Saturday, February 28, 2009
What I love about Spring is the promise of a new beginning. No more brown and dead grass--new little pale green shoots reach up from the depths to touch the sun. Crumpled Hydrangea blossoms slowly drop to the earth and tumble away, while at it's feet, appear new stalks that will soon produce new balls of color. Everywhere you turn, nature tells us of the promise of rebirth, while the depressing dried stalks of winter slowly disintegrate and disappear. Warm sunshine replaces dreary clouds and cold. Robins and Red-Wing Blackbirds return and sing the praises of better days. To every season, turn, turn, turn. Yea Spring!
This morning God spoke to me. Yep, loudly. Right over Joe singing Beyonce's "All the Single Girls"--which is such a lame song, made worse by Joe singing it in the kitchen. I heard God over Hobbes, sitting smack dab on the counter, in the middle of the coupons, meowing loudly about some kitty issue he is currently having. I even heard him over Em complaining about her teacher in the shower.
And he told me....."Do not work today. You are part-time. Part-time people do not work at home for ridiculously low wages and sacrifice their family time." And I kinda ignored him and logged into the computer anyway.
So, being God, he sent me another message.....this time on the computer, because it apparently wasn't clear enough over Joe/Beyonce in the kitchen. I couldn't access my desktop or drive that I needed in order to work on the newsletter from home. Okay, I got the message. I will do my work AT work. Got it. Thank you, God.
But then, I received yet another message from God. He told me that I need to let go. I need to let the Spring of my life take over and let Winter depart. Some things need to go by the wayside so that rebirth can occur. Change--letting go and embracing the new, unknowing, and sometimes scary. As human beings, change is frightening and we tend to cling to what we know, afraid of the Spring that awaits us. It is a brave person who learns to reach forward in the darkness, trusting that God will not let us fail.
I admire Joe so much for leaving his job of 17 years and trusting that the new job will be okay. And it is--better than okay, actually. He loves his new job! I see his smiling face in the Spring of new opportunity and it empowers me.
As I was talking to Joe about, of all things, trumpet cleaning, I crossed my leg and my Spring sprung. Toenail left me at that very moment. I stood there, looking down, speechless. Joe bent over and took a closer look, not knowing what the heck was on the floor. I knew. I felt it leave--albeit painlessly, it was gone in one fell swoop.
Yes, I could have glued it back on, but I didn't. I gently picked it up and said my goodbyes. Em came running in all of the hoopla and sympathetically screamed "Gross!" and screwed up her face in disgust. We all kinda stood there for a few moments, discussing why toenails depart and agreed it best to just let it go.
R.I.P. Toenail. You are the Winter of my big toe. I am embracing New Toenail, which is already 3/4 of the way in--in essence, it is Spring of my foot.
Goodbye, Toenail. I'm glad we had one last trip together. I'm just really sorry that you didn't hang on until Easter--now that would have been drama!
Friday, February 27, 2009
I'm exhausted. Are you? I think we all are. Who isn't overloaded with have-to's and places to be? Who is tired of going in to work day after day? Who is sick of this cold and snowy weather? Who wants to just veg on the couch and watch mindless TV? Me!
I'm heading into my very first deadline and publication of the newsletter at work this week. It has proved to be quite the challenge and I have to admit to being a little apprehensive. I actually woke up last night worrying that I won't be able to pull it off and I'm still a little freaked about it this morning. My ability, or lack thereof, to pull this off is going to make or break the whole transition from the current producer to me and another woman, so there's a tad bit of pressure this next week.
I kind of see myself as Henry in his lair--hanging back, peering at the future from guarded safety. I'm keeping my cool, but gees, my stomach is freaking out.
I'm off to the eye doctor this morning because my eyes, like Toenail, are betraying me. They don't like to focus close-up and then look far away anymore. They've just kinda rebelled and are doing things at their own pace. I'm sort of angry about this because I just don't see how glasses are going to fit in my future--I mean, I see cute ones on other peeps, but I'm not sure how the hair will lie with those things on my face. Oh yes, I love cute sunglasses, but this is different--it's everyday.....all day. No, I don't want contacts, I see Joe dinking with his all the time and it seems a pain. Sigh. First Toenail, now Eyeballs. Before it was Uterus and Stomach Muscles. What's next?!!
This working and getting old stuff is waaayyyy overrated.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
And so.....the toenail story.
The days before I was leaving for my Florida trip were crazy. Lots of running errands, shopping for travel supplies, packing summer clothes, packing spring clothes, unpacking summer clothes and packing jeans instead. The cats were all in a tizzy because they saw the suitcase and when they weren't in it goofing around, they were sort of fretting because they knew I was leaving. Grace knows from experience and gets clingy, Hobbes was just thrilled that he had a new place to play with his sparkle ball. It was busy and very stressful trying to get it all done before I left.
The night before my flight, I soaked in a relaxing bath, scrubbed my feet with a little pumice, and shaved my legs. As I was sitting down to paint my toenails, I saw the unthinkable.
My dead and dying-since-October big toenail decided it wasn't going to Florida with me. No way, no how. Yep, it just lifted from the back up and a new toenail was already growing in. Ick, you say--but really it isn't all gooey or anything, it's just skin under there. But it isn't a lovely sight for sandals or flip-flops or walking barefoot in the sand with your cute swimsuit on.
I was so mad at this toenail (notice how I didn't use a curse word, although I wanted to at this part)!! How could it leave me now?! Here I was about to paint it with some lovely pastel shade of pink and it decides to stay home?!
