Enough Said

Enough Said
A sampling of my columns and why the hell is my picture SO big?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Balls, bats and Neoprene, old bones sliding home

Published 04/25/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 04/22/2013 04:34 PM

In our family, big news, we were going to Florida. We're not one of those AARP couples who spend half a year away from the gloom here to bake in the sun there. Nor are we extravagant, vacation to us is a weekend in Vermont at a friend's ski lodge during mud month. But this year another couple invited us to their winter home in the Sunshine State.
For us, just getting to the airport at 5 a.m. was an experience. Only two times in the past three years have I set my cellphone's alarm. Because I wasn't sure it worked I woke up every 15 minutes until I finally got up five minutes before it was supposed to go off. It rang right on time at 3 a.m. We were flying out of T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island, so the whole anxiety level and intimidation factor of maneuvering through a large airport was pretty low until we got there and realized that half the Northeast was flying somewhere at the same time.
Going through security was interesting; they had to pat down my right armpit. I got my shoes back but had to throw away my half-filled 8-ounce mini-bottle of Poland Spring. With a cold, and without a gulp of water, I was worrying myself into a coughing fit. The public looks at you funny if you start coughing and can't stop. I figured if it happened on the plane they'd bump me in Newark. My husband bought the smallest bottle of water they had at one of those news outlet shops; it cost $4. I'm not cheap, I'm practical, that bottle could have hydrated Death Valley.
The flight was pretty uneventful. I was able to eat my purse-packed bagel and cream cheese with a pretty decent cup of airplane coffee and I nodded off over Jersey until just before we landed in Florida, where it was was overcast and drizzling, but warm.
We were in Florida for only four days - not a lot of time. One half of our host couple still works so we stayed pretty close to home, beach, the back yard and lanai - lanai is a fancy Florida word for screened-in back porch.
While we were there we went to a senior softball game - I know, I laughed too. The teams were sponsored by area merchants and were uniformed; our host wore a red T-shirt and was sponsored by a bar located near the water treatment plant.
What was amazing to me was how hard and how well the seniors, ages 55 to 71, actually played. They were good, but for some who were off center and pin wheeling couldn't get their bodies to cooperate. Every time someone slid into a base the spectators - wives in matching red T-shirts and floppy hats, groaned from the impact of old bones against red clay.
"He's going to feel that tomorrow," was the mantra heard over and over again. Our host was sore the next morning, as sliding into third and being called out will do that to you.
During the game I counted nine black Neoprene knee braces, plus one strange looking metal knee contraption - and that was just on our team. There were seven black braces on opponents' knees, plus taped broken fingers and a first base coach wearing one of those huge black boots because of a broken foot. A few players sat out due to injuries and infirmities best left unmentioned.
Our team was victorious so we celebrated at the sponsor's bar; one can't turn down free pitchers of beer after sitting in the sun for a couple of hours.
I came home from Florida with a patch of sunburn the size of a quarter on my neck. I told everybody it was from going to the beach, but really it was from hanging out next to the dugout. Enough said.

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tectonic plate shift, one table at a time

This was the year a seismic shift took place in our family.

Our house is usually the gathering place for celebrations and holidays. It's not because we're any better at it than the rest of the clan, it's because we have the biggest dining room. My husband and I thought that this Easter our married daughters would be with in-laws, and the rest of the family would be elsewhere. We figured the holiday would be only the two of us doing yard work and partaking of one of our usual weekend favorites, chili and dogs.

Easter Sunday church service was not planned. We may be heathens but we're not hypocrites; if we don't go every week we're not going on holidays either. It was going to be a relaxing Sunday, communing with nature while stick-stacking and raking the lawn. We planned Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" later on with popcorn.

Being alone on holidays is a little strange for us but with grown children, our daughters married within six months of each other last year, holidays became a crapshoot. Our daughters' have in-laws, we have empty bedrooms.

We made mention to a few family members that if anyone wanted to come over on Sunday they certainly were welcome but it was going to be pretty laid back. So it was, that three days before Easter I began planning for 14, including my daughters, less one husband who had to work; seems that almost everybody didn't have anywhere to go either.

For me, having 14 people over for Easter dinner is pretty easy, like pizza night with decorated eggs. We prepared a very Easter-ish kind of meal of ham and lamb. I say "we" but I, as always, handed over the ovens to my husband who knows the difference between legs, shanks and butts and how best to be roast, broil or grill them. The rest of the meal was on me which means I did the veggies and reheated everything else the sister-in-laws brought.

Getting the house clean is my job and considering that we have a 100-pound shed-machine named Harley, corralling dog hair tumbleweeds is always a challenge. The only stressful part of the prep, I had to press, with a cracked iron, a 144-inch long cotton tablecloth, on a rickety old ironing board. The iron is cracked because it topples off the board all the time. I finally ironed the cloth in place, on the table; making sure to shake off the dog hair.

Even though the table seats 10 comfortably, and 12 elbow-to-elbow, we usually have to set a kids' table in the kitchen which seats six adults plus little ones on laps. It's pretty much adjacent, so children can be supervised, and no one feels left out. In our family kids are defined as anyone under 29, so supervision isn't the key, togetherness is, although at the kids' table rolls aren't passed, they are tossed.

This year, the year of the shift, with kids ranging in age from 3 to almost 30, and adults ranging in the age of none-of-your-damn-business, we swapped; kids in the dining room, adults in the kitchen. It wasn't a monolithic transference of actuality but it did tug at my heart that my parent's generation, the elders, the real adults of the family are all gone now; old folks are us.

It's a reality check for sure that we are now the grandparents and aunts and uncles, vying for the positions of patriarch and matriarch of the family. How quickly the time goes from getting an Easter basket to being the bunny who fills and leaves one.

We didn't do yard work but we did watch the kids search for eggs and fly kites. No chili and dogs, but a wonderful shared meal. Never saw Spielberg's "Lincoln" either. So when's the next holiday? Enough said.

Published in The Times newspaper, a division of The Day in New London, Connecticut.
Published 04/11/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 04/10/2013 06:44 PM

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