25 May 2014

Sunny Day in Boston

We drove to Boston for the day, just to soak in the sights, the lovely Spring weather, and to show around a friend who'd never been there.

We pretty much camped out in the North End for most of the day, because... well, have you been there? It's my favorite part of Boston. We walked part of the Freedom Trail down to Boston Commons, and took in some of the sites along the way...

One of the really cool things was a show outside Quincy Market. If you've ever been there, you've seen the jugglers, the acrobats, and various other performers who invite members of the audience to participate.

In this one, four audience members had to touch their toes while the guy in the photo ran and FLIPPED over them.

As if this weren't spectacle enough, while we were watching, I spotted this on the building above us.... terrifying!

Later, while walking through the Commons, we came upon a guy in a placard who was giving out "Free Safety Advice." My daughter, her boyfriend and my friend had a chat with him and found out he was none other than Devin McCourty of the New England Patriots.

As you can see from the photos, my daughter was wearing a Denver Broncos sweatshirt (yes, she makes me proud!) and this fact was not lost on Mr. McCourty. The following conversation ensued after he offered us a free meat thermometer...

McCourty - Always make sure you heat meat to the proper temperatures for safe eating.

My Snappy Daughter - Great, thank you!

McCourty - .... I mean, unless you're cooking for the Denver Broncos, of course.

My Snappy Daughter - Aw, it's ok. They'd still beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship.

McCourty - OUCH!

My Snappy Daughter - Too soon? ;)

We had some good laughs and then a few weeks later, found this video - you can find our tiny moment of Boston fame at minute 1:17...

You never know what you'll see in Boston!

Copyright © 2014 - Paulla Estes

13 May 2014

Destructive Woodland Animals

A couple of years ago, we dug a new strip of garden in our back yard. Where the lawn used to end at the porch, there is now a garden boundary.

The first year, it was sort of on a lark, so we just planted geraniums there for the summer.

Over the next winter, as we decided what to put in that garden, we discussed how truly BAD we are at gardening. It seems the only things that really work for us are variations of lilies. Specifically, day lilies and hostas.

So last summer, we planted day lilies and they did beautifully.

Of course we never know when to leave well enough alone. Since there were gaps between the lilies, my husband decided to put tulips between them, making it a bit of a staged garden.

Understand that we have NEVER had luck with tulips. I think in all the years we've lived here, with all the tulips he's planted, we've maybe had four or five come up. And by the next year, for whatever reason, they don't come up again.

My takeaway from that is - stick to lilies - they're safe and reliable!

But, always the horticultural optimist, he planted the tulips last fall, covering the bulbs with the highest quality compost.

And come up, they did!

Here they are two weeks ago:

Then the next day I had to go out of town suddenly, for the funeral.

When I returned this past Thursday, the tulips were Tall! And they all had big, promising buds!

The very next day we went out to find that several of our FIFTEEN tall, promising tulip buds had been snipped off and destroyed by the darling squirrels that live in our woodland back yard. I mean, they didn't even eat them - they just shredded them and left them on the ground next to the tall, headless stalk.

It was depressing, to say the least.

By Mother's Day, there were only SEVEN tulip buds left. My husband was away, but my daughters and I sat out on the porch for much of the day, enjoying the sunshine.

When the sun moved behind the trees, we went inside.

Not an hour later, I looked outside and saw that more tulips had been shredded. I went out to investigate and it turned out we had only ONE tulip bud left. All the other FOURTEEN stalks were tragically headless.

So logically, I snipped off the last delicate bud (with it's stalk still attached), and brought it in the house so it could bloom without interference.

It is currently on our sunny kitchen windowsill and should bloom in the next couple of days.

Unless our cats get it first.

Copyright © 2014 - Paulla Estes

04 May 2014

Out West

My dad had a classmate in grad-school - a fellow physicist. His name was Bobby. They and their buddies were 1960s versions of The Big Bang Theory. As time passed, Bobby and his wife, Bonnie, became friends of my mom and dad.

I was born, their first son was born, then along came my brother and their younger son. We moved, they moved, but the families remained friends.

As children, we played and argued. As teens we were thrown together for family dinners. Bobby and Bonnie's boys were more like cousins to me, than friends. I never really stopped to think about whether or not I liked them. They were just family.

Time passed.

When we moved across country right after my high school graduation, my mom gave away my cat, Cleo. I loved Cleo and she was a sweet cat, but my mom didn't want to take her with us. I was heartbroken. But Bonnie stepped in and found a good home for Cleo - with a kind family that had just lost their old cat.

Just before we left, Bonnie took me out to lunch. It seemed a bit odd that my mom's friend was taking me to lunch, but she had helped with Cleo, so I went. She was emotional and terribly kind, and at that time, I didn't fully understand how much she understood my situation.

More time passed.

I became a single mom at the age of 20 and everyone I knew over the age of 30 was disappointed and unkind to me. Everyone except for Bonnie and her family. She just kept telling me that God loved me and my little baby.

Years later, after I'd married my husband, had a little girl, and was pregnant with another, my family was making it's own cross-country move. We stopped in Albuquerque as Bobby and Bonnie were now living there. We had a lovely dinner with them and their two now-grown sons, and it was as if no time had passed.

And that was it. We were in Maine and they were in New Mexico, and although we kept in touch through Christmas cards, and sporadically over email, they just became another set of names in my address book.

But one doesn't forget the sort of kindness they showed me.

Several years ago, Bonnie sent me a letter forwarded from the friend who had taken Cleo. My sweet kitty had lived to the ripe old age of 19 and the family wanted me to know about all her happy life. Bonnie is the kind of person to make sure that note got to me.

On Wednesday of this past week, I received a phone call from Bonnie. She had misplaced my dad's phone number and needed to get in touch with him because Bobby had passed away.

I was shocked. I mean, I knew he had been sick - for years - but we never really expect to get that phone call, you know? Bonnie and I talked for a while, cried, and hung up, with my promise to call my dad immediately.

The funeral was planned for that Friday (two days later) and as the day wore on, something nudged me - I felt like I needed to be at that funeral. My dad and I spoke and he said Bonnie had asked him to speak at the service, but he wasn't sure if he could get away on such short notice. I told him I wanted to go and he said he'd go if I went.

I looked at flights for the next morning, when I'd have to leave, and on such short notice, they were WAY out of my price range. So my dad offered to fly me there. By now it was nearly 6 p.m. and if I went, I'd have a 7 a.m. flight. I thought back at how kind Bonnie was to me and I knew I needed to go. I owed her this - to do her a kindness in her time of need.

Appointments were canceled, work was rearranged, and I had to bow out of a weekend event I'd promised to attend. I had to be in Syracuse today (Sunday) to pick up my daughter from school, so I'd fly there instead of drive, and we could rent a van and drive it back to Maine.

It would all work out.

And it did.

It was as if no time had passed. Yet Bonnie was older. Twenty years older. And Bobby was gone. Their two sons are adult men on the outside, though when I look into their eyes I still see the boys I knew all those years ago.

It was inconvenient and expensive and rushed and crazy. But it was also priceless. We hugged them as they said good-bye to a husband and father. We laughed as we remembered old family times together. We held their hands as they cried.

I can't begin to express how glad I am that I went.

Saying good-bye is hard. But saying good-bye with old friends and family nearby makes it just a little bit easier to bear - for everyone involved.

Copyright © 2014 - Paulla Estes