Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Déjà Vu All Over Again

"I'm passing around a seating chart. If you would sign your name in the correct box and then keep these seats all week..."

A seating chart?

It is so weird to be back in law school.

All this week, I am attending class, 8:00 to 5:30, at a Columbus law school. With the commute, it makes for a 12 hour day.

I graduated from law school in 1981. 29 years ago. I took a professionalism class two nights a week for 4 weeks in 1989 in order to sit for the Ohio bar exam, but even that was a long time ago.

The class I am taking is filled primarily by law students. Because this school has a well-established night school and attracts older students, the ages of the students run from the 20s to the 50s, even in the summer. All the same, students young enough to be my children - Ben's age, for goodness sake! - predominate.

It is a weird feeling to attend school with my son's contemporaries.

In the three decades since I was a law student, some things have changed. Every law student has a laptop and you can hear the click of the keyboard as students take notes. Occasionally I catch a student surfing while the professor is lecturing. Backpacks have faded in prominence since I was a student; wheeled totes dominate.

Some things never change, and the tension level at which law students often operate is one of them. The professor announces that there will be a pop quiz and hands go up. "Open or closed?" "Is what we saw on the video on the quiz?"

At times, I find myself getting sucked into the law school mentality. My hand goes up when a question is tossed out. I take the pop quizzes, even though I don't have to. I get to class early. Then I catch myself. I'm not taking this course for a grade. I don't have to worry about the exam because I don't take it.

Heck, I don't even need an exam number.

It is Thursday night as I type this post. Four days down, one to go. One more day of taking notes, raising my hand, and trading observations.

My look back ends tomorrow. I've enjoyed the class. I'm glad it will be done. I have spent a week around the law students, listening to them worry over grades and course credits. I'm glad it's not me in their shoes, glad when I catch my reflection in the bathroom mirror that it's a three-decades older April I see smiling back. I've been here, done this, and I don't need to do it again.

What a long strange trip it's been.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Leaving Home

Two weeks from today, my son Ben and my almost daughter-in-law Alise are getting married in Helena, Montana. Alise wrote about it in her all too occasional blog:

I feel that this ceremony has a slightly different meaning for B and I than it does for other young couples. B and I have been together for six years this October. We've been living together for four of those six years. In our minds, we have already made a life-long commitment to one another. A lot of what this ceremony is, for us, is telling the world that we are in it for the long run. Beyond the practical, legal aspects (which are important to us), this ceremony also says that we mean to do the "work" of love. To go beyond what we normally would to support one another and make our collective lives great.

(Note: I love Alise's writing. I wish she could do more of it.)

Around here, we are starting the final preparations for our road trip out and back. This will be the first time we have seen Ben and Alise in over two years and that is reason for celebration even without a wedding.

Ben has lived "away" since the fall of 2005, when he returned to Reed College in Portland, Oregon, for the start of his sophomore year. In fact, I have only seen him twice since then - in December, 2006, when he and Alise came back here for Christmas, and then at their commencement from college in May, 2008. I have long been used to knowing my son is "out there" in the big world.

So why was I crying in the attic today?

Ben emailed me a couple of days ago with a simple request: when you come here, can you please bring my copy of The Human Comedy and any ursula k leguin you can find? thanks.

When we moved into Warren's house in October, 2008, I packed all of Ben's books (including some I was giving to him) and we moved the boxes into the attic. To find the books he requested would require a trip to the attic. To make the most of the foray, I asked him if there were any other books he would like me to find. After a series of emails back and forth, I finally suggested I put together a "gourmet box" of books for him, to which Ben replied: That sounds great, I look forward to a gourmet box.

This morning, while it was still relatively cool, I went up into the attic and started opening book boxes.

Strong waves of emotions rolled through me as I sorted through Ben's books. Here was a box of nothing but Redwall books, from the years when he lived for each new installment. In another box, the works of Rosemary Sutcliffe were mixed in with those of Robert Heinlein. I came across his boxed set of the Narnia novel; I pulled his 50th anniversary edition of The Hobbit.

