We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...
1997's Climb

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Agua Caliente Park...

  Yesterday, we went back to Agua Caliente Park...it was a beautiful day here in Tucson...sunny, no clouds, and about 80 degrees...lots of turtles, ducks, a road runner...the bambini's played by the forbidden spring, watching the fish swim...we talked about the Mother's Day picnics we had here and how much Mama enjoyed the huge palm trees, grassy field and the cat tails in the water...

             Here are the bambini, gathered around the forbidden spring - despite the sign advising them not to pass the sign telling them not to go down there...There were originally two springs - one hot, reportedly 100 degrees, and the other cold.  Back in the 1800's, the army dynamited the springs, to  make them flow together, believing they could maximize the water flow.  This area was one of the original forts in Tucson.
                                                    The boys spot some fish in the spring...

                     And, in a parallel universe...here's a photo Autumn found of Kimmy and Cajun, from July of 1995, sitting at a small spring at the Lehigh Valley Parkway, back in Pennsylvania...
Can you see what is at Kimmy's side?  A loaf of bread...for the ducks!

                  Lil Kim - could she look any prettier?  And so much like Kimmy...they both loved to feed the ducks at Aqua Caliente - Kim would put aside rolls, bread, whatever to bring along.  On the rare occaision that she forgot...we would make the quick stop at the Circle K on Tanque Verde on our way in.  Today, I forgot to bring bread...and forgot to stop at Circle K...but, I made it up to Autumn on the way out, stopping for Icee's for the bambini's!

                     Yep, it's inevitable...if there is water...Tonio is going to get wet!  Today was no exception!
The funny thing is, he didn't know that I saw him, or photographed him...so when I asked him if his Puma's were wet and he told me 'No', he was a little surprised when I showed him this picture..."No" turned to "well, just a little" pretty quickly.

               Here, the kids are standing in the dry, third pond.  It had water in it when we moved here in 1994, but dried up shortly thereafter.  The second pond, which has been dry for awhile, actually was about 1/4 full this day.  Autumn bought her umbrella, with her own money, at the Tucson Festival of Books.  Tonio's finally picking out his own outfits and has all of the color coordinating skills of his Dad!  I'm telling you, Kim bought all of my clothes and made sure I had matched them up correctly before going out the door.  On the few occaisons that she did not, I sure received a lot of comments (see Patti at Cottonwood for my McNabb jersey/shorts choice!)...none of them overly positive!

               And, the obligatory, Conca's in the tree portrait...my sisters, Lauren and Sherri have kept this tradition alive, as well!

                This morning, we all got up early (well, 8:40ish) to meet Brian and Tom to go for a bike ride at Fantasy Island (they were surprised I was able to get up at all, after a full scale fiesta broke out in my driveway the night before...).  I was ready...and, just making sure I really had lost it, I was taking the bambini back to Fantasy Island!  Brian, Tom and Cody took off on their own so I could keep pace with Tonio and Autumn (and I knew there was no way I could have kept up with them this morning!).  The big boys did about 12 miles worth of hard, desert riding today and were impressed Cody could keep up on his BMX bike!
               The sun was warm, but there was a cool breeze coming from the west, with just enough humidity in it, that if you closed your eyes, you would swear you were in San Diego...I could almost hear the waves.  And the air smelled impossibly fresh today, too.  It was a great day to be out there!
               We managed about 4 miles today - that last mile, Tonio kept yelling things like "Cramp!",  "My thighs are burning!"  and, "We're all still here!"  I think he was getting delirious.  But they did great again today.  No one ran into any cactus, or crashed too badly.  As we approached the 'Sand Pit', I began calling out instructions "Hold onto your handle bars tight!"  "Keep your wheel straight!"  "As soon as you hit the sand, pedal hard!"...to which the kids asked "Huh?", "What?"  and plowed into the sand, immediately tumbling off of their bikes!
           It is some deep sand!  When we came to the bike we hung for Kimmy, Aut and Tonio wanted to stop, have some water and say a little prayer...
           Afterwards, we went bike shopping for Cody.  Brian and Tom said the riders they passed were amazed that Cody could keep the pace on a speedless bike.  We had been planning on getting him a mountain bike for his birthday next month, and decided to find one today...he chose a nice Trek bike and we'll go out there Monday or Tuesday morning to test it out...
           Tonight, we were having Lexy over, so I decided to make Kimmy's chicken tortilla soup.  Autumn says it is her fourth favorite dish that Mama made, behind her pasta, wedding soup (coming soon!) and london broil (maybe soon!)...
           We stopped on our way home from bike shopping to get all of the ingredients - well, first we stopped at Pier 1, Kimmy's best store - they loved her there so much, they talked her into working there - she actually worked two nights, until 2 a.m., helping set the store with their Christmas merchandise...it was our first time stopping in since we lost Kimmy.  We had run into one of the nice ladies who has worked there since it opened and has known Kim for many years, Jackie and her husband at Viro's a few days ago.  I told her we'd be in, because there was something Autumn wanted there, but I couldn't remember what...Autumn reminded me today - every year, Kimmy would find a new rabbit for Easter...and Autumn wanted to keep up that tradition and go pick one out.  Jackie was just getting ready to leave as we went in, but dropped everything to walk Autumn around and show her all of the rabbits they had and helped her make a wonderful selection.

