We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

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

Friday, July 22, 2011

High School

           Today, Cody's first day at high school...I'd like to say he made it smooth.  Piece of cake...but, being 14, can mean, being forgetful!  He forgot his schedule...so, I drove home, got it, and drove it back to him.  After school, he said he did not get to eat lunch, the lines were too long...and even if they weren't, he had forgotten his student i.d., so they would not allow him to eat.  You would thing, that, after all of the years this school has been open, that they'd figure out how to control the lines at lunchtime...and, to allow a teenager to go without lunch, because he forgot his i.d., seems pretty punative - but, this isn't your dad's high school!
         Other than that, he said the day went great and that he enjoyed his first day of classes!
         My friends, Monique and Joe, who got him there, so I could go to Mass and picked him up, so I could pick up Lexy and Breanna and take the kids to go see Kung Fu Panda 2 (which was excellent, and a must see movie!!), made sure that they snapped a 1st day of school picture, ala Kimmy, for me:
             He's looking so grown up these days...and made his first day of high school seem like no big thing.  I'm sure that I've mentioned, that I'm proud of him!  And yes, that is a Napoli jersey I'm sporting - they managed to come in 3rd place in the Serie A, Italian soccer league - Kind of like if the Kansas City Royals came in 3rd overall in MLB - neither team has been worth anything since 1985 or so.  Cody has on his Hobie surf shirt that he picked out while we were at Laguna Beach - he wore it for his Mama....we thought of her a lot today.

              At San Xavier, I love this side entrance doorway.  The large, rustic wooden door, so ornately carved...leading out to the little side courtyard, where we'd sit with the kids during Mass when it was too crowded to sit inside, or when the kids were too restless to sit inside.  I usually sit by it during Mass and just stare at it...remembering.
            This church is ancient, by U.S.A. standards.  It holds many secrets.  I cannot help but let my eyes roam to the high, domed ceilings, covered in murals - with windows set 30 ft above the congregation.  And at the incredible carved statues of the saints, strategically placed around the church, always looking at the parishoners.  And the decorative scene behind the altar, a conglomeration of statues, paintings and stunning decor, and the large, scenic paintings on the sides of the interior - of the last supper.  They all speak to you.  How many people sat in the mission's pews?  How many prayers have been prayed there?  How many baptisms, first holy communions...weddings??  I know Cody's baptism and our wedding, play over and over in my head as I sit there each week, trying to get closer to Kim...



            5:30 came early today...Bella insisted we run.  We were greeted by the sun, and I was glad we woke up early...
                                          She's Tigger.  Bella gets so excited to get running, that she'll pull me along, usually bouncing and prancing like a circus dog. She's walking me! She has so much spirit.  And I'm so thankful that Kim made me take her to pick out Bella that day, a week or so after we lost Zona.  I wanted to wait, I felt that it was too soon, that we needed to properly mourn Zona's passing.  As usual, Kim was right on - choosing the perfect pup for our family.  She knew.
                                       After our run, she bounced into the bedroom, up onto the bed and began to kiss Antonio, telling him 'Good Morning!  It's time to wake up and play!'.  Then, she did the same to Autumn.  She loves her kids...
                                   They all like to play with her while they get ready for school, throwing her a ball, playing tug-o-war with her rope toy, pretending Bella made them breakfast...She provides them love and smiles...
                                 Our morning runs are a nice way to start our day...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Freshman Orientation

