Friday, February 29, 2008

The Old Folks at Home

Cara worries about Tim and I. She's the last one at home, and she worries what will become of us once she's not around to take care of us. The first time that she actually said it out loud was when we were decorating our Christmas tree. I like a big tree. I like the real deal, so we wait until the last moment to put up our huge tree so that it doesn't start dropping needles until after the big day. Anyways, we were decorating our tree when Cara said, "I think that you should get an artificial tree for next year. A little one. And get it right after Christmas when they are on sale,
and you'll be ready for next Christmas."
I sputtered, just a little. "I think we'll just stick with a live tree."
She looked up from her crystal bell ornament and said, "I worry about you and Tim. I'm afraid that it will be just too much effort to put up a tree and so you won't, and the next thing you know,
you just won't be having Christmas."
I stared at her in astonishment. "We would never not have a Christmas. It's my favorite time of the year."
And Cara said, "Well, you won't have any kids at home next year, and I'm worried you'll be depressed."
Amazed, I asked, "Why in the world would I be depressed?"
And this is when she said it: "You and Tim are getting old."
To lighten it up, she said, "Your kids are all gone and you'll be alone. Really, the only thing you've got to look forward to is your Denny's discount and death."
She thought she was pretty funny.
*************
Today, Cara goes to visit her college. We are supposed to get snow. Cara has a car of her own, but she doesn't like to drive in the snow. Her car went into the ditch last winter, and it scared her so badly that she avoids driving in the snow if she can possibly do it. But today, she's heading out to go to Clarion anyway. I offered to go with, but she wants to do it by herself (flashback to a small blonde trying to put on her own pants, with two legs in one pantleg, lip extended stubbornly, refusing all help because "I'm a big girl now. I can do it all by mySELF!"). She is a big girl now. She CAN do it by herself. And I'll let her. I'll have my cell turned on all day at work, but I'm not nervous. No. Not me.
*************
And when Cara gets back from Clarion tonight, she'll be doing her last minute packing. She leaves for New Orleans tomorrow morning. She's doing a mission trip and rebuilding a house with a group from church. She'll be gone for 8 days there.
************
So Tim and I are going to get a taste of being on our own.
The two old folks left alone, and lonely.
It will be strange.
************
Blogging may be a bit sporadic for the next week.
The old folks got plans.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tim's Closet

Tim and I share a bedroom. We share our bed. We do not, however, share a closet. He has one, I have one. His is full. It contains a lot of hunting stuff. It contains a lot of fishing stuff. He's got car books, and he's got some tools stashed in the closet.
There is even some amount of clothes in there.
***********
One day, I looked at his overflowing closet.
I decided to clean this thing out.
Oh. My. Gosh.
There were some seriously outdated clothes in there. Platform shoes from the '70s for pity's sake. And as I tore through the closet, I found shirts with collars so huge that the wearer could be swept away in a strong wind, collar beating like a set of wings. We live on a mountain, and the wind is a fact of life.
This began to look like a rescue mission.
There were polyester pants.
There were ugly acrylic sweaters that he would never wear.
I kept digging, and the pile grew larger.
************
Tim returned from where ever he had been and caught me in the middle of my task. "What are you doing?" he asked. So I explained to him that these clothes were sadly out of date, and they were certainly not things that he'd ever wear again.
Tim said, "I might want to wear those."
His wife said, "Over my dead body."
His mouth took on that stubborn set. "They still fit."
************
He had me there. The clothes still do fit. The freak still wears the same size he did in high school. By golly, if that is not illegal, it damn well should be, and someday, I'm going to write a letter to the president.
************
I tried to reason with him. "Jeepers, Tim, look at this stuff. It's horrible. I don't want you wearing stuff like this. NOBODY wears stuff like this anymore...."
and Tim began picking through his pile, saying, "I like this, though.
And this is good.
And my sister gave me this...."
************
I was immediately fearstricken, and without another word, I began to hang the stuff back in the closet, as far back as I could hang it. The clothes still fit, friends. I knew that if I pushed the issue, he'd begin actually wearing these clothes. In public. Just to make sure that I was not throwing anything away based on the 'he never wears it' factor.
************
Post Script: Tim was reading online about ladybug traps last weekend. He read that they are attracted to blacklights. "I've got one of those," he exclaimed, and up the stairs he went.
Sure enough, from the depths of that closet, he pulled a black light.
As I stared at him in astonishment, I found myself thinking yet again, "What do I really know about this man?" And I get a little worried about what I don't know. Even after 10 years.
************
I've also become even more frightened of his closet.

Vote

The primaries are a big, big deal. If you are having problems making up your mind,
here's my little bit of help.
I already knew who I was voting for. I was relieved to see that choice affirmed.
Ain't scientific polls grand?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Precious

We went to an auction once with a couple of women I work with. I like auctions. Tim does too. There was lots of antique furniture there, and people, it was going for a song. We had gotten there too late to actually take a look at the items being auctioned off, so as they were bringing stuff up, I was seeing it for the first time, and by the time that I made up my mind that I'd really like to have that particular piece, they were yelling "SOLD!" up front. Those auctioneers talk fast, don't they? I mean, I talk a lot. Endlessly, even, but I don't talk fast. Unless I'm really fired up about something. But that is a story for another day.
***************
Anyways, I'm visiting with my friends. We'd bought a drill, for Tim. And we'd bought two boxes of Civil War books for Cara, the budding history teacher. My friend had bought me a tin advertising sign. She's the nicest person that you'd ever want to meet and always pulling crap like that. I am blabbing away to Laura and Heather when suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see an arm going up and down at a very rapid clip. I stopped talking to look at Tim and then do a double take at what was being auctioned off. It was a silver tea service. It was very pretty, but badly tarnished. Coffee pot, tea pot, sugar bowl, creamer, and tray. I was aghast, but before I could say, "What in the world are you doing?!" the auctioneer was again yelling "SOLD!" and we were the owners of a silver tea service.
******************
I'm an ordinary person. A blue jeans and sweatshirt person. If it is summer time, you can change that to blue jeans and tee shirt. I have lots of wool blazers that go nicely with tee shirts and blue jeans for the times that I need to dress up some, but not so much that I have to resort to my dress up clothes, my little black dress, or my navy blue dress that has matching shoes with little rhinestone buckles. My favorite car is always the oldest car. I like a car that the dog can ride in. I am not the kind who gets excited about jewelry. I don't have a diamond. When Tim and I got married 10 years ago, there was no money for things like that. We had 5 children to raise. He's often asked, in the intervening years, whether I would like one, but the thing is, now I've seen "Blood Diamond". His brother has told stories about his years repairing the heavy equipment in African gold mines. Now it's become a matter of conscience. I really don't want one. Besides, it would clash with the stainless steel rings that my husband machined for us. That idea was mine. I thought it symbolized what we were. Strong, enduring, carving a new life for ourselves and our children. The steel came from the scrap bin of the factory we met in. I'm big on symbolism.
********************
So now I have a silver tea service. Tim is so proud that he's given me this fine thing. I'd never tell him, but it is a pain. I polish it every couple weeks. What I have learned about non-abrasive silver polishes is that there is a direct correlation between how bad the stuff smells to how well it works. The stuff I use works really, really well. The tea set is lovely, and it looks nice displayed on my buffet, gleaming in the sunlight. But that doesn't change the fact that I'm not a woman who spends a lot of time longing for these sorts of things. But, what I do love is that I'm married to a man who believes that I deserve these things. All of them. To him, that tea set symbolizes who I am. And I'm big on symbolism.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Prepare to be Amazed