So, I did what any other woman would do--I glued the mother *#$(@$ down! (Okay, that was for drama and part of the original story--sorry) Yep. I went out to the garage, found some Super Glue and put a little drop on the lifter and held it under duress for a second or two. And it was a good as new! A little polish over the top and ta-daaaa! Rockin' toe again!
I yelled in to Emma "Hey! Do you want to help me paint my dead toenail?" and like the beast that she is, she yelled back "Ugh! No WAY!!! I'm not touching that thing!!"
Thanks. Thanks a lot. After all I've done for her when she was a baby. I did lots of gross things for her! I hate that kid.
So, I did it myself and it looked pretty good. Nobody would ever know. Unless I told them. Which I did. A lot.
Toenail and I went out to lunch and had wings and a beer. We walked on the dock and looked at the sand. We went to Disney for a lovely dinner and watched the fireworks over Cinderella's Castle. We drank Sangria and danced on the table at OPA, a fabulously fun and wild Greek restaurant. We danced with some dudes at B. B. Kings bar and laughed until we wet our pants. It was with us when we put Fain in the trunk of Cheri's car. We sat poolside for 7 1/2 minutes, but I refused the hot tub, envisioning toenail floating away forever.
Toenail came home happy and still clinging to me. I think it had fun, I mean it only tried to leave me once on the trip, but I convinced it to stay with that ever-enticing Band-Aid friend. I wrapped it tightly with love and smooth-talked that sucker into staying--at least until I got home.
We're still together, and hopefully so, until sandal season approaches in a month or two and maybe new Toenail will have grown in fully. I swear if toenails could smile, it had a good time and I'm glad it went with me.
And have you ever searched toenail photos on the web? I imagined lovely painted beauties to post here, but instead I found the most disgusting gross things out there! What are all these people posting their festered and half-missing toenails for?! Ick. Double Ick. Don't look, it's not good--my toenail is a dream in comparison.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
On another note, today is the first day of Lent, holy season for Christians galore. Although I'm not a huge practitioner of Catholicism, I do fast, try to reflect and be more patient and considerate of others, and give up something --although I never really got that.
I was brought up that Lent was a time of reflection and a time to think about our lives and spirituality. The whole "giving up" stuff for Lent for me was never chocolate or beer, I never understood what that was going to accomplish. I aim for more personal growth kinda things like not talking about others or trying to be less negative about things. Of course, it all fades after a few weeks, but I think the attempt is admirable.
This year I will, once again, give up cursing. Giving up cursing for me is like giving up a left arm for others--it's just always there. Not that I'm proud of that, I just worked in the trucking industry and production plants for a few early years and bad habits are hard to break. So, again, I will try and be a better person and be more aware of the language I use.
Wish me luck. I give me a day.
Monday, February 23, 2009
And every so often, somebody gets this great idea of hiking when we are there, not remembering that A: humidity is about 900 % and you'll sweat like a pig, and B: most of those trails are freakin' HARD! So, usually you'll find me camped out at the pool instead of hiking, and there I spend my week--looking cute in my suit with hat, sunglasses, and lipstick on. Ever since I reached the tender age of 16, I don't think I have willingly hiked anywhere.
I guess "hike" is a subjective word--I'll go for a little walk, but rarely do I pack water and a snack and trek anywhere in that entire week that I'm on vacation. Working just isn't part of the schedule when I'm on vacation, and I consider some of those trails there work.
So, as I'm sitting there at my desk today, doing what is supposed to be work, and I was actually thinking about how relationships can be like those trails. How I got to this conclusion is beyond me, because I was working on the newsletter and that has nothing to do with relationships or trails. Maybe it was the liquor still in my system. Maybe it was just missing my pallies until my heart hurt. Or maybe it was just that I wished I was at the Falls instead of my cubicle. Either way--I'm thinking relationships are like trails, which is pretty profound for the Monday after a wild weekend. Okay, but I'm also thinking that I'm so bloated from all that alcohol that my shoes don't fit, but that's not quite so profound--only painful.
Anywho....there is Trail #3 (I don't really remember the numbers and I've lost my map from the desk clerk...but go with me) which starts off the back of the Lodge. It looks innocent enough, it starts out with the ruff hewn rocky stairs that welcome you like your Grandma. It's not bad, all these stairs, until you hit the 91st or 93rd step--that's when you start thinking "Hey.....how do I get back up all these stairs..." and it all becomes a lot of work and your knees start to ache. You start grabbing trees to rest and before you know it--you are saying to yourself "this stinks like dead worms" and you start going slower and slower. Before you know it, you are turning around because even if you are going downhill, it isn't any fun anymore.
You know those relationships--they start out easy, no work. That's the mom you always talk to at the soccer game. Yeah, she's nice enough. You sit together at the games and conversation is easy--no problems. But then, she asks you to drive her kid home after a game. And then another. She even dares to call and ask you to drive her kid to practice. Pretty soon she's not even showing up for games. You know that gal--we all do. See? She's like Trail #3--it's all easy and fun, and slowly......ever so slowly......you get really tired of all that walking downhill. Pretty soon it starts to burn in your thighs and your back starts to twinge. There's the limit when it's not any fun anymore and you just give it up and retreat. "Drive your own stupid kid, lady" you think to yourself.