            Anyway, the tortilla soup...I read over the list of ingredients, in Kimmy's sweet hand writing and got everything prepped...then, I turned the card over, to see how to make the ingredients into soup...and the back of the card was blank...it turned it back over...ingredients...other side...still empty.  HOW WAS I GOING TO MAKE THE SOUP???  I called Angie.  She would know - as luck would have it, she was driving home after a day of shopping and had Andrea in the car with her - the two of them talked me through it - so these are Kimmy's ingredients, with Angie and Andrea's direction on cooking (they told me they do not cheat and buy a chicken at Fry's : )  ).
            Dice or shred a cooked chicken (we do cheat and buy one of the rotisserie chickens at Fry's).
            Boil 10 cups of water, adding 10 boullion cubes.
            Sautee 1/2 chopped onion and 3 cloves of garlic and add to water.
            Put in 1 tbls of cumin and add 1 14oz can of diced tomatoes, plus juice.
            Add chicken and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cover.

            Meanwhile, chop up a bunch of stuff to put on your soup after you serve it:
            Cilantro, green onion, shredded monerrey jack cheese, avacado, limes, etc.
            Then, cut 8 tortillas into strips and bake them until crisp at 350 degree, to use on top of your soup.

          And it all worked out - the kids all ate it up - Lexy says it was better than Macayo's, but not as good as Sandy's (Angie's niece)!  I'll take that.

                   Autumn was a great helper!  She diced the cilantro and green onions, prepared the tortilla strips and sauteed the onions and garlic for me!

                                         Oh, and put a healthy dollop of sour cream on top, too! 
                                       Lexy and Autumn love to take have fun with the camera!!       Then, the girls settled in to watch "My Sister's Keeper"...'It was so sad!!!' they told me.
                     Oh, and Autumn lost a tooth today!!  "Mama always took a picture of where the tooth was...and then one of just the tooth".

         After their movie, the girls decided to start their own art gallery - they created 11 masterpieces each!!
             Ahhh yes, another day, another fight - Tonio drifted off while watching his movie...Cody went to Alex's house to sleep over tonight...and we dropped Lexy off at her Grandma, Angie's house...
            Nothing left to do but wait for the toothfairy...I better set an alarm, just in case!

"I know that God will not give me anything I can't handle.  I just wish that he didn't trust me so much."

                                                                                                   - Mother Teresa

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St Patrick's Day

            Ahhhh, St. Patrick's Day...what a festive holiday...he was quite the guy, too.  Born in Britain, so not even Irish, to very wealthy parents, he was captured by a group of Irish raiders, at the age of 16 and sold into slavery in Ireland. He was able to escape back to England, after 6 years in captivity and found God.  About 15 years later, he was assigned to ministry in Ireland...popular legend has him driving snakes from Ireland, although scientists today have evidence that there were never snakes in Ireland...still, today, St. Patrick's Day is the day where Americans consume the largest amount of beer than any other day...what a tribute.

           Today is also Nana's birthday!  The bambini's called her up to serenade her...what a festive holiday to have a birthday on!!

