We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

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

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Chili Dogs

        Kimmy was a chili dog afficionado.  She loved chili dogs.  And she knew the best places to get them.  I know I've written about Pott's Hot Dog shop - this was our favorite.  We had a two mile walk home from Liberty High School, and we'd make sure to make our way down Fairview St and  walk by Pott's, grab a chili dog, maybe some Tastykakes and an iced tea.  Sometimes, we'd sit on the bench out front of the shop and eat, or we'd just walk and eat our dogs.  Their motto is 'bite the one you love'.

Here's a photo of a guy robbing Pott's Hot Dog Shop.  I'm pretty sure he's got a ticket punched straight to hell.

        Yocco's was another favorite spot.  They had a great jingle; 'Let's go get Yocco'd!' and had two locations that I remember Kim and I going to.  They had a great deal on six packs of chili dogs. We liked the location on Liberty St., in downtown Allentown, amongst the row homes, it had character.  It was a good 'joint', as Kimmy would like to say.  Now, they have 5 locations, the hot dog business is good.  And a regular dog is only $1.24.  That's a steal.
        And then there Shakey Betty's chili dogs.  I don't remember the real name of this neighborhood bar, that was about a block from our high school.  We renamed it.  As loving, caring, high school kids will do.  Betty was the lady who worked the counter, at this bar, that served chili dogs - she had two crock pots.  One for dogs.  One for chili.  They did not serve anything else that I would consider food.  They did have a big jar of pickled eggs - somehow, purple eggs never appealed to us - and a huge jar of dill pickles. 
        Looking back, I guess Betty probably suffered from Parkinson's disease.  She was a suicidal smoker, too.  Often had one hanging from her mouth, one in an ash tray and one ready to light up.  And as she smoked, and the ash on the end of her cigarette grew, her shaking would inevitably dump the ashes in random places. When we'd order, we'd always say 'Hi Betty, we'll take two chili dogs, with mustard'  and then cleverly add 'hold the ashes!'.

           When we moved to Tucson, we discovered the Circle K dogs.  And were immediately hooked on jalapenos!  They certainly added a new dimension to the experience.  We hit multiple Circle K's on our first trip to the Grand Canyon together.  And, when we first moved here, the month of July used to be Circle K customer appreciation month - they'd give out free thirstbusters and hot dogs!  Kim and I would hit a Circle K daily!!

            Then there were the Sonoran hot dogs...wrapped in a thin slice of bacon, and is like a chili dog on steroids!  It usually has beans, tomatoes, onions, mustard, mayo, ketchup, sometimes cheese and some sort of peppers.  They are awesome!  Our friend, Mario's sister's husband, Pepe was the master at making these delacies and at their family functions, he'd make dozens of them working hard to keep up with the demand - Kim thought Pepe's Sonoran dogs were the best - we tried several stands through out Tucson, always enjoyable, but not like Pepe's!

           Sadly, by the time we heard about Pat's Hot Dogs, over on Grande, Kim had cut back her chili dog intake, so we never got to partake - but we heard they were tremendous.

           Tonight, nostagically, Manny and Lupe made chili dogs and invited us over to partake.  Lupe made homemade red chili, which, in itself, was incredible.  They had cheese and jalapenos, in addition to mustard, mayo and ketchup.  And nachos!  We watched some Premeria Liga Mexican soccer (Cruz Azul winning a lopsided match 3-0) and I related Kim's love of a good chili dog to them.  Monsi, Autumn and Antonio watched movies, built legos, screamed that a couch monster was after them and had a great time.  We lost Cody to roller skating with his friend Wyatt around 6:30 and he will sleep over at Wyatt's tonight.
             But, Lupe can cook!  As I said, the chili alone would have been enough.  We had a great time and I'm still trying to get these little chuckleheads in bed.

             Autumn, Tonio and I went out back to say a quick goodnight to Kimmy - it is pretty cold - rained all day and only in the 40's.  I'm sure the mountains got snow.  Cody's track meet got canceled half way through and before he got a chance to showcase his dazzling speed!  There were no stars out tonight, as we said good night just a blanket of clouds...


Friday, April 8, 2011

It's Friday!