Then there's Trail #5--that's the one that leads to the Falls--rocky as hell, ankle-twisiting tree roots at every bend, and most of it in complete sunshine. Sure, the Falls await you at the end of this beastly hike like it's the Holy Grail of Nature, but like a fool, you fall for the temptation and head off into the forest. There are uneven rocky footholds and numerous forks in the path which make you second guess why the heck you're out there, but still, you continue on. You sweat buckets and pretend you are having fun, trying to carry on conversation as small trees snap at the weight of you grabbing them for a lifeline. Most don't continue on this trail either. Sure there is a major reward at the end if you make it--but really, do you want to make it? And where does that leave you--more walking around the Falls and then the hike back again? Is that the true reward? More hiking? Kill me now.
I liken this hike to all of those bad boyfriends we've all had. Us gals have the tendency to overlook the rocky footholds and snapping tree branches that are the signals that this is not good. Love should be lovely and enjoyable, not a lot of work and sweating. We shouldn't have to dread the hike to get the prize. And the prize? Would that guy be the true prize? After all that work?! And for what? More hiking?! Naw, I don't think so. Best we ditch this one too.
So, this all leads to Trail #6--my favorite. It's not all that much work, not a lot of hiking up or down, no climbing, no sweating. It's all about peace, solitude, even footing and gentle breezes. This trail starts off to the front side of the Lodge and ever so slowly circles the hillside on which it is located. There are steep rocky slopes to admire, but the trail never betrays you, never takes you to those dreadful climbs--just holds your hand as you pass them to admire their loveliness. There are small openings in the forest canopy to allow just a bit of sunshine in to allow for wildflowers to grow. There are birds singing like a Disney movie and if you are quiet, every so often a little chipmunk will stop in your path. The breeze is cool here, and there are periodic stumps to sit upon and ponder the quiet. There is no sweating here on Trail #6, no siree. It is the Dalai Lama of hiking--all good, quiet, meditative and easy. There is no hiking here, it is pretty much strolling. This is the walk for me--every step a joy, every corner a surprise, every flower brings a smile to my face.
This is my pallies, the girls that I just spent 4 lovely days with. When I am with them, life is easy and good. It is wildflowers and gentle breezes. It is feeling good about yourself and those you are with. It is all about what is good in this world and it reinforces how lucky we are to have good friends. Okay, so every once in awhile one of them trips and we all laugh until we wet our pants, but that's what true friends do--we laugh at you. And they won't let you forget it, ever. But should someone fall and scrape a knee, there are 6 girls there to pick you up, dust you off.....and then laugh at you. And never let you forget it.
I am relatively new to this trail, as I have only been on it a few years, but I feel as though I have known it for a lifetime. My heart is happy when I am with them. Problems seem few and there is nothing that a hug, a big kiss on the lips, a cute outfit, a good lipstick, and a cocktail cannot solve. My stomach hurts from laughing and my legs hurt from dancing. The rest of the world is put on hold for those short visits we have, and it seems like eternity until we are all together again. They are my Trail #6.
I'll explain the toenail when I recover......
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Home tonight, recovering on Monday.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
I'm off to Florida today to hang with the pallies and relax. Yes, I'm leaving the kids and the husband home to fend for themselves. Yes, there will cocktails and belly laughs. Yes, I plan on warming my hiney in the sun and hottub. And no, I'm not even going to think about how they'll survive without me.
I've posted a few days ahead so you don't stop here and find the blog stagnant. Okay, so they aren't brilliant posts, but hey, I'm on vacation! I won't be doing the EC bit, but I won't miss that much and I'm leaving the camera and laptop home so that I relax completely. But don't worry--I'll have plenty of stories when I get back.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Oh, rolling the dice, hopping around that board, drawing cards, and then.......the chance to open the door.......to see.......just who our "dream man" would be! Ah, so exciting to see some cheesy photo when you opened that door. The man who we would spend our future with. Would it be the dork? The jock? The scholar? Or maybe, just maybe.....the prom date! You knew you scored when you got the prom date guy in his white tux and pearly white choppers smiling at you.
I can remember sitting around with my cousins, spinning that little blue door handle just so, and lifting that door ever so slowly, hoping to see someone good appear. I can remember my cousin slamming the door shut and calling a "Re-do!" when she got the loser. And all of us laughing dastardly. And them doing the same to me. What bonding between cousins, eh? Yeah, and what lame entertainment we had back then too.
This week was a strange one for me--a sorta Mystery Date kinda week, filled with phone calls from people I hadn't heard from in awhile. I would be handed the phone with a puzzled I-don't-know-who-it-is look from the kid who gave it to me. (And that would be why I'm paying some $9 a month to the phone company for caller i.d. folks--let's use it!) So, as I'm lifting the phone to my ear, reminiscent of that 'ol Mystery Date door, I tentatively say "hello?" into the receiver.
I really, really hate when someone on the other end says "I betcha you don't know who this is!" like I'm gonna guess. It's a damned if you do/don't sort of thing and it just makes me crabby. So, I give my "No. I don't" mean 'ol rotten reply and wait for my Mystery Date to reveal his identity.
First was Joe--not my Joe, another Joe--from way back in kid's soccer league. He was a dad that coached a team with my Joe, and I remember because it was a really stinky season. Seems the good Christians who run the league with their Catholic School pallies liked to stack the teams in their favor, Joe and Joe got every kid that had "issues" in the league. There were the twins that had some syndrome going on and couldn't communicate verbally. There was the autistic kid who was so overstimulated he would start punching the other kids. There was "Wrong Way Jackie" who would score for the other team. There was my kid, who wanted no part of running around after a stupid ball. There was the two coaches who meant well, but knew little about the sport. That poor team couldn't find the goal, more or less score one. It was sad. I think I remember having a few choice words for those league administrators about grinding defeat into children's faces. I don't think there is a lesson to be learned from seasons like that--maybe that children's sports leagues are sometimes more about the parents than the kids, but that's about it.
