Category Archives: Signatures

A Campus Bonfire

campus1The boy invited me to a bonfire during my visit and though I didn’t really want to go – I felt obligated. I was tired – keeping the schedule of a co-ed is hard at my age.

I only had a few short days with him but he wanted me to meet some of his friends who were going to be at the bonfire. I was also a little flattered that he asked. He didn’t mind his mother hanging out with his college friends. How cool is that?

You may assume there was alcohol there but there wasn’t. Moms don’t get invited to college parties with alcohol. Or maybe they are but I wouldn’t go if I thought there may be under-aged drinking. I like my wine – but I just wouldn’t and I’m way over 21 years old.

campuslife1That being said . . . his friends were so nice to his mom.

John’s mother, Miss Diane, also came as well. The boys didn’t seem fazed at all that their moms were with him at this little gathering. It was quite sweet. His friends were also sweet, you have to believe me when I say that he has the nicest group of friends.

They broke out in dance, they served me a latte out of the back of a truck, and I always had someone to talk to. I couldn’t believe that they were having a bonfire, i.e. an open flame, in the middle of campus.  Then the boy asked me and Miss Diane to play a game of cornhole against him and John. Diane and I looked at each. Our eyes met, and our eyes said, “We’re tired,” but we said, “Alright.”

We then played cornhole in the dark. It was a great game, my competitive juices started running and the team of the boy and I beat John and his mom by just a couple of points. It was the great Grand Forks  cornhole Olympics!

The story would be really great if the police came. And they did. A very nice Grand Forks police officer came by asked them to put the fire out because there was a burn ban in effect. It hadn’t rained in a while. He approached me first but one of his friends look the lead in speaking to him, because my flight or fight instinct was in full effect. One of the kids started putting the fire out and I said, “Wait, let me take a picture!” It’s what I do.

Miss Diane and I left after the cornhole game but apparently the story didn’t stop there. The fire was not fully snuffed out and the same nice Grand Forks policeman came by again – this time with fire trucks in tow. Apparently the firetrucks had lights flashing too – just for effect. Anyway, they put the fire out with fire extinguishers.

But by then I was at my hotel, asleep peacefully – because I’m way too old for the campus life:)

Career Day Shenanigans

careerdays2The purpose of Career Day at school is so that the kids will get to network and communicate with perspective employers.

But because the kids are who they are, there has to be a lot of fun involved too. After all, one can get way too serious at these things.

careerday11Career Day at UND is different than most. At UND, there are big airplanes.

careerday4And small airplanes. This one in particular garnered a lot of comment with the kids. It was new and on loan from Cessna for a few months. They painted a school tail number on it so the boy is determined to fly this airplane while it’s there.

careerday1The boy and Lexi-girl were pretending to be the aircrew on this big airplane. One day!

careerday7Among some of the things available to the kids was free photos for their online networking presence.

careerday8Smile!

careerday10I said, SMILE!

careerday9It helps to know the photographers! They were doing this as part of their internship for the marketing department. They said they dressed “normally” rather than “dressed up” so as to separate themselves from the rest of the aviators there. I just love these kids.

careerday6I  met Lexi-girl the night before at a campus activity. She’s one of the few females in the course and an absolute cutie.

careerday3And of course these boys are my loves.

careerday12I met so many of the boy’s friends on this day. As they networked and spoke to perspective employers, I shot photos and I had a blast. I am so hopeful for these young people. We’re really all in great hands!

From Sea To Shining Sea

apr16cYesterday I was on my way to the airport when I stopped in the middle of my driveway and captured a few shots of the beautiful first blooms of the spring.

apr16dEverything is bursting with beauty everywhere I look! I couldn’t help but to capture some quick shots of the blooms all around me.

apr16eI’m afraid that when I get back home – sometime in the next week – that they will be gone. This season is so quick to come and go – I had to capture it while I could.

apr16bAnd after a stuck overnight in Minneapolis I made it to Grand Forks just this morning. And as I was walking to my hotel room from the boy’s classroom – yes, he was running late so I had to walk to the hotel from his class – I stopped and took some quick shots.

apr16aWhat a difference a day makes right?

apr16A day ago I was shooting cherry blossoms in Washington DC. Today, I’m in the building of the aerospace department of UND.

