Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sunday...a fun day?

Good morning! Yep, it is day two of life without the Pope and I miss the little guy. He shared so many thoughts on how to build a better society and be a better person. As I complete this post, I will share the paragraph that was most inspirational to me.


On to Sunday.....I had to arise early to get on the train again but the body was not willing. I guess standing for a long period of time on Saturday took a bit of a toll on the legs. But if a 78 year old man could do it, so can I.....

Unfortunately, the 78 year old man has more stamina, and I was late for the train. With that, Tink and I arrived around 11 am for the 4 pm mass on the Parkway. I had received an email from my volunteer captain to head for the Parkway to count pilgrims. Yep, a person who cannot count passed 11 without a calculator was going to count people at mass with one of the clickers.

Image result for trouble counting gif
First, we had to get through security.... and here is where my story begins and ends......

Running and limping from the train since we were late, we made it to one of the lines to get through security. Although I could not see the TSA officials (yep, TSA), I figured the wait would be like an airport line at rush hour. I could not have been more wrong....as a bus load of pilgrims cut into our line.

Then we waited....and did not move.....

I put on my distance glasses to try to locate the security check point. Even with the glasses, I was blocks away. So, we continued to wait.....and wait.....

We moved a few inches.....don't they know that I am supposed to count people? Oh, by the way, I have a ticket!

Fifteen minutes later, we moved another 6 inches....It seemed that we moved 6 inches every 15 minutes for 2 and 1/2 hours......

One block later, we are still in line with two blocks to go...crawling....legs are cramping....then the restaurant owners got smart. No one was in their establishments because we were stuck in line. So, the restaurants came to us. I was not hungry when I got into line but after three hours, the stomach began to whisper to me saying "your Kaski bar is not going to cut it.....look at that gorgeous hoagie with fresh mozzarella and tomato....roasted red pepper pesto...it is calling to us...."

Then I did it. I ordered the sandwich from line and had it delivered. Tink and I crawled a few more inches now equipped with our lunch and dinner......

After four hours, I started to jump in place because the legs were screaming.....the gel foam pads were useless....the feet were on fire....I am not complaining, just reporting facts.

Image result for tired legs gif

Then I see it.....there are 4 airport security scanners for 200,000 of my closest friends. Four....that's right...four.....no wonder it took all day. Sheesh!

I could now see what the hold up was. The security folks were going through every bag and bag chair then allowing people to walk through the metal detectors. I watched in aghast as the two women (that's right, 2) pulled each bag chair out of its sleeve to examine it. Then they went through each cooler. I was afraid for my mozzarella and roasted red pepper pesto hoagie. Was she going to squish it looking for a weapon of mass destruction. Fear crept into my mind as I began to worry more about the fate of my hoagie than my feet.

Side bar: this is what happens when the blood pools in a person's legs and is no longer perfusing the brain. The individual starts to hallucinate about flattened hoagies and bag chair bombs.....

Then we finally got through. I did set off the security alarm with some underwire that I was wearing and had to be scanned with a wand. I saw a nun being scanned too, so I did not feel so violated.

Anyway, we made it through and I was going to wait for Betty and Scoob who were a half block behind us but I had tickets and was going to save them a space.

I ran to the corner and showed my ticket. The officer would not let me cross the street despite my ticket since the mass was beginning. And so, I stood under the flag of Sweden waiting to hear mass since I could not see it and had no idea where I was. I waited for Betty and Scoob but they never came. In fact, the police closed the security check points as they were about to pass through. They never got in!

The mass sounded nice. Although most of it was in Spanish. The jumbo trons had the mass on it with subtitles. I could not see those. So, I stood by a barrier listening to Spanish and not understanding a thing....despite having taken dos anos in escuela de espanol.....

After mass, I continued to look for Betty and Scoob who had disappeared, so I headed back to the train. Sad....I did not see mass...understand it.....or catch a glimpse of the Pope. In the week that I had spent in the city, I saw his right arm wave from his Fiat. That's it.

