We See the Light

We’re getting close to turning the corner in this ferocious winter. I feel it in my bones. Daylight is still hanging on after 5:45 p.m. Woo-hoo!  Pitchers and catchers reported last week (there was definitely some extra pep in my step) and full squad practices are getting underway in Clearwater.

The more than 30 inches of snow from the past few weeks is melting away. Isn’t that huge, gray glob of mess at every corner and in every parking lot disgusting? My son said he wants to start a pool – choose a mound of snow and choose a date when you think the last of that stuff will be gone. I suggested if he does start a pool, any proceeds should go to charity (never say I promoted gambling). Now, the highways are opening up with those craters we un-affectionately call potholes. The contracting and expanding of the roadway, plus the plowing, the salt and sand and pooling of water all leads to these craters that shake our vehicles down to the frame. Why is it that we have a hard time spotting those things before our tire mercilessly goes “splat” into oblivion? Part of the problem is staying out of the way of every other driver who is trying to avoid hitting the pothole that you will hit while you stay out of their way.

Meantime, a brilliant site is blooming on our kitchen window sill. An Amaryllis given to us a couple of years ago sprouted from a seemingly barren pot of soil into this gorgeous, off-pink bloom. Today, we have three blooms on the plant. I know the blooms won’t last a week, but it sure is lovely to see. What actually worked with getting this plant to bloom started last fall. I read somewhere to lay the plant on its side outside and don’t water it. I brought the plant in a few weeks later. It clearly didn’t bloom in time for Christmas, but at this point in winter, I’m appreciating the effort this plant needs!

The cardinals around our house have been foraging for food. I was on the phone in my home office this afternoon and saw another gorgeous sight. A bright, red cardinal landed at the top of the pear tree outside my window and was pecking away at the buds that sprouted in the past few days. The contrast between the grayness of the area and this scarlet bird was stunning.

For now, we cope with whatever winter has left for us. We can dream of spring and vegetable gardens, the far off summer vacation being planned and, yes, ladies and gentleman, for me, baseball.

There’s no baby left

You always say your child will be your baby forever. My favorite book when Adam was a baby was “Love You Forever.” The mother says to the child, “I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” It’s a lovely verse from author Robert Munsch, but we really only have

Adam and Julia -sophomore cotillion.

our children for a short time. I cannot believe Adam went to his first semi-formal dance tonight. He looked great; acted a little awkward in his new suit and shoes, but I hope he has a fabulous time. As I write this, there are about 45 minutes left at the dance. I can only imagine how a few hundred sophomores and their dates act.

We dropped Adam and his date at the dance after pictures at our house and then at his date’s house. They looked lovely. They seemed excited and looking forward to seeing everyone all dressed up. I tried to give Adam advice on etiquette and treating his date nicely. They’re just friends from church, so I don’t think there will be any drama. I know all of them are just filled with hormones and emotions. You just want your child to be well and be happy. I hope he doesn’t dance like Elaine on “Seinfeld.” I hope he doesn’t spill anything or spit out food accidentally. Then there are the questions: will he slow dance? Will he have another first kiss? Will he dance with anyone other than Julia? Will he dance at all?

I wanted so badly to peak in at the catering hall where the dance is taking place. Doug wanted to as well I think, but we knew we couldn’t. That’s the hard part now. We can’t be there for everything as we were during the first years of his life. Every day they slip a little farther from you. Once they start going to school, it’s a day-by-day journey that takes them on their own path. They need you less and less. They still ask for your help sometimes, but they don’t really need you. There is one thing that remains from Adam’s childhood. Every night as he’s going to bed and every time he leaves the house or talks to us on the phone, he ends with, “Love you.” He does that all on his own. Maybe author Robert Munsch is right, “As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”

1000 miles Betwen Camden and the Suburbs

Let’s continue to pay it forward. More than 30 people gathered to learn about stepping up their service to the people of Camden. They came from Voorhees, Mount Laurel, Haddon Township and Ambler, PA. They all want to help bridge the divide of what Father Michael Doyle has said is the “1000 miles” between the suburbs and Camden.