Being a parent is scary stuff. It doesn't matter how hard you try to instill Godly values into your children, the fact remains that they, like you, have been given free will by their Maker. "Raise your children in the way that they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it." That's what Proverbs tells us, anyways. I'd like to say that I am faithfilled enough to simply accept and believe that without question, however, I'll admit to praying, praying hard, and worrying about the paths that my children head down. Until the day that God stepped in,
and quietly showed me who was running the show.
*********************
Cara is my youngest. At the time of this story, she was a 5th grader, shy, awkward, and anxious about her appearance. Someone had made a careless comment and she was certain that she was hugely overweight. She was terribly self conscious and no amount of parental assurances were going to make her view herself any differently.
*********************
One Friday night, we went downtown to listen to a friend's band playing in a local park. It was a well attended concert, part of a summer Friday night concert series held in a local amphitheater. The seats circled around the stage, and the audience sits higher than the performers. We listened to some toe tapping music, soft rock classics from my own growing up years. A group of retarded citizens listened with obvious enjoyment, and eventually got up to dance. Everyone sat around listening and visiting quietly. It was a pleasant way to spend a warm summer evening.
*********************
And then it happened. A wife of one of our elected officials, offended by the awkward movements of the retarded people, told their attendant to make them sit down. There was a huge hue and cry, as there should have been. The attendant was offended, an elderly gentleman who happened to have a retarded child was offended, and heated discussion followed. The embarrassed oficial's wife tried to say that she thought that they were distracting the band. The band jumped in to say that they were not distracted at all, the crowd grumbled that she, herself, was the big distraction. Tempers flared. The elected official looked very nervous, the wife began to look as if she wished that she had never risen from her lawn chair to speak. She apologized quickly, and sat back down.
*********************
Cara watched this whole thing. We talked about the fact that the woman was wrong, as well as unkind. We talked about why the elderly gentleman was so offended that he could not stay for the second half of the concert. He took his lawn chairs and he and his wife left. We talked about how painful it must be to have a child handicapped in such a way that, in this instance, it made him an outcast. How much a parent loves their child, and how hard it is to watch a child being insulted or mistreated by society.
********************
The second half of the concert began. Cara listened for a while, and then leaned over to me in an agony. "Mom," she said, "They are not dancing. The lady apologized. Why do you think that they are not dancing?" I answered that I imagined they had heard the discussion, and despite the fact that some of them were profoundly handicapped, I would guess that they understood what was being said, and were too embarrassed to get up to dance again.
********************
Cara sat quietly for the next couple songs. In those days, she was a quiet kid, so this was nothing out of the ordinary. She listened and she thought and no one danced. And then came the moment that made God smile. Cara stood up. I said, "Where are you going?" And in the lofty words of a child who had spent many many hours in the company of books, she looked down at me and said, "Prepare to be amazed."
********************
And I was.
********************
Cara walked down to the front of the crowd. She walked directly up to the group of retarded men and women and she invited them to dance. One danced, and Cara danced too. I watched her red face, and I knew that she was dying in the throes of her own self consciousness, but she determinedly danced on. And slowly, one by one, the mentally challenged came from their seats. Within a couple songs, they were all dancing again, and when they were,Cara came back to sit with me.
********************
I have never been so proud of her. In that moment, I had a glimpse of God himself displayed in my child. In that moment, I knew who lived in my child's heart. In that moment, I recognized her as a child of God. When her Father spoke, she laid aside her own insecurities, and did His work.

You Get What You Pay For

Once upon a time, when Tim and I had 5 kids to support, we both worked multiple jobs. Tim's second job was that he taught machining to adults at the local vocational school. Mine was that I cleaned people's houses. One of the houses that I cleaned belonged to a woman who explained to me that she was independently wealthy due to a relative's will. I believe that she thought that I was envious. I wasn't though. There was a couple things that I noticed. While they had everything that money could buy, four wheelers, TVs, every piece of hunting equipment known to mankind, the two boys fought constantly. Even though they were teenagers, like the bulk of my own herd, they would fight, it would escalate to a physical brawl, and then one or the other would burst into tears and run bawling to his mama. The other thing I noticed is that mama was pretty out of it.
Mama was a doper.
*************
You put up with a lot when you need the money. I listened to these boys boss me around like I was their slave. They did not clean their own rooms. I did it for them. Sometimes while they were sprawled on their beds, complaining and telling me what to do. It was tough to take. I would have said something, but I needed the money. The conclusion that I reached was that my own herd meant more to me than straightening out these two,
so I bit my tongue and got that nice paycheck.
************
The job ended when the parents' marriage began to fail. The druggie wanted me on her side. In good conscience, I could not be. She was a liar, and she was out of it, and she was an ugly, ugly woman at heart. It wasn't long before my unwillingness to 'pick her side' made her mad enough to fire me. It was devastating because I needed the job. It was also devastating because she lied about me at the church. And since she was a big contributor to the collection, the majority of the people sided with her. I left that church. There was really no other choice.
************
Since those days, strange and wonderful things have happened in my life. After years of struggling, I have a good job with people that I love and respect. I don't have to work two jobs any more, but I do. I write a humor column for the local paper. I've got good friends who love me at the church that I go to. I'm happy. Cara is the only child at home. The rest of the herd are grown, taking care of themselves. We are landlords. I have a good marriage. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming this full and rich life.
************
I've seen this other family from time to time. Both boys have been in prison. They are out now. They both work for their father. They still bicker like small children. The saddest thing is the mother. I saw her, bloated from drugs. She was well dressed, but unkempt and living in her own little world. Of course, the church we had both attended figured her out. She did visitation of the sick. It was her ministry. Unfortunately, she was stealing their narcotics while she minstered to them. Knowing what I knew, it was still shocking to read the charges in the local paper. And still, when I saw her, she gave me the same bitter look of condescension that she did all those years ago.
The thing is, I did not envy her then.
I sure as hell do not envy her now.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Bickersons

Talked to my son Dylan yesterday. He lives in the big city, in an apartment. He's not too wild about apartment living. His downstairs neighbors, the Bickersons, fight like cats and dogs. He doesn't like this. Especially since, one night they were fighting so badly he couldn't sleep. He came out to watch TV, hoping to fall asleep on his couch. Within minutes, there was pounding on his door. It was Mr. Bickerson. "Do you know what time it is?" he demanded. "You need to turn down your TV." And Mr. Bickerson indignantly stormed back downstairs to continue fighting with Mrs. Bickerson.
***********
Knowing about all of this, I asked Dylan if the Bickersons were still bickering. "Actually, no," he said in an amazed voice. "I'm starting to wonder if one of them killed the other."
***********
I said, "Well, if you notice an odor, you'd best call the police." Joking. Sort of. After all, he lives in the big city. Just after he started work, a son stabbed his father to death in the factory parking lot. Big cities make me nervous.
***********
Dylan thought about it. "Nah," he answered. "I think the smell would be a lot easier to deal with than the noise.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Post Script

Just pointing out that it is 10:35 AM. I am feeling quite perky, paper read, coffee drunk. Is this a verb, past tense, meaning that the coffee is ingested? Or is this a noun, meaning I'm drunk on coffee and the resulting caffeine buzz has made me cheerful? Either one works. I'm in the middle of housework, bed made, laundry running, lunch in the oven. Dog has lost his wounded look. Tim is long gone, down at the new house with my brother-in-law ripping out old so that we can put in new. Strange thing is that now I'm wide awake, and ready for conversation. I've mentioned that Tim is a quiet man. Now that it is 10:35 AM, he's probably reverted to his normal quiet nature.
*************
Biorhythms are a strange thing.

