Monday, June 29, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
As I finished the story, I suddenly found myself absolutely overcome by grief. I had to leave the table to regain my composure. I don’t know why it happened. I usually have some warning when the sadness tsunami hits. But not this time.
I still miss my dad so much. I miss him every day. I still cry. It still hurts beyond what I ever believed possible.
And today, June 26, was his birthday... he would have been 72 this year. Ten years ago today, I was sitting at my baby shower, 8 months pregnant, surrounded by people I loved, missing my dad, who had died just months prior. Today, 10 years later, I’ll sit at his grave with my nearly-10-year-old baby girl, missing him as much as I did then.
I wonder when I won’t miss him so much. Because it’s just so damned painful, part of me wants it to stop... but only part of me.
Happy birthday, Dad. Ryan and I will blow out the candles for you! XO
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
... on my mother.
But I didn't do it (difficult though it was to hold my tongue).
Instead, I did this with my tongue...
Behind her back.
Because my internal censor, quite unlike hers, isn't broken (and by 'broken', I mean 'seemingly shattered beyond repair').
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
My little mermaid did well... two 2nd place finishes, two 3rd place finishes, and one 8th place finish (which is actually OK because, 1) she finished 2nd in her heat, and 2) she loves the pretty aqua color of the 8th place ribbon and she doesn't have one yet). She managed to skip out of the breaststroke in her relay this week, as the girl slated to do the butterfly in the relay didn't actually know how to do the butterfly... so they traded. Ryan was beaming and feeling very much like she put one over on Destiny herself. It'll come back to haunt her next week when I make sure she swims it... the only way she'll get better is to do it. Am I right?
Here she is between events. Don't know if you can see the gappy grin (she's lost 2 teeth in the past week).
Here she is in one of her freestyle events, working hard...
I took this one at practice last night... she's flying...
OK, so that's not Ryan... that's Michael Phelps. But she's on her way ;)
Anyway, she put up my 'Defining Moments' post. Drop by her blog to have a peek if you like. She won't mind, really. And she doesn't bite. Honest. She'll even put on a pot of tea and pull up a porch chair for you. She's that sort, which is why I like her so much... plus, her hub, Big Al, is hot (sorry Sherri... I've behaved myself for a while... ;).
Oh, in the 'Defining Moments' post, I refer to another post (it's in the first defining moment), called, 'That Day'. Sherri didn't link to it but I actually think that post is one of my better pieces of writing (and it takes a lot for me to say that) so if you want to check it out (or the one Sherri posted), please do!
And Sherri? Thanks, darlin'. I love how you pay tribute to other bloggers (even the ones who hit on your husband! ;). You are a generous soul and I'm so happy to know you, my friend! XO
Monday, June 22, 2009
Two gorgeous, sunny days (with cool breezes)
One freshly mowed lawn
Two 5-mile walks (with a lazy dog and a talky child)
One just-weeded garden
Two afternoons at the pool (add 40 laps)
Liberal amounts of sunscreen
One chocolate sundae for 2 (with fresh berries)
Two hula hoops (with extra giggles)
One fire in outside fire pit
Several toasted marshmallows
Liberal amounts of bug-spray
One sleep-over (add an extra 9-year-old girl)
One London broil, grilled to perfection
Fresh veggies from the farmer’s market
One bottle of Pinot Noir (or two… optional)
At least 4 good neighbors and friends
Mix together and bake at 85 degrees for 48 hours
Serve with smiles, laughter, good conversation, and lots of love.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
In the past 3 days I have...
... flushed 4 ticks down the toilet.
... pummeled 256 mosquitoes into bloody little carcasses.
... annihilated a small nest of hornets in my shed.
... murdered 10 (or 11... I lost count) flies.
Bless me PETA, for I have sinned. I await your wrath.
And just in case you missed the utterly ridiculous reference for this post, you can read about the PETA morons here.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
"It's really simple. I love how every photo tells a story. Some short stories, some long tales. I want to know what is your favourite photo of yourself. Everyone has one. The photo they look at and smile. It reminds them of something, some time, some place. A moment in time. So share the photo, share the story and then tag three other people. I want to see photos and stories all around the blogosphere".
A favorite photo of... myself...?! Riiiiiiiight. I am truly the least photogenic person I have ever met. Well, that or I'm just flat out ugly (but I refuse to believe that's true). I hate pretty much 99% of all the pictures (ever) taken of me. My friend Todd always gets frustrated because I refuse to allow him to post any pictures of me on his Facebook page after we've had any sort of holiday together. Because they're all ugly, that's why.
