Monthly Archives: August 2016

Way to go Helen!

helen-medalI’ve not posted about wrestling in a long time because my favorite wrestler has gone on to bigger and better things. This past week, though, I’ve been back in the wrestling state of mind. It has been a long time coming, but one of Montgomery County’s own wrestlers, Helen Maroulis, made it to the Olympics and made Olympic history by being the first US female to win a gold medal.

Why did I care so much? Mostly because she and Andrew grappled a few times in his freshman year. I remember the first time. We got to the meet and saw that Andrew was up against a girl. It felt a little odd, and I remember hearing, “Andrew’s wrestling Helen” repeated a few times that day. The next time he was up against her, it was not so strange and by then I’d learned more about her. She had a brother who was also a wrestler, she was very good.

Here is Andrew wrestling Helen at Counties:

Here he is wrestling Helen at Regionals:

She beat Andrew each time he wrestled against her but when she was wrestling others in different meets I, and all the moms of our team, not-so-secretly cheered Helen on.

After she left our county to train more extensively I followed her on Twitter and Instagram. I was disappointed when she didn’t qualify for the London Olympics, and delighted when she qualified for the Rio Olympics. I told everyone who would listen about her and Andrew’s history with her.

helen-lapOn Thursday of last week I stopped what I was doing to watch her win the quarterfinals, the semifinals and finally the finals. I cried tears of joy when she ran her victory lap around the arena, the US flag trailing behind her.

We most likely never exchanged a word, but I am claiming the right to feel proud to have been in the same room with her and watching her wrestle as a young teen.


Random Memory: The time the catalpa watered me

Catalpa in late summer showing the beanpods
Catalpa in late summer showing the bean pods

I grew up on a street lined with mature catalpa trees. These trees, if you don’t know them by name, you probably know them by sight. They are the trees with large heart-shaped leaves that produce huge white flowers in the spring and long green bean-shaped seed pods in the fall. I used to tell people that Heine Avenue should have been called Catalpa Street.

velvet leaf weed
Velvet Leaf in tomato garden

One afternoon I stood under our yard’s catalpa tree admiring what I suspected was a baby catalpa. It had large heart-shaped leaves, just like the tree above me. I wanted it to grow so I ran into the house, filled a pot with water and ran back to the front yard and poured the water over the baby catalpa tree. Just as my pot of water sprinkled the last drop on the baby catalpa tree I felt drops of water on my head, then more, then what seemed like buckets of water fell on my head. My first thought was that the mother catalpa tree was watering me, but then I suspected she was trying to drown me because I poured water on her child. As I ran into the house I realized that the water was just a sudden rainstorm.

Years later I discovered that what I thought was a baby catalpa was actually a velvetleaf — a weed which, according to the Internet, was introduced in the U. S. as a possible fiber plant. I see them now and then when I’m in nature — I saw a lot in Illinois the last couple of weeks. Yesterday I saw one — 6+ foot one — in my tomato garden. Which is why you are reading this now.