Running Free

Running Free

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tissue for Your Thoughts...

I was in need of a piece of paper to scribble a thought I had about the recent death of Michael Jackson.

It was just a thought that the muse had whispered in my ear and the chance of it flitting away like an air bubble within the next five minutes was highly likely.

I was getting ready to drop the children – yes you read right- children- as in plural – as in more than one – at their summer camp. For the next three weeks my DH, DS and I are part of the goodwill ambassador foundation. We are sharing our house and home and our simple life with a fourteen year-old French boy. Oui- c’est vrais.

I was taking our young Frenchman and DS to their Ocean Camp at the other end of town. Two mop heads poked up from the back seat of the car as I made sure that I had indeed opened the garage door.

Garage doors and I have a somewhat static relationship. I once upon a time backed up a brand new car into the garage door that was coming down and it scalped the back side of the new car’s bumper.

Another time, the same car now that I think about, I decapitated a side mirror. My poor DH….but stories for another day.

This morning I was in mom mode and needed to get my charges to their camp on time. Garage door opened, key in ignition, I was listening to the familiar deep throated growl from my car when the thought hit me. My icon of youth, Michael Jackson, had passed away. He was just a few years older than me. Immortality or lack thereof was sending goose bumps down the back of my neck.

I began backing the car up looking over my shoulder to make sure I didn’t accidently hit a concrete boulder or an unsuspecting neighbor walking the dog. Michael Jackson was still with us. He had just taken on a different form I told myself. His music lives on in the myriad of his LPS, CDs and DVDs I had collected over the years.

I wanted to write this thought down in case it slipped out the back door before I had a chance to at least introduce it to the grey matter of my rather spotty mind.

I stuck my hand into the dark belly of my purse that for some reason seemed endless this morning. I felt around with my fingers and felt the shape of a phone, a wallet and a soft and squishy item that I was not sure about.

Aha! My fingers brushed against a slippery piece of something that crinkled when I tried to grab it. Paper! I pulled the sorry looking scrap out of the purse and stopped the car. On the paper was the following:

turkey meat
small packages of Pringles chips
sun screen
Gatorade large six pack orange/red/yellow
cheese squares
celery
one carton of organic low fat milk
Paul Newman’s lemonade

Riveting I thought to myself. How could I ever find room on this eensy weensy bit of paper to scribble my latest thought?

“Mom, can I have a tissue please?” I heard from the back seat of the car.

“Sure, honey,” I said, reaching into the console and pulling out a wad of the soft white stuff. Handing him the tissue I had an epiphany.

I can write my thoughts on a tissue - albeit unused.

“Thanks Mom,” said my son blowing into his cotton cloud.

“No, it is I who must thank you,” said I. “You helped me to be resourceful in a dire time of need,” I said as I furiously scribbled my thoughts on the soft tissue in my hand before they muse left me.

Desperate times desperate measures.

Salt and Vinegar



After picking up my two charges from their morning summer camp we made our way home for the afternoon meal. Two hungry boys with growling bellies is not a pleasant thing to encounter. Lunch was needed ASAP.

Thus, I scrambled as quickly as a mom with two legs can: hauling out deli meat, mustard, mayo, cheese, wheat bread, veggies and created a lovely lunch complete with a watermelon appetizer, Sprite and organic cookies.

Emile, our visiting French boy, sat next to my son on the couch. They chuckled and laughed as they watched the antics of a television show about two mop headed boys names Zac and Cody. I gathered from the raucous laughter that the boys on the TV had similar dispositions to that of the two boys sitting in my living room.

“Hey Mom,” said my tow-headed son splayed on the couch.

“Can we have some of the Salt and Vinegar Pringles I bought for Emile and me?”

“Okay,” said I making my way over to the pantry.

Where two of the blue and gold cans had recently stood at attention there was now a big empty space.

I gulped, realizing that these salt and vinegar chips were something the boys looked forward to almost on a daily basis. And it was summer, so I didn’t sweat it too much. However, I began to sweat thinking how was I to break the news of MIA Pringles to the young lads?

