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August 25, 2008

Squeezing the last days of summer

Talk of the Town photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano 


I sat along the shoreline late last evening and as I watched the waves of a passing pontoon lap over the tiny pebbles on our beach, I could almost feel the summer draining away.

On the wind, the sound of cicadas and crickets could tell me the truth. The leaves on the trees are beginning to tell it too. Something about the smell of the air is giving it all away. This thought crept into my mind about a week and a half ago as I sat in a lawn chair at the lake…this summer is fading fast.

There’s also the knowing that the kids will be going back to school on Wednesday. I know that our remaining quiet weekday afternoons at the lake will now be counted on one hand – a clear indication the endless days are behind us now…a finite number of perfect days remain.

It’s sad really and I know I’ll mourn this summer’s passing. This was the first summer where the kids were both old enough to do almost anything they wanted at the lake. It was the first summer I could tell them to go collect the necessary items: swimsuits, towels, etc., and they could do it as experts. Every visit was highly anticipated and at the end of every day there, there was whining when the announcement was made it was time to leave. I don’t think a single visit ended with all participants willing to go home without some argument…myself included.

I think part of what I’m going to miss is the fact that this summer seemed so long to wait for it to get here in the first place. I yearned for it. Last winter went on for what seemed like twice as long as necessary. I spent most of February and March dreaming about how great a hot day at the beach would be. I could visualize the sand, the waves, the smell of the water, the scent of the campfire on a warm evening and the feeling of satisfaction at having prepared a great barbecue dinner for guests.

I’m probably going to be very stingy with the remaining summer weekends we have left, balancing the necessity of doing various tasks with the need to be there. I was tempted to stay out there tonight, but there’s the minor problem of not being able to upload fresh news to Talk of the Town from there. This is a temporary issue as I plan to address it next year with some kind of wireless internet option. This year, I felt like there needed to be some separation – a place where there wasn’t work to do, a place only meant for relaxing, socializing, reading and a whole lot of nothing serious. Next year, the ability to update the site while digging my toes in the sand might be more appealing.

As I see it now, I have until about mid-October to continue enjoying going up to the lake. We won’t be swimming through that time, but we can easily continue to enjoy boat rides, campfires and relaxing. After that, it will be too cold to stay long, though I’ll make time to go there even in mid-winter just to see how the different seasons look from that vantage point…like I always do. It’s not uncommon to drive up there on a very cold day, sit in the car with a warm cup of coffee and look out over the frozen water, just to see it, just to have been there for awhile. Something about being there, even when its cold, is comfortable…but it is more comfortable when the temperature is high, I’m sitting in the shade of a hundred year-old Oak tree, drinking a tall glass of something cold – hearing the laughter of my children playing with others nearby. After all, these precious summers at the lake are the whole reason we ever got “the lake” to begin with…its only a shame that summers, like childhood, pass by so quickly.


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August 13, 2008

No more stupid stunt shows, please.

Between the festivities going on at the lake over the July 4th holiday weekend, juxtaposed between thoughts of visiting with family members, preparing the many barbecue lunches and dinners, a memory stands out. I’m only glad it’s a mildly disturbing memory – not a horrific one.

As I walked on the front lawn of our lake property, I looked up to see a young man, probably in his 20s, riding a motorcycle. As he passed before my eyes, he went from a seated position on the motorcycle to standing on the seat, arms at his side. The motorcycle, going much faster that the posted 20 mile per hour speed limit, continued westward and well out of site while he stood on the seat. Somehow, he managed to maintain his balance the bike kept going.

Not only was I standing there, mouth agape in horror watching this – my guests were as well. At any moment, the slightest dip in the pavement or an animal running into the street could have meant tragedy. How would a young man with no helmet, no shirt even, on a speeding motorcycle fare against pavement? How would the helpless bystanders, who didn’t even want this daredevil show, deal with watching the tragedy unfold? Thankfully, nothing happened. Yet, to my dismay, this same young man went past our property in this same standing-on-the-seat teetering-against-disaster manner at least once more that day and I saw him do it again a few days later.