Was I sad? YES!

Image result for angry gif

Was I peeved? YES!

But Pope Francis speaks of love and patience and kindness with compassion. Gotcha....I am being tested....thanks....

As we ran to the train, we waited as the cars began to fill.....luckily, we got a seat and as I sat, I went on the internet to read the Pope's homily. Yes, it was inspiring. Now, I should count my lucky stars that I was near the event.

Wearing our orange volunteer shirts did nothing for us during the day as we waiting in line with the rest of the hopefuls. Then I was tapped on the shoulder. A lady said to me: "Thank you for your service."

Huh? What did I do?

"Thank you for volunteering."

How nice.

You're welcome. Did you see the Pope?

"Oh yes. We had great seats (grrrr........)."

What time did you get there.

"We were in line at 7 am and got through the screening right away. Although they took my apples and water."

Huh? My apples and water and hoagie made it through the screening process and were declared safe. Perhaps they got tired of throwing produce out by the time they got to me.

"Yes, and I told them that I was diabetic."

Feeling concerned, I asked her if she had enough to eat.

"Oh we were fine."

With that, I gave her my non threatening Red Delicious apples for her hotel room. Enjoy, they have been screened and cleared as a weapon. They pose no threat to you and your husband.

Then she said something that I had noticed and loved about the week...."I was so thrilled with the city. Can you believe in the time that I spent here, I never heard one curse word."

She was right. People were on their best behavior. Or, perhaps, this is the type of crowd that is attracted to the Pope. Anyway you look at it, it was a terrific week. People came together for a common purpose, to live their faith and to listen to the head of the church.

The way, I look at it is, the world was more peaceful and kind for one week. I liked it. I really liked it....

Then it was back to work Monday.....the day was long and I wanted to come home and sit and have a glass of wine to unwind and rejuvenate. This required a quick trip to the liquor store. As I stood in line, a common theme for the week, I spoke to the clerk and asked him if he saw the Pope.

Image result for tired legs gif

Here is his reply:

"Yes, I did. First, I watched half of the Eagles game which started at one (what?). Then I left the house and got in line."

How long did it take you to get through?

"Forty five minutes."

WHAT!????? Where were you?

"Twelfth and Wood".

Crud! This was five blocks from our crammed security check point. Did you have a ticket?

"Oh yes. I was very close."

I wanted to shout, but held my angst back and considered a few things.

First, I was blessed to have had the experience.

Second, I learned new things like how to read a train schedule and pay for a train ticket.

Third, people are basically kind and good. It was a privilege to have served in such a way. Some day, if the Pope comes back, which he won't, I will have no qualms about doing it again.

Now, it is time for me to figure out what I am going to teach today......let's see......blank.....I am drawing a blank...

Coffee time!

Image result for pope francis animated gif

PS: Here is the paragraph that I plan to share with my family: "Faith opens a “window” to the presence and working of the Spirit. It shows us that, like happiness, holiness is always tied to little gestures. “Whoever gives you a cup of water in my name — a small gesture — will not go unrewarded”, says Jesus (cf. Mk 9:41). These little gestures are those we learn at home, in the family; they get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different. They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children, by brothers. They are little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion. Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work. Homely gestures. Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day’s work. Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life grows in faith."


Monday, September 28, 2015

Don't blink!

I'm back! It was Pope-mania this weekend as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims descended upon the city. As planned, Tink and I volunteered for the festivities and to assist with the World Meeting of Families that met throughout the week.

Image result for prepare to meet the pope gif
Not knowing what the future held, I worked out, bought new sneakers with tread and arch support, new expensive runner's socks, and planned to meet and greet the Pontiff.

With all due humility, I assumed that my volunteer position would be driving the Pope or opening the Fiat's door.....OK, not really. I figured that I would be collecting tickets somewhere. Actually, I could not have been more wrong.

On Monday, Tink and I drove to the city, parked, and registered participants from all over the planet. It was fascinating meeting people from all walks of life who saved for a trip to Philly! Really? Philly?