Once in a while, someone takes a picture that's not so ugly. Once in a big friggin' blue moon. This is one of those pictures...
That's my friend Hugh (again, a friend friend and not a friend wink wink). This picture was actually taken the first night I met him (or it was the second night... I was a bit drunk and I don't quite remember). He and Todd have been friends since they were teenagers and I met Hugh through Todd. We were in London (in Todd's flat, to be specific). I'd heard a lot about him (had been warned about him, actually)... mostly that he had an ascerbic personality and could be a bit sharp, sarcastic, and intimidating. However, I found him to be a riot (and drool-worthy gorgeous, too... am I right ladies?). We hit it off immediately, as you can see, and became fast friends. I love his company when I'm in London and he came here last summer, when we spent 2 solid weeks together... and I didn't even want to kick him once!
I love the picture because I just look so happy (a lot of alcohol probably didn't hurt) and because I remember feeling that way, too. It was smack-dab in the middle of a fabulous weekend that I didn't want to end. And I wouldn't mind a few more of those, that's for sure!
I tag anyone who wants to do the meme!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Where is your cell phone? Dunno
Your hair color? Forgotten
Your significant other? Imaginary
Your mother? Exasperating
Your father? Missed
Your favorite thing? Massages
Your dream last night? Bizarre
Your dream/goal? Love
The room you’re in? Quiet
Your hobby? Writing
Your biggest fear? Loss
Where you want to be in 6 years? Home
Where were you last night? Pool
What you’re not? Skinny
One of your wish-list items? England
Where you grew up? Asylum
The last thing you did? Sneeze
What are you wearing? Nikes
Something you’re not wearing? Ring
Your TV? Silent
Your pet? Comatose
Your computer? Lifeline
Your mood? Blah
Missing someone? Perpetually
Your car? Filthy
Favorite store? Target
Your summer? Short
Love someone? Fiercely
Your favorite color? Multiple
When is the last time you laughed? Today
Last time you cried? Today
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Last night, when Ryan was checking her email, she saw the news blurb about the shooting on the Comcast homepage. She asked me what happened. I explained. She was quiet, thinking, I’m sure, about our recent trip to the Holocaust Museum. Ryan, with her strong sense of self, was horrified at the idea that she, with her brown skin, would have been considered ‘inferior’ by Hitler and his followers. When we talked about the fact that there are still people who feel the way Hitler did, and who act upon those feelings by committing terrible, cowardly acts, she was shocked.
All she wanted to know was, “Why?”
How do you answer that? I told her it was about ignorance and fear, self-righteousness and narrow-mindedness, and, often, the perversion of religion and faith. I explained why it’s so important to open ourselves up to diversity and change, and why we must never, ever judge a person by the way he looks or the way he prays.
Last night, we read the preliminary reports about the shooter… he’s a white supremacist, an anti-Semite, a Holocaust denier. He’s also 88-years-old and he’s clearly lived a long life full of hate and anger. Ryan was disgusted. I was, too.
This morning, the subject was still on her mind… and mine. She asked me if the shooter was going to die. I said I didn’t know. She said she hopes so; that she hates him.
Part of me was proud that my daughter sees and is horrified by the injustice of racism. Part of me – maybe a bigger part – was saddened to hear the words, “I hate him” come from her, especially at 9-years-old. That feeling hit me hard, in part because I was thinking the same thing about the shooter last night.
I suggested to her that maybe, instead of hating him, we pity him. She was incredulous.
Ry: How can you feel sorry for him?! He’s horrible! He’s full of nothing but hate!
Me: Maybe that’s why I feel sorry for him. Can you imagine how black and mean his heart and mind are and how ugly his life has surely been? I think that’s very sad. Don’t get me wrong, I hate what he did. Absolutely. I hate it whenever anyone hurts another person. It's like when you lie to me. I hate that you lied, but I don't hate you. See, hate only creates more hate. And you know what? It doesn’t solve anything. Ever. It makes people do awful things and then other people seek revenge by doing something equally awful and it goes on and on and on.
Ry: So, don’t you think he should be punished?!
Me: Of course! Pitying someone doesn’t mean letting them off the hook when they do something wrong. But you know how I think he should be punished? I think he should be shut in a room for 12 hours a day, every day, for the rest of his life, and forced to look at big pictures of beautiful non-white and white people mixing – people of all races and religions and sexual orientations – living together, living their lives, helping each other, being happy, getting married, having babies, being successful. I think he should be bombarded all day, every day with the world as it really should be, and is in many ways – not the world as he’d like it to be. Can you imagine what sort of punishment that would be for a person like that?