   What do I do on Friday? Revisit San Xavier Mission, for their 8:30 Mass....today, no exception, despite high winds that threatened to take me as far as the Pacific...
           The Mass is made so special, by the kids from the reservation.  They sing so sweetly, do the readings, get so excited with the whole 'Peace be with you' bit and are fun to watch as they strive to stay still and listen.
           Good Mass today, I bought my candles, lit one for Kimmy at the front of the church and followed Sister Dolores and children into Mary's sanctuary, where she gave a dialogue on how to pray, what the meaning of the statues are and asked me where I was from.  "I'm from here, Sister" I told her. "I was married right here and am lighting a candle for my wife.".  And I did.  Kimmy's beautiful picture still graces Mary's altar - I don't know how long they keep momentos up...but she was still there today, eyes bright, smile so contagious.
           I had a lot of running to do, afterwards...it was time to get my real estate career back on track.  Kimmy encouraged this - 'A great safety net, Dave' - as you never know what is going to happen..."I'm  a 'plan B' person", Kimmy used to always tell me....me too! 
          I stopped at Trader Joe's, on Swan and Grant, on my way to Old Adobe Realty.  Sporting my Del Piero, Juventus away jersey that Kimmy had ordered for me for Christmas, but, sadly, never got a chance to see, a young man who worked there approached and told me he liked my jersey...his name badge read 'Emerson'.  'I know you', I told him by way of answer.  He back peddled, but spewed out possibilities...I told him I worked at Toys R Us for 15 years and that was it!  "Who did you know there?"  I asked...'Celeste', Emerson answered.  Emerson and Celeste were some good people that I was blessed to meet during my Toys R Us stint.  I told him to tell Celeste hello, bought some great groceries and was on my way!

           I promised Yolanda, 'Call me Yo', from Old Adobe, that I'd bring her a Cafe Americano from Starbucks, so stopped there....my mom had told me, regarding O.D'ing on coffee, that indeed, I could O.D. on coffee...it's called a stroke.  So, instead of a Cafe Americano, that I was jonesing for, I got a trenta iced tea.  Trenta.  30 beautiful ounces of iced tea...a new offering that has delighted me.  I was about the millionth person in line, but the baristas moved through the throngs like a warm knife through butter.
           Yo helped bring me back up to speed on real estate law and contracts and introduced me to Hillary, an agent with Old Adobe.  We got to be talking and it turns out that Hillary's husband is a right hand man, or tech for Dr. Atikinson, who performed Kimmy's gall bladder surgery!  Small world.
          OK, so I'm back in business.  Again, Kimmy being a 'plan B' person, had encouraged me to get a real estate license, as a means to get out of the clothing business at Kohl's.  I plan to donate 10% of my comissions to Kimmy's Foundation and 10% to Vail schools. 
           Once done being updated by Yo, and full of iced tea caffeine...I headed to pick up signs that Kimmy had me order last year and I never got a chance to pick up...then, hungry (yeh, forgot to eat breakfast), I made a bee line to Viro's for lunch...I won't eat alone.  Vito's dad, Vincenzo, greeted me - he's such a nice man, about 4'9" and I told him "Come stai!"  "Bene, bene", he replied and asked me how I was "menza, menza", I told him - so, so.  He sat and ate lunch with me and spoke in rapid Italian, which I had no hope in keeping up with him....but it was good to see him after 3 years or so.
          By this time, I deduced, that my trenta iced tea had plenty of caffeine in it, so why deprive myself one of the incredible cappuccino's that Viro's makes?  I had Robert hook me up, and he delivered a very strong, delicious cappuccino and I was wired for the day!  I figured, if I'm going to die, what a way to go!
          I met up with Angie, after lunch, who had made us some vodka sauce, using Kimmy's recipe, and had some beautiful lemons to give me! 
           Then, off to pick up Aut at Cottonwood.  Tonio was going to his friend, Mano's house to play after school.  Autumn, like her Mama, is so shy, that is hard for her to make friends, and Lexy and Hadley are about the only ones she is really comfortable with.  So I invited Betsey, Brian, Hadley and Mitch over for dinner and told Amy, Tom and Alex to join us, too.  We ate fish tacos and I made two different salsas for chip dipping and the tacos.
            We played Dance Party on Wii until we were ready to drop!  I kicked Aut's butt!  Sorry, no photos.  And no strokes, either.  The caffeine has worn off, the bambini are getting ready for bed and had a good day...it's the weekend!
             Only Antonio was left standing when it was time to say good night to Mama...'Whoa, look at the moon', he exclaimed when we went outside...my ribcage hurting...just like Kimmy's was back in October...too much cafeine?  Too much salsa?  Too many beers?  Not sure, but Tonio and I said our good nights and went back in to watch a movie together...the cold winds blowing in a storm for us...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Random acts of Randomness

        I don't know where to begin...over the last few days, several people have asked how I've been sleeping which has been improving, but, it seems, once spoken out loud, I've been jinxed!
        So, yesterday, I began my day with a 3 shot Cafe Americano.  3 shots of vital espresso, topped off with about an inch of hades hot water and a splash of half and half.  Nothing but the best cream, as I'm not trying to keep off any pounds.  This is rocket fuel for me.  BUT, having difficulty sleeping the night before, along with a wicked antihistamine hang over, it was just enough to make my eyes appear to be open...and I thought a second helping was in order.
        Well, by about 11 a.m., my heart jackhammering, I texted my sisters, Lauren and Sherri; 'Is it possible to O.D. on coffee?  If so, I am!'.   Lauren hit me back quickly, advising that the only known cure for coffee o.d., is a beer.  As tempting as that sounded...it was only 11 a.m. ...and, I was at work.  Sherri got back to me and said that it was indeed possible to O.D. on caffeine and that she better not hear that I was stealing adderall from kids.  By this time, I was picking the bambini up from school and had to ask Tonio's teacher, Mrs. Schrantz, what adderall was...she told me, it was fashionable these days for ladies to use adderall as an appetite supressant...damnation, what did Sherri mean??  But it all ended well, I still could not sleep last night, I'm sure the late, late effects of too much coffee...I vowed not to do it again...today.