Yes, Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love who has the reputation for throwing snowballs at Santa at an Eagles game in the '60s. Can't live that one down, right Jim Gaffigan? He actually told a joke about the snow ball fiasco at a gathering on the Parkway in front of hundreds of thousands of people. He was booed....and showed shock on his face when it happened. Dude, old news...move on to another Philly blunder.....more recent...let's say in the last 30 years.

Anyway, Tink and I stood at our kiosk for 6+ hours testing my new sneakers and socks....they failed miserably, to which I added Dr Scholls gel pads (to be discussed later.).

On Thursday, since I am a newbie with public transportation, Tink and I hit the railroad and almost missed the train as I mentioned in the last post. Not to make the mistake again, I scoured the online rail schedule and memorized stupid trivia while not really figuring out what to do.

Finally, Saturday comes and dad drops us off at the station. Prepared for the worse, there were more cops and national guard members than train riders. In fact, we have to serpentine our way through a maze to get to the train only to have the doors close as we started to board.

Really? Is this how it is going to go?

Finally, before the train left, the doors magically opened and we entered to our choice of seats. Uh, where are the people?

As the train left, we sat back and expected to be taken right into Philly, when the train stopped at Penn. Hmmm.....Mr. Conductor? We are not in center city, what gives?

All out!

Huh? Yep, we had to leave the train and take another train to our destination. Good grief! Is this seamless? 

After waiting 30 minutes for the center city train, I had the opportunity to speak to one of the "SEPTA ambassadors" who suggested that I take the airport train into the city since there were no stops and it ran all day. My proposed itinerary was problematic since the departing trains from the city did not begin to leave until 6p. I would be stuck there for hours on end waiting to get home. Keep in mind, roads were closed. We were trapped until 6p until I discovered the airport train.

Anyway, once in the city, Tink and I walked to our assignment. Was it having lunch with the Pope? Hanging out with Mark Wahlberg? Joe Biden?

None of the above.

We were positioned at the bottom of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge from New Jersey which was closed (the bridge to traffic, not New Jersey), but people were allowed to walk over it. We were to greet people as we wore orange tee shirts with Volunteer plastered on the front. The toughest question a person had for me was where was Independence Hall. I pointed to a large green sign that said "Independence Hall" and that was basically it. We were on the outskirts of the city. No where near the action....feeling a bit sad.

After a few hours of pointing at the sign, Tink and I moved on to the activities. Not being able to get through the check points, we hung out, ate lunch, and went home.

Before we left, we were walking past an intersection that had a large presence of police men and women from all over the country. A couple was sitting in a chair waiting. I asked them what was going on? They replied: "The Pope should be coming through here soon."

Are you sure? They would not tell the volunteers what the route was for security purposes. How do you know this?

"We think that he is coming through because of all of the cops standing around."

Hmmm.....through process of elimination or deduction, this couple seemed to have figured it out. So, Tink and I stood next to them. After waiting for an hour, a kindly cop walked up to me and said: "I hate to see you stand here, but this is not the Pope's route".

Gulp! Drat!

"He is going to be on 7th street coming off the expressway."

Image result for prepare to meet the pope gif

Guess what? This is where Tink and I had been stationed earlier. You know, the place where nothing was going on.

Off we went almost running through the streets and knocking down anyone or thing in our way.....limping in my new sneakers and runners' socks realizing that the gel foam pads were virtually ineffective.

As we got to the street corner, there was already a crowd. Rats. We were in the second row.....then we look.....there are people in the orange volunteer shirts who were standing in the street. That's right...in the street, next to the cops and national guardsmen.

Image result for philadelphia cops pope gif

Hmmm....I ponder......

I am wearing an orange shirt....perhaps they need two more orange shirt volunteers to help them to manage the crowd as we slipped into the street. Yeah, this works.

And we waited and waited and waited....finally, the moment comes. We were ready with our cell phone cameras. The moment......Then it happened......

