Tap Dancing

Tap. Tap. Tap. What is that noise? I thought, glancing around my office while on a call.

Tap. Tap. I watched papers I had posted on my bulletin board. Were they gently blowing with the air coming through the vents? Nope.

Tap. Scratch. Tap. Were there stacked folders, making that noise? Nope.

What the heck?

Silence for a short while, or maybe the music playing drowned it out.

Another phone call, so off went the radio.

TAP. TAP. What the hell is creeping inside my walls that connect to the exterior of the house? Is it a squirrel? A skunk? A bird?

I walked outside the front door, looking up at the front of the house. No hole, no nest, no landing spot. I meandered around the corner, still looking up. No animals climbing up the walk, hooked to a drainpipe.

There, in the corner under fascia were 2 bees. 10 bees. No, 15+ bees swarming in and out of a hole.

Uh oh. I jogged back to my office, then silently listened. THAT was the persistent TAP. TAP. TAP.   I could now distinguish multiple creatures moving in the wall.

I immediately called the exterminator. The opening the bees found was 3 floors off the ground, so I had no clue how we would remove those wasps without help.

I tried to work at my desk, but the consistent noise was creeping me out. I kept envisioning them working through that drywall—I know it happens—and flying angrily around my house. Of course, my office is lofted so there would be no way to isolate them into a single room.

The next morning, that same wall was quiet. Had they moved? No, still swarming outside, so they are building somewhere in that tiny opening.

Were building, as our trusted exterminator Brian stopped by in the afternoon. With protective covering, an extremely long pole, and some white powder, he exorcised that hole. I watched from inside as those angry wasps tried to attack the end of the pole, then flew off.

No more tap. Tap. Tap. Just a few confused wasps outside, the bulk of them having moved on.

Silence. Sigh. Relief.




Family Dinners, Changing

Wisps of melancholy embrace this house. Tara, our eldest, returned to college this morning, after the Christmas break.   This sensation is a familiar one, the unbalance after the five of us have been together for some time and one of us is…gone…vamoose…. and that incomplete feeling returns. We sense it in the days before her departure, as some pull away and go silent,  others embrace every free moment.

It might be the realization that after today, the next time we will all be together will not be four months. Sad, but true. It’s a scene I know is being mirrored across our neighborhood and around the country. I often wonder if other families feel this separation even before it happens, how they respond.

Since our kids were young we have always tried to enjoy at least 4 nights of family dinners each week. That can be difficult, with work-sports-theatre-homework-travel-friends-life. But oftentimes it’s the only time we are all together uninterrupted for a conversation, to plan our upcoming schedules, a vacations, discussed politics, argued about religion and current events, laughed, and often welcome a friend or two who join us. We often joke that we could make a comedy TV show about our family dinners.

This last week home for Tara was unusual, since it was finals for our other 2 children, coupled with illness running rampant through the house.   So while we cooked and ate together, it was not the usual meals with all 5 chairs filled, lively conversation. But we tried.

I know that creative, calming, curious, time is important to all of us. I am especially aware of what these dinner have meant to bring and keep us together when one of the comments this morning was “bummer that we didn’t get to have family dinner for the last couple nights. ”

I know that as the days go on, the mood lifts, changes as we embrace the new energy in our house. While we miss Tara, we know that she is thriving at a school she loves when she isn’t with us. And this is the passage of life. And soon enough, we will be only 3 at the table. The fact that we all want to enjoy our family dinner time together says as parents—and children—we must be doing at least something right.


Egging Stinks!

Open letter to the Hoodlums who egged my house last weekend:

Thanks. For stealing the trust I have being in my home, in my neighborhood, in my kids’ friends who are always stopping by, sharing our food, playing games, chatting.

Thanks. For stealing the only 90 minutes I had to myself the entire weekend, when I planned to winterize my garden.

Thanks. Not. For trashing my home.

I am sure you thought it was funny, when you were throwing eggs onto my windows, my roof, my front porch, the “Halloween ghoul” sitting outside the front door.  While I appreciate a good joke, please know that THROWING EGGS AT A HOUSE IS VANDALISM, NOT A JOKE.

Have you ever tried to scrub off hardened egg streaming down the side of your front door?   Used a putty knife to scrape yolk above your head?  Picked up broken shells scattered around the yard before the dogs eat them? Seen that over half the egg drippings are now congealed above where I can reach them, even on a ladder?

Once the eggs solidify, they are extremely difficult to remove.  They cannot be wiped away, hosed off, left for the rain.  It takes a LOT of energy to expunge the hardened materials from the house.  If we leave them to the elements, they will stain and ruin the cedar, smell, and leave ugly stains.And smell. 

And I am sure you didn’t know—or care—what was happening in our world, our family, our house when you trespassed onto my yard and whipped those eggs around.  I was already overstressed and exhausted from a week of working, running the household, spending 12 hours at a soccer tournament—all while my husband was spending the week with his mom who had surgery and aging father.

Grow up.  If you are bored of your suburban lives, I can show you many kids who live relatively close who would trade places with you for your cars, your freedom, your money, your movie theaters, your bowling alleys, your game systems, your parties, your safety, your opportunities.  And if you want something to fill your days, come by and pull plants from my garden.  The ones I didn’t get to haul out while cleaning up your giant mess.

Thanks again. Brats. 

