Tuesday, November 27, 2012

just a blinking line...

 That damn little blinking cursor.

 Sometimes just looking at it makes me want to scream, and other     times the darn thing can’t keep up with my typing and ends up 8 words behind dragging along like a ball at the end of a chain. Other times it’s me at the end with the ball pulling me into that black abyss know as writers block.

 I’ve always had little stories bouncing around in my head.

Sometimes I’ll sit down and jot down the ideas to come back to have a go at it later, sometimes the whole story comes flowing out on the first seating at the computer. Then there are those times when I have it, or almost have it and then…bam. Nothing.

For me, small things can trigger a story. The other day I was out in the yard and heard a far off cry of a train whistle. There are railroad tracks that run straight through the center of the city I live in, but years ago there was a proposition the city made with the rail line to divert the majority of the train traffic south of our enclave. Subsequently we don’t hear as many train whistles as we used to.

I stood up from my fall raking chores and listened. I mentally noted which direction it was coming from, heading east it sounds from the frequency of the horn. If it were headed west there would have been a break in the series when it came to the bridge. Funny how your mind can place things without truly even consciously thinking about them...

In a second not only had no more than 10 memories and stories to go with burst into my head, then the memories started to morph into ideas of stories. Within 10 minutes I had a full page of notes. I remembered sitting at my grandpa's farm eating ice cream and pie on the porch at dusk and hearing the train. "I wonder where it's headed..." my grandpa always said. It never changed, that dialogue. He'd then start into a story, but it would always start with those words..."I wonder where it's headed." I'd settle in and get comfortable because I knew then I was about to hear a 'good un'.

I went back to my yard work and came back to my office and computer later that afternoon. I looked at what I’d jotted down and had, well….nuthin’. Not nothing really, there were a bunch of ideas, but what had seemed so clear, so precise, so perfect somehow got lost in the doubt factor.

That’s what I call it. The doubt factor.

Every so often it rears its lousy head. Little voices in my own head left behind as reverberations from those from my past that put them there. I know in my conscious and logical mind that these voices don’t mean much. They are words from lost men whose only hope to redeem themselves as real humans were to put down or use those around them. You know the type. You’ve probably yourself had a run in or two with some. But even though those voices are silenced in real time, they still….just every so often…make themselves heard again.

“Nancy...Why write? And a blog? Stupid. Just stupid…nobody cares.” I can hear him say.

“Because it makes me happy. I like it. I really don’t care if anyone reads it or not, I just like doing it. Feeds the right side of my brain.”

“It’s a waste of your time.”

Alrighty. Thanks for the positive input and reinforcement. By the way, get the hell out of my life will you? My mind is saying to itself. He’s not worth it. He’s a nobody, a nothing, a loser.

My words are clear. And true. And yet I can hear his faintly in the back of my mind.

Be silent.
Go away! I don’t want or need to hear your voice. Ever again!

So I return to my screen. I will my voice to be heard loud enough to drown out anything else that might interfere.

And watch the cursor blink at me.
It looks like it’s winking really. Go ahead, it whispers to me. Just one word. Then another will come. And another, and another…it’s easy, you love it. You want it.

The little blinking cursor seduces me. Makes me follow it to the next page. The word count starts racking up on the lower left corner. 500, then 600, 700. The loser voice no longer holds any weight. It’s speaking but it can’t be heard over the clicking of the keys from my fingertips. I like the sound of the keys. It’s soothing.

And makes me wonder why it took me so long to get back. I do like it. I do want it. I do enjoy it...

About two years ago I had an idea and started writing a story. Before I knew it, it was more than a story and on it’s way to becoming a book. One morning when out walking with a friend she asked me what I’d been doing in my spare time. “Oh, I’ve been writing.”

“Your blog?” she asked.

“A little, but not much with the blogging as of late.” I responded. “I haven’t quite had the time to devote lately and well, sorry to say, I haven’t even signed on in several months.”

She looked at me from under her hood with a questioning glance. “Why…?”

“I don’t know. I’ve been writing this kinda book…” I trailed off, waiting for some sort of rebuke.