I even found The Human Comedy, which started this whole hunt.

The books in these boxes represented a lot of Ben's reading from middle school to his first year of college. Many were books that we had read aloud together, sometimes through the bleakest of times in our lives.

I picked up his copy of Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman, which we read when Ben was in 6th grade. I remember both of us just howling through Feynman's description of fixing a radio:

WUH BUH BUH BUH

Suddenly I found myself in tears. Pulling books for Ben, packing a gourmet assortment as it were, was the closest I have come to truly realizing he is grown and not coming back.

To send him off to college 2500 miles away? Easy. To have him set up living out there? Fine. Marrying Alise? Wonderful! But packing up his books? That hit me hard. That brought me to tears.

Ben really has left home.

There are still boxes and boxes and boxes of books in our attic. (In fact, as I run through the books in my head, I realize there must have been one I didn't open - the one with the Robert Fagles translation of The Odyssey and the Seamus Heaney version of Beowulf in it.) Other memories are up in the attic too. The blocks, the marble game. One box contained items from Ben's room during high school, including the exit sign that hung in his 3rd story window. Another yielded a treasure trove of Odyssey of the Mind t-shirts (including the signed Shakespeare shirt), yearbooks from the computer camp summers, and Pinky, Ben's beloved bear.

I had forgotten about Pinky.

But it wasn't Pinky that made me cry. It was Feynman and Sutcliffe and Vonnegut. It was Douglas Adams hitchhiking across the universe and Lewis Carroll sending Alice down a rabbit hole. It was the two d'Aulaires, the Greek and the Norse.

It was holding in my hands the torches that lit Ben's path to adulthood. That's what made me cry.

When a son writes his mother asking her to bring a selection of books when she comes out for his wedding, it is time for the mother to realize her boy has grown to manhood. I think I knew, at an intellectual level at least, that Ben is an adult. But packing his books - even just a few of them - somehow made it real in ways that no airline tickets, birthday phone calls, or Facebook photos ever have.

Ben and Alise are getting married in two weeks. I cannot wait to see their shining faces. I cannot wait to see them pledge their lives to one another. I cannot wait to see my son as a man.

I cannot wait to hand him his books.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Focus

It is another hot one today. The Columbus Dispatch is calling for it to be the "hottest day yet" of the summer. We are still relying on a judicious opening and shutting of windows and curtains as the sun moves over the house; I am trying not to use the air conditioning this summer at all.

It is already getting hot in this house and it is only 9:00 a.m.

Not that I am writing about the heat. I have about 20 minutes in which to start this post before walking to the courthouse for a mid-morning meeting. (The courthouse is wonderfully air-conditioned.) I don't want to rush my writing and the walk, no matter how hot it is, will maybe shake the loose thoughts tumbling about in my head.

Lately my mind has been on overload. My thoughts, when I have any, scatter across it like marbles dropped on a hardwood floor. I am trying to focus, trying to regain my focus.

Actually, I am wondering what my focus is. I have the upcoming trip (and the wedding!) on my mind, I have the preparations for the upcoming trip (and the wedding!) on my mind. I have little inconsequential things on my mind, like laundry, and bigger, more nagging things, like work and bills. I have Ben and Sam on my mind (Ben wants me to bring some of his books, Sam needs to go get some slacks and a shirt for Ben's wedding), as well as my almost daughter-in-law Alise (I miss her as much as I miss Ben). The Symphony is preparing to move into new offices (a Big Deal) and Warren is wrapping up Season 31 while launching Season 32.

Maybe that's why my thoughts go rolling across my mind like a dropped bag of cat eyes every time I turn around.

Just down the street, there are two hula hoops looped over the picket fence. I noticed them yesterday when I walked over to my friend's house to go walking. I had just read Deidra over at Jumping Tandem on rushing through a bike ride meant to connect her mind and body to her writing. Instead, it turned into an exercise on missing out on the journey because she was too focused on the mission.