           I've got a couple of Kimmy's journal entries to share with you tonight:

October 31st, 2003

             Happy Halloween!  The kids are so excited to go trick-o-treating.  Cody and Autumn are both "Buzz Lightyear" - a super hero type space ranger from the movie Toy Story.  Little Antonio will be a lion - a costume I had made for Cody's first Halloween (which Autumn then wore for her first Halloween : ) )  It's a warm day (85), so I hope it cools off for tonite!

 November 2nd 2003

         Cody lost his 2nd tooth today!  Right after church, he pulled it out!  It was his top front right tooth.  He looks so cute with his little toothless smile.  Tonite, the Tooth Fairy comes!

November 15, 2003

           Ed and Vi (Pop and Nana) arrived today.  They will help us celebrate Antonio's Baptism tomorrow!  The weather will be perfect (in the 80's with a light breeze.). The kids are looking forward to showing off our new baby.

November 16, 2003

           Antonio was baptized today at St. Frances de Sales church.  It was a lovely ceremony performed by Deacon Crockett.  Antonio fell asleep early on in the Baptism and slept right through the annointing of the oil and the blessing with the Holy water.  What a proud day for Dave and I to have our 3rd child fulfill his First Sacrament in his little life.
          Afterwards, we all came back to our home to celebrate with family and friends.  Our good friends Shawn and Courtney, catered his celebration with and Italian feast.  It was gorgeous and delicious!  Complete with a tray of Italian meats and cheeses, 2 types of pesto, rolls, pasta salad, sausage penne pasta, various relish trays and beautifully displayed with mirrors and silver dishes.   I cried when I saw what they did for us.
         Those who joined the celebration:
         Ed and Vi were there, the Williams family (Angie, Mark, Andrea, Mario, Lexy and David Castillo, Janene and Brendon, Kristie, Ross and Trinity Verduzco, Kim, Rashon and Mariah), Shannon, David and Isaiah Conrad, Rose, Neveah and Tyler Chacara, Vito, Rosa, Vito Jr and Vanessa, Joe and Deanna Croce (our Viro's family!), Cheri, Curtis, Megan and James Thelen, Debbie (our neighbor), and, of course, Shawn and Courtney Hoffman.  Rosa and Vito made an incredible cake and provided tiramisu and cookies for dessert!
           We had a jumping castle for the children and plenty of good moments that will remain with us a lifetime.
          Bless you little Antonio.

          Kimmy was so sweet, so appreciative of everybody and everything they did, no matter how big or how small - she loved you all...

