Tag Archives: friends

Swimming in the Rain

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Friends for so long

Most every summer a girls’
Weekend at the lake

This past year has seen quite
A variety of weather

Bright sunshine as
Kids graduate from high school

A downpour with moves
Across the city and the country

And a tornado with
The unexpected death of a parent

But here we are
Together still

Swimming in the rain
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Sugar Face

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Fall

“Sorry! Maggie, down!” said a tall man in sweatpants and hoodie as he ran to grab his dog’s collar.

“S’ok. I like dogs,” said another man who was being slobbered over by the large black lab.

“Well apparently they like you too,” said Maggie’s owner pulling her away from the bench.

“My name’s Theo,” said the man on the bench.

“I’m Mark and you’ve already met Maggie. Sorry again,” said Mark as he noticed the Maggie drool on Theo’s heavy black coat.”

“It’s really okay,” said Theo leaning forward to pet Maggie’s head.

“Well, we’d better finish our run. Have a good afternoon,” said Mark.

“You too,” said Theo leaning back on the bench and watching Mark and Maggie jog away crunching through the piles of fall leaves.

****

“Hi Maggie!” Mark heard and turned to see Theo on the bench where they had met him a few weeks before.

Mark slowed down and walked over so Theo could pet Maggie who immediately put her paws on the bench and started licking Theo’s unshaven face.

“Mind if we sit a minute?” Mark asked joining Theo on the bench. “Maggie and I are both kind of tired today.”

“Help yourself,” Theo said. “You know, I used to have a dog named Buddy. He was a really good boy. I miss him.”

“Dogs are pretty great, said Mark. “How long ago did you have Buddy?”

“When I was a little boy. He would play hide and seek with me. I would tell him to stay and then go hide. When I called him, he would come find me and lick my face just like Maggie.”

“I’ve had Maggie for about 11 years. I got her when I got my first apartment after college. She’s getting to be an old girl,” said Mark scratching Maggie under her chin.

“Yeah, she’s got a sugar face,” said Theo looking at the coating of white fur on her muzzle. “Did I tell you I used to have a dog named Buddy? We got him when I got married. It was my wife’s idea. She said she’d be lonely because I was working so much. We found him in the pound. He was a really good boy.”

Mark looked at Theo. “Oh you named him Buddy after the dog you had when you were little?”

“What? No. I’ve only had one dog. My parents never would have let me have a dog when I was little. My dad hated animals.” Theo turned away from Mark and Maggie and pulled his coat tightly around him. Mark noticed a big rip along a seam in the coat.

“Well, I guess we’ll head on Theo. Nice to see you again.” Theo looked down, studying the peeling green paint of the bench as Mark and Maggie took off.

Winter

“Hey Theo!” called Mark as they ran past the bench and slowed down.

“Hi Sugar face,” said Theo to Maggie as Mark let go of her leash and she ran to give him her typical full body greeting.

Mark sat down on the bench blowing in his hands to warm them. “Getting cold.”

“Yeah, probably have to head into the shelter soon. I don’t go unless it’s freezing because I don’t like all the stupid rules. But in the winter, it’s too cold to be sleeping out here.”

Mark looked closer at Theo noticing how he always wore the same worn pants. He also noticed for the first time how tired Theo looked.

“Whatever,” said Theo noticing Mark looking at him. “I’m living my life how I want to. No one is telling me what to do. Except when I have to go to the shelter but I guess that’s better than freezing to death. The only thing I miss is my dog Buddy. Did I ever tell you about my dog? When I got my first job and first apartment, I got Buddy. I had just graduated from college and was working in my first real job as an electrical engineer. Buddy was my best friend. I worked near my apartment and could come home to take Buddy for a walk during lunch. He was such a good boy.”

“He sounds like a great dog,” said Mark standing up to go. “Stay warm Theo.”

“Don’t worry about me,” said Theo smiling and giving Maggie one more pet.

****

“Theo! What are you doing out here? It’s freezing! Maggie and I are just doing a quick walk today since it’s so cold.”

“Hey Mark. Hey Sugar Face,” said Theo smiling. “I’m staying in the shelter mostly but still need my alone time. You know what I mean?”

“I sure do,” said Mark smiling back. “Why do you think Maggie and I are out here almost every day?”

“Did I ever tell you about my dog Buddy?” asked Theo. “He was my dad’s dog. When my dad died, I took him. He was such a good boy.”

Mark was shifting his weight from foot to foot trying to stay warm. “He sounds like a nice dog,” said Mark.

“He was,” said Theo giving Maggie a hug and getting a sloppy kiss in return.

“Be careful out here Theo. It’s really, really cold!”

“I’ll head to the shelter in a little bit,” said Theo pulling a black wool hat far down over his ears.”

“See you soon.”

“See ya’. Bye Sugar Face.”

Spring

“Theo! We’ve missed you,” said Mark plopping down on the bench, Maggie drooling freely and putting her chin on Theo’s leg, her brown eyes gazing up into his.”

