Sunday, April 27, 2014
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Back about 20 years ago when I informed my family back in southwestern – translation: rural – Indiana that I was going to move to Indianapolis, they looked at me aghast.
“Why would you go to the city? It’s dangerous there. What are you thinking?!”
My Uncle Larry was getting ready to drive up to supply me with a fire arm because he thought I was living in a rough part of town. Aunt Shirley talked him off the ledge and he was relieved to find out I wasn't in the ghetto but they all worried.
I didn't. Sure, for Indiana, the capitol city is big, but it's not the mean streets of New York or LA or well, anywhere. It’s just a small town spread out across a bigger swath than what I was used to.
It’s always felt safe to me. There’s a ton to do. There are new people to meet and things to try. Alison loves to visit what she calls “the country” but she can’t imagine living without so many take-out options and high-speed Internet.
But it’s literally been a bloody awful time in Indianapolis the last several months. Shootings and assaults. It’s been terrible. Nothing that’s touched us personally but it’s unsettling. I love this city. I want to stay here. So I’ve been pondering how could I – and ordinary people like me – make a difference and reclaim the Indy I met two decades ago.
Just this week:
One of our neighbors came by to show off shoes he used to run the Boston Marathon. They’re commemorative and super cool and Mark came by with them because Jeff had agreed to watch the mail for him while he was out of town and apparently FedX them to Boston if need be. Mark was happy they arrived early and we're happy to keep watch over his house while he's out of town. He does the same for us. This winter we worked as a tandem to shovel snow from our driveways.
Later in the week, Alison walked over to another neighbor to ask if she could scavenge a fun treasure box from the trash he’d set out. No problem, he said to the kid who routinely drops over with sample from her latest baking experiments.
When we were walking the other day, we ran into a family with dogs, got to talking, and I asked if she was new to the neighborhood. She wasn’t. She’s one hood over, “But I remember your daughter because she gave us some baked treats one day when we were out walking.”
Friday evening we were strolling again and ran into neighbors one street up who we hadn't me even though they've been here for seven years and we've been here for 15. They have two little girls and as Jeff and I talked to our new friend Chris -- he's used to be in charge of golf courses and may help me with my lawn problems -- Ali played with the girls. It could turn into a babysitting gig.
And then, on the way to Shakamak State Park for our family Easter gathering, Ricky (the neighbor who was going to trash a perfectly cool box!) called to see if Ali could babysit while he and his wife went to the Pacer game. It cut short our Easter trip but it was well worth it according to Alison's savings account.
So maybe it’s as simple as that. Be friendly. Talk to your neighbors. Give ‘em a cupcake if you have one extra.
I'm not so naive as to think a few walks around the yard and some neighborly chore swapping is going to stop criminals from breaking into homes, or to stop people from using drugs and then having such trouble with their supply and/or demand that it leads to violence.
But I do know this: we’re better together. And we're better when we know our neighbors.
I'm getting out more. And just for insurance, I'm bringing baked goods on occasion.
In other news, back in the country, our annual Easter egg hunt took a turn. We had the Easter Olympics instead. My team -- picked at random -- came in second only because I was the only one who saw the rabbit ears move when Marie took her turn at the rubber ducky shooting range. We also lost (badly) at blind peep sculpting and blind drawing. I think we were in the middle of the pack when it came to twister.
We won at redneck curling, though -- street hockey sticks, duct tape rolls and chalk -- and we broke a world record at egg bobbing.
Alison made the mistake of attacking Jason and stealing his hat. I'm not exaggerating one bit when I say a collective gasp you could hear on Main Street went up when she snatched the hat. You don't mess with Jason, man. She somehow lost her shoe in the melee and she's still complaining about the big, bad man "who beats children with their own shoes!"
She may have learned a lesson there. We'll see next time she crosses his path.
It was great fun.
Our other adventures included Ali and me pulling up moss from the back yard and the three of us raking up the front. We ended up with 10 enormous bags of yard waste and a football field of moss. Sadly, there's a ton more moss. I'm hoing the new shed we build this summer will cover most of the rest of it.
If I can't walk or move my arms tomorrow, I'm blaming the yard work. You'd think an Easter Olympian would be in better shape...
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Saturday, April 5, 2014
The idyllic weather, scenery and the awesome hospitality at Beaches resort may have something to do with it, but we Reeds truly do all like each other. Plus, there's no obligation to travel as a pack, so some of might do a group thing that others don't, or we might cluster as a group near water and within sight of the trolling waiters who are ever eager to refresh your cocktail for you.
Alison set a record one day for strawberry daquiries at the poolside bar. She'd been sipping on them most of the day when I joined in and ordered. "Two virgin strawberry daquiries, please," I said. I don't know if it was the word "virgin" or that I'd ordered, but she was slightly outraged.
"They usually come with rum," I said, defending myself.
"What?!" she said, momentarily convinced she'd been boozing it up.
"I don't think they'd be giving ME alcohol," she sputtered. She later switched to pina coladas as it had been a goal of hers to test that drink out, too.
Jennifer, Peter, David, Alison and I took a SCUBA lesson. Jen decided she didn't want to spend the whole day on a boat, so only four of us went on a dive. Peter had trouble with his ears and didn't get all the way to the bottom, and David had trouble staying down but it was a fun experience. As beginners, we didn't get to go to the more scenic, deeper areas but it was still fun to paddle around breathing from a tank and realizing you were literally swimming with the fishes.
David also had trouble grabbing the rope to make the ascent, but he was within reach of me, so I snagged his hand and brought him to line. Thus, I decided I was the savior of the trip and will forever remind him that I saved his life.
Our dive captain, Gustavo, would likely have come to his rescue eventually, but I got there first. So there's me: officially a life saver.
We could have gone on more dives, but the beach was calling and Gary, David and Peter had fishing plans, and Alison and I got hot stone massages, which were aMAYzing.
Poor Uncle David got a little fashion skewering from his still newlywed husband.
"I got them at Kohl's," David was explaining to someone.
"Yes," intoned Uncle James. "In the Missy Department."
We dubbed Peter "SharkBait" after David's repeated complaint that it was Peter who was manning the reel at the time his 100+ pound trophy fish was stolen off the line by a hungry shark.
David asked Alison if she'd trade her week in Maine this summer for an extra week in Turks right now. She paused before declining. She likes her time on her own in Maine, plus, she couldn't possibly miss a week of school AND she had plans to go to the movies with Nick on Friday.
The Turks airport is tiny and there's not much there to eat, so we usually try to bring cookies or croissants and fruit to get us through the long wait there and the first leg of the flight home. This year, even the small bar was under construction so the options were a meat pie on a warmer, beer and assorted chips.
I dipped into the croissants and had an apple, but left one apple in our bag, which was quickly sniffed out by a cute little airport dog at the Charlotte re-entry area. Alison had wanted to pet him, but as he was on the job, it was probably a Homeland Security violation so I tried to steer her away from him. The handler was fairly sharp with Alison about not petting the dog as he sniffed, which did not endear the handler to Alison.
The people manning the agricultural check didn't seem alarmed by the conch. Alison, however, by the time we got through the extra security checks, was over her charm of both the dog and his handler.
"The beagle confiscated our apple," she complained to the bored security guards. They didn't care. And at that point, I didn't either. It was a long day getting home.