“Really! Can I read it?” she exclaimed.

“Well…it’s not done or anything…” but I ended up printing up some of the pages and gave then to her the next walk we had planned. And then promptly forgot about it.

Several months later I got a call. If the caller ID shows a number I’m not familiar with I let it roll to voicemail. If it’s someone I know, they usually follow with a call to my cell. Not quite sure why I even have a landline, I so rarely use it or check the messages.

“Hi…Nancy? My names Bill. I happened upon a story you’ve written and well, I need about another 600 pages and then when we edit it we should have a fairly good novel. Will you give me first look at it when you’re done? No pressure.”

I about dropped the phone out of shock. Really? Wow. That’s…well, frickin’ amazing!
As it turns out she gave it to her husband, who gave it to a co-worker, who gave it to his friend, who gave it to his wife, who gave it to her college roommate, who gave it to her husband, who gave it to his workout buddy Bill.

But for some reason now the blinking cursor isn’t seducing me. It taunts me. You can’t do it, can you. Watch me blink. I’m not moving. I should be moving, but I’m not. C’mon. Just try. Try to keep up. Try to make me move.

I now truly understand when in the movies they depict the writer sitting in front of the computer with nothing coming out. I get it now. The pressure is great. Almost too great. It’s no longer fun, it’s like a job. What if no one wants to read it anyway? What if it is a waste of time?

Silence you buffoon. I won't have any of that language. Stay out of my head.

So I sit back down to write the next chapter and what comes out?

I'll now flip to the other open Word page and see what happens there.
That is, if I can get past this doubt factor...


Sunday, July 1, 2012


I am obsessed.
I am not, nor ever have been a groupie. A devotee.  Or a follower. I have never been haunted by infatuation or tormented by all consuming thoughts. But I am now officially obsessed.

Sure...in the past there have been men that I thought that I wouldn’t be able to survive without. There have been shoes that I thought that I needed to live. That dessert that knew would complete me. And that unforgiving fourth martini that would make me loose control of my logical capacities.

These were not obsessions though. Far from it.

I enjoy the whole social networking thing. Linkedin. Get it. Great way to network for business. Twitter. Sure, have an account, but rarely use it anymore. I just don’t really tweet or give a tweet to be honest. Facebook. Yes and no. I get some weird satisfaction in deleting ‘friends’ that I really don’t want or need to keep in contact with. Yelp keeps me informed locally about the hot spots. Shelfari lets me find books that interest me. Pininterest for well, just about everything that I didn’t know I needed, wanted or needed to know about until I saw it. Foursquare lets me know where my friends are at. There’s hundreds of social sites. Many that I’ve never even heard of before, but they all have at least one thing in common.

I hear my teenage daughter all the time. “Did you see how many friends he has!!!!”

Is it a contest, I wonder?

I guess I don’t understand that part of it. I don’t think that I want to have that many friends knowing all my business. And really, do they care where I am or what I’m doing? Probably not. But it is fun to participate on the forum from time to time.

Blogging? I've been more addicted to it than any of the other social networks. I really, really, really enjoy reading others peoples stories and thoughts. It makes me happy to see comments on my own writings. It brings me joy and satisfaction unlike any other pursuits that I’ve had. Although I have been lax of late. :(

Some of my blogging friends are friends that I’ve never met, but have a connection to that would rival that of some of my pals that live in town. I have the honor of actually introducing two new lovebirds that met through my blog and now are embarking on an adventure together. He picking up and moving to a land across the sea. How cool is that?

But my new obsession?

I am beyond a doubt hooked. Just like the idiom, I fell for it hook, line and sinker.

Growing up I glowed when I got my first camera. A Kodak Brownie. I still own it. I remember taking it to the zoo on it's first use and of course, since I was a wee photographer when we developed the film (which I knew would be masterpieces to rival anything found in the art museum) I either cut the heads off people or the bodies off the animals. If you were looking for sky and cloud shots, there were several to choose from.

