Life is a Roller Derby and a Belated Mother’s Day

Prologue: Yes, this was written and ready to post on Mother’s Day but I didn’t have the pictures uploaded and now it’s two months later. The wishes, nevertheless, remain current and I extend my continuing admiration for all of you who are wonderful mothers.

‘Tis the season

Mother’s Day already? I’m not wild about that fact that the year is already over four months old. But I am in a state of bliss that it is spring. This is my favorite time of year and Cincinnati’s most beautiful. Good fortune brought color early this year. Daffodils were popping up in late March. Each week brings more color–pink azaleas, fuchsia redbuds, blush magnolias, and pale shell colored dogwoods. The fragrance of lilacs has me bewitched and the first blooming of the dark violet irises from Kathy Krusiec’s garden

have come and gone on Mt. Muchmore. The rain has been relentless. They say we will break a record for rainfall. You can see  the flooded banks of the Little Miami River from the laboratory. The guard is calling it Lake NIOSH.

Yes. Yes. I have duly noted the growing rumblings about my low profile lately. There’s been a lot of character building since Christmas, but the first year of Donna plantings are coming up. The farm girl in me sees perpetual hope and the blossoming of possibility again. But, let’s see….where did I leave off last time…

Robert Frost, Beethoven, Steven Tyler, and DVB

March 26 is a date of significance for me and some interesting and diverse men. It is the day Beethoven died and the birthday I share with Frost and Tyler. At a minute past midnight on this March 26, I opened the package I came home to the night before. It was a copy of Patti Smith’s book JUST KIDS, birthday gift from dear friend, Judy Hanne and a sign to me that there is an energy somewhere that connects important things in my life. This book had crossed my path several times before. I heard Patti interviewed on NPR talking about her relationship with Robert Maplethorpe, the photographer, and the 60s and 70s. Next I saw her receive the National Book Award. When I saw it on the Amazon best books list,  I ordered a copy for Rosie Mueller as an homage to our college days. Next, Maplethorpe came up at a lecture at the Cinci Contemporary Art museum. The visiting lecturer from the Smithsonian mentioned that the year he got married Mapplethorpe’s exhibit was banned from the Cinci Art Museum in a flurry of controversy.

As luck would have it, I forgot to include the book in Rose’s Christmas package. Instead, I sent it out for her March 23 birthday reminded that I really wanted to read it. Given the flirting between us, you can imagine my delight when it was in Judy’s package. I began the first hours of my birthday reading the book and being transported to college. For those of you who grew up during that period, it is a trip down memory lane. For those who love art, it is a greater treat. Smith is a beautiful writer and the tale is well-told and reminiscent of male-female relationships that are more than stereotype. I highly recommend it.

Magnolias, Gauguin, and Mango Sorbet

Backing up a bit— I went to Washington, DC the week of my birthday to attend the OnDemand Conference. I stayed on 7th and F Street in the Hotel Monaco. The hotel building that was the nation’s first post office dedicated by Lincoln in the late 1800’s. My room was charming but postage stamp-sized (sorry for the regrettable pun) and could not have been in a better location: kitty corner from the Metro, across the street from the National Portrait Gallery, three blocks from the National Gallery and a block away from Chinatown. Washington is always inspiring to me. It is that intoxicating combination of art and history.

The conference was a good one–mind expanding and overwhelming all at once. The topic was preparing content for multiple channel distribution. The print industry is reinventing itself in this era of electronic content distribution. There were a few outcries from those who cannot accept the decline of paper printing as the way of the future, but most were focused on the incredible task of creating standards for the vastly different electronic channels in the marketplace. Like good conferences should be, it stimulated thought and new ideas.

On my evenings, I caught up with good friend, Sue Wilderotter, and a longtime client. Both insisted on taking me out for dinner. Sue and I went to Chinatown and caught up on her adventures in retirement and new home in Williamsburg. Next evening I met up with my client and went to a fabulous Thai restaurant in Rosslyn. The meal was excellent, but the dessert was superb! I don’t usually order dessert but was encouraged to for my birthday. I settled on what looked like a bonbon in the menu but came out the size of an apple. Don’t remember the name but it was a ball of sorbet wrapped in a shell of white chocolate with a dark drizzle. The sorbet was three layered: pineapple, mango, and raspberry. OMG–it was not only spectacularly delicious but gorgeous!

Despite the fact that I had to deal with a flat tire coming home, I changed my flight from 2pm to 6pm so that I could do some sightseeing before leaving. Actually, I wanted to get over to see the Gauguin exhibition at the National Gallery. When I got there and realized there was also the showing of a private collection of impressionist and expressionist art, I felt like the universe was serving me a caviar birthday. Did you know the west wing will actually let you take photos of great works? I indulged in the asian ceramics rooms, treated myself to a small cup of pear sorbet, and then a few books from the museum store. I was perfectly satisfied by the time I took off for the airport. Only my worsening cold diminished my delight. Sadly, I missed the cherry blossoms by about two days. That said, the magnolias were exquisite.

