Monday, November 30, 2009

IT’S CHRISTMASTIME

I do not do a lot of decorating for Christmas.  I used to drag out the boxes of decorations on Thanksgiving night, but as the years have passed, and the kids have moved and started their own family traditions, I have discovered that it is a lot of fun to decorate but a real pain in the neck to UNdecorate.  I like it simple anymore.

Last night I actually purchased the first new decoration since about the year 2000, and it was a mantle light, a beautiful little church with stain glassed windows and a steeple.  For five extra bucks I bought some silver garland with white plastic snowflakes in it.  The tree is not up yet because I am still holding out hope that the Thomas Kinkade one will arrive within the next week or so.

Until then, I am very happy with my pretty mantle that is always guarded by angels, and the little country church nightlight that will stay lit now until after Christmas. 

Mantle church

Can’t you almost hear the whisper of the angels, “Merry Christmas everyone?”  Have a peaceful day.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

SHE SNARLED AT ME

Yesterday was a toy shopping day for me.  I worked an hour, shopped an hour, worked an hour, and then, as it was about 65 degrees and sunny here, decided to take a little walk to the toy store on the corner.  It is called Just a Trace, and they carry wooden toys of very high quality, games you just never see at Wal-Mart or amazon.com, and vintage toys that make me want to sit in the middle of the floor and just play like I did as a kid. 

I do not spend a lot of time down there throughout the year, except I do buy each grandchild a birthday gift at that store.  As there are several little kids, you would think I would get at least a trip a month, but alas, most of them were born in May.  Makes you sort of wonder what happens in August every year to assure a new grandchild every May, doesn’t it? 

Ant farms.  I always wanted an ant farm, but when I was a child, they seemed very unstable and kind of looked like the ants could escape that prison quite easily and end up in bed with us.  My mother was not a lover of bugs or any kind and probably would have lost sleep just thinking about the little road graders, even if they were safely contained.  The ant farm I found for my grandson appears to be more like an Ant Hilton. 

As I was standing at the counter, believe it or not the two women who own the shop will actually wrap your purchases for free, waiting for my wrapped presents, there was another lady who had basically pushed me out of the way in the store a couple of times, as if I was not even there, so she could grab a toy before I did, wearing an obviously expensive coat and dress, dragging a Tiger Woods-looking, half whipped-acting (that is supposed to make you laugh, and if it does not, you need to go read the news) young man around by the nose, who was giving instructions about how she wanted her presents wrapped.  I always make conversation with the women there and I quipped, “I wonder how the parents are going to react when they find I bought the grandson an ant farm?”

Now, you know, we all read in books the descriptive term, “She snarled at me.”  But I am here to tell you that Ms. Perfect Wealthy Woman actually snarled at me.  There was a frosty mist that fell between us and almost as if in slow motion, she turned her head toward me and snarled like an angry vampire.  I never took my eyes off her again, the entire time we were stuck standing at the same counter waiting for our gift-wrapped Christmas goodies.  I was waiting for her to sprout a set of fangs and head for my neck. 

As I walked out of the store, backwards, the sign of the cross made with my fingers held in front of my face, my bag slung across my shoulder, I whispered prayers to protect me, walked backward down the steps, and then ran all the way home. 

Just goes to show you, those vampire books?  Not fiction.  I have living proof that there is at least one living right here in my town!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

JC PENNEY’S HERE WE COME!

Thanksgiving baby

This is my next-to-youngest granddaughter, Abigail.  To see her here, after a day of Thanksgiving celebration including lots and lots of turkey, you would probably say, “Oh, what a quiet, sweet little angel!”  And she is…until you put her in the proximity of clothes and shoes.

Most little girls take several years to develop the shopping gene fully.  Toy stores hold the initial attraction, of course, but not for Abigail.  We knew from early on that she was going to be a girly girl.  She would regularly, once she could crawl, go into her room and rummage through her bottom dresser drawer and pull out shirts and skirts, then move on to the closet and pick out shoes.  My son would go into her room and find her trying to figure out how to get her head into a shirt or how to get those pudgy baby feet into shoes too small. 

As she grew and found her sea legs, she would bring several things into the living room and hold them out for her mom or dad to help her try them on, and by the time she was one, she was picking out her own outfit daily. 

One thing that my daughter-in-law had not broken down and tried until today, Black Friday, was taking her to a department store.  This morning, though, she took Abigail to Penney’s and the reaction was, I am told, priceless.  Ashley let Abigail walk in even though the trip from the parking lot was a fifteen-minute ordeal as the baby stooped and picked up and explored rocks, pieces of paper, and undoubtedly some discarded gum and such.  When the store’s doors finally opened before her, and she was inside amidst the racks and racks of clothing, she stopped, bent her knees and squatted down, and let out a piercing squeal with her hands over her mouth.  Sort of the kind of reaction I would probably have if someone dumped a million one-hundred dollar bills in front of me. 

So hold on, everybody, we are in for a ride with this child!  Did you hear that Mastercard?  Better start printing up the acceptance letters right now because you have a Future Shopper of America just waiting for some plastic!

Friday, November 27, 2009

THANKSGIVING DINNER

Yes it HAS been all about Thanksgiving this week, hasn’t it?  I tend to get a little carried away with the Holidays.  

