With Nana and Papa

With Nana and Papa
Family Times at Flathead Lake

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Water Polo Champs

Water polo tournaments - bevies of half-dressed teens and tweens parading poolside, parents spectating from bleachers or slipping on wet tiles in search of the right game and time. Team tables heaped with healthy snacks while the players mysteriously squirrel sugar-candy into their backpacks. A constant barrage of whistle-blasts and shouting, punctuated occasionally by a hard shot rebounding off the metal goal (a bar out). Team cheers and cowbells, mad sprints, bruises and stretch marks on the backs of boys growing too fast, highlighted by the scratches of nails that slipped past inspection.

Having just returned from a successful Mountain Zone Tournament in Southern Utah (Cedar City, to be exact, about one hour from the largest fire currently burning in the U.S.) I wrote a short tribute to the sport.

Water Polo Game

Bar out
Yellow orb streaks skyward
Legs churn, players push while
Tracking the trajectory, plotting
Rebound to set offense or race to defend
Breakaway down expanse of sleek aqua
Deep, holding hip or shoulder
Working in place while uncertainty reigns
A moment suspended, shot-clock frozen
Until whistle blast dictates possession
Elbows drive ribs
Knees find groin
Pool churns, drivers slice through whitewater
Defense shadows, hole-set wrestles
Grim goalie lurks behind
Marking the shot.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Cool air, cool water

Record-breaking temps here, nearly cooked us all when the A/C stopped working. Plumbline told us that it would cost too much to fix and we should spend $7,000 on a new unit (at minimum). Bill from 1st Call came over and fixed it in a half-hour for less than $500.

To celebrate the cooler air in our house and the cool water of the pool, here's a swim poem:

Mom Watches Child Swimming

Can you be what I cannot?
Sinuous, flowing, far-reaching, fast.
A creature of water, exhaling silver circles,
Watching light bounce off your fingertips
As you extend from the shoulder,
Hips rolling, chin turning.
Your inhalation finds 
Narrow channel of oxygen between
Body and wake.
Flexible feet beat in six-eight time
Through turquoise medium, 
Splitting the atoms
So chlorine releases to air –
A jet trail of clear water marking your flight.





Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Longest Day

Today has been a string of sleeping teens who won't wake, broken bicycles, late appointments and near-tears-reaching-for-a-hankie moments. My brain liquefied and drizzled out through my ears and I think the best blog entry format will be short poetry, for today and the foreseeable future.

Here's one I wrote at the library during Daniel's math tutoring session. I scribbled it on a piece of paper pulled from the recycle bin because I left my backpack at home. (See previous paragraph). Perhaps the lines will partially explain my addled state.

Longest Day

Dizzy, tipsy,
Dark circles drooping
From runny eyes weeping
Sunscreen stings and sleepless nights.
Pencil red around the white
Light explodes early startling
Robins, wrens and doves mourning
Loss of night as hooting
Gives way to cackle-chatter, gossipy
Glorious dawn song.
Sly husband steals sheets, covers
Face against cat scratching, nails sliding,
Slipping down bedroom door.
Tiptoe downstairs, cradle quiet
Stillness, kitty crunching,
Settle in for longest day.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Sibling Rivalry

Ah, summer. A petri dish for petulance, rivalry, complaints.  "He can't eat MY crackers!" says one, though I'm the one who bought the crackers, a gigantic CostCo bag that will take a week to empty even at the current carnivorous rate.  "He doesn't like my shoes!" says another, as if a brother's approval is required to don appropriate footwear. "He got into the car the wrong way" - an inexplicable stoop to the silliest of accusations.  Here's a short poem, an ode to summer sibling rivalry.

Sibling Rivalry

The voices spiral upward in supplication,
With anger at supposed injustices or in fear of retribution.
They swirl and bind me, helpless as a bull's eye, 
Where the accused descend like arrows, 
Demand arbitration (never mediation), conviction and sentencing,
Yet stubbornly refuse to accept my verdict.

Instead seek out the cracks in my armor,
The bias in my reasoning. 
Prove my prejudice, turn their ire toward me.

At least then they stop fighting each other.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Summer Swim Fest

First home meet of the season. Air temp a chill 58 degrees, pool water at 80 and slightly steamy. Adults clutching coffee cups and young children shivering, searching for towels, goggles, swim caps. My kids are the veterans now, the cheerleaders and assistant coaches, and I am the oddball oldtimer, sitting in the shade of a pine tree and working on my laptop.

But we still love the sport, still rally to cheer for the 6 and Unders swimming their first solo lap to the cheers of the crowd. The feeling of relief when the big kids finish a 200 free on minimal training, the delight when the meet runs quickly and finishes ahead of schedule, perhaps in time for lunch and a nap.

Earlier this week I had the privilege and thrill of meeting Jason Lezak, who competed in four Olympics and won eight swimming medals for the United States. Lezak swam possibly the greatest relay leg of all time, anchoring the US 400 Free Relay in the 2008 Games in Beijing (Relay You Tube).  I unabashedly lined up with the kids to get my photo taken (see above) and then my coworkers surprised me with an autographed print of the photo, upon which Lezak had written "Dream Big."

I'm almost to a half-century on this beautiful earth, and those words still have the power to thrill and motivate. Lezak's pep - talk to the swimmers worked for me, too, especially his description of failures and how he learned from them. The older I get, the more I realize that our failures and mistakes are key components of our ultimate success. Would Lezak have stayed in the sport, have been able to come from behind against a world-record-holder, if he had not made big mistakes in previous Olympics?

We can still dream big, we can fall hard, and we can make our falls into the building blocks of our future success. That's a lesson I want to teach my kids, and all of these little swimmers running around on the dewy grass, smelling of suntan lotion and sugar. It's a lesson for a sport that never grows old.