So, here was Mystery Date #1, cracking me up about that season and how truly awful it was. He had seen me driving through the hood and thought he'd call to say "hi" and plan a date for the four of us to get together. Joe is very interesting, has a collection of odd jobs with stories to match, and talks more than me. He totally gets me and laughs when I get all revved up about this or that. He knows better than to take me seriously and when he and his wife, Diane, get together with us, we spend the evening laughing. It was nice to hear from him--a winnning Mystery Date.
Mystery Date #2 starts out much the same way--the phone rings, someone answers without looking at the increasingly expensive /seldom used caller i.d. screen, and the confused hand-off. Again, I am met with the "Betcha don't......." , and again, I'm doing Grumpy Gal on the other end.
I quickly learn it is Jerry--Fain's love of her life and Cumberland Falls sweetheart! Gentle and warm, quick to give a hug, and as smooth as Clooney. There isn't a person there that doesn't just love Jerry, and here he was, Mystery Date #2! SCORE! I got the Prom Date! And I'm instantly thinking "Ooooh, Fain is gonna be MAD!", which makes the win an even bigger win!
It was lovely to hear from Jerry, to catch up on what's going on with he and Pat. I hear that Allen is keeping him busy, fixing up the old house on the edge of the farm-- "It's for when I'm in the doghouse" he says, but I don't see Jerry getting the boot from Pat too often--she's as sweet as he is. We talk of getting together with everyone this summer at the Falls and maybe even another "Camp Ostler" in the spring. He tells me Fain was the one who gave him my number, of all people, and we crack up about that too.
I hang up and smile the rest of the night. It's amazing how some people just make you feel so good about yourself--Jerry has that knack. I guess I know why Fain loves him so.
So, maybe that's why I loved that darned game so much--it was the unknowing, the surprise, and the possibility of a big score that kept us playing. I did pretty well this week, getting two very nice surprise calls from two very nice friends. I wonder what made them both think of me this week?
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
We went to the Jazz Band Dinner Dance on Friday night. This is the big fundraiser for the band each year, and something Joe and I really look forward to. It is a night of dinner, drinks, jazz music provided by the ABS Jazz Band (which this year does not include Col--bummer), raffles, and silent auctions. It is the big social event where most band parents actually attend and have a good time. I particularly love it because I get to talk to everyone......a lot. Which if you know me, is my specialty.
Digging through the closet, I was trying to find something I could wear that I haven't worn in awhile. I didn't want to go out and buy something new, I was saving Joe money. Now that I dress up nicely for work most days, I'm kind of tired of the slacks and sweaters, even the sweater dress I wear on cold days. I know Spring is coming when I start hating the things I wear every day. I was sort of scrambling to find something good in there.
As I'm flipping, I notice the dress I wore when I met Tim Gunn---my eyes lit up, and I got that warm feeling I felt when I met him--he told me I looked "lovely" in that dress. I'm not typically a "saver" per se, I don't attach feelings to things much, but I'll tell you.....I am saving that dress forever. When I wear it, I don't feel like my butt is too big, my stomach too flabby, my thighs.....well, it kinda hides those. But I know that I look good in it because Tim told me so. When I put it on, it's like I got Tim Gunn in my pocket going "Girl's got it goin' on!". Who would part with that?!
So, I'm chatting with Wendy and Bill, and we're cracking up about something as usual. And then I casually ask them if they know Tim Gunn. "No, never heard of ....who did you say?" says Bill. "Tim, who?" asks Wendy. Bummer. Here's my big brush-with-greatness story and these two pallies have no idea who I'm talking about! Buzz kill. So, I ask Stan who casually walks up just then. "Do you know who Tim Gunn is?" I am hopeful at least Stan will know. "Yeah, older guy that dresses nicely..." he starts describing Tim.
So I tell them my story, which now isn't such a great story, because 2/3 of the peeps standing there listening don't know who the heck I'm talking about! But they listen politely and smile and nod at the good parts. Don't you hate that?! Total buzz kill.
I leave them soon after, a little deflated. I don't have a good tale for cocktail conversation, but I do have the dress--and the confidence thanks to Tim. Got that going for me if nothing else.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Looking for something to do on a quiet Saturday night, we decide to go support Col in his latest endeavor--Show Choir Combo. I have absolutely no idea what the heck this is, but I faithfully cart Col back and forth to the school for rehearsals and performances, unless the return trip is 3:30 AM, and then I volunteer Joe for that carpool. All I know about Combo is that he likes it, he gets back really, really late and is extra crabby the next day.
Show Choir Combo, I learn, is the small jazz band that plays the music for the Show Choir. Ok, that explains enough....but what the hell is Show Choir? I sorta know from going on the yearly field trip with the choir kids over to the high school that there is a singing and dancing choir that you have to be really good for. Kids work their entire high school career to get into this elite choir, and your status in the choir world is instantly elevated once you have reached the pinnacle of excellence known as Show Choir. I've seen them do their routine for the grade school kids, but I have never seen them in full regalia......until last night.
The three of us pile into the car to head out to Manteno, a 40 minute drive south, for an annual Show Choir Contest which boasts of many things--one of which is their "famous Broccoli Cheese Soup". I didn't have high expectations to say the least. But, hey, we were just kinda hanging out, nothing to do, and it was Valentine's Day--might as well go out and have some fun.