This was the first year we’ve had to deal with Thanksgiving with both our parents gone, and I way overcompensated by telling everyone what a wonderful day I had!  I woke up at 7 and went to work transcribing since I have not yet earned any paid holidays.  That went pretty well, I enjoyed the attitude of the day, the slow pace, working wrapped in a quilt in my PJs, watching the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade.  

I chose not to cook today.  The kids all had other relatives to visit, my brother just had surgery so could not drive up, so Don and I decided Denny’s sounded like a fine place to have Thanksgiving dinner.  The waitress came to take our order and I said, “I want the Holiday turkey special, but instead of cranberry sauce, could I substitute green beans? This threw her.  She said, “Hmm, I don’t think you can change the sides.”  So I said, “Well, then just bring me a side of green beans.”  She still appeared a bit flustered, and I felt a bit guilty that I was totally fucking up her day, so I said, “Here, just write them on your pad like this.” Which Don interpreted as bitchy.  It wasn’t. It was just the only way I could figure out that I was going to get what I wanted to eat.  I could have GOTTEN bitchy, and someday I will so Don can see the difference.  

It was still an awesome meal!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

THE SUN RISES ON THANKSGIVING MORNING

I have to work today, Thanksgiving, but I’m thankful I have a job to go to. 

My favorite place to work is in my living room where it is cozy and warm, a quilt spread over my legs, where I can view the world out my French windows.  At least I can view the world skyward as they are small, high windows.  Unable to force myself out of my short PJs, it being Thanksgiving and all, and me being required to work so feeling that I owed myself at least a slight reward, I was working away when the sun made its appearance in the eastward facing window, framed perfectly, making me crazily finish the report I was working on so I could grab the camera and catch Mother Nature’s Thanksgiving gift to me.

Isn’t Mother Nature the sweetest mama on the face of the EARTH?” I thought, watching her straining to hold the sun in place long enough for me to get there.

Finally, I reached for the Canon SureShot which is never far from my side, and barefoot, in shorty pajamas, zoomed out the front door into the 30-degree morning.  It is an oddity that I can sit in the house where it is a constant 70 degrees and complain about being cold, but put a camera in my hand and give me a sunrise, and I can stand barefoot in 30-degree weather on cold concrete or in frosty grass and not even notice. 

There was no pumpkin to find frost on this morning, but the garage roof told the story.  Here’s my Thanksgiving morning.  I hope yours is as awesome.  Thank you, God, for this day!

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving2

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

IT’S WINTER

I always dread wintertime.  Here in the Midwest, in the Ohio Valley, we can be sure of one thing:  You can never trust the weather here.  In the summertime the humidity can climb to 120 percent and you can nearly drown just walking to the car, or sometimes in mid-July a cold spell will travel through demanding the furnace be stoked up once more.

But today, when I went out for my walk, the gray, hazy, drizzly, cold morning enveloping me like a hug from my best friend, I realized that the start of winter is undeniably one of my favorite times of the year. The START of winter.  I have to reiterate that.  There will be a time in the not too distant future that this blog will turn 360 degrees, and I might even post a photo of myself crying at the sound of sleet pinging against the air conditioner or the forecast of a third day of snowfall, making it impossible to move my car from its driveway for days on end.

For now, though, I have to say, “I love winter.”

The photo blog below tells the story:  From my feet trudging up the hill, to the hazy days of winter photos in the neighborhood and a wave from the Pelican street sweeper driver who passes my house every morning before dawn has been gone for long, I cherished the day and spoke a quiet reverent prayer as I walked along.

A my feet

A hazy shade of winter

 

 

 

 

 

A street cleaner

A school 

A across lot

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve, and to all of you a happy Thanksgiving celebration.  Be sure to hug everyone you love and tell them how much you love them, then bow your head and thank God for each and every one of them!

I love you all!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Beauty of Small Towns

Last week my brother called.  Since Mom and Dad died this past year, both from cancer, we have stayed in much closer contact.  He's my only living sibling and six years younger than me, so we really lived separate lives.  When I left for college at 18, he was just starting middle school.  It was not unusual for him to call now, but the conversation quickly took a devastating turn when he broke it to me he had cut his golfing vacation short to come home to see his doctor.  

I worked hard and tried not to watch the clock the following day and as the time for his appointment came and went, and went, and went, I became a little worried.  When the phone rang I answered before the first ring and then I heard the news I had dreaded all day, "I have cancer."

My first reaction was disbelief, then grief.  That gave way, in a few hours to complete anger.  But once all that emotion was spent, my research mode kicked in and soon I was a walking testicular cancer encyclopedia.  

The doctor fast-tracked the surgery as the tumor was already pretty large, and of course, the idea would be to remove it before it had spread, or at least get it out before it could spread more.  

I moved my operations to the small town we had grown up in.  Packed up my laptop, my reference books, a bag of clothes, and headed west in Myrtle, my Focus, making a drive that is so familiar to me that I could close my eyes and make it.  

Surgery was done, and the first night my brother had to be admitted because of the serious pain issue, and I moved my operations into a hotel room for the night.  Working kept me busy, and I called the hospital every few hours to check on him.  The next day, after a lot of groaning and moaning, I got him into the car and headed home with him, and he was uncomfortable, too.  Ha!  But here's what happened.  Friends of his were waiting at his house to help get him out of the car and into his house and into his recliner.  All afternoon guys were here, talking, encouraging, and just being available.

