Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Laundromat

When I would go and spend a week with Grandma we always spent one morning at the Laundromat.  It was always the same Laundromat. The one on Oberlin Ave next to Drug Mart. I think all laundromats look and smell the same.  The yellowish fluorescent lighting from the aged yellowed light covers.  The plastic chairs on the metal base all in a row.  The folding tables.  The rollie baskets. The lady sitting outside smoking while her clothes are on spin.  When I see that lady I remember my grandmother.  Going to the laundromat meant she had nothing to do but sit and smoke.  She really enjoyed that.  A lot of people dread the laundromat. I really don't so long as it is clean.  There is something to be said about getting all the laundry done in a couple of hours.  It is an all weekend event at my house and God forbid I fall behind.   I am not sure why it took so long for my grandparents to get a washer and dryer. My theory is my grandmother didn't want one.  If there was a washer and dryer in the house she would have to do laundry.  She wasn't much for cleaning.  Or Cooking.  Or really anything domestic really.  Not having the option to do laundry meant she would not have to think about it.  She would also have to walk up and down the stairs instead of just sitting and smoking.  But they finally did get a washer and dryer.  It was down in the basement to the right of the stairs.  There was a utility sink and an ironing board.  There was also this %#*^+ thing that came up out of the floor .  It was like a stainless metal handle on the floor.  In the middle of the #%~€{< floor.  Who the hell puts something like that in the middle of the floor.  That thing is probably the reason I never became a famous foot model. I broke no less than four toes on it. Weeks at Grandma's just weren't the same without the laundromat, but not to fear, we still had the bowling alley.  That is a story for another day.

Today I took Caroline to the laundromat. Our bedspread is just too big for our extra large washer. She had a ball.  She kept staring into the machine saying "our blanket is going around'.  She would hold her hands against the dryer just like I still do to feel the heat.  She spread her coloring books and markers out on the row of chairs.  She jumped on the different colored linoleum squares.  I watched her and laughed just like I am sure my grandmother watched me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Year I Got a Hairpiece

My excuse- it's the early '80's, everybody was doing it.  The problem- my hair.  I have a lot of hair.  I have a lot of really fine straight hair that refuses to hold a style.  As a child my hair was always in the way.  It took forever to wash and dry.  And the worst part was I think my mom dreamed of a little curly haired daughter so I would have to sleep on the dreaded pink sponge rollers.  I hated the sponge rollers more than anything in the entire world.  I don't know what was worse, waking up with a sore head or waking up and everything was slightly damp because the hair didn't dry all the way.  Slightly damp hair meant sitting under the hair dryer.  Yes the one like you see in beauty shops.  I devised a plan to get rid of sponge rollers forever.  The Dorothy Hamill.  It was the answer to all my problems.  I was like 8 or 9 so I really didn't care that I looked like a boy.  NO MORE SPONGE ROLLERS!!!  Unfortunately my new found freedom presented a new problem.  A very big problem.  The Nutcracker.

I was a student at Nan Klinger's School of Ballet.  Nan Klinger wasn't just a dance instructor.  She was completely hardcore.  She founded the Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet and some of its dancers even went on to the NYC Ballet.  We knew this because she told us this every class.  Ballet was not something to be taken lightly.  It was a lifestyle, not an after school activity.  If Nan saw you out in public she would pat you on the butt to make sure you were holding those cheeks in tight.  Clench those cheeks, shoulders back, head held high.  ALWAYS.  Your hands should always be in position, slightly bent cupped inward.  I don't know if this is why, but my fingers are permanently bent in this position.  It always seemed odd to me that our ballet school that was so great was in the basement of some building.  It also seemed odd to me that Nan could teach an entire class without having to ash her cigarette.  Smoking kept her thin I suppose.  Anyway, I had been in ballet long enough and I had mastered my basic techniques so I was going to get to be a Party Girl in the Nutcracker at the Akron Civic Theatre.  Every little girl's dream.  I was so excited.  And then I went to class with my new haircut.  Nan was not impressed.  She took one look at me and I was out.  She probably would have kicked me out of the class, but I am sure we were prompt payers.  I was devastated.  Nan Klinger may have owned the ballet world in Summit County but she was no match for Kate (Kathy then) Little.  My mom is not someone who lets things stand in the way for what she (or her daughter) wants.  You can say the words Kate Little in some circles and things just happen.  Even if she isn't there.  Anyway, mom was not going to let a bad adorable, trendy haircut get in the way of my stage debut.  She took some of the hair that had been ripped off by the sponge rollers that were now not being used and had a wigmaker match a hairpiece.  I had the most beautiful ringlets and I didn't have to be tortured all night to get them.  My dream came true.  I danced in the Nutcracker for about 30 seconds and got to come out for the bows.  Next step if I kept up the hard work would be an angel.  But alas, I grew weary of ballet and moved on to other activities. Nan Klinger survived without me.  

Thanks mom for not letting anything stand in my way.

