Archive for September, 2010

Football blows blog through the roof


Football.  The highest volume of unique visitors that I have had in a month since I started this blog is 2,100.  I’ve been averaging a 200 person increase each month.  This month?  Over 3,100 unique visitors!  It’s football, folks.  I did a post about local coach Rich Cornford and visitors soared.  I don’t think it’s because I wrote about the holes in my parent’s curtains, or the Kern County Fair, or the poem about baseball -fascinating as those subjects are.  Just think what I could do if I knew anything about football.  Apparently, people can’t get enough football.

Check in with The Bakersfield Californian to keep track of Rich Cornford’s team this year.  This week, the Frontier Titans play West High School, where Cornford coached when Ryan Mathews was on his team.  It’s always interesting when someone’s former team plays his current team.  This picture of Mathews at practice was taken a few weeks ago by local photojournalist Johnny Guillen.

Who knows which players Rich will turn out next?  He has two in the NFL and several at Fresno State right now.  Matt Darr, who was a Titan last year, is the number one rated collegiate punter in the country and he just signed on with Tennessee.  Keep an eye on Darr.

Matt Darr in US Army all-star game

The Story of my Father and the Bird: Carving the Turkey


It’s almost Thanksgiving again.  Which means, if you are going to have a turkey, that it must be carved.  My dad, who is 92, is already reflecting on the art of carving a turkey.  The older he gets, the more like a bulldog he is.  He gets a hold of an idea and hangs on to it, shaking it back and forth, up and down, while the idea gets bigger and bigger.  Usually, the idea holds imperfections of some sort which are magnified.

The turkey-carving idea started years ago.  My husband carves the turkey, or his nephew Kent, or maybe our son-in-law Matt.  In my dad’s mind, they are all one person and the carving job they do gets worse with each telling.  During today’s visit we (he, really) talked about it again.

The conversation was precipitated by my sister asking Dad if he’d carve the turkey at her house this year.  Bless her heart.  Something he takes great pride in.  But Cris, if you are reading this – do NOT let anyone take anything from the platter until Dad is completely finished and the platter has made it to the table in the grand old tradition of the Thanksgivings no one had.  Because last year, someone started eating before the dark meat had been properly arranged.

The Thanksgiving no one had

Seriously, look at Grandma in that picture.  She’s just placing that turkey in front of Gramp so he can do the manly job of carving, but who’s got the real strength? Grandma isn’t even breaking a sweat as she lightly places that 30-pounder in front of gramps.

George Bush had it right when he served turkey to the troops in Iraq.

Is it real, or is it Memorex?

That’s right, this was not a real turkey – it’s a cardboard picture of a turkey platter with a convincing curve in the middle.  Because, really, who can stand there holding a turkey like that?  It’s hard enough getting it out of the oven.

Because my father is an artist, carving a turkey is an art.  Everything must be aesthetically pleasing.  The white meat should be sliced in big, but thin, slices and fanned around the outside of the platter, which should be oval for the best impression.  In a smaller inner circle, slices of dark meat taken from the thigh should be fanned out.  I think a drumstick may go somewhere in this presentation, but I was not told and I did not ask.  Perhaps I did not listen. But the platter must be just so, even if no one special is there to view it.  It might look like this.  Something similar anyhow.

To tell the truth, I’m a little tired of hearing about slicing a turkey.  Carving a turkey.  We’ve all been hearing about it for several years but it seems to have taken on the ferver of a crusade.  Today, Mark/Kent/Matt – this person that has morphed together –  got ripped to shreds for their turkey-carving skills.  Their past efforts have been magnified to the point that they are larger-than-life.  I don’t think the word “skills” figured into it because they don’t carve a turkey – they rip it to shreds.  The description my dad was giving, and the ferver with which he told it, belonged in a horror movie.  You got the impression of chunks of turkey being flung about the room as they were pulled from the carcass by some monster of devastation.  My mind saw fangs shredding this meat as it landed on the platter.  The dark meat never stood a chance. It’s a wonder the turkey wasn’t raw, such was the description of  the melee that ensued when this morphed monster approached with the knife.

It may have ended up something like this.

Somehow, we survived this doomsday turkey carving and found the bird tasty and yummy.  I don’t believe a one of us was lamenting the presentation of the meat.  Take it back – there was one.