Ry (laughing): He’d probably explode.
Me (smiling): Well then, you’d get your wish in the end, wouldn’t you?
Ry (thoughtful): I guess the hate has to stop somewhere, huh?
Me: It does. So how ‘bout we try to stop it right here, in our little corner of Pigsknuckle.
Ry: It’s not easy to do.
Me: Nothing worthwhile ever is.
Ry: Then I’ll try.
Me: Cool beans. So will I.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Alex was my pain-in-the-ass-success-story last summer. He was the kid who refused, for nearly a week, to even put his feet in the pool. He’s tiny for his age and scared of pretty much everything, including the water, so in order to get his butt off the pool deck, I had to promise him I’d only hold him for 10 seconds in the water before returning him to the safety of the concrete. Of course, it took me 30+ seconds to walk 20 feet into the pool, 10 seconds to stand there, and 30+ seconds to walk back to the side. When he realized he’d been in the water for more than a minute without dying, he was shocked. And thus went our summer… me misleading him and Alex being amazed by what he could do. It was very rewarding at times and very frustrating at others. Everything I told him to try was met with, “I can’t.” To top it off, his mother and grandmother (who has a voice like fingernails on a chalkboard) are hoverers (which is probably why he’s scared of everything, poor kid). I don’t like hoverers. They make me nuts. I used to take him to the middle of the pool to work with him, just so we couldn’t hear them. Additionally, Alex has zero attention span and simply does not listen (probably because he's used to tuning out adults like The Hoverers). As I said, a pain in my ass. But, by the end of the summer I had him in the water without his floaties and at least trying to doggie paddle. He never quite got it, but he was a million miles from where he started. And it was good.
He’s back in my group this summer since he still can’t swim. In his honor, I implemented a rule for all my Little Sinkers. No one is allowed to say, “I can’t.” We can only say, “I can,” or “I’ll try.” They all get it… even Alex (of course, I threaten to feed them to the fishes if I hear the dreaded ‘c’ word… they giggle, but their eyes get big and they wonder…).
So Alex came up with a new line…
“I don’t want to.”
So I implemented yet another rule. No one can say, “I don’t want to.” I told them they have to try and if they’re afraid to do something new, they can tell me and we’ll figure it out.
Last night… it was Alex’s turn to blow bubbles in the water through his nose…
Me: OK, Alex, just put your face in up to your nose and blow out! Easy peasy!
Alex: “I don’t feel like it.”
Monday, June 8, 2009
One of my kids, Nick, is older than the others. He’s 10 but, because of some debilitating health problems when he was younger, he never learned to swim. In fact, he has a real fear of the water. Even now, he looks fragile and still deals with some residual issues, but his parents feel he needs to get over his fear, so they’re pushing him (gently) into the pool (figuratively, anyway). His mom sought me out at our organizational meeting (she’d been told by another mother to ask me to work with her boys) so I was aware of the situation and the first night we practiced, I made sure I got Nick and his little brother in my group. Though his brother was quite willing to jump right in, Nick wasn’t. He sat on the pool deck with his dad, in tears, because he was afraid to get near the water. I called him over and quietly promised him that I would never ask him to do anything that would hurt him or that he really didn’t want to do, and I’d let him work at whatever pace was comfortable for him… all I asked was that he try. He told me he would and the next night he sat (away from his mom) at the edge of the pool, closer than the night before. Every time I asked if he was ready to get in the water, he’d say, “In a few minutes,” and after a half-hour, he worked up the courage. During the next half hour, he watched the little kids and then bravely tried everything I asked him to do. He was so proud of himself each time he accomplished the task at hand and he flew out of the pool after practice, bound over to his mom, face beaming, asking, “Did you see me?! Did you see me?!” She was as excited and proud as he was… and I was, too. He promised me he’d spend the entire next practice in the water.
So, tonight was our first night back. I've thought about Nick a lot over the past few days. My big concern is not really about helping him get over his fear, as I'm reasonably sure I can do that. But I've been worried that he'd feel out of place, since all the other kids in the group are so much younger than he is. I don't want his embarrassment to hold him back. So before we got in the pool this evening, I called him over to talk to me, telling him I had a huge favor to ask of him. I explained that there were just too many little kids for me to watch on my own and I really needed help, so did he think he might like to be my assistant coach? Let me tell you, he just glowed! And what an amazing job he did! Even though I know he was scared, he demonstrated everything I wanted the kids to do and was so proud of himself. He was so helpful with the little kids, too, praising them profusely and telling them not to be afraid. Watching and listening to him, I got all choked up. When we got out of the water, he gave me a big hug and told me he couldn’t wait ‘til tomorrow’s practice.
