Bridges

20170515_160543imagesAfter awhile, it is hard not to take these events personally.  I just keep thinking, amongst other things, this is not what bridges are meant for.  Not my bridges, not the ones I love and use to crisscross the Thames, not the bridges that have come to mean so much to me in the better part of the twenty-seven years I have lived in and around London.  Bridges are meant to span a void. Bridges are meant to connect.  Bridges are meant to keep the flow going smoothly from one side to the other.

I remember growing up in the States and playing with my brother and sisters the “London Bridge” game reaching across to one another, threading our fingers together, pushing our arms over our heads to make an arch for the “boats” to pass and then bringing our entwined hands back to level to let the “cars” and “people” go across. It was all about taking turns, lifting and lowering, a little bit of singing and feeling the strength of our formation as we pretended to be the bridge. The key was never letting go of one another.

I soon found out when I moved here that everyone mistakes Tower Bridge for London Bridge. You know, the iconic masterpiece of the Victorian Era which raises the bridge’s “arms” up with intricate bascule pivots originally with coal and steam energy to help keep the flow going between the north and south sides of the River Thames. It stands right next to the Tower of London with its ‘traitor gates’, Beef Eater Gin guards, and a moat, grassed over now, large enough for concerts and to fill with remembrance poppies.

My niece came for a visit last month and we toured Tower Bridge enjoying the views up and down the river from the crosswalks that tie together the two bridge towers which work with the suspension system to hold it all together. You have to take a lift to get to the crosswalks and reign in, to some degree, any fear of heights you may have to walk across and look out of the windows or even down through the glass floor to take in the views. On the east side, the windows look down towards the 2012 Olympic Stadium Park and in the far distance Greenwich (of GMT fame) and eventually the London Barrier built to protect the city from flooding. Looking west you can pick out the Shard on your left as well as the Walkie Talkie and the Gherkin buildings on your right. I just love the nicknames the English give their distinctive new architectural builds providing such irreverent, humourous and accurate descriptions so that you know exactly which structures they are talking about when you see them on the skyline. Just beyond the Walkie Talkie, nestled in amongst the other more regular civic and office buildings, you can see the flame-topped Monument which is a tower commemorating the very spot in which the Great Fire of London began in 1666 and, of course you can’t miss picking out the dome of the stoic St Paul’s Cathedral miraculously unscathed during the Blitz of WW2. Just about opposite the City there’s the hospital where I had my cancer treatments back in 2012, my favourite Gaucho Grill steak restaurant, and the Design Museum displaying outstanding examples of design ingenuity and ergonomics within. If you know where to look, you can just about see the Globe Theatre which was rebuilt in the 1990s on the exact spot to the exact building designs of the original. To this day, you can stroll along the Thames just beyond where the terrorists struck on Saturday night and walk past restaurants and bars, supposedly one of London’s oldest pubs, the Anchor, to watch Shakespeare’s plays being performed on a stage just as they would have been seen back in the 1600s. For me, London’s got just the perfect mix of old and new living and thriving together.

Standing smack dab in the middle of the crosswalk I couldn’t help but be fascinated by humanity’s ability to conceive of and create such feats of engineering. Tower Bridge particularly impressed considering the nearly 125 year old technology that they used to create and run a bridge which could ensure that daily life could, and can, continue to stay connected unfettered by the interruption of the Thame’s flow through the city.

Just opposite Tower Bridge is London Bridge. It’s nothing pretty to look at but when you cross it you get the best perspective of looking up and down the Thames in my opinion. My husband, Nick, takes the train to London Bridge Station now and has to cross it each work day twice a day to get to his job on the other side. Over the years we have marvelled that even in the drudge of commuting across that bridge, it is impossible not to admire the view at some point going back and forth. There have been days when people pause in their commuting rush to take photos of the stunning sunsets or, if you are up early enough, the sunrises. The cold will whip up at you in the winter, make your eyes tear but the site remains stunning as cityscapes go and I can see why it was a popular crossing place on Saturday night.

