Monday, December 24, 2007

Is it Christmas yet?
(By the time I hit publish it will be)

I'm working on a bottle of wine from my ex, biding my time for the kids to be really asleep before I start my elfish ruckus.

I enjoyed a few firsts this Christmas.
Last night I was invited to watch my friend Peggy's daughter receive her two new kittens for Christmas. What better moments are there than a nine year old girl finding two ginger kittens under the Christmas tree?

And tonight in church, I was Mary. (Sorry if you just sprayed egg nog or coffee on your computer.)
I think it was a combination of "They must not know me very well" and "Let's ask Ann. She doesn't know how to say No!"
The good part was that I didn't have any lines. The hard part was not cracking up when my Joseph called me "Queen of Heaven" to the Innkeeper.
Who ever heard of a Mary in her 40's? But apparently a teenage Joseph was hard to find. Mine was pushing 60. And mercifully, I was not required to stuff a pillow up my dress. I was really reluctant to have anyone associate me with pregnancy in any form.

It just goes to show you that you never know what will come next. I thought my pageant days were long gone.

I wish you all warm new memories that you can pull out and wrap yourselves up in when you are cold.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I keep encountering reminders of the sadness everywhere in the world while I’m trying to float into the Christmas Spirit - some darker thoughts for the Winter Solstice.

Last week I saw a frightening billow of dark black smoke. Something huge and unplanned was burning. I hoped no one was hurt, but radical changes were certainly happening in people’s lives that day.

A young man was killed in a freak car accident with his widowed mother as witness to the tragedy. I drive by the cross and flowers on the side of the road almost every day.

I bought a friend a coffee table book of Pulitzer Prize winning photos. When I got home and looked closer at the book before wrapping it, I flipped through the photos: stark evidence of the suffering and cruelty in the world at the hands of fellow human beings and capricious Mother Nature. I couldn’t bear to put Christmas wrapping paper on such a sobering collection of photos.

On my morning walk I got bit in the arm by a leashed neighborhood dog that I have greeted many times before. Maybe with my hood up he didn’t recognize me. I haven’t been walking in a while. I had to go in for a tetanus shot today. It hurts and the wound is ugly.

There is such beauty and joy possible, but sometimes it is hard to see.
It’s like the bunny I saw hopping across the road tonight: a bit of freedom we haven’t paved over yet. It better be agile to survive. But nature is still wild. Even on a leash, it can’t be expected not to be wild.

I went to yoga to try to catch up with that bunny tonight. It helped. I need to find that balance.

Maybe I needed to remember all the sorrow and tragedy to appreciate the Christmas Spirit. Love came to a crushed world. Love came in a package that we were to wrap in softness and nuzzle up close to, full of potential and tragedy.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

After Christmas, I collect all the Christmas story books and put them away. It is fun to pull out the basket again and see our old favorites. Even my big kids enjoy the old picture books.

One of our favorites is "How Murray Saved Christmas" by Mike Reiss. It is set in the rhythm of "Twas the Night". It is the story of a Jewish deli owner who substitutes for a sick Santa.

"Polar Express" and "Alabaster's Song" are basically the same story, but they both choke me up in the end.

I love Jan Brett's illustrations in the famous "Twas the Night" by Clement Moore.

Which Christmas stories do you enjoy?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I have begun a little Construction Girl revival in my attic.

After getting a contractor’s bid on upgrading my attic insulation, I decided to consider doing it myself. My twenty year old house has a mere six inches of insulation, which was to code at the time. Now the standard is 15 inches. We are cold.

I needed nine more inches and Mark was happy to volunteer.

The first order of business is clearing the attic floor, no small task. I hadn’t realized how personal that would be. I hadn’t thought of what Mark might learn about me by helping me organize and purge my attic. It was personal archeology. Why did I save that?

We went to the hardware store for supplies to build shelves in the rafters to get some of the residential clutter permanently off the floor. Before too long, we were screwing in the attic.

There are so many variables when screwing, even on a fairly simple project like ours. Even if, in theory, each shelf was identical, no two screws are alike. One board is curved. One screw gets stuck in a knot hole. I got a minor injury when I didn’t bother with the proper protective precautions. And the angles had to be adjusted to make sure everything came out level. One screw in the wrong place could send years of my collection crashing through the ceiling.

But you guys already know this.

Mark and I have reached a serious point of commitment in our relationship: we mixed our tools into one toolbox. Between us, we have quite an impressive collection.
What is up with that plastic armor so many products are wrapped in?

Monday, December 10, 2007

I took my daughter to her school's Skate Night tonight. Normally, I would have put on the skates and joined them, happy to join my children in play. But I'm still too nervous about my ankle to take the chance, especially given my skill level at the roller rink. (John, do you remember the those Franconia skate nights?)

I hate being the spectator. Well, that's not totally true. I like watching people who excel at a sport or art perform. I love to watch my children play and perform. I was impressed with my friends' performances in the Nutcracker Sunday afternoon. I like riding shotgun so I can gawk at the scenery.

I hate feeling afraid of getting hurt. It makes me feel old. That pain is still too vivid in my memory. I still feel twinges of pain in sudden movements, or after a long day.