Also, since then, I’ve seen four wheelers fly by on two wheels, a motorcycle zip down Lincolnway in Etna Troy Township on one wheel and a few wild stunts by folks on scooters. Most of the time, they’re not wearing helmets. Every time I see these stunts, I say a little prayer, hoping I don’t have to witness something horrifying in the next moment. I have to wonder why I keep seeing these stunts -- I haven’t paid for the show.

I realize there are probably more vehicles like this on the roadway due to current gas prices. I realize that riding a motorcycle, ATV or scooter without a helmet is the rider’s prerogative. I also realize everyone isn’t smart, but everyone should try to be safe – if not for their own sake, but maybe also for the sake of those watching. My children don’t need to see stupid stunts and they really don’t need to see a tragic disaster happen before their young, impressionable eyes. I don’t want to see it either.

I hope the next time I see a stunt like those mentioned above, I’m at the circus. At least there I know it is being performed by a professional and that it’s quite unlikely someone is going to get hurt…or worse.

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August 10, 2008

The worst idea since...pregnant men

For the past several weeks, there has been all this buzz about the pregnant man. You’ve heard it, I’m sure.

But, what we’re talking about is essentially a woman who has turned herself into a man, complete with a moustache, and who still wanted to enjoy one of the elemental things that defines a woman. That in itself is probably the basis of an interesting psychological discussion, yet to continue to talk about the pregnant man having given birth is inaccurate because the entire event was made possible due to the existing female mechanics still in place from his/her birth.

It really would be exciting for numerous reasons were it really, truly a pregnant man. Can you imagine that?

First of all, when they’re sick, men can be babies. I can’t even imagine most men I know dealing with the rigors of morning sickness. The nausea and inability to cope with smells would be too much for them. It would be the beginning of nine months that his wife would WISH she were the pregnant one.

Then, there are maternity clothes. There’s always an abundance of medium and small maternity clothes in the stores – off the rack would not work (not to mention even a pregnant man would not be caught in a pink ‘baby on board’ t-shirt). So, in the same way designer Liz Lange came out with a line of fashionable maternity clothing for Target, some menswear designer would have to do the same. There would be nice wool trousers with stretchy panels in the front and coordinating button down shirts. Maybe extra long ties to go over the belly? Maternity wear has changed a lot in recent years – going from merely tenting the bump to more form-fitting looks that showcase it. My guess is that men would probably prefer the tented look. They’d just wear tennis shoes the whole time, but in a bigger size to accommodate the swollen feet.

As the pregnancy progressed and the discomfort grew, he would become more and more irritated all the time. It would be the biggest deal that ever was, as though there had never been another pregnancy before. No woman’s pregnancy could in any way compare to his experience! Every discussion would involve his discomfort and awareness of all of the weird things that happen to your body when you’re pregnant. Instead of just dealing, he’d be talking about it and whining…a lot. He’d be ready to deliver around 7 months and the remaining two months would be pure hell.

Then, when the delivery date finally arrived, he’d surely pick the epidural. (I’m not making any judgments there…I picked it too…but I’m not sure most men measure up to the wonder women I know who did it without epidurals). He’d also scream through the process since he wouldn’t have been paying attention during Lamaze class. Oh, and then there’s the minor matter of…shall we say…how that baby is getting out? Surely, they’d recommend a Cesarean, right? They wouldn’t have the patience for the hours of pushing.

He’d insist they also do a full tummy tuck at the same time to immediately return his physique to its pre-pregnancy state before leaving the hospital. The hospital staff would throw a party when the post-partum men left the hospital, weary of the constant bedside calls and ongoing complaints.

If all of this isn’t reason enough that women should just continue doing it themselves, because, as with most things, they do it better, I don’t know what is!

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