Wednesday, February 25, 2009


When the trees turn green and the wind blows warmly down the river valley, I will most likely find myself back to this place.

I have sat at this bench many times, for many reasons. Reflection, boredom, escape. I've sat, watching fishermen situated under the bridge, hoping for the big Walleye. Maybe they sit in their boats for the same reason I sit at this park bench, using a fishing pole as a prop so as to not seem purposeless.

I watch as barges float by, impossibly silent and serene. They look unoccupied, save a solitary figure walking against the flow of the river as he makes his way to the cabin. He looks like he is going nowhere, as if he is strolling in the opposite direction on an automatic walkway. I figure it probably isn't a very good idea to jump up and down in one place on a moving barge, especially if standing by a large object. Would they fall over it or crash into it on the way down?

I have sat at this bench a few times, daring myself not to leave the bench until way after sundown. Maybe a argument or a bruised ego found me here, and this bench is as far away as I will come to ever running away from home. The chill of the coming evening and the sting of mosquitoes, plunging their needles into my skin tells me my passive-aggressive nature will not win out.

I am always alone at this park bench, except for the constant companion of high frequency ringing in my ears, not unlike the sound of the mosquitoes zeroing in to steal my blood. The river draws me in, not physically, but emotionally. It is the ultimate "road not taken". I watch the river forever flowing within the boundaries of its shores until it finds freedom in the wide expanse of the oceans.

In comparison to the river, I am a mere creek, twisting its way out of existence before it can ever merge with the sea.

Monday, February 23, 2009

In the name of pride.

I noticed that my youngest daughter was unusably quiet this weekend and was not her normal quirky self. Knowing what time of year it was, I had my druthers as to what the culprit was. So seeing that I had her full and undivided attention in the van this morning, heading for school, I asked her if she tried her best on her essay paper, which is her second attempt.

"Mom, I enjoy essay writing", she cried, "and I wanted to be able to express myself the best that I could. But the paper I was going to write I can't anymore because it ended up so big of a project I would have never gotten it done, so now I'm writing a new one so I can hand it in, so the teacher doesn't think I'm a slacker. It'll be late, but I don't care."

To do this, she has put her other classes in jeopardy.

I tried to explain to her that there will be other times in life where she can express herself outside of the confines of the Department of Education's layout for high school English essay papers. It isn't worth failing the rest of her classes for this one paper. Her English teacher isn't going to care that she didn't give up...he will just count the paper null and void because she turned the paper in late. Again.

"I just want to do something I can be proud of", my daughter sniffed, as she exited the van.

"I'm proud of you." I replied from the recesses of my heart.

I don't think that counts though.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

And she's gone.

Last week, my daughter and son-in-law finally started married life together in another state after six months of separation. She called me to tell me about the duplex they are renting. "It has a dishwasher!!!" she excitedly pointed out to me. I am so glad for her husband, since the girl couldn't hand wash a dish to save even my life.

She called me while she was cooking her first dinner in their new lodgings, sounding as giddy as a toddler with a new Easy Bake Oven. She asks me how much is two-thirds of a cup. She senses my confusion and explains that she forgot to buy measuring cups when they went grocery shopping to set up their pantry.

She calls me every morning with a cheery "Good Morning", which is bizarre since she isn't a "morning person". While at home, I was lucky if I got a grumpy mumbled imitation of the greeting.

She calls me while she's shopping at the BX.

She calls me as she's driving through town.

She Calls Me. All. The. Time.

She's five-hundred miles away, yet I feel she is still here with all the phone calls.

I am so incredibly lucky.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dashboard Moments

Since I live a whole block too close to my daughter's school, and her unwavering fear of acquiring a driver's license (not like I am in a huge hurry for her to be driving anyway), I take her to and from every day. I'm not complaining mind you...we spend the time talking about everything from political issues to the upcoming Star Trek movie and how it better not end up full of fail, as she puts it.

One day I decided to stash a camera in my purse, just in case I might see something interesting while I was out and about. Sitting at a stoplight, first at the line, I thought I would snap a picture and try an experiment where I would post the resulting snapshots under the heading of "Dashboard Moments", and tell a story about what I viewed at that particular intersection.

So, without further ado (or adon't), here is my first installment.


