Monday, June 28, 2010

Friends from the Flatland

The last few weeks have brought flatlander friends to the mountains. Am I a mountain girl, yet? Or still a flatlander? I don't know what the waiting period is until you're declared a mountain resident. I may still be a flatlander, too, for all I know.

Anyway, we had a visit from my high school friend, Pete, and his son, Sam, who is 12. The boys were totally enthralled with Sam and peppered him with questions and various and sundry requests, to which he cheerfully acquiesed. I'm pretty sure I spelled that wrong.

I forgot to take pictures when Pete and Sam were here.

Then, over the weekend, my friend Jen and her nephew, Austin, were in nearby Breckenridge. We went over to spend the day with them and tour a gold mine, eat ice cream, hang out--all that good stuff. Jen's and my parents grew up in the same small town and we went to high school together. We have shared experiences of the West Mansfield fish frys and also of Louise McDonald's American Lit classes. Doesn't get any better than that.

I took pictures of our trip to Breck, but none of Jen! That's friendship for you.

Original mine building. Don't worry. It's not part of the tour.

I made Declan be the "ass." I live to humiliate my children.

Boys and machines.

The "wild" donkeys who live at the mine. They're so wild, they wear halters.

We capture a donkey and force it to pose for pictures and let us pet it. We're animal lovers like that.

"We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig in our mine the whole day through; To dig dig dig dig dig dig dig is what we really like to do"

Name that song and movie.

Panning for gold after the mine tour. My plan was to make them stay there until they found enough to pay for college, but eventually I got hungry and wanted to leave. The mine people said I had to take the boys with me.

And now, Wendy and her kids, Clara and David are here. Wendy is a lacrosse coach and brings a team to a big lacrosse tournament in our valley each year. I've known Wendy since kindergarten. When she went away to Greece for a year when we were in college, I wrote her letters every week to keep her updated on everything important that was going on at home--like what was happening on our soap operas.

The whole gang on Beaver Creek mountain for a hike. Which none of the kids really wanted to do, so we rode the chair lift up, walked around. . .and then rode it back down.

Me and Wendy. Check out Wendy's guns! Dang!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Back When I Was a Girl Part 2: Summer Games

So in my kvetching about my kids not using their imaginations or playing outside, one of my childhood friends, Cynthia, posted in the comments about how we played a game called Mean Brenda.

People were curious. Two people. So I'm going to tell you about it.

I definitely remember playing Mean Brenda, but I didn't remember all of the details, so I had to e-mail Cynthia.

First, some background.

When people ask where I'm from originally, I say Columbus, Ohio. But here's the deal, I didn't really live in Columbus. I say that because that's a city people will know. If the person I'm talking to is from Ohio, I'll usually say, "I grew up in Worthington, a suburb of Columbus." Then they usually immediately form the opinion that I'm probably a snob.

But the geographic fact of the matter is, I'm actually from an even smaller community within Worthington called Riverlea. It was just two main streets running east and west and then multiple side streets. Population? Heck, I don't know. Two hundred houses? We had our own mayor (they still do). We had our own Fourth of July celebrations, Christmas luminarias, etc. Living in Riverlea was a little bubble within the bubble of Worthington.

Summer days might find a bunch of us running around through backyards, skateboarding down driveways (broken arms, notwithstanding), riding our bikes with banana seats to the ravine that seemed so far from our house back then, but in reality, it's about the length of three footballs fields away. We could walk or ride bikes by ourselves to the pool, the library, uptown Worthington where there was a bakery (Worthington Bakery--even thinking about the smell of cinnamon buns is making me delerious), an ice cream store or two (Friendly's, Dairy Queen), a candy store (Sadie's Emporium).

Dang, we had it good.

Anyway, while we sometimes ran in a gang, more often than not, we were with the girls who lived seven houses down from us--Cynthia and Beth. I'm sure they don't mind me outing them here. Or if they do, it's too late.

Truly, they are our oldest friends. I mean that in a good way. Many of my friends, I met when I went to kindergarten, but we've known Cynth and Beth since birth. I don't ever remember not knowing them. There are so many funny stories about us growing up, but I won't bore you with the details.

So I had to get confirmation from Cynthia, but as I mentioned, one of the games we played over and over again was Mean Brenda. I definitely remember playing it. The scene was usually played out between two rooms--my parents bedroom and Erin's bedroom--just down the hall from each other. Erin was very young at the time--still in a crib. And one of the places we would hide from Mean Brenda was under the crib.

