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Archive for September, 2010

Sep 30 2010

What Is My Mother Doing?

Posted by Mugs @ 2:02 pm in Family

Every child begins asking the question “What is my mother doing?” at a young age. At first, the emphasis of the sentence is on the “What,” and the child pursues their mother relentlessly to discover the answer. This is especially true  when the child is two years old and his mother is in the bathroom.

Eventually, the emphasis moves to the “My Mother” part of the question. When older children, especially teenagers, ask this question, they may combine the emphasized phrase with an eye roll or a snarl for dramatic effect. We Manrys are currently living through this “My Mother” emphasis.

As the child reaches adulthood, the emphasis lands on the “Doing” section of the question for it often is a mystery. Admittedly, I reside in this emphasis with my own mother.

When Mom comes to visit, I always know she has arrived, because piles of stuff appear everywhere. They are haphazard and scattered about and only she sees their pattern and function. It is also essential when she arrives, that she wakes up early and makes noise. Clanging pans, brewing coffee, and opening and closing doors are essential ingredients to each visit.

It is one of those odd moments when you suddenly realize that what annoys you is absent and you really wish that it would return so it could annoy you again.

“I’m worried about Mom,” I told Marie. “She is so tired and quiet and sad.” “She wasn’t like this when we went to the reunion.”

Marie told me that it was very hard for Mom to leave Dad at the hospital and come to the wedding without him.

During the Friday travel day and the first dinner with her siblings, Mom was just not herself.

The next morning, I took action and decided if Mom wouldn’t be Mom, I would be Mom. I woke up early to go running and in my search for gear, I unzipped and zipped my suitcase four times. I banged some dishes around and I let the bathroom door slam.

Marie was lying in bed irritated and thinking, “What is my sister doing?”

I left for the run, prayed while I ran, and enjoyed the cool air of the North.

I returned re-energized and found Mom out in front of the cabin, drinking tea with two Irishmen.

“What is my mother doing?” I thought with a sigh of relief.

Two of the grooms pals from work had gotten lost on their way north from New York City. By the time they arrived at the resort in the middle of the night, the front office was closed up, so they slept the night in their car.

When the sun rose, they saw Mom sitting out in front of the cabin drinking a cup of coffee. They came over and asked for a cuppa. Mom hauled out the empty cooler for a table, made them both a cup of tea and set out a plate of cookies.

Order or disorder had returned, however you look at it, and I laughed in gratitude.

On the day of the wedding, I would observe Mom return from the hairdresser with a ridiculous hairdo of Big Hair, chase down the coffee girl at the reception, and dance along in a Conga line.

With gratitude in my heart, I asked myself each time “What is my mother doing?”

Sep 30 2010

Representing the Clan

Posted by Mugs @ 12:35 am in Family

My cousin’s wedding day, like Saint Patrick’s Day, was a good day to be Irish. My Uncle Joe moved to New York from Ireland as a young man. He met and married my Aunt Kim, and they have four children Kelly, Beth, Bridget, and John Joe. Their oldest daughter Kelly was the bride. A few years ago, she met Denis (the groom) who, like Uncle Joe, also moved to New York from Ireland.

Ireland is approximately the size of the U.S. state of Indiana. When you ask an American where they are from, they will most likely give the name of their state. The Irish, however, speak of county and clan.

Uncle Joe is from the Cumisky Clan and his county is south of the county where Denis Clarke’s Clan resides. Denis’ father is a farmer with seven children, one of which stayed home to mind the farm and therefore missed the wedding. During the wedding toast, Uncle Joe made several jokes about “too many chickens in the north.”

The clan loyalty displayed at the wedding was surprising to me. Many family members traveled great distances to attend the event. My Uncle Joe’s siblings traveled from Ireland, England, Chicago, and Australia. Denis’ family came in force from Ireland accompanied by their Parish Priest.

Most stayed up late each night drinking and singing and falling into the pool fully clothed. This falling into the pool situation put the Irish Priest into a bit of a quandary. On one side was his desire to stay dry and on the other side was the command to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” For future weddings, I would strongly recommend that he not offer someone a hand out of the pool. Unless, of course, he wants another unexpected late night swim.

As the weekend wore on, I began to wonder, “If they throw their own priest fully clothed into a pool, what do they do to those without a clan affiliation?” To have no clan to claim seemed a great worry indeed.

