Monthly Archives: March 2011



I have one sister, but I grew up around boys in my neighborhood.

They were fascinating to me then, and now that I have two of my own, (and a husband) I still find them fascinating.

I love how they don’t mind getting a scar or dirty or ripping their clothes.  In fact, it’s a badge of honor.

I like how “hat-hair” isn’t devastating to them.

I like how they see the world–what’s right in front of them–instead of being distracted by what happened yesterday or  next week or who said what to whom.

I like discovering what their “treasures” are.  For one it’s baseball cards.  For another, sports statistics.  For another, skateboards.  For another, stock market trends.  For another Star Wars characters.  For another, chewing tobacco.  For another, rocks or shells or bugs.  Usually it doesn’t involve other people.  Even when/if they find a friend who shares their “treasure” it is not essential that they remind each other about it all the time.

I like how quiet boys can be.  And how loud.

In my pregnancy journal when I was expecting my first son, there was a quote:

“A boy is a noise with dirt on it.”

Sometimes I might feel the need to clean him off or quiet him down, but when I’m patient with him, my “boy” is my treasure.

Conversation with a 13 year old


Radio Commercial about Adult Day Care elicits this question on the way to school:

her: Why do adults need day care?

me:  Well, sometimes they have trouble getting around, or they might have Alzheimers…

her:  What’s that?

me:  It’s a sort of disease that people get that makes them forget things or get confused.

her:  Oh yeah.  I did a paper on that in Social Studies.

me:  So then why did you ask me what it is?

her:  I dunno…I think I’m already coming down with  it.

Time to Frolic


I am not a fan of cats in general.  I like people who like cats, I just am not one of them.

I am a dog person.

But these little guys remind me that I desire more fun in my life.

When I look at this picture, at first I am mildly amused.

Quickly I restrain myself, remembering that if I join in the fun I will soon be itchy and sneezing.

I have a child who is a sweet fuzzy kitten on the brink of outgrowing her cuteness.

She used to cuddle up to me, thumb in mouth hand tucked around my upper arm, head on my shoulder.

She used to give me 5 minute hugs until I rolled my eyes.

Now she is the one rolling her eyes at me.

When I give her a pep-talk, she makes a face and says, “I just wish you’d stop talking.”

In the photo above, she is the white cat with the beautiful eyes and the face trying to decide which way to go.

She’s not forging ahead with fearless abandon.

She’s not looking back either.

She’s not really close to any of her peers.

She’s not following the leader.

She’s not sure which way to go.

Maybe she doesn’t have to know yet.

Maybe it’s just time to frolic and play, enjoying the grass and the garden.

Puurrrrr  (atchoo!)

More “New Pool” memories (subtitle: WINNING!)


Is this not a swimming pool?


Is this not a starting block?


Are we not the winning team?


Are you not the looooooooOOOOOooooosing team!


As I recall, Mom didn’t like that cheer.  “It doesn’t show good sportsmanship.”

After morning swim practice, we would have to leave out the side gate, run the perimeter of the fence into the “sign in” gate.  The priviledged few wouldn’t even have to scrawl their name with drippy hands but could just say “Season Ticket” to gain entry. 

You do NOT want to visit the restroom.  Under any circumstances.  Even to change.  Just go home wet.

Around 11:00 in the summer of 1981 there would be a daily game of Poolie and/or Pom Pom Poolie. 

POOLIE = a boys v girls game where only the girls who shaved their legs THAT DAY would be brave enough to play.  Boys stood on the side, girls were in the water, the goal was to swim underwater the width of the New Pool–between the ropes–and hop out before getting tagged on the top of the head once your head broke the surface of the water.  Once tagged on the head, you could then be manhandled and dragged to the wall you dove from, and a foot would be wrangled to touch the tile.  Once three folks were captured in this way, the teams would switch.  When preparing for the game of Poolie, baby oil is your friend.   So is significant speed and a large lung capacity.  Unless you are the type that doesn’t mind being hauled through the water by the opposite sex.  I’ve heard that type of player exists.

POM POM POOLIE = “It” goes off the high dive and everyone else scatters & hides.  Wait…I think I’m remembering Around The Pool Tag.  Are they the same thing?

SPLASH YOUR FAVORITE LIFEGUARD = Walter Gibson was fond of playing this when there were <10 total patrons because it was 52 degrees that day and the lifeguards were huddled on the chairs in sweatshirts, socks and multiple towels.

PIGEON = This was a swim team game from Coach Kendall.  The entire team of 100+ swimmers of all ages lined up across the width of the pool.  CK would say a sentence like, “It’s amazing how fast he’s PITCHING!” or “Hand me that PITCHER!” or “Is that a PIGEON?”  Only when he said PIGEON could we dive in simultaneously, furiously fly across the water and hop all the way out.  Last one completely out of the water was out of the game.  Randy Thacker won every time but I do remember Debbie Quarles slinging her foot out at the last second and narrowly staying in the game during one intense practice. 

Do you remember any water games that I’ve forgotten?