         I should've taken pictures.  I know Cody would not have appreciated it, but Kim would have insisted.  I thought I'd better be as low key as possible, for Cody's sake.
         We spent 5 hours at Cienega today, preparing for Cody's first day of classes at high school tomorrow.  I tried to pay attention, but had way too much coffee coursing through my veins...I needed to get up and run!  My friends, Monique and Joe, who had given me a ride, sensed this and came up with a plan to escape...we snuck out of the auditorium and took our own tour of the campus...Cody, meanwhile, was being escourted from class to class, so that he would have his bearings for tomorrow.  He did great.
          So many high school memories came flooding back...we had no orientation.  We walked to school our first day and figured it out, together.  I remembered the classes we had together, meeting in the hallways, going to play frisbee in the parkway, waiting to walk home. Gym class (we did NOT call it P.E.), was so fun, especially swimming. And a lot of our teachers actively rooted for us as a couple.  Except the principal, Mr. Stein.  He did not like any P.D.A. which took me until I was a senior to figure out meant public display of affection.  He'd come hollering down the hallway "NO PDA!!".  I wondered who Cody's 'Kimmy' would be today, as I spied him across the way talking to some young ladies...He's grown so much, his face looking more and more like a man's.  He's ready to go, confident...I'm so excited for him.
       Afterward, I dropped Cody at the skate park, where he rode for hours with his friends (David and Brendon came with their new buzz cuts!).
       The little bambini have had a pretty good first week in school - again, their teachers making a big difference!  I'm told that some folks cannot read the comments left by readers (and thank you for all of you who do leave comments!!!), Ami Bunch left his one today, and I felt it embodies how a) Tonio continues to work through the loss of his Mama and b) the loving support these children receive at Cottonwood (thanks so much Ami!):
Yay for the angel tree! As I was taking my PM kinders on a tour around school this afternoon, our last stop being the restrooms by Kim's Garden, I noticed Tonio there by himself, checking out all the flowers, bugs and yes, even black widow spider eggs (and consequently, the spider which hatched them), ....He seemed kind of forlorn, so we chatted about "mama" for a few minutes and he and I pulled some weeds while my class got drinks. I'd be lying if I said it didn't tug at my heart...and yet, he smiles on. And I love that he visits the garden. I love that the garden is a constant reminder of Kim. :)

         Tonio told me about this experience himself this evening and you could hear the appreciation in his voice, as he told me he began the project by himself, then, Mrs. Bunch came and helped...

          Other random things...I stumbled across our Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon CD today, it startled me.  I hadn't realized it had been misplaced, until I found it, hidden away - Kim and I got a lot of mileage out of this CD back in the day.  Autumn came home saying her new music teacher was talking about some great guitar player from the '60's named Jimi.  I scoffed.  He was innovative, I guess, but, in my opinion, could not stack up to Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton or David Gilmour, of Pink Floyd...then I found the CD and popped it in to show her - 'Time', one of his greatest guitar efforts. And the lyrics, I'd always sing them to her (well, I can't sing, but I wanted to!):

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town

Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today

And then the one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun
And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking
And racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in the relative way, but you're older
And shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desparation is the English way
The time is gone the song is over, thought I'd something more to say

I guess a lot of this ended up catching up to me, without me even knowing it...

David Gilmour is one of my all time favorite guitarists.  Kim had surprised me, one year, for my birthday, with tickets to one of his solo tours, back in 1984.  Third row center.  I had broken my hand in a fight just a night or two prior and she was so mad at me - I thought, perhaps, I had finally overstepped my bounds.  But there she was, to pick me back up, lovingly...she had her work cut out for her.  She ended up driving us to the show, which was fantastic.

Further, around 7, out of fruit and the bambini clamoring for some, we drove to Sunflower market to stock back up (and ran into Lydia Crain, Rincon Vista principal, where Kimmy worked and one of the nicest people I know!).  And I found this"
 At last...

