Selling Campbell’s Soup #reverb14

#Reverb14 prompt | September
Hail, hail, hail, rah, rah, rah!
September’s prompt:

Team | Whether you love football or hate it, we’ve all done hard time on the sidelines or on the field. What is your best game time memory?

Ah, football. In our house, football season is almost year round. Both of our kids started playing sports by the time they were five or so. Isabel was a terrific soccer player, and Ben started out playing flag football through the parks and rec system.

We moved Ben to a tackle football league when he was eight, and he played fall, winter and spring ball up until high school. Now, the school team starts summer conditioning right at the end of the school year and goes through the summer. Unable to resist, I joined the school’s football booster club as a member of the board.

So much of our lives has been wrapped up into football. Good friends have been made by both the kids and the parents. Through it all, we’ve had some amazing experiences. Watching Ben grow physically, and mature emotionally has been quite the gift.

As the mother of a football player, it is a true dichotomy. The first time your son puts on pads and lines up for tackle drills, your heart is in your throat. When the sound of that first violent crash fills your ears, and you see your kid at the bottom of a pile of bodies, it takes every ounce of self control not to fly across the field, drag those monsters off your baby, wrap him in bubble wrap and never let him leave the house again.

Now, as your six foot one, two hundred and forty pound baby lines up on the line, you have to temper your yelling to, “TRUCK HIM, BEN!” You imagine getting your hair done for your Campbell’s Soup commercial.

One of the very best things that I love about football is that moment during a game, as Ben comes off the field after a play and heads to get some water. When Ben glances up to find Dave & I in the stands, I give him a thumbs up. He jerks his chin up to let me know he sees me, and goes back to the line. He doesn’t do it for anyone but me, and my heart swells every time.

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Building up steam. #AugustBreak

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I suddenly have a little side job. I began by messing around with Zentangles…drawing patterns and doodling. I moved on to drawing on shoes with Sharpies, and now suddenly, people want to pay me to make pairs for them.

It feels strange to give someone a dollar amount.

Tonight, a friend contacted me on Facebook, and asked how much I’d charge to do a pair for her daughter. I gave her an amount, sure I was asking too much. Not only does she want a pair for her daughter, she wants a pair for herself!

This pair is for my cousin, Victoria. We sat together and found pictures from the Disney movie, Hercules.

I’m not sure I want to do this all of the time; but, it’s fun for now.

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This year, as in the past couple of years, I’m participating in Susannah Conway’s “The August Break.” It’s an opportunity to just be present, look around your world, take photos, and post them to your blog. There are no rules, other than to use this as an opportunity to recharge your batteries a bit.

If you’d like to participate, join in…there are some amazing friends out here, just waiting to meet you.

O Captain! My Captain!

Yesterday was a hard day. The death of a celebrity does not often affect me other than in the most peripheral way; but, news that Robin Williams committed suicide yesterday left me weepy and decidedly rattled. It’s not like I had any special connection to him. I have enjoyed his movies, especially those more serious roles; but, if you had asked me before yesterday to name five favorite actors, I don’t know that Robin Williams would have immediately occurred to me.

I spent the drive home yesterday listening to updates on the news, with tears streaming uncontrollably down my face. When I got home, I found that I had missed a call from my mother. She simply said, “Robin fucking Williams?”

I called her back and we both cried. She was angry, and I was just unbearably sad.

You see, we both understand what Robin’s wife and kids are feeling today. When I was in junior high, my stepdad killed himself and my mother found him. All of that horror and confusion and agony came rushing back yesterday. It’s been thirty-two years since suicide brought our world crashing down; but, suddenly, I was feeling many of the same feelings of impotence and abandonment.

In the days and weeks to come, much will be discussed about suicide, depression, and addiction. Less will be mentioned about the survivors of suicide and what they went through in the years, months and days leading up to the death of their loved one.

There is little that compares to the slap in the face that is suicide. When you spend hours begging someone to get help, to hang on one more day, to STAY, suicide is the ultimate rejection.

Sure, everyone will tell you that suicide is not about you, that the person isn’t thinking of anyone else because they can’t. That’s the biggest insult of all. To know that nothing, nothing, and especially not you, were enough to spark some desire to live in a person makes you feel so small, so unimportant.

Before a person commits suicide, they cannot fathom what their death will do to those left behind or how it will spread out like the ripples on a pond. Our death was “small” in that my dad wasn’t famous; but, there have often been occasions where someone has approached me to talk about my dad and how his death had affected them

The death of Robin Williams will touch many, many people in unexpected ways. I am just one of them. Today, I’m holding Mr. Williams in my heart. I’m sorry that with all of the resources at his disposal, he couldn’t get the help that he needed and find it in himself to hold on for one more day. More importantly, I am sending love to his wife, his kids, his friends, his fans, to all of those people he has unforgivably crushed by giving up.

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Twenty Two

 

Mr. and Mrs. Baltzell

Mr. and Mrs. Baltzell

How quickly do twenty-two years pass?  It’s a lifetime for some, and the blink of an eye for others.  In twenty-two years, we become completely different people, and the gamut of experiences we share reset our paths over and over again.

 

When you get married young, you naively think that it will be forever, not really understanding what exactly that entails.  You say the words…for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.  You laugh and dance and you ignore the wisdom of the married family and friends who smile knowingly and think about their own weddings.

