Site Meter Elsie's Space: September 2006

Elsie's Space

Location: New England, United States

Not much to tell.

Friday, September 29, 2006

It's been a difficult day...

watching families mourn their loved ones so openly and so publicly. They all had a story to tell of how their lives have changed since The Fire. It's a small community here, the club just miles from my home, and everyone has been affected one way or another.

Then my old, wonderful friend Jody took the stand. We knew each other well way back when, both of us graduates of the class of '79. He looked right into the face of another classmate, Mike, one of the brothers who owned the club. Jody was the first to say the fire was an accident. I'm so proud of him. It is the first time I've seen Mike cry in public. In a strange way, I'm proud of him, too. Jody is hurting having lost his little brother. Mike is hurting, being held responsible for the death of 100. I'm hurting, watching them both.

I know it won't end here for either of them or the families of the other 99. Jody lives without his brother. Mike has lost everything and will spend four years in jail. I will go on praying for peace for them both. It's a senseless tragedy. We will not forget.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Just wondering...

what it means when someone is commenting on your blog while you're commenting on theirs. Is it purely a coincidence, a "jinx, you owe me a soda" moment, or something else? It seems to happen with some frequency. Maybe it just means that we have nothing better to do. Maybe it means we have too much to do, and we can speed on our computers. Maybe it means nothing at all.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Oh, What a Night!

Filled with excitement, that's for sure. It started out quietly enough. The children were doing their homework. I was preparing dinner, busy chopping vegetables.

The phone rings.


"This is ABC Security calling. Please give me your password." ABC Security is our alarm company, but they've only called once in the seven years we've lived here.






"Yes, that's it. We're showing a fire at this address."

"What?" (And how long were they going to let me try to guess my password without telling me there's a fire?)

"There's an alarm indicating a fire at your address."

"Okay. I don't see, hear, smell anything."

"It indicates it's in the attic."

"Okay. Just a minute." I go to where the ladder/stairs pull down to access the attic. I can hear popping sounds. Back to the phone.

"I can hear some popping noises, but can't see or smell anything."

"Could you please go up there to check?"

"Sorry, I can't. (I can't believe I feel the need to explain). I just had surgery and can't pull the stairs all the way down or climb up."

"We'll have to send the fire department then."


"Please exit the residence."

No need to tell me that. "KIDS, GET OUT OF THE HOUSE RIGHT NOW!! WAIT. TAKE THE DOG!!" They look at me like I'm nuts, but they must know I mean business, because they're out in record time. Me, I'm barefooted. Go to get my sneakers. Crap. They're on the floor. Doctor's orders -- absolutely no lifting or bending. So I leave barefoot.

"What's going on, Mom?"

"The alarm people called and said there's a fire in the house." Katie starts to cry. "It's okay, honey. We're all outside." And then we hear the sirens. Lots of sirens. The dog starts acting crazy. "Take the dog to the tennis court and shut the gate. Stay there until I come for you."

The fire department arrives, sirens wailing, lights flashing. Three "regular" engines (I don't know what they're called), a ladder truck, and a rescue.

"Ma'am, we received a call from your alarm company. Which way to the attic?"

Ma'am. I hate that. Should I call him son? "Through the door, over the stairwell on the right."

He runs in. Then come more men and more and more. At least 15 firefighters descend upon my house. I look at the kids and can see that my daughter is in serious distress. I go toward them and get them to come out. We stand there, far from the house, just watching. These guys sure seem to know what they're doing. But why are they all running into my house with axes?

Then the Chief pulls up in his own car. Hell, the Chief. It must be bad.

Then one firefighter comes out and says, "Ma'am (again?), we can't find anything inside. Did you call your alarm company?"

"No. They called me saying there was an alarm indicating a fire in the attic. I could hear some popping sounds, but couldn't get up there, so they called you."

"Well that explains it, I think. Something activated the alarm, and your speaker was trying to turn on but couldn't. It was your speaker making the popping sounds."

"What speaker?"

"There's a speaker in the attic that should have sounded. We were listening for your alarm on the way over, and that explains why we didn't hear it. You need to get the alarm company over hear to check it. Your system was inspected last February, but something's not right. We also checked your smoke detectors (they're separate from the alarm system -- fire codes and all that). They seem to be working fine, but since there was no smoke, they didn't sound."

Then, one by one, firefighters exit my house. They're very friendly, all smiling. Then the Chief comes over. "We didn't find any sign of fire, but there's a couple of guys still in there with the infrared sensor. They should be out in a while."

Three young men come out, perhaps twenty minutes later. "Ma'am, we went over your house thoroughly with the infrared sensor. It shows any hot spots. We went over all the walls, the wiring in the attic, the space over your garage and family room. Everything looks fine. No sign of heat at all."

