Thursday, January 29, 2015

Releasing the tired one

Yikes!   Were it not for the honesty of another shopper, I recently came close to losing my driver's license and credit cards - because the stitching on my beloved billfold grew too tired and gave way.

"That's it.  I'm taking you shopping.", DH announced in a brook-no-argument tone.
I opened my mouth to protest ... then took a good look.

Pathetic, isn't it. 
But once upon a time, it was Beautiful.

Am I the only one?  
....or is there a kindred soul in Blogland who's hung onto something long after its useful life, solely for sentiment?

That billfold came into my life some 15 years ago.   When my mother was still active and alert, she 'most appreciated' my driving down to Port Charlotte for the weekend and taking her shopping.

As much as I'd like to pretend otherwise, I wasn't particularly enthusiastic.
No question we loved one another, but our similarities were few and far between.   Shopping, for instance.   

I don't necessarily recommend it, but my M.O. is hasty decision-making, usually done on-line. 
On the other hand, mother loved the mall and could (literally) spend hours before deciding on pair of shoes, a purse.   Or a billfold.

That day, mother discovered her 'birthday billfold' in amazing short order!   More than a little relieved, I was happy to pay the bill and suggest we move on to cocktails and dinner.  
I don't remember the restaurant or what we had to eat, but I'll never forget the honest-to-goodness Good Time we enjoyed.   Like mothers and daughters are supposed to.

There was no question.   Shortly after my mother passed I adopted that billfold as my own.  
... and loved it for the last 11 years.       

I never replaced this picture ..... mother kept tucked alongside
her driver license, voter identification and Blue Cross/Blue Shield ID card.
That little guy in the sunglasses?  That's my pride n' joy, now all grown up!

I've probably wasted spent too much time on eBay and Etsy, trying to find the same 'vintage' billfold.   Then, with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, the truth dawned.  I don't especially want a clone, because it won't be the same.  

Instead, I'll put 'our' billfold in the hope chest alongside my dad's wallet, and look for a replacement.
Something serviceable and sturdy ... and maybe, just a wee bit vintage!

Hugs from Phoenix!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

I don't get it!

Good Saturday, m'friends!
I'm feeling so mellow this morning, it's almost concerning.  (smile)   

Oh yes, there's plenty on my mind, but I thought it high time for a 'softball' sort of share:  
A few things I just don't 'get.'   If you've an explanation - a rebuttal, even - I'd love to hear it!

White towels 
... intimidate me!
Who really wants to be first to dirty someone's lovely white terrycloth?
More often than not, I'll opt to wipe my hands on an article of clothing or a piece of toilet paper!
Tattoos on young women
Sorry, if I'm stepping on anyone's toes!
But I have to agree with my lovely DIL who asked her daughter's friend,
"Why would you want to put a bumper sticker on a Bentley?"
Pergola roofs
So, I've wondered if a random foreman woke up one day and said,
"I've a great idea to cut our material costs in half!"
Right.  ...and if you sit under it in a storm, you'll only get half wet!
Just a couple more! ....

Female 'stars' who prefer being referred to as, "Actor."
I never thought 'actress' sounded demeaning.  Did you?
Photo enforcement warning signs
... leave me scratching my head.
I don't expect anyone to agree with me on this one,
but for the life of me, I can't understand why you want to give a 'bad boy' (or girl) a head's up. 
Far fetched perhaps, but if they're caught enough times they might change their driving habits?
~ ~ ~

Well, just in time for the Pro Bowl and next Sunday's reaaaaaaly Big Game, our temps are becoming unusually warm.   I'm going to do my best to enjoy every moment.  Wish you were here!  

Hugs from Phoenix!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Remedial reading

So, as I was saying  ...
I read a book!   (Cue the sparklers and kazoos!)

Ya, I get that puzzled look.  You're thinking, "Whaaaaat the heck?".  

You see, since the time I was old enough to read, books have been my best friends.  An addiction, really.   Yes, I was one of 'those' (obnoxious) children who tried reading at the dining room table or surreptitiously under the bedcovers.

But following events of early 2013, like someone turning off a light switch ... I couldn't read anything longer than 4-5 pages.   No, there was nothing amiss with my vision.   Simply I couldn't focus.  

Oh, I tried surrounding myself with my favorite authors' best sellers ... from gritty thrillers to soft-serve, 'bubble-gum' reads.    Nothing took.