Then, the food started rolling in.  I had gone to the store, thinking I would have to cook a lot, but even at this point, I have yet to cook our first meal.  Now there is a fight:  Two people think they are responsible for tomorrow night.  We told them to both show up with whatever they wanted to bring, and plan on joining us for dinner tomorrow night.  If the house was a little bigger, I would just set everything out and open the front door.  We could feed families of four right now...what an awesome problem to have, don't you think?


The beauty of a small town.  Everyone still cares.  Everyone still seems to have the time to care.  Everyday I am counting my blessings! 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hey, I Have Some Stuff!

Bernie Madoff’s stuff sold at auction yesterday.  It is my understanding that the Feds hoped to come up with about $450,000.00 to help the victims of his financial scam, and no entity was more surprised at the final score of over $900,000, than the Feds themselves.  There was a baseball type jacket they hoped to sell for $720.00 which actually went for $14,500.00. 

None of this is lost on me.  I have to do something to make my name famous so I can sell some of this stuff in my house.  Forget the yard sale fetch of a couple of hundred bucks…I want to be able to hand off this Mardi Gras gaudy umbrella in exchange for a couple of hundred bucks by itself!  I mean, it’s black and gold.  The Saints are still undefeated this season.  I paid about $4.50 for it during  a rain storm in New Orleans a couple of months ago.  Going once, going twice, SOLD for $725.00! 

Just wait until you see what else I have!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

THE TRUTH OF THANKSGIVING

The Holiday season is quickly approaching.  The hustle and bustle has begun. Halloween ended and the Holidays began.


Recently I asked friends and family to think back, to close their eyes and think of Thanksgivings past, and tell me their stories.  One common thread quickly emerged:  Thanksgiving is synonymous with family.  Sometimes we find it difficult to believe, in this mixed-up, sometimes cruel world, that we have a common bond, but most of us can relate to the peace and love shared during big Thanksgiving dinners.


Don shared his most memorable Thanksgiving with a smile on his face, and a twinkle in his eyes.  Interestingly, just a minute or two earlier, we were discussing stressful work situations, but just this one question, "What is your favorite Thanksgiving memory?" led to a moment of peace.


"It was 1969," he began.  "I know the year because I owned a white 1962 Chevy Impala convertible.  All seven of us were home for Thanksgiving...and it snowed."  Here, Don sighed and continued, "It snowed this big, heavy snow, and we all went outside and made snowmen...on Thanksgiving!  Can you imagine getting a snow like that now?  Even in the winter?"


My friend, Ginny, who lives in Birmingham recalled her first Thanksgiving dinner made lovingly for her family in she and her husband's first house.


"My sister and I were getting the final touches done on dinner. She asked me if I had made gravy. I told her no, should I have? She said she didn't think so but that everyone used the little bag of stuff from the turkey to make gravy.


"What little bag of stuff?" I inquired.


"You know, the bag of stuff that comes inside the turkey along with the neck?"


"What neck?"


Ginny compares her mother-in-law with Marie Barone of "Everybody Loves Raymond" fame.  The overly critical, nosy, and sometimes annoying woman trying to find any possible way of making sure her son knows the only woman who could love him right, was his mother.  Ginny and her sister carved that turkey and Ginny got rid of the blackened bag of gizzards, and the charred neck, the best way she knew how:  She took it outside and buried it!  Marie Barone was none the wiser, and Ginny and her sibling recall the memory of their sisterhood fondly.

I know that Ginny and Tracy know each other, but they may be more connected than they, or I, realized.  My cousin, Tracy, recalled this:  "I fondly remember my first Thanksgiving married to Bill, whose Mom was a great cook and made everything from scratch. I cooked the giblets and the neck in the turkey. What new wife hasn't done that, right?"

Along with Tracy and Ginny cooking the gizzards bags in the turkeys, Moss-E recalled her talents in the kitchen were recognized like this:  "Being assigned, as an adult, to put the ice in the glasses.  That's pretty much it.  They know my capabilities.  Okay, I can mash potatoes."  

Susan, who comes from a big Italian family and can cook mouthwatering foods that make me gain five pounds just looking at them, told me, "The one thing that sticks out in my mind is the year Mom made tortellini soup after having visited my Aunt Vickie in California and learning the recipe.  She made this delicious soup with turkey and tortellini noodles, and we all ate so much soup, nobody but my brother Johnny and cousin Nick, may he rest in peace, would eat any of the large turkey dinner she had slaved over.  So the next year, she set out tiny little bowls and we were all only allowed one teensy serving of soup. We begged for more and Mom said, 'You're kidding, right?  After last year?'"  Those Italian cooks are just too good for their own good! 



Nikki made us all laugh out loud when she described her nephew's timely description of the Holiday bird. "When my nephew was little, and his eyes got real big and he said 'WOW! That's a big ass bird!' We all busted out laughing!"  


Nancy, or Moss-E as we so lovingly call her, sent a list of her memories.  They all were fantastic, but I picked out a few of my favorites:  "Mom burning the marshmallows on the sweet potatoes at the last minute, again.  Open the window!  Again!"  She was quick to tell me, though,  her mother's dressing is the best in the world and to not even consider arguing with her about that.  I believe her!  I know her mom.  Those were her first comments, followed by, "My late Uncle Harley telling us all every year, over and over, that yams give him gas."