I think, soon, I will be ready to take a chance again. Healing takes longer than I realized, longer than I hoped. I'm tired of limping.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Damn those Butter Trefoils.
The first time I opened the sleeve of cookies, I only ate 3 or 4. But this time, I have a cup of my Yogi Breathe Deep Tea to help alleviate my annoying head cold and before I knew it, there were only four left. You know, there's no point just saving four.
In a moment of weakness, I agreed to be Girl Scout Cookie Mom this year. What have I done?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My son makes his first attempt to merge the new and old outdoor decorations.

As punishment for putting Georgie on the tree in Harold the angel's place, I made my sweetie snip off all the malfunctioning lights that were clipped onto my lovely fake tree.

My kids still enjoy putting on their box of decorations - and our friend & neighbor, the rabbi's daughter, joined us for some cross-cultural collaboration.

Save the polar bears!
Here are some pics of my pleasant and quiet Thanksgiving.

Anne's son helping chop mushrooms for stuffing.

The rocket scientist planning his turkey carving skills.

The moms and their wine.

My son off to a quick start against Grandpa, a formidable opponent.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I was reading "Traveling Mercies" by Anne Lamott while waiting for my maintenance check-up on my Prius in a waiting room of all women. It occurs to me that auto mechanics would have an easy time meeting women.

Anyway, three of the waiting women were deep in an animated conversation about Christmas shopping and the pathetic stories on some scandal courtroom show playing for our unnecessary entertainment. I had planned ahead and was looking forward to 45 minutes of reading time, although the cheerful women and sorry stories unraveling on the little television were quite distracting.

I am reading a book I selected from my shelf full of books loaned and passed to me by friends who thought I would like this one. It's a shelf teeming with "ought-to-reads." This particular book first belonged to my friend Julie, who wrote in the margins and highlighted several passages. It is like the old days of book club, "hearing" her comments and reactions.

I am loving this book. In fact I snort-laughed at one point in the waiting room, causing a flicker in the room's conversation. I can't quote a short passage because you wouldn't have the momentum that builds to a snort.

I love snort-laughter. When was the last time you laughed that well?

Monday, November 26, 2007

I learned on my urban dictionary word of the day that today is Cyber Monday. Can you guess what that is?

The Monday after Black Friday when everyone gets on-line after trudging through Friday's crowds and not getting the job done.

I shop on-line often enough to get a barrage of Christmas catalogs. I bet I'm averaging seven a day.

Who are some on-line/mail order merchants you have had luck with in the past?

Monday, November 19, 2007

I must've heard a dozen sources say that this fall would be quick and brown due to the drought conditions of the earlier fall.
They were clearly wrong. The colors this fall have been spectacular. I drive around in awe. The kids and I keep pointing out trees to each other.
"Look at that one!"

This picture is one of my favorite places on earth. We simply call it the tree tunnel. My kids & I climbed into one for our family portrait (which I don't have in digital format.) Every time I drive through the tree tunnel, I wish I had my camera. Although I was a day or two past peek, here's what it looked like today.

I love the Greek mythology explaining the seasons: that the autumn colors were Ceres' last hurrah before her daughter Persephone, had to go spend a few months a year in Hades, although it is a little sad and unfair.

Life goes in cycles like that, doesn't it? Things are going along well, getting more beautiful by the day, and before you know what happened, things seem to be past peak. A time of barren dormancy is coming. You can feel it in the wind. But that is just really making way for a new beginning, not too far off, but easy to forget about when it's freezing.

One of my favorite quotes is
"To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with Spring." -George Santayana

Friday, November 16, 2007

I accidentally cleaned my shed today. I hadn't meant to, but I was looking for something in there. Summer got shut down while I was recuperating. I see things were just thrown in.

I didn't go for very clean. I was not redecorating, just enough to make things accessible - and threw out a bunch of crap: broken water guns, flaky nerf balls, old brittle seat cushions.

I only spent about 20 minutes. It was wonderful to have a little give in my schedule today. It was great to have the strength in my own two feet.

If you had twenty minutes to clean part of your space, which room would it be?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I had my first aquatic physical therapy today. I thought it would be easier than the regular exercises, but I was wrong. I have my ankle on ice now, waiting for the ibuprophen to kick in.

Fortunately, the spirit of the group of people recovering in the warm therapy pool is positive & hopeful. The facility is in a sports club and the pool is surrounded by "glass" so there is lots of natural light. The club is back in the woods, which are all in their autumn finest right now.

Instead of counting my reps, I imagined that we were injured woodland fairies taking advantage of healing power of the early morning rain. Much better than five middle aged women whose bodies are backfiring on them, eh?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I have had a week of unexpected medical news this week.

On Wednesday evening, I accompanied my nephew to the ER for stitches in a finger that was spurting blood. Apparently you should not wave to people while operating power tools.

Then yesterday, I heard that follow-up lab work was necessary for my youngest. I suspected she might have mono and had insisted on blood work. The results, her doctor informed me, looked like she might have juvenile diabetes. She said she would call two hospitals while I pulled my daughter out of school for more bloodwork. When I heard "overnight in the hospital" and "insulin training," my hearing kind of went out of focus.