Morning has Broken

Now that everyone is talking about their pet peeves, why all of a sudden, I have my number one pet peeve. I don't know why it did not come to me as I was assembling my own list, but this is a very big deal. It should have been number one.
**********
I am married to Tim, who is nearly perfect in every way. Except for one thing. The man is a morning person. This means that he wakes up in the morning and his brain just kicks into high gear,
and he begins to talk.
In full sentences.
Making plans.
Asking questions.
Thinking out loud.
**********
Some people may read that and think, "So, just what is so awful about that?" For your own protection, I would suggest that you stay away from me in the morning. Really. I don't think that I could handle more than one of you freaks first thing in the morning.
**********
I do not fall out of bed ready to face the day, full of energy, bright, cheerful, ready for anything that life has to throw at me.
I mean, generally speaking, I'll get to that point, but not right away.
**********
My morning starts with Tim's alarm. I pretend to ignore it. He bounces upright and cheerfully sings out, "Time to get up." I love my husband. Truly. It's just that I love him a little better after coffee. He springs from the bed, talking a blue streak, and heads for the shower.
I get up, stumble around, looking for my robe.
***********
By the time that I'm heading downstairs, he's headed upstairs wrapped in a towel, wet haired, even more wide awake, if such a thing is even possible. I head straight for my coffee pot. I 'dumb around'. I'll spill coffee trying to fill the little cup. This morning I added water twice, over filling it. At some point, Tim is down stairs fixing his morning bowl of cheerios with 1/2 a banana added.
He doesn't drink coffee.
This is probably good.
I can barely stand him in the morning as it is.
***********
I love my dog but he's a pain in the ass in the morning. He's glad to see me, and jumping around. I put him out. Somewhere along the line I have a cup of coffee in my hands. The dog comes back in and waits for his biscuit. If I don't move quickly enough, he will begin barking. He's a very large dog with a very big bark. I snarl "shut up, BUCK!!!!" He gets a wounded look that does not make me feel really good about myself. Tims do not get a wounded look. Tims are too bright and cheerful in the morning to even notice that you are snarling.
************
This morning, Tim was talking on and on. I was sipping my coffee and trying to restrain my not-a-morning self (this 'self' has been known to contemplate homicide, so really, restraining my not-a-morning self is a big priority in my life). At one point, he came to stand behind me, hands on my shoulders, giving me little shakes and squeezes as he talked. My not-a-morning self broke free from her restraints. In a dangerous voice, she said, "DO NOT JOSTLE ME FIRST THING IN THE MORNING, TIM. I AM DEADLY SERIOUS." Tim laughed.
After 10 years, it always amazes me that he has yet to notice I'm not a morning person.
And people think I'm the oblivious one.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Eclipse

Wednesday night, I was walking to my car from play practice when I noticed that the lunar eclipse had started. I drove to the gas station and watched the shadow slowly and steadily creep across the face of the moon while I filled the tank. This was surely more entertaining than watching the numbers on the pump. I drove the grocery store to pick up a couple of things, but before I went into the store, I stood beside my car just watching that eclipse. Out of the cold darkness, I heard a voice say, "Isn't that just the most amazing thing?" I'm pretty oblivious so I never even noticed the man standing at HIS vehicle, also watching the eclipse. I had to agree with him, because it was amazing. I walked into the grocery store, wondering how many people stopped what they were doing to watch the display, pausing in the midst of all their busy-ness to take note of nature making a spectacle of herself.
Inexplicably, it made me happy.
Suddenly a song popped into my mind.
Remember Cat Stevens?
I waited until I was back in my car to begin singing 'Moon Shadow'.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It Means Something To This One

My previous marriage was not a good one. As a Christian woman, I felt that it was my duty to endure, and for 12 years I did. I came out of this with no self esteem and a sexually abused daughter. I considered myself to be an involved mother, someone who would instinctively 'know' if her children were needed help. Yet I missed this. It was undeniably huge. I will carry the guilt of my blindness to my grave.
*********
Those days are long gone by. I am strong in myself. I have a good marriage. Tim understands that we are one, but he also understands that we are two, and he never would begrudge me myself. That is why we are married.
*********
My oldest daughter is still marked by the incest, and that healing will be a long time coming. It is an on going process. She is 26. The other children have been marked by these awful times, as well. Dylan is a strong man, but he is opposite of his father in every way. I think that this is subconscious, but I can't be sure, because he will not talk about it.
Cara, God love her, is as passionate in her independence as I have become.
She will not know any other way, and I am glad.
*********
The point of this story is this: I came through a hard and dark time, but I survived because I lived in the western world. My ex went to prison. I was able to raise my children alone. I had to be frugal. I bought their clothes at the best stores I could find...second hand stores. I made good hearty meals from the sale items at the grocery store. We did not live high on the hog, but we lived, we thrived, and we did okay. The kids grew up and learned valuable lessons.
*********
I count my many blessings. There are countries where this success story would not have been possible. If you don't believe me, go to http://www.womenforwomen.org/sfcongo.htm
Today, I sponsored a sister. I hope that you will look at the many blessings of your lives, and find it in your heart to do the same. My friend, Susan (http://www.paintedpromiseranch.com/) runs a equine rescue ranch. She recognizes that she cannot save every horse in the world. Her motto is: 'But it makes a difference to this one.' Likewise, I can't save the world. Neither can you. But we can make a difference one mother at a time. And the one thing that I know from personal experience is that if you save a mother, you save her entire family.

Big Words

One of my job duties is to attend our board meetings. Last night, one of the items on our agenda was "What shall we call the new building?" Up to this point, we've been referring to it as the Hatch Run Conservation Education Center. Some felt that was quite a mouthful, and were pushing for something short that would roll off the tongue easily.
**********
One of our farmers said, "Well, if you're worried about whether a long name is going to stick in people's minds, let me tell you a story." He proceeds to tell us about the time that a gaggle of first graders came to visit his farm. They were enthralled with all the animals. When they got to the pig barn, the kids burst in and made a dash straight for the big boar hog at the back of the building. Peering through the fence, he heard one voice say, "What is that hanging down there?" Pretty soon the cry was taken up by the whole group. At a total loss, he turned to their pretty teacher who smiled sweetly and said, "Hey, this is YOUR tour." So he gave an embarrassed cough and said, "Those are the male reproductive organs of a pig." His desperate thought was that they'd be satisfied with the answer even though they wouldn't have a clue what it meant, and they'd promptly forget about all of this on the way to visit the chickens. At the end of the tour, can you guess what the children were responding when asked what their favorite part of the tour was? One after another, they said, with great excitement, "We got to see the male reproductive organs of a pig."
***********
Based on his wisdom, the name of the new building remains "The Hatch Run Conservation Education Center".

I've Been Tagged

The topic was "Your five pet peeves".



I had to think about this, but I think that I've compiled my list.