And fun we had. The parking lot was packed, cars circling the pavement like sharks, waiting for a lone spot to open up. Joe finds some grass that is sorta not a spot, but grabs it anyway. Okay, so he was plowing down some of those little flags that mark the spot of underground utilties--but I think we were okay--the car didn't blow up or anything.
We fight the crowds to get in, hand over the $23 (!) entrance fee, $3 (!) for a program, and head off to find the auditorium. We had to wait until the current performance was over, and then pushed and shoved with a zillion other folks to find a seat in the bleachers. Ugh. There is something about bleachers that age me 20 years in one sitting. My back does not love bleachers. But we find a spot waaayyy up near the top and plop down for whatever awaits us.
Soon, the lights dim, the music starts and about 30 or 40 high school kids start doing their "Up With People" imitation. They are singing and dancing, twirling, arm-flinging, and swinging. There are flashing sparkly costumes and props. There are white gloves and dance shoes. There are costume changes and gender solos. It was all very Cruise Ship Entertainment and Em and I completely cracked up!
There must be some choral rule that your voice sounds better or louder if you stick your neck out like a goose and make your eyes all buggy and goofy. They shake their heads in that happy/wacky/spirit-enducing way that cheerleaders do--like it's gonna make me all giddy with excitement. I don't get that, but, whatever. They smile like weirdo manequins when someone has a solo, while I think they are secretly thinking "I can do better, be-otch", because the grin is so absolutely forced. There is a lot of strange face-making going on while they're singing, and while they are not.
The gents are wearing oversized ill-fitting suit jackets that remind me of David Byrne from the Talking Heads video, but Em points out later they probably need all that room for arm circles--because damn, there are a lot of those going on. There are a whole lot of plastic smiles and sequins flashing here and there, almost blinding me with the sparkle. It's Happy People Hell and I'm smack dab in the middle of it! Em and I had a field day, poking each other and giggling at this one or that one. Joe wanted nothing to do with us and sat further down the row, surrounded blissfully by teenage girls with their hair done up like hookers and way too much theater make-up on. I swear he had a smile plastered on his face the entire time.
In all fairness, I likened this to marching band competitions. Unless your kid is out there, it is bizarre to witness. Yes, these kids were fabulously talented. Yes, they were entertaining, but like 1960's entertaining--when performers wore matching sparkly costumes and sang innocent non-innuendo-layden tunes. Think Andy Williams here folks, and you get the picture.
It was fun to see for the first time and I have to admit it was great to see the kids in something so wholesome and positive. Kids were singing and dancing even when nobody was performing--it was like being backstage of ZOOM. It was all positive vibes going on and it was contagious, as Em and I soon found ourselves bopping and singing along with the piped-in 80's tunes too.
And before I go trashing the parents wearing their group's show t-shirt and carrying pom-pons, hooting and hollering, I have to admit why I was there. I was there supporting my kid in the band.............behind the group performing............who you could hardly see in the darkened room. And I wasn't alone--I think nearly every kid in the band had a parent there supporting their "background" role. Now that's love.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
I don't think Hobbes has ever endured the wrath of Mom angered, and he high-tailed it outta there. He hasn't dared come out of hiding since--he knows he did wrong.
So, no help cleaning toilets. No noses peeking in the refrigerator. No peeing in the litter box the second I clean it out. And no chasing the mop while I wash the floor. No nothing. Homeboy is MIA until the smoke clears.
It started with Big Fish years ago. I think it was the first spring after we put the pond in, we noticed Big Fish pushing and shoving Dottie all over the shallows. "Criminy, Big Fish!" I'm yelling (like the fish understands me), "What are you doing to your pally Dot?!" Yeah, now I know what they were doing. He was nudging her to release eggs so he could go and add his "special magic" to those wee things. He was the George Clooney of the deep end. The Brad Pitt of the pond. The Tom Selleck of algae eaters. He is a stud, of sorts, in the fish world.
It was a short time later when I took my ziploc baggie full of wiggly things to the garden center. I was convinced they were insect larvae, perhaps the dreaded mosquito, and I wanted to make sure whatever it was wasn't going to infest the whole neighborhood.
Pond Lady looks at my little baggie and starts cracking up. "Yep. You've got fry" she says all calm-like. To which I'm standing there with my mouth open waiting for her to explain what the hell "fry" is. "Fish, honey. You got baby fish!" and she's all happy and suddenly, I'm not. Joe just stands there silently.
Crap. What am I going to do with a zabillion fish?! I remember feeling the combination of elation (didn't think that old fish had it in him) and worry. Will they survive? Do I have to have a fish sale?--and I had images of me at a faux lemonade stand selling little baggies of fish at the end of my driveway. Do I have to feed all of these guys?! How much fish food is that gonna be?! Joe and I were panicky to say the least. This was going to be a lot of responsibility here.
As the summer progressed and the fish got bigger, I noticed the frog population growing chubbier as well. It took awhile for me to realize that our fish population/problem was decreasing as the smiles on my frogs was growing wider. Thank goodness for frogs, I say. They saved me from having to find homes for 5 billion fish. They eat fish fry and I also learned that Mom and Pop fish have a liking for offspring as well--which I didn't see, but read about later. Which is good, because that would just bum me out.
End of summer came, and I "saved" about 10 fish from the zabillion we started with. Fall was fast approaching and I didn't want them to freeze to death, so like some fish hero, I scooped them out and tried to find them homes. Mom got a couple. Mom's friend got a couple. My friend got a couple. And soon there was only one or two left, which we decided to keep.
