The only thing I regret is the fact that sometimes life moves along at a pace which doesn’t allow for appreciation of such important moments. So it is today in the season of shredding old tax documents and preparing last year’s taxes, that I am cleaning out my drafts to assemble a gratitude post.

November 24, 2022Thanksgiving in Seattle

The tide was in that morning, the rain rolling down the huge picture windows on the Puget Sound beach house that my daughter-in-law’s father owns – a spectacular vacation or retreat spot. The waves were choppy, and there were three intrepid ducks, or geese – couldn’t quite tell through the watery glass. The relentlessly upbeat music from early morning cartoons pulsated from the little TV in the living room area. The eldest Gdaug (pronounced Gdog) had just finished one of a series of seven beauty masks, a gift from her soon-to-be aunt Ally, and the two girls were eating their breakfast two feet from the tiny screen, spooning the cheerios into their rapt faces (or mouths, to be somewhat more precise).

This cozy scene recalled my own childhood cartoon rituals, in the book lined den of our southwestern Pennsylvania home. We three children, each carefully planned to be two years apart, would vie for the primary position, cradled in a big leather club chair, feet flung over the left arm of the chair, heads tilted back against the right arm. The later risers would have to watch from the sofa across the room. That TV was about a 12″ TV, so arrival time mattered if you were to see the cartoons. Remember when dens featured the literary tastes of their owners, rather than the size of their expenditures at Best Buy? I’m grateful for having grown up in the former type of den, where boredom was rewarded with the curt instruction to “read something.”

The rain continued to pelt the new roof, and on it’s way down it hit the flat shingled water-facing back of the cottage, coursing in gentle rivulets down the glass, akin to the pre-suds moment in the carwash drive through. The ingenious windows also have side casements with screens, including little rhomboid shaped panels that can be opened to reach the casement glass so that they can be opened for fresh air without the accompanying mosquitos or flies. I was grateful that day for good window design, and for the thoughtful planning of the home’s owner to minimize annoyances for the visiting families.

Later in the day, I was grateful, too, for the beautiful Thanksgiving table we were graced to sit at, three generations of two families and two generations of a third. We were at Sam and Ally’s table, Sam, the brother of my son’s wife. Ally’s mom, Krista, had prepared the beautiful meal, and as we sat assembled at the table, I felt embraced in the bosom of a newly minted family.

Riding Downhill – June 9, 2020

Saturday’s stationary cycling tour was a ride down Mount Haleakalā in Maui. No, not a real ride, but a virtual ride on my stationery cycle. Anyone who’s been fortunate to do the live downhill glide on bikes from the moonlike crater at the top of the now dormant volcano knows that there is very little pedaling required. Gravity reigns. Nevertheless, that morning I managed to work up a sweat during the forty minute ride.

Not sure why I chose that ride, but while I was on the ride, my mind rolled back to the two times I’ve watched the sun rise over Mt. Haleakalā, one of the true wonders, and one of the coldest places I’ve ever been. The first time Jimmie and I went to Maui, we were relative newlyweds; we spent a blissful week in one of the high rise condos on the west coast of Maui, getting way too sunburned, and taking our first trip up to the summit in our rental car to watch the sunrise.

Years later, shortly after our Mom died, our Dad generously took all his children and their children to Maui again, this time the entire crew staying at the Napili Bay Resort. It was a wonderful vacation, at Christmas time; all the children flowed back and forth in the yard behind the various condos. We had a muddy New Year’s Day football game back there, and Chris, twenty-two years later, still remembers being chased by someone’s escaped Rottweiller and having to duck down behind some patio furniture along with another tourist who was also being chased.

One morning we all got up at 2:00AM and all went in the van from the resort up to the top of the volcano. Jimmie and Chris stayed at Napili Bay because Chris was too young for the 12 year old cut off age for the ride. There were about eight or ten of us in the van, all in various states of grogginess, many of us pretty grouchy to have been woken up that early when we were on vacation. I was sitting in the back seat of the van next to my oldest brother, Don, when we got the irrepressible shoulder-shaking-spittle and snort-inducing giggles. I wish I could remember what set us off, but I don’t.

In the photo my very irritated sister-in-law took, I’m wearing my recently departed Mom’s glamour shades, and we’re both wearing the tour company’s slickers, styled with the attached hood’s bills back in some sort of perverse fashion flair. These slickers, incidentally, were completely inadequate for the cold conditions awaiting us at the top of the volcano. Eventually we got to the top and shivered while we waited for the sun to come up and crest over the eastern edge of the crater. After the spectacular appearance of the sun above the clouds, we all mounted bikes and began the ride down the road along the side of the volcano. At the bottom, I think we had breakfast before heading back to the hotel. That morning back in June 2020 before I gifted my stationery bike to my brother, I relived the feeling of the early morning wind against my face, smiling as we descended the mountain, me in my virtual world, and the faceless backs of those riders in front of me on my ipad.

At the bottom of the hill after our ride.

Cleansing Over – Back to Now – Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023

Sorry for subjecting you to my death cleansing of the WordPress drafts, but both were pertinent to these recent weeks past. Last weekend my son told me he was going to be in Anaheim for the State All-Star Hockey game and that he’d been selected to be the All-Star Coach of the All-Star Hockey game. Excitedly, I told him I’d be able to go watch him coach those games, just to let me know when and where. Sunday, he said.

The instructions arrived via text at 10:24PM Saturday night. I looked up the rink, and planned to leave at 11 the next morning. When I arrived at the Rink, it was a huge complex, four rinks in all, with figure skating, adult men’s hockey and youth hockey happening. I had no idea of what the team was called, or what rink it was in. 😳

I texted him “Hi I just got to the rink. Huge. What rink?”

Unbeknownst to me, Chris had no service in the rink so hadn’t seen my text. I stood there for a moment, then looked around in bewilderment and began to look at the signs outside rink 3 – none of the team names made any sense, and suddenly felt the power of the phrase “needle in a haystack.”

Just then, I recognized the president of Chris’ company, Leo, walking by. His head was down, and he looked up and saw me but displayed no sign of recognition. (I later learned he was on the phone.) But the relief was palpable and I followed him to Rink 4 where the game was beginning. There Chris was, All-Star Coach on a bench of the state’s top Hockey players. I was pretty proud. After getting over my confusion about the 3 on 3 format for two periods, I fell into my parental appreciation of good hockey skills. After the first game (of three that day), we went out and grabbed lunch between games. His team won the whole shebang and afterwards, I enjoyed watching him in his milieu (backstage as it were). Constantly assessing the scene. Players to recruit, skills to rank. So nice to see your child as an adult and expert in their field.

Well, I’ve procrastinated long enough from assembling my taxes. But in the meantime, old years shredded, old drafts repurposed. Life is so rich -don’t let the memories get away.

5 thoughts

  1. I vividly remember Jimmie getting an excited, squirming 8-year old Chris kitted up for a soccer game as I tried my best to help. And I also remember that 8-year old getting so frustrated with his fellow (not as skilled teammates) that he just started playing All of the positions (while his Russian coach yelled “Chris! Chris! Defense! Defense!”). Meanwhile, Jimmie and I had been conscripted into both scorekeeping (on the electronic board, no less) as well as tracking timeouts in the Penalty Box.😳🤪 Quite the experience. I just kept looking at Jimmie, going “Wait! Are we Doong this??!”

  2. Lovely, as always Els. Thanks for sharing your memories. They are more important now, somehow. I was already a big reader when, as a child, I would complain about being bored. My mom would say, “then Clean Your Room!” Ha ha. So I’d toddle off to my room and read, because I really did not want to clean my room. Miss you!

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