I have to say this – this set of buildings is amazing. The Hilton is attached to the school’s aerospace department. You can walk from the classrooms to the HILTON through a series of covered, climate controlled air tunnels that go from building to building, without ever going outside. It’s that cold out in North Dakota and they’ve found a creative way to keep guests warm.

A day makes a big difference but I like both worlds I think.

Going Back . . .

I’m going back to North Dakota this week to see the boy. He needs some mothering – or at least I think so. It’s also Aviation Parents Weekend and I was going to get a ride in an airplane with the boy at the helm. As it turns out, the boy forgot to go to a mandatory meeting last week about flying parents around so now he can’t fly me. He felt badly about it. Me? Not so much. I almost threw up in the simulator when I was there last month. I was a little worried about how I would do in the flight and boy, that would be embarrassing if I had to use a brown bag . . .

In any case, I think we’ll be busy even without the flight. There’s grocery shopping, apartment hunting and a myriad of errands to run. mothering11Here’s a photo I found on his photo stream. He’s in an alley?

mothering8And he snap chatted from the back of a truck. Not real safe.

mothering10Then he sent this – he and his two best friends flying together. Not sure about this . . .

mothering2This is why moms have to make occasional visits.

mothering6We were coming back from a very long and very windy 50 miles bike ride and I sent him this. A NOTAM or Notice To Airmen, is put out when there is unusual flight activity that pilots need to be aware of, or any type of airspace or airport safety issues, or when three boys are allowed to fly together in an airplane.

mothering9Apparently Kyle was the instructor so he’s in charge. That’s a great thing.

mothering1And I see this – they were out clay shooting. Can we do anymore dangerous things in one day?

mothering3And that evening, the boy texted and said he was flying again – at night.

I think I need to visit – moms unite!

mothering7I am looking forward to seeing the Northern Lights though. They were apparently quite bright this weekend and the boy sent us the picture above.

mothering7… then he sent several more.

And I thanked him for all of the black photos.

mothering5He took them with his phone so he added a filter so we can see. I hope they’re out when I’m there!

One thing is for sure, I will not be riding in the back of a truck, in the back of a plane with three boys, shooting clay or standing in a random alley. Everything I will be doing will be safe and mom approved!

But before I go to North Dakota, I hope to go to downtown DC and take some cherry blossoms. Yes, it’s that lovely time of year again! Happiest of Mondays to you all.

Les Miserable & The Fugitive

kennedycenter1I’ve been in love with Les Miserables since I was a little girl and had to read the famed Victor Hugo’s novel in its native language, French. It was both a literary exercise as well as a foreign language exercise. After all, living in Algeria as a girl forces one to learn either French or Arabic – or both.

French lessons were a daily exercise, every day, two hours a day with the fiercely red-headed Madame Antoine who would speak only French to all her students who in a single classroom, ranged from age nine to sixteen, all of which who’s first language was English. Since she spoke only French to us, one could sometimes forget that she was also very fluent in Russian, Hungarian and of course, English. Once the always mischievous Roger told her to shut up, and she turned to him with glaring eyes and said, “I know this “shut up”. Go!” and she sent him to the principal. That would be the last time Roger misjudged her language skills.

I heard the music of Les Miserable for the first time back in the early 1990’s. My mother send me the 10th anniversary edition filmed in the Royal Albert Hall and I was hooked. The music was incredible, like angels singing. Here it is on youtube. It’s a couple hours long but if you’re a fan, you can play it in the background to whatever you are doing; housework, cooking:) It will elevate your spirit.

