Monday, February 27, 2012

A Skating Good Time

"So come on, come on, and do the locomotion with me!"  - Kylie Minogue, 1988.  

My boys were invited to a skating party a couple of weekends ago.  I hated to even tell them where it was because the oldest one had tried skating once before.  And it didn’t go well.

And that brings me back to my memories of the Miami Skating Rink.  I spent many an afternoon there at skating parties, or church parties, or just because Nanna was sick of taking us to the swimming pool.  Or maybe we were too sunburned.  I don’t know.  I just know I have a lot of skating rink memories.

Of course the biggest deal of skating is trying to find the perfect skate and then get them on.  In Miami, they were a kind of beige leather with brown laces that you would eventually wrap around the top of the skate and your leg several times so that you wouldn’t trip on your own ties.  They had orange wheels and stoppers if I remember correctly. 

The laces and wheels perfectly matched the brown and orange shag carpeting that made up most of the skating rink and its lovely round benches that were parked in front of the lockers.  There was about a two inch drop to the baby blue painted hardwood floor of the actual rink.  The floor was warped and if you made it about half-way around, there was a dip big enough to give an unseasoned skater the thrill of going dangerously fast.  Just when you thought you had your balance on the wheels of death, they would turn on the disco lights.  There was an actual mirrored ball that hung in the center of the rink and I hated that thing!  When the patterns of light fell and spun on the rink, it would mess with my mind and make me fall down.  Yeah, that’s what it was! 

I mostly stayed on the carpeted areas, trying to make it from round bench to bench.  Every once in a while, I would get brave and try the slick surface of the concession area where there were booths to hang on to.  Inevitably, I would brave the rapids of the rink.  And it always seemed that just as I was getting good at it, they would clear the floor for a couple’s skate, or limbo, or the choo choo train thing.  Kylie Minogue’s Locomotion still plays loudly in my brain when I think of the skating rink.  (I secretly can’t believe I still remember who it was by!)

And then there was that inevitable trip to the restroom where it was nearly impossible to maneuver in the bathroom stall, precariously perched on one leg with the skate stopper down, trying to take care of business without  rolling out the space at the bottom of the door or off the toilet. 

I don’t want you thinking that bad skating skills run in the family.  My dad’s brother, my uncle Bill, was quite a skating phenom.  He was the classic disco skater.  I was at the skating rink a few times when he was there.  He was probably a little old to be there.  Probably all of thirty or so, but he could do twists and turns and spins that nobody else could do.  Not even the weird guys who worked there.  Yes, it has always been a prerequisite that you must be only slightly on the edge of morality and normalcy to work at a skating rink. 

So back to the kids’ birthday party invitation…

I told them where it was.  They said they’d try it only after I told them if they didn’t like it, they didn’t have to skate.  Of course, they never took their skates off until it was time to go.    

We get there and they have these handy dandy walker looking things that make it look like a place for geriatric skaters, but they really work!  Uh, I mean, they look like they would work.  Okay, I’ll admit that after making it around ONCE without falling, I grabbed a walker.  And even though it was about two feet too short for me, it really did help.  After a while with the walker, I actually made it around FOUR times without killing myself or my tailbone. 

My husband had a different technique.  He would carry the walker and only put it down if he thought he needed it.  It was hilarious to watch! 

But what neither of us did was continually fall on our rears like one dad there.  He was nearly my inspiration to stop while I was still ahead.

AND, after putting it off for quite some time, I finally had a less than exciting trip to the restroom still on my wheels! 

A good time was had by all!  Many new skating rink memories were made including the lights of death, countless falls, and some slightly inappropriate music for the 7YO crowd.  And of course, there was the one guy there who was an ice dancer in another life who could turn around backwards and actually HELP little kids who’d fallen get back up. 

My only defense was to crash myself before I crashed into them. 

Keep on rolling!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Immigrant Legacy

“Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt.”  Exodus 23:9

You never really think about the legacy you’re building or the place you’ll hold in family lore.  It’s all about the here and now, living in the moment.  But today I’ll reflect on the past and project into the future.  Perhaps I am becoming an existentialist. 

Or maybe not. 

I had to look existentialist up! 

Anyway, my uncle sent me the scanned photo up there the other night.  Hans and Hulda Foss - my great-great-grandparents on my mom’s side.  The boy in the middle is my great-grandpa, Alvin.  He is flanked by two of his brothers – Harris on the left, and Clifford on the right.  Yes, I know, Clifford doesn’t seem like a nice little girl’s name, but that was the custom of the day.  Why did they do that???  Clifford lived to be over 90 and liked tractors, so it must not have affected him too much. 

Hans and Hulda immigrated to this country from Norway.  They came by ship.  Not sure what their initial reasons were, but probably freedom, a better life, you know, typical immigrant ideals.  And then there were a lot of begets, and eventually I came to be, but the Norwegian tie has always been remembered.  My uncle’s name is distinctly Norwegian.  My grandpa can speak a few words of the language and has always held an affinity for all things Nordic.  I, myself, have tried my hand at making lefse.