Diabetes isn't the worst thing that your kid can have, although I was "hoping" for mono. My mind was racing about immediate and long term problems that were posed by this possibility. So I prepared for the worst and hoped for the best - which fortunately I received.

The second tests were in the normal range, although further testing is necessary. The zebra was just a horse. With a few lurches, we were able to shift back into Plan A for the evening.
What a wild ride that was. I don't plan to get in line for that ride again.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

My ears perked up tonight when my 12 year old son said,
"Mom, I don't know if I did something brave, or something stupid."

I agreed with him that there was a fine line between the two. He's embarking on those painful relationship lessons. Unfortunately, I am told that I have no helpful ideas or experience to share.

Have you ever done something that walked the fine line between brave & stupid?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I'm free!
My cast has been removed. The old disgusting skin has been rubbed away. It still looks gross, with my new pink scars just in time for Halloween. A little swollen still. I walk like Frankenstein, but at least I'm walking.

If you don't look too closely, I look perfectly normal, although that was true before, wasn't it?

Thanks so much to my family - especially Mom & Dad who helped keep my household rolling during this incapacitation.

I'm going to go take a test drive now. yippee!

Monday, October 29, 2007

When you are 98 years old, I wonder what five memories will still be rolling around your mind?

I sent an hour recently watching my daughter get an “up-do” at the salon for her first high school dance – Homecoming. While watching my daughter be transformed, my mother (who has been our gracious chauffeur while my broken right leg heals) saw a woman in the salon who was a patient at the doctor’s office years ago. Although the woman, who was 98, didn’t readily recall my mother the nurse, her caregiver did. They chatted and the caregiver said that she heard the same five stories over and over. My mom commented that she always had great stories. The freshly glamorized Grand Madame passed us on her scooter and graced us with a funny story about a glass of Scotch.

I’ve decided that as part of my retirement planning, I am going to embark on as many memorable adventures as I can, so that when I’m a 98 year old Grand Madame, I will still have a few great stories to laugh about with strangers in salon.

I’m stockpiling my silo of memories.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Do you have 14 minutes for a fun reminder of the early 80's? My friend Geni has posted the full length Michael Jackson "Thriller" video. I forgot how comically creepy it was. I think Thriller was the high water mark of his career. It was only one or two plastic surgeries into his madness. He still had the faint scent of normal lingering about him.
One of my college friend's was ga-ga over him, which is probably why I watch this movie as often as I could see it in the pre-youtube, dawn of MTV.

Anyway, if you click on this link to Geni's myspace, the video will begin. I absolutely love the zombie dance. He certainly was a great entertainer.

Geni's Thrilling Myspace

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Having sat on this couch for a month while I recover from this leg break, I have a few observations to share about television.

I have access to nearly 1000 channels with my state-of-the-art fiber-optic programming on my high definition television. My primary conclusion is that I could get away with only two or three of them easily. There are few truly original shows. The talk shows are the same. The news is depressing (unless it is fake.) The dramas are predictable. The game shows are annoying.

My children are far from this stage in their relationship with television. They can watch the same insipid sitcoms for hours. I have much lower Hannah Montana stamina.

I have enjoyed the music channels I found up in the 6 & 7 hundreds. I like them because there are absolutely no commercials (unless you count it for the music industry.) They display the information about the songs so that the non-musically aware, like me, can figure out who it is I’m looking for on iTunes.

I found a cool show that speaks to my inner Mr. Rogers on the Discovery Channel called “How It’s Made”. I’ve taken quick trip through manufacturing processes that require curious components, fascinating machinery and manual dexterity: plate glass, toothpicks, bike helmets, bathtubs, computers, aluminum.

I investigated reality television, but I always realize that I have other real-life things to do that are of more relevance, even though I am primarily sedentary.

The one reality show that I was most amazed by was one called “Cheaters”. Have you heard of this show? Some sleazy guy in a black suit speaks to heartbroken women, or men I suppose, who suspect their significant other has embarked on another relationship. The guy in the suit speaks in a tone of feigned concern and support while deliberately steering this grieving, emotionally raw person into catching the object of their affection in a compromising situation on national television.

Everyone is making bad decisions, but the one who irritates me most was the guy in the suit. As the shaken, raging heartbreakee is trying to drive away from the scene of their self-inflicted, public humiliation, sleazy suit guy (with the lights & cameras & mics behind him) stops the car and expresses his concern for her safety as she attempts to make a get-away.

It was so painful to watch on so many levels. I couldn’t stay tuned in for the whole show. Back to the music channel and blogs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

As my oldest child has embarked on her first year of high school and her social life is ringing off the hook, it occurs to me that I need to establish some dating guidelines for my children. These guidelines will set the tone for the two following her.

I see my role in motherhood changing and confess I feel a little daunted by the teen years I have only begun to parent through. Although this is new territory for me, I see the path is well worn ahead of me.

So I ask you,
What dating rules and guidelines should I establish for my children?
How do I distinguish a dating relationship from a friend?