            And, looking back, it was the beginning to a dark 2010 for our family.  You know, Dr.Karen Burrows, who Kim helped open Ventana Animal Hospital with over 13 years ago, said it best at Kimmy's celebration, when she said to me, as she gave me a big hug, '2010 has been a crappy year' - Dr. Burrows lost her 24 yr old son, Steven in an auto accident just a few months prior to Kimmy passing...and St. Patrick's Day started it all...
           In our kitchen, Kim had a black board.  Not an ordinary black board, but, one she made.  She found a frame that she liked, found a board to fit the frame and painted it with blackboard paint.  Kimmy kept track of our busy lives via this board.  It foretold birthdays, weekend events, appoinments, and the occaisonal, off beat message.
          One year later...our black board has seen little change...I could not bring myself to erase what Kimmy had wrote...
          One year ago, we had our dentist appointment with Dr. Jack - as I've said, Kim had not seen a Dr. in over 6 years, but insisted on twice yearly dental visits!  This was a huge tribute to Dr. Jack and his wife, Jane, who Kimmy adored.  Last year, Kim was not able to make our dental appointment...Zona, our ten year old lab/aussie pup, was very sick.  Kimmy was so concerned - this was the pup she had wanted to get rid of, who had torn up our irrigation, back yard lighting, couch, carpet, etc., etc, etc,.  The first six years of Zona's life, she spent in contention with Kimmy...I wasn't sure who was going to win, but, gradually, Zona worked her way into Kimmy's heart...they were inseparable.   She had written that Zona had an appointment 3/22, but she would not make it that far.

          I explained to Jane, that Kimmy would have to reschedule, Zona was very sick.  After our appointment, I rushed the bambini's to meet Kimmy up at Dr. Burrows.  This day, Zona was not going to get to go home with us.  She could not move.  She was very bloated, a result of internal bleeding we were told...as we prepared to put Zona down, we all said our tearful goodbyes...she was such a good pup, never bared her teeth at our children, allowing all of them to ride her, use her as a pillow, and was their best friend.  Well, the bambini could not bear to stay...we had to make a decision, who would stay with Zona?  Who would take the bambini outside and comfort them?  Of course, Kimmy came up with the decision - I was a mess and could not think.  She told me, 'You held Cajun, on our kitchen floor, as she passed away...I will stay with Zona.'   I never argued with Kimmy.  I knew how far she had taken me.  She asked for so very little.  When she suggested something, anything, I was behind her.  I reluctantly left, to console the bambini...they were crying so hard...bringing up every instance that they mistreated Zona, beating themselve up...I began to tell them to cling to the good memories and recounted how we found Zona, that spring day, on a desert street corner - how crazy she was, how her and Mama fought, strong will against strong will...all of the good times...'Remember...'  I told them.
        When Kim emerged, red eyed and soaked with tears, she said she had asked Dr. Burrows for an autopsy - something she typically did not agree with - but, Zona had passed so quickly, with little warning, she just had to know.
        Later, we found Zona was riddled with cancer...the other night, I related one of my more bizarre thoughts...did Zona pass this on to Kimmy?  What if I had chose to hold her as she passed?  What if?  Ok, I know that this has no basis - but, put my shoes on for a minute...these things come to you, believe me.  It's not logical, but, tell me, what is?
       Anyway, we had a fun day (Aut and Tonio wore green - Tonio proudly wore the green shirt Janene had just bought him.  Aut warned Cody and I that if we did not wear green, she would pinch us - we took the pinching and wore black, which is better than orange, a symbol of IRA support).  Mario dropped Breanna off to us in the morning to play and we picked up Lexy at soccer camp around noon and headed to Viro's for some lunch.  They actually had corned beef and cabbage, in homage to the holiday - we all avoided it like the plague, this must be an acquired taste!  Tonio opted for calimari, and even Breanna tried this delicacy!  Lexy got a bowl of pasta, Autumn, the wedding soup, Cody, the pesto sandwhich and I got the panino Sciliano, my favorite.  Rosa and Vito had gotten back from Italy last night and we were anxious to see them.  'Mi manchi' Tonio told them..."I'm missing you", in Italian.  It was cold in Italy and Rosa and Vito were glad to be back...Vito Jr. and team did a super job in their absence.  We'll be there Sunday for the buffett!! 
        Then, it was on to the mall, where we went to see Rango!  I may have been more excited to see this one, than the bambini!!  I love Johnny Depp, and, don't get to see any adult, first, run movies.  But, seriously, this movie has been all Tonio can talk about since he first saw the trailer.  And it delivered!
Autumn, Lexy and Breanna are GLUED to this movie!!
 It had great cameos of Hunter Thompson, hurtling across the Vegas desert in his cadillac, from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Clint Eastwood, as the man with no name and a scene from Apoctalypse Now...among others...the kids LOVED it!!  And they are always so polite, so well behaved together...

                                     Autumn, Lexy and Breanna are riveted to the movie!