A couple of weeks ago a tribute to the music of the composers of the music of Les Miserable, Miss Saigon and others were honored at the Kennedy Center. The husband wanted to take me: it was the sweetest gift. Many of the original Broadway singers were in attendance, like the wonderful Lea Salonga, who was the character of Eponine in the Royal Hall 10th Anniversary edition so long ago. We took our friends and neighbors, Neighbors Beth and Bill, and to me – it was like listening to heaven.

kennedycenter2At the end of the concert, the composers Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg were introduced on the stage. I had no idea they would be there. It was better than the Beatles walking on stage as a band. It was that exciting! I took out my camera and attempted a photo over my head, at the risk of incarceration by the way. The docents were on high alert. I had the wrong camera settings and no idea of what image would look like – and well, it looked like the above but I didn’t care. Monsieurs Boublil and Schonberg were there somewhere!

What does this have to do with the movie, The Fugitive? I’ve always loved that movie and as I spent Sunday relaxing and watching it once again, as it happens to play over and over as a rerun on so many stations. I think that perhaps I like it so much because the characters remind of the characters in Les Miserable. It’s similar in a way, the Harrison Ford character is an innocent man on the run, caught up in circumstances not under his control, much like Jean Valjean was in Les Miserable. He is relentlessly pursued by Tommy Lee Jones who, much like Javert, pursues Jean Valjean in spite knowing of (or sensing) Jean Valjean’s innocence of a terrible crime (only of taking bread to survive). Tommy Lee Jones confronts Harrison Ford in the sewers (once again analogous to Les Mis) and Harrison Ford (aka Richard Kimble) tells Tommy Lee Jones that he is innocent of the crime to which Tommy Lee Jones says, “I don’t care.”

It’s the core of both the movie and the novel. It gives me chills.

In the end finds that Jean Valjean is the better man and the knowledge is too much for him to handle for he is also a failed human – as we all are. Things end differently in The Fugitive than in Les Miserable. Justice finds itself in the movie – but in the great literary work of Victory Hugo, things don’t end that neatly. It’s why it’s called a tragedy.

Perhaps I love the musical so much that I analogize it to almost everything? I like to think it’s just a timeless theme, with characters brought about by the gifted hand of the author and composer.

Can you tell I love this book? I do.

kennedycenterHere we are all together that night. By the way, a docent took this photo of us. I was still on cloud nine when this was taken. Thanks Neighbor Beth and Bill for coming with us. We can always count on you to have a great time and to appreciate beautiful, timeless, meaningful music!

I promise to get back to more relevant things – like what in the world the boy is doing – I’m dizzy just thinking about it:)

Because You Asked

apr12Last weekend, Easter weekend, my church handed out this card asking the body to choose the sermon that they want to hear. I didn’t fill one out, instead, I tucked my card into my purse, intending to think about it before I handed it in. As it always happens, life happens and I forgot.

About five days later, I was involved in a fender bender. Actually, I was trying to ease myself into a parking spot and I misjudge and tapped a parked car. That really is what happened. The woman who was sitting inside the car opened the car door and came at me screaming, “Are you crazy? Are you nuts? What are you doing?”

Well, I’m not crazy, I’m just not a good driver.

I held up my hands and mouthed from inside my car, “I’m sorry,” but truthfully, I felt like she was attacking me verbally. I didn’t understand her fierce anger, but maybe she was suffering. There may be pain her life she was dealing with at the moment. In any case, I got out of the car and confronted her fully and apologized. She calmed down immediately. We looked a the damage and determined there was none, either to her car or mine.

I did however, write my information down – on the only thing I had in my purse, the card asking those really hard questions. I thought briefly about the irony of it all and I wish I had invited her to church. That would have been the icing on the cake.

I went to church last Saturday night and heard the message, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” and I was overwhelmed by the raw truth of it.

Here’s the link to the podcast. Please listen – I promise it will give you hope, and you will know that your suffering and those of your loved ones is not in vain. It’s really powerful – listen and determine that for yourself.