Monday, October 15, 2007

I inadvertently spent much of Saturday night in an obstacle course. Have you ever needed to rely on crutches? Although I am getting better, I am still a novice manipulating these tools of freedom.

I am in the last two weeks of having my lower right leg entombed in no-longer-soft cotton lined rigid fiberglass. My inaccessible skin is driving me wild. So I was happy to accept an offer to attend a bachelorette dinner at the Chart House in Annapolis. I figured, surely I can crutch it into a table and back to the car for a change of scenery.

The Chart House is a wonderful restaurant overlooking the historic Annapolis harbor. I had been there before, but not in a long time, and certainly not on crutches. I had forgotten, for example, that the front door to the restaurant was down a long pier. I had not realized that this weekend was the Boat Show, and it was more crowded than usual. I felt a bit like I was returning to the scene of the crime.

It occurred to me as I hobbled toward the entrance that I would make an easy mark for a purse snatcher and I hoped that everyone would be nice. Overall, everyone was nice, but I was a bit dismayed at the general public's lack of helpfulness, or more likely awareness, of my need for assistance. I am reminded that I need to pay more attention to these opportunities to help in the future.

Maneuvering in a restroom with crutches is a comedy of errors. I have new opinions of handicapped accessibility and a renewed respect for those among us living with permanent disabilities. You know those sadists who place toilet paper roles in locations designed for contortionists? They wreak their havoc in the handicapped stall as well. I'd like to see them reach for that dispenser while balancing on one foot.

Anyway, the invigorating laughter of new and old friends coupled with the pecan and cranberry encrusted mahi-mahi more than made up for the challenges the night set out for me. I even had wine from the Snoqualmie Vinyards in Washington State that I visited a few years ago with my dear friend in Seattle and it was a sweet reminder of that old friend.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Last night at dinner, my sister started a line of conversation with
"My favorite mashed potato story is..." I wondered aloud if everyone had a mashed potato story. My father had a baked potato story. I had a raw one. Mom had a potato soup story. It was an interesting line of conversation, that didn't quite make it all the way around the table.

What is your favorite potato story?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Have you ever felt just a little off-balance?
Now that I am in this one-legged phase of life, I am finding the metaphor unavoidable.

I was feeling quite grounded in my life when my divorce metaphorically knocked me off balance. During that time I spent a lot of time on my couch, self-medicating, and relying on the kindness of my friends and the cooperation of my children. After more than four years, I was feeling increasingly stronger, perhaps more balanced than ever before.

And then I stood up at the wrong time on a boat. The moment I stood up, I had no concern for my safety, I was having fun. I was simply moving to a different vantage point. I never even saw how it exactly happened, but in a second, all my attention diverted to a small section of my body. I knew when I saw my foot pointing in the wrong direction that things were going to be different for quite while. All my plans were ruined. Even though I was literally being held close by a kind friend, I knew that life was going to be dramatically different than I planned. I yearned for oblivion, to sleep through the beginning of the healing time. I have clocked a lot of hours on this damn couch. I have been relying on the kindness of friends and the cooperation of my children.

Bones mend easier than hearts, but the healing process is still grueling. It is such a small portion of my body that is incapacitated, probably less than 5%. But that small portion has thrown everything off balance. True balance requires your full effort

When I am finally able to put weight on that leg again (20 more days)I will be far from balanced. Already my underused leg is obviously wasting. Atrophy is so unattractive, not to mention debilitating. To regain my balance, I will have to work hard, be deliberate, push myself. I have read of the dangers of doing too much too soon, how it can be detrimental to recovery.

Have you ever felt your feet knocked out from under you? What aided your return to balance?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I'm finally returning to clarity after a couple weeks on some really wonderful pain-killers. I am now only taking them at bedtime. This afternoon I get my stitches out and a real cast on. My kids have already claimed certain areas for decorating rights.

My refrigerator is bursting at the seams with church-lady cooking. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful support network. My kids have thanked me for breaking my leg, the food has been so delicious: curry chicken salad, kaluah chili, vegetarian chili, sausage lasagna, chicken gumbo, South Beach zucchini-meatball pasta, struesel cake, chocolate chip cookies & muffins, friendship bread... I'm going to have more than physical therapy to do after 6 weeks of this delicious lovin'.

I am only just beginning to get to the stir crazy part. I have had some work to catch up on to distract me and many visitors. But I anticipate being ready to get outta this house soon. First, I am just looking forward to going upstairs. A shower would certainly be nice too. My girlfriends have helped me wash my hair al fresco.

I am so fortunate to have had my parents in town, ready to do whatever I need. My house is cleaner than it has been in ages, thanks to Mom. She is realizing that the laundry piles were part of our clothing storage system, as she has gotten further ahead in laundry than I ever did. Dad has networked my laptop to my PC so I can get all my documents. He's taking over my son's science fair project for me and driving to lacrosse games & practice. Fortunately, they have been assisting me in eating this mountain of good cookin'.

I'm looking forward to catching up on your lives & blogs. Thanks for being there for me.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I have always thought of myself as a rather low-maintenance person. That has changed. I'm about as high maintenance as they come these days.

