We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

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

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ordinary World

           ...8 months...

                  Before you go any further, do me a favor - que up 'Ordinary World', use the drag down bar and look at the lyrics...then read (and thank you, faithful readers, for continuing to read!).
                  Each night, before I write, I pull up Kimmy's blog, never knowing which song is going to play first.  I guess it is coincidental, yet, the song that begins to play, typically fits the type of day that I had, or expresses what I am feeling as I prepare to bleed  pour everything out/write...
                  Tonight, on the eve of it being 8 months since Kimmy left, passed away - it's still so hard to know how to phrase her leaving, hard to know which feels right - "Ordinary World" came right on...and I thought "Yes, that's about how it feels today."

                I don't dream much - but, I still don't sleep much.  Which works out just fine, as I have a lot to do and there never seems to be enough time to get it all done.  It's ok, though.  Some days, I cannot wait for the sun to set.  Others, I cannot wait for it to come back up.  And, sometimes - I can't care either way.  Last night, though, I did dream.  It was our last night, after those five, incredible days (thank you God, thank you Kim, for those fabulous memories!).  But it wasn't.  I was telling someone, a Dr., I think, about that last, terrifying night - I was trying to relay the horror, the helplessness...the hopelessness - wrapped around the 'how will I care for the bambini and get Kim back to St. Joe's?!?!'.
               As the blackness began to creep in, and I inadequately attempted to replay that night to the...who? Dr.?  Maybe.  I abruptly woke up - sweating - a scream on my lips...and looked at the clock: 3:16 - "For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son..." flashed through my mind instantly.  My next thought was; 'This was around the time, that Kim woke, desperate. Panicked.  And we began that final ride together...into the vortex.'
              What woke me??  I did not hear a sound.  Was it the dream?  Why precisely at 3:16?  I felt the urge to go into the living room - as the red chair came into view, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end...nothing.  I walked into the kitchen, looking.  Nothing.  I flicked on the light and locked my eyes on Kimmy's urn, looking for something, anything...
               Drained, I limped back to bed and fell asleep...until the alarm brought me soaring back into the daylight at 5:00 a.m.  The dream came back to me.  My search, too.  And I knew what was coming - I spent the day fighting it, and mostly succeeded (I had some help, thanks! ; ) - justifying, trying to matter, make a difference...
               8 months...an eternity, yet, a blink of an eye...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Desert Rash

             Tonio had a good day...in school, at least...
         I spent the morning in Jenny Rienstra's class helping out wherever she needed me...I put up some new pictures on her bulletin board and she told me to be sure to look for Tonio's, commenting on how creative and artistic he is.  I told her, he gets all of that from Kimmy - we both agreed that we wished we were more creative and I told her how I'm even paint challenged when it comes to painting rooms (like the baminis bathroom I just had to re-do!).  She said she hates all of the taping and cutting in - I told her how Kim never taped anything!! She free handed ceilings, around mirrors, fixtures - everything, with her steady hand, making it look like a professional had done their due diligence and taped off the area...
        It was nice to be in class with him - he got all of his work done again today, three days in a row!  I also got to spend some time in Casey Rudzena's class.  Autumn does a nice job interacting, contributing and Casey brings out the best in her students.  I graded a bunch of papers, and Autumn always does well (and I don't even have to 'fix' her answers!).

       The evening was cool...88 degrees, you might say it was chilly.  So, we decided to take Bella for a walk around the outer perimeter of our neighborhood along the desert.  We spotted some large, white birds flying a little ways off in the distance - I said I bet they are headed for the cattle pond that fills up just southeast of our development each monsoon.  Cody wanted to walk down there and see.  It has been several years since we last attempted that.
       The last three times, ended in disaster,  well, it didn't go well.
       First of all, you have to slip through a barbed wire fence to get to the 'path' to the pond.  We were nearly there, one time when, suddenly, the herd of cattle that grazes there decided to head for the pond, too!  It was pretty startling - I think they were just as surprised to see us, as we were them - and we beat a hasty retreat, our pups, Cajun and Zona protesting the whole way, wanting to just make friends with the cows.
        Next time, we successfully navigated the barbed wire, avoided cattle, only to come across a random ranch hand out fixing the fence we had just climbed through.  He was none too friendly - I bet he was headed to the Cactus Moon that night - so we left.  And he put his rifle back down once we were through the barbed wire fence.
        The next time, and last time, I was out in front with Zona and Cody, moving quickly towards our elusive destination, when, from about 10 yards behind us, Kim told us to freeze.  I do not know how she saw the rattler, or, more precisely, how I did not see the rattler, that was about two feet to my right, coiled beneath a scrawny creosote...we gingerly back tracked as it began to rattle irritatedly.

