Friday, December 26, 2008

Correction!

Funny isn't it, what an "attitude adjustment" can do?
In spite of my earlier pout, our wee celebration(s) were perfectly blessed! I've only a few thank-you notes to pen -- but that was the Plan afterall (LOL)!
Seeing the smiles on the faces of our "local" grandchildren, then hearing my granddaughters' laughter (in Alabama), made everything Just Right!

May I share a few of the reasons why we smile?


Here's 14-year old Sarah (and dad), taken a few months back.



Newly-11 y/o Chloe. (I've must get out there and score some updated pictures!)


10-y/o Kayla had a keyboard lesson yesterday from "Hubby-claus."


But it seems Santa forgot Victor's new front teeth?!


Brian's already looking forward to his birthday on New Year's Eve! (Love those dimples!)


No doubt, Mom's relieved Estefan won't be sneaking her camera from now on!




Oh my gosh ... I almost forgot someone!

Here's a preview of #7!
Hubby's son and his wife won't get to meet their firstborn 'til late April ...
and they've elected not to learn if it's a "he" or "she" ...
but we're thrilled nonetheless!


I hope you each enjoyed a very Merry Christmas! Let's all look forward to a safe, WONDER-full New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Plans and Stuff

Already, I'm pretty sure of my New Year's resolution. While it's necessary to shed some unnecessary pounds, etc., etc., there's something much more pressing -- if I'm to survive Hubby's clan without developing an ulcer: Seems I need to learn to be more Flexible.

You see, for as long as I can remember there's always been an agenda -- a Plan, if you will, for dealing with Holidays and Life Events. Then "just yesterday" (actually, 4 years ago) I came to be a part of a new, wonderful family. All was going well until I discovered -- not one of 'em has a Plan. Nor do they seem overly concerned! Egads ... this must change!

So, there was a Plan for celebrating Thanksgiving as a family last month. Then the Earth tipped on it's axis for a period, and Hubby and I wound up at my place of employment, enjoying a cheeseburger. (Well, that's what I happened to crave at the time; he had the prime rib.)

We're reasonably assured that tomorrow morning all will be in order at Daughter's house for a lovely Christmas brunch, enjoying four of our grandchildren.

Tonight? To channel Joan Rivers, "Can we talk?"
Sorry, I'm just stinkin' annoyed. In fact, I woke at 1:00 this morning, ready to engage in a spittin' contest with whichever unfortunate soul first happened to cross my path.

Normally we enjoy spending Christmas Eve with Hubby's son and his wife. Her close-knit family has dibs on them Christmas Day. Then, of late "junior" and his sister have been feuding like a couple of adolescents. (Can you say, Peace on Earth?)

Wary of my eyeballing the calendar, Hubby phoned "junior" some 7 days ago to confirm our date. Understandably he wanted to check with DIL, but promised to call right back.
Well, "right back" translated to 8:00 last night. By this time, I'd planned (there's that word again!) our attending candlelight church services, then I'd treat Hubby to a late dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant.

Pardon my jumping to conclusions, but I'm feeling like the high-school wallflower who only gets asked out after every other possibility has been exhausted. To Hubby, "I guess they didn't get a better offer?"
He regards me, "Well, they've been busy working."
(Excuse me, where you do think I go every morning at 5:30?)

For the sake of the Season (and our sanity), we've agreed to disagree and are meeting them at Claim Jumper tonight.
So, I'm going to go put David Foster's Christmas Album in the player, practice smiling ... and try to get a grasp on this Flexibility business. Might have some cheese to go with my "whine" while I'm at it.

Either that ... or spend some quality time daydreaming about running away to the North Pole next Christmas. Anyone want to come along?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

One Silent Night

Note: I photocopied this article several years ago. 'Think it appeared in my folks' December issue of Readers Digest? Unfortunately, I cannot locate the exact source --so to credit the author, an individual named "Shlomo" (I don't know if that's his first or last name).
Still, it's message so moved me.....and I hope it does you, as well.


Of the narrow escapes my sister, Judith, and I had from discovery during our year in the orphanage, one stands out particularly. It was Christmas of 1944 -- a white Christmas, with snow falling outside, but warmth within from extra coal and larger food portions. We even had meat -- meat! A Christmas tree stood in the corner, and we children were seated on both sides of a long table nicely arranged with plates. We were singing Christmas carols, their simple and pleasant melodies totally out of context of the savage war that had been raging for six consecutive Christmases.


The pleasant feeling of food in our stomachs loosened our tongues, and contrary to the usual silence enforced during meals we were permitted by the sisters to converse quietly. Boys and girls were separated as usual, but Judith and I could see and smile at each other.


Then suddenly, the door opens and Mother Superior enters, accompanied by a German officer. Judging by his uniform he must be at least a general.


"Children," Mother Superior says, "the commander of the German garrison in Zilina is a devout Catholic, and he asked to spend the evening with you. He also brought you a nice present."


The present turns out to be a large chocolate cake. It is delicious, but I cannot escape an oppressive feeling. Even on this night must the Germans intrude on the tiny and shaky island of peace I have tried to carve out for myself? I notice, too, the tension on Judith's face as she eats her cake silently, her apprehensive eyes on Herr Commandant.


Again we sing some carols -- one of them "Silent Night, Holy Night," itself so close to a prayer.


When we finish there is a pause, and the commandant whispers something to Mother Superior. After a moment's hesitation she asks: "Is there anyone here who can sing 'Silent Night' in German? It will make our distinguished guest very happy."