The police moved us. Everyone behind the barriers.

Image result for volunteers world meeting of families philly gif


I am a volunteer! I wear an orange shirt! I passed a criminal background screening that said I was 'not a felon.' Behind the barriers??

Image result for waiting to see pope gif
Slowly we moved toward the barriers when a police officer said to the entire crowd. "Get back and let the volunteers in to the front."

Image result for waiting to see pope gif
Ok, officer, you are my hero. And there we were....front row...waiting for the Fiat.....then the procession begins.  Camera ready.......suddenly I get a phone call and my camera goes dead.

Dang! Now! Really? I clicked on delete.

Ready again.....

Phone call......Why can't I have a moment to take the Pope's picture? Delete.

Phone call....I answer it. "Stop calling! I am waiting for the Pope! Dang!"

The crowd roars. The Fiat is in view. No phone calls......here he is...I click photos. I got a photo of his arm and the nice police officer.....2 seconds. Obviously, the Pope was in a hurry.

It's over....time to go since we did not have tickets for the event. Off to the train....limping slowly, we got on the air port train being grateful for the 2 second glimpse of the man who is changing the way the world views the poor, marginalized, and most vulnerable. May his tenure as Pope continue for a long time. I know that I have been impacted by his words and will try to live a better life.
Image result for prepare to meet the pope gif

Next post: Sunday....a day to forget.......

Off to work....

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Mea culpa!

I am soooo sorry that I have not posted, but as I mentioned, September is the most aggressive month of the year and I have had stuff thrown on me day after day after day.....

First, welcome home Wildcat! Delaware has not been the same without you.

Image result for villanova gif

OK, where do I begin after such a long absence?

Let's start with work......

'nuf said.......

On to the oddities of my life.....On Miss America weekend, I landed up driving BP Grandmom and Grandpop, Big Sis, and Tink to Atlantic City for the "Show me your shoes" parade. A balmy 50 degrees with the wind gusting and rain falling, we sat freezing under the Steele Pier awning. Baton twirlers, high school marching band members, and dancers all skidded and fell on the boardwalk as the rain made walking, skipping, and dancing treacherous. Then the ladies were driven in their convertibles where their hair and make up were ruined. The last few contestants pulled the tops back onto their cars and sat covered. We never saw Miss Vermont, West Virginia, or Wyoming because the car whizzed by trying to get the soaked beauty contestant out of the rain.

Image result for miss america parade gif

All in all, it was a memorable day. I lost $20.00 at the Taj Majal and stopped gambling at that point. Twenty is my limit. I work too hard to drop it in a penny slot machine.

Pope Stuff: Isn't he the coolest pontiff ever? I loved the video where he stopped his Fiat, got out of the car to hug a young boy who was disabled. He took a few photos with some of the people and returned to his car.

Image result for pope francis animated gif

Tink and I volunteered on Monday and registered people coming in for the World Family Congress. Families from all over the world checked in as we scanned their documents. Ghana, South America, Argentina, Mexico, Ireland, Germany.....big families....little families.....unconventional families......it was humbling as we witnessed nothing short of a miracle as thousands checked into the Philadelphia Convention Center.....

Image result for pope francis animated gif

Hey BP mom.....did you buy your Pope shoes? Did they work? Did you extended walking practices help to get you into Pope-tastic shape?

Well, I bought a decent pair of sneakers....Adidas....no coupon but on sale at Dick's Sporting Goods. They were a bit more pricey than I was accustomed to spending, but I took a risk on spending an extra ten bucks for comfort. Then the sneakers were put to the ultimate test on Monday as I stood for 7 hours.

Did they work?

Hmmm....can anyone say "ouch"?

Right.....the sneakers felt like I picked up a pair of Payless shoes without the soles. My feet were on fire by the end of the day. What to do?  There was no way that I could volunteer on Saturday and Sunday and wear these sneakers. By the end of Saturday's shift, I would have been crawling....the Pope would have stopped his Fiat thinking that I was disabled.....kissed me and went on to the stage for Mass.