Let me tell you what happened.
Saturday morning I was invited to photograph some catamarans that were sailing up to Annapolis to the starting line of a yacht race. The sailor who invited me arranged for a motorboat just for me to ride in, chasing the cats. It was SO FUN! I was sitting up on the bow of this little motorboat, mainly trying to get the sailboats ion the frames. I got some great pictures that I will post once I can get back over to my PC.

Anyway, I decided to adjust my position and, as an inexperienced boater, I stood up rather than scooted down to the bench that rimmed the deck. A wave pitched the boat and kind of catapulted me forward into the boat.

As I was falling, aside from embarrassment, my primary concern was for my camera. (It is fine.) It all happened so fast. There was a ladder on the deck.

The next second was flooded with pain. When I looked down, my ankle was the size of a nerf football and my foot was pointing about 45 degrees to the right. It was sickening.

Fortunately, Mark was with me. Once he got situated holding my leg in his lap, I heard him ask our boat pilot, Ed, to secure my camera. He did and then covered me with his jacket and called 911 before speeding off on an excruciating ride back to the marina.

I tried to get to the happy place I had been in yoga the week previous, focusing on my breathing. I was having trouble focusing.

We were met at the dock by a strong good Samaritan who fireman-carried me up to the marina. I was only there about 5 minutes before the EMTs were there. In a few moments, I was taking my first ambulance ride (no sirens) and recieving my first dose of morphine. 10 mg. It didn't help.

At the hospital, the gave me dilaudid, which didn't help either. I asked Mark to cover my foot because it was grossing me out.

After x-ray they came in to re-locate my foot. I have only seen this done by Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon, so I was a bit nervous. Actually, I freaked out, begging for more drugs, weeping & wailing. But the wonderful Debbi Smith was gentle and kind of hugged my foot back into place. The relief was immediate. They splinted me up and I could finally enjoy the pain-killer cocktail coursing through me.

Tomorrow I return for screws and plates. I have two breaks in my fibula and one in my tibia. It's my right foot, so I won't be driving for 6-8 weeks. There's a lot I won't be doing.

But I have been overwhelmed by offers of help: cooking, cleaning, taxi service. I am taking it all, just banking some offers for future use.

Thank you to all you wonderful people. Despite obvious evidence to the contrary, I am one of the luckiest people I know.

I'm off to take more percocet now. I'll get back to you in a few days. Thanks for all your energy and thoughts.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I broke my leg on Saturday morning. I have never experienced pain on that level before.
I stood up at the wrong time on a boat and the next thing I knew, my ankle was swelled up like a football and my foot was pointing off about 45 degrees to the right.

I will write more later, but right now my percoset level is pretty high and I'm feeling sleepy. I am hoping to get to the doc today to get the surgery scheduled for sooner rather than later. Apparently I need some screws. I knew I was screwed Saturday morning.

More later.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fourteen years ago from this moment I was delighted to receive my first epidural. Katya had been reluctant to part from me, despite her cramped quarters, and I was exhausted. The epidural allowed me my first sleep in two days, even if it was only an hour or so before I was back to work.

Right now, this beautiful teenager is sleeping still, having stayed up, probably 'til past midnight watching "The Wizard of Oz" as background research for the play in which she was recently cast as the Wicked Witch. Her friend who was cast as Dorothy joined her. They are tickled to have been cast together in this play. (Katya usually gets a day off of school near her birthday due to Rosh Hashanah. THis year it lined up perfectly.)

Kat's brother & sister just worked together to mix up her birthday cake and get it in the oven. Of course, being 14, 12, & 10, they swing between enjoying each other and raging against each other. But mostly they enjoy each other.

Recently, my youngest wanted to sleep in braids to acquire fluffy hair. Kat meticulously installed 15 braids, transforming Suzy into a charming medusa. Suzy kept them in for days.

Before this school year began, my son requested Kat's presence on his back-to-school clothing shopping trip. He has been increasingly interested in his appearance, even if I still have to nag him to shower. He said he would only select clothing that met Kat's approval. She's in high school this year and therefore is wiser in these matters of fashion. It was a win-win-win. Kat could feel proud of her brother. He felt confident that first critical week of school. I enjoyed their mutual admiration.

Although there is still a great deal of mothering ahead of me with Kat, more & more often I feel the growing friendship between us that I look forward to for decades to come.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I did something I haven't done in ages that felt wonderful:
I emptied my e-mail inbox.
I leave things in there as a type of to do list. I didn't dare hit send/receive.

It's like having the laundry "done". It is only "done" until the dryer stops, or until we change into jammies for the evening - and even getting that close is a rarity.

Not that I don't have a to-do list, but at least I'm caught up on one aspect of it.

Monday, September 10, 2007

My lawn mowing service hates my yard. Last week the owner knocked on my door and explained how he & his staff draw straws each week to see who gets stuck mowing my yard. He says he tries to hold his breath the whole time he's mowing.

I've been trying to water more. I recently investigated installing a sprinkler system, but it is so expensive. The problem is my very sandy soil and the type of grass I have. He was suggesting mulch mowing would be better for him than bagging. The poor guy was covered in a powder of grass jimmies.