They Came To The Kitchen

kids4 Spring Break then Easter came and went and I realized I didn’t see much of the kids at all. When the boy was stuck in Minneapolis, he took advantage of the occasion to stay a couple of extra days to “hang out” and go to a concert and by the time he got home, I had to leave for Lancaster, PA for my girls’ weekend with high school friends. The girl was at home for her break – but I wasn’t home much.kids5We were ships in the night.

kids3So in an effort to catch a glimpse or two of them, I asked them to come to the culinary school kitchen to eat with us. We were serving up grub to the staff and I told the kids they could come and eat too.

I frankly didn’t know if they would or not but when they came through that kitchen door I was thrilled!

kids2They went up to my office to eat that where I found them afterward, among broken computers and UPS packaging. Wow, is that what my office really looks like? We need to do some spring cleaning too!

kids1When I say, “Look at me and smile!” what I mean is look at me and smile.

Anyway, it was great to spend a couple of minutes with my munchkins amidst all the hustle and bustle of the class.

A Blue, Yellow & Burlap Day

I know it’s St. Patrick’s Day but today, I’m sharing something much more special. Today is a blue, yellow & burlap day.

I was honored to have been asked to photograph the wedding shower for the daughter of my good friend Cathy. Cathy and I have been friends and co-workers for a long time and her daughter, Sarah, is just precious.

She’s getting married!

The theme is rustic blue and yellow. So perfect. So very perfect.

I’m posting some photos as I get them edited. It’s going to be a long process but I’ll share some as I go along. Such a special time!

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sarah7

sarah8BTW, if you have notice by now, their last name begin with the letter M.

So many prayers for a truly blessed life together!

A Universal Ubiquitous Question

When I get to heaven, the question I want to ask is this, “Why God, did you make life to so complicated?” By then I won’t care – but now I care. I care very much.

The girl was on spring break last week and well – I was so busy that I really didn’t see her at all, so yeah, no photos. She did however volunteer for the Culinary School because she had no choice. I was in desperate need and she wasn’t doing anything else – so it was serendipity. It was great because she and I are in perfect synchronicity, i.e., I can text her 12 times when she’ll at the grocery store and she ask me 12 questions about what I really wanted – and it would be alright whereas a personal assistant may find that frustrating.

And there are days when I think I need a personal assistant if only to help me find my shoes.

But she was great – she performed outstandingly.

Then there’s the boy.

The boy’s spring break started last Friday but in true boy form, he wanted to stay a couple more days because his school’s hockey team is number one in the nation AND playoffs started this weekend so he wanted to stay and to go. His dad then decided that he wanted to go to the games too – and so he took another trip to the tundra this weekend, the second in as many weeks.

I was glad – it’s not a bad thing that the boy and his dad are able to hang out. The husband was able to do some maintenance on the boy’s car because the boy was apparently too busy to do it himself. It was alright with the husband because he enjoys doing things like that – he’s going to make a great retired piddler.

springbreak9In the three days the husband was there, they went to two hockey games. The Sioux won both games btw, super!

springbreak5They went bike riding. Apparently spring has spring in North Dakota. Everyone is in shorts and a muscle shirt.

springbreak1Everyone but the husband – but he’s from Maryland.

springbreak7I got this photo Sunday morning. They were on their way home – but it’s never that simple is it?

springbreak4They were on the plane to Minnesota from Grand Forks! Yes! First leg is done.

springbreak6When they got to Minneapolis they found that they couldn’t get a flight out. Remember – they fly stand by. Thus began a thrash of conversation and texts. The husband had to get home because he has to go to work. The boy said he would stay in Minneapolis with friends, go to a concert Tuesday night and be home Wednesday. I had no idea how this plan was hatched in about ten minutes – but I had a lot of questions. A lot of questions.

Some of those questions were these.

“Who are you staying with?”
“How are you going to get there?”
“What concert?”
“TELL ME YOUR PLANS!”
springbreak2After a while they sent me this photo. It’s Kyle’s dad who apparently showed up at the airport to bring the boy back to his house. I just saw him a couple of weeks ago. I can kiss him. These are the nicest people in the entire world.

springbreak8Hi Mr. Ron.