Then, not long ago I just gave myself permission.   Permission to step off the carousel for a little while.   After I got over the initial guilt and resisted the impulse to jump up and do something else, the hours flew by.

I don't know.  This may be a process.  Like a confirmed anorexic, I'll stare at a best seller on-line - but I'm not drawn to engage.    Maybe it's like getting back up on that horse after you find yourself unceremoniously sprawled on your ***?

This may sound really silly, but here goes.
There was an old mind game I used to exercise to help fall asleep.   In keeping with 2015's theme,  I've a hunch this might help me RELEASE the irrational thoughts and fears which keep me awake.   Perhaps it might catch on?  (This is particularly helpful if one's inclined to be a control freak ... smile!)

Once immersed in a work of fiction, my mind's eye has this crazy need to visualize a character's face, his surroundings.   So, come bedtime my imagination goes into overdrive ... allowing me certain luxuries.    Holding the book's film rights, 'my' cast of characters is made up of anyone I fancy --  a bona-fide movie star, an old classmate, even a co-worker.    Nothing's impossible!

PS -
This sounds like a huge contradiction, but personally - and especially since seeing "The Notebook" - I'm not fond of film adaptations.   I once had occasion to meet a well-known author and ask, had she ever considered selling the rights to one of her books to a film-maker.    Without batting an eye, the answer was a swift and unequivocal, "No!".  
PPS - ... and a bit of levity.  
Have you ever uttered something so out of place, it left you shaking your head?
Just yesterday as DH and I were leaving the grocery, a gentleman coming in the door spotted the lettering on my hoodie and remarked, "Go Auburn.  Good school."
... and darn if I didn't reply, "Thank you."
Seriously?!?!?!?!    Like I'm on the Board of Trustees or something?    (Banging.Head.Against.Wall)
Have a great week, everyone!
Hugs from Phoenix!


Sunday, January 11, 2015

This n' That ... and a return to the food court

Good morning friends!
I so hope everyone's 2015 is evolving without hiccups.  

Well, based on the sights and smells jostling for attention outside my office the other afternoon, I was fooled into believing it was Autumn all over again.   For a few seconds anyway.  

I didn't think to capture a picture -- but this is pretty close to what blanketed the walkways and nearby greens.
"It's a re-run!" I smiled to a friend.
... but quit grinning when Diana asked if was prepared to re-live Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Crazy, wonky weather patterns everywhere!   What many of you're experiencing is pretty sobering .... and yes, I'm a bit chagrined at my discomfort after a only few nights of below freezing temps.

It snowed in Phoenix!
Better knock off the "When Hell freezes over jokes"!

In spite of my (oh-so-sincere) intentions to begin RELEASING some unnecessary weight, I actually, accidentally gained 2 lbs.    It's not for consuming stuff I shouldn't.   With few exceptions, I pretty well stuck to my favored low-carb regime throughout the holidays.   No, I'm guilty of eating more often, and in larger helpings, because I'm (a) restless or (b) Stressed.    And half the time, I'm not even hungry!   Geeze.

The little devil who's taken to re-visiting my left shoulder suggests I take up smoking again to help curb my appetite.
More than a year later, that's not an option.  Thank God.
Ridding myself of a 40-year+ nicotine addiction was absurdly easy.    But I'd be lying if I was to pretend that's not my first impulse when things go awry or 'situations' need discussed.
(My GM once asked her AGM, "Why must you smoke at work?" - only to hear, "Because you won't let us drink.")

OK, I digress.
Suppose, not unlike AA's Serenity Prayer I need to identify that which I can control.
Tah-dah! ... A return to the Food Court on Ashley Drive is in order.   
(I'm not recommending this to those of you fortunate enough to observe regular mealtimes with family ... but it's worked well for DH and me for the better part of a decade.)

Like my mother, the concept of food preparation and leisurely dining has always been a novelty; something to be dabbled in every now and then.    

DH loves to cook - not so much gourmet, but satisfying 'square' meals.    So as not to hurt his feelings, of course I had to oblige.  (LOL)    Little surprise, I gained my first 10 pounds our first year together.   
Finally I mustered the courage to propose we each do our own thing.   While I enjoy a big breakfast - and a (sometimes) sensible lunch -  a few cubes of sharp cheddar or a bowl of nuts in the evening is perfectly satisfying.    DH is the opposite! 
But, I'm really fortunate that he loves grocery shopping.   Between the two of us 'elderly adolescents' we're unable to arrive at a Meal Plan more than a couple of days a day in advance.  

