31 December 2009
Taking the plunge into new technology. Last winter I purchased a compact point & shoot digital camera and love it. My little Samsung performs like a champ and has reacquainted me with my secret passion for captured images. Plus, it has inspired me to move onto greater challenges in 2010.
Easter Sunday. It was sunny, warm, beautiful weather. We were chillin’ poolside with our respective Easter baskets full of chocolate. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Shocking silliness. Sometimes the most shocking thing reconstructs itself into the funniest memory ever. That’s sort of what happened one seemingly innocent August morning as we were drinking coffee on the balcony. An unexpected, singular event has now become a source of endless amusement.
Caffeine fix. Cristy took the enlightened initiative to get separate coffee makers and glory hallelujah, this tiny bit of individualism expressed through separate coffee makers has made morning life unbelievably spectacular for us both. Two auto-program brew times + two coffee preferences = two extremely happy coffee drinkers.
Mailbox key. Having access to a mailbox is the crowning glory of moving to a new address. As much as the U. S. Postal Service would like for us to believe their slogan we deliver for you, it’s more like, we deliver when it’s convenient for us. Took 2 months to get a mailbox key, but oh joy, it feels so good having one now!
Sprinklers. Our little ten-pound alpha dog has a fascination with the garden hose. She loves the sprayer attachment and her antics with the water are hysterically funny. All summer long it sent us into fits of laughter every time we watered the plants.
Craigslist. My foray into the fabulous world of Craigslist started with disposing of a few bulky, unneeded items via “free stuff.” That went smoothly, so I purchased a couple of second-hand side tables for $20 (only one of which has been refinished, but it is so cute!). Then Cristy located the ultimate prize: a ginormous dining table from someone who acquired it from JP Morgan Chase where it was once-upon-a-time a workaday conference table. Suits us perfectly.
These things, my good friends, are 2009 awesomeness.
30 December 2009
This blue moon shall be a good omen. May it bring the blessing of humility, faith and gratitude to all who observe its beauty. May it afford us a more profound glimpse into the inner courage, compassion and diligence we have stored within the depths of our being. May it open our minds, hearts and eyes to the realities of our life, that we may live in the present tense, making appropriate choices and telling the truth, with love, to ourselves and to others. May it allow us a balanced view of ourselves, our family, community and world so that we may choose words and deeds for good.
May this blue moon give us resilience in the face of adversity and a stronger sense of connection to the God of our understanding and the fabric of humanity.
As we leave our fingerprints on the lives of others, and on the world in general in 2010, let them be thoughtful, intentional and gentle. May this moon give us the soft light we need to illuminate our path in the coming year.
29 December 2009
Back to the gloves.
They’re knitted woolen gloves and don’t really do a great job of keeping my fingers toasty warm. I have to sit on my hands every once in a while, place them next to the heating pad to transfer some quick warmth.
Sometimes I wish I could bring a dog to work to keep me warm. Seems to work when I sleep. They’re like little heaters. There I am huddled up all cold and then a teensy 10-pound dog snuggles in nearby. Before I know it, hot flash city. But we have this policy, a new policy apparently, that prohibits employees from bringing animals to work. Dogs, cats, mice, goldfish. Has something to do with laboratory animals. I’m teetering on a very slippery slope here: this is a place where science is conducted. I just accept it the way it is and go on about my own vegetarian business in the meantime.
So, you may be thinking, what is the point here? Well, nothing really. To borrow from other, far more brilliant bloggers, I’ll just chalk this up to Random Tuesday Thoughts.
Borrowing is a funny business. It can lead to suspicions and resentments. I'm certain in my life I have been guilty of discourteous borrowing practices. And I have been on the other side too — generously extending myself and my belongings only to find that the borrowers did not care for my belongings in the way that I would have.
Books are a particularly sticky subject. I love my books, but in all honesty, books are hardly the same thing as a crown jewel. They can be replaced easily. But it bothers me when others ask to borrow my books and then do not return them. Or do return them, but in shabby condition. Doesn’t bother me all that much, but it’s a slight irritation. The converse is also true. It bothers me when other people lend (or give, I’m not sure which) their books to me, without a stated or implied interest on my part to actually read the book. They are books that someone else just thought I should read.
Some I have tried to read and others I have not. My admission here is that I have not returned these books to their owners, partly because the manner in which I received them was not clearly defined, in my mind at least, as a borrow. I may be very guilty of the same types of offenses that offend me. Sticky subject indeed. Perhaps in 2010 I should resolve to steer clear of all manner of borrowing activity, since it appears that I am unable to manage it well.
28 December 2009
The visit was wonderful and the weather was wonderful. Until Christmas eve. It started raining that morning and the forecast called for a steep decline in temperature. This of course, would mean that the composition of that precipitation would change to something else, something frozen. And it did. We went to the movies and when we emerged from the theater, rain was falling in frozen droplets of icy sleet. In another hour, the sleet changed to pretty, fluffy flurries of snow. Exciting for a couple of girls from Texas. Not so exciting for the two that lived in Oklahoma and had experienced the aggravation associated with snow and ice on more than one occasion.
We headed for the casino – no trip to my mom’s is complete without at least one visit to the casino. This casino visit was somewhat justified with a dinner reservation in the restaurant. But unfortunately, inclement weather conditions interfered with our dining plans: the restaurant was closed. So off we went in search of a suitable Christmas eve dinner. Driving through the city, we were startled by the sharp increase in the wind and rate of snowfall. It was indeed beautiful, but made driving a little slower than usual. Visibility was reduced and everyone on the road was proceeding with extra caution.
Within a mile, the welcome sight of Outback Steakhouse greeted us. Perfect. We immediately went indoors for a warm, delicious dinner. Outside the snow was accumulating rapidly. We emerged to a world heavily cloaked in wintry white. It was like being inside a snow globe with the dense snowfall whirling all around. There were still shoppers out and about town, but traffic was waning.