I felt a tap on my shoulder. “Hi Mom, I thought I would come over and help you find them,” said Dear Son. Sheesh, he was getting tall, I realized. Now he came up past my shoulder. I shook my head and stepped back while he stuck half his body inside the pantry prowling for the cans.

“They were here yesterday,” he said pointing to the gaping maw of what used to be home to two cans of unopened Pringles.

“Hm,” said I standing there perplexed, as my son’s eyes filled with tears.

Part of me wanted to laugh - after all, we are talking about chips - not even spilled milk- over which the phrase, “crying over spilled milk,” was created. But looking at his pinched face I realized that this was no laughing matter.

“Well, honey,” said I putting on a stiff upper lip. “I am not sure where they went. Perhaps Daddy has been having a midnight snack when we are all snuggled safely in bed. You know how he enjoys a good munch while he is watching a movie or playing WOW.”

DS closed the pantry door with a sigh and a small sob and just stared at me. His eyes were glistening and I knew that I had about three seconds to resolve this situation.

“We bought those chips for Emile and me, Mom” DS moaned.

I rubbed my hand across his cheek, and wiped a lone teardrop slipping forlornly down the left side of his face.

Shaking my hips left to right, I did what I do best, the Mama dance. “I will r-u-n, o-u-t, n-o-wwww,” I crooned to the tune of the Jackson Five’s ABC-123.

“I will be back before you are even half way through your lunch,” said I trying to feel as brave as I sounded. Now I knew how George Washington must have felt before the battle of Brandywine Creek.

I hopped out, ran to the market and picked up two cans of Salt and Vinegar Pringles as well as two bags of Lay’s Salt and Vinegar chips. They were on sale - buy one, get one free.

I flew home, feeling like Glinda the good witch of Oz, except that she had an amazing ability to poof while I had to wait for three lights to change from red to green. Opening the door I found four eyes, four hands and two mouths eagerly awaiting S&V chips, and I delivered. Smiles and a myriad of ‘thank-yous’ greeted my ears.

“You’re the best Mom,” said DS with a mouth stuffed with the salty pleasure.

“Glad to help,” I smiled as I made my way to DH’s cave where I deposited the two-for-one bags of salt and vinegar chips. This way, he could have his own booty without dipping into that of the boys.

Everyone would be happy.

At least this was my hope.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Expedition of the spuds

Today being Thursday I had nothing planned for this morning at 6:30 a.m. Nothing other than volunteering time at my son’s swim team to help prepare for a four day swim meet. Lucky for me I am an early bird, proud to claim that I often am awake before the sweet song of the crow and parrot compete for best vocal.

I had signed up to help with hospitality, which in a nutshell means setting up a table (two actually) and providing coffee and fruit and donuts to coaches from the various teams. Or so I thought. It has been a few months since I last ’volunteered’ in the hospitality area and thus my surprise and near heart attack when I was informed that there was cooked food being served at the tent.

“Cooked food?” I muttered to myself. “What do they mean exactly by cooked food?”

Nick, one of the old timers, and my version of a living breathing teddy bear, informed me that several months ago a new team of volunteers decided to add cooked food to the menu - like omelettes and pancakes for the coaches.

“Uh-huh,” I replied. Tongue stuck to the roof my mouth, I wondered what in the world I would do now since my culinary talents begin with a smile and end with pouring coffee. Visions of me flipping a pancake in a pan were not pretty. I was recalling the episode of I Love Lucy when she tries to make a pizza. Not a pretty picture.

Needless to say I decided there and then that my volunteer skills would be better served behind the scenes, as in the back room.

I was then chartered with washing grapes and blueberries and slicing vegetables for use in the said omelettes.

Luckily, the Head Hospitality Mama loves to cook and that is her domain so that I and my other volunteer moms were more than happy to oblige and stay out of the way and simply follow commands.

One of the gals had been given an instruction which was brought back to me: “Expedite the potato prep.”