Maybe seeing those hula hoops were the whole point of my walk. They reminded me of summer and children playing right up to the last "it's time to come in now!"

It is afternoon as I finish this post. I did not have to walk back home, as Warren, a colleague, and I went to lunch and my colleague dropped me off afterwards. I did turn on the air conditioning when I entered the house. Although it was my goal to go this summer without it, like we did last year, today is simply too hot and my tolerance for heat is too thin. Frugality is wonderful, but running the air (set at 81°) for a day or two beats a trip to the ER.

As I write my way through this post, it occurs to me that maybe it's okay - given everything going on this summer - for my thoughts to go bounding across the floor and skitter under the desk just out of reach. Maybe instead of chasing after them, I need to wait for them to stop scattering and see how many roll back my way.

Probably a lot more than I am giving myself credit for.

And maybe my focus is okay too. Yesterday was a special day for Warren and me (we have several milestones we celebrate) and he surprised me by going out for hot fudge sundaes before he went to an evening Symphony meeting. We went to a little place about 15 miles from here - the same place we used to go to 38 years ago the one summer we dated. From the ice cream stand, it is a short walk to the church down the street, with broad cement steps on which to sit and talk and eat your ice cream. (We did that 38 years ago too.) The hot fudge melted the ice cream a little and I lightly swirled the two with my spoon. We didn't have all the time in the world because of the meeting, but we had enough time to make the most of the moment.

Hula hoops on the fence. Montana in the wings. Hot fudge sundaes on the steps with Warren.

I'd say my focus is just fine.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stopping at the Lemonade Stand


Warren and I were westbound on Pennsylvania Avenue, headed to the gas station with a gas can so we could determine whether his truck was out of gas or worse. As I drove slowly past the line of houses, I saw two young boys jumping up and down in a front yard, waving enthusiastically at passing motorists.

"Lemonade here! Stop for lemonade!"

The sign said 25¢.

I waved as I drove past. At the gas station, while Warren pumped the gas, I scrabbled through the divider console and found a quarter. When Warren got back in, I handed it to him.

"Here."

"What's this for?"

"We're stopping at that lemonade stand on the way back."

Warren raised his eyebrows but didn't object. I retraced our route, slowing and pulling off the road right in front of the two boys.

Their eyes lit up and the younger one yelled, "Oh boy!"

They were probably about eight and six, just old enough to be handling a lemonade stand, and still young enough for it to be exciting and fun. An older man, Grandpa by the looks of it, hung in the back, watching, but letting them do all the work.

Warren showed them the quarter. "One, please."

The two boys consulted and the little boy got very serious.

"Orange or lemonade?"

"Lemonade," I called out through the window.

The bigger boy said something to him and the littler boy turned to us again, all work. "How many ice?"

We chuckled at his grammar but got the point. "One," I said.

Together, the two boys got the paper cup, extracted one ice cube from a cooler, and slowly, carefully, filled the cup. Grandpa hovered nearby, but let them do it. In my rearview mirror, I saw another car slow and pull up behind me.

The little boy carefully walked the now full glass over to our car, using both hands and never taking his eyes off of the contents. He sighed with relief when Warren took the cup from him. When Warren handed over the quarter, the little boy got a huge grin on his face.

Grandpa called out his thanks, I think as a gentle prompt to the boys. I'm not sure they heard as the older one saw the car that had come up behind us and was jumping up and down.

"Oh boy, customers!"

Many years ago, I read Stopping at Every Lemonade Stand, by James Vollbracht. Subtitled How to Create a Culture That Cares for Kids, it is about creating community by starting with the children in the community. It is about reconnecting children - and ourselves - to our families, our blocks, our neighborhoods, and the world beyond. His work takes small steps, child-size steps, starting with what we already have at hand and building from there. Vollbracht believes that children need meaningful, positive connections with adults in their everyday lives. Tonight, when we stopped and I saw the two boys leap up and down with delight, I understood exactly what Vollbracht was saying.

As we drove off, I said to Warren, "that was why I wanted to stop."