Things seem to always work out – and I should know this by now but it doesn’t stop me from having constant anxiety about the boy – and about the girl. When does this stop? Anyone?

The girl returned to school today. Her travel plans are always easy – she drives. However, it’s a three hour trip and I chew my knuckles until she gets arrives wherever she is going.

So – a little simplicity this week would be a really, really wonderful thing – – -

The Amazing Winter Classic

DSC_9514I start wondering what I’m going to do for Christmas presents in August. I really do. Starting this process in August makes September, October, November and December a whole lot less stressful.

What? You do this too? Glad I’m not the only one.

DSC_9538Hockey’s famed Winter Classic was being held in Washington DC this year and since the family is such hockey fans, I decided that’s what I would do as gifts for all of us. I’ve been told that gifts of life experience is better than a say – a cheap toy that will break easily or an ugly Christmas sweater.

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I had no idea what it took to get tickets. I almost had to sell the boy to get them but I was successful and the boy is safe and sound.

DSC_0255The Washington Capitals were to play the Chicago Blackhawks at National Stadium, where the Nationals baseball team play. It was to be outside and to make the experience really authentic, snow was trucked in from somewhere (probably Boston – the weather has not been kind of those poor Bostonians this year). An outdoor rink was set up outside and hockey was going to get back to its roots.

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Look at this guy’s face. Ow.

I didn’t know – I really didn’t – what a big deal this game was. It’s the hockey version of the Super Bowl. The pageantry was amazing, the atmosphere was electric and I was truly amazed. I found myself grateful that I didn’t just ugly Christmas sweaters for the family. This was much more fun.

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This lady was a part of Billy Idol’s entourage. She looked so chic in her boots and gray shawl and everyone else was dressed in red white and blue stripes.

DSC_9527The rest of us was dressed to the nines in hockey gear. I of course, am practical and since I didn’t have a warm coat with Capitals logos all over it, I put on my purple coat. I was literally the only one without a hockey jersey on in the entire stadium of 40,000 people. Oh well.

The weather by the way was perfect. It was 44 degrees and everyone was warm and excited.

DSC_9521Every seat had a Winter Classic cushion. It was really neat and in an event where hot chocolate is $10, I was glad to have something for free.

DSC_9516I had to sweet talk a stadium guard to let me close to the announcers so I can take a photo. These are the hockey equivalent of Bob Costas, Al Michaels and Howard Cosell.

DSC_0196They’re not household names but they are stars in their own right. Everyone, but me, seems to know who they are.

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The Washington Capitals were dressed like Where’s Waldo. Their uniforms were . . . well, you decide.

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They are cute in a way though – the socks . . .I guess if you’re a big hockey player you can wear anything you want right?

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There’s the Great 8, Alex Ovechkin and somehow he managed to pull off the striped socks.

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Billy Idol was the entertainment during the first intermission. I’m sure he hasn’t played a crowd this big in 25 years. I recognize his shocking white hair anywhere. There something about old rockers –

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He’s almost 160 years old I think –

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Everyone remember Rebel Yell right? I was singing along and half way through the song, I wondered what the words really were. I stopped singing thinking that I was singing questionable lyrics and didn’t know it for almost 30 years. DSC_0146

Then Billy Idol broke out into White Wedding and I really started to wonder about the lyrics.

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But he was a fantastic entertainment. Gavin DeGraw sang during the second intermission and you know what? I missed the entire thing and half of the second period because I was in line for a $20 hamburger.

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But I didn’t miss this! It was the Army Choir and they made my heart swell with patriotism.

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They were fantastic.

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I was so enthralled by the pageantry and the entertainment that I almost forgot about the game.

DSC_0239The Capitals won! It was an exciting finish.

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I love it when they give each other bro hugs. It shows so much teamwork and the triumph of victory!

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So much love – that’s what hockey is all about right? Right?

I had to finally post this because it truly was an exciting event for the family.

Thanks for reading. Is it too early to wonder what to get for Christmas this year?