Mean Brenda was basically like an overly dramatic version of playing house. I'm starting to wonder if it was like a mini-soap opera. Heck, my Mom used to watch As the World Turns and Guidling Light back in those days and I loved watching, too (until the year 2000, I might add). So perhaps Mean Brenda has her roots in daytime soaps.

Apparently Cynthia and I took turns being Mean Brenda. I think Tara was always the nice mother. We basically acted out "house" drama and waited for our husbands to get home. As Cynthia pointed out, Mean Brenda's husband was named Steve. Ironically, Cynthia is married to a Steve. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, I'm telling you. Why, oh why, we didn't play a game called, "Mean Brenda Becomes a Millionaire" is beyond me. Foolish children.

So Mean Brenda was mean to everyone. Imagine that. In one "episode," Mean Brenda was ranting and raving about something and trying to get the kids who were hiding under the crib. It was a little bit like the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, now that I reflect on it.

And that, my friends, is Mean Brenda. Nothing more, nothing less. But it was something we acted out over and over again--adding on, embellishing.

Cynthia also reminded me that we played "store" in their backyard. We peeled bark off their sycamore tree (apparently that was before enviromentalism took hold) and sold it as chocolate. Flowers were some other store produts. I feel crab apples were somehow involved as well. There were also these weird giant bean pod like thingys. I'd love to know what those were. And then there was that time that Beth and I pulled up all these things we thought were "onions." Turns out, of course, that they were someone's bulbs.

Hide and Seek. Kickball. Ghost in the Graveyard. Sardines. Tag. Freeze tag. Flashlight tag. Marco Polo. Lemonade stands on a hot day. Popsicles.

Great memories, all in someone's backyard.

What will my children's memories of summer be? I will be curious to hear one day.

As Cynthia so rightly put it, "Oh, the days before computers and DS's. All we had were the Mattel football and soccer games."

And we thought we were living large.

I think we really were.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Back When I Was a Girl. . .

Along the same lines of ruining summer for my children, today I am apparently doing so by insisting they play outside.

Imagine that.

Last week I went on a tirade about how when I was a girl, there wasn't any kid TV to watch during the day--we only watched a show here or there in the evenings (hello, Little House on the Prairie or Waltons, anyone?) or Saturday morning cartoons. We woke up, we ate breakfast, we went outside to play. We came home for lunch, we went back outside until dinner. Many days we went out again after dinner. That was our schedule if we didn't go to the pool all day. At any rate, I'm pretty sure that my Mom didn't know where we were most of the time.

Now, I know times have changed. It's not OK to not know where your kids are. TV and video games are always there as a temptation. And frankly, there aren't always a lot of kids around the neighborhood during the day. In most of the houses on our street, both parents work, and kids are in daycamps. Things pick up in the evenings when we're wanting to wind down. Figures.

But how can it be more fun to sit in front of the TV or play video games than to be outside, making up your own games? Having adventures? Exploring? Using your imagination?

I find if I wait long enough for them to get bored, they come up with something. Sometimes the something causes work for me, like a lemonade stand or craft, but other times they are spies, detectives, or making up a game that makes sense only to them.

Note: They just came in and asked if they could take the Nintendo DSi outside because it was integral to their spy game.

I didn't fall for it.

They are outside counting down the minutes until they can come in for lunch. I just know it. Sigh.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Red One!

UGH! I'm so annoyed at Volkswagon. Now, I drive a VW that has about 182,000 miles on it, and I love my car, but VW's most recent ad campaign--the whole Punch Dub days thing--has created an intolerable situation.

Remember the Slug Bug game where you'd see a VW Bug, slug someone in the arm and say, "Slug bug red!" Or whatever. It was just with the VW Bug. No other model. Until this newest ad campaign. And now the kids are shrieking out, "Green one! Blue one!" For every. Single. VW car they see. I told them that's not how it's done, but no one is listening.

I'm so sick of it. And I blame VW.

And even though it's not VW's fault, my kids also scream out when they see:

-Swift trucks. This involves clapping their hands, hitting the roof of the car and screaming SWIFT! In fact, it scared me so bad twice when they did it, I had to ban that one.
-Prius. This was before the whole VW fiasco and there are a lot more Priuses around than VW Bugs so they got to yell something more often. Great.

