i was there…newtown

I’ve been away from my laptop and Word Press for some time now. There’ve been issues to deal with, some health, some holiday preparedness.

Sitting for hours at a time is not heart-healthy. Nor is it wise for me to overwork my arthritic right thumb…now in a customized brace which I wear daily.

Readership is down considerably. But I’ve learned to accept the ebb and flow of visitors to hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul. The wisdom of age is understanding that life is comprised of many, wonderful moments…and learning to love them…as they occur.

Rigidly living life…is not really living at all.

These last few days, however, life has slowed down for all of us, almost coming to a total halt.

The killing of 6 and 7-year-olds…an incomprehensible tragedy. I am reminded of that other Connecticut tragedy…the doctor whose wife and 2 daughters were slaughtered, after the girls were savagely raped.

I knew I’d want to write about the devastation in Newtown, but decided to take some time to collect my thoughts. Especially since the area was home to my husband, daughter and me for 13 years before we moved west.

Everything the media says about the idyllic life in the small community of Newtown is true. It’s also true of nearby Easton, Weston, and Redding…our home town for 11 years.

Picture postcards do not do justice to the pastoral settings of these towns. One can only glimpse small slices as an outsider.

Living there is…

…awaking to explosions of fall colors in our own backyard…

…traversing 2-lane country roads on the way to everywhere…

…walking our daughter to the nearby Boys and Girls Club for birthday parties…

…celebrating our faith in a tiny, 100-year-old church…

…marching alongside our daughter and the other Brownies in the town’s Memorial Day Parade…

…selling handmade crafts in the annual fair held on the Town Green

trick-or-treating with friends throughout a nearby cul-de-sac, led by a horse who loved a carrot or two.

I made regular trips to Newtown, 10 or 15 minutes from my home. I patronized its antique shops, reveling in my discoveries. Hollandia Nursery was my favorite destination, where I bought most of the plants that graced the gardens surrounding our 110-year-old, Victorian farmhouse. If you visit http://www.ctgrown.com/html/photos.cfm  you’ll get a feel for the wonder that is the New England countryside.

Until she was 11-years-old, our daughter called Redding and the surrounding communities…home. My husband commuted the 2 hours to his job in Queens, New York, just so our child could grow up in the serenity of a small town. He afforded her the same experience we knew as children growing up in Maui and Oahu in the 1950s.

A dear friend who still lives in Redding, and has been a long-time administrator for a couple of schools, commiserated with me that our daughters would find the world beyond their small-town very different. However I think we’d both agree that our girls learned good-old-fashioned values, the kind espoused in Norman Rockwell paintings.

My daughter, a career ballerina, and my friend’s daughter, a veterinarian, grew up fulfilling dreams held long ago… in a small town in Connecticut. Something no longer possible for…

…james…olivia…ana…grace…emilie…jesse…noah…avielle…caroline…catherine…charlotte…chase…daniel…dylan…jessica…josephine…jack…madeleine.

There but for the grace of God.

Let us love our children with our entire beings, so that they grow up to be healthy adults able to cope with life’s ups and downs.

Death awaits all of us. The date and time are unknown. But how we live all the minutes until then…are totally ours to determine.

…let’s choose to live them…with the joy and simplicity of those wise beyond their years…our children…

Chess Club at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, CT...

Chess Club at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, CT, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

………hugmamma.

 

“big night,” small town bijou

I’m pretty sure that’s what movie houses were called back in the day, bijous. When my friend Sylvia mentioned that she and her husband had frequented the North Bend Theatre a few times and loved its charm, I knew I had to experience it for myself. So I made a date with them, for my husband and I to see the lone show featured tonight at 5 p.m., “The Little Fockers.”

I was somewhat surprised when Sylvia assured me that she and Jim were great fans of the “Focker” installments, and that they were excited to be able to see this, the most recent. I must confess to only seeing the first, and thought the humor was rather inane. I can take or leave Ben Stiller’s humor. So to think that friends in their 70s found the stories hilarious, was extremely surprising. Even my 24-year-old daughter, who dislikes the Focker family series, was taken aback. But we agreed that Sylvia and Jim are not your run-of-the-mill senior citizens. They’re pretty progressive, and very energetic. They could run circles around my family, to be sure.

Well neither the theatre nor the movie were disappointing. In fact, they were both downright enjoyable. The bijou is owned by a private family, probably as a pet project, a contribution to their community of North Bend. Bravo for them! It’s well maintained, inside and out. The lobby is tiny, probably full to capacity at 25-30 people, all standing elbow to elbow. High-schoolers staffed the mini-snack bar. Popcorn served up in good, old-fashioned brown paper bags, in several sizes. Jim and I threw caution to the wind, ordering a couple…with a few squirts of butter. Naughty, naughty! Tasted like the sort I got at the five-and-dime Kress Store, when I was a kid in Maui.

My husband and I wandered in to find our friends who’d preceded us to “save” seats. They needn’t have bothered, since the theatre was three-quarters empty. Even with that I almost burst into chuckles when I spotted Sylvia and Jim sitting in the next to the last row of seats. They were almost in the snack bar, literally! Then I remembered that he wore hearing aids, which might amplify the sounds beyond his comfort zone. Since the “Little Fockers” was not a movie I’d been dying to see, sitting… soooooooo… far back was no big deal. Nonetheless, I still smiled to myself.

Well surprise, surprise! I laughed through the entire film. Stiller and the actress who played his wife were not the objects of my hysteria, although he was very good. The supporting cast of A-list actors, Blythe Danner, Robert de Niro, Barbara Streisand and Dustin Hoffman, were absolutely great! Performing more light-hearted roles than usual, they were all wonderfully funny: de Niro as the fanatical, retired CIA father-in-law who’s out to make mincemeat of son-in-law Stiller, is paired with mild-mannered, Danner, who plays fantasy dress-up to add spark to their senior sex life, as Hoffman is off learning to dance flamenco in Seville, Spain, while wife Streisand stars on her own sex-advice talk show. Funny! Funny! Funny!

Once we collected ourselves, and braved the pelting rain outside, we headed for a bite to eat at the North Bend Bar and Grill, our favorite eatery in town. It was packed to capacity, to our surprise. However the 20 minute wait was well worth it. The food, from soup and salad to entrees were all delicious. My meatloaf was a delightful change from the norm. Formed as a small loaf, it was stuffed with crumbled bleu cheese, and wrapped with strips of bacon. The entire loaf was then glazed in a flavorful, dark brown gravy. I’m licking my chops just imagining it. I was glad I’d foregone the side of potatoes, mashed, baked or fried, in favor of additional veggies. The blend of green and wax beans, broccoli, and carrots was probably one of the best I’d tasted in a long time. I’m guessing that’s because the veggies were sautéed in butter. Lordy, my cholesterol! Thank goodness butter hasn’t crossed my lips of late. Tonight was the exception, and well worth “falling off the wagon.”

good friends, good show, good food…hugmamma.