I love that bridge. It is the place I had my first proper job in London, in fact, in anywhere. I took a placement at Price Waterhouse, who owned the building there, for the sheer reason they were the people who handed out the envelopes on Oscar’s nights, but the original draw was when my job placement agency told me their address was: No 1 London Bridge. I found it an utterly irresistible place to want to commute to and from. I was fortunate to work on the 9th floor for a boss whose office had aspects looking over both London and Tower Bridge. Southwark Cathedral or “Shakespeare’s Church” sits nearly opposite the building going down Borough High Street and I used to go to Christmas carol services there with my work colleagues back in the 1990s before Borough Market got gentrified and trendy. It was interesting in 2012 when I came to my oncology appointments nearby, I would visit Borough Market to pick up some fresh food or a little gift from one of the artisan stalls for whomever was graciously taking care of my kids that day. Then and now, I like to go to the market just as a pick me up to revel in the glory of the dark, atmospheric bricked Dickensian archways converted to stalls with pyramids of tomatoes or mushrooms or any seasonal fruit or veg you can imagine, stacked in every shape, colour, size and variety being hawked next to sellers of iced seafood so fresh some of it even seems to move. There’s bread, flowers, boutique-y grills of organic burgers, locally sourced sausages and giant cast iron pans of paella right next to stalls selling pistachios, cashews and cubes of the best Turkish delight, in every flavour and colour, perfectly dusted with icing sugar making even Narnia’s White Witch’s supply to Edward seem meager.

Again, I keep thinking – that is not what bridges are for.

Further west the river serpentines under a poetic roll call of bridges: Blackfriars, Millennium, Waterloo, Westminster, Lambeth, Vauxhall and Chelsea amongst others. Eventually you can cross the Thames at Albert Bridge which is another one for particularly fond memories for me. Years ago during our commuting from the City back to Fulham, Nick and I always noticed it during our drive along the Embankment. We never ceased to pause mid-sentence on our post workday debrief to chime out – “ I love that bridge” when we passed into its view, particularly on the evenings when it was lit with the equivalent of fairy lights outlining its elegant form. In 1995, that was where one cold, windy December night Nick pulled over the car and suggested we enjoy diner at a place on the other side of the river to break up the drive home. We started our walk across the bridge and then precisely in the middle Nick stood still, reached into the depth of his dark blue cashmere overcoat and withdrew a hinged, square box the size and shape perfect for nestling a ring within its velvet interior. Nick asked me to marry him that night with the cars flying by, the dark water below and the lay of London shining out beyond. We stood on that bridge fearless about our future. Fearless about forever having to learn how to bridge together our two cultures for a lifetime of marriage and children. Fearless to put love first and to take a leap of faith to agree to forge a life together.

Back at the Tower Bridge tour I remember seeing not just spectacular views of London, but also information about its construction and displays of examples of all types of bridges found around the world: span, arch, beam, suspension and even cantilever bridges. All the examples at the museum and from my research – whether the Akashi Kaikyõ in Japan, Si-o-se Pol in Iran, Alcántara in Spain, the Kapelibrücke in Switzerland, the Viaduct de Millau in France, the Changing Wind and Rain in China, the Golden Gate in the United States or the Ponte dei Sospiri in Italy – all illustrate humanity’s ability to find ways to stay connected. Across the countries, the cultures and time, I believe the bridges show it is undeniably our nature, as humans, to want to connect to each other and find ways to be together. Whether we are raising our arms up to let the ships go through with our fingers intertwined or strolling across London Bridge on a warm summer evening after a happy night out on the town, bridges should be about us staying together. About using our awesome God, Allah or whomever you want to credit given minds to figure out how we can breach the gaps that fall between us and keep our connections strong and sure.

I was twenty-three when I moved from the US to the UK and first fell in love with London and its bridges. The same age that Ariana Grande is now. She led the way on Sunday night spreading the message about staying connected so we can ALL stay strong. So yes, I’m taking this attack on Saturday personally as a rally to remind me to stay inspired, to find ways across a challenge so I can keep my connection with others and to bridge any gaps that might come between me and them because I know, no matter where I am in the world or what may lay in between, WE ARE ALWAYS STRONGER TOGETHER.