Both Judith and I know some German; actually we had learned the German version of this song before the Slovak one. But should I now stand up and sing it for our enemy?


As I hesitate I see Judith slowly rise from her chair and walk toward the commandant. The decision has been made for me, so I stand beside her and we join our voices: "Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht ..." As we sing, the face above the medals becomes animated and involved in our performance -- the lips move together with our words.


Then suddenly Judith gasps and stops, terror in her eyes. She has suddenly realized what I, too, had feared: Why are we two the only children who know the German version? Where are the others? The answer is simple, and surely the German officer knows it. In this part of the land it is only Jews who understand German. The Commandant has trapped us -- he knows we are Jewish.


He motions to us to approach. It seems an eternity before he speaks. Then looking at us, he says softly: "Hab keine Angst, deine Mutter und Vater werden zuruck kommen" -- "Don't be afraid, your mother and father will come back."


For him, too, it was a silent night.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Just Be-Claus

1952: Dig the look on poor Santa's face!


1953: 'Still can't convince me, big guy.



2008: This shot of our management team taken a couple weeks ago.
I've learned to smile .. but still keep a safe distance (front row, left)!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Nut Bread Caper of '85

One of the FEW things Hubby likes about Winter is my compulsion to bake. (Ya, most of the year the kitchen and I don't stay acquainted.)

Not one to substitute an ingredient, toss in a sprinkle of this or a pinch of that, it's the exactness of these recipes I find comforting. My favorite? An ages old version of banana-nut bread. Modesty aside, family and friends have raved about it ... or pretended to, which is really sweet.

Have you ever heard of a
Plantain? I'd not either, until going to live in Florida. Trust me, they are Evil.

Come December, I purchased a sack of "bananas" and set them aside to age. But even after a week they stubbornly remained a canary-p**p yellow.
Hmm, I reckoned to hurry the process via the microwave's "thaw" feature. Nothing.
OK, let's peel and slice. (Note to self: what a strange, thick peel!)
Repeat the thaw cycle, then hit 'em with the mixer ... again, they refused to yield.
Short of slipping a baggie over my boot and stomping them into submission -- I was puzzled ... and peeved.

Tossing remains in the garbage, I abandoned the notion of baking that night.
The next morning, however, I couldn't resist grabbing a survivor to bring to the office. "What do you make of this? Suppose it's a mutant, something of value?"
I caught the look that passed between co-workers; their efforts not to giggle: "That's not a banana. You're holding a plantain!"

Nope I never tasted it, or tried mixing it with other self-respecting food groups. Simply, I was afraid ... very afraid.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ecumania!

"We do not remember days, we remember moments." (Cesare Pavese)

Curious, isn't it, how long-forgotten memories can pop, front and center, out of nowhere? The other day I was up as usual at 4AM -- nursing a cup of coffee out back, marveling at the night sky .. and suddenly started giggling. OK, I'll share:

Not that many years ago, my mother's declining health mandated her relocation to an assisted living facility. Despite initial concerns regarding her assigned roommate, E. and R. became what the staff referred to as "Frick n' Frack, two peas in a pod."

Seemingly the only thing they had in common was the cruel diagnoses of advanced dementia. Yet, they took such delight in one another! Despite her mind's atrophy, mamma was always soft-spoken and courteous. Too, she fiercely remained a "hard-wired" Lutheran. R. on the other hand was Jewish, funny as heck, and well ... let's say, feisty -- you never knew what would come out of her mouth! Hence, this recollection:

One Sunday in December, I arrived at "Shady Oaks" (pseudonym) to assist dressing mamma in her favorite navy shirtwaist for "church" down the hall. Rushing, so as not to be tardy, when R. wheels in, demanding to know where we were going. Announcing that she, too, wanted to go.

Glancing about, I saw no avenue of escape. Uh ... OK. Reasoning, this can't be that bad.

When we entered the chapel, however, I immediately spotted the sacrament on the make-shift altar and realized this was the first Sunday of the month. Uh-oh. Wouldn't you know, the only remaining spot for their wheelchairs was front and center.

"What's that?" R. asks loudly, pointing to the creche. At once, I'm pressed to try and recall the exact teachings of Judaism. Instead, I attempt a diversion, offering her the hymnal. "Let's sing, sweetie."

Nervous as a mother hen, I scarcely heard the clergy. Glancing at the doorway, wondering if R's daughter would suddenly appear, demanding to know what's going on. Dreading the moment of Holy Communion. Oh please God, please don't let him say those words, "This is the body of Christ, given ...."
But I'm prepared: Near enough to cough loudly over R's "Whaaaat?!?"

Later, I felt obligated to share with R's daughter that her mother been to church and had in fact, participated in Holy Communion. Happily, she found the revelations humorous and thanked me for showing her mom a good time. (Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?)

Sadly, both my mother and R. passed within months of each other after the New Year. But like the song says, "It's the laughter, we will remember....."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Good night, God speed

A few days ago Hubby and I were privileged to attend the memorial service of a gentleman who'd finally succumbed to his brave 12-year battle with cancer.

I say "privileged" in that our presence seemed incongruous with other participants, whose wealth and stature were obvious. Accolades came from as far away as the U.S. Supreme Court. Still, we felt certain R. would approve.

