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June 28, 2008

Absorbing a moment to see me through the winter

After a full day of traveling around the county covering various things, I drove past the lake late this afternoon and it dawned on me that I haven’t spent nearly enough time there this summer.

The further we get into summer, the more possessive I get about summer days and the lake. I’m inclined to keep the schedule as clear as possible figuring we wait all winter (that seems twice as long as summer) to spend sunny days at the lake. It is hard to admit that, but I feel like we have a limited number of, in particular, sunny Saturdays, and should reserve as many as possible for family-filled lake days. That’s what it’s all about. That’s why we even have “the lake.”

Upon returning home, we went up there as a family for a swim. To save time I wore my swimsuit up there, cast the towel immediately on the picnic table and made a bee line for pier. The kids chose the beach and toys and neighbor boys – I had my mind on something else.

After overcoming the initial shock of the temperature (a bit cooler than expected from the recent rainfall), I slipped into the water and made my way out to the newly stationed buoy…at that moment, I realize perfection, my ideal moment in time…an experience I always try very hard to envision in mid-January when the snow is piling up in its white bleakness.

The sun was shining with the ideal balance of temperature and low humidity. To add to it, the wind made the water a little choppy. I stayed out there by myself paddling around for a very long time trying to soak it in. I closed my eyes tightly, kicking the water – trying to absorb the moment so that on a winter’s evening, as I’m walking in a long coat in ankle-deep snow I can recapture a bit of the glory of the best part of a summer day.

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Remember the skating rink?

I drive past the place almost daily, but for the first time, on a recent afternoon, I actually reflected on a place I’ve not been to in years.

When I was in elementary and junior high, it was such a big deal to go to skating parties at Happy Valley. The ages-old building would be bursting with kids and music on a Friday night and we tried very hard not to miss one. From an early age, I remember going there. You’d pay at a little window and walk in to a counter where you’d tell them your shoes size and hand you a pair of old skates. Some kids brought their own. I did until I grew out of them and then I just rented them each time.

I remember the songs you’d always hear in there – “Push It” by Salt N’ Peppa and songs by The Beastie Boys, assorted hair bands (like Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Poison, Warrant, etc.) and songs that I’ll never think of now, but that you didn’t hear on the radio – you only heard them at the skating rink. In the corner, there was a deejay who played…gasp!...records! Indeed, actual vinyl. He would have a book of songs and you could pick them out. I remember spending idle time between “good” songs looking through the books in hope of finding something better. The deejay booth was high up and covered with carpet. You could only see the deejay, I think, if you were skating around or if they climbed out of there….maybe that was because I was short.

Around the room, there were benches and on the benches were different classifications of people. There were little kids you didn’t know, kids your age, a few parents and some older kids – the older kids were interesting to watch. Sometimes they would be omigosh…holding hands…or kissing! I recall one time what would best be described as a swarm of little kids, myself included, was pestering some of these older kids doing whatever interesting things older kids might be doing. In an effort to get us to go away, they told us we wouldn’t understand what they were doing because we hadn’t learned “the facts of life.” Of course instead of getting us to go away, we followed them around all night virtually begging to know what the facts of life were. We followed them to the restroom, around the skating rink, to the snack bar, behind the coat area…still no resolution on the facts of life. I’m still wondering what “the facts of life” might have been. Maybe they didn’t even know…but I bet they wish they’d just ignored us in the first place.

I distinctly remember the taste of the pizza you could get at the skating rink. It wasn’t entirely cooked, as in the crust wasn’t crusty, but after an evening of going around and around the skating rink, it was heavenly. There was candy and pop – things we virtually never had at home and since Mom gave us money, we could buy some if we spent wisely.

There was always such an excitement that would build up from the afternoon at school when you made a mental calculation of who was going to the skating party to getting ready for it and then being dropped off there. Afterward, you were elated and exhausted usually. There was typically some kind of drama over the course of the evening – who was skating with whom or who was “going with” whom. That is a funny phrase actually, now that I think about it. I remember telling my grandfather about “going with” somebody and he gave me a funny look and said, “You’re a kid and you can’t drive – so how are you ‘going’ anywhere?”

