31 January 2011

NHL AllStars.

Chara's record 105.9 shot!, originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

Working next door to and banking with RBC Bank has it's advantages... Aside from the obvious convenience, we were fortunate enough to win two tickets to the 58th annual NHL AllStar SuperSkills competition and game this past weekend! Wow!

Let me just say that I have never ever won anything in my life, except maybe a scratch off McDonald's french fry or something. This is the main reason I do not play the lotto. No sense in wasting my money given my track record.

In any case, both Kevin and I were super stoked though we quickly realized that we couldn't possibly attend both events on such short notice without locking the children in the closet for at least one night... So, we chose the SuperSkills competition on Saturday as no doubt it would be the less crowded of the two events and to say I don't do well with massive crowds is a gross understatement. (No worries though, the game tickets were happily used by another well-deserving sports enthusiast.)

We arrived early, made a quick stop for fried pickle chips and beer and found our seats up in the nose-bleed level just above the stairwell and just behind the big glass wall with the hand rail obstructing our view. --Considering that RBC purchased the naming rights for the building and has it's logo smeared throughout, one would think the seats would have been a tad better, but who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth? I mean, they couldn't very well expect someone to actually pay $165.00 a piece for those seats could they? Free is good. I'll take free.

I was reasonably content with my fried pickles and beer until some overly-excited southern heifer (who clearly does not get out much) sat down directly behind me and quickly began yelling, screaming, and hollering wildly (in my ear!) at absolutely everything. And I do mean everything: from the mascots mock game to mere mention of the Carolina Hurricanes and/or any of their players - well before the competition began. And dear me, I thought she would surely pee her spandex when Nicholas Sparks' pre-recorded "Welcome to North Carolina" message came on the big screen. O.M.G.

And it wasn't so much all the obnoxious, inconsiderate, loud hooting and hollering that was so damn annoying... it was the murderously shrill, skull-spitting pitch which escaped her. Like a combination of a cat in heat, a goat being slaughtered, inhaling helium balloons, and nails on a chalk board. Fuck me! And some poor soul had to listen to that every day. I'd shoot myself.

Granted, after I bore holes through her cranium a few times while plugging my ears with my fingers, she kindly took it down a decibel or so but Geezuz! The noise of that woman is permanently burned into my inner audio library now. --Add that to the list of tortures in my personal hell please.

In any case, I managed to capture Boston Bruins' Zdeno Chara's record speed shot of 105.9 mph on video from our perch which was pretty darn cool. And yes, you can clearly hear the bleating of my seatmate in the background over the announcer and the crowds... (Mind you, by this point, I had already moved into a vacant corner seat one row up and 3 seats over.)

All in all, it was a fun experience and everyone lived. =)

bring it! =P, originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

Yet, another perk of working next door to the bank. ;-)

"Ignorance and inconsideration are the two great causes of the ruin of mankind."

...John Tillotson

23 January 2011

13 years.

Baby Bell., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

Thirteen years ago on a cold snowy winter's morn in Würzburg, Germany, my sweet little angel girl was born...

Thirteen years.

What a long road we've traveled since. There are so many words that there are no words -- save I love you baby girl and I am so very proud of you!


Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

...Emily Dickinson

21 January 2011


pre-battle java.
Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
I HATE mornings... mostly because I have a passionate love affair with sleep and parting from my bed is sweet sorrow indeed - especially if it's before 8 am and involves an alarm clock. (Ideally 10:00 but that's not an option when one is a parent of small children.)

You may be wondering, well what about heightened blissful arousal of morning sex? Pfft. Not a chance. Groping me in the early down hours will only assure a top spot on my shit list for the day as a reward for depriving me of the precious extra moments of sleep I could have had, that is if the opportunity should even present itself which is not likely considering that there is still a small person still sleeping in a toddler bed at the foot of our bed. (Yes, and he's four now and almost too big for his little bed. *sigh*)

The only exception to my dread and loathing of mornings is being on vacation - without children, which happens like almost never. But on those rare miraculous occasions, I have been known to spring forth liveliness and energy that is all but lost to my younger days, ready for adventure... What's up with that? --I don't understand how that works. Really, I don't. One of the great mysteries of the universe I suppose, but I would very much like to experiment more with this phenomenon.