"Great, thank you so much."

The trucks begin to leave, one by one. The last group out gives us big smiles and waves. We wave back.

"Okay, let's go finish making dinner."

"Are you sure it's okay, Mom?" asks my little one.

"Yes, sweetie. We've got the safest house on the block now. Who else had their whole house checked with that special sensor thing within the last few minutes?"

She gives me a big smile. My boy, David, says to his little sister, "You can hang out with me, if you want." He takes her hand and leads the way into the house. She's still not sure about that. "Did they check my room?" "Yes, they said they checked the whole house, that's why we had to stay outside for so long."

Things start to seem normal again, until the phone starts ringing off the wall. Neighbors calling to see what's happened and if they can do anything. It's still a busy, crazy time. Finally, my husband makes it home from work. The kids can't wait to tell him all about it.

I finally get the chance to sit down. The phone rings -- again. Hubby tells me it's a friend of mine from up the street. She's just checking on us, like everyone else. Then she asks, "So what did you grab to take with you?" I explain about leaving the sneakers. She says, "No, you know how they ask what you'd take with you in an emergency? What you'd save?" I reply, "Nothing. Not a thing. I took the kids and the dog (the cat was already outside). That's it." "Are you kidding me, you didn't take anything?" "Nothing."

Later last night, I got to thinking. I didn't take anything. That's completely wrong. I TOOK EVERYTHING, everything that really means something to me. Sure, if my home had gone up in flames, it would have been devastating. But it really is only a place where we live. Live. Alive. My family. They're all I really need.

Monday, September 25, 2006

No Need for a Calendar

in this house to know that Fall has officially arrived. The signs are everywhere. No, not the trees -- leaf peeping doesn't start here for a few more weeks. But, school is in full swing, leaving the house too quite for days on end. There are no splashing sounds around the pool. And, starting this week, kids' after school activities begin!!!

It seems to me that there are two major schools of thought on kids' activities. One, sign them up for the sport that the parents dream will make their little one a superstar. By the time they are eight years old, they have played said sport for five or six years already, and you can't possibly let them quit then (such a waste), even though they hate it!!! Or, two (the one to which I subscribe), you let them choose what they want to do, encourage them to try lots of things, and hope that one day they might find something that sparks their own life-long passion. They are each allowed to choose only two activites, because this mom thinks kids need time to just play! This semester, since boy child started Jr. High (eeeks) and needs some time to adjust, he's only allowed one.

When our son was about five, we asked him if there were any sports or activities he would like to try. There sure were! He's now eleven and has participated in: soccer (two seasons), baseball (two seasons), Boy Scouts (four years), swimming lessons (several years), and tennis (two years). For one reason or another, he's always wanted to move on. Until now.

My little guy is a fencer. We're not even sure how he came up with the idea. One day he simply announced that he'd like to learn how to fence. It's not the most popular sport, but we were able to find a fencing academy, and he started his lessons. We weren't sure we even liked the idea. We didn't want to encourage the flailing of swords, but in reality, it's far more genteel. It requires great discipline and respect for one's opponent. They start with the foil as beginners. He's moved this year to the intermediate group and will now learn epee, as well. I'm secretly relieved he didn't choose sabre. He was in a tournament last year. It was so fun to watch him. He's not an aggressive type kid, and he's not aggressive fencing either. Each match begins, "Engarde, ready, fence" and he'd immediately retreat, letting the other child advance. Every time. But, here's his secret (I'm not sure I have this all right, but it's something close), he'd then parry (hit the other foil with his) which forces his opponent to retreat, advance ONE STEP, and just go for the point (touching the other child in the target area). This works fairly well for him as he is tall, tall, tall for his age, with a long reach. He finished lower than he would have liked (right in the middle of the pack) and didn't understand why his tactics didn't work. His instructor reminded him that, while he has the reach, he is also a much bigger target, making it easier for his opponent to score (mmmm....never thought of that). So, for now anyway, he's doing his own thing -- fencing. Thursdays from 4-5:30.

Our daughter just turned eight years old. She, too, has many interests and has tried numbers of activities: Ballet and tap (one year and she HATED it), soccer (two seasons), swimming (she's our little fish and will swim any chance she gets), Girl Scouts (hated that), tennis, and art. She takes art classes at R I S D (pronounced rizz-dee), supposedly a world-renowned school, and loves every minute of it. She likes being in the artsy buildings on campus. She loves seeing men with ponytails (a little too much like mom). She loves the smell of it. And she's very proud to go there (you'd think she'd submitted a portfolio to get in). She starts clay works on Saturday 9-12. She chose to take French classes as her other activity, beginning on Friday afternoon. Why don't they offer that in public elementary school any more? I hope she likes it. It's something totally different for her, but she often will talk to you in her own delightful French accent, so she thinks she's ahead of the game.

