Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Playground

My then-husband and I moved into this house in 1999, I think.  It's been a while.  An old lady lived next to us - she was nice.  No one else talked to us.

Then I got pregnant.  The other kooky old lady behind us talked to me.  Twice.  Just twice.

Then I had the babies.  People looked but not a lot of neighbors talked to us.

As they grew, we started hanging out at our local playground, about a block from my house.  Still, no one talked to me.

Then someone did.  And more people started to talk.  Our neighbor, Heli, was like the pied piper of moms in need of friends.  She talked to everyone and suddenly people started to know each other.

It didn't matter if it was raining out.  We went to the playground and played in puddles.  When it was nice we went and played.  When it snowed (and I wasn't bitchy about it), we played.  I knew all my neighbors.  We helped each other.  We talked.  It was pretty unusual.  Let me give you some examples:

The day my house was burglarized, I went to the playground (once we realized all were safe and the police dogs left).  Some neighbors took my kids and fed them dinner.  Others took my ex and me and fed us while still others fixed the house so no one else could get in.  I felt Amish that day.

The day after I was diagnosed with a brain tumor (this was still in the holy shit! you're gonna die time), I went to the playground and got all the help I needed to make sure my kids could still go to dance class and keep a normal schedule while I was being treated (lucky for me we only needed some of that help - I never did have surgery and I'm still here).

We had parties.  Lots of parties in the park.  Some were birthday - open to anyone there.  Some were Fourth of July.  Some were chili cook offs.  Some were what the hell parties. We had pumpkin carving contests.  Scavenger hunts.  All were good.

My kids learned to roller skate and ride bikes in the tennis courts.  They learned to slide down the fireman's pole eventually and even make their way across the monkey bars.  More neighbors would join in.  We took care of each other's kids and knew each other's families.  It was an important place in our lives.

One day, I was talking with a dad about how kids don't break bones so easily - they're kind of pliable.  Just as I'm giving my reason for thinking this, M falls from the top of the slide and lands on her stomach and arm, knocking the wind out of her.  That was an interesting trip to the ER.  Yes, her arm is broken.  Oops, no it's not.  Such a pain in the ass.

Shortly after that it was A's turn.  Gee, I wonder what happens if I swing high on these swings and do it with no hands......who thinks that??  A, that's who.  The answer is another trip to the ER.  This time it really was a broken bone.  Even more of a pain in the ass.

We've had two children die in the time I've lived here.  There are memorials in the park - a bench for one and a decorated tree for the other.  Those memories will remain there.

Now the playground is gone.  Closed.  Fenced off.  For about two years it will be closed.  It will be renovated - made new, bigger and better.  I'm sure it will be fun and a better fit for the kids who are now too big for the small equipment that was the center of the old playground.  But my girls and I feel sad for the playground we knew.  We will miss it.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Resurrection of Chivalry

I know this post might get me in trouble with some of my friends but I'm going to do it anyway.

So there.

I think chivalry has a place in this world.  It's not a man or woman thing.  It's a manners thing.

The other day I was walking into a building where I was scheduled to work.  I was several steps behind three people - two women and a man.  They didn't acknowledge me at all; they were just walking and chattering away with each other.  We got to the door and the two women went in ahead of me while the man held the door open.  He waited for me - which I appreciated.  We all get through security and the same thing happened at the next set of doors.  Then we got to the elevator and he did it again.  He didn't say anything to me but I made sure to say thank you to him and quietly said  have a great day! as he exited the elevator.  He was polite and I was appreciative.

It makes me bonkers when people don't hold the door open for the person behind them.  If there's only one key panel in an elevator, if you're standing near it ask what floors the others need to have selected.  It's not hard.  If a man holds the door open for me, I don't think what an ass!  He thinks I can't open the door myself!  He must think I'm inferior to him!  On the contrary, I think He has nice manners.  I'm not really fond of being called ma'am but it beat bitch.  By the same token, I hold the door for others - especially my elders.  It's nothing more than manners.

I have a friend (male) who will walk through the door first and my kids and I follow.  Most of the time I accept it but rarely does it happen where my kids don't give me a WTH look.  I've instructed them to do as I've taught them - hold the door open for others (including him).  Maybe he will figure it out.

This little hissy fit came to mind when I watched the state of the union address.  I don't give a rat's ass what your political affiliation is.  You can be a democrat, republican, socialist, freak - I don't care.  However, when the President of your country introduces a 102 (!!!) year old woman, you stand.  Period.  The Speaker of the House - second in line to the Presidency after the vice president - didn't stand.  I don't necessarily thing he needed to stand because she's a woman (though in all honesty, my mother might disagree there).  I absolutely think he should have stood because she has lived 102 years, making her his elder.