And now, the latest: Beep, I see a Jeep. WTF? Where did THAT come from? There are WAY too many Jeeps out here for that to be tolerated. I'm putting a stop to it. Now.

The Fun Miser. Out to ruin summer for my children. That's me.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Santa Fe--The Trip in Pictures

Tonight Tara e-mailed me and she said she was sorry our Santa Fe trip was over. We had spent so long talking about it and looking forward to it. And isn't that always the way? For me, the anticipation and planning for a trip is practically the best part--the thinking about what might be.

But I needed to get home. I was tired of eating out.

I can't believe I said that. But it's true. I love schedules and consistency and I needed to stop eating so much chips and salsa.

I'm having trouble dialing it back.

Anyway, this trip was to celebrate my Mom's 70th birthday, which was all the way back in April. When my Dad turned 70, we went to Yellowstone with husbands, kids--the whole kit and kaboodle. We were there in early June '07. I think that was before I was blogging here and was still on CaringBridge. That seems like it was a million years ago.

It snowed in Yellowstone when we were there. And it was a blast. But my Mother is neither a snow-lover nor a camper, so for her trip, we had to be a little more highbrow. Hence, Santa Fe, girls only, a B&B.

It was divine. Very relaxed. Eating, strolling through Santa Fe, shopping, site-seeting. Picnics in the square. English period drama and popcorn at night. Backrubs. Pedicures. Someone making breakfast for us every morning. A breakfast which I did not have to clean up afterwards. That's a vacation right there, people. I estimate I spend a third of my waking hours in the kitchen.

You can see all of the fun HERE.

Now if I could just get my stomach out of vacation mode, I'd be all set.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mother/Daughters Trip

I'm home from five days in Santa Fe with my Mom and sisters to celebrate Mom's 70th birthday.

Lots of laughing, site-seeing, eating, and viewing of English period drama. More photos to come.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Nick's Hair

Today I got my hair cut. Not short, like I had originally planned, but Nick, my hair guru, cut some layers into it and, of course, styled it like I never can. So check me out now because my hair won't look like this again until I see Nick again. In like six months.

Some of you wanted to what it looks like. OK, maybe one person said that.


I feel totally silly sitting here and having pictures taken of myself.

The back view.

From the side. Tara was totally cracking me up, making modeling comments a la Austin Powers.

Wishing for a chin and nose job about now.

This is the first photo we took. It didn't come out exactly like planned. Tara's dog is licking my toes. It tickles.

I wore it down all day. I hope Nick is pleased. Even when I ate, I didn't put it up. I did get some hair near the danger zone of my mouth while I was trying to eat my salad for lunch, but it all worked out OK with a little behind the ear tucking.

But then it was time to make dinner. It was about 95 degrees. I did this:

Don't hate me, Nick.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Preserving Memories

Tomorrow is the last day of school. I've been a little overwhelmed with all of the year end activities--concerts, plays, class parties, slideshows, school carnival, etc. There has also been a whirlwind of year end committee meetings before we adjourn for the summer (healthy lunch changes are still on the priority list), and of course, occasionally I have to produce some income.

I'm excited for the boys to be home for summer. Mostly. It's very hard for me to work during the summer, but it will all work out in the end. I think.

I'm excited to get them out of the germ pool, to take trips to the swimming pool, hiking, the park, library summer reading program, our trip to Ohio and Virginia, etc. Bring it on.

I wonder if I'll be saying that next week.

Anyway, a few things have me in a reflective mood these last few weeks. First, next year is Declan's last year in elementary school. I can't believe it. I was similarly reflective when he turned 10 and so I created a photobook on Kodak Gallery for his birthday. I keep going into his room and looking at it. But I feel this need to preserve memories for them.

When I was young, like Finn's age, I remember being at my cousin's house and my Dad's grandparents being there--my great grandparents. My Dad was tape recording (tape recording--tee hee! Wait, we just got rid of our VCR two months ago. I shouldn't be tee hee-ing.) my Great Grandfather talking and telling stories. I didn't really get it at the time.

Similarly, Tara recorded my Grandma Moffitt telling some stories once. Again, I didn't get it. But as I get older, I get it. First, I miss hearing people's voices when they die. And I hate it that the great stories of their lives go with them. And I guess when I say "great" I just mean the little stories that made up their lives.