Preparing for the big night with help from Graham and Ness

Friday, November 21, 2014


I am really not an athletic person. I am a competitive person, but I am not really good at sports.  I am not sure why.  Maybe it is genetic.  My great-grandfather was a professional runner in England, like the Chariot's of Fire guy, but it didn't get passed down to me.  Maybe it is because I didn't start sports early enough.  I did gymnastics for a year when I was 4 and ballet for a few years.  My first introduction to group sports was softball.  We practiced at Oak Park on 12th Street in Cuyahoga Falls.  I don't remember much except that we were really bad.  I am sure it had nothing to do with our coach who came to practice in her bedroom slippers and pretty much just stood there with a whistle and clipboard.  In 4th grade I joined the soccer team.  I was actually halfway decent. Who knew? The thing about girls soccer in the early 80's was if you weren't afraid of the ball and were even slightly aggressive you were already heads above the others.  I played through the 7th grade and then decided my calling was to be a cheerleader.  Not sure who I was kidding.  While I had the loud part down, my acrobatic skills were less than desirable   And even more detrimental to my career was my hair.  No matter how many perms I got my straight slick hair would not achieve the height that was needed to look like one of the team.  No offense to my cheerleader friends but ya'll have to admit the cheer squad did have the biggest hair in the school.  But, being at the small Christian school they didn't have too many options so I made the squad for one season.  Didn't last long though.  A girl who could actually do a cartwheel knocked me out the next year.  I had a decision to make.  Should I go back to soccer, or give up my athletic career.  I made my decision based on a very important thing.  Boys.  Soccer definitely had the boys that I found hot.  Soccer players had "Bono' mullets not "The Boz' mullets that the football players had.  In the 80's you really didn't have a no mullet option you know. So soccer it was.  And it was a good decision.  I had quite a few more years in me and when I moved to Tennessee soccer helped me develop some really good friendships. A couple of us girls even made a statement by trying out for the boys team at Tennessee High because they didn't have a girls team. Didn't make the team, but they did get another girls sport the next year.  Unfortunately it was softball. Thank goodness the coach actually wore shoes.

I don't think kids today get the same experience out of sports that most of us did.  Kids can join a sports team at age 4.  They can move to competitive "traveling" teams when they are like 6.  They practice 5 or 6 times a week.  Some kids love this and I think that is fine, but I think a lot of kids get left behind and by the time middle school comes around the competition is just too great so they don't get to play.  I am pretty sure I wouldn't make the team if I was a kid now.  I just wasn't that committed.

 I cherish my soccer memories and my soccer friends.  Some of these players were actually really good and I think some still play today.  The rest of us were just in it for the fun, and fun it definitely was.

And here is the gymnastics picture.  I love that my white underpants are hanging out of my leotard.  What do you bet they make thongs for 4 year olds now so that doesn't happen.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


My mother is a wonderful decorator.  Her house rivals anything you would see in Southern Living or House Beautiful.  She considers every detail and is incredibly creative.  She sees things that other people miss.  She can walk into a thrift shop and turn $15 into something that you would find for sale in Pottery Barn for $150.  Her gardens are amazing too.  It doesn't hurt that my dad is an perfectionist in his renovations either.  My parents have always been able to buy a house that most people would pass on and turn it into a showcase in a few short years.  They always sell their houses in an amazingly short amount of time.  I think the average is about 3 days.  Why am I telling you all this? Two reasons.  One is that I just want to brag.  The other is because I think it is really cool that my mother is one of the few people that I know that can take something incredibly tacky and make it seem like it is completely normal.  Take Emma the Goose.  Emma was my mother's concrete goose that she picked up at some garden shop.  I don't know that whoever cast the concrete goose ever intended it to be dressed up, but somebody decided that these statues needed clothes.  It was actually quite popular in Ohio to have a dressed up goose, but that trend didn't quite make it down to Tennessee so it seemed just a little weird to my high school friends.  Emma had all sorts of outfits for every holiday and occasion.  You can see the bee above.  Here is the Valentine outfit.
She had a Santa outfit of course and a St. Patrick's outfit.  Most of the outfit's were made by Grandma Gallagher.  I think it became a game on how ridiculous the outfit could be.  Unfortunately for Emma she did not have a winter coat.
(yes this is Tennessee, not Ohio)

I am a little surprised that she didn't get to come inside when it got too cold outside.  A friend of mine from high school, John, was in love with Emma.  We all thought it was a little weird, but John was like that.  When Mom and Dad moved from the Bellebrook house my mom decided that Emma did not have a good place to live at the new condo so she gave Emma and all her outfits to John.  John was delighted.  I am pretty sure Rebecca did not have as much love for Emma and might have said a few choice words under her breath when she had to go and change the goose's outfit.  Not really sure what happened to Emma.  She may have gotten "lost" when the Byers moved to Texas.  They never speak of it and we don't ask.  

Not sure why my mom loved Emma so much.  Maybe it was because Emma is a reminder to not take things so seriously and to do what you like even if it seems a little tacky. 

Now what lesson do you think the sheep taught us?