Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The spawn are on vacation this week. They're overbearing. Like the smell of lobsters boiling.

Claire turned 9 on Sunday. She was born 2/20/02 at 2 p.m. ringing in at 20 inches long. Don't know what kind of stars had to align for that to happen and whether or not that means that she's destined to be greater than the sum of her parents. We'll find out.

She didn't get to decide what to do for her birthday. Mostly because her controlling mother didn't want to throw her a birthday party. Mostly because her fretful mother worried that if she had a birthday party over the vacation no one would show up and then there would follow a fit of self despair like none we've ever seen before. Mostly because I (her controlling mother) thought that a little quality time with just me and her father would be the best birthday present. So we drove South. To my parent's place.

And gramma, being the best gramma there is, baked her a cake. And gramma, being the best gramma there is, provided us with tickets to see Mary Poppins at the Boston Opera House. And Pop-Pop, being the best Pop-Pop there is, told us which bus to take and where to go when we got off that said bus. And Pop-Pop, being the best Pop-Pop there is, watched two rambunctious boys for 24 hours.

And so on this said bus, we didn't talk about issues with school work and math. We learned to knit.

And so in this crazy city, we didn't talk about how to deal with friends and gossip and the no-nos of talking behind backs. We got a first time ever manicure.

We didn't talk about how (maybe) we could (maybe) be a little (sorta) nicer to our brothers. No, we wore new birthday clothes and leather pouches full of dreams.

We didn't broach puberty.

Nope, we rode the subway for the first time.

We didn't tackle responsibilities around the house.

We ate Chinese in Chinatown with the Chinamen and Chinawomen.

We didn't tell her there wasn't a Santa.

Nope. We made deposits in the bank. For later.

I don't think she was mad that I made these plans. That this all happened instead of a bowling party.

I liked that it was us. We. Before them. Again. For her to remember what that felt like.

I think she liked it too.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I think I Won.

My brother used to womp my ass at Rich Uncle. It was a musty game in an old collection of moldy ones at my grandparent's hunting camp in upstate New York. This game, in particular, had to do with money. And in the same likeness, he would beat the shit out of me in Monopoly. And then, after giving my ass a good old fashioned whooping, he would gloat; and although I can't remember the direct manner in which he gloated, I can only imagine that he might have stuck his index fingers straight in the air and then pumped them up and down in the manner one might take to milk a cow. I remember the distinct feeling of dejection. It tasted like salt water.

Now these games had a strategic element to them. And it might make sense that he, being the older, smarter sibling, should kick my ass. But he would take me to the cleaners in such games as Go Fish, War, Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land and any of the sort of games that required only the right LUCK to win. He would still kick the crap out of me.

But I continued to try. I would continue to try to race him around the house, only to come huffing and puffing three minutes behind him. I would continue to try to win at PIG at the basketball hoop, only to spell PIG before he even made it to P. He asked and I never gave up.

I was remembering this when I drove the 4.25 hours home from Augusta, Maine this weekend. The Green Mountain Girls had a tournament. We lost all of our four games. All of them. Now the last one and first one were close...so we may have had a chance and that makes playing any game worth it. But in the second one I felt no more useful than an orange construction cone. And in the third, we just plain sucked.

And so on that long and tiresome and lonely ride home I contemplated this suckingness. As I passed lumber yards and general stores and church parking lots full of Sunday's best, I looked back over my life and saw all the losses, all the close ones, all the images I have of my own fallen head, slumped shoulders, thrown sticks, maybe even a few tears. As I passed ponds littered with ice houses and snowmobile trails running perpendicular to paved roads and abandoned houses and alternately houses filled with shit up to the ceiling I considered why I drive all these miles to play these games with these women only to lose.

I play because she plays her heart out. Even with a broken hand or bum knee. She plays even when a whole team has her number and is out to get her.

I play because she loves hockey so much that this Valentine's Day was perfect because she got a new pair of hockey gloves. And her birthday before she got new hockey pants. And the Christmas before she got new shoulder pads. And so on. And so on. And so on.

I play because the girl on the left has the tenacity of a bull dog and the girl on the right, well we have our moments out there on the ice.

I play because she's just plain sweet.

And because she's just plain good.

I play because, win or lose, we always get ready in the locker room with the idea that we can win. That we will win.