Bella's middle school schedule this year is killing me. Her school starts at 07:30 which means getting up at 06:15 to get her ready for the bus which comes at 06:45, though I'm not sure why considering that she is the last stop and I can get there in less than five minutes by car, but she likes riding the school bus and it took no less than four IEP meetings with WCPSS to get a county transportation assistant assigned to her as WCPSS found it more cost-efficient to pay someone's salary rather than reimburse me for mileage... but whatever. Who am I to question sheer genius?

In any case, I love my daughter very much; that is not the issue. But getting up with her every morning has become the source of strife between Mommie and Daddy. Neither of us want to do it. Instead we lay in bed in between hitting the snooze button and argue over whose turn it is and why, prolonging the agony.

This morning:
Me: "Honey, would you please get up with Bell?"
Honey: "It's your turn."
Me: "But I take Liam to school every day."
Honey: "I put the kids to bed last night and you went out to your photo meet up. It's your turn."
Me: "I get up with Liam on the weekends."
Honey: *silence*
Me: "Please?"
Honey: "No." And he rolls over.
Me: "Fine. Then you can drive Liam to school today AND get up with him tomorrow."

Then I lay there pouting until the alarm goes off again and sling my body pillow atop my husband's head for spite as I begrudgingly leave the warm, cozy sanctity that is my bed.

The biggest problem I have with getting up at O.M.G.-thirty with Bella is that after I've been up and about wiping butt and brushing teeth and hiking up and down that steep-ass cliff we live on, I am unable to go back to sleep for the remaining hour or so that's left until it's my turn to get myself ready to start the day. And when I try, I inevitably will toss and turn and eventually fall asleep for about 15 minutes. Then wake up pissed off about it. So I may as well stay up; power naps do not work for me.

If I were smart and motivated enough, I might consider utilizing this morning hour to get in some much needed exercise or at the very least do some cleaning... alas I am not, so I usually end up making a cup of strong black coffee and journaling, blogging, or editing photos... and then I end up running late, because as you know, I'm a perfectionist and whatever doddle I have thrown myself into at this wretched time of day has to be seen to fruition.

And away we go...

When to soft Sleep we give ourselves away,
And in a dream as in a fairy bark
Drift on and on through the enchanted dark
To purple daybreak--little thought we pay
To that sweet bitter world we know by day.

...Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Sonnet - Sleep

16 January 2011

a dark winter.

a dark winter II. Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
It was an unusually frigid and drearily overcast day in the quaint village of Woodman’s Hollow… A day for indoors – women engaged in the tedious tasks of darning socks, patching trousers, and making potato porridge that would feed their families for days, children attended household chores or played quietly with marbles and rag dolls, while the men folk communed at the local tavern and enjoyed pint after pint of frothy ale and the swaggering movements of the busty barmaid in an uncharacteristic celebratory break from manual labor.

Outside of the tavern, all was quiet in the village save the occasional bray of a donkey. Smoke billowed from many a stone chimney and the streets were clear of their usual working class bustle.

Not so far away in the edge of the great wood, a frail auburn-haired girl of eleven years walked, trembling in her thin fraying coat and Mama’s too big leather boots, searching for twigs and branches to keep the stove fire alive. Since Papa died, it was even harder to keep the farm going and provisions stocked. Even all the extra hours in the day since leaving school did not afford her the time nor the strength to fill Papa’s shoes and with baby Tobias still in diapers, he contributed little except more work.