We assumed that the snow would stop falling at some point during the night and the world would resume to normal operations by early to mid-morning. We had a plane to catch at 12:12pm, but in my mind, it would be understandable if the flight was delayed by an hour or two.
Upon awaking at 5am, I decided to check the airline website for flight status. The two earlier flights on Christmas day were cancelled, but my flight indicated a mild delay to the scheduled departure time. No problem.
By 8am, things had changed. My flight was now cancelled. News reports indicated that hundreds of vehicles were stranded along the roads and highway conditions were not safe enough for traveling. I called the airline to reschedule my flight and learned that they had taken the initiative to do this on my behalf. My new return flight was now 4 days away. This news was not registering in my consciousness very well. I could not comprehend the enormous gravity of the weather situation. I inquired about moving my departure to later that evening.
Um, no. Not available.
OK, how about tomorrow?
Well, no. We could get you a flight on Sunday from Dallas to Houston.
Oh, so I just have to get myself from Tulsa to Dallas on my own? No problem.
So that was the plan. But that was not a really good plan. I was depressed. As much as I love visiting my mom, I really wanted to get home. Our visit was cramping their style, just a little bit, and we just wanted a tiny bit of Christmas togetherness at home. Three more days just wouldn’t work.
Cristy called Southwest Airlines after finding what appeared to be availability on their Tulsa departures that same day. They did have seats available. We took 2. Even though the airline was flying to an airport that was not the same as the one from which we originated. We paid out the a*s for those tickets. But we got home with very little trouble. And we got to see my brother, sister-in-law and Cristy’s family that same night.
And we got to witness some family fun with vienna sausages and spam. Nothing like potted meat products to bring out the love.
In the past year, there were some goodbyes. A colleague died. An animal companion died. I sold a house. I let go of some expectations I had associated with a friendship whose complexion was changing.
I persevered through fear and uncertainty. I faced a few personal conflicts through which I attempted to navigate with honesty and intention. This is not so easy for me because I prefer to hide from conflict. There is still plenty of room for improvement, but I acknowledge my attempts at moving in the right direction.
I explored a new creative outlet this year with this blog and its companion photo blog. And it has enriched my life in ways that I would not have imagined before. In the beginning, I only focused on writing my own thoughts, musings. But soon I began reading others’ blogs and found a world of inspiration. I am ever so thankful for the clever, insightful reflections I now read on a daily basis.
As we approach the final hours in the twilight of this year, it will be satisfying to softly close the back cover. And it will be invigorating to open the new book, full of brightly shining empty pages. Filling the pages with love, with intention, with compassion, with fun, with courage, with inspiration, is the work of my life.
26 December 2009
I waited for the drug to begin taking effect. Then I scooped him up and tried to feed him the rest of the pill. Took three attempts; I do not have much practice giving a pill to a cat. He became much more drowsy.
I set the stage for step two. Nail clippers. Adhesive. 2 towels. Heating pad beneath one of the towels to soothe him. Nail tips. And finally, my reluctant assistant, Cristy.
I gave the kitty to Cristy; she placed him on the towel, covered him with the other towel and I began clipping the nails on his right paw. He objected loudly. Cristy held him and talked to him sweetly but he didn’t care much about sweet talk.
I applied the nail tips to the right paw. Phew. Half finished.
Kitty stepped up the protests. Oh, it sounded like he was pleading for his dignity. I felt terrible, Cristy felt terrible. I thought we might be killing him. His strength was fading and he lay panting on the towel. Work quickly.
I clipped the left paw and applied the nail tips. We finished and Cristy carried him over to his favorite chair to sleep it off.
Good kitty. Hope you can easily adjust to these nail tips because I sure don’t want to reapply these, at least for a little while.
24 December 2009
Here are some recent examples, all within the past week. Coincidence? Or a pattern of premature senior moments masquerading as brain fade?
Misplaced driver’s license. Not the first time in my life I’ve lost one, but this time it simply vanished from my possession. All by itself. Nothing else from my purse is gone. I had to spend over two hours at the DPS office the other day to apply for a replacement. That was some fun.
Misplaced purse. Today I had to enlist the assistance of three loved ones in search of my purse. It was sort of funny that when I announced I had lost track of it, I faced a smattering of questions: did I put it here, did I put it there? As if I knew the answer. Right. Turned out to be indoors, placed in an unfamiliar spot that was oddly camouflaged. Happy ending with very little aggravation. What a relief.
Medicine dosage mishap. This is usually not a problem. Taking prescribed medicine is habitual. But being away from home sort of disrupts those home-based habits. Truth is, I cannot remember whether I took my daily dosage earlier or not. So I just took what might be second pill this evening. Or it might be the correct daily dose. Don’t know. Don't remember.
Better pass me that puzzle, quick!
21 December 2009
Recently, Marlow discovered the little hinged cover at the base of the mantle for the lever that ignites the gas logs in the fireplace. At first glance, it would seem that the space inside this hinged area is only large enough to place your hand inside and turn the lever on or off. His curiosity leads him over to that cubbyhole often. He will push the cover open and place his entire head into the space.
But to Cristy’s surprise, as she was relaxing on the couch this morning, she looked over just in time to see Marlow’s tail disappearing into that cubbyhole. Then in a minute or two, a paw appeared. Then in another minute or two, Marlow popped out again. It was a tight squeeze, apparently. And becoming tighter by the day, it would seem, at the rate he has been eating recently.
Note to self: install a cat-proof latch on the fireplace switch cover, pronto!
19 December 2009
I also noticed a human voice shouting something that I could not quite understand. But then it seemed to be coming from another direction. Oh, there were two men shouting. I thought perhaps there was a protest of some sort going on, and being the curious individual that I am, mentioned it to Cristy. She always knows more about current events than I, so perhaps she knew what the protest was all about. On this occasion, she did not. But being the curious individual that she is, decided just to drive on by and find out first hand.