         This morning, after a good 4 hours of sleep, little Autumn, our little Kim, gently shook me awake at the hellish hour of 6:10 a.m.  It was time to make the donuts.  Well, I made waffles, instead.  I planned to jump back into being a part of the kid's classrooms - I used to be there every Thursday, to help the teachers, and I felt it was time to start contributing again.  I picked the right day to do that...
          I started by working the Scholastic book fair, in the library, from 8-10.  Mrs. Saldana, the librarian, always takes great care of me.  Starting me off with bottled water, a bagel and a banana (she knows I need help eating healthy!).  Patti, who works the front desk at Cottonwood, brought me down a cappuccino, as I had slits for eyes again.  Mrs. Schrantz, brought Tonio by to do some shopping and to hang out with me while I sold books on my day off from selling books...Kim and I worked many book fairs together.  During slow times, we would walk the shelves and see if there were any we wanted to surprise the kids with...or, find one that we remembered from childhood.  She usually rang the register, while I straightened the books and helped the kids make selections.  It was fun for us.  And we'd always grab a stack of the books teachers had requested and have fun finding the books and buying them for our kid's teachers.  Tonio and I got a chance to do that together today.
           Next, I headed to Autumn's classroom to help Mrs. Rudzena grade papers and file paperwork.  Mrs. Rudzena has been such a positive influence on Autumn.  She got straight A's again on her last report card.  I enjoy helping in her classroom, to watch her teaching style and see the children respond to her - she is incredible.  We got great news this week, that Mrs. Rudzena received a promotion, moving up to 6th grade next year - so Autumn can have her again next year and stay at Cottonwood!!
           Here's another great benefit of having volunteered today:  FREE LUNCH!  They had a Mexican buffett set up to celebrate Ms. Bryson's winning Principal of the Year and I filled  a plate of chimi's and all of the fixin's!!
           Then, I went to Antonio's classroom and helped Mrs. Schrantz with a book project she is developing to help the kids learn about different genres.  Again, talk about a positive influence on Tonio - these two teachers have salvaged what was a devastating situation and helped Autumn and Antonio adjust on their new journey and excel in the classroom, while being made to feel like they mattered...
           When school was over, I dropped Tonio by the library, where Mrs. Saldana helped make sure he got his homework done, stopped to tell Mrs. Montes 'I don't know how you guys do it...I need a nap' (her belly is getting bigger!), picked up Aut and drove over to Desert Willow to pick up Lexy...Where we got to see Cody's alegbra teacher, Mrs. Lopez and her 4 week old baby - a cute little peanut!
           We drove back to Cottonwood for Ms. Bryson's 'Principal of the Year' celebration to eat cake, cake, cake and lemonade.  Ok, we were all O.D.'ing on cake today!  I got to sit with Mrs. Rienstra (Aut's third grade teacher), also pregnant, and let her know that her belly was beginning to show, too!  There must be something in the water over there...
           The kids were given balloons at the celebration.  On the way home, Autumn asked if they could let them go when we go home.  I said 'Sure, if you'd like to'.  I heard Autumn say to Lexy and Antonio; 'We could make a wish when we let them go...like we did at my Mama's funeral.'.  And they did, they did let them fly when we got home - running down the sidewalk, straining to keep their balloons in sight - and knowing, with their children's hearts, that their wish would come true...
           Soon, it was time to make dinner for the bambini's...what else?  Pasta.
          Oh, forgot!  Yesterday, a visitor came to Cottonwood:
             There was a big racoon in the tree, right outside of the MPR room.  Animal Control was called in to take care of the racoon, and asked the P.E. teacher, Mr. Peck, to hurl basketballs at the poor thing.  When that failed, they turned a hose on it and tried to climb the tree after it, all to no avail...it finally left under the safety of darkness - the kids sure were thrilled to see it!
               Tonight, was skate night, at Skate Country, and, after our pasta, we went there to skate, meeting up with Janene, Bryson and Kason, and hanging out with Annette and Kirk Perrini. Tonio and Bryson had a lot of fun skating, as did Lexy and Autumn.  It was  a good turnout.
              Mario, Andrea and Breanna stopped over later to pick up Lexy and I finally got the bambini in bed around 10.  A fun night.
              Here's some more randomness:
                  Janene recently visited her husband, Brad's, family in Pennsylvania and brought Tonio this awesome t-shirt!
           Having blown it on the Valentine's Day decorations, I vowed that I would unpack all of Kimmy's treasured Easter rabbits and on enormous chick.  Autumn reported that Kim had collected 13 rabbits...I put her in charge of dispersing the rabbits in a pleasing fashion throughout the house.  She did a great job!
               Tonio gets ahold of the camera and experiments with the self portrait....
                                             As does Lexy............
                       Autumn snapped this one of me telling Bella her bedtime story (look Ma, no beard!).  She loves to be held...

                  What did we learn?  You can O.D. on coffee, although it is not an unpleasant sensation -and I was able to harness this tidal wave of energy in a productive manner.  Mrs. Bryson is the best principal in all of Arizona, which became a state in 1912 -same year as the house I grew up in was built - we will celebrate our centennial next year!  A treed racoon will stay a treed racoon, despite the best efforts of 'animal control', who, apparently, had no control, until nightfall - being strictly nocturnal.  Cake is good, cake is your friend.
                    And, of course, Kimmy was an angel - is an angel - and continues to inspire us daily....



Tuesday, April 5, 2011

...one more thing

    The thing I had forgotten about, until this morning, about little league games, was how chilly Kimmy would get by the end of the game.  Even on a warm night, like last night, she would bring a heavy winter coat.  One of the umpire's and father of a player, Bob Craig, used to love to joke with Kimmy about her layers, sometimes her accessories; knit cap and gloves.
     But Kim would not leave early or miss the games - she just wanted to be there to see Cody play, enjoy some sunflower seeds (or as Janene's son, Bryson, calls them 'bird seeds') and let the kids play.  Hearing her root for Cody and cheer on his teammates was just wonderful - such passion!  And we always had to buy team shirts to match and better support the team.  My favorite is from when Cody was on the AAA Storm.  It's a neat design, with sinister, squinty eyes on the front (you can google them, they are a real team in Lake Elsinore, California) and he had the #4 that year - they won the championship, too.
     Yesterday, was another warm one, approaching 90.  So I went to the park wearing shorts, t-shirt and flip flops.  Remembering Kim's chill, I did bring sweatshirts for the kids and my Juventus hoody (thanks Kimmy!).  Angie commented that I was dressed for summer as the temps dipped from 90 down into the low 70's, as happens this time of year in the desert.  I offered her my hoody to keep warm.  Kim used to like to point out, they, if it gets up to 90 and then drops to 70, that 20 degree swing is enough to make her freeze!
     A while back, Bob had sent us a poem called 'If Tomorrow Starts without Me'.  He said it has helped him out at different times in his life, but I'm not sure who the author is...it's long, thank God for the 'copy and paste' functions!