I stared at the deliverer of this message, a petite blond with incredibly sea blue eyes. Okay Patti, how does one expedite the dicing of potatoes? We giggled as she picked up her knife and helped me slice and dice the spuds. Hash browns were the next order of business on the food deck out front. I needed to get busy expediting.

“Expedite the spuds,” I said and began to laugh. We looked at each other. Were we in a board room meeting and had simply forgotten ourselves?

I looked around the room, realizing that with the motley collection of folks here, many in shorts and tee-shirts and smelling of sunscreen that I definitely was not in a board room of any traditional format.

I repeated my hollowed phrase: Expedite the spuds - and hold the suds.

I honestly don’t know why we found this to be funny, but suddenly it was. Perhaps being volunteers in the wee hours of the morning – sans coffee – we had gone off the edge of normality.

Out on the pool deck was a full blown swim café complete with piping fresh coffee and made-to-order omelettes and pancakes…and to think just a few months back the swim coaches were happy with a coffee and a bagel.

How times have changed. And this being a recession no less.

Expediting spuds . Two words I never would have sewn together but now they have become part of the fabric of my swimming lexicon.

Let’s salute the expedition of the spuds.

All hail hash browns on deck….

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Parlais Vous…

I don’t know the word for garbage in French. I wish I did. It would have come in handy the other day as I tried to bleakly explain to our visiting French friend Emile, why it was we could not move the car.

We had finished a nice leisurely breakfast at the neighborhood International House of Pancakes (IHOP) and had strapped ourselves into the car which was parked near to an enclosed area that I soon found out was home to two very large garbage bins.

“I am sorry,” I say. “Je suis désolé, mais nous avons un petit problème.” I turn to my passengers in the back seat. I notice my son is wearing a milk moustache and that there is a splat of something yellow on Emile’s tee-shirt. “Two peas in a pod,” I think to myself.

“It is the garbage truck,” I try to explain, adding a French accent for affect- the closest thing I can get to fluency.

I suppose it is more correct to refer to the giant metal monster as a waste management vehicle, WMV for short, but somehow garbage truck just seems to roll off the tongue so much easier.

Le Murphy – as in Murphy’s Law - is my personal guide through life. I contemplate trying to explain the concept of Murphy’s Law, but decide against it.

Emile is looking at me through his glasses with a smile of sorts, not sure what to make or what to say to this strange American lady behind the wheel of the car.

My Dear Son (DS) pipes in, “It never fails, if there is a fire truck, bus, student driver, little old lady, or hearse somehow they find my mom- or she finds them. I am still not sure.” I grimace and catch a glimpse of his face in the rear view mirror. He smiles at me.

“Isn’t that right mom?” DS Says with a chortle from the back seat.

Emile, our 14-year old from Versailles, says, “oui, camion d'ordures.”

I am too busy keeping my eye on the big green bin, bin being the understatement. I watch in utter disbelief as the garbage truck uses its orange pincers to pick up the monstrosity, empty it into the gaping hole on its upper back as if it were no heavier than a tissue, and then gingerly place the big green box back down right behind my car.

“Well, look at that,” I say to no one in particular. The green giant is on wheels and the waste management expert, also known as a garbage man in my ignorance, pops out of his truck and proceeds to wheel the green bin into a fenced area. He then latches the gate, looks over at me waves, gives me a big grin and pops back into his truck.

I smile and wave and pulling my head back inside the window where it has been stretched like that of a tortoise looking to catch a bit of morning sun. How this happens to yours truly is a question best left for another day.

As I pull my head back into the car I notice something shiny on the ground. I open my door, get out of the car and realize I have found two quarters. Yippee!!

That Murphy - he sure does know how to keep one guessing.

“Only you Mom,” DS says as he and Emile snap their fingers in time to a song on the radio by some band of brothers whose name escapes me at the moment…

I start the car, listening to the refrain, “Now I'm speechless, over the edge I'm just breathless...”
Kind of like me...