The cost of developing the film got me thinking about ‘it’s not the quantity of photos taken, but the quality of those you take.’ I’m still a firm believer in that even in the digital age where developing film has become a bit of a lost art.

I purchased my first 35mm camera, a Minolta, in middle school. I saved money and when everyone else was spending their money at the local deli for penny candy or buying ice cream sundaes at the new ice cream shop that opened, I saved and bought a camera. Complete with interchangeable lenses, thank you very much. It traveled with me everywhere. I still own it. It sits in my dressing room next to my Brownie.

I preferred black and white photography. Not surprisingly I was motivated by the contrast in Ansel Adams pictures. I liked to take close up shots of things and make the viewer wonder what the bigger picture looked like. When I was a child I colored dark. I wouldn’t lightly draw and softly color things in. The side of my hand would be deeply stained with crayon from dragging it over the picture made. I would press hard to get the color to be that OF the crayon. If it was purple, my drawing was PURPLE. I pressed hard and broke many crayons. When some students could use the same 64 pack of Crayolas for several years, I went through several packs in a month. “Mrs. Veres, you’ll need to send in some more crayons for Nancy. She has used all of hers….again.” So it wasn’t farfetched that I honed my love for high contrast in pictures, the negative space used long, long ago.

I now own a Nikon. I don’t take my big camera everywhere with me like I used to, but I DO love the photos I get when I DO use it. They are crisp and sharp and fast. You can catch a wave with the droplets hanging in air with that bad boy. I have a small point and shoot Sony which I also love. It’s lovely to take on vacation when you just want to slip a camera in your pocket and not be bothered with the care the Nikon takes. But lately I’ve gotten lazy and don’t take either with me. I just use my iPhone. Amazingly, it takes some pretty good pictures.

AND I can answer calls at the same time. Jatch golden eggs, harvest zombies or play scrabble when I'm bored. Woo-Hoo. Multitasking at it’s best.
While drinking a latte.

Oh yeah, I’m bad like that.

OR upload my photos on Instagram. Just like that.
And look at others photos.
And get followers.
And follow other people….you get the 'picture'.
YUP. Hooked. Done. Sunk.

I absolutely adore Instagram. The other day when it wasn’t working properly (for about 12 hours!) I started to check every five minutes or so. “It’s still down? What the hell! HOW am I going to upload this pic? HOW am I going to see what Jackonly (oooh, he’s so handsome), or lenz_of_the_azn_eyez (wow, great pics), Oona (serenity in photo), or sibamos (black and white brillance) have posted? I don’t ‘know’ any of these people. It's not going to change my life but somehow we got interconnected through our photos.  And I NEED to SEE them.

Sure some people I follow I know. I’m following a couple neighbors, a few people from Facebook, a  bloggy friend or two, my hairdresser…the gal that stopped by my garage sale yesterday "was Instagram working for you?" she asked me. "It's driving me bonkers!"

All I could do is nod in agreement, while checking it once again with my left hand. "Yeah, I'll get right to you on a price for that tent...I'm checking something very important here."

The majority of the people that I follow and that are following me as well are people all over the world that also have a love of photography and post their photos for all to see. I absolutely LOVE it. Love love love love love.

As a relative newbie I’m starting to pick up on the hashtag thing. There on some that overuse hashtags but I find it quite fascinating. A lady over in Israel ‘liked’ my photo because I hashtagged  #thegivingtree of a recent photo I posted of a tree stump that looked like it was weeping. There is no other way she would have ever found that picture. That intrigues me.

I can’t stop looking at my phone. I’m obsessed with seeing the news of whom I’m following whose photos their liking. I’m obsessed with finding out how those that like my photos find me. And I’m obsessed with finding others with similar photography tastes as mine own.
And it seems nor can my daughter!

My mantra of late is “put down the phone.”
But I’m just on Instagram…” she’ll whine. As if that’s acceptable when we’re at dinner but being on the phone texting or on Facebook isn’t.

“It’s your phone. We’re at dinner. Put it down.” I’ll calmly instruct. That's when I hear the familiar chime that someone has liked or followed on Instagram and it’s all I can do to NOT look at my own phone screen. She watches me intently as she heard the sound as well challenging me with her glare.

