About 8:30, I slid into some black snow pants. Katy put elastics round her mittens to keep the snow from slipping down her sleeves. I kissed Sophia The Summer Time Dog goodbye on the nose and promised I would never, ever take her along sledding.

There was no one at Andrews Park except some fool with a dog. Well, he’s probably a very nice guy, but his timing wasn’t good. Katy and I were there to sled.

There was a streetlight a few blocks down that blinked and flashed like fire flies or shooting stars, orange, slightly industrial shooting stars.

The snow was vast, an ocean of snow, and the hill was a mountain.

After I finished my first ride, Katy got mad at me because I didn’t want to climb all the way to the top of the hill to start the next one.

I was afraid of ice. She told me to follow her, to walk sideways, to crawl forward like a bear.
I sat down in the middle of that hill and enjoyed a very nice ride.

By the end of the night, Katy and I raced, from the top.

I didn’t fall down on ice if I walked sideways or like a bear.

I won three times, thought it was because I weigh a bit more than my 11 year old daughter.
Further experimentation showed that I had been using the better sled, when we switched, she crushed me.
Of course, she also could have been letting me win all along and gotten sick of it.

I don’t want to know. But I wouldn’t mind going tomorrow night to find out.

And the world looks very different when I’m sprawled on a boogie board, head tilled back. The trees are upside town, the sky is closer and the snow smells sweet in it’s natural habitat.

Dripping on kitchen floors, clinging to mittens on the radiator, snow reeks of chores and arrogance and endless loads of laundry.

While I lay on my back, head tilted back off the sled, watching the sky, seeing for the first time how long the branches are on the oak tree that Katy crashed into six springtimes ago, the first time she took out the two wheeler, everything looked and smelled and sounded different.
Then my daughter called out- “Mom, I think it’s time to wrap it up… Where are your gloves… And why is your head in the snow?”

And we went home.

Snap shots and Hind Sight

January 20, 2015

I opened my eyes at 8:32 in the morning and realized I had 25 minutes to wake up my son, put on shirt, (I went to sleep in my yoga pants to save time,) make coffee, drink coffee, feed cats, wake up dog, feed dog, let dog out back. I had to find my own sneakers and help son find basketball.

I realized at 8:34 none of this was going to happen. I took the journey up the stairs and woke Colin to tell him the Y was off the radar, at least this morning.

Now, I had time… I wasn’t due to pick up Katy’s friend for lunch/ice skating until 11:30. I ate a bowl of Honey Nuts while I peered at the latest Facebook brawl on Milton Neighbors.

I spent 12 minutes looking for matches to light the pilot, finally asked husband. Matches. Even when I smoked, I could never find matches. Coffee. Good, strong,, coffee. My favorite cup was in the dishwasher. I drank it out of a mug I picked up at Disney World 15 years ago. Before kids. I can’t believe it’s survived. I should hide it now that I just said that.

For about 25 minutes I wandered around the house, nagging kids, sweeping rugs, wiping counters. Katy decided to make waffles. I nixed the idea; we had no eggs. According the mix, no eggs were required. Katy was allowed to make waffles if she cleaned her room and figured out why her room smelled like stale milk smell.

She cleaned her room, I think. I didn’t check. Colin wanted waffles and I didn’t want to have to have another conversation about why it’s important to put clothes in drawers. I try to limit that one to three times a week and it’s only Monday.

I checked the clock. It was 11:05.  I found leash, told Sophie that we were going for a “walk”. She didn’t even wag her tail until I waved the leash a foot from her nose. I’d promised her a “walk” at 9:07. We walked.

I got home, grabbed Kate. dug out skates and confirmed the bank card was still in the wallet. I offered Colin the daily speech about what he needed to do before I returned home.

We finally picked up Katy’s friend. After watching her come down her stairs, I R=realized Katy and I should probably be wearing more than windbreakers. It’s January. In Boston. And we were going to skating on ice in a pond by the waterfront. I prayed I would be able to locate gloves in three minutes I planned to spend back home.

Colin was thrilled to see me. He was so happy to have an opportunity to review all the points I had made 8 minutes before. We collected what we could, Katy put on her winter coat and I stole something from the closet with a fuzzy lining.