What began years ago as a routine job for Hubby (the handyman), evolved into a precious alliance between the two men. While Hubby was careful never to over-step the bounds of familiarity, R would simply "poo-poo" that notion. Only last year, for instance: R phoned to see if Hubby was available for a few days work ... only to discover that "work" involved his participation in a hunting trip for classic toy train parts! (Daughter later exclaimed, "He's paying you to go play with trains?!) Then, when Hubby was undergoing chemo therapy ~ and considering quitting the whole process ~ R told him in no uncertain terms, "I know where you live and I'm coming over to kick your a**!"

Don't get me wrong. I've no prejudice against the Upper Class; nor is there a chip on my shoulder. (I hope!!!) No, I just recognized that we have little common ground -- and remained mute. Had I given voice to my recollections, however, I'd have simply said, "Thank you."

...Thank you for making me feel that my learning curve rose dramatically each time we met (without your ever being condescending).
...Thank you for the day you just tossed us the keys to your brand new car, inviting me to take her for a spin. When I demurred, you took the wheel and gave us a tour of your mountainside 'hood', regaling us with antidotes of each grand home's history and its occupants.
...Thank you for being our cheering section when Hubby's cancer threatened and we were frightened.
...Thank you for taking a real interest in our lives, never once setting off my "insincerity detector."

Doesn't everyone contemplate his or her own memorial at one time or another? I'm pretty positive there'll be no Ivy League Chancellor telling tales at my service. But I sure hope that I live my life in such a way that someone ~ perhaps someone I don't know very well ~ feels moved to offer a silent "thank you."

Saturday, December 6, 2008

All I Want for Christmas

Well, it's official ... I've become my mother.
Normally, this would not be a bad thing; the lady was an Angel on Earth.
No, what I'm referring to is her response to my annual question, "What do you want for Christmas, mama?"
"Nothing, dear." she'd respond with a smile. "I really don't need a thing." (or, if repeatedly pressed, "Oh, I could use a new hankie.")
B-o-r-i-n-g.

Now I find those words falling off my own tongue! (OK, maybe not the "hankie" part.) I sense my son's exaggerated eye-roll through the telephone.

So, what DO I want for Christmas? Peace on earth ... continued good health ... perhaps the winning Powerball ticket in my stocking? Certainly, I am grateful that someone cares enough to ask. In all honesty, I'd rather they save their money and focus on the children. Who'd have guessed, the former "material girl" would morph?

Oh ya, there are electronics and gadgets out here whispering my name. I long to play Guitar Hero on a Wii. But I don't need any of 'em. Theirs is a siren song I'm making a conscious effort to ignore.

I'm pretty sure I can count on Hubby to uphold his end of our pact not to buy for each other this year. And you know what? We're having such fun, discovering all the non-monetary opportunities to celebrate this Holy season. In fact, I'm reminded of a wonderful surprise put on by a co-worker a few years ago:

As part of our Secret Santa exchange, everyone completes a short list of questions, including of course, "What do you really want?" Tongue-in-cheek I'd scrawled, "Snow."

Well, several days later I arrived at my office, hit the lights and just gasped. "S" and several of her teammates had transformed my office into a Winter Wonderland ... complete with a myriad of fat snowflakes hanging from the ceiling and thick cotton batting that covered every inch of desk and credenza! 'Twas delightful, and remains to this day one of my all-time favorite holiday memories!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Fun

Long ago I abandoned the notion of becoming a journalist -- too bashful, not to mention my regard for the media in general (let's not go there).

Nevertheless, my "inner Barbara Walters" pops out every now and then -- aided and abetted by the captivating "Conversation Piece" book by Bret Nicholaus and Paul Lowrie.

Ready to have some fun? Here' a sampling! For this exercise, I'm playing both the interviewer and interviewee -- but I'd really like it if YOU would play along, then share your own answers ... or even some new questions!

As the Christmas season draws near, what song is it that you can't wait to hear?
Michael Crawford's "Oh, Holy Night."

Conversely, what Christmas song drives you nuts?
--Blue Christmas (Porky Pig)

If you were playing "Name That Tune," which Christmas song do you think you could identify in the least number of notes? (Think carefully!)

--Frosty, the Snowman.

Besides the 5 Golden Rings, which gift from "The Twelve Days of Christmas" would you be most interested in receiving?
--Those 8 maids ...puleeze!

If you could spend Christmas in any European locale, which one would you choose?
--Vienna, Austria.

In your opinion, what is the best taste the Christmas season has to offer?
--Raw sugar-cookie dough!

If you could spend Christmas Day with any TV family, past or present, with which family would you choose to celebrate?

--The Cartright's (Bonanza).

What is your favorite Christmas decoration in your home? (The tree doesn't count!)

--Antique sleigh bells, worn by my grandfather's team of horses (ca. 1915).

In your opinion, what would be the ideal temperature for Christmas Day?
--50 degrees.

What is one thing you've always wanted to do during the holiday season, but haven't done thus far?

--Ice-skate at NYC's Rockefeller Center.

...YOUR turn!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Oh, Christmas Tree

So, this weekend marks the resurrection of our Christmas tree. A few years back, after practically choking the Electolux to death, Hubby reluctantly agreed to purchase a pre-lit perma-evergreen.

Tho' I'm wildly anxious to witness our home's transformation, I tend to view the process almost like one does a root canal. You'd guess after all these years, I'd relax. Yet I can't shake the misguided notion that our display should resemble a store-front show-stopper. Highly improbable, given my chromosome-lacking design skills.
(You see, this season marks but 4 years together as husband and wife .. and yes, the individual who formerly co-signed Hubby's income tax returns is an artist.)