Number one: I can't stand mean people. Mean people in positions of authority are the very worst. They rank right up there with people who would shoot a dog in the face (read Mikey's post), or terrorists, or nutwads with guns. Can't stand mean people. Makes me want to kick some asses. Really.
**********
Number two: I can't stand judgemental people. I hate being around a church person passing judgement on a brother or a sister. I figure that's God's job, not mine. God made it clear. 'Thou shalt not judge.' So I try hard not to, although I am real inclined to pass judgement on the judgemental person, letting them know that they're in danger of going to hell, going STRAIGHT to hell (do not pass go, do not collect $200.00).
**********
Number three: I cannot stand people who cheat on their spouses. You made a promise. If the marriage is not working, you need to step up and try to fix it. If you can't fix it, then you end it. You don't sneak around with other people. Ever. I can't stand people who act as if falling in love was something that happened, rendering them powerless to resist the snares of an affair. Bullshit. Excuse me, but I'll say it again. BULLSHIT! You made a conscious decision to do the wrong thing. I believe that people need to behave honorably, and there is no honor in lying and leading a dual life. Stupidest thing I ever heard in my life was from a serial cheater. "I may have done the wrong thing, but I did it for the right reasons." Um. Unless being unable to keep your pants zipped has become a right reason, I am simply not getting it. I know this makes me sound like one of those judgemental people I so despise, but there it is.
**********
Number four:Ladybugs really peeve me. Susan (http://www.paintedpromiseranch.blogspot.com/) believes they are precious. That's because she is not up to her armpits in ladybugs. We usually deal with them each spring. They cover the sun warmed house, and you can't use the front door. But we've had some strange warm-ups in the middle of our winter, and we've got ladybugs everywhere. I vacuum daily and suck them up by the dozens. I keep thinking that I'll be reaching the end of them soon. No such luck. Ladybugs! GAAAAAAHH!
**********
Finally, number five, SINUS. Honest to pete, the only reason that mine exist is to fill up with snot and make my life miserable.
**********


Monday, February 18, 2008

Beginnings and endings.

Stacey, my step-daughter left for the Army today. She had a ton of questions. I kept reminding her that I left for boot camp 27 years ago. I imagine that things have changed. What hasn't changed is that excitement, the thrill of leaving northwestern Pennsylvania behind, a fresh start, the feeling that the whole world was within my grasp. I'm glad for her and I remember my own excitement as I watch her begin her big adventure.
************
We never had a chance to be close. Tim was divorced 8 years before he and I met, but his ex doesn't like me and the kids got caught in that war of loyalties. I tried very hard to be patient, but it made me sad to watch Tim lose those years with his kids. If I tried to build bridges, I was 'trying to take her children away.' If I tried to let things ride, she was telling them that I preferred my own over them. I tried to talk to her, but you can't talk to a screamer, and somewhere along the line, I figured out that she didn't hate me because I was a bad mom. She was afraid of me because I was a good one.
************
We stopped over to say goodbye to Stacey, and to wish her well. I was surprised when she hugged me. Even more shocked when she said she loved me. I've not heard that since Tim and I first decided to marry. I'm sad for the lost years.
I think we could have been close. But maybe it's not too late.

Fairy Tales

Oh, everybody, I got to hold a baby yesterday. Rachel Morgan. She was born on February 1st. Such a wee little bean. Her mama sat there watching as I exclaimed over her teeny tiny toes, and her teeny tiny nose, and her teeny tiny fingers, etc. I really could have done that all day. The only thing that kept me away was that the first weekend they were home, I had the flu. The second weekend they were home, we had another wallapalooser of a snow storm. I was getting a little frustrated. I wanted to get my hands on that baby before she was walking. She'll still have lots of cute left over at that point, I'm sure, but there is something about holding a newborn and the way that they just snuggle right into to you, a perfect fit.
*************
My sister and I took meals along. Homemade pizza, stuffed manicotti, a ribeye roast cooked with mushrooms, carrots, potatoes, and a package of tilapia fillets and side dishes to go with that. The new parents are having some hard times. 'Daddy' lost his job a year ago, and hasn't found another. He has explained it over and over to anyone that will listen. He will not accept a job that pays less than $10. per hour. He also has some pretty strong ideas about what kind of a job he has to have. Oh, and I almost forgot about his problem with authority. He can only work for a certain kind of boss. I take this to mean a boss who understands that HE's really in charge.
**************
I watch my niece's face as she quietly listens to her husband. This is a woman who has everything that she wants. She likes her job, although she was hoping to take more time off to be with that new baby. She understands that she can't, and it is already breaking her heart. She listens to Prince Charming list his excuses once again. I can see that she's just beginning to fear that in her particular fairy tale, there will not be a happily ever after.
**************
The baby snuggles in close to an auntie who is doing some serious struggling to keep her mouth shut. I can, and did, work any and all jobs to keep my family together during the hard times. I was a janitor at Tim's machine shop when we met. He said that he loved me right away because I was the hardest working woman that he ever saw. To a quiet German guy there is no higher praise than that. I'm plain spoken. I wanted to look Prince Charming in the eye and say, "See this baby? See this little nose and these little toes? How can anything on your list be more important than taking care of this baby?
Get off your fat ass, daddy. Any old job is better than nothing."
***************
I manage to keep my mouth shut. My sister and Tim and I leave that little house, sad for our niece but recognizing that she is a grown woman now. A mother. She will have to work this situation out with her husband. But I hope that she realizes this: The ending is hers to choose. She has a family who loves her. She will go through rough times but in the end, when the dust settles, she WILL live happily ever after. Even without Prince Charming.
**************

Friday, February 15, 2008

Mad

I am trying to remember the last time when I was mad. REALLY mad. It was probably, sadly, at my mother. She has four children. Two of them are perfect. Two of them so deeply flawed that no matter what they do, it cannot make up for their deficient charactors. In case you haven't guessed, I'm one of the flawed children. Listening to my mother going on about her two perfect children (who are not THAT perfect) really pisses off the two flawed children (who are not THAT flawed). Anyways,when I get good and fired up, somebody is going to get a piece of my mind. Confucious say '(Wo)Man quick to give piece of mind soon have no mind left'. So I try to temper my temper, since I don't like the feeling of being mad, and I need to hang on to the mind I've got left.
***********
Cara is getting the paperwork together to go off to college. She's excited at the thought of being on her own. I'm not going to tell her that she won't really be on her own. All I would get is a piece of HER mind, and college is expensive. She needs to hang on to her mind until she's educated.
**********
I'm thinking of the latest school shooting. 5 dead, 19 wounded. It makes me sick, just sick. I met the grandparents of one of the Virginia Tech victims last fall. Jeremy belonged to the same professional organization I do, and I had just come from our annual conference where a memorial had been placed for him. It was pure coincidence that I ran into his grandparents just a couple weeks later. I find myself remembering their pain and grieving for the families of these latest victims.
***********
I struggle within myself to be excited for Cara as she plans her future.
***********
I still cannot conceive of that level of anger. I don't understand rage deep enough to lash out in a hail of gunfire aimed at anyone, at anything. I've been plenty mad from time to time, but I have
never been that pissed at ANYTHING in my life.
***********
I'm trying to be excited for Cara. I'm really trying.