Nancy then shared the following story:  "Going to the Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving and getting on the news.  They were showing the parking lot festivities, and me, from the back, bent over, digging a beer out of a cooler.  Seems like it took quite awhile to find just the right one, too.  It was great news coverage." 



There are many of us who share bittersweet thoughts of this time of year because there are people we love so much who are no longer with us. My parents have both passed away within the past twelve months or so, and we are facing our first Thanksgiving without them. But we are not alone.  Jeana's grief was apparent when she said she always remembers the people who have left this earth, especially during this season. She also loved "being a little kid with no worries."  I can definitely identify with that sentiment!  How wonderful it was to go to Gramma's and be surrounded by loving adults who took care of everything!


My friend, Connie, had a memory that made all of us sigh and smile.  She posted on Facebook, "I was a freshman in high school and my Mom had surgery and came home the day before Thanksgiving. Since my Daddy and I could not cook very well, we made what every good Italian can make - spaghetti...and it was really good!! I miss my Mom and Daddy very much." 


Suzanne's favorite memory of Thanksgiving Day was of..."Being young and my entire family of nine being together with the smell of the food cooking and seeing how much food there was." While that is her fondest memory of the season, her actual most memorable resonates along the same theme as Connie's, where what the food was did not matter as much as simply the fact it was Thanksgiving.  She recalls, "A Thanksgiving in California, away from my family.  My brother had died less than a year before and my husband was working. We had one car so I didn't go to his work because he went to work really early and had our car. So I finally opened up a can of tuna and that was my Thanksgiving feast."  She goes on to say, "I really wish I could go back to that memory of my entire family of nine being together."

Tracy has a family memory she was not sure she wanted to dredge up but shared with me.  She wrote, "One year, I had just gotten my license so it must have been 1976. Chuck, Judy, my sister who is no longer with us, and Angie came down for Thanksgiving, and it snowed. On their way down they were in a minor accident because of the snowstorm. It was the other person's fault. Then, when they were visiting I was backing out of the driveway and sideswiped their car. Remember how hard that driveway was to back out of because of the angle? Fortunately, I sideswiped the back fender that was already damaged, but I still cried."  

Jamie S., a good friend of mine from down South who shares my love of the sky, knew immediately what her happiest Thanksgiving holiday memories were.  She e-mailed, "Waking up and smelling the turkey already cooking, and watching the Macy's parade.  It had always been a dream of mine to go to the parade, but from what I'm told, it's much better to watch it with your family, snug in your PJs, safe and cozy in your own home.  Oh, and playing football in the yard with a wood fire smell in the air."  I can almost see the dreamy look in Jamie's eyes over my broadband connection!

Barb from Colorado said, "Ahh, yes...the kids' table.  No one could ever explain to my why my cousin and I were relegated to the kids' table until we were in our early teens, but our younger cousins were released before they were ten."  We have all done our time at the Kids' Table.  Lynn, though, replied to Barb's post at cowsill.com with "Don't you mean the Fun Table?"  No doubt, being a child during those precious family holiday feasts was memorable.  Nancy has a seating memory, too.  "The extra card table, and using the piano bench for extra seating."  


Many of us honor, or at least attempt to honor, the memories of relatives by attempting to copy some dish which brings back that feeling of comfort and peace and happiness associated with Thanksgiving.  Imagine my surprise, for example, when I finally realized the secret to everything tasty my mom cooked up was chicken broth.  My family put up with many not-so-special food items as I tried to make the green beans taste just like Mom's. Now, they do!


Caren sent an e-mail to me describing her grandmother allowing her to whip the cream for the pumpkin pies.  "My favorite Thanksgiving memory was when my grandmother finally considered me old enough to whip the cream for the pumpkin pie by myself.  My family always did it from scratch with heavy whipping cream, and it was quite the ritual with Grandma Seorenia. The old white glass mixing bowl and the beaters had to be refrigerated and not taken out until one was ready to start the electric mixer."  She ended her awesome story by saying, "To this day I will make whipped cream with a cold bowl and beaters before buying a can from the refrigerated section."  


Sometimes we just have to figure out how to get out of all the work of cleaning up afterward.  Colleen figured that out one year!  "My "favorite" memory is 1975 when I nearly cut off the top of my index finger whilst peeling butternut squash. I spent a few hours in the hospital getting sewn up, then came home to a fully prepared dinner courtesy of my now deceased ex-mother-in-law, Mildred Taylor. I didn't have to clean up that year either. Who wants blood on clean dishes???"


Sometimes Thanksgiving is just all about the food, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!  Sometimes, when I am particularly lonesome or homesick, I can actually smell my grandmother's house on Thanksgiving.  My musical genius friend, Kerre, put it very eloquently when I posed the question to him about his favorite Thanksgiving memory by saying, quickly, "Eating."  My daughter, Jamie, had pretty much the same response.  Her eyes lit up when I asked her to participate in my blog, and without even hesitating she said, "Gramma's sweet potatoes!"  and my cousin, Tom, spent zero seconds thinking about his favorite memory.  "Cranberry salad and the wonderful banana pudding that Grammy always made!!!!!!!!!!!!!" he posted on Facebook.  I think he's pretty adamant about that cranberry salad and banana pudding if the exclamation point count is any indication!