         I sat in the third floor waiting room one late evening, waiting for the damn phone to ring.  It was to be Kimmy's final surgery.  I hated that phone.  And, that waiting room was my personal hell, my chamber of horrors.  But I had no choice.  And I'm not complaining about being there - there was no where else I'd be - I love Kimmy, I needed to be there, wanted to be there - it's just that, that waiting room...I cannot write enough to describe the feeling, the coldness, and in the end, the emptiness that I gained there...
          Anyway, that final surgery, where they were helping relieve the swelling in Kim's legs, I resolved that I would not answer the phone...so when it rang, another 'waiter' picked it up and called my name...I reluctantly, yet hopefully, accepted the receiver from her outstretched hand...and I heard Kimmy's soft, sweet voice whisper to me"David.  Write this down.  Infinium"  "What is that?  A treatment?  A CURE??"  I begged.  "No", she giggled, "A beer."  A beer.  Her waking words to me.  A beer.  She wakes thinking not of herself, or her condition, but to tell me about a beer that I might enjoy, that I have to try.  Dammit Kimmy!!  She was so sweet. 
           Her anathesiolgist told me the rest of the story later.  Kim amazed him.  As he was putting her under, he commented to another Dr. that he couldn't wait to get home to pop open a bottle of Infinium by Sam Adams.  Kim, drifting, asked him "is it good?".  "The best" he told her.  "You have to tell my husband about it". she replied, slipping away.  He told me that conversations held while putting patients under are rarely, if ever recalled.  Yet, when Kim was coming back up, it was the first thing she said to him "was that beer you mentioned called Infinium?".  He was amazed!
          "But Kimmy, are you allright?  How did the procedure go?"  I asked desparately.  "I'm fine David, I'm fine."

            I almost did not find it.  The little bambini and I headed directly for the beer section.  My friend, Manny, told me Sunflower did indeed carry it - he looked it up on an app for me.  But I couldn't see it.  The cashier asked if I found everything - and I finally said 'no' and told him the story.  He immediately went to the cooler and grabbed a the large bottle pictured above.  He was the most knowledgeable beer guy I've ever met.

             And it is good.  Kim knew.  She knew I'd like it, and thought of me.  "Write it down"  and I did.  It took 8 months to find it, bitter sweet.  She always looked out for me.

              And for the bambini...I can hear her now "I'm so proud of my big high schooler!"...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Angel

              Last night, Tonio and I sat on our back porch until well after 10, enjoying the light rain falling.  Listening to the rumble of the distant thunder and marveling over the bolts of lightning, momentarily illuminating the dark skies.  I felt like sleeping out back.
           The bambini made it to school on time...3 days in a row.  I'm so proud of them.  They have both been ready 5 minutes early, and, aside from me making them breakfast, they do it all themselves!  As we made our way through the little gate between the playground and the 6th grade classes (I tell the kids, it's the scariest time of my day.  It is a small gate, in width.  There are a zillion kids, full of energy and excited for their school day to begin. If you happen to be passing through, when the bell rings, it is absolute mayhem!  I cling to the bambini's hands, in fear they will be trampled in the ensuing stampede.  But I digress...).  Mrs. Maguire, a 3rd grade teacher at Cottonwood, greeted us there and asked if I slept outside last night...for one moment, I couldn't remember, but had memories, flashes of times Kim and I had slept outside...
                            This tree, was lovingly and beautifully decorated with hundreds of angels - some glass, some metal, some silver, some gold - an incredible, stunning array!  We never actively removed these angels, they meant so much to us, each one special, with an inspirational message attached from the person who hung them there...but when the wind would knock one to the ground, we would collect them and have them saved in a big box that we will treasure forever.
                           Two lone angels grace this tree (incidentally, when we moved in, there was a Mesquite tree planted here by Lennar, the builder.  The first thing Kimmy had me do, was, tear it out and replace it with this beautiful olive tree).
                            Here is one of the angels, from Patti (with an 'i'), who worked at Cottonwood and defected to go to Empire High School this year...
And this pretty one from Jen Lofgren, kindergarten teacher at Cottonwood who defected and went to Desert Willow this year...Ahhh, we still love them and miss them and it is nice that their angels are still in Kimmy's olive tree...Our 'Angel Tree'.
Those of you who placed an angle there, thank you.  You must know, that there were many days, where the bambini and I would spend hours beneath the tree, reading and re-reading the loving, caring, supportive messages that each angel had attached to it.  This tree brought us such comfort in our time of need.  We plan on rehanging the angels around December 13th and will leave them up for the Christmas season...to celebrate my angel, Kimmy.