As much as you breathe

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Hello.  I know, long time no speak.  Well, to be perfectly honest I have been speaking, but just not here and just not to you, but instead, seemingly for an inordinate amount of time, with Apple (cue lightening and thunderclap like you hear when the villain joins the horror movie…).  Apple, who I have kinda gone off of at the moment because two of our three computers have crashed and I’ve lost all my writing since I installed their new operating system, Yosemite – but I digress.  It is Christmas time and my brain has finally moved past images of rotten apples going to mush under my apple tree sneering at the obvious appropriateness of the representation of my nemesis, and I’ve started wrapping presents – which always puts me in a good mood and listening to the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas cd (another mood enhancer) and of course, listening to even more of Radio Four (kinda the NPR equivalent in England).  It was there, on 93.5FM, that low and behold, I found the seeds of a December “pumpkin”.  It was during “Woman’s Hour”, when they had a discussion on last week about new books that are coming out I guess in the pre-Christmas rush to promote new publications that it came to me.   Anyway, the BBC’s Jane Garvey interviewed  Nancy Tystad Koupal,  the editor-in-chief and director of the Pioneer Girl Project with the author, Tracy Chevalier to discuss the new book out called: Pioneer Girl:  The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Yes, that Laura.  The one from Little House on the Prairie. The author of one of my all time favourite children’s books series and leading character of my next favourite show growing up besides, as you well know, The Waltons.

I was enthralled listening to the discussion and the comparison of the new non-fiction book with the ones I read growing up and about how many things recounted in Pioneer Girl had remained exactly the same as they appeared in the children’s version of Laura’s stories. It was interesting to me how Laura had included some of the events of her life while edited out others; I reckon to make the original books more palatable for kids.  As a writer and appreciator of writing, I was fascinated by that process.  For example, the loss of her baby brother was in the new book but not in the Little House series (although I do remember a profound episode covering the topic when I was watching the show way back when).  I loved hearing how much Laura really did accomplish in her life and that the richness of her family relationships, as depicted in the kids books and TV show, had held in the true story version of her experiences on the prairie.  Thoughts of the Ingalls sat with me as I later rushed off to collect the kids from school, stopping along the way to grab a coffee from Costa as I was in serious need of caffeine.

At the coffee shop, after the girl passed me my drink and I stirred in a packet of brown sugar thinking I had resealed its top to the rim , I headed back to the car.  I placed the coffee in my centre console only to find that the top was actually not on it was just resting there.  I don’t know if it was the heat of the coffee or the fact that their cute Christmas character cups just weren’t made to match so well with the plastic lids, but no matter how many times I tried to push the top on and run my finger to affix it to the rim, I could not get it to stay on properly.  I couldn’t drive with it afraid the coffee would slosh out so instead, as I sipped my topless latte, I started considering how different my world was from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s particularly with regards to the different skills we need these days.  I thought about how Charles or Caroline would have had to walk or ride in their wagon (having hooked up the horses) to Oleson’s Mercantile to buy coffee beans (maybe trading some of Caroline’s eggs for them), take them home, hand grind them and then cook them on their wood burning stove (for which Charles would have had to have chopped up a ready supply of logs) and then drink their coffees from one of their tin cups adding the latte bit from the pitcher they had filled from milking their cow at dawn. Whereby, I, on the other had, had had to simply order my medium latte(using the correct terminology – which is a skill in itself), drift my card over the top of the machine to pay “PIN-lessly” as I was purchasing some thing under £20 and then side step down the coffee bar to the barista and collect my milky cup of joe while shortly thereafter struggling with my plastic top.  It got me wondering, what other unique skills of our generation, like putting those tops on, do we need to master these days?

Off the top of my head I came up with a quick list. There’s the following a GPS navigation system on our phones and in our cars with no map reading required just attentive, logical listening once the postcode has been input. There’s the mastering the “bluetoothing” of our devices to printers, mini Bose speakers or in-car audio systems, so we can print, hear music and talk to each other while we are driving.  There’s downloading and uploading and creating and retaining countless passwords to live out our life safely on the internet.  There’s the skill our kids are probably better at than we are which is managing the spectrum of social media knowing how, for example, to make Facebook a place to plan a party or get your homework not just post proud pictures of your Facebook-able exploits.  There’s even the ability to take Facebook-able pictures using a “selfie stick” if you are so inclined.  As a mother of teenagers I appreciate the importance of having all photos fully vetted by any people contained in said pictures rather than suffer a wrath even greater than mean Nellie exhibited  when Laura pushed her down the hill in her wheelchair after she faked paralysis and ended up safe but drenched in the pond.