Time has passed since that first learning spring with the pond, and I'm a lot wiser now. Big Fish and Dottie are long since gone, but now Sharkbait, their son, takes the big guy's place. He was all over the chicks last summer and we have 3 very lovely reminders of warm days and shallow waters.
I typically wait until the last possible minute before the freezing temps arrive before I start "saving" fish. I let the frogs have every opportunity to fill their bellies, as I don't want anymore fish to have to bring in. They are fine when they are small, but given a few months out in the pond munching on algae, they grow to behemoth proportions and there aren't enough tanks to hold them come winter.
These nameless love-children are the spawn of Sharkbait, Aloysia, and Freddy (who passed last summer). When I shudder to start worrying about where I'll house them next winter, I look at those sweet fish faces and wonder how they made it through such odds. Miracles, I guess. Little fish miracles. The pond is chock full of miracles.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Are you as chaotic as I am lately? Seems like everyone I talk to is. Laundry piled up to the moon, errands galore, mountains of paperwork, bills piling up. It's crazy and I can't seem to keep on top of what needs to be done.
I took the day off from work today to get myself together. I stripped beds, did 5 loads of laundry, paid bills, wrecked the new blog background, ironed, and emailed the girls to make plans for next week. Then I had to pick Em up, pull out the summer clothes for the trip, make dinner, hold Hobbes for a little lovin' time, write a panicky email to Diana to fix the blog, and do yet another load of laundry. Sheesh, there just isn't enough hours in the day! And I know I'm not alone in feeling this way.
When did our lives become so harried? Why do we run all over crazy-like trying to get things done and never seem to finish? Do we ever wake-up refreshed and think "Gosh, I got all the sleep I needed"? I don't think so. Everyone I talk to is maxed out on obligations and chores. There doesn't seem to be a time when we just let down and relax.
I'm relaxing next week when I leave for Florida. I'm leaving the camera home, I think. I may post ahead for the blog, but then again....I might not. Katz left everything this week to go to Disney--not a bad idea. I'll be in Orlando, but for my pallies, not Disney. If we get there, fine. If not, fine. I plan on eating too much, drinking way too much, and laughing until my stomach hurts.
I'm leaving Hobbes in charge while I'm gone. I'm sure I'll come home to clean toilets.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I took the chance a couple of years ago and left the frogs out, put a heater in the pond for air exchange, and hoped for the best. Hibernation is key to longevity for frogs, so I wasn't being cruel--on the contrary, they needed to hibernate to survive. It was a success and come spring, I had all these little green faces popping up to greet Spring with smiles on their faces.
Last year, some frog decided that the skimmer was the place to be, and everyone crammed in for the long winter. It was that Spring that is now known as the Great Frog Disaster '08, as the five knuckleheads who went in, never came out. We learned the hard way that there is no air exchange in the skimmer, so I had a icky mess on my hands. Those unfortunate souls who braved the deep, cold waters of the pond survived to see another Spring. It was all too sad to find this last year and so, this fall I sealed off the skimmer to prevent any more fatalities.
I went out this morning to see my suddenly unfrozen pond, hoping to spot a frog, maybe a minnow. Once the ice is gone, the frogs will come up, no matter what the weather. They appear on the surface like minature alligators, with nose and 2 eyeballs breaking the surface. They are deep dark green, almost black, and their limbs are nearly impossible to spot under the murky water. It is a beautiful, peaceful, sight and my heart leaps with the knowledge that they are safe.
There wasn't much activity this morning, but when I came home in the afternoon, the water had warmed a bit and there appeared two minnows. It is a miracle of sorts because these are actually feeder minnows from PetSmart, notoriously fragile, and typically die on the short ride home from the store. Here were these two, darting in and out of the rocks, nibbling on the scores of algae that had grown over the winter months. Their body temperatures rising, little minnow tummies growl for a long-awaited breakfast of sorts, and they were ferocious in their hunt.
I poked and prodded around the depths with my net, to no avail--no frogs. No little eyeballs breaking the surface, no darting across the water, no gentle splash of frightened frogs. I moved this, scooped that--no luck. But there were also no pale white bodies floating to the surface either, a very good sign.
Later, as I peeked one last time at the pond, I noticed two sets of beady eyes at the perimeters. Two large frogs made it, and I'm confident there is still another waiting to make his appearance. Ah, the kiss of life. Isn't it joyful? So fragile. So unexpected. So wonderful. I don't take it for granted that they'll be there year after year, that they'll make it through a very hard winter, or
that they will even stay at our pond come Spring. But for today, I am happy. Happy that it was warm and sunny. Happy that there was no Great Frog Disaster '09.
I wonder if the snail made it?
Monday, February 9, 2009
Most folks cringe at the sight of such visitors in their yard, but not me. I take it as a compliment that I provide some of the things that birds, squirrels, and oppossum need to make it in this world of old ladies who only want Cardinals at their birdfeeders. I'm not fussy--anyone is welcome, but could you not poop on the tops of all my perennials?!
I like the oddness of this fellow and I connect with his not always fitting in. He's got a fluffy coat, hands like a monkey, and a tail of the even-more-so-not-popular rat. Why God chose to make this poor fellow with that icky tail, I don't know, but I like the rest of him--especially that little pink nose he sports. His personality is gentle in demeanor, avoiding confrontation, and he meekly noses about the carrot scraps we put out for him. If anyone appears, he packs up and scoots outta there--scrambling for the privacy he adores.