Love Story

I never planned on remarrying. I actually had planned for just the opposite. However, then came Tim. Steady Tim. Slow talking Tim. Ain't going nowhere Tim. Next thing you know, we were getting married. I'm not really sure quite how it came to be. It was sort of a progression. He was always inviting me to be his 'Scandia woman'. I usually didn't have much to say back. One day,
one especially close and friendly day,
one of those days when you find yourself thinking,
'Well, maybe...."
Tim asked again.
It was nearly Christmas.
I love Christmas.
Sometimes I get carried away at Christmas.
I looked at him and I said, "Okay."
***********
(looooooooooong pause)
Tim turned to look at me and said, "What did you say?"
***********
"Um. Okay?"
I grinned to show that it was okay, I didn't really mean it, but just like that, suddenly, Tim was getting ready to go home.
***********
After he was gone, I sat in an empty house waiting for the kids to start coming home from school. He had been claiming that he wanted marriage for a while. I laughed a little to think how quick he cut out.
I figured he got scared.
If he ever came back, I could guarantee there'd be
no more talk of marriage.
***********
Although we had plans for that night, I was still surprised that he came back. Acted pretty much the same as always. He did not mention marriage. Later on that night, at a family Christmas party, quiet Tim cleared his throat and said, "Debby and me decided to get married." My family didn't know what to make of the shocked look on my face. He gave me a hug. ."
************
He'd rushed off earlier because we had a party that night and he's got a big family.
Calling them all would take a while.
"Oh, and everyone said congratulations and they're really happy for us." he reported.
He'd always seemed to be such a quiet man.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Artsy-Fartsy

I was raised in a family where theatrics and artistic expression were not highly regarded. Generally speaking, a person with these tendencies would be called 'artsy-fartsy', and this would be said with a condescending sniff and an accompanying roll of the eye. I grew up in my books, with a rich imagination and crippling social awkwardness. I got over that social awkwardness. I can now talk to a stump. Still there are subtle reminders that I am not perfectly at ease in my own skin. If you are attentive, you will notice that I often feel like
some sort of freak.
*********
I'm in a play. This is the first time that I've done anything like this. First night, everyone else seems to be a seasoned professional, listed previous roles one after another. I listened to them talk. Really, what could I say? Natural reserve kept me from going on about "I'm here because I haven't done a play in my life, but you know, I have this awareness that my life is half done, and I find myself looking at all the things I haven't done, all the books that I haven't read and thinking, 'I'm wasting daylight here' so that's why I'm here." I mean, this is how I think, but usually I avoid talking like this, because things like this make people look at me like I'm
some sort of freak.
*********
My little role got bumped up. I'm now playing one of the big parts. I 'thought' the shriek, but did not shriek out loud, because things like this make people look at me like I'm some sort of freak. (See previous paragraph. )The rehearsal went okay. Afterwards, we sat around jaw jacking about the situation of women has changed in this country. There was some debate about whether we were truly liberated. One woman said that although she and her husband worked, the housework was still her responsibilty. And I blurted, "Yes, but at least NOW we have the right to negotiate our relationships. If you feel strongly about that, you can challenge it, and change that. And you can do this on virtually every area of a relationship. If you were dissatisfied in the 50's, you could not have done a thing about this." And people looked at me and nodded. I don't even think that they realized what happened there. I said, out loud, one of those strange and freakish thoughts that rattle around in my brain but usually manage to bite back because when I say things like this out loud, people look at me like I'm
some sort of freak.
********
The conversation went on in a very animated, enthusiastic way, and no one seemed to notice my faux pas. Opinions abounded from all directions, and actually, no one got offended. The freedom was exhilerating. I had walked in the door a couple hours previous feeling like the new kid on the block. I walked out the door feeling as if I'd found my niche.
I did not feel like some sort of freak.
********
I thought about it as I strode back to my car in the dark.
I'm 'artsy-fartsy'!
Who'd've thunk it?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Whole 'Nuther Day

You know, the other day, we had a wonderful morning. Sleet. Snow. I was trapped in the house with nothing but a good book, a great cup of coffee, and since school was closed, I had a chance for quality time with my 18 year old. I didn't have to work. I described that day as luxurious.
*********
Last night I fell asleep to the sound of sleet on the windows. This morning, school is canceled. Again. My husband can't get his car out of the driveway. I've got an important meeting and HAVE to get myself to work. Even on foot.
*********
Saddest part? Since getting home was such a heartstopping adventure last night, I forgot all about stopping to get milk on my way past the store. No cappucino for me.
*********
(whimper)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Running an outdated program


INSTALLING A HUSBAND
Dear Tech Support,
Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a distinct slow down in overall system performance -- particularly in the flower and jewelry applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0. In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5 and then installed undesirable programs such as MLB 2.5, NFL 5.0, NBA 3.0, NCAA Football and Basketball 4.0, Fly Fishing 6.5, and Golf Clubs 7.1. (and possibly NASCAR 400.0 or 500.0 and Texas Holdem 2007) Conversation 8.0 no longer runs, and Housecleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system. I've tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail.What can I do?
Signed, Desperate
-------------------------------------
Dear Desperate:
First keep in mind, Boyfriend 5.0 is an Entertainment Package, while Husband 1.0 is an Operating System. Please enter the command: 'I Thought You Loved Me.exe' and try to download Tears 6.2 and don't forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update. If that application works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewelry 2.0 and Flowers 3.5 . As a final backup program, you might try Bun-In-The-Oven (BITO) as a long term solution. Keep in mind that BITO can come in versions 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, etc. and requires you to sign a 9 month installation agreement followed by a 18 year maintenance contract. You should make sure your Husband 1.0 operating system is compatible with the BITO version before you install this program. But remember, overuse of the above applications can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy Silence 2.5, or even&nbs p; crash leaving you with no operating system. Whatever you do, DO NOT install Mother-in-law 1.0 (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources). Also, do not attempt to reinstall the Boyfriend 5.0 program. These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband 1.0 . In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend Food 3.0 and Hot Lingerie 7.7.
Good Luck,
Tech Support
*********
I received this e-mail from a friend. You know what I think. I think running the older version of the husband program is working for me.
*********
PS. The older version of the wife program is working for Tim as well. No restorative jewelry programs required.

Free Rice

If you wander over to http://www.scotty-thefrogprince.blogspot.com/ he has a post from a couple of days ago. 'The Power of a Picture' or words to that effect. There is a picture of a starving child that makes your heart hurt. I wish that picture really did have magical properties, the power to make every person outside the third world immediately sponsor a child.
My child is named Badani.
********
If you go to http://www.freerice.com/ there is a game. It claims to donate rice via the auspices of the UN. Not my favorite organization, but what the hey, it's free. I've not been able to find any evidence that this site is not just what it claims to be. Maybe I just want to believe that I'm doing something useful in my spare time. So I try to donate rice every day.
And the next time I play Scrabble, I've a notion that I'll be kicking someone's butt.