So today I listened – and believe me – I am not exaggerating.  I AM wondering, trying to parse out this whole thing as if it were parts of a sentence that could be ordered.  How to make order of an aging mind? Why are certain things rising to the surface over and over again, seemingly meaningless things like carving a turkey?  What does it really mean? I don’t think that near the end of life, carving a turkey could be a big concern.  What could it symbolize? Maybe being the best could be a concern.  Had you been the best?  Would others realize you had been the best? Have you appreciated the finer points in life?  Fulfilled your duties as a family man adequately?  Or better than adequately?  Who the heck knows what carving the dang turkey really means.  Dad probably doesn’t know.

But we listen.  Again and again. Telling ourselves that we will be equally insufferable at times should we made it to 92.  That our kids will go home saying, “I can’t believe she talked about that again.  Why can’t she just let go of it? It’s not important anyhow.”  And then they may contemplate the symbolism of a seemingly trivial matter.

Because we would really like carving the turkey, or whatever it is we are going to talk about over and over, to be symbolic of some deeper meaning and larger idea, not just the complaints of an old used-up person.  Sometimes it’s better to live the fantasy than know the truth.  Because a turkey, after all, is probably only a turkey.

Poetry and Photography, a preview: Little Girl with a Baseball


The Arts Council of Kern will be mounting a show toward the end of October.  The working title is Poetry and Photography, and it’s a really cool concept.  Three poets and three photographers were asked to collaborate, matching poems to photos or vice versa.  I’m honored to be asked to participate.  The other two photographers are amazing, and the poets are knock-your-socks-off fabulous.  I have been needing an infusion of new ideas and ways of thinking so this came at just the right time.  I’ll have two poems in the show as well as photos, and I wanted to share one collaboration that is close to my heart.

My granddaughter Annabelle is six now, but  I took a photo of her at her second (or was it her third?) birthday party that I’ve always wanted to do something with.  I loved the way she was looking at the little boy, and he was looking back at her,  as if it were a stand-off of sorts.  Or a dare.  Abbo had his baseball.

I love baseball.  I love the poetry and the ballet of baseball.  I love watching the diamond just as the batter steps up, the pitcher winds up, lets go of the ball, the batter swings, and the infield and outfield move as if choreographed, one way or the other, like a corps de ballet.  It’s just so beautiful to see it all happen.  Besides Star Trek, baseball is one of the things I love best.

I put the photo out there, and one of the poets, an honest-to-goodness published author (look him up on Amazon and buy his books), Nick Belardes, snapped it up.  The poem is so romantic and wistful, so full of hope and heartbreak, and so full of promise that it captured me immediately.

I don’t want to ruin the show so this is just a teaser, one little teeny part.  It’s nice to put it out before baseball season is over.  The boys of October are but days away, the Padres are six games away from the wild card, and since the Dodgers are bums this year, I’d like to see the Padres win something, finally.  Giants fans, sorry, can’t do anything for you.  You’re still the enemy to those of us who bleed Dodger blue.


She will taunt you

When you’re ten years old,

And she’s three.

She’ll hold your baseball

Like it’s a mystery orb

And won’t give it to you

When you want it back.

When she’s fifteen,

And you’re twenty-two,

She’ll only watch you

If you’re winning.

“It’s just a game,” you say.

You know that isn’t true.

And she never believes you anyway.

When she’s twenty-three

And you pitch your first game in the majors,

She’ll finally say you were meant to be

a ballplayer.

But she still won’t write you letters.

Or tell you you’re the best she ever saw.

When you start coaching AAA,

She’ll remember all those games

You once played.

You will call her up,

And she’ll say what you looked like

From the stands.

When she’s fifty,

She will hang photos

you didn’t know she had.

Like the time she had that magic orb

When she was three.

Hold on to your hats: it’s the Great Kern County Fair


Why I went to the fair

I’ve had my brain waves modified by aliens, or else I’ve been abducted and placed in an alternate reality.  Why? Because this year I was actually looking forward to the fair.  For years I have hated the fair and stayed away assiduously.  We made jokes – the fair was full of fat people who needed dental work.  The carnies were so tatted up that it was disgusting and seamy.  They had bad teeth too.  Now, of course, the fair is still full of fat people because America is fat.  The carnies look pretty cleaned up, but the fair goers are tatted and pierced.

This year? I was excited about going and I’m not sure why.

Fair Food – come on, you know you want a deep-fried Twinkie

I went last year because we needed wooden carved signs for our cabin, and the fair is where you get those.  Last year,  I methodically ate my way through the fair, knowing full well how disgusting it was.  I don’t like the corn dogs anymore, which causes me great sadness.  But the profusion of deep-fried anything is just awesome.  Deep-fried Snickers? Deep-fried Twinkies? Deep-fried ice cream? (Really.)  You just have to admire the folks who think up these things and market them in such a way that people flock to buy them.  Except me.  I really wanted to try a deep-fried Snickers, but I simply could not part with the $3.00 for something I’d take one bite of and toss.  A sad thing about getting older is that you just don’t want to eat as much as you used to.

