jeff and Ali and I took a wander through the forest of Eagle Creek park. (To Alison, any stand of trees that numbers more than 10 or so, is a forest. Not the woods. The forest. So we were in the forest.)

It was glorious. The colors were amazing and the company was perfect. For the most part, it was quiet. There were others out enjoying the weather, but we had a lot of time when it was just us teetering on fallen trees, slipping on wet leaves and dodging branches as we made our own trails.

I love it when Alison is with her friends and they're screaming and giggling. But sometimes it's nice to be just us three.

For the last three days, I've had my June Cleaver moments. Ali and I spent some time in the kitchen making cake pops. I tried my hand at pumpkin soup -- Jeff salvaged it. I made a good batch of vegetable soup, which Alison spiced up.

I did not wear pearls, but I did make breakfast. We did a little housework, discovered we needed a new lawn mower and plotted about what to buy Jeff for his birthday.

We watched some movies and indulged in pedicures. Jeff studied ways to beat a pressure play, and today we'll cheer on Alison and her basketball team. They're looking for their first win.

If it was 1950 and we were the Cleavers, the Tigers would win today with a last-second 3-point shot from the red-headed guard, and we would celebrate with another round of cake pops.

Happily, it's 2010. If past performance is any guide, Coach Reed and the girls will be having another character building lesson, and I'll probably let a few curse words fly in a catholic school gym.

By golly.

(Go Tigers!)

Here's what made me happy last week:

Monday -- I'm happy to have another good weather day to have a pleasant after dinner walk with Jeff and Ali.

Tuesday -- I am happy for coffee. And that I'm neither Mormon nor Quaker. What would life be without caffeine?!

Wednesday -- Happy today to have my Friday arrive early with two days of Fall Break with Alison just 10 hours away. Can you say "pedicures?"

Thursday -- I'm happy to have the whole day before me with no obligation to even get dressed. PJs rule!

Friday -- Today, there will be bacon. And baguette and St. Andre cheese and fruit and coffe and mimosa. Yes. today, I will be happy.

On Saturday, Alison and I were walking the 'hood looking for a house for my friend when Alison stopped in the middle of the street and said, "Look at how bright yellow those leaves are!" Our neighborhood is in the height of its atumnal glory, but I'm going to have to check tonight to see if that tree glows in the dark. It WAS bright. And I was happy that Ali takes the time to bask in beauty when she finds it.

Sunday mornings make me happy.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Goodby old friends

It's been a difficult week.

Sure, I was off work Thursday and Friday for Alison's Fall Break, and we did manage to get those pedicures and have some fun.

But two things happened that put a pall on the fall festivities.

First, news of the death of my lawnmower was neither premature nor exaggerated.

I'd hoped my full confession to Ray, the highly rated and local Lawnmower Man, would magically absolve me of my neglect. He had an open smile, two cats and not an ounce of judgement. when I told him that it was possible that I'd run it dry of oil.

When he called with the death notice, he said the problem was a broken cam shaft.

"What might cause a cam shaft to break, Ray," I asked.

He hesitated just a bit and then said, "Well, a lack of oil."

There it is. My fault. He could fix the thing, he said, but it would cost nearly as much as a new model. He advised me to buy new and offered to dispose of the body.

He's a good man. I'm a bad mower owner.

The second incident wasn't entirely my fault. As you know, Jeff's been very supportive in my zeal to improve my diet and follow the Weight Watchers rules.

He calculates points like a weight loss ninja. So when he told me that bag of 97 percent fat-free popcorn was 3.5 points, I didn't bother to double-check.

Instead, I'd say I've downed a few acres of blessed corn just this year Its only 3.5 points! And you get a lot.

Almost too good to be true, right? No. It was exactly too good to be true.

The recalculation done in response to my WW coach's eyebrow level: 6 points.

My daily allowance is 35 points if I work out; 32 if I don't. Looks like more carrots and less corn in my future.

I'm probably just as stingy at spending Weight Watchers Points, as I am real dollars, so it's hard to decide if the lawnmower's passing was worse than popcorn-gate.

On the plus side, I can't really attack the lawn today. On the minus side, the lawn work would have earned me enough activity points to have some popcorn.