I didn’t gather that it was a protest, per se. It appeared to be a group of evangelical Christians. They were holding a banner that included a message with the word ‘sinner’ prominently featured. Another one of the men had a digital camera, I suppose for taking photos of passers-by. There weren’t any people stopping to smile, I noticed.
The shouting voice was growing louder as we approached. We drove toward the movie marquis, wondering what film could be causing the protest. Surely there was some movie that initiated this gathering of what appeared to be disapproving Christians. We scanned the list of films, but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary Hollywood fare.
So then, what was the fuss about? Why the shouting? As we drove toward the exit, there was another clump of individuals at the sidewalk who seemed to be appealing to movie-goers as they walked by, one man extending his hand in which he appeared to be holding a Bible.
Hmmm, we thought perhaps they were simply encouraging people to reflect on the true spiritual connection with Christ, during this season of Christmas, the celebration of the birth of the son of God. God’s selfless gift to the people of the Earth. But that didn’t make much sense, because they seemed so angry, you know, with all the shouting.
Christianity is full of paradoxes, I guess. If these two groups were attempting to spread the message of connecting with the central meaning of Christmas, the wonder of the birth of Jesus, then why so much anger? I believe the birth of Christ is about pure joy, awe and humility. According to the stories we have all heard, the visitors to that manger who were fortunate enough to witness the miracle, did so thoughtfully, reverently, treading ever so quietly.
I love the trappings of the season. More is more. Glitter, sparkle, twinkle, merry and jingle all the way. But it doesn’t mean that I do not pause to reflect on the birth of Christ, the struggles and faith of Mary and Joseph, the gift to humanity. It is the essence of that divine gift that demonstrates God’s love for us all. No, I have not forgotten.
But why present it to us in such angry tones? Why go on a recruiting mission condemning those you wish to befriend?
Perhaps before going out in public for an organized awareness or recruiting campaign, it might be a good idea to review some of the fundamentals of marketing and sales. Just a thought.
18 December 2009
My theory is that there are two kinds of dogs: cave dogs and water dogs. All dogs will generally fall into one of the categories, although it may not be as obvious as Jackie or Bella.
I’ll run through my own dog family. First, the easy ones.
Edgar is a cave dog. He likes to be in quiet places and seeks out the smaller rooms in the house for his own relaxation. In inclement weather, the only consolation is to give him a cave: allow him to get inside a closet, a small dark room where the frightening noises are muffled.
Jasper is a water dog. She loves being outdoors and is completely unafraid of the water. Prances back and forth across the tiled bridge between the spa and pool. My belief is that she will be the first dog to join us in the pool this summer when it is warm enough to swim. It won’t take much encouragement.
Now for the tricky ones.
Gracyn has tendencies for both water and caves, but she favors the cave dog side more. You might not think this at first because she is all alpha when you first meet her and her favorite thing on earth is to play with the lawn sprinkler. But she prefers to cuddle up under a blanket or bury herself in a mountain of cushions. I suspect that she may eventually join us in the pool this summer, but it will be after much encouragement. Her water love will undoubtedly always be reserved for playing with a sprinkler on solid ground.
Tristan actually does not show tendencies for either water or caves, however he displays one particular mannerism that gives me reason to believe his DNA is grounded in cave dog lore. He loves to walk back and forth beneath something. Under your legs when you’re seated. Under a taller dog, under a chair, under a bench.
But regardless of cave dog or water dog status, all dog love is equally wonderful. My life wouldn’t be the same without my canine companions.
17 December 2009
I’m bringing out three luncheon plates that belonged to my grandmother for serving breads and breakfast burritos. Their pretty red and white pattern is reminiscent of a weekend at grandma’s but still festive and fresh. I’m tumbling a large helping of little apples into a tall clear glass vase with an origami star made from white ribbon nestled on top. I learned how to make these pretty stars from a neighbor that lived next door many years ago.
Next to that is a champagne flute filled with white sea glass, adorned by a few pellets of dark red sea glass. Cristy loves sea glass and the champagne flute was a gift from my sister in law when she and my brother first got married.
There are two small dark red glass dessert plates for sweets, and dotted amidst this grouping are teacups that go with the luncheon plates. One is chipped, but I still love them. I added small white and silver glass ornaments and shiny red ribbon to fill the cups with holiday glam.
Finally, I’ll bring out my old, favorite red and green tartan napkins, an assortment of glassware, cups and dining plates and hope my friends enjoy the food.
16 December 2009
I put them on, but they feel really awkward and tight, as if they don’t fit. So I stand up and look at my feet. That’s weird; the toes of the boots are sort of pointed out, like in the wrong direction. I start to wonder about this aloud; maybe the boots are defective or something. How could that have happened?
Then the harsh reality washes over me. I put them on the wrong feet. Duh.
15 December 2009
In 2005, my marriage, the one that had been slowly crumbling for so long, disintegrated by late summer. That autumn I was living alone and found myself spending the holidays largely by myself that year and for the next couple of years.
I took the trouble to decorate my Christmas trees and relished in the beauty of my small collection of Santas adorning the sideboard. I planned a savory menu of my holiday favorites with a dessert of gingerbread topped with whipped heavy cream. I set the table, poured a glass of wine, silently said grace, and ate my dinner alone.
I remember talking to my mom about it that first year. I was still a little numb but had enough awareness to realize the necessity of walking through the darkness of this part of my life. I needed to travel this path to locate the brightness that was already there. I just couldn’t quite see it. So in that respect, I was grateful for being alone; it was a small step toward another life.