It's become a joking matter now, but 6 years ago when I was a relative "newbie" at the resort -- and no-one knew quite what to do with me -- my boss assigned me the task of decorating not one, but 4 very public Christmas displays. I'll never forget the kind-hearted engineer who responded to my call for a ladder, and found me close to tears: "Oh Glenn, I'd rather be scrubbing toilets!" I wailed. He just smiled: "Well, that could be arranged." I had to laugh. (And tho' it didn't turn out as awful as I feared, it should be noted that I've never again been asked to decorate our Lobby tree!)

A few flashbacks ...
Although my folks never fell for the aluminum, color-wheel phenomena, we did succumb to "pink angel hair" ... that I loved, but left us scratching our arms for days!

Most poignant? My Real Distress after spotting the near-frozen, homely specimens not chosen, leaning forlornly against the 7/Eleven on Christmas Day. (50-some years later, I'm still prone to get a lump in my throat.)

For a period prior to our coming together, my bachelorette condo sported a beautiful, albeit small, Hallmark specimen. Uncrate n' plug-er in. No fuss, no muss ... pass the eggnog!

For reason that are still unclear, the olde-family ornaments from my mother's home disappeared shortly after her death -- together with the tree skirt she stitched with such love. And for that reason, a few years ago I studied eBay offerings and discovered the Perfect skirt, described as having been "loved by our family for generations." What a pedigree, eh?!

Oh, I know in my head everything will come together. We'll "ooh" and "aah" and reassure one another that this year's tree is the best ever. The ornaments won't match; there's no theme ... but I like to think it represents the best of our borrowed and blended family. In fact, I might wander over to eBay now, to try and discover another "previously loved" bauble needing a good home!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Year of the Dog


...or, How I Spent my Summer Vacation.

Today is "black dog's" 13th birthday. (I think. Could be his 14th.) What's the equivalent ... 91 human years? Although he still romps and grins, B's mush has turned snowy white; his legs appear arthritic.

Recently when B became seriously ill, Hubby and I came to peace with the idea of saying, "Goodbye, God-speed." Despite our love for our dogs (or, should I say because of it), we'll not allow him to suffer. But, like the mythical Phoenix, he bounced back from surgery, displaying what the vet called "an amazing will to live." So be it.

And, while I'm inclined to pamper both dogs, I've not actually thrown either a party. (Sing "Happy Birthday" and toss an extra piece of cheese their way? Well, ya!) Realizing this may well be B's last holiday, I've insisted we take him on an excursion to PetsMart.

Now as some of you know, this is the same animal that nearly cost me my leg earlier this year. Love knows no reason, OK?

Originally destined to become an "assist dog" (no, I've no idea what happened), B eventually happened into our childless, quiet environment. Certainly, his voice and stature are enough to give any wanna-be thug second thoughts ... yet, he's a southern gentleman with a sweet disposition -- 99% of the time. Realizing that he's Totally Intolerant of high-pitched noise or sudden movements, we always obey leash laws and confine him to a back bedroom if the grandchildren visit.

Friday night, late May. I'd retired early, only to get the thirsties a little while later. Not paying much attention, I padded to the kitchen ... spotted a gargantuan insect scurrying across the tile ... and instinctively S-c-hrieked! Launching backwards, I collided with B, who'd been following silently.

Pressure, incredible pressure. Looking down, I realize B's teeth are embedded in my calf. The next few minutes, a kaleidoscope of chaos: "OMG, I think this is bad; would you grab me some towels?" "No, wait. C just pooped on the rug." (where did that come from?) "Never mind, let's get you in the truck; I can see your muscle. Now!"

Going from a Black Russian a few hours earlier to morphine ... bad trip. A slow night in the E.R., it seemed that every med-type on duty paraded through to peek and offer an opinion. 4 days later, I was finally paroled from West Valley Hospital (only after my threatening to "go Postal") ... contingent on my agreeing to another 2 weeks home-health care. You see, throughout the whole ordeal I never experienced any real discomfort; and no, I refused their goofy Viocodin after just one day. (Baaaad stuff.) Gimme my caffeine, my nicotine, I'll be Just Fine, thank-you-very-much. Oh. And may I please just go back to work?

In the ensuing weeks, B rarely left my side. And, God-bless those folks, orderlies and MD's alike, who asked in all sincerity, "Is your dog doing OK?" (The only time I wept, it was fear of him being taken away.)

Sacrifices? So, I won't be wearing shorts in public -- that's actually a relief since I've been self-conscious about my varicose veins for years. Too, I won't lose sleep over my decision to divorce a couple so-called friends who kept making unsolicited comments about "Cujo" and questioning our decision not to put him down. In fact, one person opined that B bit me because he's "jealous of you taking away his father"! Hey, you're welcome to your opinion, but please, just go away.

So, this Thursday I'll be sure and include thanks for B's long life and the fact I still have two legs that might not be so pretty, but they get me where I'm going! Meanwhile, I've got a date with a big black dog at PetsMart.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

11 Seconds in Dallas

Those of us of a certain age are never at a loss to remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the Terrible News out of Dallas.

Forever young ... never mind that sweet Caroline is now 50. Her image (and John's) are indelibly etched in our minds eye.

