play it again: that’s what friends are for

originally published May 8, 2012 and because right now, my girl, Tracey is rocking her final marathon. If you’re reading this go tweet encouragement and congratulations right now to her because I said so and because she is seriously kick-asstastic and family.

You gotta love social media. Yes, I know some days you can’t help but hate it…the drama, the “vague-booking”, the time suck. But some days you just have to love social media. The last couple of days I have loved it.

My friend, Tracey, was running her very first marathon back home in Pittsburgh. She trained well for it and, thanks to Facebook, I was able to follow her in her training all along the way. I was so excited for her…her very first marathon!!! I was also a little nervous for her too…a worrisome foot injury late in her training schedule and the typical race-eve freak out…I couldn’t help but be worried a little…it’s what I do. More than anything, I wanted to be there…to cheer for her at the start, along the route and at the finish…because I know how much fun it can be…but more importantly, because Tracey is my friend and I wanted to be there just as I have felt like I have been throughout her training that she has shared. I set my alarm to remind me while at work early, early Sunday morning, west coast time, to send out a shout out wishing her luck and I began to follow her posted split times as well as #PittsburghMarathon live tweet updates.

Okay, fine. It wasn’t like I was there but then again it was…kind of sort of.

It was then on my Instagram feed I saw my friend Kim had posted an amazing shot of one of the elite runners running past her. It was a great capture indeed…air under the guy’s feet as if he was running through the air rather than on the pavement…you know, like us

mere mortals who try to run. I KNOW that it had to be exciting as I once got to see running greatness run past me…in the opposite direction…while running in the San Jose Rock and Roll Half Marathon. Excited I messaged Kim and told her how Tracey was running in the same event and just might be running by her soon…okay, later…still Tracey was headed her way! Kim messaged me back asking, “How can I spot her? I’m at mile 16. Would love to cheer her on.” Kim and I send back and forth messages with me trying to describe Tracey and then I send her a screen shot of Tracey with her running bib. An hour later I receive another message, “We just saw Tracey! I think we gave her a nice boost at mile 16!“, followed by, “Wish I could have lined up a few more folks to cheer for her.

Oh yeah, Kim is good people. She even came to my aid during BlogHer 11 with a dose of Tylenol…yes, it was part of her calling card but it helped me out and how can one ever forget that…oh, and I enjoyed sitting with her and sharing during a session or two. Even better, thanks to social media, I get to enjoy Kim’s company a lot and get to remind myself of the wonderful things that I miss about back home in Pittsburgh and that which makes Pittsburgh Someplace Special. Some pretty good people live there…like Tracey…like Kim.

It was after the race that I saw a posting on her Facebook wall from Tracey:

I’m home, icing every part of my body, reflecting on the day. A marathon isn’t fun or easy but parts of it did rock…My teammates, friends, fellow athletes! Laura Scarborough Setting up a surprise cheering section from 3000 miles away! The band at mile 9.29 playing Take the Skin Heads Bowling! Getting hosed down by a hot fireman in E Liberty! Knowing my Dad was with me every step of the way! My coaches Phil Thompson & Drew McCabe crossing the finish line with me! Best running partner Kathie O’Donnell finishing the last mile together!

Reading that made me cry…cry happy tears because although we can’t be face to face every day and we can’t just hop in a car and drive on over to be there for one another, I have some pretty amazing friends out there and thanks to the interwebs and a whole lot of social media I know that we can and are there for each other to support and encourage each other…to cry together…to pray together…to laugh together…tell me how and where to bury a body, you know, if I had to…to just be there for each other. It’s a small circle still it is a circle that has expanded my world in a way that I could never imagine…even when I am feeling alone here in Manteca. I have some pretty awesome friends…friends like Tracey, like Ann, like Kim, like Kari, like Kale, like Jenn, like Bill…I am so lucky…even if you all aren’t physically just around the corner.

Love you Tracey! Love you Kim! I hope that someday I can hook you two up…perhaps while taking in a game at PNC Park.

And one more time, congratulations Tracey!!! I am thrilled and honored to have cheered you on this weekend. You. Are. Awesome.

play it again: Hazel the First

This weekend the descendants of Hazel Frances Shock Yowell will gather to remember, honor and celebrate the life of Momma Yowell on what was to be he her 96th birthday. Of course that means taking over a hotel as we do when we gather.

originally published May 9, 2014

Bill and I very soon will be celebrating 31 years of marriage, which is a pretty long time to be stuck together with one person. We have shared that day for years now with the birthday of our 4th lovely circus clown, Jodie Grace Wynonna. So it’s never really just our day. But even before Jodie, it never really was our day. We were married on the day of Bill’s grandparents’ (Momma and Poppa – Hazel and Osie) fiftieth wedding anniversary. Yeah, it was their day.