This year has been full of joyful treasures and I am fortunate enough to share this joy with my loving partner in life. By taking the time to awaken from a state of semi-consciousness a few years ago, truthfully examine the part I played in my troubled marriage and the short-lived relationship that followed, I emerged with a renewed desire to live with intention, compassion and gratitude.
In that time of darkness, I always knew that the golden light was shining all around me, I only needed to stand up on my own two feet and walk into its loving, nourishing glow.
13 December 2009
Amidst the madrigal music performances was a complete dinner service for the audience, primarily parents and family. In return for the meal, the audience good-naturedly participated in some requisite silliness. Namely, acting out the holiday classic 12 Days of Christmas.
Of the 12 tables of guests, each table acted out one of the gifts described in the song. With two student facilitators per table encouraging us to free our imaginations and give in to the overall craziness, we were also told that a “prize” would be awarded to the funniest table.
OK. Adults are not much likely to indulge in this kind of child’s play on an average Saturday night without so much as a spiked wassail to soften inhibitions, but attach an incentive on the other side and all the type-A personalities begin emerging. Granted, the prize was undefined at this point, but with each verse of the song, the competitive spirit in the room escalated.
Of course, our table won. We were not surprised because by this time we had completely locked in on the goal: to WIN THE PRIZE. And the prize, as we learned, happened to be the honor of wearing paper crowns for the remainder of the evening. Obnoxious glittery purple paper crowns that more resembled dunce hats than trappings of royalty. The student “king” bestowed our reward with gestures of grandeur and we returned to our table almost (dare I admit it?) gloating. No matter that the prize was perhaps even more humiliating than the contest. We won it. Which is also the same as: everyone else lost. Hahahahahaha.
Sadly, we left behind our crowns upon departing. It was the closest I will ever get to hanging out with the royals.
11 December 2009
I read an interesting blog post over at The Unbearable Banishment about advertising that features blatantly provocative imagery. While the author did not personally find the imagery appealing, his concern was that the image was front and center on large-scale public display in one of the busiest intersections in Manhattan during the peak of Christmas season. Children might see it.
For how many generations have parents been trying to shield their children from human sexuality, promiscuity, tobacco, drugs, violence, alcohol, deception, cheating, vulgar language, inappropriate behavior…. feel free to add to the list. Is the answer FOREVER?
And what results have we witnessed? Children enter puberty right on schedule, become curious and confused about their interesting new feelings, are exposed to new social challenges, and have all sorts of opportunities to make complex decisions about mature subject matter with their still not-fully-formed brains. The human brain does not fully mature at the age of 18 or 21, actually it takes a bit longer. Surprise.
On the one hand, Unbearable Banishment may have a point. Seriously, how necessary is advertising of this genre? I don’t happen to know the answer, but I’m wondering about the actual financial reward from a big, steamy advertising blitz like this one. Obviously the point is to craft a brand image, steering public opinion about the company in the minds of potential future customers. I suppose there is a measurable reward. Some potential future customers will convert to actual customers when faced with their next product buying opportunity. But really, to what extent is any buying decision driven solely by brand image, and not influenced, perhaps rather heavily by more practical factors like cost, fit, comfort, color, design, convenience, etc.
Well, unless this company hires me or Unbearable Banishment to head up their marketing campaigns, they are unlikely to change their branding strategy anytime soon.
So then that leads us back to the earlier quandary. If provocative imagery in advertising is here to stay in our daily lives (which it is), then how do we coexist peacefully? How do we not fall into the same patterns as former generations of parents, hiding, denying, shaming, condemning? How do parents find the fortitude to address mature subject matter with an immature audience in a way that sets a healthy example? And, beyond finding the fortitude, how, actually does any parent successfully discuss an advanced topic without getting preachy, hyper-emotional, or cynical?
My parents didn’t have the answer. I don’t happen to know any parents who do. I guess that is why we can all relate to this tongue-in-cheek definition of insanity. It hits close to home.
10 December 2009
Last year Cristy and I attended together. We arrived early in the day and had plenty of time to scope out our surroundings. Among the assorted array of ordinary people, there were lots of girls wearing little dresses and cowboy boots. There were lots of boys wearing starched oxford cloth shirts, jeans and felt hats. But there was another highly conspicuous group of people at the rodeo: committee members. It seemed like there were thousands of committee members, everywhere you looked. They were easily identifiable because they all wore jeans and a shirt with a rodeo committee vest over their shirt. The committee vest proudly featured the well known Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo emblem and the name of the committee on which they served. The Steer Auction Committee, the Calf Scramble Donors Committee, the Horspitality (yes that is spelled correctly) Committee. Committee members also wore lanyards with an ID badge granting access to private areas of the venue off limits to the general population.
That is what I noticed. Access to private parties. The nerve! Flaunting a private party! In full view of the huddled masses.
It’s not that I want to sneak into a celebrity area or try to scam my way into the calf roping competition. I just want to see if I can get into one of the literally hundreds of parties in “private” areas. Here is the plan. So far, Cristy is not on board, and with rodeo season approaching in a matter of mere months, I need to move this plan from the visionary stage into some sort of active implementation in order to be successful.
I propose that we invent a committee that sounds plausibly legitimate, make some vests proudly proclaiming the name of our personal committee, and wear them to the rodeo on the day that we attend as bonafide ticket holders.
Cristy nailed it today, she said something about Hot Bloggers and I thought – that’s it! Our committee could be the Hot Bloggers. How cool would that be for the rodeo? Smokin!
So, this is how it might unfold. We get there and as we’re walking through the event hall, we stumble upon a private party tent. Actually, there are just rows and rows of these tents, they’re not exactly hidden. Well, we’re cute. Even if we don’t have an authorized ID badge, there is a chance that we could get into a private party or two, just to schmooze with the real committee movers and shakers, right? Maybe a 50-50 chance? It’s not like we’d be trying to crash a state dinner at the White House or anything.
