We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

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

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rattlesnakes and Lazer Tag!

              The rain affects many things in our lives...our backyard is lusher.  Spent a little more time grooming and getting Kimmy's garden closer to how beautiful she kept it...The animals are more active.  Tonio and I took Bella for a walk early this morning and counted 11 chipmunks, 3 rabbits, lots of quail and too many lizards to count.  There was still a lot of standing water in the wash, too.
              Andrea's van.  Well, maybe it wasn't the rain that made her need new tires, but, none the less, we went to pick up Breanna and Lexy while she went to take care of the van!  Autumn and Antonio were so excited to get to spend another day with these two!
             Rain does make the grass grow.  And when we all pulled up at Angie's home, to check on her new bionic knee, Mark was busy cutting the grass out front.  He has their front yard looking like one out of a magazine.  Two tiered, framed with railroad ties, the grass golf course perfect.  But, the rain also brings the humidity, making cutting grass a perspiring proposition.  Angie is doing remarkably well and she was excited to see her grandchildren and feed us eclairs (anybody find Tastyklairs anywhere??), chocolate covered strawberries and blueberry muffins!!!   Tonio made Angie get well cards, and took a picture of one.  He used various sized lines to fill in his happy guy and proudly told me that 'Mama taught me how to do this'.

             Rain makes us hungry.  Despite the treats, we needed food and went to Viro's for the Italian Wedding Soup.  Rosa and Vito just returned from the east coast (how ironic, going from that humidity and coming back to our monsoon humidity), where they got to check out Niagra Falls (Kimmy and I enjoyed the falls in 1989), the Statue of Liberty and all of the NYC sights (we made it to the city multiple times).  And they were excited to see all of the bambini.

            Rain makes the bambini grow.  And Tonio turns 8 on Monday, so we all went from Viro's to the dollar store and stocked up on party favors for his bash (thanks for the tip, Kim!).  But, we hadn't any rain yet, so the kids were thirsty - Eegee's!!  The flavor of the month is watermelon and Breanna talked Tonio and Autumn into trying it today - they loved it!
           And, rain brings out the snakes!
              I went out to my truck, barefoot, passing this guy by no more than a foot and never saw it...until I was heading back inside!  I am not a snake killer ('A man's got to know his limitations' Clint Eastwood), so, I quickly called my neighbor Brian, a direct descendant of St. Patrick, the most feared snake killer in history.  He came over with his long shovel and took the snake's head off with one blow!!
                                                             Snake nuggets anyone?

                  And, the rain shuts down amusement parks.  We went to Funtastics tonight.  I had 7 in my car, we met Brad and he had 3 of his kids, and Bianca and her husband David, there.  The kids were looking forward to race cars, bumper boats, etc.  As we approached, a hellacious monsoon eclipsed us.  Funtastics closed it's outdoor operation for the night, so we could only play video games and play lazer tag.  We played two rounds of lazer tag and had a blast, running through their 3 level game field.  Breanna and Tonio were so cute, protecting each other. And Brad's son, Tanner, was a terror - he killed me four times in a row before I finally got him once and ran in the opposite direction!  David was the highest scorer among us and seemed to materialize out of no where and blast you.  It was a good workout and the kids all had a great time.

                 The rain cools things off...and it was beautiful, stepping out back tonight - everyone stayed awake - and it smelled so good.  The clouds were beautiful, but we could not see the stars.  The rain made Tonio feel sad - 'I miss Mama', he told us and we hugged him as we looked to the sky to tell Kim goodnight...


Field Trips

             Today was a day of field trips...I started off with Bella, running her through a soaked desert - listening to the bleating of the frogs, brought back to life by the monsoon. They are a little eerie...almost goat-like in sound.  The wash behind our neighborhood still had plenty of water in it, something we see twice a year if we are lucky. 
            When I got home, Tonio and Autumn were awake - I told them I had a special gardening project for them.  I had finally gotten around to reviving Kim's succulent garden, buying each of them a succulent to plant.  They chose a pot and got busy!

                            Bella just wants to play ball...she wishes she could plant a succulent, but, alas...no thumbs!
                           I have another one for Cody to do, too, which will fill in this plant holder nicely.  Kim used it to beautify our back porch...it's been empty for too long...the little ones sure had a nice time planting these!

                         In the afternoon, our next field trip was to...Viro's!  For this trip, we took the neighborhood - Mario dropped us Lexy and Breanna in the morning and Betsey, Amy and their kids met us out front around 1 to caravan down to Viro's for lunch.  There were 11 of us.  Robert, at Viro's, immediatly set the kids up with drinks and helped us figure out what they wanted to eat.  We had an incredible amount of food, but the kids all found room for gelato!!  We hung out until nearly 3....

                        Much later, we took a field trip to Kino Veteran's Memorial Stadium (formerly known as TEP).  A nice field.  We watched our Tucson Padres defeat the Reno Aces - they used to be the Tucson Sidewinders, until our city let them leave town.  The Padres won 6-3!  It was dollar hot dog night!!