Ya, besides discipline (yuk) I'm pretty sure it all comes down to focusing on something besides stuffing my face.

On a positive note, I'm tickled to report I've made it 3/4's of the way through the novel my BIL left behind and can't wait to pick it up this afternoon.
That might not sound like "Call the Movie-Tone News"-worthy stuff but I'll explain.   Next time.

Thanks for sticking with this not-so-very-interesting account.    Stay warm and stay safe, please!

Hugs from Phoenix,


Saturday, January 3, 2015

A word, please?

Wow.   I'm UNfashionably late for the party, but hope you're not too weary of hearing one more, "Happy New Year!"    From our lips to God's ears, right?

Aside from a somewhat tumultuous holiday week (no, I won't bore you with details) Tom and I arrived on this side of the calendar relatively unscathed ... curious to see what lies ahead.

So, my 'word' for 2015 occurred to me - almost out of nowhere - more than a couple of months ago.
Still, recalling 2013's "Gratitude" and how well THAT turned out (not) ...  I was reluctant to make a public acknowledgement. 
But it wouldn't go away.

Totally out of character ... but I hope to embrace, "RELEASE."

(No, this has nothing to do with the movie, Frozen.  I'm probably the only person on the planet who's not especially fond of "Let It Go.")

Baby steps,
... which began New Years Eve:  
I'd forgotten to purchase black-eyed peas for the next day and grew increasingly dismayed when I discovered the 3rd supermarket in a row was sold out.   Faced with driving a goodly distance to a fourth market didn't sound particularly inviting, so I decided then and there to RELEASE that silly superstition.
(But I can't pretend that the next day's SEC teams' losses didn't give me a twinge of guilt!)

I need to RELEASE more than a few of my (mostly unfounded) fears.  
I love my sleep and want to sleep through the night without waking at 2AM...  trying to solve all the problems of the world.     Seriously, how can I profess to have faith, but not release my fears and my doubts to His keeping?

Expectations.   Family, friends and co-workers have all failed to live up to my expectations at one time or another ..... and I'm left hurt or unreasonably annoyed.   Whose fault is that?  Tall order ... but it needs RELEASED.

Of course, I'd like to RELEASE some unnecessary weight .... vs. losing it.   Wouldn't you agree, what's lost usually gets found again.  (smile)

Oh, there's plenty of other candidates  ...
I'm guilty of making hasty judgments, failing to forgive -- and stuff.   Another time. 
Perhaps. :)

A few years ago, I posted a New Years message devoted to saying, 'goodbye.'  
Now, at a loss how to close this(!), I'm led to copy a portion of that post ...  mentally substituting RELEASE for the word, "Goodbye."

In that wonderful book 'Illusions' there's a beautiful statement that goes something like, "Don't fear goodbyes, for they are necessary in order for you to have all the beautiful hellos that life has waiting for you."

Hugs from (chilly!) Phoenix,

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Unwrapped Present

I'm pretty fortunate to work with some incredible folks - one of whom shared this piece of his own childhood a while back.  After wiping my eyes, I wrote Rob, asking permission to share it with my friends in Blogland.    I was delighted when he said, "Yes."  
Merry Christmas, my friends!  
The Unwrapped Present
At this time of year, I often reflect on the Christmas mornings growing up in New Jersey.  The opening of presents, the wrapping paper flying everywhere, the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the sound of bacon sizzling on the stove, Christmas songs playing on the stereo, and the many hugs and smiles from my grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends dropping in throughout the day.                                    
But there is one Christmas in particular that I recall each year. A Christmas morning that changed my life.                                  
I was eight years old. My only desire was that I wanted a "Johnny Lightning Racing Set" for Christmas. I had sent no less than five letters to Santa Claus asking and pleading for the gift. I remember writing all the reasons why I deserved the racing set, and how "I would never write to him again if he didn't leave it on Christmas Eve."       

Well, times were tight that year (... I only realized this sometime later), and instead of opening up the Johnny Lightning Racing Set with automatic lap counter and a lifetime membership into the Johnny Lightning Racing Club, I received two pairs of pants, a sweater, a small red truck, and a letter from Santa which I crumbled without reading.  

So instead of rejoicing on Christmas morning, I yelled, screamed and said I hated Santa Claus -- "the big fake" -- with all my might. My mother cried. My father said I didn't realize what I was saying. I was sent to my room with the crumpled Santa Claus letter in my hand.                                 