I am sure you could carry on with this list yourself and astound me with the ways in which you are managing to survive in 2014(and I ask you to please feel free to do so in the comments).  With the new year, however, on the horizon, I thought I should consider some new skills I would like to acquire to help make my life more complete.  I was born one hundred years after Laura yet I still feel like she might have some good ideas as to how to make the most of my time here.  Her pioneer skill such as having a good sense of adventure generally is good as well as her finesse in branching out into new frontiers whilst maintaining a connection with her community holds well. Walnut Grove might not have been some major metropolis, however, it was big enough to work hard in and look after its neighbours which are definitely two skills I’d like to practice.  Laura also had the skill of celebrating live music – just think of all those times the Ingalls’ days improved when Pa pulled out his fiddle – so I think I will look for opportunities to sing more and dance definitely. I might never sew gingham fabric into a cute sun bonnet, but I will try and protect my skin and apply suncream liberally when I am next in the strong sun. I don’t think I’ll ever get into horse riding or butter churning either, but just like Laura with her dog, Jack, I can make sure I get out there, breath fresh air and run down hills of tall grass and daisies with Winston.  I also would like to follow Laura in the way in which she attends church even when Reverend Aldren is a bit heavy and, dare I say, boring.  I definitely need to work on my skill of carving out time to reflect and give thanks.  Which brings me on to the manner in which Laura prays.  She says her prayers so thoughtfully, not by rote, and follows them with a solid slumber under the patchwork quilt nestled next to her sister, Mary, her nightcap pulled on tight to keep her head warm such that I find it an exemplary skill to pursue.

Speaking of expressing gratitude, I know an easy skill for me to keep up, will definitely be maintaining my appreciation of my dad.  Just like Laura, who loved her Pa and looked to him for inspiration on how to stay positive and not let the crab apples of the world get the better of you, I look to my dad and never find him lacking.  This morning, for instance, he sent me two photos which impressed me.  One was of his mailbox decorated in SC with a reindeer decoration he made from some cast away palm bark (see above photo).  My sister, Kate, has been making the decorations up in Philadelphia and she gave him the idea.  The reindeer is a replica of a decoration we had growing up in my house.  It is one that reminds me of my mom who loved the holidays, because it came out ever year and always made it feel like Christmas was nearly here.  Even at 79, my dad is up for trying new things and honing new skills even the likes of wielding a glue gun after a trip to, no doubt, a craft supply store (two definite skills of the Pintrest Age) to produce the reindeer and he makes me want to expand my competence in to new areas beyond my comfort zone .

Dad’s second photo moved me even more. It is a photo of his and my stepmom’s Christmas tree.  On top he has placed a dove instead of an angel.  He sent the picture of it with the note: “Mom landed on top of our tree.” which demonstrates his skill in not only of remembering people we miss but celebrating their lives with small, uncomplicated, enduring and endearing gestures.  Ever since my mom died twelve years ago, mourning doves have come to us whenever we miss her most and we are sure those birds are the embodiment of her sweet soul.  The dove nesting on top of his tree says it in one for me.

I hope this time of the year finds you well and ready to rejoice in the simple things of your life.  Even if you are battling with the gadgetry of our highly technological age or struggling in the long winter of the hard economic times that we continue to live in, perhaps you can join me in working on the skill I am putting at the top of my list to master.  The skill which comes from a quote, not Laura, but from Ralph Waldo Emerson who might not have been her exact contemporary but he was definitely around when she was.  The quote seems to me a good skill to start with and apply to all others.  It commands us to  “Laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live.”

So, the next time it gets too quiet in my house from staring frustratingly at the WIFI bars willing my PC to connect to our router or when I spill a little coffee from the rim of my latte’s lid, I am going to open up with a smile to begin with an aspire to keeping my sense of humour and perspective intact.  I know the world has a lot bigger issues to contend with, but if laughing and loving can be incorporated more in our lives I am sure we can manage anything thrown our way.

