Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Sweetest Years...

One of the only features I find myself liking about Facebook now a days is the memories feature.  It's interesting to me to look back and see where I was last year, or even 7 years ago. Five years ago this week, I posted a picture of the first professional gluten free birthday cake, with the caption 37 never tasted so good.  

Now a days you can get a professionally decorated, gluten free cake nearly everywhere provided you order it in advance, making it not so special anymore... kind of like your 42nd birthday.

I'm not going to lie, those who have been here a while know that birthdays have not gone so well for me.  My 40th was spent in the hospital, on an IV, with no food for 6 days.  My 41st was spent on an extremely long work day, as my bosses decided I needed to train someone and could no longer have it off, and then at Boy Scouts, where I in fact, became in charge of it all.  I literally got a boy Scout Troop of 32 for my birthday, complete with a balloon, thanks to one thoughtful cub scout who was at the meeting with his brother.  And as sweet as that sounds, I went home and cried.

Don't misunderstand me, the Troop has had it's share of fond memories over the last year, but for the most part it has become more of a job, making Mondays suck even more.  It's not the Scouts, but more the paperwork and protocol of it all.  There is, however, an end in sight for me though, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Where was I?  Oh, yes... this year I decided not to tell anyone.  I took it off Facebook, said nothing at work, and it happened to fall on my day off.  It was just too risky... no one would know, except those in the know... and I could avoid all unwanted, nonreturnable gifts.

I attempted to sleep in, and actually made it to about 730. Unable to fall back to sleep, I cleaned house, and started sanding the bathroom ceiling. Now, I know what you're reading that, rolling your eyes and thinking "Now that's a girl gone wild kind of party right there", but trust me it was sweaty, dirty, hot, and I was bra-less in my jammies.  What?  Did you think I'd actually get dressed to clean? Um, no.

Anyway... after I showered I went to lunch with my Mum, did a little Christmas shopping at the Plaza.  Went for ice cream, then swung into the pet store on the way home to get a new fish for the tank.  Once the kids got home, we went to dinner. Youngest insisted I have steak.  I ended up having the scallops and lobster risotto, but Youngest assured me the steak was delicious.

As the night settled in, we all came home to a strawberry shortcake, made my me, over the previous 2 days.  The strawberries were candied for hours, the cake just spongy enough, and just a scant shy on the home made whipped cream.

It was a great day, and I was genuinely surprised at how many people actually did remember my birthday through texts and calls.  Proving that while 37 may have tasted good, 42 can be just as sweet.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Thursday Night's Hallways...

Oldest has found himself training for the upcoming basketball season by playing in not one, but two leagues this fall.  For the last two and a half months we have found ourselves sitting in the corner of many a gym, sneakers squeaking, balls bouncing off every available surface, on average, 5 days a week.

Two of those days are practice at an elementary school here in town.  Our town has 7 currently, but this is the first one... the oldest one.  It was built in 1913 as the town's only high school.  In 1934 they expanded it to incorporate all grades.  A customer of mine is an alumni of this very school.  He just attended his 70th reunion, in the same school house he attended K-12 in. Just the concept of this is awesome to me, that he both celebrated his 70th high school reunion, and that he attended all of his schooling there.

I tried sitting in the gym in the beginning of the season.  The floors are real hardwood, pitted and buckled from over a century of active play time.  The polish is worn, the floorboards so weathered in places that no amount of sanding will get them smooth.  The base of the walls are a sand colored brick, above which stands ancient windows, 20 feet high, covered in metal cages, protecting the distorted glass from overachieving athletes. Balls and sneakers meeting the hard and worn surfaces make for a sensory overload I can not block out, so about a week into the season I began to wander.

 I have fast become friendly with the night custodians, as it allows me to wander the halls of this relic. In the front entry hangs a metal engraved sign proudly displaying the names of the 1917-19 American Legion.  A safety inspection certificate from 1956 is displayed just to the left of the main door.  Each door's a solid hardwood, stained a traditional oak color. They display hand painted numbers just under the 16 glass window panes, each knob complete with a back plate and key hole, a perfect fit for a skeleton key.

Each classroom easily has 18 foot ceilings, The windows span nearly the entire wall and they open, full and wide.  Radiators sit high up on the walls in the hallways, so as not to burn little hands that pass by.  The auditorium doubles as the library, the domed ceiling adds to the acoustics. A stone relief of a puritan and her child hangs in the doorway, a gift from the class of 1939.