      Then, we took them all to Justice, and got them new BFF bracelets, before meeting Andrea to take Lexy and Breanna to David's basketball game.
         We spent the night with Betsey, Brian, Amy and Tom, in the driveway, watching the kids playing, in the sunset, another gorgeous one! We lingered...and imbibed...and enjoyed an incredible evening...
         The moon appeared full, as we went outside tonight to say goodnight to Mama...Tonio said it was so bright tonight...we all wished Kimmy a good night's sleep...and thanked her for a beautiful day...together...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What was I thinking...?

        We had this idea...to paint my old mountain bike...affix a tribute to Kimmy to it...and launch it into a tree...in Fantasy Island...!

          The bambini's were into this project, enthusiastically painting the bike...for Mama.  Surprisingly, none of them received any direct spray!
         This morning, we rolled out of bed...and did not eat breakfast, chosing, instead to get on with our quest.  We loaded up all of our bikes (and helmets!) and arrived at Fantasy Island...there were absolutely no cars in the lot.  I affixed Kimmy's plaque, laid down a few ground rules: "Do NOT run into ANY cacti!  This WILL hurt!"...I bellowed, as they began to pedal down the path...."Watch out for snakes!"...shouting, to make sure Tonio could hear me through his full face helmet...."Do not stare at cows!"..."There are cows out here? Seriously?"  Autumn asked fearfully..."You know, my leg is starting to hurt." she said - this was not a good sign.
           As we struck out, down the twisting path, I thought, "What the hell am I doing?"  Kim would have been horrified - this was the first time Autumn and Tonio had ever been to Fantasy Island...my self proclaimed marshmallows...I kept seeing the worst happening over and over in my imagination...There are so many dangers, bad possibilities, not to mention Tonio and Autumn's propensity to fall, get hurt, etc...and yet, they did surprisingly well.
         Except, Tonio hit a tree and bit it!  At least he landed in some soft sand...and I could hear Kimmy asking what I thought I was doing, taking three kids into the desert, with no one around...we saw no one today.
             He was OK, but had a huge piece of cholla cactus stuck through the top of his sneaker.  I had brought along some plyers, and used them to pull the cholla out - crisis averted.  I took the time to tell the kids, that the area Tonio crashed in, was Mama's favorite part of Fantasy Island - a little, tight cluster of mesquites, that had been full and green when we had last ridden through.  Kim thought it was a little oasis, a piece of paradise.
           We saw a huge jack rabbit - "omigosh!  It's as big as Bella!" Tonio squealed!  "Eyes on the road!" I yelled.  And many chipmunks, along the way. 
            And then, we came to the palo verde, where Kimmy had passed the large, black bull, oblivious to it's menacing stare...and we pulled over...