Anyway, I picked up a pair of Dr. Scholls gel inserts and hope that they do the trick. Today, Tink and I are taking the train to the city for the first time ever (don't judge....I used to take the subway in since I could not afford the train.). It will be a practice run to make sure that   we know where we are going this weekend.

I received my volunteer assignment on Monday for the weekend. I was thinking that I would be stationed on the Parkway, next to the Fiat, then I would open the door for the Pope and walk him to the stage. .....I was wrong....dead wrong....so wrong.....I was worse than wrong.

Where am I stationed on Saturday and Sunday? Would you believe three miles away from the Parkway?
Yep, after my shift ends at 3 pm, I then walk three more miles to and from (a total of 6) in my painful Adidas sneakers to the Parkway where I will stand in my  sneakers during mass with 1 million of my closest friends. Can anyone say "Motrin"? Does anyone have some?

Image result for pope mass gif
Anyway, I am honored to be able to attend the mass and be part of this historic event. If worse comes to worse and I have to remove my sneakers and walk barefoot, I will. After all, didn't the Apostles walk town to town in sandals? They certainly did not have Dr. Scholl's gel inserts for their sandals back then, did they?

Image result for sandals gif

On to the big kid who has been home for a few weeks. How is his fast ball?


He has not thrown since he can't. That's right...he cannot throw because he has a hip problem.

Image result for sore hip gif

When he came home, he continued to complain about his hip. He went to see Yoda who said: "something is wrong. You may have a tear."

Oh heavens! Really?

And so, Dr. G ordered a cat/mri scan which shows a hip impingement. To fix an impingement, he needs hip surgery. It is not as complicated as the other surgeries, yet he has to have it done.

And here is where we limp along as a family.....with a sore hip and feet, we trod along trying to accomplish our goals and  live life with some kind of integrity.

Back to work.....


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Opportunity knocks

Good morning! Please forgive the lack of posts but September is always a tough month for a parent and educator. It's true that I do not have school age kids any more so I cannot blame them. However, trying to work my way back into work clothes and a regular schedule is not an easy endeavor. I wish that I had just one more hour in the day.....OK, two more hours....OK, perhaps having one more day in the weekend.....maybe two.....

On to other topics...the big kid is home for two weeks and is still questioning his choice of careers and his sanity. It would not bother me if he was calmer but he has this edge when he is stressed which makes being a therapeutic presence all the more challenging for a parent. When does this end? Would you believe never?

Anyway, he is upset that his leg hurts....he has so many openings to hit the "bigs" yet his body is failing him. For example.....

On Saturday night, just through luck.....Dr G stopped by a friend's home to celebrate the daughter's birthday. While eating cake, he met the friend's neighbor and quickly told them that he had to run because he was meeting his nephew, the big lefty, for dinner to chat with him about his leg and mood. As fate, luck, or life would have it, the neighbor's brother is a pitching coach in the minor leagues, former major league player, and wants to meet the big kid. Really? Is this for real? The brother, the coach, will be in town next month, so the big kid now has a goal and is back throwing....thanks Dr. G.

Image result for eating cake gif

The trainers in Seattle sent him home while they moved their facility. They want him to come back in October when the professional pitchers are working out for him to meet them and to learn from the guys who made it. Another huge opportunity for the big kid.

These chances are great and unbelievable, yet he remains silent and is not talking. This can mean a few things.....

1. he forgot how to talk and complain
2. he has nothing to say
3. he is a bit intimidated that he is going to meet these people
4. he is questioning whether he wants to do this for a full time job
5. he is centering himself to prepare for battle (remember the sentence that he uttered to his dad and Tink in Illinois: "I don't talk before I pitch.")....wellll...

How do I feel about this? I am happy, thrilled, and frightened. Why?

Image result for overwhelmed mom gif

Where do I begin?