The joint effort between The Center for Transformation (Mark Doorley and Andrea Feirich), Sacred Heart Church and Sustainable Cherry Hill (Lori Braunstein) began with the January 21 “Poet of Poverty” screening in Cherry Hill featuring Father Michael Doyle. More than 230 people attended that event introducing many to the fact that every flush and nearly every scrap of trash ends up in Camden. The follow-up event February 13 gave participants an up-close look at the Center for Transformation’s, well, transformation that is underway in the former convent building as well as a look at the church sanctuary. Across the street, they heard from two teenagers in the greenhouse who explained projects including, production of rain barrels built by the young, urban farmers, the beginnings of an aquaponics project to raise tilapia, and plans for  a fruit tree orchard nearby off 4th Street. The eco-tour also showed how the Waterfront South

Center for Transformation renovations in the former convent

neighborhood remains in the shadow of the county sewage treatment plant, but how efforts are continuing to raise up the neighbors and citizens to improve their lives as well as their homes, gardens and parks.  They heard about renovations of the building for the new theatre and nearby houses.

The outcome of the gathering is expected to bring into the fold, more hands, hearts and minds supporting the many programs and projects stemming from Sacred Heart and the Center for Transformation and helping to close that “1000 miles” between the suburbs and Camden.

The Frozen Tundra

I haven’t seen great snowman snow like this since I was a kid. Remember when we were in school and the school closings were by name: Woodrow Wilson, Camden, Woodrow Wilson Junior High, Northeast High, Rhawnhurst. Of course they were in alphabetical order, perhaps by county, but we would hunker down by the AM radio, for me usually the old WFIL and listen for that school name. Whoo-hoo! Wilson Junior high CLOSED! I don’t remember makeup days for the snow days. What I do remember is Burholme Park. It has got to be THE best sledding hill in the entire region. I remember at least once, my cousins who lived in Olney, meeting us at that awesome slope. Even today, it is one of the greatest sledding, tubing, “saucering” hill EVER.

I had a red, plastic saucer; sort of a precursor to today’s snow tubes only without the puffy comfort.   I’d get a running start at the tippy-top of the hill just below where the gorgeous Ryerss Estate library still stands today. My feet would leave the ground as I plopped down on my saucer and go speeding and twirling down that glorious hill, savoring every bump and slide. The hill flattens out on what are softball fields in the warmth of spring, summer and fall. After gliding as far as I could on the flat section, I’d jump up and scurry back up that steep slope to do another run on my saucer or mix it up using the wooden sled we had.

My cousin Paul once  sent himself flying down that snowy slope at what seemed like the speed of light. He was much taller and stronger than me. Somehow, he wavered off to the right instead of heading straight down the normal route. He went, “SPLAT” into a tree way over on the side of the large, hilly area. Blood seemed to be everywhere. Thank goodness, it looked worse than it really was. Paul just had a bloody nose. I seem to remember him laughing the whole time. I’m sure our moms were freaking out just a bit.

On a day like this, during a winter like this, I really miss the Burholme Park slope. It was and still is, pure, free, outdoorsy fun. Long live that grand hill and may many more generations of kids on their sleds enjoy that slope as much as I remember enjoying that white monster!

Let it Snow..and an update

Here we go again! Another bread and milk run; TV news shots of shoppers all-of-a-sudden realizing they don’t have a snow shovel, or the old shovel broke in the December storm. The immediacy of weather information and the advanced warnings whip us into a frenzy. We begin nesting. My husband sent our son out to the wood pile to bring a few stacks of chopped wood to put near the front door so we could have a fire while watching the blowing and drifting snow that’s predicted in this winter blast. I’m heading out to pick up some things we’re out of (as though we’ll suffer for a couple of days without bagels).