And you know what? I can’t either. I love my little sinkers… but that kid? That kid is no sinker. He’s going swim… mark my words!
OK, first up is In the Woods by Tana French... I can't say too much about it because it's a murder mystery and I don't want to give anything away. I will tell you that I love murder mysteries and I really wanted to love this book. And it was good... mostly. It was beautifully written, especially for a first novel, and it kept me in the dark long enough that I didn't feel as though I'd been cheated (as I often do when I guess the killer in the first couple of chapters). However, I didn't love it. First, it was set in Ireland (but written by an American) and the dialog was too Americanized. That irritated me a bit, but it wasn't a huge issue. Second, I like it when things all work out the way I want them to, but it's not necessary for me to like the book. But, I sort of need for the characters to stay in character... I like for the protagonist to stay the protagonist, you know? I don't like him/her to do an about-face and turn into a twat. And that happened. And, this might be giving a bit away, but there were 2 mysteries in this book... let's just say that one wasn't solved to my satisfaction. That'd be all fine and dandy if there was going to be a sequel, but I don't see any indication of that. I'll be on the look-out, though... just in case. So, my overall rating: Good book... worth a read... but not great.
Next we have The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson... this book starts out looking like a murder mystery with a ghostly component but it turns into a great read about the relationships that keep us going... and that hold us back... and how things are not always as they seem when you're on the outside looking in. The character development was excellent and the story flowed well. My overall rating: Very good book... absolutely worth a read.
Third up is The Freedom Writers Diary by the Freedom Writers and Erin Gruwell... if you pick this book up, pick up a box of tissues, too. I cried all the way through it. It was amazing... really and truly amazing... and all true. Erin Gruwell started her teaching career in the early 90's, in a high school in Long Beach, CA, having been handed a class of 'unteachable' students... gang-bangers and under-achievers. She took her new-teacher enthusiasm and her belief that all kids are teachable and deserve an education and she inspired a group of 150 kids, who went from losers to leaders in 4 years. The book is a compilation of their journal entries and it tells the stories of kids who had to overcome unbelievable obstacles including homelessness, shootings, abuse, parents in jail, molestation and rape, in order to believe that not only were they worth something, but that they could achieve anything they set their minds to. I wish this amazing book had been around when I was in high school or college... I think I probably would have been inspired to take another career path. My overall rating: An EXCELLENT book. Read it. Now!
Last, we have The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows... funny title aside, this is one of the best books I've read in a long, long time. It's written completely in letter-form (as in correspondence, not the alphabet... when I told Ryan that this morning, she said, "Mom, all books are written in letters. How else would you read them? Duh"). Anyway, the story takes place just after the end of WWII and starts in London. A 30-something author, Juliet Ashton, finds inspiration to write a book about the German occupation of the Channel Islands after receiving a letter from a Guernsey resident. The story is beautifully told through letter after letter... it's funny and touching and altogether wonderful. I picked it up because 1) it was about WWII, my subject of choice this summer, and 2) because my friend Todd lived in Guernsey for 13 years. I read the book in one sitting... it was just that good! My overall rating: An EXCELLENT book. Read it. Right after The Freedom Writers Diary!
That's all... not sure which of the remaining 16 books I'll pick up next... but you'll hear about it eventually. Have a great Monday!!! XO
PS... I didn't read 4 books in a weekend! Lordy. I'm fast but not that fast! I started my list on June 1 and read 2 books last week and 2 over the weekend.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Because it's a special day (for me, anyway), I wanted to do a special post, but I couldn't decide what it should be (I know, shock and surprise, right?). Then the beautiful Fhina tagged me with a "Things That Make Me Happy" meme and it seemed appropriate. I did one a while ago and people liked it (it's here, if you'd like to see it), so I'm happy to give it another shot.
The meme states that I have to list 6 unimportant things that make me happy. I maintain that anything that makes me happy simply cannot be unimportant. And like last time, when I broke the rules and listed 10 things, I can't limit my list to 6... so I'm going to show you a dozen important things I love ~ things that give me the warm fuzzies (with pictures, which are hard as hell to format, so please show me some bloggy love for my diligence :)...
1. Books... and the places they congregate, like libraries, bookstores, book fairs, my bedroom...
2. Handwritten letters from people I love (or even people I like!)... not just cards (though they're nice, too), but real letters.