What a beautiful poem.  Please enjoy.

  When tomorrow starts without me, And I'm not there to see,
 If the sun should rise and find your eyes All filled with tears for me;
 I wish so much you wouldn't cry The way you did today,
 While thinking of the many things, We didn't get to say.
 I know how much you love me, As much as I love you,
 And each time that you think of me, I know you'll miss me too;
 But when tomorrow starts without me, Please try to understand,
 That an angel came and called my name,
 And took me by the hand, And said my place was ready,
 In heaven far above, And that I'd have to leave behind
 All those I dearly love. But as I turned to walk away,
 A tear fell from my eye For all my life, I'd always thought,
 I didn't want to die. I had so much to live for,
 So much left yet to do, It seemed almost impossible,
 That I was leaving you. I thought of all the yesterdays,
 The good ones and the bad, I thought of all the love we shared,
 And all the fun we had. If I could relive yesterday,
 Just even for a while, I'd say good-bye and kiss you
 And maybe see you smile. But then I fully realized,
 That this could never be, For emptiness and memories,
 Would take the place of me. And when I thought of worldly things,
 I might miss come tomorrow, I thought of you, and when I did,
 My heart was filled with sorrow. But when I walked through heaven's
 I felt so much at home. When God looked down and smiled at me,
  From His great golden throne, He said, "This is eternity,
 And all I've promised you." Today your life on earth is past,
 But here life starts anew. I promise no tomorrow,
 But today will always last, And since each day's the same way
 There's no longing for the past. You have been so faithful,
 So trusting and so true. Though there were times
 You did some things You knew you shouldn't do.
 But you have been forgiven And now at last you're free.
 So won't you come and take my hand And share my life with me?
 So when tomorrow starts without me, Don't think we're far apart,
 For every time you think of me, I'm right here, in your heart.

When I finished posting the above message, the nefarious dog, Bella, was mauling the blinds on the back door - her subtle method of letting us know she needs to go out...now.  I leaned out and caught a glimpse of the sunset...

Thanks Kimmy, I needed that...


Monday, April 4, 2011

I have THREE rings!

     Barry Sanders = 0 rings.  Dan Marino = 0 rings.  Dave Conca = 3 rings (my wedding ring that I wear and Kim's engagement ring and her wedding ring, that I wear along with the crucifix, around my neck, that Kimmy got me when we were married).
     As I continue to put things into perspective, it occured to me - that if my life were a sports career, it would be comparable to great sports legends that retired, champions, in their prime - while they were still having great seasons, great careers - at the top of their game.