Fortunately for me, I never found out what happens to those without a clan. Eventually, when asked which clan we claimed, my Uncle Tony, who has been studying our family genealogy, replied, “We are from the Fallon Clan (my grandmother’s family) near Waterford.”

This proved an acceptable answer.

No worries for us…Just the luck of the Irish.

Sep 27 2010

Going Up State

Posted by Mugs @ 2:59 pm in Family,Sightseeing

The location of my cousin’s wedding was Lake George, New York. During the planning stage of the event, I thought it a good idea to have my Mom and my sister, Marie, fly to D.C. and road trip north with me. When my sister arrived, knowing we would pass airport after airport after airport north, she began to question my plan. “Why didn’t we just fly into Newark and have you pick us up there ?” she asked. “What fun would that be?” I countered.

The route north was discussed and we debated whether to take the risk of driving the D.C.-Baltimore-Delaware-Philadelphia-Newark-NewYork-Albany route which is mileage wise shorter. My neighbor, who is from upstate NY, said he did it once, paid $35 in tolls, and got stuck in traffic.

Instead, we opted for the scenic route through Pennsylvania. I was thankful for this decision for I wouldn’t have to endure passing Newark at the 4 hour drive time mark. Of course, for me, any time I drive past Newark is an unpleasant time. With the industrial zone around it and the miles of swamp wasteland, I find it one of the ugliest bits of scenery in the U.S.

However, I was not so fortunate as to avoid passing the Albany airport. We passed it at the 8 hour drive time mark. We still had an hour to go. I pretended not to notice.

Marie packed the car because she inherited my father’s spacial planning ability. She sees the best way to make it all fit. I, on the other hand, am partly helpful and partly unhelpful. I fulfill my roll of  carrying the luggage outside and then keeping everyone waiting while I do one last thing that I just remembered.

The drive went fairly well for my sister and I. We took turns driving, talking and listening to a Norwegian woodwind quintet being interviewed on the radio. The quintet sounded fabulous, and Marie picked out the sound of the flute, clarinet, oboe, and bassoon. She had trouble figuring out the last instrument and we were both surprised when they said it was a horn. I know my days of band are long past, but I do sort of remember that a horn was made out of metal not wood.

Since my sister and I have 4 children each, we spend most of our days driving from here to there and back again with a chorus of complaining children in the backseat. In comparison to daily life, we considered this drive quite pleasant. Mom complained only occasionally, but most of the time, she was absorbed in reading a book. When her complaints grew frequent, we stopped for coffee.

The further north we went the closer the trees were to changing their colors. In some of the higher elevations of Pennsylvania, we occasionally spotted a yellow, red, or orange burst of color. We passed some picturesque sights of towns nestled in valleys and farms on the hillside. I attempted to take pictures of these breathtaking views while we sped along at 65 mph, but my sister follows my husbands mantra of stopping only when necessary.

We may have sped a bit in Virginia, Baltimore, and Pennsylvania, but I was downright puttering along once we got into New York. Even though I was driving 70 mph, everyone was passing me as if I was going 40 mph. New Yorkers…you gotta love em…but if you’re not going faster…get out of the way!

Sep 23 2010

Three Miles

Posted by Mugs @ 3:32 pm in Family,Running

I was up in New York this past weekend at a family wedding. (I am under great pressure to post a funny report on this wedding from my relatives. However, I have also received the threat “This does not go on the blog!” more than once.) Living in this censored environment where I type and re-type and estimate which information won’t offend my Aunt’s and Uncles too greatly, I fear my report may be boring and take longer than expected.

For today, instead of a boring wedding report, I will give you a boring running report. Although the majority of my readers find these running reports dull indeed, Tech Support loves them, and without him and his insistence that I start writing, this blog would not exist.

I am also well aware that while I was Up State partying with the clans, he was home, faithfully caring for our children. If leaving him to fend for himself and four children wasn’t enough to put me on the bad list, his team (The Cowboys) played my team (Da Bears) on Sunday. My team played well. (The sighting of a Bears team playing well is rare indeed and for them to play that well against the Cowboys made for a happy day for me.)

Oh yeah…I am supposed to be trying to get back on the good list.

While up in New York, I ran a mile and a half one day and two miles the next. The weather was delightfully cool and the scenery around Lake George was lovely. Throughout the weekend, we had pleasant Autumn temperatures.