Theo’s face lit up. “Hey there sweet old girl,” he said. “I’ve missed you. You too of course Mark,” said Theo laughing and looking over at Mark.

Mark laughed back, “Yeah whatever. I’m forever Maggie’s sidekick. Robin to her Batman. But we’ve been worried. Haven’t seen you in awhile.”

“I got sick and spent most of the winter in the hospital. But spring has sprung and I’m all better now and glad to be out of there. Back in the fresh air.”

Mark and Theo sat, both enjoying the spring sunshine. Theo was still wearing his heavy coat although he had unzipped it. Mark could see his hat peeking out of his pocket.

“Did I ever tell you about my dog Buddy?” asked Theo as they watched Maggie sniff around the bench for all those things dogs love to sniff.

Mark looked expectantly at Theo. “I found him when I was traveling across country with my son. We took a trip after my son’s senior year of high school. We traveled through the West. It was a great trip. Buddy showed up at a campsite where we were staying for a few days. We tried to find out who he belonged to but no one claimed him. So he joined us for the rest of the trip and came home with us to join our family. He was such a good dog.”

“He sounds awesome,” said Mark. “Well enjoy the sunshine Theo. See you soon.”

“See you soon,” answered Theo.

Summer

“Phew it’s hot!” said Mark joining Theo on the bench. Theo was finally without his coat but was sitting on it.

“Maggie’s moving slow,” said Theo waiting for her to join them and give him her joyous greeting.

“Here age is really catching up with her this summer. We are just doing some slow, short walks now. She loves it but just can’t make it too far. How are you doing Theo?”

“I’m great. Loving the hot weather,” said Theo. He started petting Maggie from head to toe slowly massaging her sore old muscles. “Did I ever tell you about my dog Buddy? I had him when I was in college. He was a great friend and helped me stay calm when I was freaking out about my classes. He was such a good boy.”

Theo, Mark and Maggie sat for a good hour just enjoying the sun and each other’s company. When the shadows grew long, Mark said he and Maggie had better head home.

“See you soon,” said Theo giving Maggie one last pet and smiling into her sweet brown eyes.

Fall

Theo looked up as Mark joined him on their bench. Something was different. It took him a minute to figure it out while Mark sat quietly looking out into the park.

“No Maggie,” said Theo finally looking at Mark.

“No Maggie,” replied Mark quietly. “We had to put her to sleep last night.”

“That’s really sad,” said Theo.

“Yes it is,” said Mark.

“She was such a good girl,” said Theo.

“She sure was,” said Mark.

They sat quietly together for a few minutes.

“Did I ever tell you about my dog Buddy,” asked Theo.

Mark looked over at Theo and smiled, “No, I don’t think so.”

Theo’s voice floated outward to join the colorful leaves swirling in the wind.

Mark leaned back into the bench and turned his face up to catch the fading autumn sunshine.

My Village People

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I love the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In my experience this is so true. And my village has changed over the years as my children have grown. When they were little, my village consisted of that guy I stalked when I saw him out my window taking a walk in the rain with a little baby in a front carrier and umbrella over their head. Feeling lonely and trapped in my house with my own newborn, I grabbed my umbrella and baby and followed this guy to his house, knocked on his door and introduced myself, “Hi, I’m Trista. I noticed we have babies about the same age.” What I really meant was, “I’m so lonely and need some new parent friends!”

 

My parents have always been an important part of my village. At around the same time I was stalking strangers with babies, I was having a little meltdown one evening. My stepmom called to see how I was doing and I burst into tears, “Not very well.” She and my dad came over, STAT, with mashed potatoes that we ate right out of the pot.

 

I once called my mom in a panic after my 3-year-old son’s penis got stuck in the zipper of his footie pajamas. It was quite traumatic! She sent me flowers after telling the florist the whole story.

 

And the lady across the street who came over to tell me that she noticed my 2 year old, who I thought was napping, making a hole in his upstairs window screen. He later explained that his dinosaur was hungry and liked to eat screens. Well of course!

 

As my boys have grown into teenagers I have an expanded village. My friends and neighbors who give my wayward children rides to school when they miss the bus. The neighbors who have a spare key for when one of us is locked out of our house.

 

My sister-in-law who has raised a teenage son and who I go to with questions like, “Did he ever….? What did you do when…..?”

 

My nephew and his fiancé who take my boys to do all of the stuff I hate doing like going to the state fair and corn mazes. Just think of what my boys would have missed out on with out these two!

 

And so many more, the crossing guard, dojo sensei, aunts, uncles, cousins, coaches, tutors and teachers. I have learned that it’s okay to ask for help, and the occasional pot of mashed potatoes. I am so appreciative for my village people. I couldn’t do this parenting thing alone.