           So, tonight, when Cody asked, my first instinct was 'no'.  But, it was a beautiful night and I thought it would be a rare chance to see the pond (Tonio has never seen it) and maybe see the big white birds, too.  We headed down the trail towards the barbed wire fence...
          ...when a big, old yeller, style hound bounded out of the tall brush.  It eagerly sniffed Bella, who doesn't know she's a dog and was offended, trying to move out of the way.  As I grabbed for the leash, the stray became angry, lunging at Bella who took flight, dragging poor Tonio across the Afghanistan like terrain for a few feet before I was able to grab him by the heels and tell him to let go of the leash (he's got a little 'desert rash' on his wrists and knees).  Meanwhile, Cody began chasing her down - I yelled at him to stop chasing Bella and she would stop too.  He did.  And she did.  Thank God.
          I gathered the bambini in a huddle, made sure everyone was OK, relax Tonio and explain that panicking wouldn't help us, we had to stay cool and stick together - the stray nosily trying to get into the conversation - and told them we were going to walk calmly the way we usual go on our walks and ignore the dog.  It worked.  As the dog left, Tonio said 'maybe we should have looked at the dog's collar to call it's owner.'  I told him 'I'm not calling the owner of any dog that just dragged my boy through the desert.'  'I think Mama would have tried to find his owner.'  he told me.  ' I think Mama would have been pretty mad at that dog for hurting her boy and said it could find it's own way home.'  He agreed!
          We just don't get why people buy dogs to be outdoor pets.  All along our path, we hear the same dogs barking, night after night...where's the enjoyment in that?
          The rest of the walk went well, although, I decided to stick to the original path we typically enjoy - I felt the stray dog was a sign that we should stay out of the deep desert and not temp fate.  We  played a little soccer with a good sized rock on the way back, which really excited Bella as she'd race from between the bambini trying to intercept the rock!
          It was a gorgeous night...


                         Ahhhh....soothing, which is nice, as this weekend presents all sorts of curve balls...



Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tonio's Meltdown

        Tonio had a rough one yesterday...it could have knocked me down, quite a bit - but, his teacher, Jenny Rienstra, was there for the save!

       As you know, this little bambino has had the toughest journey, so far.  He has been more than up and down, he is on Mr. Toad's wild ride!  He had a great summer, but, I feel that the stability of me being off from work and the extra care that I could give him make a big difference.  Now that I am back to work...he struggles.

        He had had a bad night of sleep - waking me several times during the night.  In the morning, he was a challenge to wake up and was quiet, withdrawn.  As he brushed his teeth, I made a big deal out of his outfit to buoy his spirits, telling him how cool he looked and that I really liked the pattern on his polo shirt and how they matched his shorts.  He began to turn around...

         Jenny related, later, that Tonio's morning was  a strong one.  He was happy, getting his work done and on task.  Then, came lunch time...
          Tonio loves to buy lunch.  He never minded taking a packed lunch, but, when I asked him, he told me he preferred to buy.  I think he enjoys the whole freedom to choose what he feels like eating and the social aspect of hanging out in line to get his food.  Yesterday, pizza was his choice, a Tonio favorite!
          But, he put his tray a little too close to the edge of the table...and when he dropped his slice of pizza, right on his new polo, he over compensated, leaned forward.  This caused his tray to tip, sending his apple juice right into his lap.  Tonio was humiliated...
         Jenny found him back at the classroom - crying so hard, he was gasping for breath - his whole body hitching with the force of his sobs.  She quickly consoled him, helping him get cleaned up and telling him everything was ok.  Tonio was so upset that I wouldn't be able to get his clothes clean - that the pizza would stain and, he told Jenny, our washing machine was broken...except it wasn't...
         That morning, as the bambini prepared for school, they noticed me loading up a shop vac and dryer snake that I had borrowed from Janene.  Andrea and Mario's dryer wasn't working properly and it sounded like the same problem we had back in the fall - a clog vent.  I told the kids I was going over to help Mario try to get his dryer working again (and, as I climbed up on his roof, I remembered that Kim was adamant that I not climb on our roof - she was afraid that I would topple right off - and Mario even commented 'it sure would be nice if they still made flat roofs!' as we made our way up to the top of his dryer vent).  Tonio, got things backward, thinking that Mario was coming to our house to help me fix our washer.
           So he was a little distraught (prompting Jenny to ask me if I beat the kids when they soil their clothing - causing me to promise that I would stop!).  Jenny reassured Tonio that I would be able to get the stain out and got him down to the nurses station to get him a clean, dry set of loaner clothes.  She called me up at work to let me know what was happening. I imagined that the loaner clothes would be mismatched and oversized - Jenny told me "he looks normal"!  My first instinct was to bolt and go to help Tonio, but, Jenny told me she had things under control and just wanted to fill me in.  I was so relieved - and, the nice thing was, I believed that she had things under control, trusted that she did - which was a great feeling.  She spent the rest of the day lifting him up, everytime he started to feel down again. 
           Later that night, I asked him - what was so terribly wrong?  He told me he did think our washer was the one broken and that Mario was coming to help me fix it.  The compliments that I had given him that morning stuck with him and he was upset that his 'favorite outfit' was ruined.  Then, he told me he just could not stop thinking about Mama, Mrs. Rienstra helped him by telling him he could write or draw about Mama.  We came up with ways he could turn that around next time...
          Today, Jenny volunteered to stay after late with Tonio to help him get caught up on his classwork that he has been struggling to complete.  I couldn't quite get out of work on time and ended up getting back to school around 4:30 - Tonio saw me jogging across the grass to his classroom and burst out to tell me "I had a bad day!", but he couldn't conceal the smile from his eyes, and as soon as we entered his classroom, Jenny told me he had his best day ever!!  They had worked together to catch up all of the work that Tonio was behind on.  He kept his spirits high the whole day and showed Jenny that he understands all of the lessons she has been teaching him.  Tonio beamed with pride...Once again, the fabulous teachers at Cottonwood come through, as Jenny helped Tonio find his way through this rough patch!  And Jenny told Tonio "and we are going to have a great day tomorrow and Friday, right?"  Tonio answered with a robust "Right!".
           Meanwhile, Casey Rudzena, Autumn's teacher, lovingly helped Autumn with her homework, once again helping us out by staying after for Autumn - she has been incredible for Autumn, who has done a fantastic job this year - she is so comfortable with Casey, who has helped Autumn keep her morale high!