While I'm telling Joe of my little pally's visit, I notice an ad on TV for the next Survivor. Oooh, now I'm excited. I haven't been watching too much TV lately, but I do manage to sit for my favs. Just hanging on the couch flipping channels isn't working for me, so I'm missing all the usual fluff TV that I typically just happen upon. No "Bachelor" or "Nanny" shows. No "Jon & Kate" or "CSI'--the only time I'm plopping my tush on couch is for Top Chef or Hell's Kitchen--there just doesn't seem to be the time.
I will, however, sit my hiney down for Survivor. Okay, most people are starting to hate that show--overdone, boring, been there done that--but I still like it. I love to watch the interactions of folks under difficult conditions. I love to guess who is the most annoying to peeps, who is eating too much of the food, not doing enough work, lying about too much, and who is going to get the boot based on these categories. I cannot imagine being there, trying to be "friends" with folks while I'm freakin' freezing in pouring rain with little or nothing to eat. I'd be beastly.
There is no disagreement in our family that if I went on Survivor, I'd be the second person to get voted off. Not first--nope, because I need at least a day or two before I really get on everyone's nerves. Yeah, I would hold back on telling everyone where to put the shelter, but I could not stop myself from eye-rolling and making snide comments about the knuckleheads. The camera would record me talking smack about someone and that would be it......gone. Day Two I'd be off pointing to this person or that, telling them to go get water or go find some wood, as I have no tolerance for slackers--ask my kids. Oh, my ticket to go home would be quick and unanimous. That little slip of paper would almost be preprinted with my name and Probst would have a field day asking the peeps why they hate me so much.
Like the oppossum, I would love to be out there in nature, making my way. I would love the peace and quiet, the freedom from craziness, and the fresh air. I would kill for the opportunity to see another's country and culture from a primitive view and to sit under a sky filled with bright stars. I would relish the warm bonfire and catching my own dinner. But, making friends, manipulating and scheming--not my bag. I'm not good at that stuff. I've sorta got the rat-tail of schmoozing--it just doesn't belong to me.
So, how far do you think you'd make it if you were on Survivor? Now, before you go, all cocky-like, and say you'd win, everyone loves you, remember that you have to be kinda conniving too. The nice guys rarely win Survivor--most times those bland folks are accused of riding coat-tails and get tossed right near the end. There's a good amount of back-stabbing and lying going on with the winners, so be careful when you start saying you'd be in the top 3....or 4.....or 10......
Sunday, February 8, 2009
So, the big thing now is to brush your pet's teeth to prevent dental problems when they get older. Yeah, right. Add that to the zabillion things I've got to do as a mom. And as much as I love the kitties, I'm not brushing their teeth. Criminy, I'm just lucky the humans in this house brush theirs.
Poor Grace, getting up there in age, had some build-up on her teeth and one very painful looking cavity that had to be addressed. No, they don't do fillings at the vet, they just yank the offender and clean up the others while under sedation. Yes, I was worried sick all day Friday when Grace was being "operated" on and I made it very clear to the doctor I did not want to hear these words..."You have a very sick little kitty here". I've heard that waaayy too much in the last couple of years, so I was terrified that something would go wrong with Grace Ann. I was on pins and needles all day, just hoping she was going to be okay.
She was, but she came home all pumped up from the anesthesia and pain killers. Oh, I felt for my little pally, I'm still too fresh from my own surgery and I shared her uncomfortableness with the pain and chemical feeling from what they put in you. Ick. She looked like hell when she came home and couldn't settle down for hours. At least I gave her a little sympathy, which is so much more than what I got when I came home from my hernia surgery a couple of weeks ago.
The problem in all of this comes in the form of two, little teeny tiny white pills that she has to take twice a day. If you have a pet and they have had medication, you know the struggle I'm in. It's not so easy to hide those pills in food--miraculously that cat can fish that sucker out, clean off all of the cat food, and leave it at the bottom of the bowl. If I crush the darned thing and mix it with her food, she suddenly decides that her favorite fishy-smelling-canned cat food is not her favorite anymore, and refuses to eat it. Then I spend the rest of the morning convincing her how yummy it is and she should eat it. She's not buying it and it sits. And sits. And I worry that I'm not being a good mom.
Under other circumstances, I'm not beyond grabbing her, prying her jaw open and forcibly putting the miniscule thing down the back of her throat, all the while telling her how this "is good for you" and how much I love her. Then you have to hold her jaw shut until she absolutely has to swallow the beast and we can go on our merry way. But not this time, nope. She just had oral surgery so I feel guilty prying open her mouth. Owie.
I tried gently opening her mouth and sticking the thing in, and thinking the dirty deed was done, I found it on the side of her face--stuck there like a little white Marilyn Monroe mole on her cheek, an hour later. Ugh.
So, I try again, but this time she is onto me and runs for the hills. I'm chasing this poor cat around the house, trying not to scare her, and sweet talking her like she's gonna fall for it. They know somehow, when you want to give them medicine and all the "c'mere, sweetie"s in the world aren't convincing Grace to come anywhere near me for that 1 centimeter sized pill--or two, in this case. I call for back-up and Joe and Em come running to join in a Three Stooges like scenario. She dodges here and there, up and over the couches, under the table, just beyond reach, and back again. We three humans, look like complete idiots trying to catch this sick cat. And all of this makes Grace and I very crabby.
I finally catch her, throw the thing down her throat and sit to rest from the escapades. "Why do I think I'm going to find the damned thing on the rug in an hour?" I ask no one in particular. Why is it that this teeny tiny pill keeps coming back to haunt me? And does it disintegrate in the process? Nope. It keeps appearing in the dish, on her face, on the floor, on her pillow--wherever--staring at me like the white eye of a cyclops.
