Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Journey

That's what this is, you know. This Journey we are all on. This life.
We all have a path. Some may think that it is preordained. That God has it all planned out for us. Some may think it is chance...and our free will to react to opportunity.
Some may think that it is a nice mix of the above.
But it is a journey. Much like a very long walk. Taking us through mountains and valleys, forests and plains, good weather and bad.
Our family has been on a particularly difficult part of our journey lately. I, like most of us, have been asking, "What is this all about?" "What am I supposed to take from this experience?"
"How do I get through this?"
Yesterday I had two experiences that led me closer to the answer to those questions.
I sat in the living room with a wonderful lady who just recently lost her husband of almost 60 years. Neighbors at the fire station. Folks we came to know after a medical emergency several years ago.
An ugly brain tumor took her husband very quickly a bout a week ago. So quick surgeons didn't have time to try to remove it. He played golf one Tuesday and died less than a week later.
You might remember Team June's experience with an ugly brain tumor. The one that took June from us almost exactly one year ago.
I believe I was able to give our friend some peace as she asked about the surgery. The surgery that probably would not have saved her husband. And very likely would have taken his spirit from her long before it took his physical body.
And in the middle of the night I stood talking with a loved one of an overdose patient. A conversation about a situation that was so heartbreakingly familiar.
I said the things to him that I remember hearing. Words spoken by....I don't even remember who. And words my cousin sent to my mother.
Words that are so very hard to hear. But so necessary to hear.
This man's pain was so real. So fresh. So...familiar.
James waited for me as I comforted him. Said those hard words. I could hear the radio faintly as he stood quietly behind me....sensing that this conversation was as much for me as it was for this man.
As we walked away I said quietly, "Right now...these are the hardest calls for me."
"Yes", James said. "But think of the comfort you just were to him."
This....this must be what this journey is for me.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Jackson 5- This old Man/ ABC 123 1974

A Little Micheal

Foggy Morning

I learned a lesson this morning. I must always take my camera with me...especially to the lake in the morning.This is what it looked like as I headed out to get practice started. A think fog was descending and with the sun just over the dam...well, it looked soooo cool. These pictures were taken with my IPhone. Not bad for a crappy camera phone.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Note To Self

Beans for dinner the night before a long day on the bike is maybe a bad idea.

You cannot fart quietly in spandex shorts.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


There is a struggle going on in our house. A struggle common to those of you with feline roommates.

Cyrus wants out.


"Let me ouuuuuuut."

Did you know that cats are very effective communicators. Very effective.

Now I understand that some of you are not 'cat people'. I'm always irritated by folks who say, "I hate cats. I'm allergic." Strangely...hating and allergic are not at all the same thing. People, most people, who don't like cats have never been around one.

Cats are more varied in personality and temperament than dogs...and I'm a 'dog person'. It's true.

Our Gus is Switzerland. Easy to get along with, likes everyone, calm, quiet (unless the water bowl is less than completely full).

Jack is a freak. Afraid of everything. 'Nuff said.

Tasha...Tasha is our 'special child'. She has a claw disability. She can't seem to figure out how to retract her claws when walking and she gets stuck. She's kind of a loner. Or maybe she's just stuck somewhere.

Cyrus. As I mentioned, Cyrus wants out. And I think that really explains it all. He stalks the doors. And if something doesn't latch he'll be right there...trying to get it open.

He tries to get out when the dogs go in and out. So the dog in/out maneuver is usually done on one foot while using the other foot to hold back the cat who wants ouuuuuut! Balancing on one foot, hollering at Cyrus while trying to get the deaf/blind dog to go in/out when she's already unsure because of the crazed bouncing Mean Dog (River). Yeah, good times.

Now why don't we just let him out? Well...since you asked. Our neighborhood has a large free range dog population and we are three houses from a busy street. He's a big cat and can probably take care of himself but I'd rather not chance it.

But I'll tell you what...the next time I'm balancing on one foot in the middle of the dog in/out maneuver and he makes a break for it.

I'm letting him go. He'll just have to take his chances.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Nelson Atkins

On Friday I spent some time with my best two was crazy hot so we decided to go to the museum. It's air conditioned and it's free!So of course we ventured out in the heat to walk through the sculpture garden.The guys really liked the shuttle cocks.
This picture was taken just before...
"The Voice" came out of the hidden speaker asking Andrew to please not touch the sculpture and to have a great afternoon.
So then, of course, he had to touch something else to see if "The Voice" was watching the trees.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

June 18, 2009

My Mother's 67th birthday.

The first aniversary of June's death.

The last day of YMCA camp.