           I am so blessed to have these two teachers in my life, to help the bambini get stronger and to make sure that they are not falling behind in school, feel cared for and given a safe, friendly environment while I am at work...no matter how much I write, or say how thankful I am, how blessed I am, it doesn't seem to scratch the surface of how deeply I feel - Thank you Jenny and Casey!!


Monday, August 8, 2011

The Monocacy Creek

             The Monocacy Creek runs roughly north to south in Bethlehem and meets the Lehigh River, not too far from where Kim and I grew up.  We spent countless afternoons along its banks.  Sometimes walking, sometimes wading.  Sometimes riding down it in big, oversized truck inner tubes.
                     This spot was known as Illick's Mill.  We used to bring bread to feed the ducks. The ducks were huge.  Kim would always want to take one home and would remind me that she once had a pet duck, 'Snoopy'.  We'd picnic  beneath the ramada at the top of the stone stairs and walk along the creek in the grass.  The falls pictured on the right...we would take our shoes and socks off and walk along the top to the other side...and, when we were tubing, we'd slide right down them - they were slippery with algae.
             These little falls were another favorite spot along the creek of ours.  We would walk from home, crossing the bridge in the background to downtown, grab a soda and when we'd walk home, we'd climb down beneath the bridge and spend time by the water.  We'd walk across these falls, too - sliding on the algae.  The water was fairly deep at the bottom of the falls, but there were rocks, so if you jumped off, you had to watch where you were going to land.  There was enough space between the falls and the rocks it came over to put your head up for air...
              Just upstream, beyond this bridge, was Casilio Concrete company.  The creek was a little wider and there was a deep pool there.  Someone had hung a rope swing from high in a tree and we would take turns swinging out into the center of the pool and splashing down into the chilly waters...
                    This little wooden bridge was downstream in the opposite direction.  We crossed it many times into the land of yesterday.  This was the area that the Moravian's settled back in the day.  It had a grist mill (whatever that was) and a lot of old buildings that had been restored some time ago after the city cleaned up the junk yard that had been there.  My favorite was the refrigerator house - where the settlers diverted a bit of the stream and built a log house over it.  They knew that the running water would keep the temps down in the building and used it to store meat.  One time, they showed us how the settlers would make bees wax candles and Kim and I got to make one.                  Anyway, I had kind of forgotten about some of our days along the Monocacy, but my sister, Lauren, introduced me to this site called 'If you are from Bethlehem', or something like that and it opened the floodgates - I almost immediately remembered Casilio's and our days on the rope swings - so much fun...but, some of the names of the people posting brought shivers down my spine - man, did we have some tougher characters!  I called Cody over, and asked him if there had been anybody he had been afraid of in elementary school..."No Dad, why?"  I told him to check out some of the kids that I remembered as bullies - and they still looked scary and posted about how they had blown windows out of businesses, etc!  I don't miss any of that - I'm off that site!
Although, it is sort of addicting as people post their favorite places to get cheese steaks, etc...just when I thought I was out, it pulls me back in!  As I scan the other names of folks posting, I struggle to see if I recognize any of them.
                 I was glad to remember about the Monocacy...Musikfest, which started as a German Oktoberfest type of heritage celebration and has devolved into something much larger and spanning a lot more ground.  We saw many concerts there - mostly old 60's groups like the Turtles, The Little River Band, The Rascals, etc. it was pretty much contained along the Moncacy in the early days.
              And I remembered how much Kim and I enjoyed being down there by its soothing waters.  There were large trout in it.  Kim's Dad fished it regularly...we did a couple of times, too.  A lot of our early dates, before either of us drove, were spent sitting on its banks...for hours...    
              ...as the sun set...and then some!    