So far, my "letting them figure most of this out themselves" way of mommying seems to be working. They're great, hardworking, intelligent, interesting, funny kids. I love spending time with them, and I'm so glad they're mine.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Some days.....

when it seems that you've finally "gotten over" losing someone you've loved with everything you have, something comes along that just punches you in the gut, and you're right back where you started. Maybe you never really get over it, and it's always there just waiting for you to let your guard down. I don't know. But the feeling's back, and it isn't good. I guess all I can do is just keep on pushin' on.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

"Real Life"

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Best Things in Life...??

  • Epidural Injections..........................................$1,440

  • MRIs.................................................................$3,300

  • Back Surgery.................................................$17,500

  • Painlessly Walking Upright........................Priceless

Just an Old Hippie

Daughter's friend from across the street came by for a visit and told me, "My mom said she thinks you musta usedta be a hippie." Then yesterday a friend came by and gave me this CD.

If you recognize the band by this photo, you're an old hippie, just like me.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Public School Grade Three

Saturday, September 16, 2006

She's Hooked

We were watching cartoons when a commercial came on advertising the opening of Beauty and the Beast. She's only eight, but already is in love with the theater. She knows we have tickets (how could we not when Belle is her favorite?). She turns to look at me and smiles. Then a little frown.

I know in that instant that the frown is because mommy already had to bow out of attending Annie this summer (traumatic for us both) and sent her to the theater with Nana instead. So I say, "I'm pretty sure I'll be able to take you to see this one." I don't think I've ever seen her smile so big in her life. I can't believe how happy she looked. Then she told me how much she loves her Nana but that I am her favorite person in the whole big wide world. And I knew she meant it.

Then we went on to discuss all the different shows she's already seen. She's seen more shows in her eight-year-old life than I had seen by my mid-twenties. Then she listed them in order of her favorites. Lion King in front, Annie close behind. Oliver was good, but not as good as the movie. The Nutcracker was good, but she doesn't want to see ballet too often. And on and on and on. "What will happen if I like Beauty and Beast as much as Lion King?" "You can have them tie." "That's okay?" "It's your list, you can make it any way you want." "If it's a tie, I'll put the one you like best first." "It's your list, you can make it any way you want." "It's our list, Mom. We're the theater girls."

The theater girls. She is hooked.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Watch This?

I normally wouldn't promote any television show, but since a friend of mine is involved in production, I must.

Anyone who is a t.v. watcher, please kindly check out the new show **smith** premiering Tuesday night on CBS. It's about thieves, a thriller/mystery type of thing. Frankly, it doesn't look like my kind of show -- when I watch t.v., I generally watch those silly sitcoms (can't believe I'm admitting that) because I like laughing and don't have to think much, if at all. But in the spirit of friendship and wishing my friend great success, I'm suggesting it to everyone and will watch it myself.

I hope it (and she) is a huge hit!!!!

And why has my spell checker never worked on this blogging thing?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Cloud Has Lifted

Everything looks brighter. Sounds silly, but it's true. It's amazing how simply feeling physically well can change everything.

And about that cloud -- my husband's cousin called several weeks ago to see how I'd been faring when she blurted out, "you sure have a black cloud hanging over you." Huh? Did she really say that? She sure did. And her words got stuck in my head like a bad LP spinning round and round, over and over, in my brain.

Black cloud? Me? I've always thought that my life's been somewhat enchanted. Even as a kid, things always came fairly easy to me. I was a great student, had lots of friends, a wonderful family, and so much more. Then, as I became an adult, I stumbled into my first job with a wonderful company, met some of the most interesting people I'll probably ever meet, got promotion after promotion, experienced some of the world, and so much more. Eventually, I married a great guy, had two beautiful, perfect children, a beautiful home, and so much more. Black cloud?

Black cloud. I asked her what she meant. She said that in the past many years I've had to deal with back surgery twice and that I broke my ankle a couple of winters ago. Does that really mean I'm living with a Black Cloud hanging over my head? I think not. C'mon. Almost all my friends have one malady or another. Everyone's on meds for everything: high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and on and on and on. Me? Nope. None of the above. So, I've suffered a couple of acute injuries, but have no chronic conditions. And I'm the one with the cloud?

I guess that perhaps what shocked me most was that I just couldn't believe she'd say such a thing because I've never thought that way about myself or anyone else. And if I did, I surely wouldn't say it. If someone did, in fact, seem to have a Black Cloud hanging over them, I would not want to point it out. I just can't imagine thinking it, never mind saying it aloud.

So, if I did have a Black Cloud hanging over me, it's gone. And if, maybe just maybe, it ever truly existed for me, it came with a silver lining.