play it again: overheard under the Big Top #99

Because it was fourteen years ago which means we have children who have no clue whatsoever what the date September 11 means to so many people even if life goes on and sometimes they ask why.

Originally published September 9, 2011

While watching, as a family, a 9-11 ten years later piece on tonight’s evening news:

Daniel: Why is everyone so sad on the news?

Mom: Well, everyone is remembering a terrible, scary day that happened ten years ago.

Daniel: What happened?

Mom: I’m not really sure why but there were some people who hated everything about the United States and one day they decided to attack our country. On the day that they attacked us almost 3,000 people in the United States died that day.

Daniel: (eyes widen) Wow! That is terrible. Was it scary?

Mom: Yes. Yes it was. It was a very scary day that day. It was also a very sad day. A very scary and sad day that we all stop and remember every year because so many people were killed that day.

Daniel: Did we catch those mean people?

Mom: We’ve tried. Our country went to war because of the attacks that day. We still are at war…for better or for worse…We caught some of them.

Daniel: Good!

Mom: Yes, but now is a time to remember the people who died that day. There were so many people who were going home or going to work or going off on an adventure who had no idea that there were people who were at the same moment planning to kill them and planning to hurt the United States. Now is the time to stop and remember every single person who was killed that day. They are why people are sad and why people are talking about that day right now.

Daniel: (hugs me)

This is the very first conversation I have had with my son, who was born five months to the day after September 11, 2001.

How are you talking to your children about the attacks on September 11 and the aftermath?

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.


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.