The day I broke the side window on the fire truck.

Might only be four things but they are all BIG things.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Did you know they're only 40 calories.
One of Summer's little miracles.

Monday, June 15, 2009

This Is Funny

A great Dog post!

Or is it a bed post?

And Then There Was Television...And The Last Of The Brother Crap

Warning...some language in this post is not suitable for children...or prissy folks.

I turned the TV on last night about 10pm to watch the weather. Yes, I know I was two hours early but frankly my dears I just didn't give a damn.

It was strangely riveting and then annoying. It wasn't on very long.

I read a lot of blogs on a regular basis and every once in a while one of my bloggers will disable comments on a particular post. I've never thought much about it. Didn't have any feeling one way or another.

Until now.

This post has the comments disabled.

I appreciate the many supportive comments, ideas and feelings expressed on my
"Brother" posts. You guys rock! But as they accumulated I began to feel resentful. Not resentful of y'all. You are all my friends and family and I love you. (I suppose there might be someone out there reading who found me out in the great blogosphere...but I doubt it).

No...I am resentful of my shitty brother. There are so many people praying for him, thinking about him, worrying about him.

And he doesn't deserve any of it.

Posts about him should be followed by comments such as "asshole", "idiot", "loser", "pathetic", "embarrassing", "dickwad", "fucker"...did I say "asshole"?

I am just so blasted angry.

I think about the fact that he has just taken 6 weeks off from his life. He hasn't had to go to work, clean up after himself, pay his bills, do his laundry, mow the grass, scoop the cat box and you can just fill in the blank with any of the millions of things that we adults do everyday.

Wouldn't you like an opportunity to just take some time off? Sleep more? Have someone else look after the laundry and fix the meals? Do the hard things?

I'm not saying I want to check out of my life. My life is pretty cool. And I'm proud of it. It's not perfect. I'm not perfect. I'm bossy. I'm impatient. I procrastinate (do not EVEN ask me about regatta plans for this summer). My car is an unholy mess, as is the basement and the garage and the backyard.

But it's my life and I'm responsible for it. And I always am. Even when I'm tired. Or stressed. Or sad. Or unhappy. Or broke. It's mine. I can't imagine expecting someone else to take care of it for me.

Makes me nauseous. He...makes me nauseous.

Can you stop loving your own brother? Is it possible that I've never really loved him? We have fought all our lives. I've tried to help him like about a hundred times...and just gotten attitude.

I'd like to feel some compassion but it appears I'm all out.

So...let's be done with the brother drama.

If he dies or gets his shit together I'll let you know.

Other wise...this subject is closed.

(until I need to vent again)

Thanks for listening.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Off - Day .4..and 5...and some of 6.

Alternate title.
"Oh Brother"
Yep, more brother drama. And can I just say I am SOOO over it.
Kimmy and I spent Thursday evening (and an annoying chunk of Friday morning) in two different Emergency Rooms with my stupid brother who thinks taking too many prescription meds is a good idea. I think the attention he gets when he "tries to kill himself" is mainly the idea. That and he didn't have anywhere to sleep Thursday night so going to the hospital ensures a bed and a meal.
SOOOO over it.
Next time I'm not even reacting. He can just overdose all he wants. I'm not taking him to the hospital, calling 911, waiting with him while he lays pitifully in the ER, I'm not getting him a sandwich, finding his nurse, making sure he has his toothbrush. I'm just not.
SOOOO over it.
And the TV was on in the ER. And I watched it. But I'm not counting it.
Anyone want to make an issue of it?
Didn't think so...
Friday I was too busy to do anything. The guys at the station had the TV on at dinner but I sat with my back to it. And then I went to my room and went to bed.
Today, car cleaning, bike riding, birthday partying and maybe I'll try to find my buds at Jazz in the Woods...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Off - Day 4

This picture of my rockstar assistant totally. staged.
He asked the photographer (one of our goofy junior boys) to get a picture of him doing something coach like. Then he asked the kids to look astonished.
I didn't know 8 year olds even knew what 'astonished' meant!
See...this no TV thing is easy. Especially since I discovered I can listen to archived episodes of This American Life on my computer.
Study for the captain's test? Nahhh...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Off - Day 3

This post...I suppose...should be about our third day with out the boob tube but I have to be honest. Today I didn't even think about the TV.

Instead I thought about this little guy and all of his little buddies. Today was a good day to be a rowing coach.

I think he looks scared.

They all look scared but then they tell you they're having fun. Who knows.