My Fantasy Apartment

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I spent the weekend with girlfriends at a Women’s Adventure Weekend Camp in the Adirondacks. We had a wonderful time sleeping in bunk beds, taking hikes, eating in the mess hall and sitting by the lake chatting. We have made this trip together for about 9 years and it’s always a nice time to catch up on each other’s lives and spend lots of time laughing. This year we all described our individual fantasy apartments. You know, the ones we design in our minds during an especially crazy day with grumpy kids, messy houses, burned dinner etc. It’s interesting to see what we all find the most comforting and relaxing. Here are some of our apartments.

The Sparse Apartment

All white with very little furniture. One book, one plate, one cup, one fork, one spoon and knife. Nothing at all that needs any care or nurturing. No plants or pets. A space for a yoga mat next to a little fountain. No clutter.

The Jungle Apartment

Full of plants and pets. No kitchen. Lots of books.

The Hobbit Hole Apartment

Full of bright colors and cozy furniture. A fireplace and lots of soft blankets. Stacks of books. Dogs to curl up with on the couch. A coffee pot.

What does your fantasy apartment look like?

How Old Are You on the Inside?

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I have just finished reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman and am thinking about a conversation between the two young main characters.

“Grown-ups and monsters aren’t scared of things.”

“Oh, monsters are scared,” said Lettie. “That’s why they’re monsters. And as for grown-ups…” She stopped talking, rubbed her freckled nose with a finger. Then, “I’m going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”

This is so true. Even though I have 2 teenage boys, a husband, a house, pets and bills, on the inside I feel about 14 years old. I am in a bright yellow one-piece bathing suit visiting the Thousand Islands with my best friend. I feel the hot sun on my skin as we “lay-out” on the cement dock, listening to “Blister in the Sun” and having an animated conversation, hoping that the cute boys are noticing us. Even better, I am hoping one of them will come and throw me off the dock into the water as I have seen them do to some of the other girls, picking me up and spinning me around effortlessly as I scream in protest, secretly enjoying the attention.

The Grumpy Girls’ Cafe

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I was recently planning an evening out with girlfriends. Here is a sample of our Facebook conversation:

“Where and when?”

“How about a coffee shop. 7:00?”

“That’s getting a little late for me but a coffee shop sounds good.”

“How about 6:30. Which coffee place?”

“I don’t want one with live music.”

“Yeah, or any loud music at all.”

“And not too many people.”

As you can see from this conversation, we are a group of 40-something year olds who are quite the party animals.

We did settle on a place and as we were drinking our decaf coffee and complaining about the noisy people and annoying blinking lights, we decided we should start out own coffee shop. And so was born the business plan for the Grumpy Girls’ Café:

  1. No loud music. Maybe some Indigo Girls playing quietly in the background.
  2. No dangerous, high swivel stools. Comfortable furniture with proper lumbar support only.
  3. Friendly barista’s who are always happy to see us and know our favorite drink. They must be generous with the compliments. Most importantly, they must never refer to us as “ma’am”. We did consider hiring only young attractive males who give neck massages but decided this could be our next café, “The Pampered Cougar”.
  4. Reading glasses available on each table. Attractive, yet functional, of course.
  5. Hot and cold packs available for sore muscles or hot flashes.
  6. There will be study carrels available, like in college libraries, so people can socialize if they want or be grumpy in their cubicle and drink their coffee in peace if they so choose. And noise-cancelling headphones are always available.
  7. The ladies room will be comfortable with soft lighting and minimal mirrors.
  8. And no children. Let me say that one more time—no children! Dogs are welcome however.
  9. Only comfy pants. If you come dressed up, we will have pajama pants available at the door for you to change into.
  10. Internet available with direct access to IMDb to assist when the conversation is going kind of like this:

“I saw a great movie. It was the one with that guy.”

“What guy?”

“You know, the guy that was in that other movie with that girl.”

“The one with the hair?”

“No, the other one.”

So welcome to the Grumpy Girls’ Café! All grumpy girls (in their late 30s and older) welcome! And by “welcome” we mean, you can come and drink coffee, not that we’ll actually be welcoming.

Helpers

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I’m feeling so sad. The tragedy in Boston really hit me yesterday. Sometimes the terrible things in the world just seem overwhelming. On Facebook there were many posts about Boston. One person made a joke that was pretty inappropriate and lots of people responded angrily. And then some people vehemently defended the first person. I guess we all handle feelings of fear and helplessness differently. Some of us joke, some of us get angry, and some get sad.

I read two quotes today that I am finding helpful. The first is by Glennon Melton of Momastery.com:

“When the world seems loud, we must be quiet. When the world seems evil, we must be good. When the world seems terrifying, we must comfort each other.”

I will keep this quote nearby today.

The second is a Mr. Rogers quote:

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This is a good reminder that when someone does something so utterly terrible, there are also so many people doing wonderful things. I will try to be a helper today, in whatever small ways I can. That’s all I can do. And in order to do this, I need to be brave and seek out my helpers too.

Just by reading this, you are some of my helpers. Thank you.