Had she not been so very tired or known any better, perhaps she would have been more sad about her life and agreed to marry the greasy old butcher with a fancy for pretty young girls. No doubt, this arrangement would improve her dire situation as neither she nor what was left of her family would ever go hungry again (he had promised as much), but thankfully, Mother would not consent to his repeated requests. Sometimes when she thought about it, her mouth watered at the mere thought of tasting meat again – a thick, juicy roast, chicken stew, or hearty sausages – she fought her food fantasies with ideas of having to sleep next to such a foul-smelling, repulsive man with bad breath and an evil grin. She did not know what exactly took place in a marriage bed under the covers, but she knew one thing for certain, it was something that she wanted no part of with the butcher. And if that didn’t make her forget about her hunger, the bitter cold did.

She stooped to pick up a small hickory limb once, twice, thrice, as it slipped again and again from her frozen fingers when suddenly a dark chill shot through her in a most eerie fashion. Not a cold chill this time, it was the feeling of impending danger, that she was being watched, or as Grandmama used to say, 'as though someone had just walked over her grave…'

She turned with a start and saw him – long, black cloak spilling about his wicked frame as his hypnotic gaze met hers. Time seemed to stop and he whispered her name,


She was not afraid. She was too tired to be afraid.

© Crystal J. De la Cruz, 2011
Raleigh, North Carolina

"Where there is no imagination there is no horror."

...Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

11 January 2011

god & girls.

candy lips.
Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
Recently the topic of God's gender has been called to question in our home... Oh boy. --If you think the usual repertoire of 4-year-old questions are tricky, try answering the awesomely off-the-wall unique queries that only a little boy and the warped humor of his Creator can conjure!

Where is God's house?... Why?
Can I go to God's house?... Why?
What does God look like?... Why?
Does God poot?... Why?
Does God poop?... Why?
Is God a boy or a girl?...

I remember being a little girl seeing stuff on the news about space missions and all the NASA hoopla and thinking it was such a waste of time and money when so many people were sick and poor and dying all over the world. What business did we have in outer space and why couldn't all those millions of dollars be used to help people? I remember asking my Daddy why God made people so smart?

"He didn't make people too smart honey," he said; "He didn't make them smart enough."

That was the wisest thing I think my Dad ever said. --Of course, I have since come to realize that compassion and intellect are entirely different things, but I digress.

So the God questions = not easy.

As much as I have tried at times, I have come to decide that I'm just not cut out to be a religious nor pious person. And I have tried. I have studied the Bible; read and studied the Qu'ran and much of the Hadiths; read about Judaism and Hinduism, am intrigued with the philosophy of Buddhism; have prayed in churches, synagogues, and mosques; and yes, have had my share of religious and even 'other-worldly' experiences; and passionately love religious history... and still I believe that there is more than one way to God and that ultimately the life journey for each of us includes finding what works for us, inside.

That being said, my hope for my inquisitive young son is that his genuine, compassionate nature and mind open with wonder be preserved and that he grows into a genuine, compassionate man with a mind open with wonder... a heaping helping of wisdom would be good too.

These recent God questions have caused me to start thinking about how to answer them. And I'm certain that God's gender is the least of my challenges to come, but to that, I simply replied that 'God is everything.' And miracle of all miracles, for once, that was enough. (Wow, I thought, I did good.)

Monday, here in the great state of North Carolina, the weather was calling for more winter magic and as is the proper southern protocol, everything shuts down, schools release, and everyone makes a recklessly mad dash for provisions to hold them over 'til spring.

I arrive at Liam's new school to fetch him and decide to take a spontaneous detour to explore Raleigh's new Euro-village and treat ourselves to some scrumptiousness that is Henry's Gelato.

First we check out an adorable little bakery and pie shop (could there be anything better?!) where the lady behind the counter presents Liam with a lollipop and tells him she has a nephew his age.

"Is your nephew a boy or a girl?" he asks.
"He's a boy," she replies laughingly.
"God is everything," he quickly responds. (Ahh, so he does listen!)