Damn you, Mary Poppins. I keep hearing Julie Andrews singing that stupid song over and over again in my head like a bad dream, and it reminds me just how inept I am at this whole thing. And there's Grace on her pillow, giving me the stink-eye like a grumpy old man, planning and plotting the next way to foil me.
I'm actually counting the pills, anticipating how many battles lie ahead.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
I actually bought him a 4 foot high cardboard box Kitty Cottage with little cut-outs and hiding places so as to entertain the poor little guy. Of course he doesn't like it--well, maybe if I turn it on its side and play with him, otherwise it is a lovely addition to the family room.
Hobbes is ready for spring and today's balmy 50 degrees isn't going to help. He and I will venture out into the soggy lawn (at least we see it!) and muddy yard to explore. I like to look for signs of life and perhaps signs that the oppossum still visits (he does). He and I will peruse the perimeter, inspecting every leaf, every stick, every subtle change through a very long winter. I'm tentatively going to look into the pond and hope I see some signs of life. If the ice melts, I should see a green face pop up for some fresh air--I hope anyway.
I say all of these little signs that winter is ending isn't going to help because we still have a long way to go. There is still a lot of February left and there is that stinkingly long month of March to get through. April is iffy--you know, one nice day, one icky one, etc. --it's just plain frustrating, that month. So, this little amuse-bouche of spring is just going to make Hobbes and I want it more. And I don't think it is going to make his craziness go away--quite the contrary.
January means updating the abode, washing walls, painting rooms, polishing furniture--you know, all that spring cleaning stuff! I think it's my favorite time of year, but my body doesn't agree anymore. I've got a Hobbes-chewed-up-sample of a new green paint for the kitchen and I'm eyeing a new stove. I'm hoping for a new sink and faucet for the kitchen too. Poor Joe is just hoping I go to Florida and stay there so he doesn't have to participate in yet another home improvement project.
So, while I'm planning that, I notice the blog is a little musty as well. I suggest a total re-do with a new background and photos, but I'd need some help with all that html stuff and say so to Col--who pretty much runs for the hills. Crud--time and help seems to be escaping me these days.
Diana's blog creations are appearing all over the net these days, and I kept thinking how much easier it would be to hire her to do it. I had a couple of email exchanges with her, paid a very reasonable price, and ..........Ta Da!!! Girlfriend made me proud! Literally in almost a week's time (and she was busy with about 300 other projects at the same time, I understand) I had a whole new look to the place and I didn't have one sore muscle or tired brain! Thank goodness for Diana! Hooray!
Friday, February 6, 2009
For me, blogging is expression. It is me telling my story of daily wackiness, processing the day, and perhaps sending my "message to the world" as Katz would say. But who is interested in my message? Anyone? Well, considering that my favorite blogs are similiar in content to mine, I guess there is an audience and community that likes this sort of stuff. I have some followers and peeps who comment regularly (thank you!), so I guess I've succeeded on that level.
Blogging for most is about numbers--getting your blog out there amongst the crowds, to increase your ranking--your popularity of sorts. Now, I was never popular in school or anywhere else, and that is fine with me--I like being the smirky one over there on the side. I am not one to do what everyone else is doing just to fit in, but I think you figured that out already. So, I struggle with that whole networking, social site thingy. I'm not convinced EC is for me. I mean, I spend what I consider a lot of time, maybe too much so, visiting, reading, and dropping on other blogs. And quite honestly, it is exhausting most of the time.
What I do love about networking is finding some absolutely incredible and fun blogs. I love finding new bloggy friends and communicating back and forth. I don't love the blogs that I just click on for the "drop" and pop off. I think I am one of the minority who actually visit blogs for content and make comments on most I stop at. So, do the math--if I visit 80 blogs a night, read, and make a quality comment, I am logging some serious time on the computer--which I hate. It's okay now, in the winter, but what about warmer weather? I'm telling you, I am not going to be sitting by the pond "dropping" for an hour or two.
As I approach the one year mark, I am going to just go back to putting priority on writing and posting on the blog. I have to stop worrying about my rank and how many EC's I get in a day. I am going to continue to visit my favorite blogs and comment to all of you. I guess I cannot worry about how many people visit each day, I just have to work hard to make this a good place to visit for those of you who come now. It's sort of like high school. I'm not joining every club so that I have a lot of friends, I am just joining a few and making some really good friends. Okay, so it's the "Lithuanians with Babushkas Club", but gees, there are some really funny pallies in the club with me.
What do you do? Do you find this whole networking thing exhausting too?
Thursday, February 5, 2009
And I'm glad that she's in my family because she makes me feel so normal when I'm with her. She laughs at my sarcastic comments because she, too, appreciates a good smart @ss. She thinks things like "poo fingers" are funny when nobody else does. And she can sing like Aaron Neville better than Aaron Neville can.
So, on a Thursday morning, when I'm absolutely drained by the demands of work and life in general, I am thankful for Kel and this picture which saves me from having to actually write something creative.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
I felt a little guilty because instead of going to church on Sunday, we headed off at some ridiculous hour to attend Soxfest instead. I'm sure God is a White Sox fan, I mean, who isn't? Even Obama is--so we've got that going for us this season.
So, I thought I'd post this YouTube video because I think it just kinda tells me that God forgives us all...........even this guy. Stick around until the end--it truly gets better as it goes on.