Best Laid Plans

Birthday week was a weird one filled with good and bad news.  March 23rd was Rosemary Mueller’s 60th birthday, the day Philip had his four wisdom teeth removed, and the day Elizabeth Taylor died. Geraldine Ferraro died on my birthday. DC was the highpoint of the week and there were character building experiences that threatened to impair my birthday experience. In the end, I survived the challenges decently and left the day with a good story to tell.

There had been a nasty cold that wouldn’t die in the Cinci area. I knew I had it Thursday the 17th when I woke up with a sore throat and was still struggling with it Friday the 24th when I awoke to deal with my flat tire. Going back to the day I left for DC, I was packed and ready to leave from the office but decided to go home before to get the phone number of my handy man for someone at work. On the way home, I heard an unusual sound and by the time I climbed the driveway I could smell rubber. There was an inch wide ragged gash in my tire. Who knows what I hit, but the good thing was I had time to get a cab and I didn’t go flat on the main thoroughfares.

I’d taken Friday off as part of my birthday weekend. The celebration began with a call to State Farm to make sure I had towing insurance. My rep was predictably not available and I left a message.  Determined not to be stuck home, I sucked up the $50 and had a towing company to come change to the spare. Sears had my tires and promised to get it done in 90 minutes. Four hours later, I collected the car. All was not lost during my wait. I went on a birthday shopping spree at Bed Bath and Beyond and in my extravagance bought some plexiglass tongs, a dish rack rug, padded hangers, and a spice rack. OK–I did by a cheap one cup expresso machine so I can make my own lattes. By the time I went grocery shopping and dropped in at Marshalls for a look-see, I was exhausted. I finished my day off eating a healthy meal and watching movies.

After the promising beginning of the day, the day seemed doomed when I retrieved a message from State Farm stating not only did I not have towing insurance but my car insurance had been cancelled since July. I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say I had submitted the payment and never got a cancellation notice. After numerous apologies from State Farm and news that I would not be able to drive all weekend and would have to take a cab to an agent’s office on Monday to sign forms before I could be reinstated—I called and was signed on by Progressive through AAA in 15 minutes. The lesson? Unlike a good neighbor, my Ohio agent was NOT there.

Advil Andrew, Vicadin Vic, Boom Boom Ben, Slammin’ Sammie, and Dangerous Donna

Originally, I’d planned to treat myself to a spa day–but I was feeling not great and had dropped a bundle on the car (and unbeknownst at the time–a big insurance premium, too) so figured I’d take it easy and read my new book. I’d invited my friends, the Tanens, to come over for dinner and games. They already had plans to go to the roller derby and asked me to come to their house for dinner and then join them for the derby. In my wildest dreams would I have guessed I’d spend my 59th birthday at the roller derby? No. But, I figured it would become a good story.  They made a great dinner. On top of it, there was a wonderful gift bottle. Andrew himself made a lemon birthday cake and Victoria made a beautiful card that is now a favorite bookmark.

I can’t say any of us were impressed with the action at the derby. It was actually more interesting to watch the crowd of 2,000–can you believe it? A very eclectic mix of every age group.

During duller moments, Victoria Tanen and I developed our own skating alter egos: Advil Andrew (below left), Vicadin Vic, Boom Boom Ben (below right), Slammin’ Sammie, and Dangerous Donna.







I missed home, but received lots of calls, cards, email, and Facebook greetings. There was also another package from Rose Mueller with a beautiful pink spring sweater. As I favor, the celebration continued. Bonnie came out two weeks later–but, of course, that’s a tale in itself and I’ll save that until next time.

The Good News

My fallen mailbox (over which I tried to negotiate a safer location for 4 weeks) is standing again and Rose and Dennis Mueller are proud first time grandparents to Kaden (born 3/31). Family will be here next week–Mom and sisters-in-law, Lori and Mary come on Wednesday. And, I will be going to NYC for a conference and a little time on Broadway. Planning to come home Memorial Day week or early June. It’s been a long time.

In Honor of Mothers

Tomorrow is that day of celebrating motherhood. Sadly, I will miss seeing my kids again this year and my Mom and Grandma Pierick along with all my good friends who are great mothers. Next year–back home for the holiday. This year, I toast you all. I’ve learned so much from watching and listening and sharing with you. Thanks for being role models and “sisters.” I wish you appreciation, love, wonderful surprises, chocolate, and much more . . . Celebrate!


About vbassoc

Donna Van Bogaert is a researcher and consultant in the field of cognitive styles, health communication, and organizational communication and behavior. Her business, Van Bogaert & Associates, Inc., specializes in cognitive-based coaching, management consulting, and leadership development. When the winds are blowing her way, she travels and talks about workplace potential and creative problem solving. In another life, Donna sings jazz. For a very long time, she fronted two 18-piece big bands —All That Jazz (Madison, WI) and The Gardenia Big Band (Rockford, IL). She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio where, in a third parallel universe, she leads a media branch of a national research institute. Mostly she has returned to painting, poetry, and plotting the next chapter of her life.
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3 Responses to Life is a Roller Derby and a Belated Mother’s Day

  1. Bea Neal says:

    Just a memory, isn’t it? It seems so overwhelming at the time but you deal with it all and move on. Looking back on it you can just smile and say, “that’s life”. Another great read. :)B

  2. Pam Nevar says:

    Happy Birthday Donna!
    Pam (Nevar) in Madison

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