I can’t imagine being as gracious as Momma and Poppa were to share their day, their celebration with two crazy, in-love kids dressed in the OMG-what-the-fresh-hell-is-that 80′s wedding fashion. But they were. I’m so glad that they were so generous.

It was but a couple years later that I knew I truly belonged to this family I married into when Momma would address me as Teri-Toni-Dottie-Patty-Laura.

Yes!

Years and years later, I am carrying on for her, much to the annoyance of my kids, when I address them by all of their names until I eventually hit their name. Deep down I know that Hollie-Zoë-Abby-Jodie-Hazel-Fallon appreciate the family tradition. Of course they do.

Momma and her daughter, my dear mother-in-law, Mom, taught me how to properly fry chicken which is something I know Bill has given thanks for over the years. It’s not perfect or nearly as excellent as their fried chicken is, but it is properly fried chicken. Through the years, memories were made, laughter and tears were shared and babies were born…a lot of babies…

I loved Momma’s playfulness with my babies. All five of them have enjoyed her cuddles and being bounced on her knee trottin’ the pony. The awkward conversation we had where I explained to her that it was her grandson Bo’s fault that we had birthed no grandsons not so much. Still I loved the laughter we shared after that conversation.

Momma and Poppa had three children who became parents to nine grandchildren for Momma, who went on to have A LOT of great-grandbabies (I’m counting 17 but then again my math skills are seriously suspect) and 5 great-great grandchildren. All adored Momma.

Then again, what is there about her NOT to adore?

One memory I have of Momma is the fact that she always seemed to be smiling. No, not a big toothy smile. It was more a quiet smile with the corners of her mouth always upturned. To have lived as long as Momma has I know it wasn’t always perfect and rosey but clearly she lived her life with a positivity that was reflected in her quiet smile. One of many things that made her beautiful. But truth be told, my best, happiest memory was the first Thanksgiving she shared with her namesake, Hazel the Second.

Now how many 90-something year old ladies do you know who will get down on all floors to play with her carpet-crawling great-great grandbabies?

Yeah, I thought so.

I can only hope to be as kick-asstastic as her.

Hazel the First graced this world for over 95 years until today when she passed away.

Mother’s Day will be tempered with the fact that she is now part of our family’s sweet memories. For me, in the short time that I have been blessed to call her Momma, there has been many sweet memories. I will always have her to thank for knowing how to properly fry chicken and to at least try to just sit back, relax and enjoy the blessings around me (and there are a lot) with a quiet smile on my lips.

Hazel Frances Shock-Yowell, November 16, 1918 – May 9, 2014

play it again: a season of sowing

Originally published October 14, 2012

Fall has finally arrived here in the Central Valley. Last week the temps were in the 90’s or more but over the weekend, slowly but surely, there was a cooling trend until finally there was but a trickle of rain by the end of the week.

It was about time! That’s all I can say!

But Fall here in the Central Valley often finds me feeling a little down and a little homesick. Sure there are pumpkins galore and a fabulous corn maze. The vineyards and orchards are being harvested and the grapes are being crushed. It all creates the most amazing, fruity, almost syrupy smell as I drive around. But the colors are so pale, so anemic compared to back home. I was reminded of that seeing friends posts of Fall color on their Facebook walls.

I wish I took this shot! I wish I was there to take in this incredible view! Alas, but no. This image is from my dear friend, Sue’s Facebook wall. Like me, she longs for the vibrant colors like these that can only be seen back East. Nothing out here in Cali compares. Sorry.

So instead of trying to find Autumn color in an area where everything pretty much is brown, I decided to sow a little with a nod to Edwin Teale.

For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.

Next to the glorious colors of Fall that I miss so much from back home, I love the colors of Spring, especially when the daffodils and tulips break through the frozen ground amongst the melting snow with their blooms. I can’t wait to see the colors that these will bring come next Spring here around the Big Top.