Another cousin of mine, Sharon, shared with me how much my mom and dad meant to her at Thanksgiving.  In a Facebook message Sharon wrote, "Aunt Betty's baked beans. Uncle Bill always fixed me macaroni and tomatoes because his were the BEST !!!"  Again we have several exclamation points so I am believing those dishes were really good! 

I received an e-mail from Barb with a story explaining one of her son's love of the eating ritual on Thanksgiving.  He evidently ate until he threw up, and even though everyone felt bad for him and assumed he was done for the day, he returned for seconds.  Now that's eating tradition dedication!    

Jamie was also quick to remember the wooden turkey we had that held Tootsie-Pops as the feathers.  I would put that out around the first of November and kept filling it as the kids plucked it. She could close her eyes and almost taste the grape Tootsie-Pops that were her favorites.


Sometimes Thanksgiving even becomes the catalyst for repairing lost relationships.  Jessica shared this story with me:  "There was a member of my family that was rather negative, and she was really putting a damper on the day, complaining, grilling people, just being unhappy. One by one, she began to alienate each person who had arrived to celebrate Thanksgiving at my Father's house. My dad was outside in the garage cooking something on the grill. I was a bit exasperated, so I ventured out to spend some time with my dad and get some fresh air. A few minutes later, my brother joined us (apparently he had been alienated, too). The next thing I knew, my stepmom was outside, and then my stepbrother. It was very cold and we all had to bundle up to be outside. Although we were not warm, we all gathered around the grill to commiserate. Soon, we were talking and laughing. Before we knew it, we were enjoying the holiday, huddled together in the cold. We began to realize that it didn't matter where we were or what we were doing--as long as we were together on the holiday celebrating our family."  An apology was offered later in the day, and the disgruntled relative reentered the fold, but Jessica and her family will never forget that day.

Thanksgiving.  What memories it brings!  What emotion just the mention of it invokes!  Family, food, peace, love, comfort, and hope for the future resonate throughout these shared stories.  Whether we equate the day with lost loved ones, food, or comfort, one thing is certain...almost everyone has a story to share about the Holiday.


From my home to your home, whether you live thousands of miles away, or are my next door neighbor, peace, love, and Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tequila

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,571665,00.html?loomia_ow=t0:s0:a4:g4:r5:c0.000000:b0:z5

It’s 6 a.m.  on Thursday.  It is 18 hours until Friday begins.  The weekend is just around the corner.  If you have an open bottle of tequila in your house, and who doesn’t, you might want to read the above article, drag out some shot glasses, limes, and salt, and get to guzzlin’, then go buy a new bottle that is fresh and has the proper agave signature!

Good morning!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The People’s Court

I have to admit that I am a reality TV freak.  It really does not matter what kind of day I had, if I can watch  a show such as “American Idol”, the stress just melts right away.  And one of my favorite reality shows is “People’s Court” with Judge Milian. 

Today was a rather trying day work-wise, and as I finished working, I flipped on the TV.  There she was, my heroine.  Judge Milian.  And there she was, smiling that smile that tells me she is hearing a story that is so unbelievable to her that she is about to laugh out loud.

And what was she hearing today that was so funny?  A man describing how his niece’s dog bit him, scratching his finger, which caused him such tendon damage that he could not use his hand for 2 weeks.  The only problem with his testimony was that the ER report said he was given a tetanus shot.  Period.  Nothing about tendon damage, and even he admitted there was not even any blood involved. 

As if she had not heard enough to last her a lifetime already, the next case involved a woman who sued for five thousand dollars for a thousand dollar’s worth of repairs to her car caused when a woman accidentally put her car in reverse at a gas pump and hit the front of the plaintiff’s car.  Now, we saw the security camera tape, right?  She was not hit very hard.  We all know it does not take much of a hit anymore to do a thousand dollar’s worth of damage to the car.  But pain and suffering was going to cost the obviously worried defendant about four thousand dollars. 

Judge Milian said, “What makes you think you can get that much money for pain and suffering?” and the plaintiff proceeded to explain that she is now so frightened of having a car in front of her that she can barely stand to stop at a red light or stop sign behind anyone else. She absolutely cannot go get gas anymore because she no longer trusts the car ahead of her.

We live in a world where people are unable to find jobs, pay their rent, or receive basic healthcare, and here was a woman with the guts to try to cheat someone out of four thousand bucks over something so ludicrous.  I did not know whether to laugh or cry.  So I laughed. 

Shall we listen to the judge rip apart someone else apart who pissed her off?

Happy Wednesday to you all! 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Entertainment

Some days you have to find entertainment just…wherever.  Work might be rather boring and TV is not much better.

When I work, I sit on the loveseat by the big window in my living room with the computer perched on my lap.  I am a medical transcriptionist, a medical language specialist, a computer geek.  And I live in a small town where there is not a whole lot happening.  We do, though, have a TV station, of sorts.  I am not sure if there is ever an actual show broadcast from there, but the local radio station feeds into it at noon everyday and broadcasts the local news, and they have a webcam perched up there somewhere at one of our busier intersections, so while listening to the latest gossip, you can see the traffic making the turn there at the stoplights. 