Some days it just doesn't pay to be me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Put her in coach

The morning of Alison's last 5-6th grade basketball game, Coach Reed said, "You know, I was on a team that didn't win a game all year. If those girls have as much fun as they did last time (23-2 loss) I can handle it."

Captain Coach Reed is not an uncompetitive man. If there's a way to keep score, he'll find it. If there's a sliver of a chance in hell he can win at something, he'll brave the gates of Hades. The first baseman on his softball team once got hit in the head by a line drive as he was running bases. The ball knocked him unconscious. When he came to, he was blind.

"So who took him to the hospital," I asked when Jeff was relaying why he was late getting home.

"Hospital? After a while he could see so we had him play catch."

That's right. They finished the game before they took the poor sap to get medical care. They're all still playing every summer.

Alison does not have that same drive when it comes to sports, and none of her teammates seem to be killers either.  After their first game, Jeff was replaying the game to me even though I'd watched it.

"Did you HEAR them? Did you HEAR them?" he exclaimed. "Even when we were getting the snot kicked out of us, they were cheering each other on! You can do it. They were HAVING FUN."

He shook his head. Coaching boys was so much more natural. It was also CYO so there wasn't audible cursing, but there was pain. There was frustration. There was agony. Stuff the Captain could understand.

So game two for the Christ the King Tigers comes along Sunday. He's not optimistic but he's got his game face on.

And it was as if the girls were possessed. They still had fun, but they weren't intimidated by the other team. They hustled. They waved their hands and stole the ball and shot the ball and rebounded the ball. We actually led for most of the game. Alison scored her first goal, barely missed a 3-point shot that was actually a planned play, and racked up two personal fouls.

Ultimately, they lost by one point. In double OT. (That's free basketball, folks.)  As the first OT went into the second, Helen Mansfield called his attention and said, "Hey coach. Annalise hasn't played very much yet. Can she go in for me?"

I'm certain that a part of his brain just shut down.

The shot that won the game for the other team was the second free throw attempt by the enemy. She'd air-balled the first one, which gave everyone on our side great hope.

But no one on the bleachers knew we were in a sudden death situation -- the first team to score would win no matter how much time was left. The girls knew. The coaches knew. The two girls on the our bench fell down stunned, groaning when the ball went in. The parents were all confused at the cheers from the other team and the dismay by ours.

The Captain? Well, the Captain took it really well. He slapped a smile on his face and he looked at the girls, I'm sure prepared to lift them up from the depths of despair.

But they had had fun!  Sure it was better than last week, but losing again didn't make them give up. Our parents gave the game a W regardless of the final score.

We're all super excited for tonight's game. I just wonder which team will show up.

Jeff's post-game note to the parents was really nice. He said the girls "played their hearts out yesterday.  Team spirit, especially support for each other, is just fabulous to watch."

Personally, I think Jeff might be learning more than the girls.

Go Tigers!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Spoiler Alert

It's been said that I'm too soft on Alison and her friends. That I spoil them. That I need to take a harder line.

Today's photo will bear witness that I can sometimes cross the line. Even I think today's allowance might have been a step too far into the silly. But I'm not dragging them back to the sane.

Here's why: The world is all too often a scary, mean, unfair place. It's indiscriminate. It's scary, mean and unfair to everyone at one time or another. No exceptions.

I like to think I offer a safe haven from all that. I'm not indulgent 24/7 no matter what my husband might say. I even said no to something already today.

But how much damage can unadulterated -- and somewhat regulated -- fun do to a person?

I just read a piece in the NYTimes a about a man's recall of a childhood where his grandfather planted pumpkins that he and his brother sold to their neighbors. Their father took care of the leftovers and the boys just spent the money.

He doesn't remember how those boys, who contributed absolutely nothing to the labor and never once thought about giving a little of it back to the men who made it possible, spent their spoils. He remembers the pickup truck, his granddad putting ketchup on his fish sandwich and their conversations.

After all these year, he feels a glow everytime he sees a pumpkin. That's the payoff! I bet dad and granddad are happy with that ROI.