What if he has his chance and does not make it? What happens to him as a person whose entire identity is based on his ability to throw a ball? What if he does make it but lands in the minors for a number of years and never hits a big league field? What if....what it.....what if.....

Image result for overwhelmed mom gif

Here is where I have to go as a parent....support....listen....trust in the process...be there to lift him up, pick up the pieces, or celebrate.....any way that you look at it, the time has come. Keep your fingers, toes, and eyes crossed!

Image result for overwhelmed mom gif

Off to work.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Yes, the gelato was good

I'm baaack......and backed up.....like nothing before. I guess that I have been denying that I am really back at work....the work will go away if I ignore it. Yet, this is not the case and I have to put my head down and begin to think....

Although....my mind wanders and wants to chill because it really did not chill this summer, at all....all I could think about on my time off was that I was going to have to return to work...lo and behold, rather than relaxing, I was stressing myself out. Now, it is here. The moment that I dreaded.....OK, not dreaded. I think that I need one more week...in solitary confinement, not in a Louisiana prison (more about that later), but in a spa...massage....facial...reflexology....solitude tank.....no television, cell phone, iPad....

Actually, I am glad to be back at work. Now I can focus on what has to be done and can go back to counting Weight Watchers Points to fit into the fall and winter clothes.

On to what has happened....first, BD had a bit of a spill in a parking lot...twisted an ankle, visited the good folks in the Er via an ambulance....and is now working to retrieve her mobility. Honestly...it was an accident...a gelato accident. We were finishing our gelato and there was a hole in the asphalt and poor BD found it. This made for an interesting few days as the pups tried to nurse her back to health. Although, as Christina would sing..."thanks for making me a fighter..."

On to the big kid.....some of you know that my wedding anniversary was a few weeks ago. Immersed in jury duty, dad suggested that I do not purchase a gift for him and that he ordered something to be delivered south where we planned to spend Labor Day weekend with BD and the pups. OK, so be it....

When I arrived from my flight to join the family (I came last), a car pulled up to pick me up. It looked like the car, but dad was not behind the wheel, but a young man, so I waited. I stepped away from the car and looked for another car to pick me up. Then the young man honked the horn. Looking around, I thought that he was there for another person, then the window came down....."Hi mom!"

Yep! The young man was mine and I was floored. "You are supposed to be in Seattle! Are you OK? Why are you here?"

"I am your present."

Image result for thing gif google images

Oh my goodness. I have never ever been given a nicer gift in my life. I lost it, ran to him, hugged the stuffing out of him, embarrassed the big kid....and could not stop hugging him. This was a moment I will never forget. I still get misty thinking about it. I definitely needed a lift and a half after this horrific trial (more about that later, since I have to go to work).

We spent the weekend together and I could not have been happier except for poor BD's ankle. And yes, the gelato was pretty darn good.

The gang spent the weekend fishing and I was able to hit a few tennis balls and hang out with BD. All in all, it made me more restless about returning to work. Oh well, no complaints....

The last story that I will share is the big lefty's conversation with me the night before we returned.
"Mom, I do not know if I want to do this any more...."

Huh? Wha? Seriously? Really?

Hey, he can do whatever he wants BUT he has to finish this process. And so, he continued to explain that he is tired of working out....tired of hurting....tired of being poor.....OK, scratch the poor part....the bills have been paid by his momma. He has been put on a budget by his dad in the last few weeks and therefore has limited access to cash.

Back to the conversation....we left it at.....he's going back....going to finish what he started....coming home and working out at a local baseball facility. He also wants to work as an intern at a cousin's corporation to earn money and 'take the burden of supporting him off us." Nice.

My BP Mom take on it...the flame thrower is not up to where he wants to be, he had a nice weekend of fishing, eating, and sleeping and reality hit as he prepared to return.

It's OK. He can be frustrated and impatient BUT he has to finish, because he will never forgive himself...ever....if he walks away as he closes in on his goal.....never.....

Got to work.
Image result for weight watchers gif images