This week’s Focus 52 prompt is Autumn Color.

play it again: discovering the heart of the ocean

Originally published October 13, 2011

A boy and girl from differing social backgrounds meet during the ill-fated maiden voyage of RMS Titanic…

And now my fifth circus clown discovers Titanic. We are right on schedule too as he is around the same age as his four sisters before him watched this epic story as told by James Cameron. For the girls it was the star-crossed lovers story that lured them in. For Daniel it is the fact that Jack Dawson is cool…oh, and when the ship sank. THAT was really cool!

My favorite part watching it with him?

When he turns to me and states, “You know this really happened, Mom. There really was a Titanic and it is at the bottom of the ocean.” That’s my favorite part, my favorite part each time I have watched it with each of my circus clowns for their very first time.

Of course this means that my Little Man is growing up. Up next in the horizon up ahead, god help me, puberty.

play it again: sorting and searching

Originally published October 12, 2008

While many are panicking as they pull their money out of banks and the stock market, my darling daughter #4, Jodie, is ready to put her little stash in the bank. Yes-sirree! The faith of one 12 year old is going to restore everyone’s confidence and end this financial clusterfuck for us all, gosh darn it all to heck! Jodie earned a little over $60 tap dancing her little heart out on a street corner at the Manteca Pumpkin Fair and rather than attempt to blow it all in one place, she decided that perhaps she should SAVE it.

Is this really my child?

Seriously, I was glad to see that she was listening to my words of wisdom rather than my years and years of poor financial action or perhaps she was making this decision based on the pile of bad money management in my personal history. Either way, I couldn’t help but be proud of her decision. She does have savings that we established when she was still a little carpet crawler but it is safely and quietly growing in a credit union account in the Bay Area. One of these days, I tell myself, I will move it closer to home but there is always something else to juggle. In the meantime, Jodie wants to open up her own personal savings account at a bank just down the street. In her perky, golden-blonde goodness she imagines her stopping there after school to add even more money to it when she gets it so she can save, save, save and watch her money grow, grow, grow.

See? I told you she will restore America’s financial confidence.

After a little discussion, I agree this is a good idea for the money she earned and suggest that we go together to the bank and open up her own personal savings account. All I need to do is get her social security card and off we can go.

Easy-peasy.

Not so easy-peasy.

I have the three youngest children’s social security cards filed safely away. The only problem is I can’t exactly remember where they are filed safely away. The obvious, logical place would be my filing cabinet where I have filed “important” paperwork like past income tax forms, my continuing education certificates, the kids’ birth certificates, Daniel’s adoption papers and medical records, insurance policies and other stuff like that. But I am not necessarily a logical, obvious kind of person. Still I am stubbornly certain that those cards HAVE to be in there so there I was this past week, sorting through my files piece by piece trying to find those cards.

During my process I come across one important document that I kind of forgot about…but actually I haven’t. A four-page Traffic Collision Report # 01-054-0734 of the incident that occurred February 23, 2001 at 1615 hours on Camden Avenue just 51.6 feet north of Merrill Loop. Party #1 had no driver’s license number, was 4 ft 5 in tall and was perceived (incorrectly) to be 80 pounds. The report also states that she was 9 years old which was also incorrect. She was 8. She was traveling east on Camden Avenue (it runs north to south) at an undetermined speed. Party #2 did have a driver’s license, was a foot and a half taller and twice the recorded weight of party #1. He was also more than 50 years older. He was traveling north on Camden at an estimated 35 mph. the report goes on for three more pages with detailed illustrations of the point of impact and the 95 feet of tire skid marks up to the point of impact on Camden Avenue. The three witnesses’ accounts completely support the evidence in the street: the skid marks, the stopped flatbed truck with the one ton trench digger secured on the flatbed, the crumpled, battered and bloodied body of the 80 pound 50 pound, 4 ft 5 in tall, 8 year old body of my daughter Zoë and the banged up razor scooter lying curbside.

The sorting and searching of my files stop as I slowly re-read and re-live every detail of that horrible, horrible afternoon. I feel my breath catching and my heart pounding as I scan each and every line of Officer # 3495’s carefully printed and typed report. More than 8 years, 12 inches and approximately 60 pounds later I still haven’t forgotten. I will never forget. How could I possibly forget? I just have it filed away very neatly in my file cabinet…and in my heart and in my mind.

I never did find the social security cards. I stopped searching. After my little afternoon of recollection, my heart just wasn’t in it, I guess. I know they are somewhere, safely filed away and they will turn up right around the time I receive the replacement cards I requested.