Next, we check out the little fresh market (bizarrely with biblical passages written on the floor) which much to my delight hosts shelves of German products and candies in addition to the displays of fresh meats, seafood, and OMG heavenly gourmet goodies. Seeing this as a fine excuse not to stop at the madhouse that is the grocery store, I grab a basket for a few "necessities" (cabbage, spinach, lentils, Scharfer Senf, Kindershocolade, marzipan, etc.) and accidentally purchase a freakin' $18.00 meatloaf (holy shit)... As we make our way through the store, Liam spies a beautiful "older woman" of about 5 or 6 years of age pushing a small cart - their eyes meet - and each time we pass, they exchange lingering glances.

At the register, I am speaking with the lady ringing me up and turn to find my young prince behind me shaking hands with the little girl and introducing himself. They begin chatting like long-lost college pals and though I couldn't hear the dialog there were lots of gestures, smiles, and nods going on. For all I know he was inviting her out for coffee and though it didn't occur to him to get her phone number, he excitedly tells me once we got outside that her name was Patience. =)

Next door to the ice cream store is a new South American wine bar... so I had to poke my head in there. I immediately meet a young sweet fellow with Downs Syndrome holding his favorite stuffed monkey. Liam begins talking with him about his monkey while the owner tells me about Argentinian wine. As we leave, Liam shakes the young man's hand. I could not have been more proud!

So we finally arrive at our intended destination for treats. Liam makes his selection, the lady dished up our gelato and I pay... and turn to find my son at the far end of the store in the process of pulling up a chair amid a threesome of young twenty-something hotties and talking about the weather. Really?!!

Only the promise of ice cream could drag him away.

"Those pretty girls are nice Mommie," he says.

We have our treats and talk about school. Afterward, we go to the restroom to get cleaned up; Liam darts out while I am drying my hands. A moment later, I walk out catching Liam giving a round of hugs to the "pretty, nice girls" which they enthusiastically reciprocated with lots of "awww"s and "how sweet!" and "he's so cute!"

O.M.G. I mean, wow. --I think I may have to take him down a notch or two before he reaches his teens!

...Oh and the $18.00 meatloaf? It was outta this world yummy!

"Of all the needs (there are none imaginary) a lonely child has, the one that must be satisfied, if there is going to be hope and a hope of wholeness, is the unshaken need for an unshakable God."

...Maya Angelou

04 January 2011

happy everything.

Happy Holidays! Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
Happy Holidays, Happy Hanuka, Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Frohe Weihnachten, Happy Kwanzaa, and a very Happy New Year to all, albeit belated. And while I'm at it, Eid Mubarak too!

2010 was a roller coaster to say the least, reaching it's steep crest around Thanksgiving and barreling downward at warp speed so that by Christmas, the phrase "stop the ride, I wanna get off!" bounced around in my scattered brain. I'm sure 2011 will be much the same when the last cans of pumpkin and yams are plucked from the grocery shelves with the madness of last minute holiday panic, though at present, I am more of the mind of, "Good riddance!"

Like most, I compiled a list of the usual new year's resolutions to include loosing weight, exercising, avoiding another back surgery, curbing my profanities (I know, go ahead and yuk it up friends), saving money, being a better mommie, a better friend, and a better housekeeper - okay, well a better mommie and friend (one mustn't set oneself up for failure), and blah blah blah...

But more importantly, I resolve to make more time for friends and loved ones, more time for love and laughter, more time for magic memories and the stuff that really matters in this world...

To all who love and support me despite plentiful flaws, who still take my calls and return my emails though it may have been eons since last we spoke, who have still made time to see me even though I have yet to make it out to Bertie county, and those sacred special peeps whose very presence, not proximity, in my life keep the wheels of my inner soul greased and in motion... I LOVE YOU and I THANK YOU. More than you could ever know.

Let the good times roll!...

"Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody's business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy if anything can."

...Thomas Merton