     There was Jim Brown, arguably the greatest, all time running back.  He retired after just nine seasons and retired as the league's career leader in rushing yars, all-purpose yards, rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns.  He went out at the top of his game, unlike O.J. Simpson (who had a whole second career in a different field...), who, after a dazzling career with the Bills, languished with the 49ers or Johnny Unitas moving from the Colts to the Chargers...or Franco Harris, from the Steelers to the Seahawks. 
      I had a Jim Brown-like marriage.  I guess we didn't set any official records, but, would have led the league in sharing.  My sister, Sherri, used to pick up on that often, mentioning it to us one day after she noticed we were splitting our Subway sub.  "Wait a minute!" she shouted.  "Youse even share your sandwhiches!?!  You share everything!".  And we did.  And we enjoyed it.  Iced teas, meals, beds, pillows, glasses (Sherri was astonished to find Kim and I had the same prescription for our glasses), contacts (see previous explanation about us sharing the same prescription for glasses, but insert the word 'contacts' in place of 'glasses'), driving, socks, shirts, chairs, sunsets, beach towels, books, gum, the moon, the stars and sunrises...Jim Brown made the pro bowl every year of his career!
     How about Ken Dryden?  He played just 7 full seasons in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens and is considered one of the greatest goaltenders ever.  He won the Vezina Trophy (best goaltender award) FIVE times and hoisted the Stanley Cup SIX times!!  Six...that's twice as many rings as I have, but, my marriage could have been considered Dryen-esque in many ways...for one, Kim and I were not tired of each other.  If anything, we were still building up steam.  It was an amazing run, with very little time apart over the many years we knew each other - but, if we had one complaint, it was that we didn't seem to have enough time together - despite spending 100% of our time off together.  That, alone, is worth 6 rings!  Dryden retired at the age of 31, having posted a .790 regular-season win percentage and a 2.24 goals-against average.
       Our marriage could have been compared to Rocky Marciano, without the slugging.  Marciano remains the only heavyweight in boxing history to retire with a perfect record.  He finished up 49-0 with 43 KO's!  Our record would have been, that we just didn't fight.  Don't get me wrong, we did have disagreements (9 times out of ten it was because of me, something I did, said, didn't do, etc), but they were rare.  Neither of us ever had to shout, scream, get so mad that we would say things we didn't mean, and never walked out on each other.  Our disagreements were typically quickly resolved.  Kimmy was wonderful, understanding, patient (Lord knows!  She should achieve sainthood just  for putting up with me all these years...).  Marciano was the heavyweight champion from 1952 through 1956.
         Now, I'm not a big John Elway fan, but, he did have a distinguished 13 year career, retiring at the age of 38, even though he looked like he could have played another few seasons.  He made it to five Super Bowls, losing the first three and then figuring it out and winning the next two.  I prefer Joe Theismann, who was the best quarterback in Redskins history, took them to two Super Bowls, winning one.  The amount of fun Kim and I had, roadtripping, sight seeing, vacationing, or just running errands - compares to these two NFL great's career.  We did so much and I thank God every day for the time we shared and all that we had the chance to do together over the years.
         There are a lot of other athletes I could mention that had stellar careers and were able to walk away before they became an after thought or the punch line of a bad joke....Ted Williams - who homered in his last game and last at bat, at the age of 42.  Jerome Bettis, who played for the Steelers for 13 years, winning rookie of the year and a Super bowl.  Marvin Hagler, who had a brilliant boxing career and retired at the age of 32.  Kim and I may have been getting up there, but we still had pop!
          Let's talk about longevity...playing your whole career with one team....Brooks Robinson played his 22 year career with the Baltimore Orioles - best third baseman ever (with Mike Schmidt, who played 17 seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, a close second!), appeared in several World Series and 16 time Gold Glove winner.  Theismann spent his entire 12 year career with the Redskins.  Mike Modano, of the NHL's Stars, played his entire 21 year career there (whoa, that's right!  He is now a Red Wing!!  A momentary lapse of reason, on my part, so a shout out to Stevie Yzerman who played his entire career with the Red Wings, was a great athelete, a good guy and earned 3 rings in a 20 year career!),  Well, Kim and I did nicely in this category, too.  In a day when divorce is widely accepted, the thought never crossed our minds.  We were with each other until the end.
          Bottom line is, I feel so blessed to have known Kimmy for so long, been with her for so long and married for 17 years, with so many great memories, smiles, hugs, kisses, milestones and, the 'hat trick' (a hat trick is when a player scores three goals in one game)- the bambini!! Three blessings - our 'hat trick' in life. Wayne Gretzky holds the career hat trick record in the NHL with 50.  Soccer hat tricks are rarer - Filippo Inzaghi, holds the record in Italian pro soccer league Serie A - he had 10 playing for power houses Juventus and A.C. Milan. 
          There have been so many great players, like Mario Lemiuex of the NHL's Penguins (2 rings), too many to mention.  And the friends that have supported us along the way and made us a better couple, are many, too.  Helping us to make great memories, and sharing greatest times with us.  We were blessed in this category, as well.
          So, I do feel like a champion, in life.  Kim always made me feel that way.  Cheering me on in my career, with my kids, and in whatever community service we were involved in.  And always at my side.  I have three rings to show for it and I proudly wear them, to remind me of our championship seasons, our victories, triumphs, accomplishments - great memories...

          Today, was a championship day for all of us. Breakfast of champions! French toast, made from the few, remaining slices of Viro's bread from last night's pasta.  And, I remembered to add Kimmy's
'secret' ingredient to the dip - vanilla.  Add 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp to your egg/milk/cinnamon mixure - it is so good!  Kim used to add a dash to her pancake mix, too.  I worked a full shift, cohesively, coherently - well, except when I checked my email and saw that Barnes & Noble was instituting a blogging/facebook/twitter/etc policy.  I read it through and thought to forward it to Tom, my D.M. and wrote "Tom, do you thing they have instituted this policy because of me?  Must I got back and edit my material, or are my posts grandfathered?"...however, instead of hitting 'forward', I hit reply and sent this communication back to corporate...who wrote back 'Dave, did you intend to send this to your D.M.?"  Yeah.  I was a little embarrassed...Autumn and Tonio stayed after with Mrs. Rudzena and Mrs. Schrantz, who helped them get their homework done...and Cody had a grueling track practice over at Empire High School...then, after a quick meal..it was off to swim lessons!  Aut and Tonio are doing better, but still have some work to do. 
           When swim lessons were over, we hustled out to Purple Heart Park near our home to meet up with Janene, Andrea, Angie and their kids to watch Janene's son, Brendon play baseball.  They lost a heartbreaker, but the kids had a blast running around the park, eating 'bird seed' (Janene's son, Bryson, calls sunflower seeds 'bird seed'!) and watching some baseball!  It was a beautiful night...a little late, just getting the bambini settled, but they had so much fun...they'll sleep well and have good dreams...and we'll do it all over again tomorrow!!
           Oh, and after we said good night to Mama, and were walking inside, I'm giving instructions: 'Get your water, brush your teeth and get right in bed, it is late!' Autumn, not missing a beat, gives me her best Robert DeNiro in serious deadpan 'you talkin to me?'...there is no shortage of sarcasm in this house - but that is a story for a different night!