               I had Cody write on the plaque for me...my handwriting is so bad...Kimmy used to always tell me "slow down and remember to connect your letters, and your handwriting could be so nice...".  She taught me many things and was able to improve me to a point, but not in the area of handwriting - oh well, what do they say?  You have to pick and choose your battles.  
              It reads:    Kimberly Conca
                              3/1/1965 - 12/13/2010
                              Loving wife, mother and friend...
                              Who loved the outdoors.
                                     Antonio, Cody, Autumn and Dave
              We said a prayer for Kimmy, there, beneath the palo verde tree and notice how beautiful, the wispy white clouds were today, in contrast to the brilliant, blue sky.  And we talked about how beautiful the sky always is out here, but we did not remember there being so many days with clouds to highlight or accent the sky's beauty - especially at sunset!
               Off we went again...now I was bikeless, having hung my ride in the tree - at that moment, Janene texted me to remind me it was Wednesday, and I had a meeting at the Vail School District office at 4:30 to interview candidates for principal for the new high school opening next year.  I texted her back a quick message to tell her what we had just done - she thought I had crashed into that tree and asked if I was OK - I told her yes.  She texted back that my Angel, Kimmy, must be flying over me - I told her that I was busy trying to keep up with my Angel, and texted her a picture of the bike - then she understood that I hadn't crashed, but had intentionally hung my bike in homage to Kimmy - and now, I was running through the desert, literally, trying to keep the bambini in my sight.
              Cody, was way ahead, as usual...but suddently reappeared - his bike chain off and his rear tire rubbing his frame.  I tried to use the pliers on it to fix it, but the nut was too tight...new plan - the thought ran through my head again...what am I doing in the middle of the desert with these little ones?  We put our heads together, and figured we had only come about two miles - so it was shorter to go back the way we came.
              Cody hopped on Tonio's bike and they rode double back up the path, followed by Autumn and then me - now running AND carrying a bike.
             I soon fell behind...but sweet Autumn, Lil Kim, stopped ahead to wait for me, yelling 'Do you need water Dad?" - I did need water - it was getting hot.  We drank some together and started off again - chosing the wrong path as we went...I could tell, as we neared Valencia, that we were way too far east - Autumn was scared, but I asked her "what mountains are we headed towards?"  "The Santa Rita's" she replied.  "So what direction are we going?"  "South" - she's a good student.  "If we keep heading south, we will come out on Valencia, so we are not really lost.  And what mountains are to our left?"  "The Rincons"  "Right - what direction are they?"  "East".  "Good.  And if you were to head towards them, you'd come across Houghton road eventually, and be near our home."  She was better then...and just in case, I thought to throw in some humor, an ice breaker, if you will.  I removed my shirt and sang in my best Will Ferrell voice "I am running!  Running through the desert with no shirt on!  We are lost!  And I am running!"  Autumn shook her head, but giggled hopelessly..."Dad..." was all she could muster.
             We began to cut our way through the desert to the southwest, and I found the trail we should have been on...started yelling "Tonio!  Cody!" - despite the fact I could have simply texted or called Cody...and then, caught sight of the truck and the two boys, sitting in the back of the bed, relaxing, waiting for us...
             I was pretty proud of this crew.  We had learned more about each other and team work this morning through this experience...and found another way to remember Mama and to honor her memory.
          They had a sense of satisfaction about them...and, we knew Kimmy was near.  After I secured the bike into the palo verde tree, I turned, to gather the bambini for this group shot...inches from my face, hovered a beautiful, black, swallow tailed butterfly with bright, blue markings...it fluttered around my face, and then danced among the bambini, before heading off into the desert, toward the sun....

          After that, our day went quickly...we headed down to Burlington Coat Factory - for flip flops for the boys and shorts for me (as I ran through the desert, carrying a bike, with no shirt on and singing at the top of my lungs, I found it difficult to run, sing, carry a bike and keep my shorts up - time to invest in a smaller size!)...first we hit Costco and stocked up on good stuff and said hi to Mario, who was absolutely buried with customers, but took time to talk to us for awhile!  At Burlington, I found flip flops and shorts!  And, picked up a garment bag for Angie and Mark for their upcoming Alaska trip...we ran to In and Out Burger - hey, after all of that excercise that morning, we needed it!  I had on my Penn State t-shirt, when the coaching staff of the basketball team came in!  We did a lot of high fiving and hand shaking.  Then, we hit Target and headed over to Angie's.
           Angie tried to feed us, but our bellies were all still too heavy with good cheeseburgers and fries to eat anything healthy...the kids played with Lexy and Breanna, and when Andrea swung by to pick them up, she took Autumn with her, too.  I had to get out to the district office!
          Tonio went to Betsey and Brian's - I headed over there after the interviews (best question I asked tonight, of a candidtate who had done her undergrad work at Temple and grad work at Penn State: 'Who do you like in tomorrow's game, Penn State or Temple?'  'Penn State' she shouted!  'Good answer, you get points for that!'...Andrea dropped Aut over at Betsey's for me and Betsey made some great turkey burgers and surved wine with no sulphites in it...I've never heard of sulphites - she told me that is the ingredient that gives you a headache...I was on board for that, but it still seems a little new agey to me.
          Tonight, as we said goodnight to Kimmy, gazing up at yet another star filled night, with a luminous moon and stray strands of clouds, Tonio said "I hope you like your bike, Mama..."
          It was a good day, fast paced...what will tomorrow bring?  I don't know...
        "We must never get into the habit of being preoccupied with the future.  There is no reason to do so.  God is there."
                                                                            - Mother Teresa
           Sounds good to me!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Unique Identity