I wanted to stop to see those grins. To hear that glee ("Oh boy, customers!"). To watch them dance with anticipation.

I'm hoping those boys always remember the summer they had a lemonade stand in Grandpa's front yard.

I think they will.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Music Man

Last Saturday Warren and I joined our friends David and Vince down at the Ohio Theatre to watch "The Music Man." I love "The Music Man." It is unabashedly sentimental, unrelentingly brassy, and as all-American as a 4th of July parade.

But as we drove home, I found myself thinking about Marian Paroo and Professor Harold Hill. The movie ends with the two of them (indeed, the whole town) marching down the street to "76 Trombones." The sun is shining, the instruments are glittering, and the air is bright with the promise of living happily ever after.

But what came next? Assuming that Harold Hill stayed in River City after telling Marian that "for the first time in my life, I got my foot caught in the door," what happened after the credits stopped rolling?

They married, of course. Unconventional as she could be, Marian wouldn't have it any other way. Little Winthrop was the ring bearer; Amaryllis was the flower girl. Mrs. Paroo - indeed, all the good ladies of River City - wept copious tears. The bride looked serene and confident as she recited her vows. Harold looked a little pale. Despite his avowal of love for the demure librarian, he couldn't quite believe he was publicly pledging to remain faithful and settle down in one place.

Afterwards, the school board entertained the guests with their quartet rendition of "Lida Rose."

Their first year was marked with the usual discoveries of married life. Harold learned that supper could be postponed for hours because Marian was deep in a book and lost track of time. For her part, she couldn't understand how Harold managed to be so entirely absent when it came time to pull the dandelions, patch the screen door, or pound beefsteak, let alone pump any water to fill the cistern.

More than once, her Saturday night bath was delayed because the cistern came up dry.

As a result of their haphazard housekeeping, they got in the habit of taking supper with her mother, to the delight of Winthrop and Mrs. Paroo. When Mrs. Paroo proposed the Hills move back into her home and the two families share in the expenses and keeping of the household, both Marian and Harold accepted with grateful alacrity. Mrs. Paroo never stopped adoring her devilish son-in-law. To his credit, Harold always treated her with great tenderness and affection, dropping from time to time into an Irish brogue just to make her smile. Winthrop, as he grew older, came to realize that his brother-in-law was not only pretty much just an ordinary mortal but even something of a failure at anything other than scamming people, but he never held that against Harold.

For the truth was that Harold, entertaining and charming as he could be, was not cut out for the daily grind of making a living in River City. He didn't possess many employable skills, unless you counted card playing and leaping on and off of moving trains among them. It turned out he didn't have much of an education either, having lived on his wits and on what he picked up here and there in the newspapers or in the smoker car for so many year.

He certainly had no musical training. Despite the emotional debut of the River City band, Harold couldn't read a note of music or tell a cornet from a euphonium. The band would have languished and died that first summer but for the efforts of Tommy Djilas, formerly labeled as "incorrigible," but increasingly spoke of with admiration and even a hint of respect. It turned out that Tommy had both a knack and an ear for music. Tommy stayed with the group, cajoling and pestering the boys to work at their instruments. When school started in the fall, he took every music class he could, learning the rudiments of playing and reading music. Eventually, Tommy went on to normal school, completed the instruction course, and returned to River City as the town's first full-fledged band director.

As the years went on, Marian often thought back to the qualities she had hoped for in a husband. All she had wanted was a plain man, a modest man, a quiet man, a gentle man. She had wanted a straightforward and honest man. And in Harold she got few of these qualities. Oh, he was honest enough with her, but "plain," "modest," and "quiet" were not in his makeup. After all, this was a man who used to wear a hat that could be punched into a red-plumed band cap in a matter of seconds. He still had a reversible jacket with gold trim on the inside. There were times, walking down the street arm in arm with him, when she was quite sure that he was imagining himself decked out in his glittery garb.

In later years, when River City got up an amateur theatrical group, Harold was an eager participant and went on to several minor local triumphs.