I don't want to be a problem customer. We'll try the mulch mowing, although I'm afraid all the clippings will end up in the pool, which is why I've been having it bagged.

I don't even own a lawn mower. The ex got the mower in the divorce.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Greeny & Anne jinxed me for getting a good night's sleep. I got to bed late anyway last night. My youngest daughter was already asleep in my bed. Just as I had gratefully dozed off, Suzy began channeling an ancient incarnation of herself, speaking in Atlantian or some other ancient, long-forgotten tongue. It was almost coherent. Maybe it would have been more so if I had been fully awake. Whatever she was saying, she was saying it passionately, leaving me only one clue in English at the end. "The jockey will know" she stated before lapsing back into sleep.
What jockey? Her step-mother rides horses. Does she know something about my daughter? Were they related in a past life?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I just poured 8 beers down the drain. Five of them were Bud Light cans that have been living in my fridge I think since January. Someone else bought them to my house. I have put them out at every possible gathering, but apparently they are just not appealing to many. But how can you throw away beer?

The other three were new guys: Miller Chill – Chelada style. What the hell is “chelada style”? Again, they were brought beers (is it beer or beers? Is it like deer?) that looked promising in their festive summer bottles. But honestly, they, left an aftertaste of vomit in my mouth. I really didn’t want to serve them. I couldn’t drink one, despite the good will with which they were brought to my home.

So today I was getting ready to move them back from a cooler into the fridge and decided I didn’t want these dead-weight beers around anymore. Time to make a decision, to make room in my fridge for drinks I enjoy. I feel mildly relieved.

Have you been having a hard time parting with things you are not crazy about?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I went watchless today. I chose this uniformed position primarily due to vanity, but nevertheless, I was unsure of the time all day long.

It was kind of freeing, but only because of my schedule today. It's nice to ease the stress about how much time do I have left before I have to (fill in the blank).

Anyway, I have to buy a new everyday watch. The water that seeped into my comfortable, elastic banded Timex when I was floating down the icy Boise River with some excellent friends a month ago, finally caught up with the ticker.

What are your most important considerations when purchasing a watch?

Monday, August 27, 2007

I was ambushed by algebra when I walked in the door.

“Hi Mom,” my oldest said. “Can you help me with this?”
She had to identify the variables and write the equation. When was the last time I did this? It wasn’t remarkably difficult and she got it with a little prompting. I said,
“That was kinda fun. It was like a puzzle.”

Eye roll

It occurs to me that I am reaching the ceiling of helping my kids with math. I never took anything higher than Algebra 1 and Geometry. A few years ago when I was at my sister’s, her daughter asked if I could help with a math problem.
“Sure!” I responded enthusiastically, flattered that she asked.
That pride quickly deflated when she showed me the problem. Synthetic division. Was this the polyester/rayon version of the denim algebra I was familiar with? I read back through the section. whoa. I was further behind than I realized. I could not help her in the time I had. I would need to take a class first.

I pointed out her options:
Take a stab at it and be sure to ask the teacher tomorrow
Phone a friend
Call Grandpa

Calling Grandpa is a desperate measure, although I’m sure he knows synthetic division – and not just that it needs to be tumble-dried on a low temperature setting.

My niece chose option number one.
I went home and remember to shift the laundry.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

My youngest, who is closing in on ten, just discovered the joy in "Me & Julio Down by the Schoolyard" by Paul Simon. When she wanted to play it again to learn the words, she asked me to please not sing along so she could hear better.

That was a tough request, even though I don't even know all the words.

"I'm on my way. I don't know where I'm going. I'm on my way.
I'm taking my time but I don't know where..."

What songs compel you to sing along recently?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I've been intermittently reading two books on punctuation:
Spunk & Bite by Arthur Plotnik and
Eats Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss, which I originally thought was a diet book.
Both are great and both have me thinking about my writing in different ways.

So with these thoughts of punctuation reorganizing in my head, I enjoyed my son's recent punctuation misunderstanding.

I had gathered my children together to declare that they needed to maintain a list all week of the items they keep getting told they need for school, or for upcoming sports and scouts. I would not, could not run to the store every day for one thing at a time. I reminded them that they could list books that they were told they would need. Then I said, "Kat needs 'To Kill A Mockingbird.'"
Kyle was startled. He didn't hear the quotation marks or see the capitalization. It hadn't occurred to me that he didn't know this was a book title. Hasn't everyone heard of this book? Apparently not.
"What?!" he sat up, alarmed. "Why the violence?"
charming huh?
So once I explained it he grinned, "Oh, Suzy needs a bridge to Teribithia and Kat needs to kill a mockingbird."

Have you had any recent misunderstandings regarding punctuation?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I'm working on balance.

This freelance work puts me in charge of my own schedule, which ultimately is a great thing. The problem is limiting the time that my mind in "on-duty" for work. Because I often can do personal errands during "office hours", and because so many events I am required to attend are very early or evening, I feel like I need to be "on call" from like 7am until 9pm. Those are extreme hours and not always required, but it still doesn't seem to be enough.