 

The poorer is the part you deal with first, as you both work and work to begin building a life and a home.  There’s never enough money, and you seem always to be tired.  Children are born and you wonder just exactly why there isn’t more of a skills test required for that marriage license anyway.

 

The better and the richer turn out to mean something different than what you’d thought on that sweltering August evening.  They are the moments on the sidelines as you cheer for your kids during their soccer and football games.  They are the garbage disposals replaced at nine o’clock the night before your first home-cooked Thanksgiving meal.  They are the new jobs, and the Friday nights with family, and watching the lightening through your bedroom window as you fall asleep together. They are the holding of hands, the snarky remark and the way that you both giggle and say, “Is it peas?” to the news anchor’s teaser about the most deadly thing you could eat for dinner.

The sickness comes later, just as you finally ease into that home stretch with the kids…just when you finally think you can take your eyes off of the road for a second.  When you look up again, the fear that you could lose your person is roaring toward you like the headlights of an oncoming semi.  It’s the understanding that without this person, there would be no air left for you to breathe and that you would never be whole again.

 

Years pass before you even realize they are gone, and you find yourself one Friday night sitting together in companionable silence.  The kids are out, the dogs are asleep at your feet, and you understand that even though your life has not become what you had planned at twenty-four, you are with exactly who you should be with, in the only place that you’d ever want to be.

 

Happy Anniversary David.  I love you today and every day.

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Here Comes the Sun #AugustBreak2014

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The school districts in the area have finally taken a step that would seem like a no-brainer here in the desert Southwest…solar panels.

Our district has been gradually installing the panels in the parking lots of the schools around us and this is the installation going on in the student parking lot of Ben’s high school. Unfortunately, they didn’t start the process in earnest until about a week ago. School starts today, and parking has been reduced by almost 75%.

The good news is that the panels will not only provide power for the school, dramatically reducing energy costs for the school, it will also provide welcome shaded parking.

You would think that the whole city would be covered in solar panels.

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This year, as in the past couple of years, I’m participating in Susannah Conway’s “The August Break.” It’s an opportunity to just be present, look around your world, take photos, and post them to your blog. There are no rules, other than to use this as an opportunity to recharge your batteries a bit.

If you’d like to participate, join in…there are some amazing friends out here, just waiting to meet you.

Eye Opener #AugustBreak2014

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My morning coffee…iced.

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This year, as in the past couple of years, I’m participating in Susannah Conway’s “The August Break.” It’s an opportunity to just be present, look around your world, take photos, and post them to your blog. There are no rules, other than to use this as an opportunity to recharge your batteries a bit.

If you’d like to participate, join in…there are some amazing friends out here, just waiting to meet you.

No Rain Today #AugustBreak2014

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Summertime is Monsoon season in Arizona. Massive, sometimes violent, thunderstorms build in the deserts around Phoenix and race toward the city. Often, the buildup of theses storms come in the form of Haboobs…giant walls of dust that swallow the city and make driving treacherous and breathing difficult.

The normal pattern used to be that we’d see storms every other night in some part of the Valley. Now, it has become much less predictable. We live in the far northwest corner of the Valley of the Sun. Storms tend to move around the invisible heat bubble that is central Phoenix, and our chances of rain in Surprise are much lower than those in Gilbert or Tempe.

Typically, though, the storms are born southeast of the Valley and carried northwest, hitting the areas exactly opposite of where we live. This year has been especially frustrating, in that we seems to be in some sort of bubble. Night after night, various parts of town get inundated with rain. Night after night, we get nothing.

Last week, thunder and lightening shook the house, and the wind howled. It was late, but my mother messaged me on Facebook to say that it was pouring at her house. A look at my Weather Channel app showed that a huge thunderstorm cell was over her house, moving west and headed straight for us. I turned off all of the lights, opened the blinds on the Arcadia door in our bedroom, and excitedly snuggled into bed to watch the storm.

Minutes ticked by. An hour passed. I pulled out the weather app and would you believe it? The cell had split in half and passed by on either side of us. We didn’t get one drop of rain!

Last night, as we headed out to have Dinner/Game night with our cousins, a set of storms brewed to the north of us. This was unusual, as it was from the opposite direction from the norm. My mother called, her voice hard to hear over the torrential rain coming down at her house. I said that things looked promising, and as we drove the couple of miles to dinner, I took the photo above. The skies were ominous and we could see the clouds moving. The wind shook the car. At that moment, we were getting some sprinkles, and we eagerly anticipated a storm.

Once again, the clouds boiled up around us, dropped a few desultory drops on us…then nothing.

Rain is precious here in the desert, and we eagerly assess the weather reports each day with the chances for rain. 50%, 40%, even 30% chance of rain, and we’re excitedly scanning the skies. Our televisions and phone apps are tuned to the Weather Channel, and we sniff the breeze for that delicious smell of rain.

This year in Surprise, we keep missing out.

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This year, as in the past couple of years, I’m participating in Susannah Conway’s “The August Break.” It’s an opportunity to just be present, look around your world, take photos, and post them to your blog. There are no rules, other than to use this as an opportunity to recharge your batteries a bit.

If you’d like to participate, join in…there are some amazing friends out here, just waiting to meet you.