But the food booths are so colorful!  I am not a subtle person – I like bright, saturated colors in abundance.

Bright enough for you?  How about an entire row of color.

This year’s food sensation

Look at that.  The fair just opened and this is the first year for the ten-pound buns, but they are already world famous!  Life moves fast in America.  You’ve got to be constantly on your toes or you’ll miss out.

Free admission

The fair opened yesterday, and from 3 – 5 admission was free.  I paid $5 to park and got free admission; my husband parked for free but paid admission because he came after 5.   I think we came out ahead.  A whole lot of folks came for free admission.

The weather helped.  Usually it’s boiling during fair time.  Yesterday? The 70s.   But people still got tired feet.

Does anyone buy this stuff?

When I see the guys with the mikes giving demonstrations of their wonderful pots and pans, I want to run.  But there are always people listening, and if they didn’t sell stuff, they wouldn’t be there, right?  I bought an apple peeler at a fair once and it did not work for me like it did for the demonstrator.

It’s a good time for crime

I swear, if I wanted to commit a crime, I’d do it at fair time because there are so many law enforcement officers and deputies on the fair grounds, that I wonder who’s taking care of the rest of the county.  One benefit, however, is that our fair is very safe and it didn’t used to be.  It all cleaned up with the carnies.

They were having a tete-a-tete for sure.


What would the fair be without animals?  This year, I noticed how BIG some cows are.  I’ve seen lots of cows, but there “bigness” never seemed quite so stark.

We have an enclosure where pregnant cows walk around and, well, give birth.  A calf had just been born when we got there, and he was having trouble getting up.  It is incredible that these little calves (or huge babies) stand up within an hour after birth and know what to do!

This was just a little bit too difficult.  Better to take a break.

A calf had been born shortly before this one, and he was up and operational.  It was fun watching the calf walk around trying to find milk, but not quite being at the correct end of the cow.  And all the cows took turns grooming the little one, sometimes two mama cows at once.  It takes a village.

And then there were goats.

The Midway

My husband and I were actually enjoying the crowds and the general excitement.  The midway provides one of the best photographic opportunities of all time in just this one ride:

Plus, there’s plenty of food.

But the midway at night is the best.

It used to be so much fun to get the wind knocked out of you and get your guts jiggled around.  There comes a time when even a carousel is too much motion.

Finally, there is that wonderful ride at night.  I think I’ll go to the fair every year just to photograph this ride, because the perfect photo is out there waiting for me, I just know it.

You know what? I think my alien premise is probably correct.  Because doesn’t this look a lot like a mother ship?

I love this last photo, and if I can ever get photoshop to work correctly again, I’ll take care of all the light spots.

Now this is getting close to the perfect shot.  Maybe the harder I work at it, the luckier I’ll get.

The story of the curtains with holes in them


A couple of days ago I went over to my parent’s house and I understood something about old people.  We sat in the bedroom because that’s where they were when I got there, and I noticed that the curtains on both windows had small holes in them. And then my eye fell on my dad’s bedside radio – it’s old.  Really old.  It belonged to my husband’s father.  It’s really big, much bigger than a breadbox (and you won’t get that unless you are of a certain age) and brown, and has a giant black knob that you use to turn it on with a very definite click.  And a giant black knob to change stations.  There are certainly no buttons to push.  When this radio was built, I’m sure the wonder of the push button phone hadn’t even been invented yet.

There’s a couple of things going on here, and to explain I have to digress a bit.  Because growing up, I lived in a visual household.  Appearance was everything.  Both my parents are artists and boy, did they notice every detail of EVERYTHING – people, places, and us kids (one of us was too short, one weighed too much, one would look so much better when the braces were finally off, and so on).  So I noticed too.

But as I got older (meaning – grown up and in my own household) I realized that the commentary on appearances trended toward the negative.  I didn’t really care if a person had an ugly figurine on a shelf – it was theirs to like or dislike, not mine. I didn’t want to hear about their good or bad taste.