How Bertha Stole Summer

Taken by Christy from the porch at Lilypad, DeBordieu, SC

Taken by Christy from the porch at Lilypad, DeBordieu, SC

It’s quiet at my house.  Still even.  Yet the rush in my heart is so strong as it pounds up into my ears it is drowning out the silence each time I consider and worry over how my kids’ first day of school is going.  It feels too loud to think straight or get my chores done.  Maybe I shouldn’t write in this state, but I’m feeling reflective and hoping if you are still waiting to do it or have already stomached it, you will know what I mean and that I need a distraction. I am just waiting so I can collect my kids at the end of the day and make sure they survived.  We love their school yet there is something about the first day, wanting it to go perfectly so that it sets the tone for a great year ahead – I find the want for the ideal unsettles me.

This mulling happens every September which usually arrives after we’ve sweltered through a delicious season of heat and clear skies.  Usually being the operative word here as this summer was definitely not what I assumed it would be. After getting completely drenched throughout most of 2014 with the record breaking floods in England, I reckoned our escape to South Carolina would bring sunny, hot and dry weather. It was a holiday as  eagerly awaited as any Christmas.  Summer, instead, was in fact rather mad this year.  “Mad” in the Truly, Madly, Deeply way – not angry by any means – but intense with the emotions of worry over Megan’s exams and results and of angst while I wrestled through the mind over matter of not letting the disappointment of an exceedingly wet even cold holiday get the better of me.  The world is in such a crazy state of affairs with all that is going on with hostages, refugees and annexing, it seems ridiculous to let damp days press down on my emotions from the safety of my house of plenty and good health.  However, over the course of the last couple of months I have to admit I have had to use my best rationalizing skills to keep my cheer up even as we got deluged by Tropical Storm turned Hurricane Bertha in South Carolina.  She even then had the nerve to chase us all the way back to England blowing out most of August with cold wind and rain so my struggle continued at home too. “Think about how much time we are saving on not having to lather the kids in sun cream”, we chimed to each other in DeBordieu.  “Good thing we are used to the rain or after three weeks in SC we might have had a hard time acclimating ourselves back to England”, we joked.

In fact, the summer’s biggest phenomena, the ALS ice bucket challenge, seemed more than a perfect representation of our weather this summer.  All my kids fell prey to nominations for the challenge and to their credit they carried them out wearing their shorts and t-shirts in our backyard whilst I filmed them from a safe distance in my Barbour coat and jeans.  Nary a bikini clad shiver under the ice water or leap into the outside swimming pool to warm up after the shock of the cold water dump for my guys.   At times, it felt instead, like the gods of nature were just enjoying messing with our weather karma as much as we enjoyed watching bucket challenge after bucket challenge on Facebook.

All that said, I don’t want to weigh you down with my little worries, disappointments and shivering moans, but I had to tell you about them in order to explain the surprising manner in which they all got turned around in a summer themed by unrelenting rain.  The revelation came not in a downpour but in the slow steady drip over the course of the drizzly summer months.

It started when I got asked, for the umpteenth time, where the Apple device chargers were as my kids and Nick anxiously wiggled their iPhones and iPads under my nose telling me “I’m in the red”.   It came when they explained, “I get to charge first, I’m down to 3%.”  and I thought it is not the iPhone down to 3%, it’s me, running in single digit energy levels. It emerged during our summertime travels looking for charging stations at the airports and for converters to plug us in.  It came as I pined for something I could plug myself into and instantly recharge my energy.

Luckily, I did find something to plug into(and without getting electrocuted no mean feat in all that dampness) during our first week of holiday. In between the scattered showers and heavy cloud cover, I soon found even without the strong steady warmth of non-stop sun, my zapped energy suddenly seemed to get replenished with each storm cloud, thunderclap and lightening bolt(rain in SC is far more dramatic then the English stuff).  The rain soothed me and slowed me down and it made me accept my much needed rest.  The rhythm of summer which I so craved mostly for its restorative qualities, came just the same even without the ease of a bright day.  My summer came just like the Grinch’s Christmas “without packages, boxes or bags!” .   Amongst the puddles and dripping trees, it came with the kids throwing cheese balls into Cole’s mouth from two stories up after a water fight of water balloons and squirt guns(it was so wet anyway why not have a multi-storey water fight?).  It came watching my kids and Jennifer’s, together, ride off on the golf cart through the pond sized puddles, leaving no man behind, even as the wheels squelched on the pavement at the weight of their seven bodies hangin’ on tight.  It came listening to them become better friends over the endless foosball tournaments and lacrosse ball throwing sessions.  It came with Jennifer making me laugh and remember and dream. It came when our friend, Chris, surprised us with a visit and we played Tripopoly using Chocolate Peanut Butter Corn Pops Cereal as our make shift poker chips.