And just in case we don't, I can count on us coming back to the hotel, cracking a few beers, putting on our high heels and our acid wash jeans (well, some of us) and hitting the crazy nightlife that these small New England towns can afford.

We pay extra money for the shows.

The Gun Shows that is.

But the laughter, the laughter is always free.

So with four hours of sleep under my belt and the frost heaves exacerbating the headache brought on by some watery beer called Blue Light, ingested because of some game called beer pong, I went through my life and took stock of my lack of victories. Every sundown the three Final Four trophies on my bookcase, none of them National Championship trophies, shimmer in the pinkish gold setting sun. I refuse to throw them to the sharks in the landfill. I see THAT one tiny step away from the Olympic team. Almost, but not quite. I see professors telling me I'm not smart enough to get a Phd in English. I see teaching failures. I see coaching failures. I see all these things I wasn't victorious at.

And then I turned right on Rte. 302 right outside Bethlehem, N.H. I've been on this road before. It was familiar, I knew where I was. I knew how to get home. It wouldn't be long now.

I pulled up the driveway, unpacked my hockey stuff, said hello to the dogs, sat in a quiet house for a moment. I looked around at the mess...left behind by kids and life and extreme sports. This life. More specifically HIM:

He is my one true victory.

Thirteen years ago he asked me to be his wife. I might have failed at being my best in all things up until that point. But from that eventful Valentine's Day until now Paul Bunyan has made me a better person.

He tells me to go play.

And even though we lose it doesn't taste like salt water.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Just For the Record

Sydney asked me to go for a walk with her this morning. She asked very politely and waited patiently for me to wash some clothes, so I thought I would join her. That and she's been taking herself for walks all week so I figured I would do the responsible thing and actually put her on a leash.

Because, you know, I'm a very responsible pet owner.

She asked me if I would stuff my camera in my jacket to take pictures of her and the yard and the road and all the snow. And since I wasn't doing much of anything today besides laundry, I thought I would oblige.

I've been wanting to document all this snow. Paul Bunyan doesn't think we've had so much (accumulative) in the yard ever, as in EVER. We never had our annual January thaw this year. Sheesh, I hope I didn't just jinx us.

I love me this winter stuff. I love me this snow. I love me this cold weather. Not sure the chickens do. But they lay anyway.

Paul Bunyan has been one with the tractor these days.

Things are piling up around here.

Perfect for fort building.

Well Sydney took us up the hill and we measured snow banks with my shoulders.

And then on the way down we ran into this guy.

For those who don't live in New England, this grater is pushing back the snow for the more snow that's going to come...Sunday.

I mean we're really only halfway through the winter.

And I'm like a college student not wanting to go home after my semester at sea. I know, it's crazy.

But the snow makes me feel surrounded by insulation. As if my walls are now thick enough to keep my heat in.

And the loaders come to make the piles bigger.

And every time the grater comes to push back the snow for more, I get excited. There is MORE! to come. I've always imagined that our hearts have little graters and loaders. I thought of this when we were about to add two more persons to our family of three. I thought, "where is this love going to fit? My heart already floweth over." And then here came the grater to push back the love to make more room. And the loader just piled the love banks higher.

Sydney and Liebe told me that they agreed there's always room for more love and that they're ready for a new addition. But when I told Paul Bunyan this he threw a banana in my face.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Timmy's Tale Told By Me

Okay, so I'm exaggerating the size of his helmet. But by gosh am I glad he was wearing one.

And okay, so I might be exaggerating the rail slide. But by gosh he's getting close.

Timmy wanted me to let you know that he had poles too. Yup. First day using them.

Timmy said things went black after that.

And when he came to he felt like he was in a bubble.

He got all these questions wrong.

But I'm glad there was no blood.

Timmy told me the board was blue.

And that they tipped him upside down when he puked Doritos.

But I'm not sure of all the facts. I wasn't there. Which was probably a very good thing. But I did this little exercise to help me visualize. And it helped me realize that we need not think the helmet thing a conspiracy theory by the helmet manufacturers. And it also made me realize that we need to slow the f' down.

Timmy is his punky self again. Already tired of being made to sit down while everyone else gets to jump on the bed. The brain, I guess, has this incredible ability to heal. I just hope it can withstand a few more hits; because I'm fairly certain this will not be its only blow. Be good to us brain. Please.