There in my room, I cried and cried. But somewhere between planning to write the President of the United States not to let Santa Claus into the country, and writing a nasty letter to Santa Claus, I picked up the crumpled letter from Santa now laying on my floor.                          

"Let's see what this big, fat jerk has to say," I remember yelling at the top of my lungs.                                
I sat down at my desk and read the letter from Santa Claus.                             
Dear Robert,                          
I am sorry if I have let down one of my best friends - you. I was not able to leave the gift you asked for, and I am sorry. But there is a present that you may have overlooked. It is not under the tree and it is not wrapped. It is not something you can plug in or assemble. It is with you every day of the year, and gives and gives even when it hurts.                                       
Remember when you struck-out in Little League this past season? Who was there to give you a comforting hug? Remember when you won the spelling contest? Who cheered the loudest you when you were awarded the winning prize? And remember when you were very sick this past fall? Who stayed with you all night long, held your hand, and placed a cool cloth of your forehead?                           

You have probably never thought about it in this way, but Robert as you continue to grow and cast doubt on much (...even on my very existence), realize that the most precious gift is one that is not wrapped or found under a tree. The unwrapped present is the love of a parent; the love for their son.                                
This very special gift is waiting for you right now -- your Mother and Father. Go and hug them tightly, and try to never let go. This Christmas day will pass all too quickly, but their love for you is timeless and beyond worth.  And, it is this love is what Christmas is all about.
Your friend,                                                          
Santa Claus                            

Now many years have passed since that Christmas morning, and the letter remains carefully preserved. I often reflect on how my Mother would stay by my bedside when I was ill, and I laugh when I picture my Father fast asleep snoring in the easy chair waiting for me to return home from the high school prom so many years ago.                

"Thank you Santa for showing a selfish eight year old boy the true meaning of Christmas. It has made all the difference in my life and in the lives of my children. I just wish I could have that unwrapped present right now."                         

Until Next Friday,   


Robert M. Hebeler

Copyright 2000-2013 All Rights Reserved by Robert M. Hebeler
......Me, too, Rob.   Me, too.
Hugs from Phoenix,

Saturday, December 20, 2014

My First Worst Day

In case you're looking for an upbeat or humorous post, please feel free to skip this.
It's not my intent to be a "Debbie Downer" - but at the same time, I've been feeling a real need to write about something that changed my life forever.
...In doing so, perhaps someone will see this and not be left with unnecessary regrets.

But if you'll (please) come back on Christmas Eve, I've a special treat ... 
an excerpt from a colleague's website (that) I'm pretty sure will tug at your heartstrings!

December 5, 1981
I'll never forget the look on my (former) husband's face as he gestured me to take the phone.  "Right now."

"Whaaaat?   I'm busy!"

On the other end, my mother's voice trembled, informing me my father had suffered a heart attack.  Dad was resting comfortably in the hospital.  She assured me, there was no reason  to come.  After all, we were expected to catch a flight from Dallas to Tampa for the holidays in just a couple of weeks.

Mother and Dad - newly retired to Florida's gulf coast - were so eager to show off their new home!

I was worried sick; but at the same time a little relieved.   My husband and I were slated to host a dinner party for his managers and their spouses that night at the club.

"Please tell Daddy I love him.  See you soon!"

That evening, I tried my best not to obsess.   Someone introduced me to a White Russian ... something so comforting, I opted for another.   And another.

Not many hours later, I struggled to push through the fog ... groping to silence the ringing phone. 

My mother on the line, her voice curiously flat... telling me Daddy had passed away.

Obviously the next few weeks were an awful blur.  Those who've suddenly lost a loved one get it.
Unfortunately, my decision not to catch a flight that afternoon is something I will always regret. 

I'll never forget the young waitress who -- after handing us our menus and asking about our day, uttered, "Oh, that's so nice!"   (Seriously?  My father-in-law had just said we'd just come from the funeral home.)

Then and there, I vowed to exercise caution when blithely wishing others' a 'merry' Christmas or 'happy' holidays.
Hopefully, it's made me more cognizant of others' scars - new and old.

December 6 was the first, 'worst day of my life.'   After all these years it remains a day of reflection.

Since then, I've experienced a several more 'worst days.'    I suppose it's all part of the price of admission to becoming a full-fledged adult.  

I know my you, my dear friends need no reminding ...
but let's all share - through our words and our actions -  awareness of those facing some pretty awful challenges, and remember to hold them in our prayers.

Thank you!
... and hugs from Phoenix,