                                                           First, we sat in the bleachers...
                                            Then the kids rolled down the grass hill by 3rd base for awhile...

  We decided that grown men should NOT bring baseball gloves to baseball games!!

                        After the game, our final field trip...Circle K!  The kids are always up for that!!  We got home around 11.  Autumn and I just stepped out to say goodnight to Mama - well, I guess that is our final field trip for the day, but, actually, it is after midnight, so I suppose it counts for Thursday...
                     The air was cool and the fresh smell of rain hung in the air...we could not see the Big Dipper tonight, but nearly said at the same time how beautiful the clouds looked tonight...


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Monsoon Madness!

          The monsoon is here!  It makes the bambini go aboriginal, or something.  The first day, I called them out to see the rain, the boys ripped off their shirts and went tearing off into the blinding down pour, hooting and hollering like savages...
         Today, was not much different.  The winds picked up.  The Rincon Mountains were obscured by dark, ominous clouds.  And then, it hit!  The monsoon of the season!  Blowing Antonio's lid off of his turtle sandbox.  Sending Bella into a panic, as she realized she had stayed outside a moment too long.  The rain coming down sideways.  Loud, thunderous cracks, as our neighbors, Amy and Tom, saw the tree behind their home struck by lightning and obliberating their block wall.

         As it subsided, our doorbell rang...Kim's relatives arriving.  Her Aunt Beverly, who moved from California to Texas nearly 6 years ago...has a son, Kyle, Kim's cousin.  His wife, Jodi, who has been such an inspiration to our family, constantly sending supportive messages, well, her mom and dad are traveling from California to Texas to visit and have Kyle and Jodi's daughters, Sarah and Lucy with them, stopped by.  I whipped up some marinara sauce and angel hair pasta, with bread and salad to greet them with.
        A few months ago, Jody told me, her mom could make the bambini some bears.  Have them choose their favorite shirt Kim used to wear and her mom, Andi, would make it into a teddy bear!
        So, one day, about a month ago, I finally was able to do this.  And Cody picked Kim's pink, leopard skin print, pj's.  Autumn chose her Motown t-shirt and Tonio, a beach print t-shirt Kim had bought at Laguna beach.  I did not tell them why we were sending these shirts off...Today, Andi arrived with their surprise!
             Andi surprised me by taking what was left of Kim's pj's and combined them with what was left of Kim's Motown t-shirt to make me a beautiful bear, too...What heartfelt, wonderful keepsakes the bambini have!! Tonio proclaimed that his was named 'Ocean', "because Mama loved the ocean".  They each carried theirs off to bed tonight, to hold close and to remember...
            Meanwhile, the rains had left water...a lot...in our 'hood.  The bambini doned their boots and headed out...splasing in the wash area next to Betsey and Brian's house.

                      Tonio looked as lost as I feel tonight when I snapped this photo...big boots...striped shirt...checked pants...wtf?  I couldn't help him.  They all had fun finding snails, dead snakes and splashing throught the waters....
                   The temperature was incredible after the storm...from 106 down to 70 degrees in minutes.  The rain so good for Kimmy's garden...I can't wait to wake up and work on her flowers.

                   Music.  Brings memories back.  Alphaville, a group from Berlin, Germany, who had a hit single back in 1984 called 'Forever Young' seems to be plaguing me lately.  I originally bought this ALBUM for Kim back in 1984 and bought her the CD in 1987 or so.  It was one of her favorites, and, because of this, one of mine.  Recently, I've come across numberous covers of 'Forever Young'...and I'm finally downloading this CD to our Ipod and listening to it and remembering, as I go...

                    One of the things I miss most, right now, is just the casual conversation Kim and I enjoyed.  Talking about nothing, but loving it.  And the almost absent minded way that her hand would search out my hand - reassuring that we were really there, together...and the scent of her vanilla spray...Some days, in a crowd, I catch a whiff of her and I just close my eyes, knowing she is close, feeling her presence...and when I open my eyes...she is gone...


Monday, July 4, 2011

Academia De Baile

            I think the thing I love most about Tucson, is how it has held on to culture.  There is so much of it throughout this city, deep and rich...
            Perhaps this is what drew Kim and I to Tucson, and kept us here, making it our home all of these years. 
           We were blessed to get to see Lexy and Breanna dance in the 10th Annual Academia De Baile Recital.  This organization, teaches traditional dance to children and young adults - they've put on performances around the community, at half-time for the Phoenix Suns, pre-shows for the Diamondbacks, church fiestas and at nursing homes.  They learn how to dance traditional Hispanic dances, as well as, classical and contemporary styles.
           Lexy and Breanna worked hard leading up to their recital.  Beginning in September and then having extra classes leading up to the July performance.  They were excited to be in this performance.  Before the show, Lexy told me she was a little bit nervous, but knew she would have fun.
          The recital was held at the Music Hall, part of the Tucson Convention Center.  There must have been two thousand people there.  We got there early and Andrea helped us to get in the 6th row!  So we had great seats. There were at least 15 of us there to see the girls perform tonight.
         A mariachi band started the show off.  One of the trumpet players looked to be about 6 or 7 years old and played beautifully.  All of the kids were lined up in there seats, bopping up and down to the music. 
        After some traditional dances from Spain, Breanna came on for a 'It's a Small World' dance number.  She looked so cute, dressed as the U.S.A. representative (center) - Andrea's cousin, Jack, did a fantastic job decorating it (even including a peach sunset, in memory of Kim) and Andrea jazzed it up, so that it was the neatest display on stage!
        You could tell Breanna enjoyed the number and did not miss a beat during the show!
Throughout the performances, it was as if Kim was smiling and winking at us the whole time.  Small World was her favorite ride at Disneyland.  And the girls performed Mamma Mia! and Moulin Rouge, two of her favorite movies.  There was also a song from Phantom of the Opera, another of her favorites.  During one of the scene changes, the intermission song was 'What a Wonderful World', by Louis Armstrong and I was sure Kim was there...and it was nice, especially being surrounded by my southwest family...