For example, let’s talk about a building.  If you head west on the 405 in Los Angeles and take the Santa Monica Blvd. exit, you’ll see a building on the northwest corner.  It’s just a building and I never thought anything about it.  But a number of years ago, when my dad was going to be a guest on the Charlie Rose show, he needed some new clothes for the trip to New York so I volunteered to go to Los Angeles with my parents to shop. (Which, when I think about it, was a ridiculous thing to do because I know about as much about fashion and men’s clothing as a turnip.)  As we made the turn off the freeway, this is approximately how the discussion went:

“Look at that building.  Is that one of the ugliest buildings you’ve ever seen?”

“Who would want to work in a building that looks like that and right next to the freeway, too.”

“The architect was not very creative, and the color is ugly too. I mean, just look at that…”

Get the idea? That innocuous building became the building forever marked as the Ugly Building.  Because of my husband’s carcinoid we go down to Cedars Sinai frequently, and when we get off  the 405 at Santa Monica  I ALWAYS see that building and I want to say to it, it’s ok, you’re just a serviceable building.  Not everything is a masterpiece,  and something has to be built on this land.  The good part about being near the freeway is that your workers can get there more easily.  Don’t worry, building.

Lots of other things got criticized too:  So-and-so sure was a bad housekeeper.  Did you see the grime on that lampshade? Why did she ever wear something that color? That woman should never wear short sleeves.  These people need to replace their carpet.  And on and on.

As the years went by, I realized I was still harboring remnants of that critical streak.  Sometimes my husband and I would go to a large, lovely old person’s home for a fundraiser or something, and I’d look at the carpet and how shabby it was and wonder why the heck those people didn’t replace it.  Obviously, they could afford it.

So here I was, sitting in my parent’s bedroom looking at the holes in the curtains.  (The carpet’s a bit shabby too.) They hadn’t noticed the holes and I sure as heck wasn’t going to point them out.  I realized they couldn’t even see them (they were small holes, but still).  I told my sister, who said even if they knew they were there, they wouldn’t replace them because it would cost money – and right now my father’s primary goal is to leave as much money as possible to us kids. That’s probably just about how the old people with the shabby carpet were feeling, too.  The carpet was just old.  It still worked.  Like the people.

And I was sitting in my parent’s bedroom looking at that old, clunky radio, thinking, Wow, if anything could be called ugly in terms of today’s sleek designs, it’s amazing that Dad has that in here…and I realized why my husband’s dad’s home office was always such a junk pile.  Because all that stuff was still serviceable.  Why get rid of a decrepit chair you can still sit in? Just put a cushion on it.  At some point, my dad had made the transition from “That’s so ugly I don’t want it in my house” to “it works.”  Those old people were at the forefront of the “reuse and recycle” movement before we even knew it was something good to do.

Then I came home and was sitting in my bedroom looking at my curtain.  It isn’t even a curtain.  In the morning the heat from that particular window would wake me up, so I took a piece of fabric left over from the big curtain, and a piece of blackout material that was left, and clipped it onto slats on the blind.  And as I contemplated this all, I realized that I had no motivation whatsoever to turn it into a real curtain – because it worked. I’m 63, but I bet that when I’m 73 that cloth will still be clipped to the blind. It works and I have other things to do.

I noticed the big curtain over the sliding glass door that my daughter had to lengthen because these doors are so much taller than the ones in the old house.  And I see the line when she sewed it, and it doesn’t look great, and she tells me to get a ribbon or something and put it along that seam and the curtain will look so much better.  But then I’d have to go buy some sort of ribbon and affix it to the curtain, and that would be traumatic because it would be crooked and ultimately look like a cheesy ribbon stuck on a curtain.  If it ever gets done, it’ll be my daughter who does it because she’ll do it right and it’ll look good.  But it works just fine the way it is.

Football season has begun and Bakersfield’s Frontier Titans are coached by Rich Cornford, Ryan Mathews’ high school coach.


It’s here – high school football.  I have three granddaughters in high school this year at Frontier in Bakersfield, CA, so I take great interest in the team – and the coach. Check out the profile I wrote about Rich Cornford, Frontier’s varsity coach – AND the high school coach of the Charger’s Ryan Mathews.  If you follow football at all, that name means something to you.  All eyes are on Mathews as the pro season begins.  Expectations are high for San Diego Charger #24, and it all started right here in Bakersfield, CA! We excel in strange weird media mentions nationwide, but this is one time we are happy for the attention!

So forget about the recent reports of the doctor who died in the chimney when she tried to get into her boyfriend’s house.  Instead, focus on Rich Cornford, Mathews’ high school coach.