But what about the babies Lee Harvey Oswald left behind? Sometimes I wonder, whatever became of those two innocents?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Over the River n' Through The Woods

Giving Thanks

I'm tickled to join Kelli and friends today, to participate in her Giving Thanks Celebration week. Thanks for having us over, Kelli!

So, here's the scoop from our spot in the desert:

Hubby's due to confer with his daughter any day now re. who gets to host this year's Thanksgiving feast.
My bet's on Daughter ... hers is the most central locale, plus she's less inclined to stress than if they wind up schlepping their brood to our place.
6 years now, I've been privy to this tug-of-war ... and I'm still awed at her ease, both in the kitchen and hosting the multitudes.

Ah, I'll never forget the look on Hubby's face our first year together. I asked, "So, where would you like to go for Thanksgiving?"
Go out for Thanksgiving?!? He regards me as though I'd suddenly sprouted 3 heads.

I'm serious. Deep roots; my father's voice: "Lum and I both work hard all year. I'm not going to ask her to spend her holiday in the kitchen!" After all, it was just the 3 of us; our nearest relatives lived thousands of miles away.

So after carefully researching the travel sections, we'd pack our bags for a brief getaway. Choice of dining was also critical since none of us were fond of turkey (i.e., limited holiday menus). More echos: "I think I'm going to be thankful for a steak this year."

As an adult, I've been curious to learn of others' holiday traditions. For instance, a friend once shared stories of his annual "Orphan Thanksgiving" -- he and his wife would invite co-workers who had no nearby family nor means to travel. Then, with a chuckle he'd add: "This year we're going to be thankful for ribs!".

Now, Hubby is a marvelous cook and thoroughly enjoys himself in the kitchen. This is Fortunate, being I've never prepared a bird in my life ... and honestly don't yearn to learn. Give me the clean-up detail any day!

Though I'm still not fond of turkey, I've come to realize that Thanksgiving isn't so much about the choice of entree as it is us all putting aside any petty differences and being together, bumps, warts n' all.
Just in case, I'll be sure to eat a big breakfast beforehand!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


We anticipate each year's Fountain Hills Festival of the Arts like children do Christmas morning ... and yesterday didn't disappoint! Set in one of my favorite spots of the Valley, our enjoyment's not so much about procuring a treasure, but simply strolling, people-watching, and of course, eating! This year we opted for the crepes -- a startling departure from Tom's BBQ (traditionally my weakness).

Oh sure, there were a couple of Musts: First stop, a visit with the amazing Don Schimmel. (Hubby gently reminded me, if I bring another of his pieces back, our home's going to resemble a gallery!). Next, the folks at Greyhound Rescue and Arizona Guide Dogs ... awwwww, I'd take 'em all!

Last but not least, homage to my real-time Hero, Joe Arpaio.

We resisted the pink handcuffs, but did come away with a new pair of pink boxers for Hubby and an oversize t-shirt to complete my own sleep set. (Hubby quips, "Now you have some uppers to go with your lowers!")

S'marvelous!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hot Fudge Sundae

Lucky ducks!!! ... 'twas my gut reaction to televised accounts of last week's blizzard in the Dakotas. Hubby just shakes his head.

Originally from the Midwest, his recollections of winters in Chicago differ enormously from my own "Currier & Ives" childhood in the Rockies ... think snowbanks that literally crunch underfoot.

If you've not figured out, Winter is my absolute favor-ite season!!! (Please don't ask, what are you doing in Phoenix?)

Ours has become a familiar joust: (Me) "Could we book our trip to Chicago this January?" (Him) "You wouldn't last 48 hours!"

Finally getting around to the point of this piece ...
Contrasting our recent overnight lows, my spirits have skyrocketed. Since I leave for work at o'dark-thirty each morning, I've been able to indulge in the "ice-cream sundae" effect: wait for my car's engine to fully warm, crank the heater and blower to max, then roll down the window. Right side toasty, left side brisk -- viola, I'm a hot fudge sundae!

OK, I don't particularly enjoy being Really Cold for extended periods. Rather, it's a delicious anticipation of becoming warm again -- whether it be a long hot shower, a hot buttered rum or simply huddling under layers of down quilts. All that's missing is a roaring fireplace ...can't have it all.

So here we are, approaching "the most wonderful time of the year." (Thank you, Andy Williams.) Having compromised earlier this year and keeping our home's thermostat at 80, I've informed Hubby that I'll break his fingers if he even tries to engage the heat. Stay tuned ....

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Vroom, vroom!

Those boys and their toys (aka NASCAR) are back in town!
'Suppose I've a passing interest in the sport -- gotta dig those all-American, clean-cut faces! -- but not enough to correctly match names with numbers, much less sit still and watch.

Tho' we'll not be attending the races, and there's little likelihood of running into Jeff Gordon at the local supermarket, I've a nagging question: Do these men ever experience difficulty -- amending their driving habits once they're off of the track, commuting with the rest of us? I mean, if doing 200 m.p.h. comes naturally, wouldn't 65 or 70 feel torturous?

And given their superior reflexes, wouldn't it be a kick to have a pro driver along for the Monday-Friday commute?

...just a silly thought. :)

Friday, November 7, 2008




3 days after the fact, I've pretty much abandoned the notion of moving to Canada ... 'never much cared for the taste of my own sour grapes. Besides, hubby hates cold weather.