We drove to South Boston, parked the car and took the t to Park Street. There was a march scheduled downtown today, in honor of Martin Luther King Day and to protest the recent deaths of black suspects at the hands of the police.

The side walk was crowded with protesters. One man said to another, “You gotta respect them, they are police.” The gentleman responded, matter of fact- “They are not police, they’re pigs.”

The girls and I ducked in Dunkin Doughnuts. They were crushed, this Dunkin Doughnuts did not serve the latest in their hot chocolate options, SMores. They settled on regular, but were mildly appeased when I ordered them mediums, instead of the promised smalls, and decided whipped cream makes everything better.

When we left, and stepped outside into the group of people preparing to march, one smiled and waved at Katy. Another grabbed the door and held it open. We stayed close till we found a crosswalk. We waited for the sign to say walk, then we walked, holding hands, clutching cups. I was wondering if I should have a hat.

I was trying to figure out if we should have a conversation about what was going on 15 feet away.

We looked for fat squirrels. Katy has a thing for fat squirrels and last time we visited every fifteen feet we’d trip over another one, bellies so close the ground they wouldn’t scamper so much as lurch. Today, the squirrels looked pretty fit. New years resolutions and all that, maybe peoples scraps are more of the whole wheat wrap, fresh fruit variety.

Katy was disappointed, and I promised her we’d visit Castle Island in South Boston next weekend. I’m thinking the current fitness trend probably hasn’t affected the rodent population over there.

We got to Frog Pond, still clutching our skates and our hot chocolates. Katy’s friend  (she’s only skated twice) had endured a five minutes lecture  from me about the importance of bending your knees and holding onto the wall.

The line was longer than the line at the snack bar at Castle Island in the summer on a 90 degree day on a holiday weekend. They sell really good snacks at Castle Island. So good that people will wait in line for an hour for a hot dog and some onion rings. Of course, if they are not standing in line, they are sitting on a bench or on the beach, wondering how much longer they have to stay until they can say they’ve had a nice day and leave. So snacks might be the high point. Unless the person really likes swings and/or touring big building that had something to do with the Revolutionary War. And there is a lot of room at Castle Island.

Not so much room at the Frog Pond, and from what I could see from the line of people waiting, if just 50 percent of them got on the ice, we wouldn’t so much be skating as inching forward carefully, hoping that the person in front of us or behind didn’t stop suddenly, or actually try to ice skate.

So we switched it up. When plans get foiled, lunch is good. Faneuil Hall is perfect. We thru our skates over our shoulders and trudged towards food. On the way, we visited to graveyards, where we talked about what happens when bodies decay, the first subway tunnel build in Boston, (1898, and we saw the tunnel) and what would happen if a zombie apacolypse happened.

When we got to the bottom of the hill, we came across a line of about 30 policemen, waiting for the protesters, which were about a half a mile away. They walked us across the street. The police looked tired. When I thanked a black police officer, he smiled. But he was watching the crowd advancing in our direction. I was a fly. I don’t know what they were to him. I couldn’t see his eyes, he was wearing sunglasses.

Durgin.Park. Gelato. Pajamas and necklaces and hot sausages  and turkey legs and screaming kids, and outside shops and inside buildings with lanes of food and teeshirts and key chains and cookies and lobster rolls and cannoli. I can’t begin to describe it. It’s warm and it’s overpriced and it smells good and it’s a tourist trap. And today, with my girl and her friends, we were tourists.

I wasn’t a woman who has been watching the news and trying to figure out what to tell my children. Or even what to believe myself.

On the way back, right by the Park Street T, there is a small shop down a long flight of stairs. It is an art gallery, like one of the ones of Newbury. Except this art gallery has a little of everything, photos, jewelry made of bottle caps, seascapes and huge canvasses by Pollack admires, cute postcards, like the one with a funky monster with the caption “I’m always in a bad mood.”  It was funny, so I must be remembering it wrong. Lots of postcards, and little  boxes with illustrations of angels.