So last year when we were in Ohio, I videotaped my Grandpa and my Dad talking about a pretty scary incident from 1960 when my Grandpa was using a chainsaw and cut himself. And I use the work "cut" loosely here. He nearly died.

I'd heard my Dad talk about it a little, but had never really heard the whole story. Not that I'm into the blood and gore of it, but I did want to hear it in their words. When we got to Ohio, I bought a new video camera that doesn't use tapes or DVDs. I was totally psyched to be all high tech. And then I discovered that I bought a camera without a light, so unless you're in a nice bright setting forget it.

Ah well. Such is life.

But I did get about an hour of footage of Grandpa talking and just telling stories of his youth.

Before we'd ever taped last summer though, my Dad wrote down his own recollections of September 1960:

I graduated from OSU in August 1960 and immediately left for Florida for a couple of weeks. When I returned, Dad and a carpenter, Herman Dean, were working on a project putting new siding on a section of the east side of the barn. One afternoon I was at the barn and Dad asked me to go to the hardware store. [Timing is somewhat relevant here so I will relate some otherwise non-essential information]. It probably took me 30 minutes to walk to the house, talk to Mom briefly, drive to the store and make my purchase. As I left the store I was accosted by one Wilson Evans, the renowned town bloviator, from whom there was no escaping in less than 15 minutes of sound and spittle from a slobbery cigar butt.

I returned to the house and talked with Mom for a few minutes and left for the barn. As I went through the gate into the pasture I heard a shrill sound. I couldn’t identify it so I walked slowly for a few steps and the sound recurred. Then before I could hardly move it came again with a greater intensity. As I thought back on all of this later I don’t know why, because I had no inclination of what was to come, I dropped the materials I was carrying and started running as hard as I could toward the barn literally throwing myself over the gate instead of opening it because at that point I could tell that the shrieking sound, not a human yell, was coming from the barn. I came through the door immediately next to where they were working.

Dad was sitting against a post 6 feet from the wall where they were cutting an opening for a window. His left leg was stretched out with the pants leg torn away at the knee exposing a huge cut in his leg at the kneecap. His left arm was severely cut on the underside about where a watch band would be. He was totally lucid. He had made a tourniquet for his arm with his handkerchief and a wood rasp and was holding it with his right hand. He said something to the effect that “I am in pretty bad shape and so is Herman.” Herman was lying inert to Dad’s left. Dad said he thought Herman may have had a heart attack. Dad said that he had done something to try and help Herman but I don’t remember what that was.

I ran back to the house to get help. June was there and I explained to her and Mom and went back to the barn. June called Dr. Thompson and he directed her to get Herman to his office and to take Dad directly to the hospital. She called West Mansfield and Richwood ambulances however both were involved in funerals and could not respond. She called Bellefontaine and an ambulance was dispatched. She then brought the pickup truck to the barn.

We put Dad onto an old door and got him into the back of the truck. We then lifted Herman into the truck and headed for town. He didn’t make a sound while we were loading him and appeared to be totally unconscious. We met the ambulance at the grain elevator at the edge of town. Dad was transferred to the ambulance. June took Herman on to Dr. Thompson’s office.

On the trip to the hospital Dad was still lucid and reminded me to loosen the tourniquet periodically.

I later learned the sequence of events leading up to the accident.

After the siding was installed they were preparing to cut an opening for a window. This entailed standing on a sawhorse while operating a power saw. Dad saw that Herman was very unsteady while he was preparing to perform this maneuver. Dad told Herman to let him do it and took Herman’s saw. And here starts the unwinding of the resulting saga. Dad noticed that the spring on the guard on Herman’s saw was not in operation. He hesitated initially to use it but for reasons he later explained and I have forgotten, decided to proceed.

Dad was standing on the sawhorse and bracing himself by having his left knee against the wall he was working on. This placed his upper left leg parallel to the ground and under the area of work. The saw pinched and jumped out of the grasp of his right hand. He instinctively tried to catch it and it dropped onto his left arm and then onto his leg probably still operating close to 1200RPM. The cut on the arm did not show as much but it was bleeding profusely. His presence of mind in getting the tourniquet applied may very well have saved his and Herman’s lives in the judgment of medical personnel I talked with.

So it's definitely not a "fond" story in family history, but it's an important one. Next week, Grandpa will turn 97! He's much more cautious with a chain saw these days.

Anyway, I'm still working on preserving people's voices and stories. I hope my Mom doesn't freak out when she's next.