Monday, January 27, 2014

The Kid's Got Try

As part of my duties at work, I ended up at one of the student basketball games last week.  The girls played first, by half, they were 30 points ahead, and handily won their game.  (Go, Pumas!)

The boy's team followed.  I'll have to admit I was surprised when I saw, among the starters, a freshman.  The kid was at least a foot shorter than anyone else on the court.  I figured the coaches must have a reason for starting him, and I was right.

The kid's got try.

He knows how to catch, throw, shoot, dribble.   He uses his lack of height to get under the other players.  He grabbed one pass, started dribbling down the court, and just ducked down and ran beneath the opposing team's guard when they converged on him.  You could see the surprise on the opposing team's faces.  "Where'd he go???"

A short while later, he was in the cluster of players under the basket.  You could hardly see his purple uniform hidden behind the sea of white worn by the players on the opposing team.  They made a shot.  It rebounded.  And from the midst of the white, I saw his brown hands come up from nowhere to grab the ball.  A moment later, he hunkered down once again and emerged victorious from the huddle to dribble down the court to where he could pass the ball to one of his taller teammates.

Unless he comes up with an amazing growth spurt in the next few years, he'll never be the top scorer on a team.  But he'll be the kind of guy you want on your side.  The kind with hustle and grit; a great team player.

Gotta love it.  (Yes, the guy's team also won...)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


"There is no use trying," said Alice; "one can't believe impossible things."

"I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the Queeen.  "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day.  Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

-- Lewis Carroll

My sister-in-law gave me a coffee cup with the above quote inscribed on it as a gift several years ago, when things were a bit stalled in my life.  It's one of my favorite cups.

For the past few weeks, when I've had the luxury of drinking my coffee at home (on work days, I grab it in a to-go cup), I've found myself digging this cup out of the cupboard, and even out of the dishwasher and washing it by hand (if you know me, you'll know this is a rare thing - I quite dislike washing dishes...), so I can use it instead of the other five perfectly good cups I have in the cabinet.

While it's not been near as cold here as it has for my dear ones in Minnesota, it's been dark.  My project is stalled, work is frustrating, I am tired - and part of me is convinced it will stay this way FOREVER!  The email migration at work will never be finished, it will never be light when I have to get up in the morning, the weather will never warm up long enough for my foundation work to be completed.

The cup has provided much-needed balance to my litany of woe.  I wake up when it is light (I don't get up in the dark for much on the weekends any more - I don't have to), I stretch, I make my cereal and coffee.  I sit enjoying the light (this house has wonderful windows), cup my hands around the welcome warmth of the mug, and practice believing impossible things.

I've never made it up to six, but sometimes I get myself to believe in one or two, which is pretty good for me...

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Small Thing

Last fall, the weather turned abruptly.  My tomato plants were still full of green tomatoes, so I went out before the freeze to gather them all in.  I ended up with a cookie sheet full of the little guys.  I knew if I left them in the sun they would ripen despite being off the vine, and so they did.  Since that mid-October day, I've been able to enjoy a few home-grown tomatoes once a week or so.  The first few weeks, I took it for granted, but as October turned to November to December, and they still kept ripening, I have appreciated them more and more.  They're tart when they ripen now, but still hold the essence of summer's sweetness. 

In the last few weeks, I've been down to the last four little tomatoes.  Still stubbornly green, they are a little dried, but look fine.  But the batch before this last ripened before Christmas, and I was beginning to think these would just dry up on my counter top.  Then this morning, when I went down to the kitchen, I thought I saw a blush of yellow on one of them.

Sure enough, by this afternoon, two of the four were definitely on the yellow side of green and leaning towards orange.  If they follow the path of the others, they'll be ready to eat by mid-week, and I'll be able to enjoy two small tastes of the summer past. 

A small thing, to be sure.  But often it's the small things that bring hope to my heart and a smile to my face.

Home-grown tomatoes in January.  Who'd'a thunk it?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Puzzle Time

no, I don't know why the pic loads upside-down
On the cold and dark weekends of winter, when I don't have a whole lot else to do, it's time to bring out the puzzles.  I always feel a bit old-fashioned these days when I sit down with a jigsaw puzzle; it's such a low-tech option for entertainment.  But, it's one I've loved since I was a kid.

These days, I don't start to put one together until I've finished everything else I needed to get done for the weekend, because once I've started the project, it becomes an addiction.  I stay up too late.  I procrastinate on cooking - and eating.  I tell me to get up from the table.  I promise I'll do it after I find one more piece.  OK, one more.  Just one more.  You see how it goes.

It's a great way to get in touch with my inner two year-old:

All the pieces are mine.
No, thank you, I wouldn't like your help.
I don't care if you can see a bunch of pieces I'm missing.  Don't even think about touching my puzzle.

I first started to put them together in second grade.  My genius of a teacher always had one on the table in the back of the room, and if you finished your work, you were allowed to go back there and work on the puzzle.  I tried very hard to finish my work early.

We also put them together as a family when I was a kid.  It started out as good fun, but then, as our abilities grew, the fights started.  I was often the transgressor.  If someone had a puzzle out on the table, I'd wander by and find a piece, and then another, and before I knew it, I'd finished a whole section.  At which point, the person who started the puzzle would cry foul, and I'd be in trouble.  (deservedly so; if you weren't the one who started the puzzle, you weren't supposed to work on it without them.  I knew the rule - and vigorously enforced it if it was MY puzzle...)  So much for family togetherness.

It was the perfect activity for this cold after-holiday weekend...