Feng Shui

The first time that I heard the phrase 'feng shui', it struck me as something that had no relevence at all to my life. Really, I don't gather energy from the 'stuff' in my life,
no matter how it's arranged.
**********
Then I had the following discussion with Cara. This is the same kid who can't stand the new Walmart, because the floors 'are wrong'.
(Oh, puh-LEAZE!)
But I digress. Okay, this kid has a major coffee fixation. I don't know where the girl gets this from. It is obviously some sort of genetic anomaly.
(Excuse me a moment: *sllllluuuuuurp* !aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh! 'nothing finer
than the first cup in the morning' ~sighs...~ waggles toes...)
Okay, I'm back. Now we have a coffee shop in town. It has couches and a fireplace, and
it is quiet and comfortable, and sometimes, when Cara and I are looking for some
special bonding time, we go there.
(I'm willing to suck down a very good cup of coffee in the interest of bonding time
with my lovely daughter...I'm just that kind of mom.)
Cara also goes to this place to meet and hang with her friends, a group of five or six fellow band nerds. So this place is kind of a comfortable hangout for all of us.
**********
It was with great interest, Cara and all her caffeine addicted friends watched the building of a second franchise, right next to the Walmart with the awful floors.
And the whole herd was there for the grand opening.
**********
She came home outraged. The sun came directly through the west facing windows, bouncing off the modernistic ultra-shiny table tops, which made it 'hurt to talk'. Additionally, the accoustics were all wrong, causing conversation to echo, making it feel like everything that you said could be heard by every person there. The chairs were not comfortable, and the bathroom and the original coffee house was so quaint, and this one had (gasp of horror!)
a metal, industrial type trash can.
**********
"Um," I said, "But how was the coffee?"
**********
"Oh, the coffee's fine, just as good as the original place."
**********
I looked at her, really trying to 'get it'.
She was starting to get a little agitated because I wasn't.
(It's always my fault, of course, when I don't 'get it'. )
She snapped, "Remember, mom, how the old place whispered 'commmmmme, staaaaaaaaay, savor your coffeeeeeeeeee'? "
(No. Actually, the place never whispered to me at all.)
Cara continued: "Well, this one shrieks, 'drink your coffee and get the hell out'."
**********
I guess that there's what you call your 'feng shui', right there.
**********
Wanna hear the scary part? I'm the one with the impractical mind that everyone refers to as 'artistic'. Music can make me cry. I sometimes 'climb into' paintings. I daydream over old stuff. I'm the one with the cluttered thought processes, the one who can slip off into some mental tangent, stopping dead to ponder some thought I've never thunk before, regardless of where I am. I once was pondering some great point in a public restroom, and was washing my hands when I noticed the urinals on the wall. (And the man staring at me holding his umbrella in a confused, defensive sort of way....) I exasperate the practical folk in our family.
**********
So, yeah. Really. I don't know what's wrong with Cara. I don't 'get' her at all.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Horror Story Scary Story

Oh, my gosh! I heard a story today that scared the bejeebers right out of me. If you would like to read this horror storyscary story yourself, go to http://www.bushbabe.blogspot.com/, and look for the post that is entitled "My New Pet...or Not". It has pictures. The critter is called a sand goanna and it is basically a dinosaur. Smaller. But a dinosaur. Turns out they are not extinct after all. I looked at this grotesque creature and thought to myself, "No, Bush Babe, don't get yourself a new pet." But then she went on to say they were dandy for keeping snakes out of the yard.
*********
Well. I am not a big fan of snakes. I know they have their role in the ecosystem, but I'm a big baby. I don't like 'em. I got to looking at pictures of the sand goanna and decided that dinosaurs were really not so repulsive as I'd originally thought. Maybe they were not such a bad pet idea after all.
*********
I read the comments. Bush Babe's sister doesn't like the sand goanna's long toenails. They give her the shivers. Snakes give me the shivers. So I asked Bush Babe if they were aggressive creatures that darted out at you, which might lead to brief (but distressing) periods of incontinence.
*********
Here's the horrifying part. Turns out they are not aggressive, but they are stupid, and prone to conceivably could mistake people for trees. THEY.(COULD) MISTAKE. PEOPLE. FOR. TREES. Dear God. I tried to picture what I would do if a honking big lizard with long shivery toenails suddenly ran straight at me and began climbing me.
*********
I have to say, just imagining it, I wet myself a little. (Which appears to be a bit of an overreaction.)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Favor to Ask

The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on "donating a mammogram" for free (pink window in the middle). This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammograms in exchange for advertising.Here's the web site! Pass it along to people you know. http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/

Fly Boy

Tim is pretty quiet, but we were at the local mall doing some quick shopping. Well. I was. Tim was sitting on the bench outside a store, watching people. Anyways, I walked out with a bag, and Mr. Quiet is grabbing my arm, hissing "Sit down, sit down! You've got to see this." He's laughing and trying to talk. "See what?" I said. Tim is not normally given to hysterics. He laughs and laughs, and finally chokes out, "You've got to see this guy's fly." Shocked, I said, "I am NOT looking at any guy's fly!", and I tried to pull away as Tim roared, "No, really, you've got to see this." People were starting to look.
I was mortified.
********
There was no further time to debate the issue, because at that point, a man came walking out of the store, hands in his jacket pockets, about 6 inches his shirt tail caught in his fly, and bobbing merrily along in front of him.
********
I am often embarrassed in public, and am usually very sympathetic about things like this. This was a local doctor. He's not mine. I'd've had to change. I could never have listened to his professional advice without that mental picture springing, unbidden, to my mind.
It would not matter if he was telling me I was terminal. I'd still be trying to stifle my giggles.
********
I am ashamed of this.

Do You Hear What I Hear

I am a lucky person. I have a really good mechanic. We drive old cars, because this mechanic has been able to fix every car problem that we've ever had, so those cars just keep running and running and running. He is just the best mechanic ever. I could sing his praises all day long. He is such an excellent mechanic that I did the only reasonable thing. I married him.
*****
In the old days, a funny noise from the car would cause my heart to leap in fear. Now that I'm married to my mechanic, I just casually walk in the house, and I say, "Hey, the car is making a weird noise." Bless his heart, he gets this excited look in his eyes, and out the door he goes. Not only is he a really good mechanic, but he also loves to do this kind of stuff.
*****
I realize that I am a darned lucky woman, so I'm really generous about sharing Tim with all the woman I know that were not so wise as to marry their mechanics. He does not mind this, and has become sort of a surrogate husband to many women. I'm fairly open minded about all of this as well. It's one of the more worldly benefits of going to our church.
*****
I'd like to say that I've learned loads about engines and all things car through the years. That would be a lie. I'm very useful helping to bleed the brakes. I can fetch tools. I'm good at holding screw drivers 'right there', and the guys at Car-go Auto know who I am as soon as I walk in the door clutching the latest parts list from Tim. They have given up asking me questions, because my answer is always, "I don't know. Better call up to the house and see if you can get Tim." I am always amiable in my ignorance, and I think they appreciate that. I remember trying to soothe a woman who had just been presented with a diagnosis/estimate on her car. Her mechanic was assuming that she was stupid because she was a woman, she ranted. She had already figured out the problem, and it was the altimeter. I decided, right then and there, that I would always freely admit my ignorance to save people the necessity of pointing it out to me.
*****
There is one hard and fast mechanical rule that I have learned. I will share (Get a pencil and paper, you might want to make yourself a flow chart), As previously reported, if I hear the car making a funny noise, I point this out to Tim at the earliest opportunity. Almost invariably, I will get one of two answers. He will either say, "That noise? Oh, that's nothing" or he will say, "I don't know. Drive it. It will either get worse, or it won't". He's always right. It's either nothing, or it gets worse, or it doesn't.
*****
I have discovered, however, that I am not qualified to utter those words. I made the mistake of doing that once. I heard a noise, one that sounded, to my sadly untrained ear, minor. Telling myself confidently, "Drive it. It will either get worse, or it won't", I turned up the radio and continued about my business. I pulled into the driveway a few hours later. Before I could even shut off the engine, our front door flew open, and Tim came charging down the steps with a very angry look on his face. "Can't you hear that?" he scolded. "You need to tell me when you hear things like that." You might find yourself tempted to think that this was some huge horrible grinding noise that any moron would have gotten nervous about, something so obvious that the aforementioned moron would have become alarmed and immediately sought the assistance of a highly trained professional. It wasn't though. It was just a quiet, odd little noise, and it did not set off any alarms with this moron at all.
*****
Like the parent of any teenager, I've had plenty of bizarre conversations in my life, but the ensuing conversation this day went immediately to the top of the charts. Tim: "When you hear a noise like that, you need to let me know right away." Me (exasperated): "Tim, I don't get it. How do you tell a 'that's nothing' noise from a 'drive it and it either get worse or it won't' noise? And how do you tell when a 'drive it and it will either get worse or it won't' noise has crossed over, becoming a 'red alert, danger, danger, man the lifeboats because the Titanic's going down' noise?"
*****
He just fixed me with a look that said something to the effect of "You are soooooo lucky that you married your mechanic..." The compromise here was that I report every single noise I hear. It's a fairly good plan. The only flaw to it would be during the months of 'Zepp-tember' and 'Rock-tober' when my radio tends to be a little louder than usual.
*****
Just to let you know, I'm starting to think that there is maybe just the slightest bit of hope for me. A while back, I got into my friend's car. She pulled out, and I said, "Gees, Jean, how long has your car been making that noise?" and she said, "Oh, you hear it too?" I certainly could. If I'd have heard my own car making that noise, I'd have stopped what I was doing and hightailed right off to my mechanic. Jean had been hearing this noise for some time, and been assured that it was nothing by her mechanic, who is, coincidently, not her husband. She was embarrassed to take it back and ask him again. "Jean", I said, "You might want to stop over and let my mechanic take a look at it." She did. Tim discovered her wheel bearings were shot.
*****
Jean's car got fixed and yet another happy and relieved woman left our house, singing Tim's praises. Really, it doesn't bother me at all, because I know that I'm special. I know that I'm Tim's best and favorite customer, with no reason for jealousy. The other women pay for their parts. I'm the only one allowed to barter.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Good news