I have to actively focus on not worrying about an unfinished article or open ad deal. After 9pm, I just can't check my e-mail anymore. It stresses me out. Then I can't fall asleep worrying about who I need to call tomorrow. Of course, it's not just work: Girl Scouts, youth group, lacrosse, family & friends.

E-mail takes so much time to manage. I do like e-mail as a means of communication. It is less insistent than a phone call.

I have a new phone that I am still learning. When I get a call I have the options to "silence" or "ignore." Good reminders. One of my pet peeves is when someone answers only to say they can't talk and will call me back. Why not let it just go to voicemail? Isn't that its purpose?

Would this be easier to compartmentalize if I went to an office? Probably not. Everyone is stressed out. I need to go to yoga.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The thing I'm studying for recently is an adult Sunday School class coming up for the fall at my church. I have a delicious topic.
My class is called "The Uncensored Bible." We will be looking over several of the Bible stories that are too racy to be included in children's material and rarely covered in sermons: drunkenness, human sacrifice, gory murders, incest, public orgies, genocide, kidnappings, rape, and all sorts of mayhem.

Why study these? These ancient stories have survived thousands of years, supposedly for our benefit. They are, in a way, our family histories. It's good to know our stories.

I have a great grandpa about whom I know virtually nothing accept one story. During the tensions leading to the US involvement in WWII, Charles Preston tarred and feathered a German-sympathizer and ran him out of town. He did a brief stint in jail and shamed the family. His children were sworn to secrecy. But guess what story is the only one passed on to his great grandchildren?

So what I'm wondering is, do you have any racy stories in your family history that you are glad to know? How does knowing them change anything?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I've been busy entertaining, working, running my children around, shopping for back to school, dating, and studying actually. As a result, I've neglected some of my domestic responsibilities - including weeding. My front garden looks too terrible to show you. But this one weed that took over a little wrougt iron table turned out to be a beautiful Morning Glory.
Sometimes there is beauty in letting things go.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Last weekend we were lucky enough to have some old friends come see us for the weekend. Our kids enjoyed touring DC together, although it was the hottest day of the summer (until today that is.) They did a great job maintaining proper decorum in the sweltering sojourn through Arlington Cemetery. By the time we got to the WWII memorial, proper decorum had been stretched to far.

Annapolis was fun, as always. We got to watch the midshipmen practicing their sailing techniques while we rode the Harbor Queen. Of course we had to have crabs for the full Maryland experience.
Laura, who you've met on this blog, and I have a unique bond. We are friends because our ex-husbands were friends. So even though they don't communicate anymore, we bonded over our divorces. It seems our exes have some similar issues being big jocks from the same small town. So we had a weekend long psychotherapy session - with margaritas.

Laura is an amazing mother, overcoming odds that most people simply couldn't face. You can tell by how cool her kids are.

Monday, August 06, 2007

I'm back and getting caught up from all the fun happenings of summer. Here are a few pictures of our beautiful visit with old friends in Idaho. It was great to see my high school friends and have my children renew their friendship with their children.

I also learned that the less I spent on an event, the more fun it seemed to be. It was a pleasure to watch our children play, unplugged, for hours. We all delighted in the ice-melt Payette & Boise Rivers, climbing on the boulders, and the high desert scenery. Those Boiseans love their libraries!

I came home with jet lag, an interesting new drink recipe, an easy dinner idea, loads of pictures, and a renewed closeness for my friends that I've known for 21 years. What a long strange trip its been.

Thanks Lisa & Big! Thanks J & B! I love you!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter Spoiler Alert
Don't click to my comments if you aren't up to chapter 7 yet.
Please don't tell me the end yet either.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I ran out of gas today for the first time ever.
Ultimately, it is my fault and I suppose I should direct my anger at myself. But I'm mad at Toyota too. Here's why.

I have a tank that supposedly holds 11.9 gallons of gas.
I have a computer read-out that tells me the mpg I'm getting on this particular tank: 47mpg.
Although my "add fuel" light was on, I had only driven @450 miles. So by my calculations - and I'm an English major - I still had at least 50 more miles 'til empty, leaving myself a cushion at that.

So my car just stopped and seven different dashboard panel lights came on. I thought it was a problem with the hybrid battery that appeared to be depleted.

No. The service techs said the Hybrid gas tanks are bladders rather than traditional tanks. Sometimes it doesn't "see" the remaining gas. So even though I've driven my Prius that many miles before, I shouldn't let it get below 1/4 tank.

That would have been useful piece of information for the salesman to have mentioned. Everything I've heard is that you get better gas mileage when the tank is low. Hybrid buyers are generally concerned with gas mileage.

Even if I had pushed my car to the gas station less than a mile away, I would have still had to bring it in for service to have the computerized dashboard alerts reset.

So it could have been worse. I have my car. I wasn't stuck on a sweltering day on a busy highway. But I lost 4 hours, $65, and a little of my pride. I didn't even have Harry Potter with me to read.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Shoulds vs. Wants

I should be working on my column, or that boat story. I have research for a couple of new projects to work on. I have several ad contacts to follow-up on. I have the cover story for the next issue that needs a ton of footwork. I'm behind on invoicing.