Cindy, the homeowner

Week 2, Gratefulness Journal

Here is my Lenten Week 2 offering, three things I am thankful for each day.  Some days this is more challenging than others, but it’s making me notice the small things around me.  Here goes…

2/29/12 .  I am thankful

for iPhones. 4/5 of us now have them!

I saved that Snickers bar from the other day to finish today.

When I make a new healthy recipe and the pan is empty at the end of dinner!

3/1/12 I am thankful

Tara made varsity soccer at LZHS!!

Devon loved her volleyball season, despite their win record.

A family looks to be moving into the house next door, empty since last summer.

3/2/12 I am thankful

I had a few hours to start on the tax prep for the accountant.

For two hours home by myself, to watch whatever movie I choose.

Work colleagues have become friends.

3/3/12 I am thankful

Tara got accepted into National Honor Society!

For the beauty of snow.

Snow melts.

 3/4/12 I am thankful for

family dinners.

An evening with a fire, no tv, catching up.

Bob’s coaching season is over.  And Ronan got to play one game with Bob’s team this morning, before his own game.

 3/5/12  I am thankful

Bob got his 10 year all-clear from cancer!

For the first fat robin,  sitting outside my office window.

For the smell and taste of freshly-baked chocolate chip banana bread.

3/6/12 I am thankful

for 67 ° blue sky days in Chicago, the first week in March.  Sublime.

I live in a school district that shows the film “Race to Nowhere” to open dialogue with people in the community about our education system.

For homemade Asian spring rolls (by us).  Yum!


Special Celebrations

sorry it’s been awhile!  been very busy and ill…

This past week I have been choked up several times at the support that the various organizations in our small-ish town give other groups.  This is especially true, since I know that everyone is super-crazed with the end of school/season events.  Here are a couple examples, but I bet there are others I am unaware of.

A few weeks ago was the Senior honor night for girls’ soccer at the high school.  17 graduating seniors, between junior varsity and varsity.  On a cold night, there were many people in the stands from both the high school and the local rec/travel soccer program to applaud the girls as they marched on to the field with their parents.

Last Friday on a beautiful spring night was the Senior honor night for the boys’ HS lacrosse team. The area’s quickly-growing LAX program had all the current younger players storm the field before the game with their jerseys on, then the 2-3 graders scrimmaged at half-time.

The most-inspiring evening of the three was during the middle school choral concert.  The director there was retiring after 17 years in the school district, over 40 years expanse of teaching, with a few years off in the middle to raise her children.  The band director and HS choral director semi-hijacked the show from her, to amusement to all but the self-admitted control freak herself.  Instead of the concert opening with the sixth grade chorus, the Bear Voices from the HS sang a song.  This group is chosen by audition, acapella only.  Impressive voices.

Bear Voices came on mid-concert as well for fun “Happy Trails to You”. Each singer who had been trained by the director (not all were) saying a kind sentiment to her.

During the concert, the band director and HS choral director told us about her life.  Then the principal gave a speech–her had calculated that during her tenure at our school alone she had taught over 10,000 students!  Wow!

The combined choruses worked on a secret song with the band director that they performed.  Then the finale–Bare Voices came back on stage with all the middle-school choruses and a whole group of additional HS chorus performers who had sung with her.  The audience stood, and we all sang “Celebrate!” with much on-stage dancing.  She was overflowing with gratitude to all.

It was an honor to be there to celebrate with the school and the chorus.  And it’s so inspiring to see so many local groups sharing in the success of those who have moved up the ranks.  Who knows what the rest of the art shows-soccer banquets-band concerts–lacrosse tournaments will bring? Another reason to tear up?  C

No More Hole in the Wall

We recently transformed our self-described “hole in the wall”  to the centerpiece in our family room.  Long overdue, friends now ask if we even had a fireplace before adding metallic tile to the wall, granite to the floor, a hand-built and stained mantle,  and log set to the fireplace wall.  A backdraft several years ago that consumed our basement in smoke and rendered the wood-burning fireplace unusable in my mind.

The unworking Hole

A lack of lighting, other than hideous “fish eyes’ above the fireplace was remedied, as well as an addition of a well-needed ceiling.

fish eyes

The pumpkin wall becomes the focal point of the room, with a usable fireplace, the glass doors re-used with a coat of black paint.

Welcoming, modern, hip, I love the finished look!

Fireplace wall

I will post more photos when I finally get some picture up.  Two other rooms to come, when the personal touches are added. Dust, banging, unexpected wetness behind the old tiles, delays all worth the finished look! C

Cleaning Up

Why is it we want to organize our lives in January?  Clean out the closets, under the bed, the files, the toy room, the dust bunnies, the pantry.  We lighten our drawers, then head immediately to the gym to exercise, exercise, exercise to tighten our drawers.  Is it the start of the new year?  Is it the winter whiteness we want to forget, examining at the explosion of colors in our closets? Then bury ourselves in white papers?

Is it just innate, this clean up, and why the start of the year?  It is not just me, as the kids are rummaging through their own rooms, tossing broken toys and outgrown clothes and changing pictures on the wall.  I was wondering, do people in warmer climates take a break from the sun and beach replace towels and sheets?

We feel lighter, as the recycling bag fills, the volcano of clothes grows.  May this frenzy of cleaning lead to a sharing of purged goods,  a wise disposal of garbage, a more open mind, and a realization that we do not need all this STUFF in this new year.  Maybe this IS the best time of year to start our cleaning, then maybe, just maybe, we can continue on this path we have cleared. C