Remember when we were kids and there’d be a storm? Weather forecasting was unsophisticated and low-tech. The dropping barometer was an indicator that bad weather was on the way. The direction of the wind or low pressure was all we had to go on. Now, forecasters have tremendous accuracy when it comes to WHEN the bad weather will begin, how long the storm may last and a geographic range showing how the storm will hit over a wide area. Fascinating stuff!

It’s great to look at the storm from inside your house isn’t it? You find all sorts of things to keep you busy. Families play board games. You cook up soups and stews to keep everyone warm. I’m defrosting a turkey we got after the holidays for just a day like this. the bird will be thawed by tomorrow so we’ll have a comfort-dinner to enjoy while the rest of the snow storm hits Saturday.

Meantime, my son’s sophomore cotillion scheduled for Saturday night has indeed, been postponed. We get another week to watch him prepare for his first semi-formal. Let’s hope another snowstorm isn’t brewing somewhere off the west coast or in the Gulf. Keep watching Doppler radar!

It Hurts Us More

When you have a child, the adage goes, “it hurts you more than it hurts your child.” that applies to everything from the common cold to your child’s first heartbreak. It doesn’t get any better as they get older.

Adam’s first semi-formal dance is this weekend. The weather people are calling for a snowstorm to hit Friday into Saturday morning. I can’t help but feel my anxiety level going up with wonder. Will the dance happen? If it does, will other students bail because of the weather? Will parents complain because the dance ISN’T postponed? Will the caterer show up? Will the DJ be able to get there? Hey – it’s NOT my event! Why am I so worried? It hurts me more than it hurts him. Being a young man, Adam lets things slide. If it doesn’t work out, he shrugs and moves on. While disappointment is certainly a part of life, it’s great to be able to limit or ward off those disappointments when you’re young.

What’s so frustrating about these winter storms is how absolutely gorgeous it is today. Mother Nature loves to give us the calm before the storm. This is a perfect winter day: crystal-clear, blue skies, a light wind and no hint of bad weather. Everywhere you look, online, on TV, the newspaper, the dire prediction is there: we’re in for a storm. Now that I haven’t been “working” the storms in a while in radio, they don’t bother me as much. I don’t dread the storms or worry about them. I generally embrace the storms. The December 20th storm that socked everyone in, sent Doug and I out into the winter wonderland for a ride from South Jersey to Northeast Philly to visit my parents. During a storm is the BEST time to food shop. While some supplies may be down because of all the bread-and-milk runs just before the storm, the aisles are empty, the staff is pleasant and you have nice, pleasant conversations with anyone you come in contact with. They’re nuts, just like you. Go ahead, take a ride – get your errands done. The only vehicles on the road are the brave few and the salt and plow trucks.

Here I am, embracing storms, but so concerned that my son and his friends will be disappointed if their dance is postponed. We picked up his suit this week; today he gets a haircut; I washed his new dress shirt so it’ll be comfortable to wear; I ordered the wristlet for his date and will pick it up Saturday. If Adam is concerned about the weather or a postponement, he’s not showing it. Of course, this is the young man, who with his father, camped out in sub-freezing weather last weekend, without a working bathroom at their campsite and of course, no hot shower for two nights.  (Ugh!)

When Adam was swaddled in a blanket in my arms, I worried when he spit up (and boy, was he a spitter. When he started getting ear infections after he went to nursery school, I felt his pain and discomfort. When he was bullied for the first time in elementary school, I wanted to throw myself in the line of fire and shake the shoulders of the boy doing this to ask, “WHY?” We learn our children have to learn on their own. It hurts us to see them fail, or be bullied or suffer a disappointment. In the end, we guide them, console them and let them know we are there to help.

I hope the dance happens and Adam and his friend enjoy the heck out of the event. I hope the snow doesn’t get in the way and everyone is safe and warm at the event. For now, I think I’ll make my food shopping list and try not to worry too much.