How about our monsoon?  Nice one tonight!  Kimmy loved this time of year - the rains, the smells, the stunning lightning strikes...the one that hit us around 7:00 p.m., left an impression upon us - the skies to the east were dark and wicked, bringing the rain and lightning strikes that had multiple off shoots.  But, to the west, it was perfectly clear as the sun set...creating a rainbow, stretching from north to south along the Rincon mountains...
And now, the night air is cool and fragrant...
Maybe I'll sleep out back tonight...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Waffles, Photos, In & Out Burger...must be the first day of school!

       The first day of school, in our house, could be compared to a minor holiday.  Like Memorial Day.  Or the 4th of July.  Kim baked.  You've seen the legendary cupcakes - like Mt. Everest - how do you top it???
I couldn't find the ladybug or the bumblebee cupcakes...so, the kitty cat cupcakes will have to do!
Kim always took plenty of photos...I managed three:
                           Kim would always make sure the bambini looked sharp in new outfits for their first day.  Autumn is wearing her new shirt from Andrea, and I got Tonio new shorts and a polo.  They made sure I took a picture of them before we left the house and before school started.  At some point, Kim would start to tear up (sometimes outright cry), as she realized her bambini were a year older.  Cody going to high school was something she talked about...she definitely would have cried for his first day coming up.
           Kim always liked to get a photo of the kids with their teacher, but there seemed to be so many extra needy parents today, and I didn't want to add to the first day circus.  First, poor Mrs. Rienstra, was getting loaded down with bags of supplies...there she is, holding at least three heavy bags, parents just handing them off to her, all 7 months pregnant, and parent after parent, just filling her ears with what to expect from their child or how to handle their child, etc., all the while she is smiling, while the bags are sawing through her fingers. I finally snagged the bags out of her hands and took them to her supply stash.  Then, there was a parent in Mrs. Rudzena's class, who long windedly, was asking why he needed to buy 'community supplies', he only wanted to buy for his child and couldn't understand beyond that, despite generous parents dropping off 'community supplies' like copy paper and tissues, right next to where the man was whining.  Mrs. Rudzena remained stoic and professional! 
              But I did manage to take one of them together outside of Mrs. Rienstra's class.  They are so cute together in the morning, giving each other a last hug, telling each other to have a great day and saying 'I love you' to each other, oblivious to the swarms of children around them.  It always melted Kim's heart.  I didn't get a chance to bake any animal-like cupcakes.  But I did make the kids waffles with fresh raspberries for breakfast!
             After their first day of school, Kim would take the kids for ice cream for for something special to eat.  They came out ravenous, so I took them to In & Out Burger and then to Costco (the new one, where Mario works!).
Antonio's homework was to decorate his paperwork folder for Mrs. Rienstra.  He made this colorful frog, jumping for joy (Mrs. Rienstra is a big frog fan, which, I suspect was Tonio's motivation!).
I took drinks to some of the staff and teachers today and found Mrs. Rienstra with her class lined up to go to the restrooms after music class.  Tonio was the line leader and was standing still and quiet...I went to find out what was wrong.  Mrs. Rienstra told me how quiet and good Tonio was today for her and she asked 'Tonio, are you going to be quiet and not talk to me for a few months like Autumn did when I had her for 3rd grade?'.  I told her to be careful what she wished for.  As we talked, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye...Tonio had slinked out of line, unnoticed by us and was stalking a large, black bug!  'See?' I told Mrs. Rienstra.  And she laughed, and asked Tonio to get back in line.'
Meanwhile, Cody and I picked up David from Desert Willow Elementary, where he was with Andrea and Mario at Breanna's first day of kindergarten.  I took the boys to the Park Mall, got Cody some new sneaks and a back pack for high school, grabbed them lunch and then took them to the skating rink...where they stayed for 7 hours of skating!!!  When I picked them up at 8, they were hungry again and we headed for Jack in the Box for a nutritious dinner.  Their legs had to be hurting after 7 hours of skating!!

And, getting the two little ones out of bed, dressed, fed and ready went remarkably smooth this morning.  I was a little less grizzly bear, and the kids did a lot to be ready a full 5 minutes early!  It was not a crazy, running in circles, episode of Heckle and Jeckle...maybe they are maturing...?