She had to reconstruct her life, so to begin, she remodeled her house. It was an excellent metaphor for the more important task at hand, and the decision making that accompanied each building project served as practice for the decisions she needed to make in her own life journey. She started a new profession and gained competency. She started liking herself. She started noticing other people, other men, and they noticed her too.
A longtime neighbor suggested introducing Barbara to a friend that the neighbor had known since high school, Bob. Bob was divorced, stable, a hard worker and had been a good friend for many many years, however, he lived out of state. Barbara didn’t know, but the neighbor persisted. Gentle reminders every now and then. One particular day, Bob happened to be in town on business and had made arrangements to meet his high school chum for dinner. She invited Barbara. She insisted. Barbara agreed but was fraught with anxiety. It felt like a blind date, transporting her back to the last time she actually had a date, in her teens. An awkward age with little knowledge of the world and less knowledge of her own desires or needs in a relationship.
Dinner went smoothly. Bob entered into conversation easily without monopolizing it. His manners, a product of a proper southern upbringing, made her feel secure and special, cherished, even. He called the following day to thank her for her company and sent flowers. She was touched and overcome by this prelude to what appeared to be old fashioned courtship and had a case of nerves as big as Texas. She called to thank him for the flowers; he said he would call her in a couple of days. And he did; they made plans to see each other the following weekend. He stayed in a nearby hotel and orchestrated a comfortable agenda for their weekend entertainment, she only needed to change her clothes, spray on some perfume and grab her purse.
Falling in love was easy, but did not come without the stings of uncertainty or fear. Their romance continued for several years; they found a happy stability and both were sure that this happiness was something they wanted to nurture in their hearts, in their daily lives. So Barbara sold her house and moved to another state to be with him. She left the house in which she had lived for thirty years, her family, her neighbors and friends. She moved to a place where she knew no one, had no family and had to begin cultivating friends again like she was the new kid in school. It was stressful, but she persevered, then blossomed.
Bob and Barbara married. They take care of each other, laugh and fuss. But mostly they celebrate their days together. They value each other and they cherish the sparkling moments of happiness littered throughout each loving day of their lives.
09 December 2009
But alas, I seem to lack either the fortitude or the imagination to relay my own love story. Perhaps, in the future, as I gain traction and composure in my blogging journey.
This will be the true story of a couple, whose anonymity shall be shielded. We shall call them Jack and Jill.
The two met at work in the early 1980s. She was tall, blonde and smart. She looked a little bit like Miss America. He was tall and handsome; intelligent with a slightly caustic sense of humor. They noticed each other at work, and as often happens, found plenty of opportunities to be in each other’s company where they became acquainted then became friends. She was dating another man and he was involved in a relationship of long standing with another woman.
But some of their coworkers thought they might make a perfect couple. These coworkers happened to notice little things, like the way he lowered his voice sometimes when he was speaking with her and the comfortable, casual way they fell into an almost daily lunch ritual. Or the way she sometimes flushed when she caught him looking at her.
Jack was cautious and although he was smitten with Jill, he never let on. Never hinted, never gave her even a clue that his friendly attention was more than friendship. Jill knew enough about Jack’s current girlfriend that she never considered his friendly attention might have more substance. Perhaps she hoped, in a very secret secret place, but dared not admit it, aloud.
Jill was in her early twenties and in a couple of years, her career aspirations led her to examine job opportunities that offered a better salary, and of course, more responsibility. Her boyfriend encouraged her to pursue one of these and in the blink of an eye, she had a job offer. A minute later, she was gone from Jack’s daily existence.
There was not much reason to keep in touch, it would have been suspect. So they didn’t. But one of his coworkers, one who suspected the secret, didn’t lose touch with Jill. They talked on the phone from time to time. This friend, the matchmaker, waited for the inevitable. Waited for the day when Jill would admit that her relationship with her boyfriend was crumbling and confess, under a promise of strict confidentiality, that she had always had feelings for Jack.
Three years later, Jill and her boyfriend did break up. Coincidentally, Jack and his girlfriend had been experiencing a significant amount of trouble too, but were still together every weekend. Jill had started dating again and one day casually mentioned this to her old friend as they were chit-chatting.
In almost no time at all, Jack was in contact with Jill and invited her to meet him. He told her that his romantic relationship was nearing an end, had never stopped thinking about her, and wanted badly to see her. She coolly agreed.
The very next day he knew. This new path for the rest of his life had appeared before him and he was almost trembling. I met him for a drink after work that day and he told me about Jill. I could see the future in his voice. It was just a matter of time.
He broke up with his girlfriend. He and Jill started dating and the long years of love they had hidden poured forth. He was deliriously happy and before long proposed marriage. He was nervous. She said yes.
The early years of their marriage were stressful because his job status became uncertain. But after he started a new job, everything flourished. They had two children; he started becoming more and more successful in his profession. He traveled frequently.
When he was home, Jack noticed some unusual symptoms in Jill’s behavior but pretended it was nothing. Then she had a breakdown. He was distraught. They hired a nanny to relieve some of the childrearing burden. But their marriage grew distant and there were arguments, accusations, tears.
At the height of his success, she filed for divorce. He was heartbroken. She was the love of his life. He moved out of the house but could not bear to go to his apartment after work. He did anything else. Not necessarily things of which he was proud. Later he bought a house and tried to maintain a friendly relationship with the mother of his kids. He knew he would always love her but did not know why she stopped loving him. His heart always ached and he tried to find ways to soothe that hurt.
Jill thought she might marry again. She started dating a man introduced to her through a friend. It had been two, now three years. He proposed and she accepted. But her attorney astutely recommended that she enter the marriage with a prenuptial agreement. When she proposed the contract, their romance faltered and the engagement became strained. It finally evaporated.
