5 Years Between Duets

14 minutes ago, in 2009, middle son Quinn on the road to college…

College ended yesterday, but the band played on…

Spring cleaning…

The temperature actually rose above freezing today!  Sylvie, wisely, took the rare opportunity to hang outside and bask in the sun.

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…for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile I, inspired more by the hope than the reality of Spring, decided to embark on a little Spring cleaning.

I started with my computer’s address book which I purged, in the blink of the delete button, of many of the vestiges of our old life. Gone, instantly, were house sitters, insurance guys, tutors, trainers, someone’s mortgage broker we never used, electricians, furnace people (did we ever even HAVE a furnace?), friends of the boys who they are no longer friends with, their parents who we only pretended to be friends with to begin with, some nice French guy I met at a TED conference, camp counselors, hair dressers, great Take Out places (Good-bye Reddi Chick!), gyms, the orthodontist (but not our dentist Dr. Chin! Never Dr. Chin!), and the guy who used to deliver soda and water in glass bottles. And in the Fs, one I found especially hard to delete, a dear relative newly gone from our little spinning planet.

As I scrolled through the names, wielding my delete button freely, it felt as if our long California life was passing before my eyes.  It was sad – and sweet – and when I was done, I felt refreshed, happy to see the names of my real friends left standing, somehow easier to find.

A penny for her thoughts…

Now that we don’t have our chicks around to obsess about, we’ve moved on to the dog.

This weekend we left her with a new dog-sitter (eek!), who immediately pegged us for the psycho helicopter dog parents that we are and has kindly spent the weekend texting us pictures to let us know our beloved fourth child is still alive.

Today, we received this:

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After we established that she was, in fact, still living, we parsed the photograph for clues as to our angel’s mental, physical and emotional state.  We wondered if she was eating enough.  Were her ribs that visible when we left her? Her lack of sociability concerned us too. Since when is she a back-of-the-classroom kind of dog? And why isn’t she looking at the camera? Is she painfully shy, or did she recently go blind?!?! 

But the question we pondered the most was…

“What is she THINKING?”

Sam’s convinced it’s: “I don’t do cameras.”

I’m leaning toward: “Where’s that damn cat. I know it’s here somewhere.”

How about you? What do you think she’s thinking?

Are we having fun yet?

This morning, we left the house bright and early for the 3.5 hour drive to Hanover to visit Quinn and Eliot.

“This is fun!” I exclaimed cheerily as we headed north. “This is something we really missed out on living in California – the quick visit to college, taking the kids for a few good meals, hanging out, meeting their friends and generally get to know their life outside the nest.”

The lunch went as planned, but immediately after the check was paid, things took an unexpected turn. Engineering projects, it turned out, needed attention. And crew practice needed attending.

So we were left to our own devices until dinner…

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Let It Snow

So you think winter in the Northeast is a five month cluster of cabin fever, numb limbs and ice boogers? Well, maybe it is, but at least we have something to talk about. In California, it’s all  “Beautiful day, bro” and “Yeah, sunny like yesterday, bro”. And that’s the end of the conversation. Up here, when you’re on line at the hardware store after a weather event you get  full chapters of rich weather-related material: That near miss on Route 9 when the Subaru went sideways into the porch where the Gilberts are usually playing cribbage; The snowblower that sucked up a hardened squirrel carcass and launched it through the den window;  Four days on an air mattress in front of the fireplace during the outage, surviving on gin and corn nuts.  Big stories. Big drama. And new stories blow in with every low pressure system. You gotta love that.

Oh, and by the way, when the sky falls here, the view is pretty good, too…

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Thanks, football

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My father wasn’t a sports fan when we were growing up. Yeah, he took us to a baseball game, and a couple of football games, but his heart wasn’t in it. He didn’t have a favorite team, and he never joined us on the couch to watch the playoffs or the Super Bowl. The Sunday New York Times sports section was the only section he left untouched. During the 1969 World Series, when every inch of New York was afire with Mets’ fever, I suggested that we try to get the impossible-to-get tickets to Game 5.  “Who’s playing?” he asked.

Being a sports fan requires hanging out, and my father wasn’t a guy who hung out. If he was going to flop in front of a TV, the viewing had to be informative.  PBS. 60 Minutes. A documentary. He didn’t do beer soaked den banter, or locker room small talk. His interactions with us were often formal. We scheduled a lunch. Or a drink on the porch.  A “talk” in his office behind closed doors. He needed topics like politics, art and theatre to get to intimacy.

But during his retirement in Connecticut, he grew to enjoy professional football, a sport I had loved for years.  He bought a pair of loungers where he parked himself every week and rooted loudly for the Patriots, my mother by his side.

On December 1st, in his hospital room, he and I watched the Patriots barely beat the Texans. And later that week, after he passed away, I realized that this was the first and last time I’d ever just hung out with him. There was no meaningful conversation. No topic dissected. No life plan analyzed. Nothing formal. It was just me and my beloved NFL convert watching the game. Together.