Do. Not. Look. Do. Not. Look. DO. NOT. LOOK!!!! I instruct myself.
Damn. I looked.

She laughs.
And nods in acceptance completely understanding now that I've been introduced to my newest time usurper.

Her photos are better than mine ever were at her age. She has caught the ‘bug’. The shutter bug to be exact. I bought her a camera for Christmas. A little bit better than my first Brownie…it’s a Nikon. It’s not a pocket, but not an interchangeable lens one. Yet. That I felt was a little too spendy for a 13 year old. She’s got to have to have something to look forward to after all. But she’s brilliant, really quite brillant with the iPhoneagraphy. Actually I think she prefers the iPhone over the camera.

She’s got the eye.
She wants to learn how to develop film.
She’d like a  darkroom.
AND She likes black and white high contrast as well.

And yes, when she was little she used to destroy her crayons trying to achieve the right color. That apple, I guess, doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

Now if I can just get enough followers and likes to make it to the popular page my life will be perfect.

You know, there’s a little gap where the Donald Pliner wedge sandals didn’t quite fill…


Sunday, June 17, 2012

the Stumeister...

I didn’t see it coming.

I’m a planner. I like schedules. I like to know where I’m supposed to be and when I’m supposed to be there. I used to think that I was spontaneous. I used to be spontaneous, but I'm not so much anymore. I was the girl in high school when someone said in the middle of a gathering, “hey…I have some cousins in Eastlake having a party”, I’d be the one saying, “Let’s go! It’s just 120 miles!”
That happened. My parents were not pleased.

Somewhere, somehow that spontaneous me died. Or retreated. Or maybe I just grew up. Sure, it raises its head every so often and shows itself. Case in point---sitting on the beach watching the lake waves one moment; and the next driving to West Virginia to gamble. Probably not one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Or seeing an offer on Groupon and then booking a flight to the Dominican Republic that leaves in two days. That one was a good decision.

But I do like having plans. When going on vacation I read about it and find out of the way places that only locals know about. I keep my fridge somewhat stocked just in case friends stop over and I always carry my passport just in case a flight is leaving somewhere...so plans? Yes. I dig them.
Not Franklin Planner plans like my brother. If it’s not in his planner, it’s not going to happen…but, you know,  plans. I like a semblance of order. It gives me a sense of comfort. And I suppose of control.
Over Easter spring break I planned to take a little trip south to the Island. You’ve heard about it before. Amelia Island…It’s my happy place. I was in need of a little happy recharge, so I loaded up the Commander and off we went. I decided to bring Sienna, my labradoodle, on this trek with us. Sienna is the perfect dog. Never barks, easy going, doesn’t shed, never complains. Just perfect. Plus she loves water, so I thought it would be nice to have her join me on my long morning walks.

The other pup, Stuey, is quite handsome, but like many handsome guys…high maintenance. He’s not easy going, barks at everything, complains a lot and is not a water dog. Taking him for the walks would be good, but I worried about leaving him alone in the cottage if we went out. I'm sure he'd ahve been fine, but I didn't want to worry about him so I made arrangements to leave him behind.
Two days into our vacation I got a call, “Have you noticed anything wrong with Stu’s breathing?” I thought about it but couldn’t think of anything offhand. We’d had a few unseasonably warm days and there was one night when he was wheezing or something a bit. I thought it might be the heat, or allergies as the trees were letting off a ton of pollen. I remember it being bedtime and here’s Stu making this ruckus.

You have to know a little background on the Stumeister. He’s an American Bulldog, looks like Petey from the little rascals, is quite the good looking dog and very well knows it. He thinks he’s Alpha but as I had a throw down with him one day, “You’re NOT Alpha. You’re not even Omega. Fact is you might not even be Gamma.” All this said whilst I had my hands on his collar standing over him as he lay on the ground belly up.

As before mentioned, he’s a little headstrong, requires tons of attention, thinks he’s a lapdog (at 110 pounds), takes up most of the bed at night and has separation anxiety.