So, I'm loitering at the dealership, waiting for my car's release from rehab. Then, my eyes are drawn to a gi-normous American flag wafting lazily outside the lounge. Sure, it's edges are seriously frayed; it could use a warm bath. Nevertheless, I'm mesmerized.

Things are tough these days, ya. On a personal level, absurd and unexpected medical bills have exhausted our savings. Still, we're so blessed to live in a country where opportunities erupt every day ....and recovery's not only possible, but Probable.

You know, I recently overheard someone refer to the Great Depression; and that this generation (vs. our parents and grandparents) isn't strong enough.
............Wanna bet?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Aftermath

A few days ago I received an audio clip that left me shaking my head. A (presumed) reporter went to Harlem interviewing potential voters, asking if they agreed with Obama's policies. The irony was, each policy was actually part of McCain's platform! You guessed it: to a person, they wholeheartedly agreed. It gets worse! When asked, "do you agree with Barack Obama's choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate?", their approval was unanimous.

.... which begs the question: Does anyone else agree that competency (intelligence) tests should be administered before granting someone their voter's registration card? Heck, I'm not aware of any card-carrying driver who didn't have to take a driver's license test! Isn't the future of our nation equally important?

I'll attempt levity a little later. Right now, color me saddened.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A long, long time ago when it seemed everybody "Liked Ike", I'd struggle to comprehend our nation's electorate process. Why, I asked my father, didn't the winner get to be President ... and the loser, Vice-President?

'Made sense to a 6-year-old ... and to be perfectly honest, I still don't sense a great degree of difficulty in that childish notion.
Bi-partisanship, indeed!

These days our granddaughters are keenly aware and curious. I thank God for their parents' unbiased counsel. Even so, I was astonished when my son privately confessed, "If Obama wins the White House, I hope that after 4 years I can honestly say, 'My gosh, this is the best President we have ever had!'" (Sheer geographical distances prevented my checking his forehead for a raging fever.)

While it's obvious I disagree, I must keeping reminding myself, we're One Nation, Under God, indivisible .........

Sunday, October 26, 2008

...as we Forgive Those who Trespass Against us.

Having grown up in a fundamentally religious household (think, generations of clergy), I'm now inclined to refer to myself as a "recovering Lutheran." In fact, I credit an angel named Leddy Hammock and Unity for saving my sanity. But more about that later. Perhaps.

Still, I'm comforted each morning by the words of The Lord's Prayer. And therein lies my dilemma: How can I possibly consider myself a Christian and not espouse that business of forgiveness?

Yes, this post is assuredly self-serving.... you may choose to skip it. I'm thinking that finally spitting it out on paper will, perhaps, quiet the Resentment I've allowed to fester too long.

A few background notes:

Given: I've no argument with posted speed limits. OK, I'm a "speed chicken" ... and yes, it's true that I was teased unmercifully during my Corvette years for failure to "let her out."

Given: In the Fall of 1998 I was involved in an auto accident on I-75 that by all rights should have killed or seriously maimed me.

Given: My aged Subaru had become unreliable, and given my finances (or lack thereof), I rented a sub-compact (P.O.S.) for a weekend jaunt to visit my mother, some 100 miles to the south.

Your honor, sir .......

Twilight, Interstate 75, Sarasota County, Florida. Spitting distance from the site of an earlier trauma. I discovered a while back that the entire P.O.S. would vibrate ridulously when its speedometer hit 65 mph.

From a distance, I sighted blue flashing lights and automatically glanced at my speedometer. Nope, I'm good. Then sighting an overpass, I noted silhouettes and presumed an accident had occurred. A few seconds later, headlights of a fast-approaching vehicle shone in my rear-view mirror. As that driver came around and we passed side-by-side beneath the overpass, I realized the activity above was F.H.P. laser.

I have to admit to chuckling, calling the other driver "Bear Bait." Color me astonished when a minute later, my car was pulled over. As "Trooper S" approached my window, I guessed a broken tail light or something akin. No, he claimed I'd been clocked at 87 mph. Say whaaaat??? When I tried to explain about the other driver, that he must have been mistaken, I was told in no uncertain term to "Shut up." I shut up. (Note to self: Who pooped in his Wheaties this morning?) Furthermore, he threatened me with the loss of my license and/or jail time if I were to contest the ticket in a court of law.
Hell-o??!

A while later, my mother attempted to comfort me, advising me to pay the ticket, ask God to forgive them and forget it. I couldn't. I can't.

Yes, I appeared in court, as did "Trooper S" ... who wouldn't stop smirking. The make-believe trial was over in minutes. Presumed to be a liar, I deigned to pay the fine.

Remember the old saw "Police are our Friends"?
Some days ... the dragon wins.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Good Intentions, Unexpected Blessings

Had I been blogging faithfully, an earlier post would have fairly vibrated: I'm so excited ... really excited ... EX-CITED!!!

See, my BFF "D" and her Significant Other were making their way west for a long-anticipated visit. No ordinary excursion, theirs was an arduous, 2,300-mile road trip ... complicated by Very Real health challenges that limited their driving time to 3 hours a day! Impossible, some surmised.

Now, D is one of those exquisite individuals whose word you can take to the bank. Despite years spent wrestling physical and professional demons, she never lost sight of her promise to visit Arizona. (Color me, humbled.)

So, each day following "lift off" I'd hover at the computer, either aghast or tickled silly by details of their Amazing Race.