Rich Cornford is the varsity football coach at Frontier High School. Before that, he coached recently drafted NFL player Ryan Mathews at West Bakersfield High School. Photo by Susan Reep

Wanting to learn from a coach he admired, Cornford turned down scholarships elsewhere to attend Baylor University, where he played as a walk-on for coach Grant Teaff. Photo by Susan Reep

By Susan Reep

Football is its own kind of art, a symphony perhaps, with all the players meshing together as instruments and the coach as conductor. Frontier Titans’ varsity football coach Rich Cornford has gently taken a rowdy sport and elevated coaching to an art form. I became curious about this while attending Frontier High School football games with my grandkids, two of whom are Frontier students. Who was the coach? No one was jumping up and down on the sidelines waving arms or pacing, which is what I expect from a coach. At Frontier, however, that quiet, calm, unflappable man on the sidelines is the coach.

Cornford previously coached at West High, where he turned the program around and developed players such as Ryan Mathews, the 12th overall pick in the last NFL draft and now a running back for the San Diego Chargers. Johnny Guillen, a photojournalist for KBAK-29, was heading to San Diego to interview Mathews after his first pre-season game with the Chargers and I asked, “Please, can you ask him a question just for me when you are finished?” My question was: “How would you describe Cornford’s coaching style?” Mathews’ answer:  “He was more than a coach to me; he was more like a father figure. Even now, after my first pre-season game, he called to check up on me. I don’t think I would be in the NFL if it wasn’t for him.”

Cornford says he believes a good coach must inspire players to become better than they think possible, sometimes with something as simple as a word of encouragement, other times by challenging them in different ways. Some kids are easy, like Mathews, he said. “He plays running back, a ‘selfless’ position. He’s a great kid.  It takes a community to grow a child. He gave so much and was such a good teammate. He had some rough issues.  Had to make up ground academically. Even had some self-doubt. I had to tell him, ‘Son, you’re pretty darn good.’ Naturally honest and humble.”

Cornford himself is naturally humble and honest. Born in Lompoc, California, he became aware of football when he was eight years old and has thought about it every day since, from the first thing in the morning to the last thing at night.

“I remember the hype before the Denver Broncos played in the Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys in 1978 (1977 season),” he said. “As a kid, I loved the Rams, and I’d run home from church every Sunday to watch as much as possible.”

He was hooked as a player in third grade when he played tackle football on a team that didn’t win a single game in the first two years. That didn’t faze him because one of the coaches, his father, made it fun. The experience helped his later development as a coach.  “The most important thing for these young kids is that they have fun first, and they’ll learn to sacrifice later for the game.”

Tony Dungy, former head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Indianapolis Colts, is Cornford’s role model. “His style is a lot like mine in that he’s quiet and unassuming. He shows that you don’t have to be a yeller or screamer to be successful. He’s a guy of high character,” said Cornford.

He also admires Baylor University coach Grant Teaff, now head of the American Football Coaches Association. Cornford wanted to learn from Teaff and turned down scholarship opportunities elsewhere to attend the Christian university in Texas as a walk-on, knowing that while he played to the best of his ability, he’d never be a star. He wanted to be a coach.

Teaff remembers Cornford well: “I always had a soft spot in my heart for those players like Rich who didn’t have maybe the playing talent but had the spark and were such good people and had such high goals for themselves that I always made room for them. It’s interesting because I decided to be a coach when I was 14. I assume Rich was impacted by his high school coaches. Most of the guys who go into coaching are.”

He added that he’s not at all surprised by the success Cornford has had. He said coaches like him, that aren’t looking over the fence but doing their jobs as well as they can, build and build and build, and eventually get noticed and their stock goes up.

Baylor had other payoffs: It’s where Cornford met his wife, Susan. The first time he saw her he was sitting on the steps of the gym and watched “the best looking redhead I’ve ever seen” go by. He discovered what sorority she was in and finagled a way to assist in that sorority’s activities, but, he says, “When I watched her play basketball, I fell in love.” The Cornfords now have three children, Katie, Karlee and Marcus, who already are standout athletes in multiple sports. He takes being a family man seriously. “I don’t want to be seen as just a football coach. I put a lot of effort into being a husband and father.”

Cornford’s coaching style explains an incident I saw last year at the quarter-final game, Frontier vs. Garces. The first half was a rout. As Garces scored touchdown after touchdown, I thought, “What happened to the strong Frontier team?” After halftime, Frontier took control of the game and surged ahead to a comfortable lead and win. Something happened in that locker room at halftime, a game-changer.