Thiis our dock shortly before the kiddos arrive. Peaceful.Here I am getting them organized before we head out.This is my rockstar assisant coach... I'd love to know what he's telling them!Don't they look sooooo small...
Can you tell that the boat is leaning to one side...I can't for the life of me teach them to set the boat level...
Sometimes they need a little help.
But then again...don't we all?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Off - Day 2

I really want to turn on the TV right now.

I've been home since noon, taken a little nappy, cleaned some, read everything I wanted on the computer.

It's raining. I want TLC and some mindless time.

This is harder than I expected.

So...I think I'll go bake some brownies. I could end up a size larger in just a week.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Off - Day 1

Things were very busy today. Very busy.

I coached my high schoolers from 6-8am, the YMCA kiddos from 9-1 and our adults rowers from 6-8pm. Yes...that's 8 hours of coaching rowing. A full time job.

I also did a load of laundry, dishes, had lunch with some of my kids, cleaned and moved the grill, played catch with Amanda in the backyard, talked on the phone, read a book and took a nice nap.

And I didn't watch one second of TV.

I missed it a little this morning as I was getting ready to leave for the lake. It's always on as I get coffee, have breakfast, feed know, morning stuff.

And I'm not gonna lie...I'm missing it a little right now. It's the way I wind down before bed. A little mindless TV.

The problem is just's mindless.

I don't know if I would have gotten as much done today if the TV had been on. I'm guessing not.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


So...the treadmill blew up this morning. Some sort of electrical malfunction that blew fuses, lit up the basement in a very scary way and filled the air with that burnt electrical smell.

Now, you might be asking yourself...what in the world does that have to do with turning off the TV?

Well...I'm gonna tell you.

The demise of the treadmill led Amanda and I into a conversation about what she was going to do now that she "couldn't run". I, of course, suggested that she might try...running...outside. Oh the horror.

Talking about all the places available for running got us talking about spending time outside. She wants to learn to use the grill. I'd like to spend time on the porch...hanging out.

And then I suggested that we try turning off the TVs for a week.

Good way to make time for outdoor activities. And reading. And listening to music. And studying. And cooking. And talking. And blogging.

We talked about the details and decided that this coming week would be a good week to try as we are both pretty busy. It's nice to set yourself up for success.

So as of midnight TV. Until Monday, June 15.

Be sure to check back. This could be interesting

Saturday, June 06, 2009

DInner Anyone?

Last night I had the pleasure of dining with my BFF and her wonderful Mother-In-Law Jan. We had a yummy salad and some fresh fruit. And wine.

Pretty isn't it?

This picture was taken moments before I knocked over my wine glass and the bottle of wine.

Go ahead...invite me to dinner. I double dog dare you.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Don't Give The Weather Folks Such A Hard Time

I look at a lot of radar. I know where our lake lies and typically how storms move through our area. I always check the radar an hour or so before any scheduled practice.

At 4:52am...yes AM...this is what the radar looked like. That little yellow blob just to the east of KC normally would move east/north east...right over our lake. Most storms would move at a speed that would indicate very rainy conditions at our 6am practice time.

So I sent out the text...cancelling practice. At 5:51 the radar looked like this.
Stupid storm falling apart. No rain. No storms. Just me...smelling the already brewed coffee and remembering the days when I could just fall right back to sleep.

So give the weather folks a break. Sometimes storms do what they are supposed to and sometimes they don't.

It's all a crap shoot.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Summer Of The Orange Life Jackets

(I just came across this and realized it's never been published. Our Y camps begin tomorrow and I'm excited...and terrified. This is a slice of what it was like year one)
It seemed so simple in February when we were putting dates on the calendar..

I would have my regular coaching responsibilities along with the YMCA camp. It would mean one week of three a day coaching. Simple. Yeah.

And so it became the summer of the orange lifejacket. July of 2008 that is…hot and humid beyond belief. A good Midwestern summer. Why we decided July would be a good month to do this for the first time is beyond me. Oh my, it was hot. Sweat running off the tip of your nose hot.

We had arranged to teach rowing to 8-12 year olds as part of an outdoor camp through the YMCA. About 75 kids in two week sessions. Two camps. Four weeks. Yikes.

We had no idea what we were doing.

I mean, we knew how to teach rowing. I’d been coaching for, well, a very long time. And Kenny was a new coach but not new to teaching kids. His coaching instincts were sharp and I knew we could teach the rowing. We’d taught hundreds of Learn To Rows.

But to little kids? And let me tell you some of those kids were dinky…and it was hot.

We decided to teach in eights. They would be required to wear lifejackets and I knew they wouldn’t be big enough to get the necessary clearance in our quads. We had an old shoenbroad and we borrowed an eight from a local college. So, yeah, little kids in eights.