I remember a facebook discussion not too long ago where several of my (female) friends found it condescending that a man will open a door for them.  Personally, I disagree.  I don't find it condescending.  But then again, I hold doors open for women and men - I don't discriminate.  I do get audibly pissy, though, when a man doesn't hold the door open.  Maybe I do it for women.  The fact is I rarely walk behind a woman who isn't polite.

My hissy fit is done now.

Monday, February 4, 2013

A year is a long time.....sort of

A year ago today my mother in law died.  There aren't many days I can remember in such detail.  I remember that day clearly.  I started thinking about this last year and all the things that have happened.    I'll limit the list to related things:

1.  We learned that while we were sad for much of this year, life does indeed go on.

2.  My girls grew to be almost as tall as Ruth was when she died.  That's a lot of growth for a year.

3.  My ex and I learned to work together for things that didn't involve our families.  We were always fine with that but couldn't get ourselves together for other things.  We're better now.

4.  I walked 26.2 miles and my girls cheered countless other walkers.

5. I got my first mammogram in several years.  I'm grateful to the woman at one of the Avon Walk events who asked MY DAUGHTER if she knew when was the last time I had a mammogram.  I think I'd only had one since their birth.  I'm back on track.

6.  She had another grandchild - the first grandson - born.

7.  Okay, not related but I feel the need to brag.  I have kids with all A's and B's on their report cards.  Ruth (who was a teacher at one point) would be proud.

That's a lot of change for a year.  It's interesting - I don't often have a clear recollection of a year (not sure if that makes sense).  I clearly remember last Feb. 4 and here we are today. That's a very clear year for me.  It's been surprisingly fast.  But what a year it's been!  I hope we have many more years of growth and happiness.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Bite me, Martha Stewart

I am not the most domestic person.  My office is currently sitting in boxes in my living room.  We are pretending not to see the Christmas tree in the corner.  There might be a sock or two under the couch.  This is not my area of expertise.

But every once in a while I get the domestic gene kicking in and I feel the need to do things.  Sometimes it means getting all the laundry done in one day.  That's rare.  More recently it means cooking.

My mother lives in a senior living complex that is "kosher inspired".  I don't even know what that means....inspired.....other than they don't eat bacon.  I do know they eat a lot of chicken which means my mom asks me to cook anything but chicken.  Now, I'm not a great cook but when I bother to do things, it tends to be chicken.  So the challenge was on.

She asked for meat loaf.  Sigh.  I got my girl scout badge in cooking by making meat loaf.  I'm pretty sure I've made it ONCE since then.  For a reason - I hate touching meat.  But I did it.  I made two, actually.  I had the ingredients so why not?  Oh yeah, I have a kid who won't eat it.  But I have another and a boyfriend who will.  Good enough.  Oh - Rachel Ray can bite me, too!  Why?  Because her idea of freezing the ends of bread and then using them to make your own bread crumbs SUCKS.  The food processor doesn't want to grind up frozen bread.  But I got enough to make it work, all the while cursing Rachel Ray under my breath.

But there's more!

I made cheese and bacon potato skins!  Why?  Because the 10 pound bag of potatoes was the same price as the 3 pound bag.  I need to do something with it, right?

And more.

Yesterday, my kids, me, and boyfriend went to my mom's to celebrate Andrew's and my birthdays.  So I made stromboli (two, again because I could.  And because the ingredients would go bad shortly.  And because, well, why not?).  Before the stromboli, I made a birthday cake.

So, let's see....that's two strombolis, one cake, a bunch of potato skins with cheese and bacon, and two meat loaves.

But wait!  There's more!

I made a big pot of chili.  Again, I had the ingredients so why not?  I'll tell you why not.  I just gave my mom some of the last batch I made and I'm the only one in the house who eats it.  I'll be eating it for a few months.  But that's okay.  Really I made it because it's snowing and that's the perfect snowy day food.

And.....drum roll, please.....I made super yummy chicken wings.  These worried me.  I've never made them before - I didn't have to.  I was married to a really good cook and remain friendly enough with him so that when I'm craving wings (never happens in reality), I can call him and ask if I can come for dinner.  But it's time to be a big girl and cut that cord.  So I made my own.  Okay, he sent me the recipe and gave me a few tips but I MADE THEM!  I even bought hot sauce.  And they were yummy!

All of this domestic-ness has made me tired.  I never even got out of my pjs today.  None of us did.  And I have more food than easily fits in my freezer or fridge.  But we'll be eating yummy stuff this week.

I wonder how the June Cleaver's or Donna Reed's of the world did this daily.  Oh, that's right.  They didn't cook a bazillion things ALL AT THE SAME TIME!  And they were probably drunk by 8pm.  It's after 10 and I haven't even started drinking!  What's wrong with me?