Up until this summer, when I looked out that front window, all I could see was a decrepit old vacant school building that was quickly deteriorating.  They got busy though, and tore that down after the people in our neighborhood finally became disgusted enough to fight the School Board about it, and after the demolition was completed, they planted grass and now there is almost a whole city block of pretty greenness.  Now, when I look out there, I can see across that to the main road that cuts through out city, and now am able to literally watch the traffic go by. 

Suddenly this afternoon, during a fit of total boredom, I realized that I could look out, see what trucks or cars were going by, then turn on the TV to our “local station” and watch them make the corner on TV!  After doing that for about fifteen minutes, I thought, “How pathetic has your life become?”  So instead of just watching the steady flow of traffic out my window, then on TV, I phoned a friend and asked her if she would please get in her car and drive to that intersection and stick her hand out the window and wave toward the TV station building.  Then I thought, “See?  That’s better.  Now your life is no longer pathetic, you are goal-oriented and creative.”

Sometimes you have to just make your own fun. 

Monday, November 09, 2009

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

It’s Monday.  I think our instinct on Monday morning is to pull the covers up over our heads and sleep.  Maybe on Saturday or Sunday mornings we were up at dawn, smiling even as our feet hit the floor, maybe even tucking our cameras into our pockets and heading out to take a few sunrise photos.

November Sunrise

But Monday, Monday?  Morning should be illegal on Monday.  The week should begin, possibly, with Tuesday, or even Wednesday.  Humans should not have to work five days to get two off.  Who can recuperate in two short days?  I think I will take this up as my new cause. 

The Mamas and the Papas really sort of make you happy that it is Monday morning.  I remember when I was a kid and The Cowsills covered this song. Then I thought Monday was the most awesome day of the week, because I had this huge crush on the Cowsill boys.  It was so easy, back then, to sit back and enjoy life, don’t you agree? 

Here are The Cowsills singing Monday, Monday.  Look at that!  Bob Cowsill still had hair, and Mini Mom was still harmonizing away, may she rest in peace.  They were on The Johnny Cash show when they did this.

Ahem, okay, I’ve veered totally off the subject of hating Monday…maybe I don’t hate it so much after all.  I mean, if there’s a happy hippie song to go along with it, it can’t be half bad, right?

Oh, and then there is the caramel macchiato iced coffee that I used to usher it in as I listened to these songs:  Coffee House International makes a wonderful caramel macchiato mix to pour into that Starbucks Via! powder…

Forget what I said about Monday.  Let’s not be so prejudiced against it just yet.

Cheers!  Happy Monday, ya’all!

November Sunrise Coffee

Sunday, November 08, 2009

In Response to Fear

Here’s what I have learned about fear:  The less I fear, the more I fear.  I’m sort of an ostrich.  I just always think, “If I don’t acknowledge it, it doesn’t exist.  If I don’t try it, I can’t fail at it.”  Inevitably, though, someone or something pulls me out of my safety zone and forces me to try it or acknowledge it, and I’m always right to have ignored it. 

So, in response to Tracy’s awesome post about fear, I’m not looking because if I don’t, then it’s not there. 

“Experience teaches us that silence terrifies people the most.”  Bob Dylan said this. I have a real beef with that because I like silence and I’m a lot more scared when people say things out loud.  I even have, at times, convinced myself that if I don’t think about things, they won’t happen. 

I am the ultimate jinx of myself.  The second something creeps into my head, like, for example, “What if I have a wreck and have forgotten my cell phone?”  Or, “What if the house catches on fire and all the doors are blocked because I didn’t finish moving the boxes upstairs, downstairs, inside, outside?”  When a thought like that enters, I begin immediately taking it back.  “I didn’t mean to think negatively, God, please let me live!!” 

Okay, so I am exaggerating a bit, but it has been a very unsettling couple of years, so please, give me a little time and space.  But not too much time or space because imagine what can happen to you given enough time and space!  :-)

Thanks for your support!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Adventures of Ginny and Billy

I have a friend named Ginny, who lives in Birmingham.  Our friendship was one of those happenstance situations.  We met rather by accident and formed a fast, strong friendship.  We have been through a lot of “stuff” together:  Some good, some not so good.  Surgeries, the death of her dog, the births of grandchildren, the deaths of my parents, and her own breast cancer scare.  It doesn’t really matter what is happening in our lives, I can always count on her to make me laugh.

This morning started out rather shaky, as a lot of my mornings have been starting out lately, so when I opened my e-mail and found one from her that was titled, “To Make You Laugh,” I began smiling before even clicking on it.

G. is the proud and sometimes frustrated owner of a Shih Tzu dog named Billy.  Billy came into her world kicking, screaming, chewing, barking, whining, and loving, and he has not slowed down yet.  This morning Ginny answered her front door and found a neighbor needing to borrow some coffee, and before she could react, Billy tore out the door like the house was on fire.

So, patient as a saint, Ginny slipped on a housecoat and tore out after him, chasing him down her well-populated street, yelling at him.  She failed to mention how many cuss words poured forth, but she noticed there was a large audience which was fully explained when she caught up with the little angel and found that he had been running like a bat out of hell…with one of her bras in his mouth. 

