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.

final marathon

When accomplishing something pretty amazing, most everyone can name at least one person who inspired them. When it comes to running and who inspires me two people immediately come to mind. There’s Kari, whom I hold personally responsible for the fact that I do run no matter how slow I go; and there is Tracey, a high school classmate and dear friend who remains my touchstone and connection to my “back home“…and because she pretty much adopted me into the Baker clan, my sister. Tracey can and will run in almost any crazy condition and considering the winter that was this past winter, I know she did while training for this year’s Pittsburgh Marathon. It’s kind of hard to whine about your running conditions in the Central Valley California when your friend is talking about ice and snow and freezing rain and freaking wind chill factors when sharing her running updates on Facebook.

Then there is the fact that she looks so damn good while running and looking like she is having a great time.

Apologies, Tracey, for snagging this picture from your Facebook wall. I couldn’t help myself because, yes, you look so damn good and like you are having fun. I would be the runner soaked in sweat with sweat drying so I look like a salt lick…a salt lick with a beet red face which would likely scare you and any spectators. I blame the ginger gene for the red face.

But look at her!

I’m inspired to run right now; except for the fact that it is nearing midnight and the Big Top is slumbering.

I received a text from Tracey early Friday morning that made me smile and cry sad and happy tears. This Sunday in Pittsburgh will be Tracey’s last marathon.

No, not her last run.

Thank goodness!

But, for so many reasons, it will be her last 26.2 mile race. And I was sad. Then she told me how she has read and re-read this particular blog post…and then the tears were happy tears filled with so much love.  I’ll be at work, again, but I am looking forward to following my dear friend and running crush via text alerts as she rocks this marathon in the ‘burgh. If I had the power and influence, I would make sure that all the hot firemen were all along the route cheering her on. I don’t have that influence and power…alas.

But I will be cheering my dear friend on 3,000 miles away in spirit, in my heart and via text messages because that’s what friends are for.

You’ve got this girlfriend!

no weasels were teased in this post

You can knit a kitten mittens
And perhaps that cat would purr.
You could fit a fox with socks
That exactly matched his fur.
You could make a goat a coat with a collar trimmed in mink
Or give a pig a wig
In a dainty shade of pink.
But never tease a weasel;
This is very good advice.
A weasel will not like it
And teasing isn’t nice!

A long, long time ago in a land far, far away called Mooncrest I literally read this book so many times that I had memorized it.

Never Tease A Weasel was a favorite of my brothers and sister. There were so many reasons to love this book in both the words and images. Bold, bright colors and wonderful rhymes that clearly paint a picture of all the reasons why we should never tease a weasel because it’s fun to be friends with a weasel instead. Yes, I read this to Randy, Billy and Valerie so many times to the point that the eminently repeatable refrains did become a part of  my familiar quotations.

A very familiar Mom-quote especially for this Fab Four. Growing up, they heard far too many times that they should never tease a weasel…or a sister…because teasing isn’t nice. And they often would roll their eyes because honestly Mom what does a weasel have to do with me teasing my sister anyway? Years later it has become a memory the four of them share and often laugh about…their mom telling them not to tease a weasel (there I’ve said it thrice!). Where in the world did that come from really they wondered out loud recently?

So of course I had to find the book because my grand babies need to learn that it is okay to knit a kitten mittens, give a moose some juice or bake a drake a cake…along with understanding that teasing is not nice.

If only I could find the original 1964 edition that doesn’t cost $30-60 or more.

no apologies for the cuteness

With holidays comes adorable Easter dresses.

Bonus if they are dressed alike because what can be more adorable…

…especially when the darlings are at an age where they can’t really complain and protest. Actually at this age they LOVE it! So seize it while you can.

It’s a very narrow window of time when you can truly get away with such cuteness…

…and enjoy the total cooperation; because it’s fun that we are all dressed the same!

Remember that when the day comes (and it WILL come) when the kids look at these memories and then back at you wondering out loud, “What the hell were you thinking, Mom?!

Then you smile back at them because you have no apologies for such cuteness and you are absolutely certain that someday they will do it to their children too.

Scroll back to the top if you don’t believe me.

hahs comes yinz don’t tahk like yinz are from here n’at?

I sometimes refer to myself as “just a steel town girl” because a good part of my childhood was spent growing up in Pittsburgh. But anyone familiar with the delightful, almost musical way someone from Western PA speaks, aka Pittsburghese, might actually question whether I am just another girl from Pittsburgh, er Picksburg.

Just the other day I found myself struggling to describe the uniqueness that is the way a still-tahn gurl might converse n’at with a friend of mine. As I said words like :dahntahn, still mill, stillers, nebby, gumbandz, Jine Iggl, Ahn City, jagoff, n’at to her I could see her eyes start to glaze just a bit as she shook her head saying, “Sure, Laura.

But it’s true. It’s all true!

She laughs some more.

Yeah, she isn’t believing this fable.

I may not ever really learned to speak like a native, but I have no problem understanding the language.

Listen, yinz, ta this story.  Last Mundy, when I got home from dahntahn Picksburg, I redded up the hahse, worshed the clothes and did the arning, n’at.  Then I decided ta take a break coz I was gettin’ rilly hungry.  I looked ina fridge, but it needed stocked.  Alls I had was butterbread and leftover city chicken.  No jumbo, no chipped ham, no kolbassi.

So I headed aht to Jine Iggl.  I got me a buggy and picked up a hoagie, some pop and a duzn eggs in case I wanted dippy ones in the mornin’.  When I got back home, I headed aht to set by the crick ta eat in peace and quiet.  Just as I was gonna take a bite a my sammich, my nebby neighbor, Shurl, shows up, wantin’ ta know how I been.  Whiles we’re chattin’, I see a grinny sneak up and start nibblin’ on my mill.  I tried ta chase him, but the grass was slippy, and I fell in ta the jaggerbushes.  I never been so flustrated.”

For those who are scratching their heads, allow me to translate for you:

Listen, all, to this story.   Last Monday, when I got home from being in downtown Pittsburgh, I cleaned the house, washed the clothes and did the ironing.  Then I decided to take a break because I was getting really hungry.  I looked into the refrigerator, but it need to be stocked.  All that I had was buttered bread and leftover city chicken (cubed beef or veal, skewered, breaded and fried).  I had no bologna, thinly sliced ham, no Polish sausage.

So I went to the store and got a cart.  I bought a submarine sandwich, soda and a dozen of eggs in case I wanted eggs over easy in the morning.  When I got back home, I headed out to sit by the creek to eat in peace and quiet.  Just as I was about to take a bite from my sandwich, my nosy neighbor, Cheryl, appeared and asked how I have been.  While we are talking, I saw a chipmunk and it started to nibble on my meal.  I tried to chase him, but the grass was slippery and I fell into the thorn bushes.  I’ve never been so frustrated.”

See? I do understand…because I am indeed just a still tahn gurl…although I would never, ever drink Ahn City Beer.

After my late night convo with my friend, I knew I had to find proof of the unparalleled delight that is Pittsburghese.

And now I miss the ‘Burgh and the way yinz all tahk.

Well, maybe not this. Yinz stay warm n’at!