Dust bunnies are having an orgy under my kitchen table. The post summer camp & vacation laundry is piled high. Old food is crowding my 'fridge. Weeds & grass have taken control of my flower bed. There are 12 messages blinking on my answering machine.

But the new Harry Potter just arrived on my doorstep.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I am at my favorite local beach town: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Every year here, things change - I guess just like everywhere. It is just that when you only come once a year, the changes seem so dramatic.

The shops and restaurants have all seemed to shift around this year. My favorite quirky store, Abizak's, is gone from the beach. It doesn't seem right. I had to drown my disappointment with a pitcher of margaritas from Dos Locos which is in that same space now. I suppose if it had to go, it was thoughtful of them to replace it with margaritas.

At least the candy apple stand is still there.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I meant to be more sensible tonight.

I just got home from the midnight showing of the new Harry Potter movie.
It was so fun! Four theaters were packed. There were capes, hats, and wands in the audience. The audience hushed, cheered, and jeered with enthusiasm.

It's been a while since I read the 5th installment. I know some things weren't exact, but I think most fans will find it wonderful.

I may regret this late night tomorrow, but for now, I'm glad I enjoyed the indulgence with my kids. It is summer after all.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Peggy & I went for a walk in the woods this evening with our daughters, Dawn & Suzy. The whole night was a great metaphor I can't resist sharing.

We two moms were on the same path as our daughters. Sometimes they blasted ahead of us and we hurried to catch up and sometime we waited for them to catch up when they were distracted by a swarm of ants, a frog, or lightening bugs.

Once, Suzy waited for us to catch up to her to point out a fatally injured squirrel, in its last gruesome throes. It's not often in our air conditioned lives we witness this moment in the circle of life. She was fascinated. I didn't want to look.

The path forked, with one path crossing a stream that was perfect except for the unnaturally orange water. Peggy & I watched as our daughters scrambled down for a closer look.

They were beautiful and daring, cooperative and challenging with each other. We moms watched from the bridge, murmuring our concerns to each other, but not really wanting to stop them.
That water looks rusty and the rocks look slippery.
New shoes.
Poison Ivy.
I don't want to go down there and fetch an injured one.

But we didn't stop them. We sometimes called out advice and encouragement,
Are you OK?
Try another route back.
Watch for leaves of three.

- but mostly we watched.

When the sun began to set, we waited for our daughters at the fork in the road to make sure they were headed down the path toward home.

Suzy tried Dawn's bike. She's still learning even though she's 9. I tried to help her balance. Dawn advised, "Relax and good things will happen."

I took that walk to relax. Dawn was exactly right. It was a good thing.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

I hope you all had a chance to enjoy your 4th of July.
To add to the excitement of the fireworks, I invited the new man in my life, Mark, to meet my children - and then 60 of my closest friends at my party. He was very graceful in such a large crowd of inspectors.
At age 42, I don't really feel the word "boyfriend" is appropriate. "Lover" seems unnecessarily shocking, or simply TMI, and "Friend" seems insufficient. Any suggestions? I'm sure my witty friends can solve this dilemma for me.
Here I am with a couple of other men I met in California. The guys I've dated in the last three years all fall somewhere on the spectrum between Groucho & Albert. I kept accidently saying Moucho Grarx. Either way, my kids had never heard of him, which does make him like most of the guys I've dated.

This is the Foucault Pendulum at the Griffith Observatory. If you look carefully, you can see I am trying to explain to my children how this pendulum shows the earth's rotation. My oldest appears to be listening. My son is enduring. My youngest is busy looking fabulous in her sunglasses.
The observatory cafeteria is called "The Cafe at the Edge of the Universe." It was a great place to watch the sun set over the Hollywood Mountains (although that is not the official name of those mountains, I'm sure.) The fascinating planetarium show did make me feel like a tiny fleck of stardust.

This is Venice Beach on my ankle and my children. For more on that parade of humanity, check out my mother's posts.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Finally home. Too bad a lovely vacation ends with such travel hassles. We were delayed significantly at DFW due to nearby weather that re-routed many flights into our airport. We only lost one suitcase, which I suppose isn't bad, but at 4am in Baltimore, I wasn't really feeling amiable about standing in the lost luggage line.

So now is the follow up day of groceries and laundry and jet lag, answering machines and backed up work appointments. The morning scale reflected the pier funnel cakes overdose of Southern Californian guacamole, so I need to re-install my diet and exercise discs. But first, I'm going to brew a pot of coffee and read up on my blogger friends.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I have been vacationing with my children and my parents in Southern California. What a cornucopia of characters out here!

Here I am matching my hands with Bette Davis' at Grauman's Chinese Theater.

I have been amazed by the brown cloud of smog sitting on top of this town. So I decided to treat my children to a breath of fresh air at an oxygen bar in Hollywood.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

This past weekend was dance recital weekend. The girls' dance school is huge. They have 5 different recitals, and of course, my girls were in different ones. That's 5 hours of recital for a combined total of 5 minutes on stage.

But they were beautiful, energetic, and nimble. We enjoyed seeing old friends from competition days, seeing the polished dances of the competitive troupe, and the disoriented babies in the youngest classes.