As our visit to South Carolina carried on, summer worked it’s magic when Dad and Judy came to visit and we played glow stick charades in the evening and listened to wireless eclectic deejaying sessions on Nick’s mini Bose care of music from Dad and the kids’ iPads.  We may not have topped up our tans too much but we “visited”, told stories and rocked in the chairs on the unscreened-in porch kept cool and bug free by the raging storms.  It settled as we wandered from the porch to the pool table and turned Judy into a pool shark using her cue instead of her “hurrycane” to stand steady and knock the balls in.  It came watching Nick and Skyler casting out with Dad from the edge of beach, with meandering around the neighbourhoods on bikes, alone or together, picking out crocs and our favourite beach houses along the tours.  It came with a watermelon seed spitting contest hosted by our new friends, Alexander, Maddy, Martha and her mom and I found the summer was rejuvenating not just me but all of us.

Back in Brasted it carried on with Skyler snuggling in bed with me each morning making rainbow loom band bracelets while I read until 8am (abiding by the rule not to leave my bed until that hour seeing as there was nothing I had to rush out to do anyway). It came playing putt putt golf at Bluewater.  It came with baking peanut butter, chocolate chip and snickerdoodle cookies.  It came with Winston retrieving his voldermort* through rain laden blackberry brambles and ferns.  It came with watching The Lego Movie, Divergent and My Neighbour Tortoro a few times each and Friends reruns always.  It came playing Wii U.

With the wet summer came the realisation that one of the nicest things about rain is it doesn’t make you feel guilty that you aren’t making the most of fine weather!

Precedents had been set for us on how to make the most of unexpected poor weather – remembering Kathleen and Pete’s wedding during Hurricane Hugo held in my parents backyard (and learning the saying “wet knots never come untied”) along with Nick and my’s three week honeymoon in Italy eighteen years ago with only eight days of sunshine (living out said saying!), but it took the steady storms this summer to truly recharge us and set us all up to be ready for all that lies ahead this year.  Now I think about it Summer came, “just the same” and it has stayed enough to still me.  It puts me in the mood to appreciate even more one of my favourite quotes which Jennifer actually shared with me from that old Southern boy singer, Roger Miller, “Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.”  With that balanced state of mind, I’m wishing you a wonderful year ahead no matter the weather or the verdict on the school day!

*We can no longer call Winston’s ball – “ball” or even “b-a-l-l” because if you say it you have to throw it for him.  It is “the thing that can not be named” thus now referred to at our house as “voldermort”.

Chances Are…

IMAGINE PICTURE OF DICE ROLLING CAN’T GET MEDIA TO WORK

It’s a week on from when I originally sat down to write this post and I am bone tired.  Somehow the last seven days have flown by as fast as the guy calling the races at Ascot last Friday when the horses were coming down the last stretch.  Just as the announcer highlighted the horses that were hastily making good time to the finish line, key names, dates and responsibilities keep piping up out of the internal commentary running inside my head at fibre optic speed recalling my own race to the end of the school year.  There are exams, proms, balls, Suessical the Musical, art exhibits, open air concerts, French Day, Shakespeare in the Sun, concerts, sports days, home clothes days, teacher present presentations, prize giving, and speech days.  Also thrown in for good measure there are birthday parties, end of year “gatherings” (according to my teenager “you can only call them a “party” if there are more than twenty people, Mom”), car services, charity garden days to volunteer at, grocery deliveries, dry cleaning to drop of and pick up, Fracture Clinic appointments and breast cancer check ups (all clear for another 6 months-phew!), husband to pack and send off to windsurfing weekend in Spain and daughter to pack and send off to Alsace for a week.  Not to mention the World Cup Games to record and watch (of course), Andy Murray to cheer on at Wimbledon and the preparations for going away for three weeks to South Carolina.