               Dave - Three Ring Champion, 17 wedding anniversaries, 27 years living together, 33 years as friends...and hat trick scoring champ!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Whirlwind Weekend

   Whew!  I ran the bambini hard this weekend...or was it the other way around??  After staying up until 1:30 Friday night (I think I posted that night just after 1), Cody woke me up 4 and 1/2 luxorious hours later to prepare for his track event..I dropped him off at school around 7 a.m. and headed to Fry's to buy a birthday card for a party Autumn was going to attend in the afternoon - to my delight, a young man had a flat cart, over burdened with Corona.  'What's going on?'  I asked him...'Corona's $9.99 today.  So is Heineken', he sighed, resigned to a day of hustling to keep up stocking the cooler with that deal.  "Dude", I said.  "You should just bulk stack those in front of the cooler.  They'll sell." He thanked me and proceeded to do that, after I took one of his hands. "That's one less I'll have to stock", he told me greatfully.
     I sprang into action, grabbing one of each and then, moving safely out of harm's way, texted Tom, Brian and Manny about this deal -why?  Because friends don't let friends overpay for beer! 
     With Cody safely on his way to his track meet, I turned to the little ones.  Tonio had First Holy Communion practice at 10:30.  Autumn's birthday party she was going to was from 12-3.  I needed to clone myself.  Quickly.  Amy came to the rescue, taking Aut from me at 10 to play 'little big planet' with Alex and then she dropped her off at the party.  Meanwhile, I struggled to stay focused during First Holy Communion, where, they inexplicably made us watch a show about some Italian immigrants who liked to bake bread for Easter.  I know it must have meant something, but my exhausted mind could not grasp it.  Cody and Dawn Ball, who's son Nathan runs track too, were texting me from the meet.  Cody had placed 3rd out of 9 runners in the 100 M sprints!  Dawn said she would bring him home for me if he ran his second race, the 4 x 100 M relay, before I could get there.
       After the meeting, Lupe, Manny and Monsi took Antonio for me...and I was alone...it was a weird, almost out of control feeling, as I replayed in my mind who had which bambini and how I would bring them all back together and when...meanwhile, Dawn texted that Cody still had time before his next race and, I might just be able to make it downtown to Tucson High and catch it.  I hurried.  Only to discover that the street fair was going on and there was no where to park!!!  I circled the stadium, anxiously looking - I often make my own spots, but I noticed that our money grubbing city officials, who can't keep baseball, or any other sport for that matter, in Tucson to save their lives, had decided to capitalize on the resourceful parkers, like myself and had a special 'Ticket Task Force' writing tickets like overpaid politicians making speeches.  This task forces actually had polos that had 'Ticket Task Force' on the back, in bold letters, similiar to what you would see on the back of an 'F.B.I.' or 'D.E.A.' agent.  It was surreal. 
         At last, I found a legit spot on the corner of 1st street and 6th ave and literally sprinted the two blocks to the stadium, cursing my decision to wear flip flops the entire way.  I made it.  Cody ran like the wind!  He is so fast and I cannot describe the energy he transmits - I felt as though I was out their running next to him (thank God I was not - it was blazing hot, 96 degrees and I would have melted.).  The stands radiated the suns rays - it felt good.  But behind me, was a couple from Pennsylvania who could not shut up about how hot it was.  And how brown Tucson is.  And how they miss water - that there are creeks that run year round in Pennsylvania.  Making fun of the Santa Cruz...finally, I broke.  I slowly turned around and said 'how soon you moving back?'...
Cody, far right, prepares to run faster than you or I could ever hope to run!
His feet barely touch the ground...
At the finish line...I love the architecture in this part of Tucson - I should have taken a better shot of the building across the street - it is a private school and it beautiful.
Kimmy loved to watch Cody run...we'd bring cushions, though, because the bleachers were so hard (flat butt) and would get pretty hot, too.  And Kimmy would yell!  She would get so excited - surprising most of the fans surrounding us...I'm sure she was cheering for Cody - he seemed to be even faster than normal...