(Did I mention, D is the funniest person I've ever known? Not "on purpose" funny - it just flows naturally, prompting the rest of us to grab the Depends.

Nearing two weeks into the journey, both contracted nasty head colds, but continued, unsuspecting up and into Flagstaff ... whose thin mountain air would wreak havoc.

Last Saturday I awoke, feeling as tho' I'd won the Lottery: Bring out the fatted calf and fire up the vaporizer! Come mid-afternoon their car crossed the end zone!

Now, by her own admission, D is not the same blithe spirit who'd partner in mischief across Florida, in what came to be known as our Annual. C's mobility is similarly limited. But overcome by emotion, I'd overlooked those facts. Homage to the Superstitions, to Sedona was not in the cards. Our focus was simply to help heal. Fearing their disappointment, my heart hurt.

But guess what? There was more enjoyment to be had just sitting, sipping and smoking ... coupled with several riotous trips to SuperTarget, where I'd trail behind their twin scooters like some benevolent chaperon.

D's insights and witty observations were so very comforting. What's weird about our friendship is, we have absolutely nothing in common! Still, she's heard my deepest fears and shame-iest secrets. Not one to always agree for the sake of unity, D makes me feel I'm an OK sort of gal after all. So I relaxed -- in a fashion I'd not allowed myself to feel in years ..... no cosmetics required! An unexpected bonus was getting to know the fella who's captivated her heart. Belying his tough-guy image, C is a gifted artist with a knack for discovering extraordinary in the ordinary. (Plus, he cooks!!!)

Sure, I could feed in that cocoon of endorphins 'til I burst. But of course, all fairy tales must come to an end. Two days ago, with tears in our eyes, we waved Arrivederci. (Note: That's an on-purpose word I love. Long ago in another time and place, a man near to my heart gently whispered in broken English, "is not so final as your Americans goodbye. Rather, it means, until we meet again." Is that cool, or whaaaat?!)

If anyone has a better, more meaningful phrase for "Thank you" I'd welcome learning that, too.

P.S.
An occasional Lottery player (or, sucker), I'm now determined to invest a dollar each week, earmarked to renew our Annual. Life's too darn short to postpone the Important Stuff!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Super Glue is NOT my friend.

Despite chaos surrounding my office these last couple weeks, I awoke yesterday feeling refreshed and assured. No doubt, the Very Important Meeting would flow smoothly.

Did I just say "assured"? That would be my first mistake.

My role is, at best, that of a minor league player. However, I'm always anxious to make a good impression on our company VIP's. These men and women are honestly amazing .... in fact, I would probably pay for the opportunity to apprentice under Madam President. (shhh!) Anyhow, I digress.

Sensing my urgency, the Universe decided to remind me that "haste makes waste": I began the workday by slamming a desk drawer on my middle finger, effectively splitting the acrylic nail down through the ikky, pink center. #*!%*!!!

Instead of doing the sensible thing and throwing a band-aid on the offending digit, I paged Engineering to puleeeze rush me some Super Glue. (Note: It's been 30+ years since I last attempted to force open a tube ... with my teeth. Really.)

Engineering delivered not one, but two tubes, explaining "they're little; knock yourself out." Carefully, deliberately, I lifted the little red cap, punctured the nozzle, then began to squeeze. Nothing. (Hmm, must be old, used glue.) Push the pin a little deeper and squeeze. Still nothing. (Flippin, defective glue!). On to the second tube and repeat.

About this time a co-worker kindly suggested that I actually remove the foil membrane protecting the contents. Anxiously wielding a safety-pin, I missed the rest of his sentence: "but be very careful."

You guessed it. Super Glue splashed happily, mightily across both hands and the desk blotter. Grab the Kleenex, this is a 911! (Soooo wrong.) Did you know water is actually an accelerant? Me neither.

The Great Meeting was anticlimactic. My hubby (the hobbyist) recommended a lanolin-base lotion, so I wasn't reduced to sitting on my hands. My blotter (presently upside-down) doesn't look all that awful either. 'Just hope I'll not be prohibited from using scissors or packing tape anytime soon.

Monday, September 22, 2008

OK, so I'm a bookworm. As a kid, I'd regularly escape into my stories ~ to the point of bringing a book to the dining room table, or a flashlight to illumin the bedcovers. (Brat, ya.)

Nowdays I'm fortunate, in that my hubby is similarly smitten. It's not unusual for us to spend a good part of our weekends, each lost in the far-away. Worlds away, yet together.

As I've grown and evolved, so have my preferences in authors and genres. (Well, duh!) While hubby has a naturally curious mind, he can thoroughly enjoy both a weepy Nicolas Sparks tome as well as hard-bitten Clive Cussler. On the other hand, if I can't visualize it ... can't feel it ... no thank you very much. In other words, I want my stories here-and-now; i.e., the last 25-30 years, set in the good old U S of A. (Narrow minded? Ya.) Could be why I never fathomed the necessity of history class?

Around, about my Danielle Steele phase, network television thought it a cute idea to produce made-for-TV movies based on several of her best sellers. Bleah. Then, color me DISAPPOINTED when the actor/actress in no way resembled the character I'd imagined. For example: Have you ever listened to a stranger via the telephone or radio, then been shocked when you saw them in person?

Of course, Hollywood got into the act, turning prose into worthy films. While I am not a big filmgoer, I've seen my share and, more often than not, wondered if the book's author felt raped. When succumbing to whatever carrots Hollywood dangled, did they ever consider (that) producers would take such liberties with their original content? (Think, "The Notebook.") If they didn't, well I felt righteously indignant on their behalf. Hrmph!