For whatever nostalgic reason, I always kept track of whomever I went skating with and wrote the person’s name in tiny letters on the back of the ticket stub they gave you at the door. It was a ritual after the skating party, when I got home, to dig out the stub from my pocket, write a name and date on it, and save it in my jewelry box. I wonder if I still have those? After years of skating parties, there were a quite a few.

It’s funny. I don’t think I ever went to the skating rink after eighth grade. I’d like to go there now, just to see what it is like. Has it changed at all? Does it still smell the same in there? Do kids still have as much fun there as I did way back when?

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June 13, 2008

No longer confined by cords and wires!

Ah, the wide world of technology!

In recent weeks, I’ve moved from my office overlooking the pond and taken “the show on the road,” so to speak, with the addition of a new laptop. What great possibility this has opened up for me as I am now able to work on stories virtually anywhere. In fact, as I write this, just for fun, I’m sitting in my side yard under a shade tree with a latte and taking advantage of one of the nicest days yet this summer.

Last week, I wrote stories at a local school, in the Brew Ha and shared the website with a friend while we had a lime shake-up at Kernel Colada’s. I can write stories in my kitchen, on a blanket in my yard, maybe in a park? The possibilities are wonderfully endless. I can’t believe I didn’t get one sooner!

I can now go downtown and write stories while things are happening around me. This is kind of unique if you think about it. In college communication courses, I remember my professors talking about how the internet wasn’t necessarily a social place – that it causes you to withdraw from society. So, with the advent of the laptop and wireless internet which is now widely available (The Brew Ha and Kernel Colada’s to name a few), you can now be social while being unsocial…if that makes any sense?

Another great thing made possible by the laptop and wireless internet is that I can now even more instantly report on what is going on around me. I can download photos while an event is happening and if wireless is available where I am, I can upload to the website at that time too.

When I ordered the computer, I had this magic idea that I'd be writing on my pier overlooking the lake. While this has happened only once so far, I think it could happen more frequently later this summer...I'm going to have a little more free time!

I would be remiss in not thanking my advertisers for making the new laptop possible. Because of you, I will not be able to hopefully accomplish even more with the website. Thank you!

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June 03, 2008

Is it Hillarama? Barillary? Obillary? or Hillarack?

I just heard the news that Hillary Clinton is, unofficially, putting her campaign on ice…and jockeying for a VP spot.

In the scheme of things, it seems like it would be a wise choice for the Democratic Party to find some way of formulating a plan to take both Clinton and Barack Obama to the White House. Both have become tremendously popular, drawing formerly uninterested or disenchanted voters to the polls…with enough excitement and vigor (good or bad) to cause otherwise staunch Republicans to switch parties if even temporarily on Primary Election Day.

In talking this over with several individuals who identify themselves as Democrats or independents, most didn’t think this Obama-Clinton ticket would be a possibility given the tenacity of their ongoing battle for the Democratic nomination. Could they mend fences in time to go against McCain? It seemed like it wouldn’t happen. A month ago, not a chance. Now…maybe.

It would be a smart idea for a lot of reasons – the greatest of which being that the Democratic Party would be taking two wildly popular figures forward for the election, two powerhouses up against a guy who is, basically, the best guy the Republican Party could come up with at this point in time. Is he great? Is he charismatic in the way some have described Obama? Is he a good representative for the common man? Maybe. Maybe not. Interestingly, it seems like more people have a strong feeling, positive or negative, for the two Democratic candidates than they do McCain. McCain is just kind of…there. He’s inert.

Another reason the Democratic Party would be smart to put the two together on a ticket is because, in salvaging the momentum, excitement, drama and all the other descriptive elements of this Primary season, they’d be sure to keep the momentum gained by the party in recent months and not risk alienating any demographic. They could count on all the various classifications of people who identify with one candidate or the other, combine them, and move forward. Based on popular opinion, people seem to love them both. That seems like an unstoppable force moving forward…at least for now.

Who knows what rabbit McCain might pull out of his hat – particularly once it is clear who he’s running against.

It all adds up to a level of excitement that seems to be building and not likely to fade anytime soon.

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