                       Here's where we started our day today...well, wait a minute - I actually ran up to Bruegger's first thing for bagels - bambini's love bagels!  Then, Mario dropped off Lexy and Brianna (who love bagels too!)...then, we made our way down Broadway, to Janene's shop 'Unique Identity'...next to Pier One, which was Kimmy's absolute favorite store!  And, next to two, wonderful, locally owned eateries - Arizona Pizza - some of the best pizza in Tucson!  Kim would come down to see me when I managed Linens 'N Things (now the Peter Piper Pizza) and we would go to Arizona Pizza to grab a slice - Kenny, the owner, always took good care of us.  And then there is Shish Kebab House, on the other side of Janene's - great gyros and middle eastern cuisine!!
               Today, Janene set about working on her latest masterpiece...layering Autumn's hair!  This was something Kim and Aut talked about on many occaisions, but never came to fruition.  Janene had Autumn look through hair magazines to get an idea of what she wanted...and then, brought it to life for Aut...
            And, it was another hair success!!  Autumn was so happy (Lexy and Brianna are set to get their hair done tomorrow from Aunt Janene).  You all know how much Janene has helped our family - why, when Kimmy was first hospitalized, it was Janene who first set up dinners for our families and started visits to the hospital and arranging for food and ice tea to be delivered to me at St. Joe's while I lived there.  She has continued to be there for us.
            Over the years,  Kim has had many haircuts...her hair was so thick (luxurious!), and it was hard for her to connect with someone who cut it the way she liked it...you can see, bu the shining smile on her face, that she was ecstatic with Janene's abilities!
            Janene just keeps giving.  A month or so ago, Janene called me, so excited that I could barely understand her...she had come up with an idea, to help Kimmy's Foundation, helping families here in Tucson.  A cut-a-thon.  Kuts for Kim?  Kimmy's Kut-a-thon?  No matter, Janene's idea was to open up Unique Identity on a Sunday, all her girls would be there to cut hair, and 100% of every dollar they took for haircuts that day would go right to Kimmy's foundation!  I was blown away with emotion...100%, entirely - not a portion of proceeds, not a percent of overall sales, not a piece of profits brought in - these ladies will work for free...for Kimmy....how beautiful!
           Additionally, Janene is creating a postcard to hand out to people who get their hair cut on that day...a thank you, for helping Kimmy's foundation, with savings for future haircuts, and Kenny at Arizona Pizza will have a deal  on their, as will the Shish Kebab House!!
            This event, is being planned for Sunday, May 15th...everyone sychronize their watches...now!
Details to follow, right here!

           Well, luckily we went to Janene's today...for she reminded me that we had a family dentist appointment at 1:00!!  Wow, what day is it??? I asked...Tuesday...
           Last year, we had an appointment on 3/17...St. Patrick's Day...and Kimmy had to miss that appointment, because our pup, Zona, was seriously ill and had to go to see Dr. Burrows...and Kim loved to go see Dr. Alexander and his wife, Jane, who works as the office manager there...I now find it ironic, that Kim insisted on going to see the dentist twice a year, but hadn't seen any other doctors for over 6 years...that is a great compliment to Dr. Alexander and Jane!!
           When we moved here, 18 years ago, it was Jane, in real estate at the time, who helped us find a place to stay - having no friends, no family here, we had no where to turn.  Jane was so nice...and when I broke a tooth, I asked her if she knew of any dentists...'My husband is a dentist', Jane told us.  And we have enjoyed our visits ever since.  The bambini's, too, love to go to the dentist.  Dr. Jack is so funny and kind to them.  Jane always gives them new toothbrushes, toys, stickers and....passes to Golf 'N Stuff!!!  Almost as good as a birthday!  Kim always said that Dr. Jack could be my older brother...
             Today, was a nice visit.   And we had Lexy and Breanna with us - Jane made them feel right at home and gave them everything that she gives to our kids!!
              Since we had some passes...we decided to go golfing!  Did I mention that Breanna loves to take pictures?  Well, she does and she decided to bring my camera along!
           Almost there!!!
            Breanna particularly liked the ducks at Golf 'N Stuff!  The kids got duck food and fed them by hand.
And then, it was game on!

                  Cody, Lexy, Autumn, Breanna and Antonio are poised and ready to compete!
Kimmy loved minature golf.  Some of our earliest dates were at a little joint called V-7 in Bethlehem or some subsidary there of, where we could golf and grab a bite at the attached diner.  There was another one in Bethlehem, too, that we went to, it's name escapes me, but there were corn field surrounding and I would delight Kim by dissappearing into the rows of corn, only to appear at a different point on the course, arms laden with ears of corn, ready to play some more golf!  Whenever we went to Beach Haven, on Long Beach Island, we would go to Kiddie Land to play the course they had there...Here in Tucson, we hit the one on Speedway and Wilmot, Golf 'N Stuff, Fantastics, etc...She always beat me ; ).
             Cody leaps out to an early lead...but everyone is dialed in...it's anyone's game...