Marian had dreamed of spending her life with someone who might ponder what made Shakespeare and Beethoven great. In Hill, she got someone who knew dime novels and detective stories, but not much Shakespeare. She sighed and went right on with her library work.

Oh yes, she kept the library position, the one that Uncle Maddy had arranged for her so that the Paroo family would not do without. It was scandalous, a married woman working, and Marian was the talk (again) of the Ladies Auxiliary, but she had been the butt of their gossip before and shrugged it off. It was Marian's hard work that kept Winthrop in knickers and paid for her husband's spending the day at Mayor Shinn's billiard hall. (It is not known whether he ever shot a game of pool, having railed so famously against it his first night in River City.)

To his credit, Harold tried hard to make a go of it in River City. He continued to woo the good ladies of the town, although eventually they took no more notice of him than of Mayor Shinn. He tried his hand more than once at working an ordinary job, although he never lasted long at any of them. He even joined Marcellus in the livery stable for a time, until mucking stalls and measuring out oats proved to be too onerous for a man of his sensibilities.

The truth was, Harold missed the open road. He missed the closeness of the smoker car, missed listening to the other salesmen complain about their routes or tell about their triumphs. He missed the smutty jokes, the smell of cigars, the reveling in the maleness of it all. Whenever the train whistle sounded through River City, he would stop whatever he was doing and listen until it faded into the distance.

So, were they happy? It turns out they were. Despite neither of them being quite what the other imagined, they never got over their amazement at being together. Neither Marian nor Harold ever forgot that there was indeed love all around, but they had never heard it singing until the other came along. Neither ever forgot the magical moment on the footbridge.

When the footbridge burned down in 1922, the Hills were among the first subscribers to the fund to rebuild it.

Harold died first, after attending a band concert at which the group played a special arrangement of "Minuet in G" in his honor. Marian ordered a trombone to be engraved on the stone, making her the talk of the town yet one more time. Winthrop, grown to adulthood and with a family of his own, placed his battered cornet on the mounded dirt, right in the middle of the flower arrangements.

Marian lived on for two more decades, amidst her books and her memories. When asked about Harold, her eyes would grow misty, but she would recite the stories in a strong, clear voice. She was a bit of a recluse. Winthrop, who had moved to Des Moines, made a point of visiting his sister at least once a month.

When folks walked past her house late at night, they would sometimes hear faint whistling.

It was always "76 Trombones."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Where the Wild Things REALLY Are

Maurice Sendak had it all wrong.

Forget Max. Forget Max sailing to where the wild things are.

If you want to find the real wild things this summer, you need to come to our backyard and look at the plots of land that once upon a time were gardens.

They're easy enough to find. There's the big, green, tangled mess up by the house, and the bigger, greener, more tangled mess down in the back.

I went out early this morning to weed and assess. I have not lavished the same care and attention on my gardens as I did last year. My summer has been too squirrelly, my time too fragmented. The gardens have largely gotten what might be called "a lick and a promise," only I never followed through on the promise.

But even if I had, I would still be in trouble this summer because I planted everything just too…darn…thick.

Down in the sod garden, there are pumpkin vines here, pumpkin vines there, pumpkin vines everywhere. I have pumpkins setting already, some of them three feet up in the air, because the plants are so strong (and close) that the vines cannot reach the ground. I tried to reroute where I could, cutting away leaves and extraneous vines to bring the pumpkinettes back down to earth.
While working in the pumpkins, I kept looking for zucchini. My dad is already bringing us armloads out of his garden. His aren't fighting with pumpkins for space like mine are. Warren, wandering down, finally spied one - not in the zucchini patch, but in the pumpkin patch.

And forget the broccoli. I moved it into the sod garden so it wouldn't bully the peppers and eggplants this year. The peppers and eggplants are going great guns this summer. The broccoli? It turns out there isn't enough constant sun in the lower garden. After being the biggest kids in the class last summer, this year they remind you of the kindergartener who just barely made the birthday cut off and is standing on tiptoes at the drinking fountain - the little drinking fountain.