Ginny, thank you.  Thank you thank you thank you for sharing this story!  It brightened my day and is sure to brighten someone else’s!  xxoo

Friday, November 06, 2009

Good Morning!

After a few years of not having to leave the house to go to work, Tracy has a job that requires she rise at 4:30 a.m.  Anyone who knows Tracy, will laugh out loud at that thought, but it really is rough on her.  So, since I cannot be there right now to pull open the curtains and coax in the sun, in person, I thought I would send this out to her via the Cyberworld.  Imagine, if you will, the pandemonium that ensues when I jump out of bed at 5 a.m. and rip open the curtains and mutter, “Good morning, Sunrise world!”  After she stops cussing at me, throwing shoes, and yes, sometimes crying, though, Tracy is a great morning companion!  So grab a cup of coffee, gather up our pals, and let’s go for a walk!!

GOOD MORNING, WORLD!

 

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Coffee Break

A lot of things make me happy, but two of my favorite things are coffee and the time to drink it.  Starbucks is my favorite coffee place.  I love the smell of the coffee brewing and the coziness of the place.  The time, however, to sit down and enjoy a tall iced coffee, strong, laced with Splenda, is hard to come by. 

Several years ago I began substituting instant coffee, trying to achieve that rich flavor of Starbucks over ice.  It soon became a ritual every morning:  2 teaspoons of some weak-tasting instant crystals that never fully dissolved in a glass of water, sweetened, with ice added.  While it provided close to the same effect, that robust flavor I craved was missing.

Eventually, I began brewing coffee double- or triple-strength, having to let it cool, and then pouring that over ice.  Close but no cigar.  It took too long.  My life is too busy to play that game.

So you can imagine my total delight when Starbucks, just a few weeks ago, introduced their instant coffee.  I wandered into a store in Phoenix and warily asked the clerk if their new line was actually something I could make my cherished iced beverage with, quickly, every morning, or if it was going to just float on top of the water and make my teeth black.  She assured me that she, too, had the same habit as I and took absolute joy in explaining to me that the Starbucks instant is a powder that dissolves oh so wonderfully in cold water.  I swear, our eyes glazed over as we discussed it, and she made the sale.  I left with a 12-pack of the awesome powdered nectar in my purse.

It seems hard to imagine that there is any city in America where a Starbucks does not exist, but I live in one of those cities, and I have now taken to ordering the Via! online and having that little delicious pleasure delivered right to my front door.  Everyone needs a vice.

http://www.starbucks.com/via

Now, when life throws me a curve ball, I make myself a tall, cold Colombian or Italian Blend iced coffee, which is why I am totally wired most of the time.  I sit in front of a warm, sunny window and watch the world go by.  The only thing that would make it better would be if my friends were sitting next to me!  Clink.  A cool Fall day toast to you!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Oh, To Be A Cactus

Cacti sort of have it made.  Who is going to mess with them?  Other than the fact that they must survive the harsh conditions of the desert, they are sheltered, armored, and quick to let a person know who owns their surroundings. 

One of my favorite places near Phoenix is the Desert Botanical Garden.  There are paths and desert expanses all dedicated to our prickly friends, cacti.  Here are a few photos I took while we were there.

I look beautiful, I know I do…see me shine?  Don’t I look lovely to touch?  Come on, touch me…try it…just reach down and feel my smooth, slick hands.

These flowers look perfect and untouched because, well, it’s obvious.  I will hurt you if you reach down here and even try to nab one of these babies!

Come on, hug me.  I’m a teddy bear cactus.  Surely with a name like that I won’t hurt you.  I WON’T HURT YOU! 

Don’t run, we are your friends!  Come on, wade right on in!

 

 

With the armored cacti all around them for protection, other wildflowers thrive in the desert.

Totally self-explanatory.

 

This barrel cactus was so perfect that I wanted one of my very own.  However, I am sure that with my history of planticide preceding me, it would have actually shot its quills at me if I attempted to pick it up.  Yes, I could probably manage to even kill a cactus, which Nancy assures me is totally possible as they need more water than you would think.

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, these were fascinating to me.  I called them “cotton cacti” but later learned the real name then even later forgot it.

 

And that’s a very tiny piece of the tour of the Desert Botanical Garden where the wooden mules and the cacti did roam.  There was also a Monarch butterfly palace deep within the park, and next time I’ll share some pictures of those gorgeous little creatures! 

Until then, careful where you put your hands!  You never know when it might hurt.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Photos From the Past

 

January Sunset

 

DSCN1838

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunset Canon

The Sunset That Wasn’t

A few photos of the sunset that never materialized at Airport Mesa, Sedona, Arizona, on a chilly October evening 2009.  Even though the clouds overtook the sun and disappointment echoed around us, we saw this beauty.  If this is what it looks like when the sunset does not happen, imagine what it must look like up there on top of the world, when it does!

I kept watching the sun trying to make an appearance, and the longer I watched it, the more fun it seemed to be having with me.  Finally, God just took over and gave these spectacular views!

 

 

 

 

There just is no arguing with Mother Nature.  Sometimes I wonder what made me lucky enough to be able to experience such beauty!  Tracy and I were so fortunate to be allowed to be a part of this scene!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Will This Blog Put You To Sleep?

http://features.csmonitor.com/books/2009/10/26/bright-sided/

I have to admit that oftentimes when someone posts a link to an article like the one I posted in this blog, I ho-hum my way through it and rarely see any relevance to my life.  But this article that my cousin posted on her Facebook page, caught my attention.  Why?  Because it is true. 