In this midst of this breakup, she again began talking with Jack. He was nonjudgmental and listened to her. She remembered this man. She remembered how she had loved him. She agreed to see him once more.
The following summer they married. Leaving hardship behind them, they again found the romance and love they had known before for so many years.
08 December 2009
I’ve thought about this rather carefully and have decided to abide by the sender’s wishes with no comment whatsoever. No debate. Going down that path would not prove fruitful and would only fan the flames of temper, serving absolutely no useful purpose. It will be OK for me to simply transfer my holiday gift-giving love elsewhere.
I have a short gift-giving list and have completed most of my shopping over the last few weeks. In years past, I would select an early Saturday morning and dash out to two or three small shops, make my purchases and return home by noon with an entire Santa list fulfilled. It was exhilirating and unknown, a rare once-per-year experience. More recently, online shopping has almost entirely replaced this experience. Excitement replaced with convenience. Sort of droll, wouldn’t you say? Truth be told, I miss my infrequent visits to these special stores.
I also usually have a small list of gift recipients for whom I make something personally. A jar of salsa or loaf of coffee cake. Usually coworkers to whom I want to extend a tiny holiday hug, of sorts. With Christmas approaching more quickly than I realize, and extended vacations beginning well in advance of the 25th, my deadline for homemade gifts will be here quickly.
Today I read a clever essay by inspired blogger, Maureen over at Island Roar about her holiday wish list. With rare exception, I always love the things I buy for others. I admit that it is not the best gift-giving strategy, but that is just the way things seem to turn out. I start with good intentions, but end up buying things that I love, perhaps more so than the gift recipient.
If I were a gift recipient, the things I would love to receive would be any gorgeous antique china dinner plate, a lovely creamer, a spool or two of beautiful ribbon, a simple assortment of linen table runners, cloth napkins of any variety, sparkly vintage jewelry, or flip flops. Maureen’s list was far more insightful and amusing.
Hopefully if my gift recipients are reading, they can begin dropping some not-so-subtle clues about the things from my list they’d prefer not to receive. I’ll try to take that under advisement.
07 December 2009
There is an intersection of two major artery streets near my home. The intersection was designed with a bypass for the north-south bound traffic in an attempt to mitigate congestion as much as possible. Still, a large number of cars travel through the controlled signals at all hours of the day and night. Because of the bypass design, the intersection is extra wide and has a number of cement islands that are undoubtedly supposed to steer traffic flow in the proper direction. Some drivers just lose their bearings and need a guided path.
And then, some drivers lose their bearings even with a guided path.
I’m at this precise intersection not long ago patiently waiting my turn, first in line at the left turn signal. The flow of traffic to my right gets the greet light to go and I glance over. The first car in the left-most lane changes her mind about turning left and begins an attempt at a U-turn, apparently forgetting about the helpful island. She cuts her wheels hard to the left, presses the accelerator and the front wheels of her car pull it right up onto the island. She pauses momentarily, but instead of backing off, decides to stay the course. Gives it more gas and her car pops up as far as it can until the wheels lose traction.
Hmmm. That clearly wasn’t the driver’s idea. She gets out to look around, and sure enough, finds that her car is propped up on a cement island. Pretty darned inconvenient.
My light turned green and I departed, home bound, hopeful that her triple-A membership had not expired, so that they could rescue her car, shipwrecked on that lonesome island.
My grandmother died two years ago and my grandfather died almost 25 years ago. It’s hard to believe that so much time has gone by. I visited her about six months before her death and asked her to tell me stories about her life as a young wife and mother. Stories I had never known before.
She met my grandfather through school and church. He was from a family of German immigrants; they were dairy farmers and had a large family. Grandma said that since there were so many kids, their parents tried to keep them occupied with games. She said she liked go to visit after church on Sundays; the whole family would be occupied with a game of badminton or croquet or a checkers tournament.
There wasn’t much fanfare around their engagement or wedding. It was during the Great Depression. She said they decided to get married and went down to the courthouse.
My father was born prematurely. It was her first child. Her beloved sister was visiting, but had taken the family car into town to visit a friend who, coincidentally, happened to be in the hospital. Grandma said that she had awoken that day with some lower back pain, but never in a million years thought that her baby would arrive early. But he did. A neighbor sent for the doctor and Grandma gave birth at home.
Seven years after my father was born, the horrifying attack on Pearl Harbor diminished their wedding anniversary celebration. After that, work was hard to find for my grandpa. He eventually moved the family to San Diego because a cousin suggested that he could get a job as a contractor in a Navy ship yard. They stayed in California for several years, but my grandpa’s allergies became so aggravated on the west coast that he decided to take his chances with dairy farming again, in order to move back to the Midwest, where the climate was easier for him.
The family stayed in Kansas, thankfully, because that is where my dad met my mom years later. Right in her small hometown. I know the railroad tracks where my dad took the shortcut to walk those two blocks over to her house from his. They undoubtedly took a stroll or two along those tracks themselves as they were falling in love.
Amid the legacy of Pearl Harbor is a sweet love story that proved crucial to my branch of the family tree. So, here’s to you, grandma and grandpa, happy anniversary. I love you.
05 December 2009
But about four years ago I got the flu. Influenza. It was awful. I went to the emergency clinic early-early on a Saturday morning because I felt like the pounding headache was going to collapse my brain and I was concerned that my throat might just tear apart if I coughed one more time. They gave me a dose of tamiflu and within 24 hours my symptoms were gone. I was back at work on Monday. That was way better than toughing it out for a week or more.
Then three years ago I had a real emergency involving a blood clot. I wasn’t sure what was happening at the time, but I was experiencing severe pain and knew something was not right. I went to the emergency clinic, again early-early on a Saturday morning. Everything eventually turned out OK, but it was a frightening experience and it impressed upon me the importance of seeking prompt medical attention.