Up in the kitchen garden, which is where I headed next, things are hardly better. The eggplants and peppers seem to be doing well, if a bit crowded. But it is after those first few rows that everything falls apart.

If you look closely (in the garden, not in any photos), you might, might, see some onions. I planted five rows of Walla Walla onions.

F-I-V-E. Cinco. Cinq. 5

I can find two rows. T-W-O. Dos. Deux. 2

I think I would find more but the tomatoes have so taken over everything that I can't see the ground, let alone any onions.

"Girls Gone Wild" has nothing on my version of "Tomatoes Gone Wild."

For a while this morning, I pruned the tomatoes relentlessly. Because of my inattention earlier this season, most of them are neither staked nor caged. The result is mayhem. And because the bushes are so thick, no matter how I carefully I picked my way through them, there was the continual crunch of broken vines underneath my feet.

It was not a pretty sight.

Did I mention the Lazy Housewife beans against the back wall? Their wall of green is the only thing that tops the tomatoes. The beans are starting to come on and I can only imagine how many more tomato vines I will break while wading in to pick them.

Sigh.

After I finished hacking my way through the tomatoes, I came in, showered off the mud, and turned my attention to indoor chores. Unbeknownst to me, Warren, who is spending the morning stripping xylophone bars on the back deck, took a stab at caging one of the tomato plants.

I just discovered his attempts a half hour ago.

"I thought it would help," he said, somewhat deflated by the result.

It didn't. Now, in addition to the tangled green mess of tomatoes, I have one caged, tangled green mess as well.

In Sendak's marvelous book, Max tames the wild things by shouting "BE STILL!" and staring at all of them "without blinking once." For that, they made him king of all wild things.

Stare as I might, my tomatoes are unmoved. They are holding their own wild rumpus this summer, as are the pumpkins.

King of the wild things? Not this year, not this garden.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Rhythms

As I have noted before, I live in the percussion section. Even as I type this entry, I can hear Warren in the basement, playing snare drum patterns. A week ago, watching him before the Put-In-Bay concert, I saw him reach into his pants pocket and pull out…the key to the equipment truck? A note of last minute items for board members to do?

No, a pair of drumsticks. Only a percussionist would reach into a pocket and extract a pair of sticks the way someone else would take out a phone or some lip balm.

Living so closely in the world of rhythm and beat as I do, I find it all the more ironic that lately I feel out of step and off the beat.

"I Got Rhythm?" Not right now, that's for sure.

I don't know what it is about this summer. I look back at recent posts and see that I write again and again about being rushed, about not feeling like I am keeping up (with what exactly I am not sure), about being harried and hurried and, well, out of step.

My friend Cindy and I have been exchanging emails back and forth about this sensation, which she too is feeling. We speculate: is it age? Hormones? The heat (which finally, blessedly, broke today)? I'm okay - just not where I want to be in my head or my attitude or my days.

Cindy's mantra is "this too shall pass" and it dots her emails frequently this summer. Mine, the only "takeaway" I really ever took from Al-Anon many years ago, is a familiar saying to anyone who has spent time in or around a 12 step program: "Let go and let God."

Some nights saying that is the only thing that lets me fall asleep.

We leave for Montana and Ben and Alise's wedding three weeks from this weekend. Despite all that stands between me and that trip, it is starting to become real. I am eager to see Ben and Alise again. This will be a happy, joyful event.

I am also looking to getting out of town and seeing parts of this country I haven't seen in over a quarter of a century. There is always magic in a road trip, and Warren and I have spent a lot of magical times on the road during the time we have been together. I look forward to sharing Montana - one of my very favorite places - with him. I look forward to the time away for both of us.

And maybe, just maybe, somewhere out there on the edge of the Great Plains, I will get my sense of pace and self back.

When Warren plays a keyboard instru- ment, he typically plays with four mallets, two in each hand. Watching him play, when he is really locked in, is to see poetry in motion.

It is that poetry that I am looking for in my own mind right now. It is that smooth rhythm that I am searching for in my daily life.