First challenge, getting the boats to the water. The camp was held during the workday and our volunteer crew was very limited. We decided to utilize the camp counselors and teach the kiddos how to carry big heavy boats.

About 16 little kids can pick up an eight, get it to shoulders and with a great deal of help from some grownups get it out of the compound and to the dock. Pretty impressive.

Now we talked to the kids about carrying it on their shoulders. But when the boat was on our shoulders it obviously didn’t touch theirs. The first day we walked the short distance to the dock and I couldn’t figure out why the boat was so dang heavy…day two and I was a little smarter. The kids were trying to get the boat to their shoulders, or their shoulders to the boat, hanging on...pulling down. We were carrying the eight and about 16 little kids. Can I just say HEAVY! And oh yeah…it was hot, really hot.

Kenny and I had a plan for the first day. “Let’s just get them to full slide by fours,” we agreed. Having taught many new adult and high school rowers we felt like this should be a good plan.

We didn’t figure in the crying.

Scared kids. Boats are scary. Big tippy boats are really scary. We loaded them in explaining the getting in and out process, ‘step here, don’t step here.’ ‘Hold on to your oar.’

We let them sit at the dock that first day. Starting up tight to the dock, slowly moving out to sit flat in the water while we held their blade tips. Let them feel how they could control the side to side movement of the boat.

We lost a few to the tears that first day. It had to be a little overwhelming. We’d let them get out. Tell them they could try again tomorrow. Let them watch. Didn’t push.

The last eight of that first day was doing well. I’d learned some things with the earlier groups. I really felt like they could leave the dock, maybe just float out a ways, maybe take strokes one by one. As I began to release the oar tip I was holding one little guy asked in a slightly panicked voice “You’re not coming with us??” Explaining that I would be right with them in the coaches boat we let them go.

And there they were. Nine little kids in a big eight. Sitting with slightly terrified looks on their faces. Oar handles grasped tight to their orange lifejackets.

“Stripe Up!” we’d say. Referring to the striped strap on the life jacket. If all oar handles were held right at the stripe the boat would balance. Unless you were a littler kiddo, then you needed your handle above the stripe. Important stuff.

Slowly they took their first strokes. One and then two at a time. We talked about timing, watching elbows, imagining table tops to slide the oars across, square, feather, feather, square. They laughed at the term ‘weigh enough’ but picked up most rowing lingo quickly. Smart little sponges.

Days two and three of that long, hot first week got progressively easier. We let a few of the bigger kids help lift the boats but the grownups did all of the carrying. We got everyone away from the dock. Most everyone was rowing. There were quarrels over who got to sit in the coxswain seat, who got to ride in the coaching launch. It was fun. And frankly, amazing.

A group of rotten boys, you know the ones, they make the counselors who’ve spent all summer with them crazy, this group of boys stole my heart. Blake and Chris, Michael and Connor, Jeremy and Matt, Troy and Joe. They talked too much. They didn’t pay attention. They goofed around. But they also fell over each other if I asked for help. Wanted to be in the boat I would coach. I liked them, too.

On the final day of their camp they were all put in one boat. Just for me.

We went way out into the lake. The middle of the big lake. Little boys in orange lifejackets.

And they rowed. All the way back to the dock. All eight.

So today we began camp two. 42 new orange life jackets. It’s easier this week.

Our learning curve is not so steep. The counselors know what to expect. Kenny and I know what the kids are capable of learning. We, almost, have a system. It’s still hot and there’s a new group of rotten little boys.

A reporter asked me today what it was that we were teaching. “By watching you might think that we are teaching rowing,” I replied as sweat dripped off my nose. “But actually, we are teaching courage and confidence and team work. It really has very little to do with rowing.”

Welcome Back Summer

Summer arrived at 4:45 this morning...well for me it did anyway. Today was the first day of summer practice.

Summer arrived as I stumbled out of bed thankful for automatic coffee makers and rethinking the whole 'going decaf' thing.

Summer arrived with bleary eyed teenagers sleep walking out of their cars... slowly waking up as they carried oars to the dock.

Summer arrived as we talked about schedules and goals and boatings.

Summer arrived as one by one they volunteered to help with the Y camp that begins tomorrow.

Summer arrived as we parted after practice, awake, energized, having done more before 8am than many will do all day.

Summer arrived as I returned home to the AC, showered and got back in my jammies. Curling up with the puppers and a good book, knowing that this afternoon I go back and do it all over again and again tomorrow morning and again, and again, and again.

Welcome back summer.