Coach Cornford said that Frontier does not have a real complicated defense, but it does require players to do some selfless things. The team was not focused in the first half, with everyone trying to make tackles and no one taking blocks. Then came half time.

“I went in (the locker room) and heard two players arguing about how the other wasn’t doing his job. I came into that and I raised my voice and said, ‘Both of you. Just sit down and shut up. This is what we’re going to do,’ and I went over defense. I instantly had everyone’s attention because I don’t raise my voice much. I’m a pretty nice guy but I’m pretty tough, and I think I had that look in my eye and they were pretty scared. We rearranged the focus.”

I like that: “We rearranged the focus.” The game-changer was something as simple as a few words in a raised voice without profanity, followed by calm but focused direction from Rich Cornford, a quiet, dignified and focused high school football coach.

I’m going slightly mad…


Freddie Mercury said it first:

When the outside temperature rises

And the meaning is oh so clear,

One thousand and one yellow daffodils

Begin to dance in front of you – oh dear.

Are they trying to tell you something?

You’re missing that one final screw?

You’re simply not in the pink my dear

To be honest you haven’t got a clue.

I’m going slightly mad.

I’m going slightly mad.

It finally happened – happened

It finally happened – ooh oh.

It finally happened – I’m slightly mad,

Oh dear.

I’m one card short of a full deck,

I’m not quite the shilling,

One wave short of a shipwreck,

I’m not my usual top billing.

I’m coming down with a fever,

I’m really out to sea,

This kettle is boiling over,

I think I’m a banana tree.

OK – I don’t think I’m a banana tree, but I may be going slightly mad.  (Or just getting old.)  This morning I visited my parents and stopped at Trader Joe’s for milk.  Of course, a stop for milk could mean you forget to buy the milk but get lots of other things instead.  I did remember the milk, however, and amongst the other items, I got new grocery bags.  The old ones were wearing out, believe it or not.  Or else they were missing.  So I stuck the new ones in a bag with groceries, came home, and found an envelope and package on the front porch, which I brought in along with the groceries.

I listened to phone messages first, returned two calls to people who wanted to rent the cabin, and remembered the groceries.  So I went and put the milk away with the other cold items and began to wonder where the new grocery bags were.  Oh no, I must have left a bag in the car.  Nope.  Uh-oh, it was in the shopping cart still. Or still in the store maybe.

I hunted down the receipt so I could call Trader Joe’s and say which items were missing, and I do mean hunted down.  Where had I put it? I found it just where I should have put it – that was a minor miracle.  I ran down the items and realized nothing was missing.  But where were the bags? Truly, it took me a while to figure out that the bags were actually on the kitchen counter.  I simply thought I’d unpacked groceries from them and folded them up.

That handled, I began to wonder about the package.  It was light, an Amazon box.  Where was it? I searched from the porch to the kitchen, from my bedroom to the office.  I didn’t see it but I didn’t panic, not me.  I thought, oh well, it’ll turn up sometime. I don’t know what could be in it anyway. It was too light to be my new Kindle, which I am dying without – I wish they’d hurry up and catch production up to the orders. Anyhow, the package did show up when my husband got home, went into the office and emerged with the box.

So seriously, I’m going slightly mad.  It was the kind of spacey scene I would have expected from my mom at any time in her life, but not from me.  Not that she was spacey so much, but she was so busy taking care of the five of us (yes, I count my dad as one of us kids in terms of the attention he needed) that little details went by the wayside – details like where did she hide the Christmas gifts, although it was kind of fun when they turned up six months later.

Now it was time to return to the groceries and put the rest of them away, at which time I noticed the grout in the kitchen tile.  When we moved in, that grout was so clean you could actually tell it was white.  Now? Not so many months later? I realize that’s something we do very poorly as a couple – keep grout clean.  I looked outside at the lawn while contemplating the grout, which was perfectly beautiful when we moved in, and realized we’re not good at lawns either.  We’re going to landscape the backyard so we don’t have any grass, but it occurs to me we’re not so good at plants.

There’s one more thing I am not so good at while we’re on the subject (there are many but this one comes to mind).  Getting up early.  At the cabin last week, I woke up at six one morning and thought, I’ll get up and see what early morning is like. I found out that what I’ve always suspected was true – morning is overrated.  It was quiet, calm and peaceful – but so is late night. Actually, it was tiring.

Therefore, I’m going to get more concrete counter tops so there is no grout to dirty; hire someone to do a monthly check of the yard and correct what we did wrong; and forget about getting up early unless I have a plane to catch.  In which case, I’ll make an exception.  I will probably continue to go slightly mad.