We sit around and worry our hands to death wringing them, we cry, and we groan and moan, but we cannot do anything about the problems that we have done very little to create in this world.

When I was a kid, I lost.  I lost often and crashed and burned numerous times.  Did my mom sometimes tell me I could be anything I wanted to be?  Yes, of course she did, but there were no delusions about how I might be able to achieve my goals. I was going to work hard and crash and burn a lot.  My mom was not a stay-at-home Sixties mom.  She usually was working outside our home, and she set a good example.  She kept her jobs and made herself valuable because she damned near killed herself doing that, not because anyone handed her anything on a silver platter.  Was she lucky?  Yes.  She was lucky she had the courage and the brains to realize her goals. 

I remember failing at just about everything I attempted except tennis and typing.  I went into everything knowing there was a 50/50 chance it was going to work out for me.  I had no delusions. 

When I had children of my own, I was surprised to find that nobody was allowed to fail anymore.  T-ball, which my daughter sucked at, awarded her with a beautiful trophy no different than the one given to the good kids.  My son had to count on me to help him build his soap box derby car for Cub Scouts, and you can imagine how that turned out, but he came home with a trophy, anyway. 

And while I was watching them be rewarded for failing, the guilt was piling up on me.  You might wonder why that was, and I wonder why, too.  Something had changed.  Because of that change, I am now one of those people scampering to the next job, even though I was horribly unjustly robbed of the one I had worked to keep for half my life.  I am wringing my hands and watching the world crumble while gathering crystals and mystical candles, okay, and a couple of voodoo dolls (I am really pissed about losing that job), and despairing and wondering what to do.

Someone told me today that nothing was going to change because nobody wants it.  I have to believe that there are plenty of us who want it, we just have to figure out how to make it happen and gather our resources and our pride and start getting pissed enough about being jerked around that we take back the power!  We surely have someone among us who is willing to run for President who will smack us all around and scream, “You CAN fail!”  After all, that’s how we accomplished all our goals, and dammit, we deserve to fail again!

Monday, Monday

Recently I was on a trip from Chicago to Phoenix, the last leg of a long day of jets, airports, and connections.  At the beginning end of the trip, I had left my home and family behind, on the waiting end was my cousin, and we had 2-weeks worth of plans logged in our heads. everything from steaks grilled poolside to a long hike in Sedona.  And like every trip, the plans we logged in our heads weeks earlier were the bookends for unplanned sides, like a spur-of-the-moment trip to Cold Stone Creamery late in the night for ice cream and the flower purchases made at Home Depot on an afternoon when my work let up and we found ourselves with delicious unplanned hours, a whole afternoon stretching out in front of us we never anticipated.

Getting there is always a challenge, and it does not matter how much I travel, how many jets I find myself on, I will come home with a story every time, something that makes me shake my head and laugh when I think about it.

O’Hare was crowded.  And the plane out to Phoenix was full to capacity and then some as they were making the all-too-familiar gate announcement, hoping to entice passengers into giving up seats and earning all sorts of airline perks for doing so.  While now the incentives are three-hundred-dollar vouchers for trips and free hotel stays, I soon expect the incentive to be a voucher for a free trip for one of your bags, as that checked bag fee continues to rise. 

I was stuffed in by the window and had promptly stuck my iPod’s earbuds into my ears and cranked up the music while the plane loaded, hoping to avoid conversation until beverage service started.  I dozed.  There are people I know who can never sleep on a plane.  All I have to do is sit down on one and some mechanism kicks on in my brain that sedates me…well, that and the Xanax I swallowed between legs of the flight.

Suddenly I was jolted awake when the music stopped and I heard a flight attendant standing in the aisle next to my row.  She seemed to be looking directly at me and saying, “We have a first-class upgrade for you if you would like it.”  I could hardly believe my luck.  For years and years I have flown crammed into the cabin with 150 other people, even my short legs cramped for space, and what is this I hear?  A first-class upgrade?  For ME? 

Promptly I leaned over and began to retrieve my bag that was being crushed under the seat in front of me, pulled out my earbuds, and prepared for the people seated in the middle seat and the aisle seat to stand and make way for me.  “They probably think I’m important,” I thought.  “Maybe they are thinking, ‘Where have I seen her?’” 

Then, though, I heard the man in the aisle seat say, “No, I’m fine, thanks.  I…” (and here he sort of did that head motion, indicating the beautiful girl seated next to him in the middle seat)…”have someone with me.” 

At first I was a little jealous of her, I have to admit.  He was gorgeous, so was she.  And I was a little pissed off that the first-class upgrade was for HIM and not me, though not totally surprised.  But when she said, “Oh, I’m sorry I kept you from sitting in first class!” and he actually grunted an acknowledgement, I realized how lucky I was to be just a quiet nobody jetting off to spend two weeks with my best friend in an enchanted land, with nothing more important to say than, “Could you pass the steak sauce?” 

Sometimes you just have to reevaluate and remember what is real and lovely and what is fake and ugly then sit back and enjoy your ride.