3. "Coaching" my little sinkers... I love their energy, their giggles, their hugs. And when I can help them overcome their fears and/or learn something new? What an amazing feeling!
4. Celtic Crosses... I know it's odd, given how I feel about God/religion, but I love Celtic crosses. It might be because I was born in Scotland and they're all over (this one is in Dundee)... I don't know. But I wear a silver one, wrapped in a Claddaugh, all the time. I got it in a little shop by the North Sea... it reminds me that there is something bigger than me out there and that I need to treat myself with more love, loyalty, and friendship than I often do.
5. Laughing so hard you can't breathe... and the people and things that make you laugh so hard you can't breathe!
6. Lambs... baby animals in general make me happy but lambs (like puppies) hold a special place in my heart (especially the black-faced ones). I also love them broiled with mint sauce, which is, believe me, something with which I struggle greatly!
7. Travel... nearby or far, far away. It opens my mind, my senses, my heart... it's all good.
8. Red wine... Pinot Noir or Merlot... a glass with dinner or by the fire, or bottles flowing freely at a dinner party with friends (never 5 bottles between 2 people, though... never again, anyway).
9. Gerber Daisies... they just make me smile! Next to tulips, they're my favorite flower.
10. London... I love its history, life, people, pubs... it's one of my favorite places.
11. Sitting by an outdoor fire... from spring through fall, with friends and a bottle of red.
12. The idea of transformation... caterpillar to butterfly... ugly duckling to swan. I'm still working on my own transformation but I'm sure there's a butterfly somewhere in this old cocoon!
I tag anyone and everyone who would like to do a "Things That Make Me Happy" post! Do it! It'll make you happy! And again, I thank you for the many smiles you've all brought to my face over the last year! XOXO
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
But, my dear bloggy friends, though I have never seen the Yeti or Bigfoot, I have seen The Pigsknuckle Liberal! I even had coffee with him!
As it turns out, he’s been running past me at the park forever (no he’s not the guy with the hair-stamp), and though we’ve chatted and emailed, I. Had. No. Idea. We met up for coffee this morning and one of the first things he said was, “I like reading your blog because we share the same views on politics and religion. Do you know hard it is to find someone like that around here?”
Do I know how hard it is to find someone like that around here?!
Do I, bloggy peeps?
Do I ever, Mr. Pigsknuckle Liberal!
So, after I picked myself up off the floor, I basked in the glow of conversation that didn’t involve topic-avoidance, liberal-bashing, or ‘friendly debate’ (also known ‘round these parts as ‘insulting Diane’) of any sort. It was lovely. Oh yeah. The Pigsknuckle Liberal is my new best friend. OK, not really. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings (Blognut). You’re ALL my best friends. Even you Republicans (Sherri). But not you, our dear Former Reader. You will never be my best friend, you nasty old sour puss.
Anyway, today I am filled with hope and the realization that I am not alone after all. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m heading over to the WalMart parking lot to stick ‘Rush Limbaugh Sucks’ bumper stickers on random cars… just for shits and giggles!
Monday, June 1, 2009
Hi Everybody! I’m Coach Diane!
Everybody please look at me!
I’m over here.
Alex! Zachary! Evan! Over here!
Yes, I know it’s cold.
Let’s practice our kicking to warm us up!
OW! Zachary, please wait ‘til I’m out of the way.
Alex, get back on the wall, please.
Everybody please look at me! Over here!
Danielle honey, you’re not supposed to breathe under the water.
Yes, Zachary, sharks do breathe under water.
No, Cindy, there are no sharks in the pool.
No, Zachary, there are no barracudas either.
I know it hurts when water goes up your nose, Danielle honey.
So let’s all practice blowing air out, not breathing in.
Make bubbles by blowing out your nose.
Alex, get back on the wall, please.
Yes, Zachary, I know farts make bubbles in the water.
No, let’s not fart in the water. Thank you.
Yes, I know it’s cold.
Let’s do the doggie paddle to warm up.
Yes, Cindy, cats do have paws, too.
No, cats don’t like to swim. That’s why we do the doggie paddle.
Everybody please look at me!
Alex! Evan! Zachary! Over here!
Yes, Zachary, they are nipples.
Yes, it is cold.
Alex, get back on the wall, please.
Everyone, please look at me!
Yes, I know it’s cold.
Evan, do you have to go to the bathroom?
No, Zachary, we don’t pee in the pool.
Alex, I’m bringing my super glue tomorrow!
Everyone, please look at me!
Oh, darn, it’s time to go home.
Lordy, but I love those little sinkers! It's going to be a good summer!