It is the ease of reaching into a pocket and pulling out not the claptrap of everyday life, but the wonder of music.

Or, in my case, the wonder of words.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Tell It GOODBYE!"

Back in the 80s, I lived for several years in California - first in the Bay Area and then in Stockton. I watched and listened to a lot of Oakland A's baseball during those years, having acquired a penchant for the A's back when Catfish Hunter, Sal Bando, and Rollie Fingers, to name a few, put together three consecutive World Series victories.

The early 80s were also golden years for the Athletics. Those were the years of José Canseco (before he self-destructed) and Mark McGwire (before he took steroids). There was Walt Weiss, who followed Canseco and McGwire as the third consecutive AL Rookie of the Year to come from the A's, and Dave Kingman, the team's formidable DH. I saw Rickey Henderson steal bases with aplomb, on his way to the all-time record, and I got to watch Reggie Jackson close out his career.

The A's are on my mind today. Well, really, I am thinking of their iconic broadcast team of Bill King, Lon Simmons, and Ray Fosse. In particular, Lon Simmons is on my mind. He was known for calling a home run as it sailed towards the wall: "Back…back…wayyyyy back…tell it GOODBYE!"

We have just come out of the marathon known as 4th of July concerts: setting up stages, breaking down stages, loading instruments, unloading instruments, rehearsals, sound checks, concerts (two), and everything else in between. Warren did yeoman's duty, like he always does, and many of his board members stepped up as well to set up, break down, load, unload, and run needed errands. I was there too.

Yesterday, after one final group walk of the campus grounds to make sure all was clean and then hauling the bagged trash to the college dumpsters, Warren and I went home and finally, finally stopped moving.

The July 4th marathon was over.

Tell it GOODBYE.

This morning, as I assessed the week and the month ahead, I could not shake Lon Simmons or his call from my head. If I tried to focus on this week's calendar, my mind kept circling back to the weekend we had just finished, and I would hear Lon call "Tell it GOODBYE!" If I tried to focus on the events of last weekend, my mind would jump ahead to the events of this week, and Lon would again broadcast over the roar of the crowd, "Tell it GOODBYE."

You get the picture.

I finally shared my inner soundtrack with Warren, who laughed and said "Not yet!" He was headed off to his office, where the remains of the holiday awaited. With Montana fast approaching, he is trying to finish up any remaining pieces of Season 31 and position the Symphony to launch Season 32 (while planning, you realize, for Seasons 33, 34, and 35). There was no Lon Simmons calling in his head.

Of course there wasn't. Lon is in my head today.

Tell it GOODBYE.

I am taking a slow day. It is hot (again, still, yet) today so I am sticking inside. Tell it GOODBYE. I am still drained from the weekend's events. Tell it GOODBYE. I picked up a virus sometime between here and the lake and back again, and it has taken the edge off my energy for the day. I am trusting it will pass. Tell it GOODBYE.

This summer has passed by all too swiftly so far. Behind us already are Sam's birthday and the holiday concerts. Tell it GOODBYE. The garden has moved swiftly from seedlings to blossoms and beyond, and I have barely kept up with it, let along documented the changes. Tell it GOODBYE.

Ahead lies navigating July, with some tricky runs in it, before launching for Montana. I am afraid if I am not paying attention, all too soon Lon will be calling the game for the entire summer.

Tell it GOODBYE.

Not yet, Lon. Let me catch my breath first. Let me take the time to watch the fireflies rise up at dusk. Let me stop and watch the bees work over the pumpkin blossoms. Let me ride with Warren out to Prospect for ice cream, sitting with our sundaes on the church steps down the block, just like we did 38 years ago. Let me look - really, really look - and listen and take in the trip west and back, on routes I have not traced in three decades.

Let me catch the summer in my hands, let it run out through my fingers slowly.

And only when summer is done and the garden picked and the fair is coming to town, then you can make your call, Lon. But whisper it for me, will you?

"Tell it goodbye…tell it goodbye…tell it goodbye."