Even though it sold lots of postcards and prints, it had a bench right in the middle. The bench faced about 10 or 15 pieces of Serious Art. Katy and her friend and I sat there for about twenty minutes. We wondered if someone in kindergarten could splash together an abstract if provided enough finger paint. We looked at the picture the stripe of blue down the middle and the thick stripes of brown on the side, Katy remembered climbing  the dunes in Provincetown.

Katy’s friend peeled off her coat, placed it on the bench and got up and followed me over to series of small portraits in the corner. The artist had done something with the paint, or the medium to make the faces jump out of the painting. I know she wanted to touch. She didn’t, just checked each one out from all angles.

There was a street car ride home. An invitation from a friend to go to church service over in Dorchester to celebrate the life of MLK.

But we hadn’t had dinner. And I felt guilty about not taking the girls skating, so I’d promised a trip to the gym. So I said no.

I got Katy’s friend home on time.

I made spaghetti sauce and added some fancy prosciutto to the ground beef because I wanted something dense and meaty. The temperature had dropped about fifteen degrees from when we got on the street car to when I finally made it back to the house.

Dinner was good, it was hearty and filling and everything a woman could want to serve her family on a winter night.

But I’m remembering the man who insisted all cops were pigs. And I’m wishing I knew what the police officer was thinking behind his sun glasses while he helped us across the street.

And I’m wondering if the best I can do for my children is to nag them to clean their rooms, take them ice skating and coordinate rides to their various practices and workshops, even ‘expose”  them to little art when time allows.

And is there anyway all of that can justify skipping a church service right down the street, today, on Martin Luther King day, in the middle of  everything going on right now, because I wanted a workout and I hadn’t started dinner.

I think I made a mistake.


January 13, 2015

I’m driving to the library and “What I Like about You” comes on the radio.

There’s no one else in the car and I have time to listen to the whole thing and pick up the first season of Breaking Bad before I arrive, on time, to fetch my basketball boy and his friends.

I return home. The dishwasher hums, nothing is left in the sink but a half eaten sponge,

Sophie the Sweet just informed me she’d rather nap than walk in the rain, my daughter smells like lip gloss and soap.

My friends love me, my family still calls. I’m not close to being done with anything and I’ve still got plenty of time, (or the ignorant bliss of assumption)

I am just so damn happy to be alive.

Tonight, on the way to pick up my son from basketball practice, I found myself thinking about my Dad. Yesterday morning I had glanced at an article about a movie they are making about a woman with early Onset Alzheimers. He died from that, about thirty years ago.

I thought about the freckles all over his back, the records he’d leave scattered all over the dining room table, the way he smelled in the morning, how his voice was better than Paul, or was it John, when he’d sing “Something” in the shower.

I looked up and realized that in the middle of all the remembering, I had absolutely no idea where I was. I had passed the turn, and just kept moving forward, thinking and humming and missing him.

I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to get back to where I needed to be . My heart shivered a bit, at the irony of getting lost while remembering the man who had lost his own mind a long, time ago.

But I didn’t have time, I had to be at the high school at 8 o’clock sharp to pick up my son and his friends. It’s cold tonight, low twenties, and sometimes they have to lock the gym up right after practice. Those boys would be standing outside, long legs exposed, they were wearing basketball shorts, and maybe sweatshirts.

I picked up the boys. I delivered them home. I gave Colin dinner and let him use his phone while he ate.

Then I let myself sit down and be scared, really, really, scared. I, the daughter of a man with early Onset Alzheimer’s, had lost my way on a journey I make four times a week.

Then my daughter came downstairs. She wanted me to play a duet with her on our flutes. We began. Sophie, the Lover of Silence, did not want us to play a duet. She wanted to play steal the sock puppet. Colin came in to ask why I hadn’t made him extra pasta. Michael the cat wanted me to let him out. And the fish looked like he wanted something too, but we’re not that close. So he’ll have to figure it out on his own.

Katy’s laughing. Colin is glaring, but he is throwing the sock puppet for Sophie, the Sweet. The fish swims. The dishwasher hums. The moon climbs and the candles burn.

I lit a few candles when I got home tonight.

I hope it’s a little while before I have to go driving alone after dark.