Swimming AND Diving


I have been a swimmer for about 35 years.  One of my earliest memories is from 1975 — swimming lessons in the “old pool.”  My instructor was some eye-rolling swim team teenager who waved his coach over and soon some Assistant TO THE Swim Team Coach was walking  me to the “new pool” where, in my estimation, about 493 Large People were cruising non-stop, like, probably faster than cars go down 11-E.  I mean like Mark Spitz FAST.  Some of those guys could push up out of the pool jumping straight to a standing position.  How am I even allowed over here?

Thus began my aquatic journey.   A few weeks later I realized I got a Team Suit in the deal…AND  a PRACTICE SUIT?  Jackpot!  (That’s me on the left with Susan and Angela–my rivals from this day through high school!)

My sister & our lycra-clad friends spent our summers waiting to race down the grassy hill to the back fence.  That was a happy 8-12 minutes tossing towels in the air and complaining about how hot it was and wondering how much longer until Lifeguard/Swim Team Stud Randy Thacker would come unlock the fence, pointlessly yell at us not to run, and open the gate while we streamed in like bees out of a hive.

swimteam sisters 2

Coach Holland as I recall was an old Colonel Sanders type, but without the facial hair & bolo tie.  Dressed in a crisp white tee shirt and khaki shorts he was a legend in the community.  A kind and beloved Coach, perfect  for my 8 and Under & 9-10  years.  Just as I made the aquatic transition from 25s to 50s as a newly-minted 11-12, Coach Holland retired and was replaced by University of Tennessee stud muffin Coach Kendall who had a million dollar smile and a caucasian fro, wore a sweet  Fleetwood Mac tee shirt and who, like a hippie, made us do weird things like stretch out before we swam.  This was WAY before yoga was mainstream.  In East TN.

I remember the 15-17 girls swooning over him.  I didn’t get it.


One of our end-of-season meets was held at the UT pool.  As we entered the impressive natatorium,  there, in living color…was Coach McSplashy on a Big Orange poster.

Well, that, shall we say, was it.  I mean, he was no Greg Brady.  Far from it, but he was the first celebrity with whom I was on a first name basis.  As in, “Coach Kendall, am I in the free relay?” and “Shannon…QUIT WALKING AND SWIM.”  Good times.

Then came Coach Huntsinger.  He had kids a tad younger than I was.  And a wee bit of a temper every now & then.  Understandably so when there are as many degrees in the air as kids not doing what they’re supposed to be doing.  He rubbed his forehead.  A lot.

But he stood out there in his flip flops in the sun summer after summer, showing us the breaststroke kick and cultivating a large family following and a handful of champions.  When I was getting ready to graduate, he also came to ask me to Assistant (To The) with him and “just keep the 10 & unders busy down there.”  I was thrilled.

I lifeguarded and swam recreationally through the college years and probably upped my GPA by taking one or seven Red Cross classes for P.E. credit at Samford University.  Then I got a grown up job.  And a husband, kids, and a myriad of other responsibilities.

Fast Forward >20 years.

Last year I decided to renew my long dormant Water Safety Instructor course.  I was in a class of 20 students.  One was a grandmother.  Another was a mom of a toddler.  Three classmates were 22-28.

The rest I could have given birth to myself.

The strokes I managed easily, but then came a diving component.   LifeguardsayWHAAAAT???

When I was 15 in The Year of our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Three, there was no “diving component.”  When I was 19 in college and retaking this course because I had let it lapse, there was no “diving component.”  But in 2010?  The 5th Anniversary of YouTube?  We are gonna make old ladies do tricks off the diving board.

I mean the wind up, backwards arms, knee up, pike-flying EVERYTHING.

So, yeah.

I was literally swimming AND DIVING from 9:00 to 4:00 on the anniversary of my 15th official Mother’s Day .  Off the springboard.  Off the starting blocks.  Etcetera.  After a series of no doubt spectacular springboard dives, complete with involuntary yelp I said (to myself) “Daaang…of all things, why is my big toe so sore?”  And then I answered myself.  “Oh.  right.  The bunion.”

And it might interest you to know:  they don’t use splintered off wooden benches with sandpaper nailed onto them at the 2.5′ end any more.  Shocking.

So there I was…bunion throbbing and whey-the-hail up high on a tilted degree platform not designed for a 40+ Woman Who Has Lived A Full Life Up To This Point.  I said a quick prayer and stepped sideways onto that 45 degree tilted cracker they call a starting block nowadays and kerSHHHHPLLUUUUUNKED down about 5 1/2 feet in all my Biggest Loser semi-streamlined posistion.

Glory Hallelujah, somehow I passed.

P. S.  My proudest moment was when Cox high school student CB asked me, “Did you used to swim when you were, like, younger or something cuz we just saw your start & it was like, “woah.”   I laughed and said, “Yeah, it’s been a while.”

I guess you can teach an old dog a new dive!

I’m diving in/I’m going deep/In over my head I wanna be

Caught in the rush/Lost in the flow/in over my head I wanna go

The River’s deep/The River’s wide/The River’s water is alive

So sink or swim I’m diving in