The stairways are worn.  Stair treads dip from little feet that have clamored up and down. The twisted wrought iron railings have been painted gold, perhaps to reflect the sunlight from yet another over-sized weather worn window that adorns the wall.  Even the girl's bathroom hosts a mirror, 6 by 20 feet large, etched with traditional names of the past... "Barbara, Ester, Catherine all were here".  

The building stands three stories in total.  There are 3 night custodians, all very accommodating with a story or two. The oldest one recalls the day Warner Brothers took it over and filmed scenes there nearly twenty years ago.  Funny, Hollywood can recreate nearly everything now, and yet they still come here, where the real history is, the kind that can not be created in a studio.  The kind of history that can only be felt deep in the grain of the wood, the smell of the walls, the nuances of the glass and heard in the creaks of the floors and hiss of the radiators.  There are spirits here.  You can feel them wandering the halls.  They feel childlike and safe, and when I wander far enough away from the gym I swear I can almost hear them.

Oldest's practice lasts about an hour.  My tours are not long and every week I find something new. Tonight I found a cast iron fire alarm that I have no doubt still works. I return to the gym just as he staggers out, exhausted, sweaty, completely unaware of the history he is enveloped in. At nearly sixteen, he doesn't get it.  It's likely that none of the children that grace these halls 180 days a year will ever get it.  It's hard to see the beauty of it all when everything seems to give way to the newest and best in technology. The new schools steal from the budget, and the relics like this, so I am told, suffer.  They need a new roof, new flooring, and desperate repairs in critical, but indiscriminate places.

I suppose that that's the way it is for most things now.  Next year they will open the newest of the two high schools, demolishing the existing one that's just thirty years old. The same one their father graduated from in 1991.  History is lost in progress and technology.  And yet, here this school stands, nearly 104 years later.

And here I sit, outside the principal's office like a misbehaving child, soaking it all in.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

It's Echoing....

It's not often that I conceded to being sick.  Sniffles, yes.  Cold? Pains? Tired? Yuppers!  But actually sick, no.  And yet, this week, I cried uncle.

September's back to school has hit our house relatively hard.  For the last two weeks I've had a weird strain of a painful stomach bug, that lessened into extreme fatigue, that lended to a full on feverish cold, plagued with an inner ear imbalance that has caught me falling on my butt on multiple occasions. It's so much fun.

I have been fortunate that the bulk of the worst days were on my days off, not unlike today, where the most energy I could muster before 2pm was to lift the clicker to adjust the volume on my Dreamworks movie marathon.  Youngest joined me, it was quite nice.  Luckily the only part of this bug that effected the boys was the tiredness.

The husband has been stepping up a bit, running the boys to appointments and practices.  He even went to the grocery store, twice, picking up a lot of main events, but neglecting the rest of the small things that would make them meals. I guess we just need to better utilize the art of the sticky note.  What can I say, we're a work in progress.  He tries though, and scores points for that.

So, with this extra time, half conscious on the couch, I have begun to think about the holidays.  Youngest has decided the only thing he wants is Panic! At the Disco concert tickets.  Oldest wants a bigger bed. He is, after all, almost 6 feet tall. The other day I got a random text stating "I woke up to a huge hole in my wall.  Should I cover it with a poster?  I must have done it with my elbow in my sleep."  

Our list is also small, the husband and I are going away for the night in November, and that's about it.  I had contemplated the ECHO for him.  It's a new little gadget that sits on the table.  It has voice recognition and, similar to SIRI, answers questions from the  web, plays music, and can control the functions of your house if you have wireless capability.

Crazy right?  But think about it.... he can just say Echo, turn on the TV.  or Echo, turn down the heat.  He can check last night's sports scores, or check the weather.  Youngest could shut off his bedroom lights without ever going downstairs.

I can not tell you how often they all ask me to google something, to check on this, or what the square root of 5 is.  I have become, like most Moms, the information desk for everyone in this house.  Which is nice, but tiring.  Think about how much I could get done if I was not trying to figure out math equations or finding a random song from a 1980's obscure band that Tony can't quite figure out the lyrics to.

Now I recognize that I'd be sacrificing conversation with my family for my sanity. But I'd be making them more self sufficient, and bringing the husband into this century. I'd be less annoyed with the "Ma, Ma, MA, Maaaaaaaaaa" and may even be able to find my own inner peace!  All for the price of $179.

 And apparently, you can name it so it knows when you want it to answer.

Youngest wants to call it "Juli."