                     Tonio and Breanna are best buds...and pretty good golfers, too!
               In the end, Lexy edged out Cody for first place...I didn't tell the bambini's who came in 2nd or 3rd, etc...telling them that they all had won!  Later, Breanna told Andrea 'We all won!'...message received!
               It sure was a fun filled day...I told the kids stories about Kimmy and I playing minature golf, along the way...
               Tonight, to continue the cultural well rounding of the bambini, we chose to watch the Blues Brothers...a classic!  Kimmy bought me this on VHS many, many years ago and upgraded me to disc as soon as it became available.  We were both big John Belushi fans...a shame he burned out so young.  Kim and I really loved the Blues Brothers, and posed as them for several Halloweens - and I did with other Brothers over the years, always choosing to be 'Jake'.
                Kimmy loved the soundtrack - she loved the blues.  Cab Calloway plays a great part in this film.  And, at one point, the Blues Brothers drive into a Pier One...ahhhhhhh!!! Scary moment in the film!  And they drive through a Toys R Us.  I worked with a guy in Colorado Springs, who claimed to have transfered from the Joliet, Illinois store that this was filmed in...we may not have believed him, but we wanted to!
                After we moved here, got married and Kimmy was confident that she had cleaned me up, she'd refer back to the scene where Jake sees the light, in a church, where James Brown is the minister singing the sermon!  'I see the light'!!
               We loved how Dan Ackroyd, as Elwood, gets blown up by Carrie Fisher, and, upon returning home, still has, intact, a can of cheese whiz for one of the residents living in the same building - pulling it out of his back pocket.
              And, our favorite quote, that I used endlessly over the years:
             "Me and the Lord have an understanding....We're on a mission from God"
              Yep, I guess I still am, only on a different level...
              And, Pee Wee Herman was the waiter that the boys harrassed as they tried to get the band back together...if you have not seen this film, or it's been more than five years since you have...dust it off and revisit it...!
               That's all I can remember for one night...it's been a weird few days, where I thought I had some business at the Vail School District office yesterday (Wednesday...), to help interview candidates for principal for the new high school opening next year...only to find out yesterday was Monday, not Wednesday...and today, forgetting what day it was, and Janene reminding me we had a dentist appointment today 'What time Janene?'  '1:00'...thank you!   But, tomorrow is really Wednesday, and I think I have the rest of this week figured out...

                  Thanks for listening...


Monday, March 14, 2011

Three Months...

       ....There are still days...wait, everyday, where I wake up...and, in those foggy, waking moments, I don't remember...I roll over, to look at where Kim is sleeping...even reach out, to touch her warm head...and then, focus, to find it's Antonio, snuggled beneath the blankets, warm and unassuming...at that moment of realization, it all comes back, but I take a moment to thank God, for the 33 years I knew Kimmy...for the 27 years we were together...I pray for Kimmy's soul, even though I know she is home and does not need my prayers...I thank God for Antonio and for Autumn and for Cody - the blessings He bestowed upon us...and for providing for us and for all that Kimmy did for me, to help me appreciate life and put aside my selfish whims...I cannot believe it has been three months...already.
         In the face of the tragedy in Japan, I almost feel selfish with my feelings, the detached, floating existence that I have...but, yet, it's there - dream into nightmare into reality...Three months later, I still miss Kimmy so much...my stabilizing factor, my friend, unquestioning and never having to make up excuses to not be there...and now, I'm untethered...
        On this eve, this dark anniversary, we sat out front and recounted Kimmy stories and I told how Kim lovingly and gently transformed me - her methods.  Her insight.  Her dedication.  And caring - she could see the potential, and unburied it. 
        Looking back, Kim always wanted that for everyone - what is your potential? What is stopping you?  And now, it is up to me to unlock that in the bambini's.
        Kimmy loved the outdoors...hiking, picnicing, the beach...she just enjoyed being outside...
        So today, I took them to Madera Canyon...where Kim and I hiked several times.  I got the bambini out of the house at 8, to take advantage of the cooler temps.  Later, in our driveway, Amy commented that she was impressed with our early departure, and, given our activities Saturday night, impressed I could even get out of bed.  The last time we made this hike was at least 10 years ago.  Cody, our little athelete, hiked so well, on his own.  Today, about 100 yards into our hike, Autumn told me her legs were hurting...'Dad, when did I become a marshmallow?', Autumn asked in despair.  'I will help you dear', I told her, taking hold of her hand.  Meanwhile, our resident marshmallow, Tonio, stoically proclaimed he was feeling good and, despite falling several times, never wavered. "Well, Autumn, I guess I'm not the marshmallow anymore!", he said.
              At the top of Mt. Baldy trailhead, we are ready to go.  Yes, we brought Bella.  It's time to get her acclimated to being a functioning part of our family - rather than just a pet, or a dog...a Cajun like presence in our lives.  This is the trailhead Kim, Cody and I last traversed...with Cajun.  I remembered it well, but, forgot the sheer beauty of this canyon...I felt the ghost of Kimmy, with me each step of the way, her pregnant with sweet little Autumn, but not wanting to turn back, because the day was so fresh, our time together so precious, special - and it was not in Kim to complain or put herself first.