My friend Dixie has a saying about the flu.
Day 1: You think you will die.
Day 2: You realize you are going to live.
Day 3: You start to be glad that you're going to live.
*********
The good news? I think that I'm slightly ahead of the game. I think that I'm going to live AND I am glad...and it's only day 2.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Not Flying

Okay. Maybe that heady exhilerating rush I tried to describe in the earlier post was the flu.
*********
(retch. rolf)
*********
Which is different from ROFL.
*********
Just saying.

Flying

I'm 50 now. This is not old, even though the kids will say it is. (Why, oh WHY did I think procreation was such a great idea?) I've always loved the idea of being married for 50 years. It was a big shock to me to be divorced, because I had worked so hard to avoid it. But then, somehow, I wound up married to Tim, despite all my protestations, despite all my careful planning to be a little old lady with a nice garden and cats. Tim and I are happy people, and I remind him frequently of my plan to be married for 50 years. After all, we're both the same age. We only have to live to be 91. And when we're married 50 years, I want a big party. After I get that party, why he can do what he wants. If he wants to lay down and die, well, I'll be sad, but I'll be okay with it. He needs to take good care of himself though. I want that party. If he dies before that, I'm going to kill him.
*********
Anyways, there are benefits to being 50. Probably the biggest one is that the kids are grown up, and while they stop your heart on a fair regular basis, they don't live with you. This means you can have your heart attack, and then take a deep breath and go do something else. When the number one (and two...and three, etc. etc.) cause of your heart attacks lives under your roof, that's harder to do. Another thing about being 50 is that you find yourself looking life straight in the eye. That's not a bad thing either. In my case, this translates to: "You know, I've never done that before" which is followed by a deep breath -- and then I do it. Just to see. Just to say that I've done that.
********
Once I took care of an elderly woman who was dying. Boy howdy, she was a strong willed and stubborn woman. The agency had a hard time finding people to take care of her because she could be mean. She once threw a birthday cake at me. Much to her surprise, I stayed anyway. She did not realize that I was strong willed and stubborn also and therefore saw those traits as strengths, not charactor flaws.
********
Hers was a long and protracted dying, and it was awful. She refused to accept the diagnosis and fought the good fight, and for a long time. When she died, I sat in her quiet house with her body, waiting for her daughter to drive in. I studied that face. I wrote a poem. "She stood upon a precipice. She didn't want to die. Finally, no choice, she leapt...to discover she could fly."
********
If you are a wise person, you learn from others. In this case, I learned a lot about life from her death. At 50, I am taking leaps of faith. And I'm discovering that I can fly.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Generation Gap

I have a friend who will be 93 on Valentines Day. Lois is a retired teacher. She began her teaching career in a one room school house. She is a tiny white haired little old lady now, but her mind is clear as a bell.
*********
I like to go visit Lois. Usually, I get there about lunch time so that I can take her a piece of Hershey pie from Burger King. I've never tasted that pie, but she tells me it's excellent. I figure that I do not need to find one more dessert that I really, really like.
*********
Anyways, Lois sits at a table with three other women. They range from 92 to....well, she doesn't quite remember, but she sure that it's very old. The interesting thing about these ladies is that they all have their marbles, every one of them. They can recount the most fascinating stories. I could listen to them talk all day. Sometimes I do. We're the only ones left in the dining room, and we're talking like there's no tomorrow. Literally.
*********
How the world has changed! Thank God. They matter of factly tell of a time that women had four options. They could become housewives and mothers. They could become teachers, nurses, or secretaries. As Lois tells: "I had not met anyone that I wanted to marry. I could not stand the sight of blood. My mother and father could not stand the thought that I might have a boss who wanted me to sit on his lap while I took dictation. So I had to become a teacher." And around the table, white heads nod. This was their world.
*********
I'm in a play. It is my stage debut. It is called "Equality of Rights". It is about the first American women's rights meeting back in 1848.
*********
When I was in high school, the girls were not permitted to wear slacks to school. Girls took home ec. Boys took woodshop. Never the twain shall meet. There was a lot of emphasis on being lady like. I was smart. I just expected to go to college. My parents thought that it was a waste for a woman to be educated because "they just get married and stay home to raise their children." My aunts spoke of regret of turning 30 because they had to cut their hair short. I remember how a woman was publicly humiliated in the work place for insisting on her right to work in the 'men only' computer room. God help you if you wondered aloud "Why?" or "But what if..." I remember years later, driving home on leave from the Army. I sat at the table in my army fatigues visiting with my family. I said something that caused my dad's eyebrows to go up. In amazement he said, "OH MY GOD! Don't tell me you've become a G-D feminist." I wiggled my toes in my Army boots. I knew what answer he wanted. I looked back at him, my eyes mirroring the same amazement I saw in his. "Jeepers, Dad, what the f*** do YOU think?" (God still had a mighty work to do in me...I was yet an atheist.) My father was so sickened at the thought that he had to leave the table. My mother looked at me reproachfully.
*********
I'm the mother of Cara. 18 years old. She speaks her own mind. She will do what she thinks is right. She chose her own path, and will leave this fall to go to college. She wants to be a history teacher. The little old ladies at the nursing home are pleased when she tells them this. They couldn't stand the thought that such a pretty, lively girl might have to sit on have to sit on her boss's lap to take dictation. They are glad she is not going to be a secretary. Cara has no idea what they're talking about.
**********
I'm glad.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Kindness