Lexy performed wonderfully, as well.  Here she is doing a Michael Jackson number (1st on left).

I really enjoyed the Viva Mexico portion, featuring traditional music and dances from Mexico.  The costumes were very colorful and elaborate - so much work went into making them.  The back drop was a beautiful little village in Mexico...it made you want to be there.  Even Lexy and Breanna's cousing, Trinity, got to join them onstage for special dances.
                  The chance to be a part of this was a nice honor.  The bambini all enjoyed it, they like to learn more about the history here and the culture...I wish I could get Autumn to sign up (she used to dance with Lexy when they were 4-5 years old)...but she told me 'One problem Dad...stage fright!'.  

                Thanks Lexy and Breanna!  Great job!!


July 3rd...

              The circus is in town.  Kimmy loved a circus.  We'd go every year.  And, like Easter, it is hard to predict exactly when the circus will be here.  We've seen in in June, for Father's Day...and for my birthday.  We've gone there on Tonio's birthday, on July 11th...today, it was today. July 3rd.  And it was fun!
               I told Tonio, this was an early birthday present for him...he was so excited - and to go with his buddy Bryson and Janene, Brad and their family, was a huge bonus!  We got there early, to see the circus animals close up.
                                Antonio and Autumn were excited to be this close to the elephants!
                                    The tigers were having a good time rolling around!
                                  This was a cool horse/zebra looking thing called a 'fjord'.  I can't even pronounce that!

                     After we all previewed the animals, we headed over to the main hall to see the peformers close up in the 'pre-circus'.
                         Tanner, Brendon, Cody, Tonio, Bryson, Autumn and Taylor sit front row to watch the clowns perform!

                                                          The elephants were awesome!!
               As I said, Kim loved the circus, and we tried to go every year.  She particularly loved the clowns.  So much so, that she once considered going to clown school and joining the circus!  She did her research and found the Barnum and Bailey Clown School in New York and actually requested literature about the school!  She considered going to it...her favorite part of the circus was always the clowns - their carefree ways and she loved how they made others smile, just like she did...

                   Autumn took both of these shots, she remembered that her Mama was a big clown fan!

               Kim would have loved Brendon and Cody as clowns!  They had their clown noses on for most of the show, enjoying the circus!!

               Last year, on July 3rd, Kim wanted to go to the Tucson Museum of Art.  It is open free, to the public, every first Sunday of the month.  She had done her research.  July 3rd was a Sunday last year, too.  And the final day to go see the Andy Warhol exhibit.  They would also have Keith Haring, a Kutztown Univeristy grad (where Kim had studied art), on exhibit.  She was excited.  
              The bambini ended up loving the Warhol exhibit, especially Cody.  These little ones have Kim's art talent...so they enjoy seeing art and making art...it was a nice exhibit - I'm glad we had a chance to go - we had been meaning to see our Tucson Museum of Art for years, but, never seemed to make it downtown to do that.  Kim had done her research on this one and we were able to enjoy the final day of the Warhol show for free.  She had that magic. 

                 When we left the circus today, I asked the bambini if they had enjoyed themselves.  They thanked me for taking them to the circus and said that they had fun. What did you like best about the circus, I asked them 'the tiger show', Antonio told me - me too!, I let him know.  Cody was dissappointed that they did not have the motorcycles this year and that they sang more - seemed more Broadway musical than circus acts.  But, he said, he still had fun.
                  We all headed out to go to a little diner that Kim had found years ago up Broadway called Chaffin's...only to find that it had gone out of business!  We ended up at a great sandwhich place called Kenny D's...and it worked out fine.

                 Later on, I sat out back and watched one of our early monsoons whipping through Tucson.  The lightning was incredible, spreading out across the sky and shooting bolts down to earth.  The thunder ripped its way throught the night sky, the sound booming from the east and rolling to the west.  The rain made the creosote bushes in the desert emit a wonderful, clean fragrance.  It was so nice...
               When we went to say goodnight, around 11:30, the bambini commented on the beautiful smell of the moist air...and the beauty of the clouds moving overhead...and thanked me for their day, as they said sweet dreams to their Mama...