Yesterday after work, I felt so sleepy I decided to rest for a couple of hours. I fell asleep and at some point later awoke to a very sharp, pronounced pain in my lower leg, just above my ankle. Flexing, walking, stretching did not seem to work. Minutes passed. More walking, but still the same sharp pain. It seemed to move, ever so slightly in my lower leg. My mind traveled back to that other emergency related to the blood clot.
I went to find Cristy and told her I thought I might need to go to the emergency room. She started asking what was happening and, just like that, my symptoms started clearing up. She encouraged me to take a couple of Tylenol. By the time I had water glass in hand, the pain was completely gone. What's up with that?
So was it a case of phantom pain? Is this a new-fangled cure for unexplained aches and pains?
Or maybe I am becoming a hypochondriac.
We arrived promptly at 9:30 and went directly to the cat examining room. The vet tech started talking to Marlow and asked how to open the carrier. I unlatched the top and opened it. We both stroked him gently and he lifted his head ever so slightly to glance outside the carrier. She asked him if he was ready to come out. And he was. He flew out of the carrier in a streak of orange and started darting about the small room. Twice, mistaking the mirror attached to the back of the door as an opening, and flinging himself against it. With no escape in sight, he climbed up the bags of dog food stacked on shelves against the rear wall to get to the highest shelf and disappeared behind the bags at the very top.
The vet tech and I stood in silence for a few moments. Speechless. She goes
“It’s ok, he can chill for a few minutes.”
After a bit, she left the room, returning shortly with a little wet cat food in a paper bowl. I removed some of the dog food from the top shelf so Marlow could see us and placed the paper bowl on the shelf where he could smell it.
Nothing. She goes
“Do you think he’ll come down?”
“No.” Thinking: not a chance. “But if there’s a step-ladder around here I’ll get him down.”
She brings a ladder, I get Marlow and return him to his carrier. The veterinarian arrives and we all decide on a small dose of general anesthesia to minimize the amount of stress he is clearly experiencing and to administer his vaccinations safely. I found out later that they could have bathed him while he was under.
But it’s a good thing that bath didn’t happen because as soon as we returned home and I opened the carrier, he ran to the fireplace and jumped up INTO the chimney. Speechless for the second time in one hour.
I didn’t know it was possible for a cat to get into the chimney. I mean, I knew he was getting into the fireplace because he was dirty and it was obvious that particular kind of dirt was coming from the fireplace. But I didn’t know the flue opening was large enough for a cat. Turns out it’s a fairly substantial opening. He stayed up there for several hours. He was upset with me and although he climbed down two or three times during that interval, as soon as he saw me he jumped right back into the chimney. Finally he jumped out and I was able to close the flue behind him.
So he retired to the bedroom to regroup under the bed. He’s covered in soot, by the way.
Good thing I got the prescription for acepromazine because the next round of stress will be coming in another day or two when I wash his fur with soap and water to remove that sooty grime. Poor kitty. Poor Diane. I’ll be wearing safety goggles and Cristy will be standing by ready to call 9-1-1 if Marlow decides to escape from the kitchen sink by brute force.
04 December 2009
Having lived in the south for so much of my adult life, my few encounters with snow stand out in stark relief to all the other days of my life without snow.
There was some snowfall last year one evening. I spoke with my sister-in-law on the phone the following day and she said that T & D were outdoors taking photos, but they didn’t bother to fix the lighted reindeer on the lawn that had fallen over. That is such a classic Christmas card photo opportunity! I couldn’t stop laughing, just thinking about my crazy brother and nephew, taking those nutty snapshots of toppled over reindeer in the snow.
I was in Chicago once many years ago, the day before Thanksgiving and snow began falling in earnest. Big, clumpy flakes. It was beautiful. I could hardly tear myself away from the window to finish my work that day. Sort of like today. My eyes keep straying to the window, just to make sure. Yes, it’s definitely still snow.
Then there was the time when I was working in northern Virginia and 23 inches of snow fell in one night. Mobility screeched to a halt as the state public works forces and private contractors rallied to clear roads. But I soon discovered the problem with snow. You have to live with it until it melts. You can pile it up, but it just doesn’t go anywhere and soon begins looking like ugly, toxic waste alongside the road.
Living with snow for weeks is completely different than the Houston experience of watching the snow fall from the sky, wondering if a fraction of an inch will accumulate on the top of a car. Enough to gather up in your hand and touch, taste, crunch into a ball and throw. That is the joy of snow.
03 December 2009
I can’t help but wonder about this business. Obviously it is a traveling amusement park that simply rotates between a half dozen or so local venues. Perhaps it is a larger corporation that manages several, or dozens or even hundreds of these carnival kits.
What kind of employees do they hire? What kind of wages and benefits do they offer? Do they conduct any sort of background investigations on their employees? Does anyone perform a safety inspection and give a green-light approval prior to selling the first ticket on each opening day? Is the carnival insured in the event of an accident? What is their accident track record? How old are the rides and equipment? Does the carnival strictly adhere to a preventive maintenance rigor to keep the equipment in running order?
It would appear that I have a question or two about this business that just shows up, closes down and operates primarily on a cash basis. And I’ll bet I’m not alone. However, I am not a customer. My (hypothetical) children are not riding the whirling twirling carnival rides. But if they were, I would definitely want to know some of these answers.
Have you ever seen that cartoon about the person trying to give a pill to a cat? Right, not as easy as it sounds. A set of shredded draperies and a trip to the emergency room later, the pill is still not in the cat’s tummy.
Well, I have a cat. Marlow lives in the house with me and Cristy and the five dogs. Marlow loves the dogs. But he is still a cat and has cat behaviors. One of those behaviors is sharpening his claws on the upholstered furniture. I’ve lived with cats for a large portion of my life and have witnessed the slow death of upholstered furniture to cat scratching.