Some years ago, I discovered a sure-fire way to fall asleep quickly, sans sleep-aids. This works particularly well if I am in the midst of an enjoyable read. Once comfortable, I mentally return to the page ~ only this time I hold the film rights and it's my turn to cast the players. Based solely on my interpretations, I might contract the memory of an old classmate's face .... a co-worker ... even a bona-fide star. Nothing's impossible in fantasy-land!

OK, I'll give you a for instance. This one was easy ~ his face sprang to mind before I'd finished my first Jonathan Kellerman novel (the Alex Delaware series). Introducing ... Tommy Lee Jones as Milo Sturgis! (Hey, works for me!) Fast-forward a few years, I still haven't been able to conjure a suitable Alex Delaware.

... but I'm working on it. Sweet dreams, ya'all!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Good morning!

As part of its Service Standards, our company embraces the "Ten-Foot Rule." In other words, when finding oneself within 10 feet of another, we are expected to smile and offer a pleasant "Good morning/afternoon."

Having spent many years in West Texas, this mandate struck me as somewhat curious. Shouldn't such actions be instinctive?

I've fond memories of one elderly gentleman who lived on Barrow Street in Abilene during the 1970's: Steadying himself on an aluminum walker in his front yard, he would cheerfully wave to commuters each early morning. I'm ashamed to admit that I never took the time to stop and say, "thank you." Nor did I learn his story.

Family and careers forced our relocation more than 1,000 miles away, to an eastern metropolis where unsolicited greetings were viewed with surprise, then suspicion. In little time, I learned to stifle (or at least limit) my congeniality.

These days - blessedly settled in the Southwest -- I find it easier to smile at a stranger, or once in a while, wave at a pedestrian along my commute. I'm trying to accept that some startled glances or averted eyes does not make them awful human beings; that I shouldn't make judgments.

Still, more often than not, I wonder what ever became of Abilene's cheerful herald.

Friday, September 12, 2008

While going through the family archives, I recently discovered a horde of neatly-banded greeting cards, some dating back to the early 1900's. Since I'm really "craft challenged" they remain as I found them. Perhaps, one of these days a few will enjoy new life as part of a shadowbox or an accompaniment to a scrapbook.

Pre-cyberspace, the sight of a Hallmark envelope in the mail was a Big, Happy deal! Remember during the holiday season when it was considered a sacrilege to merely sign one's name? (The term "uppity" comes to mind.) At the very least, adding a few handwritten lines was common courtesy ... guaranteed to kindle warm fuzzy feelings.

Don't get me wrong. Today's selections are so stinkin' funny (or perfectly poignant), I could easily spend hours in our local Hallmark. Really!
Still, I wonder who actually hangs onto their cards anymore? (Excluding, of course, those priceless mementos bearing crude childhood inscriptions to "mommy"!)

Recently I happened on the following entry in a deceased's on-line Guest Book. A retelling, if you will, of sage advice in how to save money:

"He relates how you never bought Valentine Day cards. Rather, you both took the time together to select cards off the rack, showed them to one another, kissed, wished each other 'Happy Valentines Day', placed the cards back in the rack and continued to go about your business. Hallmark must have hated him!"

Isn't that a grand idea!?!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Lists!


I love 'em .... really LONG lists!

For instance,


  • 100 Things That Bring Me Joy

  • 100 Things That Turn Me Off

  • 100 Things I Miss

  • 100 Things I'm Glad I've Done

  • 100 Things I'll Never Do Again

.......you get the idea!


In this exercise ~ intended to help one dip into his or her unconscious ~ participants are urged to write quickly, repeat as often as necessary and write whatever comes to mind. Quickly.


While I'm sure that method works well for many people, I prefer to ponder ... to savor each line item. In fact, my own lists were begun more than a year ago and I've yet to reach "100" in any category!


I've heard that most people find it easier to identify their DISlikes vs. those they love. At least in my case, this has proven so .. which is a bit unsettling. I've always considered myself to be generally positive and upbeat.


Still, I wonder if "healthy dislikes" (mother always cautioned me not to se the "hate" word) don't reveal more about a person's true identity?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Ready, get-set, go!

Truth is, I'm nervous.
The time's come ... n' I've made a commitment to attempt this Blog-business, without appearing foolish.

Years ago, a friend quipped, "Struggling with a problem in your mind is like trying to play racquetball in the bathroom." (Certainly, those walls are pockmarked, big-time!)

Any and all recollections/impressions/fantasies are intended as a tool ~ to jump-start my long-neglected practice of therapeutic writing. I hope they won't appear too self-serving. Leading with the heart, one is never sure.

Finally, I'm reminded of the friendly sponsor's advice, "Just DO it!".


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pentimento

Old paint on canvas, as it ages, sometimes becomes transparent. When that happens it is possible, in some pictures, to see the original lines: a tree will show through a woman's dress, a child makes way for a dog, a large boat is no longer on an open sea. That is called Pentimento, because the painter "repented" (changed his mind).
Perhaps, it would be as well to say that the old conception, replaced by a later choice, is a way of seeing, and then seeing again.

That is all I mean about the people in this book. The paint has aged now and I wanted to see what was there for me once, what is there for me now.

-- Lillian Hellman
(from her autobiography, Pentimento)