I was reading http://www.thehorseshoeinghousewife.blogspot.com/ this morning. Mikey asked us to read the story of Argus, a rescued horse. Even though I knew what would happen, I read it and cried anyway. Susan, one of Mikey's friends from http://www.paintedpromise.com/ has a rescue ranch. Her story on Wilbur had me crying a few days earlier. I am a sap like that. Whenever my children see me starting to tear up, they always exclaim, "You're pathetic!" and begin to relate the story to anyone present: "She cried at 'Ice Age'! It was a CARTOON!" Damn heartless savages. The wooly mammoth had suffered great loss.
********
Yesterday's post on Jerod brought two responses, one from Mike, one from Susan. Out of curiosity, I checked out Mike's website (http://www.ifsofog.blogspot.com/). He seems just the same sort of thinking, tenderhearted person that Susan is, yet both of them talked about the anger they've encountered in a church setting. I've run into this myself. I come from angry church people stock, truth be told.
********
How can a person sleep at night knowing that outside their animals are in misery? How does a person sleep at night knowing that they've been part of the angry mob that caused people to leave their church? Perhaps twisted a gentle spirit's vision of God Himself? Things like this grieve me. What an ugly world we live in.
********
This is why I'm glad that I'm a sap. This is why it delights me to meet other tenderhearted people. I firmly believe that the world is a better place because of us. I try never to leave a kindness undone.
********
People have a lot of excuses for not being kind. Mostly what you hear is some long and detailed accounting of why the person in need does not warrant kindness. I believe that I am judged on my own actions. That is to say that I don't expect to be standing before God one day as He laughs and slaps His divine and holy knee, chortling, "Boy, that homeless guy sure made you look like an ass when you gave him that sandwich. Man, what a screaming scene! You should have seen the look on your face! " No. I expect God will be pleased I acted in kindness, regardless of the response.
********
St Francis said it best. "Preach the gospel always. If necessary, use words."

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Imperfections

One of the young boys in my Sunday school class shared with me that he might be changing churches. His lip quivered as he related this. Caught unawares, I tried to say the right thing and the Godly thing. "Jerod," I said, "people need to be where they can grow. If your parents are meant to be at another church, the thing that I can say for sure is that God would not be moving them into a church where you're going to be miserable. I can tell you for sure that whatever Sunday school class you wind up in, you'll be a blessing to them, just like you are to us." And I was proud to see that the rest of the kids were quick to reassure him.
*******
When his parents came to pick him up, Jerod defiantly told them he was not going to change churches. I spoke with his parents for a few minutes. I've changed churches before. I used to be Episcopalian. It stopped being such a good fit for me. I assured them that I understood sometimes moving on was the right thing to do.
********
What surprised me was their anger. They are pretty fed up with some people in our church. Of all things, I never expected this to be the reason they were moving on.
********
Jerod ran away and hid in the church. His parents had planned to go to the new church after Sunday school, but they could not find their son. After the service began, Jerod calmly walked out and seated himself with his very unhappy parents.
*********
I look around, and I see flawed people filling our pews. I have a pretty lengthy list of flaws myself. My husband is not perfect, my kids are not perfect. My friends are not perfect. I love them anyway. The service continues. Imperfect people sing hymns that fill our 150 year old church. And quietly, God works.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Counting My Many Blessings.

I was leading a discussion group. One white haired gentleman, pretty quiet, offered up that on his last anniversary, he arranged that he and his wife should renew their vows. She didn't have a clue. She was dressed up for a big night out on the town. He pulled up to all their friends and relatives waiting at the park. Cake, preacher, the whole nine yards.
********
All the women in the group listened and then glanced sideways at their husbands. Considering, I guess. I looked at my husband sitting in the crowd. His face was easy to read: "CRAP!" it said.
********
Tim is a quiet husband. Lately, this has been bugging the snot out of me. Probably this is partially due to the fact that I'm wrassling with menopause and just about everything bugs the snot out of me. Probably because I still don't know where my oldest daughter is, or if everything is okay. I find myself with this desire to talk compulsively, probably desiring to drown out the internal worrying mom voice in my head. But Tim -- well, he's pretty quiet. When Tim does talk, he tends to talk about the new house we bought. We discovered that beneath the disgusting carpets are cherry floors. There was a drawer with silver, real silver. He has big plans for this house, and he wants to talk about the heating system, appliances for the apartments, etc. Compulsively. On and on. Even when we are in bed and he is stretched out next to me, our pillow talk consists of houses and rehab. Not to sound repetitive here myself, I'll say it again, this is bugging the snot out of me.
********
I've been dealing with this by becoming quiet myself. Retreating into old romance novels from the 1800's. Waiting it out, patiently. This too shall pass.
********
I read a blog today (http://www.bushbabe.blogspot.com/) and she talked about her 40th birthday. She threw a big party for herself. Really celebrated. People drove for hours. It sounded like great fun. On my 50th birthday last year, I was having a big party too. It was a joint party to celebrate my son's graduation from college, and an engagement party for my oldest daughter and her fiance. I'm not a person comfortable with being the focus of things, so I had a really fine time watching everyone rejoice with Dylan, and with Brianna and her Jeremy. I felt like I was reaping the rewards of turning 50. It was all good. Still, it was something reading about Bush Babe's bash. I wondered if maybe I should have done it differently.
********
I logged off (we live in the woods. I still have dial-up) and called my friend Mary. She turned 50 last week. She has had a rough year. Her mom passed away in August, and then she began to have some alarming symptoms in November. I wanted to have a party for her birthday, but in the manner of people who have been friends forever, she just said, flat out, "I don't want a party. I am not in the mood for it." So, I called her up to see how her birthday had gone.
********
Now understand, Mary is a quiet woman married to a huge man with a drooping mustache and sad looking eyes. He proudly calls himself 'a big dumb Polack'. Danny is also the funniest person that you've ever met in your life. One of the 'aw, shucks' things that Danny does on a regular basis is that he writes funny little poems to Mary to commemorate special occasions. Isn't that sweet? Not for her 50th birthday. He wrote her a long poem, and PUT IT IN THE PAPER. It went something like this:
"Mary _____ (yes, last name was included) turns the big five-oh!
No, this is not a typo.
She used to ride a palomino
wearing a poncho
being all macho
going commando"
and it degenerated.
There was talk about "libido".
"Discos".
"ELO".
"Spicey food and Bean-o".
*********
Mary read this in horror as Danny sat across the table waiting, with a big smile under his drooping mustache. He really thought this was humorous. Mary got to the word 'commando' and screamed "Do you know what commando means?" Turned out that he did. He thought it was funny. Not true, but funny. "This took me three hours to write," he said. "Do you know how hard it is to find words that end in 'o'? Don't you like it?" Turns out she didn't. Not at all. We live in a small town. She was not happy with people pondering her underwear or lack thereof. She was not at all pleased with people reading about her libido or wondering whether she had gas. Man. Mary was PISSED. She was still screaming mad when relating the story to me, a full week after the big day.
***********
Oh boy. I laughed until my sides ached. I roared in the most undignified way. The tears flowed. I wasn't ROFL, as they say, but man, it was close. I howled. I also counted my blessings that Tim is a quiet man, not given to words. Written or otherwise.

It's a Girl!

Well, she has no name yet. The discussions were still ongoing, with all parties believing that they still had another month to sort it all out.
********
But it is a girl. She's small, but perfect, early, but healthy.
********
Yay!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Life

In the midst of this terrible weather, freezing rain, my niece Kellie forced her husband Dave to take her to the hospital, a good hour's drive in good weather. Heaven knows how long it took in THIS weather. From the last call I received, there's a new baby coming into this world in the next hour.
*******
I remember babysitting Kellie. Now I can babysit FOR Kellie.
*******
The years tick by. Every stage of life has its own gifts, its own blessings. Children are born, and we rejoice. Children grow up before our very eyes, and every day we watch them stepping out into lives of their own. If you've done a good job, chances are, you'll really like the grownups these kids become. Next thing you know, they're having children, and we're all rejoicing again.
*******
That unchanging, neverending circle of life.
*******
I love life.
*******