Time to nip this in the bud.
Scratching posts are great. Cats love them. But for some reason they just don’t get it that the addition of a scratching post in the house means that they must give up scratching the upholstered ottoman. Doesn’t make sense to a cat.
Squirting cats with water is not a great idea. Cats don’t like it and they have long memories. They take their time in plotting out revenge, a revenge that will not be pleasant for the revenge recipient. I know this from experience. I don’t want to get on Marlow’s bad side.
So, I heard of a humane solution for scratching. I called my vet and asked if they offered a procedure to apply plastic tips to cat claws. Sort of like acrylic nails. They said no, but I could buy the product and just do it myself. I did a quick google search for plastic covered cat claws and found what I was looking for. There were some impressive photos and step by step instructions on the product web site.
First, you trim the kitty’s claws with clippers. Then you put some adhesive on one of the rubber tips, press the kitty’s paw gently to extend his claw, and just affix the tip to the claw and hold it in place for a few seconds. Then just repeat this easy procedure for the remaining claws.
I thought to myself. You’ve. Got. To. Be. Kidding.
So I called the vet’s office right back and said I needed to get a prescription sedative (for the cat).
I asked Cristy if she would help me and she thought I might need to get a prescription sedative for her, too. And some painkillers to dull the pain from the razor sharp incisions Marlow was likely to make ALL OVER OUR BODIES.
Believe it or not, there’s even more to this crazy story.
Marlow has recently discovered the fireplace and for some reason he wants to go into the fireplace. As a result, his fur is now dirty with soot. I’ve tried to rub it off with a damp towel, but he doesn’t like this idea very much and it is not a highly effective method for cleaning off the soot. He keeps running away from me. I really need to wash his fur with soap and water.
Cristy thinks that when I give him the sedative and apply the plastic fingernails I should take the opportunity to bathe him too. I’m just trying to picture me in the shower with Marlow. There is nothing about that scene that looks like it might have a happy ending.
Uh. No. Definitely not happy. Insane, maybe.
I was reminded of this the other day when I mentioned to Cristy that I had watched a disturbing clip from the television program “Hoarders” on the internet. She asked my why I bothered to click on it, knowing in advance that it would be disturbing. Good question. I defer to my thesis statement: train-wrecks fascinate us.
Our current example is Tiger Woods. Distinguished athlete, philanthropist, loving son, husband, father. In the public eye, he is poised, focused, an A+ specimen of celebrity. Until now. Oops, train-wreck.
Hey, all humans mess up from time to time, right? Right. But it is fascinating when something out of the ordinary occurs. Mr. Woods’ behavior, at least from the public vantage, has deviated significantly from its normal evenly-modulated path. We’re curious. It’s as if we have been slapped in the face by disbelief, but deep inside we knew all along that he was human. We just mentally neglected to connect the dots. Until now.
Celebrities get all bent out of shape when the spotlight shines brightly at an inconvenient time. Understandable. I’d get pretty embarrassed and bent out of shape myself if every news outlet in the free world picked up on the story of my latest mess-up. But in celebrity life, in my humble opinion, you don’t get to have it both ways. If you reap the benefits of a friendly spotlight and positive media coverage, you have to own your mistakes in the same spotlight. Harsh as it may seem.
Sorry Tiger. It does seem invasive. But it’s a train wreck and we can’t help ourselves. It is fascinating.
02 December 2009
Anyway, one morning I found a parking place about 4 blocks away and got out of my car. One of the homeowners that supplied the shaded spot for my car that morning was outdoors, so we said hello. She inquired about my car, it was an older Volvo. Apparently she found a hubcap in her yard (or something, don’t quite remember) and thought that it might fit my car. It didn’t fit hers. She pulled it out of her trunk and was overjoyed to discover that it was exactly the right size for my car. I graciously accepted this gift, nevermind that I was not in need of a hubcap. But you never know, right?
Which brings me to today. I was reading an essay by an inspired blogger over at Love Letters by Cora where she mentioned a restaurant that served food on hubcaps. It reminded me of that old hubcap.
Whatever became of it, you might ask.
Well, that is another story. It turned out that not so long after acquiring the hubcap, I happened to stop into a Mexican restaurant for lunch with my (former) husband. As we were walking through the parking lot, we spied an older model Volvo that was missing a hubcap. Volvos just look awful if they don’t have the proper wheel covers. Its wheel size was IDENTICAL to mine, so I popped open my trunk and retrieved the item. Ten seconds later, that sorry Volvo was looking just splendid once more.
Sometimes re-gifting is not such a bad thing. Happy endings all around.
01 December 2009
I think I could check off a few of those from the list. Through the years I’ve had all sorts of cycles that seemed to interfere with restful sleep. I just read an essay by an inspired blogger over at f8hasit regarding sleep deprivation and it reminded me of a time when I found it very difficult to fall asleep. Seems that I could just not stop thinking, planning, worrying, listing.
Back in those days, I had been to some exercise and yoga classes that ended with a few minutes of facilitated relaxation. It was nice. It went something like this:
Imagine yourself lying on a tropical, warm beach.
The tide softly washes up to your ankles and you feel your feet and ankles relax.
The tide continues to wash up to your legs, torso, arms, etc….bringing relaxation to your entire body.
So when I was having insomnia problems, I decided to try this out for myself. It went something like this:
Imagine yourself lying on a tropical warm beach.
The tide softly washes up to your ankles and you feel your feet and ankles relax.
The tide washes up to your legs, torso, arms. Soon you are floating, weightless in the warm water, fully relaxed.
Beneath the surface of the water there are dozens of sharks, jellyfish and scratchy seaweed. Yikes! Get out of there!
OK, so I figured out how to sabotage my own relaxation process. Typical. I'll probably not going to try that method again. Back to counting sheep.