              Up the trail!  It was a little chilly at the start (not for Cod and I), but the bambini did great!  Autumn and Tonio were concerned at the width, or lack of, of the path we were hiking, fearing they would slip and hurtle down the steep mountainside!
               We made frequent water stops as the day heated up...Cody and Bella kept a fast pace (hard to believe!).  This photo, almost reminds me of an old Rolling Stones album cover... 'Why haven't I ever been here?' Tonio asked...I explained Mama's fear of mountain lions, bears, drug trafficers (yes, there was a warning sign for all of these at the trailhead) and told them, we had to be careful, use our heads, be smart, but be able to enjoy the beautiful resources we have here in Arizona...we talked to every hiker as we passed them...a couple from Rochester, Minnesota...we had some good friends from there, Vicki and Jim Courson and once roadtripped there to see the North Stars play the Blues in a playoff hockey game...a man who told us he had just bought a book, written by a local author, about 3 boy scouts who had perished in this canyon back in the '50's (yeh, Autumn and Tonio were a little freaked out by that story!), a shirtless man, who told us we were about a mile from the summit!  Autumn quickly compared him to me, walking shirtless yesterday at the Tucson Book Festival...yelling AHH HAAA HAAA HAAA!  A couple from State College, PA (small freakin world!) and I had my Penn State hat on! 

            As we climbed, we talked to one another - the four musketeers...helping each other up the steep path, winding curves, slippery slopes.  Holding hands when we needed to.
           At one point, Tonio whispered 'Stop!...Look!'.  Up on the slope, perhaps 30 yards, were two deer, frozen and watchful.  They were beautiful.  Bella noticed and called out to them, causing them to break and run.  Tonio has his Mama's sharp eye for animals...Kimmy would always be the one to point out a coyote or javelina as we hiked...
Yeh, so my editing skills are not great...Ami, I tried rotating this before posting, but it did not work!! Check out Aut's umbrella, which she purchased at the Tucson Book Festival yesterday!  We ended up doing about 4 miles of pretty rugged hiking and saw plenty of beauty in the wild today.  When we got back to Tucson, we headed straight for Viro's and ate some great lunch!
In the evening, I made fish for Aut, Hadley, Betsey and Brian - Kim's favorite cod, lightly seasoned with asparagus.  I made this for her each night we were blessed to have her home from the hospital - it was her favorite.  I also made asparagus (finally a reasonable price!) - putting olive oil and about a tbls of butter in a pan, melting, adding two cloves of garlic and heating this mixture up.  Then, placing asparagus in the pan for about 4 minutes and sprinkling with sea salt and pepper. Amy and I ate the asparagus.  And we sat in the driveway, as I revisited our lives together...
To round out the night...we went out to say goodnight to Kimmy and tell her we loved her...then, Cody and I watched 'The Departed', the Martin Scorcese masterpiece.  Cody really enjoyed it and we had a great discussion about Leonardo DiCaprio's versatile acting abilities.  I asked which movie he liked better - Inception or The Departed...he wasn't sure, but loved DiCaprio in each movie.  It is so nice to spend an evening with Cody - he is so bright and insightful.  And, the sound track featured Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb...so I broke out The Wall afterwards and we listened to it together...

We have some good moments and some great ones, too!  But, as we approached tonight, I think we all slept less...I know that sleep has eluded me...it's ok though, alseep...awake...it's all the same...sleep's overrated anyway.  During our hike, Tonio suddenly broke down and said he wished Mama could be here to see this beauty...I told him she was and could see and was showing us the best parts, the most beautiful views...that made him feel good...

'When I was a child...
I caught a fleeting gimpse.
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look,
but it was gone,
The child has grown,
The dream is gone
I...have become, comfortably numb'
-Pink Floyd