       It was after two, less than an hour to go get Aut - so we hustled out of there...Cody had been there nearly 7 hours - and they don't feed you during these things!  I sent him with Gatorade and power bars (good Dad) but no sunscreen (bad Dad) - I forget how white the bambini are, as I've never really needed sunscreen - I always tell them I should have rubbed more olive oil on them at birth!
        We got Aut on time, who had fun at the party and now I had 2/3 of my life back in focus.  I called Lupe and Manny and told them to come over for dinner - and Betsey and Brian came too - we made turkey burgers and I made a bean bruschetta recipe featured on Jesse Silver's blog (Cody's teacher at Desert Sky), The Happy Go Lucky Vegan (link below on right side of blog above music bar).  It was great!  But, the evening ended in tragedy as Mitchell had his lip split open by Tonio's shovel and Betsey and Brian rushed him to TMC for 6 stitches!!  He was so brave and was so worried about Tonio, who he heard crying for him as they whisked him out of our house!  Tonio ended up throwing up, his little nerves getting the best of him, feeling so bad for his little friend!
          Hadley stayed with us until everyone got back from TMC around 9ish, watching movies with Aut.

          To keep things fluid, this morning after church and  Viro's (too much to eat again!) - Cody talked me into a ride through Fantasy Island - despite the temp climbing towards 90...he ran me through hard - the first half, I did keep up with him, past Kimmy's bike, keeping silent vigil in the palo verde tree - Cody pointed as we flew by.  His pace is just fast.  Fast.  And I was losing steam...my mind kept wandering towards the clouds, curling and wispy in the sky...trying hard to make sense of them, to find meaning in them, something.  Anything...tears filling my eyes and rolling down my face - no wait, not tears, sweat.  My helmet, unnaturally containing the heat.  And a weekend of imbibing in the 'hood catching up to me - did my sweat smell/taste like beer?  Just my imagination.
          The second leg of this 5 mile trail we were hurtling down, is an uphill grade.  I saw Cody pull over up ahead - a mirage?  Of sorts.  He wasn't tired or thirsty, he sensed my imminent break down.  My lungs were burning, a ghost of a memory of the 15 or so years that I was a smoker (another deadly habit Kim finally broke me of!), my 3 shot espresso was camped out in my chest.  The wonderful, marinated crushed red peppers, that Nikki liberally applies to my omelet, was a burning ball of fire in my stomach.  'Water Dad?' Cody asked.  I could only nod my head. 
         When we got going again, I tried hard to look at the clouds, to make shapes, signs out of them - but it was impossible...then, we came up behind a family slowing making their way through Fantasy Island.  Oh, the slow down was wonderful!  Cody was anxious to pass - I panted 'Cody, no, take your time!'.  They pulled over, politely - and, we asked how they were doing, did they need water.  They did not and they asked how our ride was going. 
          Once you are inside the confines of Fantasy Island, it is like a community.  You know noone, but everyone.  There is such commaraderie and courtesy to everybody you come across.  It's like meeting an old friend - offering to help, wishing them well, etc.  It feels good.
           I dragged myself along the east perimeter fence of the air force base, hearing the staccato sound of machine gun fire - what the hell were they shooting at with machine guns?  I wondered...
         More saving grace - Janene texted me...I called out to Cody to stop "what if it's Autumn?" I yelled.  He nodded and pulled over, never realizing that Autumn did not have a phone to text us!  Or maybe he did realize, but compassionately did not bring it up.  After a couple 'rescue' texts, I was able to finish the course, removing my helmet as I slowly completed the last 50 yards or so...
         As we loaded up, a family was getting ready to go out - I commented 'They should have an oxygen bar here at the end for us - my kid has one speed - fast!'  The dad commiserated with me, sagely nodding his head.  IRON LUNG PLEASE!!!! 
         Aut and I hit Civano for some plants...'hearts and flowers' for the front pots and some Mexican sunflowers for Kimmy's garden in the back - sure to attract some butterflies!
         Then, it was time to make the Sunday gravy...fresh marinara!  I made spaghetti, a salad, sliced up a huge loag of bread from Viro's and had everything ready to go.  'Say a prayer, Aut' I said.  Everyone was just looking at me....as if I had gone insane...I quickly did a mental inventory...had I?  I felt glued together...'Is there something on my face?' I asked.  "No"..."Then what?"  "Where's the grated parm?" Tonio asked.  Dammit.  Maybe I am slipping!
          A movie to cap off the day..."Prince of Persia".  There.  I think I'm finally back on track, for now - an age appropriate movie!  It was an action packed adventure tail...another film based on a video game...only I was awake for the finish - but, when I went to transfer the bambini to their beds, they woke up enough to want to go outside and say goodnight to Kimmy - the starts were impossibly 3-D tonight as we wished her a good night's sleep....