If nothing else, the Bennett bus is clocking up some serious mileage such that I’m considering paying for some proper vehicle signage to be painted above the back bumper.  I think it should read “Journeys to and from Caterham School” and include my mobile phone number, and possibly, rates.  You know like the mini cabs have?  But then again, I’d have to jack up the kids pocket money and that seems ridiculous especially if I would have to start making change because they don’t have debit cards yet.  Okay, scratch the rates.

I don’t mean to gripe.  I know we are doing exactly what every other family with school aged kids is doing this time of year, but I’m still CRAZED and need to vent about it.  It’s got to the point where even throwing in a load of laundry to have some special shirt, skirt or athletic uniform ready for the next event seems like a serious accomplishment.  Oh, and don’t get me started about the suspect food I’m throwing on the plates for my children to gobble down between bookings.  I guess they should be thankful I am remembering to feed them at all as well as the pets.  I’ve gotta admit I have actually fantasized about what it would be like if I could feed the kids the food from the cats’ packets just to get it all over and done with a little more efficiently.  Imagine the time I could save on shopping, cooking, cleaning, filing, running and emptying the dishwasher.

I think I get particularly agitated because I live in fear that I might forget something.  Something important like, um, Skyler needed his white sports kit for sports day on Thursday.  It lives with his trainers, cap and trackies, when it is not being cleaned, in his sports bag.  You know, the bag I only realised at 10pm on Wednesday night had been MIA since he broke his arm during games two weeks ago and was too heavy to carry to Taekwondo (which somehow he managed to do even with a broken forearm).  Thankfully the moms from his class got my back and offered up a variety of uniform to make sure he’d be set for the day if said bag did not resurface when we raced to school to check the changing rooms the next morning. (Bag was, by the way, in his cubby hole the whole time).  Somehow between the two of us we both clocked it was missing in time so that we could do something about it.

But you hear me, don’t you?  You’ve got to agree end of school year logistics are nuts.  With Ascot in mind, I’ve thought at the rate I am going I could start to take odds on whether or not we really will make it to the 4th of July with all tasks completed as necessary.  I’m not the best at statistics and am a bit daunted that working everything out might be as confusing as calculating who will get into the next round of the World Cup, but it could be worth a try.

The very term “the odds”, though, kinda gives me the creeps.  They make whatever you are betting on sound so unlikely.  For example, what are the odds it will actually shine at Shakespeare in the Sun? Like that isn’t a call for a torrential downpour?  Or what are the odds Skyler will break his arm for the third time in a June before we are due to go to South Carolina for the summer?  I actually don’t need the odds on that one.  He actually did break his arm – AGAIN – as I mentioned above and we are now calculating the odds of whether the cast will come off in time for us to fly to the US.  No, I much prefer the phrase “what are the chances” of something happening or not.  It just sounds so much more optimistic.  Like what are the chances the whole England team is willing Andy Murray to get to the Finals so the public distain for them might begin to dissipate.  I’m willing to guess that is what they call a “certain” event on the old probability line from math class.

Now I’m on to chances I can’t bear to wrap up without sharing with you the funny article in today’s Independent online.  It is quick and straight to the point like I need to get better at doing because you know, well, we are all busy.  As you’ll see if you follow the link, they’ve calculated the chances of being bitten by a shark versus being bitten by Luis Suarez.  If you are getting ready to head to the beach you might rest easier to know you are more likely (1 in 2,000 chances) of being bitten by Suarez than you are to be bitten by a shark in the ocean which they calculate at 1 in 3.7m chances.  Suarez is also more likely to get his gnashers into you than for you to be struck by lightning (1 in 10,000), killed by a wasp, bee or hornet attack (1 in 76,000) or hit by an asteroid (1 in 700,000).

Aah, I feel much better and safer now.  Please do feel free to avoid the roads around Caterham or atleast wherever my car is traveling if you want to ensure a babbling, betting Bennett does not bash you in her gut busting to get this year done and dusted.  Breathe……cue Johnny Mathis.

 

 

 

 

Postings prompted from pumpkin epiphanies