The bambini had a great first day back at school...they were happy to see their friends again, but, I feel that their teachers made a huge difference for them today...our extended family!

Tonight, Tonio told us that the clouds looked like a beautiful painting that Mama made for us, as we wished Kim a good night...


Sunday, July 17, 2011


This morning, I woke around 6...Bella incessantly telling me it was time to run in the desert.  She does not understand the term 'rough night', so I thought it best to just humor her and get out of bed. The sun was already heating things up as we ran, and recent rains has the neighborhood green and flowers beginning to bloom.  The rangers in front of our house are in full bloom.  Kimmy would always have me wait to trim them until after the last blooms had fallen off the bush.  She loved them full and bright.  She would tell me each time, how she wanted them trimmed.  Flat on the bottom, rounded from the top.  Kim was unable to trim them herself, as, each time she tried, her eyes would itch and water for several days.  I had no problem trimming them to spare her that.
In these early morning hours, I miss her.  Today, when I realized this, I thanked God for everytime I lumbered out of the bedroom, bleary eyed and hating morning, to have Kim ask me how I slept and give me a sweet good morning kiss, her brilliant smile lighting up the room. And thanked God for the enthusiasm with which she faced the new day, eventually rubbing off on me to get me started.  And thanked God for how much she appreciated the chai tea I would make for her to take with her to work.  She'd always offer to make me something, but I'm strictly a water person in the morning.  Ice water.  She was really good at mornings...thank God.

Today was the last day of the bambini's summer vacation - well, Tonio and Autumn's.  And the last weekend.  It turned out to be a good one...
We spent some time Saturday with Angie and her bionic knee.  She graduated from walker to cane, when Mark presented her with a brand new one he purchased for her.  She deftly navigated through the kitchen with it.  Her resolve to rehab her knee is strong and it shows in her progress - she's a hard worker!
Then, we went to see Janene, who really helped make our summer great, including us in many family outings, planning them, bringing everyone snacks, etc, etc.  It was amazing!  She was able to give me a haircut, bringing me back to respectability, and then we went next door to Az Pizza for lunch!

HUGE slices!!

Sunday, we made it to church at Our Mother of Sorrows and then to Viro's to eat some breakfast with Autumn's teacher, Casey, her husband Jack and their friend Tara.  Rosa and Vito joined us (Happy 33rd wedding anniversary!) and presented us with this:
 A WHOLE case of Lupini beans!!  The bambini wipe out a jar in minutes, like locusts in a wheat field.  What a great, end of summer gift!  Immediately, Autumn and Antonio asked if they could take some in their lunch tomorrow!
After filling ourselves with food and enjoying good company, Andrea picked up Autumn for a girls day out of shopping (she bought Aut a beautiful shirt for the first day of school and an owl watch!), movies and dinner at Applebees.
Meanwhile, I took the boys to Toys R Us and met Kim, Rashon, Mario and their kids at Wild Wings and Things for dinner.  The kids had fun playing video games.  Afterward, we all met up with Andrea and the girls at Baskin Robbins for ice cream.  As we all walked out into the a light, falling rain, the kids started going crazy...

A double rainbow spanned the sky...the kids were delighted that they could see it from beginning to end.  A beautiful way to end our day together.
 Autumn was glowing after her day with Andrea, Lexy and Breanna.  And the boys had fun with David, Mariah and Micah.  Once again, Angie and her daughters, Andrea, Janene, and Kim made our weekend!  And, as I'm typing, her daughter Kristie, in N.M., texted best wishes to the bambini for their first day of school!  We are blessed.

We were blessed with a great summer together...Autumn and Tonio do not want to go back to school tomorrow, although, once they are there, I know that between seeing their friends and having wonderful teachers, that they will settle in quickly.  I will miss them.  Cody and I have until Friday together when he starts high school!

When we stepped outside tonight, the rain had begun again.  The bambini love the smell of the creosote bushes after the rain...we opened up the house to bring it inside...They craned their little heads towards the cloudy night sky, letting the cool rain kiss their faces and wished Mama a good night, sweet dreams and blew their kisses in the general direction of the Big Dipper...