The Green Mill Fire Aftermath

Most anyone who grew up in my town or surrounding area (you know who you are) probably ate at this restaurant which was at the corner of Columbus and Madison Streets. It was one of the longest running restaurants in Ottawa. My family and I ate there at least once a month when I was a child. I remember a man named Nick, who would meet my parents at the door, and welcome them with a flourish of , "Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Leach! Your booth is open towards the back. Your lovely family can take a seat and your waitress will be with you very soon."

He actually knew my parents by name! We had our "regular booth"! I felt very special as he would escort us to our seats and hand us our menus. The booths were slightly worn down by years of patrons, and I had to sit on my feet to reach the table top comfortably. I remember that there was an unsaid rule that moms and dads ordered from one side of the menu where the steaks and seafood dwelled, and children ordered from the other side of the menu where the hot dogs, hamburgers and fish sandwiches lurked. I asked one day why I couldn't order a steak.

"Well, you are too young cut your own steak. Your Father ends up cutting it for you, and by the time he is done, his food is cold. It's not fair. When you are able to cut your own steak, you can order one."

Mom was right. It wasn't fair that my dad would have to eat cold steak, so I settled for a fish sandwich. Sometimes I would plead that I was "old enough" to cut my own steak, but after a few failed tries, my dad would set off to work, making sure my steak was cut in small enough pieces where I couldn't choke while eating. Dad would then start cutting into his cooled off steak and I would feel a twinge of guilt. If I was well behaved, didn't order steak, ate my dinner and didn't fight with my sister, I would get to order dessert. It was usually rice pudding with cream and cinnamon. I loved the candied orange pieces that hid among the creamy comfort of the pudding. I thought of them as little gems I had to dig for.

The Green Mill changed hands few times through the years, and I had always thought about stopping in for a bite, to see if I could transport myself in time where a cheery and graicous man named Nick would make me feel like I had the most important family in the world. But I never did, because reality is never as bright and shiny as the memory of a child.

Because all the cool kids are doing it...

...I have a Facebook account.

Now, what do I do with it?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Winter Pallor, or, "A Paler Shade of White".

I stumble out of my warm bed to be welcomed by the chilly morning air. I assume it's morning. My alarm clock reads 6:01 am, but the sun has other plans as it still is hiding below my horizon. I turn on the bathroom light and scowl at my reflection in the mirror, my skin's shade of white echoing the color of last night's dusting of snow.

I blame it on the lights above the bathroom sink...

Okay, enough of the poetic monologue...I am so frickin' sick of winter! It's yet another morning of single digit f*ckitude. This is the Winter of my discontent.

But, then, when have I ever been content with Winter?


In other personal news, because isn't that what a blog is supposed to be about? Personal stuff? My daughter's cat Valhalla, the cat who wasn't there, is now a permanent fixture on my living room chair. She has finally decided that there is more to the house than the upstairs bedroom. Val has bravely ventured downstairs, took on the corgis and won for now. There is a detente at the moment, sporadically broken by one of the corgis venturing too near Val's bunker on one of the dining room chairs, resulting in a barrage of hissing, barking, yelping, and bruised doggy egos.

And she is such an affectionate cat! Look at her rub up against my leg, meowing sweetly...awww!

"Mom, she isn't rubbing against your leg, she backing up against your leg", Rachel explains drolly, as only Rachel can. "She's in heat. Again."

Nothing like being reminded of the *feline birds and bees by my younger daughter. Gawd, I feel so used.


My son-in-law has graduated from his IT classes at the AF base in Biloxi, and is now home for few weeks, working in the local recruiter's office, shanghi-ing signing up potential recruits. In the first year my daughter and her husband have been married, they have lived apart. They will be moving to Nebraska and finally be starting their married live together. May reality slap them upside the head gently. Please.

So, in about a month, be prepared to read a weepy, glurgy post about mommies letting their daughters fly from the nest and all that while Perry Como sings "Turn Around" in the background. Hell, she flew from the nest years ago. At least she thought she did in her sixteen-year-old-I-know-it-all mind that prematurely reared it's head at age seven.

I knew enough not to let go back then. Hopefully I'll know enough to do so when the time comes.

*Yes, the cat is going to be fixed.