Unfortunately, the State of Virginia has not gotten the memo that Autumn started today. It is 90 degrees here. The weather is uncomfortably hot and the scenery is drought stricken. It is certainly not a day that inspires running. However, Dale thought it would be a good day to run eight miles without drinking any water. When he started to feel woozy, he figured it was best to come home.

Oh yeah…the good list.

Yesterday, I lengthened my running distance in a completely happenstance manner. I ran the distance Dale told me was a mile, than ran down to the creek, ran back by the crazy rose lady’s house (she waters), ran the mile route back, ran to the path road and back home. I figured it had to be greater than 2 1/2 miles.

For the benefit of my husband, I even kept split times on my watch. I ran the first mile in 12:35 and the back home mile in 13:33. I finished the entire route at 42:48. Dale took this information and plotted the distance. Dale gets excited about anyone running, even his wife who runs very slow and not very far.

He called this morning, and in an excited voice, told me that I had actually run an entire 5k. I was relieved by the news and for the first time felt confident that I could run the entire turkey trot.

Next, he pulled up the turkey trot results for women from last year and informed me that although I wouldn’t be in the top 100 for women aged 40 -45, I wouldn’t be last.

“Won’t be last!” is such an encouraging motto.

I am not the only runner that Dale is coaching. Since Josiah’s cross country season started, Dale has been pulling up results and making calculations and offering racing advice to his son. “I think this team has peaked,” he’ll say, or “You need to stay up with the [opposing team] runners.”

I have threatened to purchase him an “I am not the coach” t-shirt to wear to meets, but for now I won’t. I’ll wait until I’m back on the good list…but I fear it may take awhile.

Sep 14 2010

How Not To Change My Ways

Posted by Mugs @ 10:26 am in Family

For all you Aussies occasionally checking in and for all you Americans living under a rock, the football season has started. A new season always brings with it a new opportunity. For the athlete: he or she can train harder and attempt to play better. For the fan: he or she can attempt to drink less, curse less, cheer louder, and not be such a poor sport.

Anything is possible before the game starts.

As I sat down to watch Da Bears play the Lions, I thought to myself, I can respond differently this year to my team. When something bad happens, I can just stay silent and not say a word. When something good happens, I can cheer in a less obnoxious manner. I can change my ways.

My family, of course, knows better.

When the Bears are on T.V., none of my children are willing to sit in the same room with me. They know that it is best, for safety reasons, to steer clear. However, to show some level of support, Gabe and Zeke get the stuffed bears from around the house and line them up on the love seat to keep me company. A few bears start out with me, and as the game goes on and more luck is needed, I send them to find some more.

Dale comes in with me for the game, but it is primarily an attempt to take a nap on the couch. The nap is never quite successful, because my shouting, arguing, and rare bouts of cheering always startle him out of his slumber.

As can be expected, my resolution to be a better fan did not last through three fumbles, the receiver repeatedly running the wrong route, an interception, and four unsuccessful attempts, one after the other, by the offense to gain one yard.

(Note to Coaches: If you pay a guy all kinds of money to come to your team because he has been successful at getting that last yard, you just might want to put him in the game.)

Just a thought.

The game was painful to watch as the team ricocheted between brilliance and incompetence. My ire grew by the minute. At some point when the game was looking exceptionally dire, Gabe and Zeke returned to the room and hid two stuffed animals under the pile of Bears.

I turned to them and in a snarling voice said, “You better take those lions out of this room right now!” Zeke’s eyes opened wide.

“Gabe told me to do it,” he pleaded.

“Well you should have known better!” I responded.

They grabbed up the lions and scrambled out of the room.

( I fully understand that I have been officially disqualified from the Mother of the Year Award.)

As the end of the game neared, the Bears were undeservedly ahead.

(Note to coaches: When your defense is playing terrific and making the other team fight for each inch, do not start calling a soft defense.)

Unfortunately, in the final minute, the Lions looked to have caught a touchdown for the go ahead score and the victory. Everyone but the referees believed it was a legitimate catch. However, the referees, using some obscure rule, declared it incomplete and gave the victory to the Bears.

The Bears had their undeserved win, and I had my poor behavior to mull over.

I’d tell you I am going to change my ways next week, but unfortunately, next week the Bears play the Cowboys (Dale’s team).

It is probably best, for the preservation of our marriage, that Dale and I will be 465 miles apart at kickoff time.