I hope that one day Alison and Jenna will be giving their kids a bath and think about the time they got to have breakfast in my garden tub.

Or when we rode with the top down even though it was crazy cold.

Or when there's a backseat full of kids and no one can agree on what fast food they'll feast on, I'll go through as many drive-in windows it takes (within a certain mile radious) to please every palate.

Is that spoiling them? Maybe.

I prefer to think of it as recompense for the slights -- real or imagined -- that will inevitably be visited upon their lives.

I can't fix everything. But I can be silly.
I think they'll come through it just fine.

The week's happyisms:

On Monday I was happy my kid can be funny in difficult situation. She's wavering with her unrequited crush and woke up thinking she might be over it. But she's not sure she's broken the fever. " It's like taste buds. You go along loving ice cream and then one day you wake up and like pickles. This sucks!"

On Tuesday, I pledge to be happy to have my own in-house tech support so I can focus on other stuff and still have super cool toys that work.

On Wednesday I wondered if it would be wrong to be happy that I might have killed the lawn mower this weekend?

On Thursday I was happy because even though the scoreboard read 23-2 and some jerky coach (not mine) had apparently fed his team Honey Boo Boo juice, our girls were happy and encouraging to each other the whole game. I think my coach is learning something....

Friday I was going to be happy to celebrate the weekend starting with a girls night out with Alison; tomorrow with Ali and Jenna; and another round of killer CYO basketball on Sunday. Plus I think the Democrats woke up last night. So that's good. (roar)

Yesterday I was happy just to enjoy this beautiful day with good friends who are my family.

There are lots of reasons to be happy today. Chief right now is the sound of my two favorite girls' laughter echoing through every part of my house.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Renaissance man

So our Thursday wasn't a highwater mark for me, but the weekend has more than made up for it.

We went to a renaissance fair late in the afternoon yesterday. Jeff had mentioned it, but we'd let the day get away and went up with only a few hours left of it.

It was in a muddy, muddy field where cars were being pulled and yanked and towed as we arrived. We found the dryest spot in the marsh and trudged on in.

I'll admit to spending too much of our short time pre-occupied with wondering how in the world these folks were going to get the mud out of their costumes.

There were some extreme costumes. And of course they were doing their best to speak in the period. It was awesome to see a bunch of Hoosiers speaking the King's English.

There was real, live jousting. Huge horses, 11-foot-long lances, armour and even a contest to slice an apple from a squire's head. Apparently the players are involved with a jousting show on the History channel.

It was the highlight of the fair, so of course we couldn't get really close. Alison climbed up on her dad's shoulders -- a seat she's not had since she was about 4, I think.

She loved the view and took video with my iPhone. Jeff liked the jousting, but I think he liked his role better than any of those taken up by the actors.

This morning, Alison and I answered a call to harvest from the Angie's List garden. We spent a good two hourse plucking peppers, collard greens, tomatoes, egg plant and carrots from the ground.

Who knew we were such good gardeners. There's a bunch of still there, but our backs were barking and our bags were full.

It's supposed to freeze tonight -- which prompted the need to reap -- but we opted to risk the rest.

If you're in the neighborhood, go on by and grab dinner. There's still fruit on the trees, too.

I'll leave you with a line from Cowboys & Aliens, not the best flick I've ever seen, but worthy of a little time at home in front of the new TV:

"God doesn't care who you were, son, only who you are."

And my happyisms, of course:

Today: While my back might disagree, I'm happy Kelsey dragged Alison and me out to the Angie's List garden today. We are awesome gardeners! Soup for everyone!!

Saturday: I'm happy today that I have a book club and it's delightful every time.

Friday: Today I'm happy that yesterday I had pancakes for lunch, took advantage of great weather for a topless drive with a great friend, that I didn't start a fire when rubbing my calves together to stay warm while I waited for my Captain to rescue me and that my Captain did arrive with tools in hand to carry out said rescue. So happy for those pancakes...

Thursday: Today I'm happy to understand why Big Bird might not like Mitt Romney this morning.

Wednesday: Today I'm happy to have successfully scrubbed out a zero-point vegetable soup stain from my favorite white blouse last night. Toothpaste, soap from the bathroom at work and OxyClean.