Sunday, August 7, 2011


            Knees are a funny thing.  Tough to walk without them.  Over the last few weeks, I've become increasingly aware of just how important they are...

            Beginning with Angie's knee surgery at the end of June...She's just about shed her cane and went out to dinner with Kim, Rashon, kids and us at Culver's for burgers last night.  The P.T. is going great and the scar is fading. 

             Friday night, Cody fell from the sky...
                 He's been getting pretty good on his scooter and likes to go to the skate park with his friends - Brendon and Cody have mastered all of the jumps there and like to create new one.  And, he gets some serious air.  Here's a little peak at one of his rides.
                Friday night, he got just a little higher, and there were some winds from an incoming monsoon - just enough to throw him off.  He fell to the earth and landed directly on his knee cap.  Our friend, Joe, picked him up, took him to his house and put ice on it - I called Kim (Angie's youngest daughter, the RN at St. Joe's on our Kim's floor) and she said if he could put weight on it (he could) and bend it (he could), it was probably a deep bruise - the patella is super strong, and they aren't able to do a lot for a broken patella.  We go to the same pediatrician and she suggested we take Cody to see him Saturday morning, as she knew they had office hours until noon. 
                Saturday morning, Cody's knee was still pretty swollen (it did not keep him from sleeping over at his friend, Jesus' house!), when I picked him up and took him to see Dr. Rick Williams (no relation to Angie, OR Ricky Williams, the Dolphins running back), who told us, nearly verbatim, the same thing Kim had told us the night before.  He said, if Cody is still hurting Monday, we should take him in for an x-ray, but he did not believe Cody had any ACL damage, just a bruised knee cap.  the Dr's nurse did all she could to make me feel like a bad parent..."were you wearing pads?" she asked Cody.  "No", he told her.  Daggers for me.  "a helmet?"  "No"...more daggers.  She looked about my age, so I asked her if she even owned a helmet as a kid...no answer.  I took that as a 'no'. I never did.  In fact, I finally got a helmet just a couple years ago when Angie's husband, Mark, had a biking accident in Fantasy Island and his helmet saved him some serious head trauma.
               He seems much better today, making it to Viro's for breakfast with us and getting around out front a little better this evening.
               Saturday, our neighbor, Betsey hurt her knee while taking a Tai Kwan Do class (or however you spell it) and was laid up on the couch the rest of the weekend.  Then, today, Andrea and Mario's son, David, sprained his knee badly, after shooting a 3 pointer during a basketball tourney - he landed the shot in traffic, took a hit and his team won by 1 point!  That's courage.
              I remember Kim starting to feel some knee trouble coming on...and worrying she would have to have knee surgery before too long as the cartilage was wearing thin on her, just as her Mom needed surgery, and Angie.  My right one pops loudly after I've been squatting down - it amazed Tonio while we were weeding the other day. "What was that noise?"  he exclaimed.  "My knee."  "Ouch!", he said.

              As a parent, we do all we can to keep our kids safe.  Sometimes, they still get hurt - even if we are right there with them.  When Cody got hurt, I was torn between rushing him to the hospital, and keeping a cool head and letting things play out.  It is a delicate balance.  I don't know if I am getting better at giving him the space he needs to grow and develop into an adult, but I try - especially based on the level of trust we have built up between us.  It's been especially challenging for me, as Kim typically handed the decisions on where he could or couldn't go and what he was allowed to do or not do.

             Anyway, we are relieved that Angie, Cody, Betsey and David are on the mend!!  Knees are important!

           And Cody and I got to spend some 'quality' time together, watching the 'Transporter', starring Jason Statham, while he iced his knee. Catching him up on all of the 'classics'.  Good times.

            Tonight, when we went out back to say goodnight to Mama, the stars were all obscured by clouds (Pink Floyd album circa 1972)...the bambini strained to see one, but could not..."it's ok", Tonio finally said, "The clouds look beautiful.".