Ok, so fast forward to yesterday… 

The hub says the last time he talked to his dad, his dad mentioned he wanted to come visit, so would I mind (once again) looking up what paperwork we needed to do to get the ball rolling on a visit?  Today I spent the morning perusing the Department of State’s website looking at forms regarding a visitor visa application. 

But if it were only that simple… 

When his mother wanted to come visit in 2006, she didn’t have enough “ties”, as determined by the consulate office, to sufficiently prove that she would NOT immigrate to this country, so she was denied a visitor visa.  We contacted our State Representative and got a nice “too bad, so sad” letter from the consulate office, but there was nothing else we could do on the visitor visa road.  BUT… since my husband is a US citizen, she did qualify for a green card which would allow her to visit and immigrate to this country.  Logic is not a strong point for immigration procedures, I have found.  We had to go through the entire process (and paperwork) of getting her a green card just to come visit. 

She stayed five weeks, hated it, and promptly returned home.  We’ve not tried to get her to come back over and really don’t know how that will work since her green card is in limbo since she didn’t immigrate.  Will she ever immigrate?  I don’t know. 

Any who, we’re hoping the hub’s dad has more “ties”.  It all depends on the opinion of the consulate officer who is conducting the interview.  My father-in-law has traveled extensively, most recently to India, and has always returned back to Russia, so we’re hoping this makes a difference.

So all this foreigner-immigration stuff has got me to thinking about the future.  Someday I’m going to be somebody’s great-great-grandma.  And there’ll probably be a picture of me somewhere with my kids and husband.  And the story will be “she married a Russian, and that’s why you’re part Russian.”  And maybe they’ll like fur hats, and maybe they’ll like nesting dolls, and maybe they’ll try making borscht. 

And maybe all my paperwork will not have been in vain!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Nursing Home Plan

“Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God.  I am the Lord.”  Leviticus 19:32

I always say that I had children so I would have someone to put me in a nice nursing home someday.  I have no denials about getting old and needing round-the-clock convalescent care.  In fact, I intend to be a huge burden!  Most likely I will lose my mind, but no one will really be able to tell the difference.  And I intend to start drinking once I enter the nursing home.  I’m going straight for the hard liquor.  I figure if, by then, I will have held off for 80 years or so, what’s the use in holding out any longer?  Plus, maybe it will make my days go faster. 

I worked in the kitchen at a nursing home for about four years during my teenage hood, so I have no myths or false assumptions about what a nursing home entails.  And, I have every intent of using every amenity to the best of my ability.  In fact, sometimes I wish I had one of those emergency nurse buttons now.  She could bring me a drink of water when I’m already in bed… 

Anyhow, Grandma Hazel has been in a nursing home or like facility for numerous years, but due to failing condition and several episodes, she has moved several times in the past couple of years.  The kids and I have visited her at least once at each of the facilities she’s been at.  The first was an assisted living facility and had a big dog that the kids liked to pet.  The second was a “memory” facility where one lady asked my youngest if his name was Thomas at least 97 times while we were there because he was wearing a Thomas the Train shirt.  The third was more of a nursing home facility that had birds in a glass cabinet that the residents could sit and watch.  And her current facility is homey and has a giant fish aquarium in one of the sitting areas. 

Yes, some of the people are scary.  Yes, they are desperate for visitors.  Yes, you can sometimes smell pee.  Let’s just get all that out there!  I think those are the usual reasons people tend to shy away from regular visits to the nursing home. 

So on Monday night, my 7YO tells me, “Mommy, I love you.  I’ll make sure you go to a nice nursing home.” 

Have I groomed him well or what?

And then he starts talking about what my nursing home will be like.  And then he decides that he’ll build me a nursing home.  Here will be some of the amenities:
  • A swimming pool and hot tub
  • My own cat
  • A TV in my room
  • A fish aquarium in my room, with a larger aquarium in the hall to hold extras, in case my fish die
  • Meatloaf on Sundays (The meatloaf cracks me up because I think I’ve made meatloaf maybe once in his life.)

Then he asks, “How do the people who work at the nursing home go to church on Sundays since the nursing home still has to be open?”

I told him that the workers who were working didn’t go to church because they had to be there, but that sometimes a pastor would come to the nursing home to have a church service for the people there.

“That’s what we’ll do, then,” he said.  “We’ll have all the people lined up and they can just raise their hands if they need help.”

He’s got it all figured out.

Hopefully, we’ll only have grape juice at communion.    

He also said we would only have girl nurses because girl nurses are nice.  I told him boy nurses could be nice too.  He said, “Okay, we’ll have boy nurses too,” and decided that his brother would do the hiring.

“I hope you don’t have to have a wheelchair,” he told me. 

“Me too,” I said.  I’ve spent enough time sitting on my butt as it is. 

“I’ll say a prayer that you don’t have to have a wheelchair,” he told me right before bed.

“Say one too that it will be a LONG time before Mommy has to go to the nursing home,” I told him.


Now everyone else pray that his plans pan out!