Tuesday: Today I'm happy that no matter how bad my work day gets, I'm not in 6th grade with boy trouble.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Into everylife a little dumbass must fall

So yes, it's true. I locked myself out of my bicyle the other day.

Before you cast your lot in with the rest of the world who believes I'm a dumbass, be warned: this could easily happen to you, too.

Here's what happened:

I went on a business trip and wanted to divest my keychain of unnecessary keys and charms and crap. this included my Bunco dice, my Weight Watchers medals, reward cards and my bike lock key.

I travel lean, man. One carry on bag for three days/two nights.

So I get home and reassemble what I think is all my stuff on my keychain and think nothing more about it except to note that I have to much crap on my key.

So Thursday, I get home and have extra time because Jeff has Alison at basketball practice. He's picking up ribs from my former friend Tom Vielee so I decide to skip the gym and bike up to the Nora Kroger to get green beans.

It was a beautiful day and even though a cold front threatened, I planned to ride hard and be back home well before dark. So I wore shorts and a small tee. I get to the store, get my produce and depart with plenty of time to add a bit to my route home.

That's when I discovered my bike key wasn't on my keychain.

The only think dropping faster than the temperature was my stomach.

The Captain was not going to be happy with me, I thought. On the bright side, I was stranded at Kroger. So I went to the salad bar, got a magazine and settled in to await my rescue.

When my prince got my text and voice mail, I'm sure the only thing keeping him from spouting his standard, "goddammit Cheryl!" was the presence of the basketball girls.

My new iPhone rang clear with the tone of his disdain, however. Both with the first return call and the second which came as he was tearing apart the kitchen drawer where the missing key was supposed to be living.

Meanwhile, the temperature keeps dropping. I tried to rub my calves together to stay warm but was afraid my stubble would spark and catch me on fire after a while. Sure I'd be warmer, but I didn't really want the repercussions of a full-out fire. So I drifted in and out of the store like I was casing the joint.

So it's almost 8 when he arrives with two keys that were not the keys we need. We go get the ribs. Jeff borrows wire cutters and a battery-powered
saw from my former friend Tom who says, "So are you gonna make her bike home in the dark."

Pretty easy to see how his friend status changed... He did not, however, laugh at me to my face. Maybe I'll reconsider. I did keep Scott Cunningham after all.

We tell Alison, who has yet to have dinner, our plan.

"Uh, Mom. Don't you think people will think we're stealing your bike?" asked Alison.

I assured her that theives would be way quicker than we would be and that we didn't really look like thieves working out in the open with our family Subaru parked out front of the store and with our daughter along.

You could see the fear in her eyes. I'm sure she was wondering if she'd like the group home FSSA was going to send her to after we got carted off to jail.

My bike lock was suprisingly hard to break. I'd highly recommend it if you ever want to keep your bike secure from theives. And yourself should you ever lose your key.

That bike lock sneered at the wire cutters and initially sniffed at the saw. I held the cord apart while Jeff started the saw. Had anyone seen me as I stood, I'm sure I looked like something out of a cartoon, hair on end and skeleton showing.

At one point when there was a fair amount of traffic of shoppers going in and out of the store, Alison leans out of the car and shouts, "Hey DAD. Are you doing ok getting MOM's bike free?"

Subtle she's not.

It took a lot longer than we'd expected to saw through the lock. The vibration has at least warmed me up a bit.

On the way home, Alison confesses that she's been playing with my phone and saw a post that discussed my plight and my state of dumb-assedness.

"Mom. Some guy on FaceBook called you a, can I say it? Dumb A.S.S." she said.

I laughed. "Yes you can say it. Sometimes in this life, Alison, you're just going to be a dumbass. I've done it. Your dad's done it. You'll be a dumbass everyone once in a while, too."

She gasped, then giggled, and then said "dumbass" every other sentence.

The captain, my prince, denied ever being a dumbass, which of course led to Alison and me tossing off a litany of evidence to the contrary.

It was quite the night. We finally had dinner finished well after Alison's bedtime.

I'm grounded from riding my bike until I get a combination lock.

We have yet to eat the green beans.