He has started scenting my dressing room. WITH his urine.
Yes, you read that correctly.

On my stuff because I wasn’t spending enough time with him and he wants everyone within nose shot to know I’m HIS. Of course he sprayed my blazers, mostly. All the things that can’t be washed but need to be dry cleaned. IF the cleaners  can even salvage the damage…that is.
Why would I deal with all of this from a pet?

Because I love him.
As you know, I'm a sucker for handsome men. They get me each and every time...
And although part of me DID want to take him with us I felt it best to leave him at home. This way MY vacation would STAY MY vacation and not a caretaker event for my pup.
So the worried call about his breathing troubled me. Not only did I remember that one instance but Boo said she’d heard him ‘coughing’ a few times. His behavior didn’t seem changed, but there was a little something amiss…I just didn’t think that much of it.

Stuey was staying with Boo’s dad. “He was pretty bad. His gums were blue so I took him to the vet.” They did some x-rays and determined there was something in his chest cavity. Fluid, to be exact. They sedated Stu and drained several liters. Apparently this relieved the pressure for Stu and although not as rambunctious as usual, he seemed fine. Three days later he needed to have a chest tap again. I called and spoke to the vet.

“Dr. Peddi…honestly, what do you think?”

“Well…I know what you’re asking. I can hear it in your voice. It could be a couple of things…one of which is treatable and the other two aren’t.” she told me.

“I hate to ask this, but what would the potential cost be?” We’d already racked up over $2000 in expenses with the chest taps, x-rays, medication and service calls.

“Anywhere between $2000 and $6000 for surgery and if it’s the one thing I think it might be we’d just sew him back up and euthanize him….”

I had to be logical. Sidestep and leave my heart out of this decision.
This was a pet. And I’m looking at a potential 6 months of mortgage payments to maybe keep him alive?....

“Do you, may I…” I was trying to get through the words but kept choking up, “Can I bring him in to you to..you know…put him….” I couldn’t finish. Somehow I felt as if I said it then I’d have betrayed Stuey.

“Yes, Nancy. I’ll be here this Friday. Is that ok?” she asked. Dr. Peddi is the best. So kind; so considerate.

I spent the next whole day just attending to Stuey. He had steak and cheese and all his favorites, although not much. He wasn’t eating much, but enjoyed what he did. I tried to get him up on the bed in his usual spot, but he kept sliding down to the floor. So I propped him with pillows to get him comfortable and slept on the floor with him. I would doze only to awaken with him standing over me, struggling for air. It was disconcerting to find him standing over me. Looking down, struggling for air, silently pleading with me to stay awake with him.

I was afraid to fall asleep. I kept thinking that he’d pass while I slept and although that might have been the easiest thing to happen, for me at least, I couldn’t let him go alone. The most comfortable position was that of standing with his neck extended and head slightly raised. I suppose that opened the air passages. It was painful to watch him. I wept a lot. Heck, I’m weeping now…

I stroked him and cuddled him and told him what a great dog he had been and how we would miss him.  His big black eyes looked deep into my soul seeming to understand my sorrow. He would lick my face from time to time whisking away the tears. By morning we were both exhausted. And ready.

I couldn’t watch him struggle any longer. It would have been selfish to try to keep him. I loaded him into the passenger seat and we went for our last car ride.

The clinic was wonderful . The receptionists knew why we were there and they all pushed back tears of their own as we walked by them to the big back room. They had the lights dimmed, soft music playing and a large blanket on the floor. He wagged his tail when he saw Dr. Peddi and she plopped down on the floor with us and hugged him. “Hey big fella…” she said scratching him behind the ears. “I’d hoped not to see you…”

He answered her soothing voice with a nuzzle. I felt a pang of regret for bringing him. I wondered if it was too late. Maybe I shouldn’t make this decision and just let it happen naturally. I think Dr. Peddi felt my confusion. “It’s really the best thing. You don’t want to be there or see him if he goes into duress.” She gave him an injection for anxiety. “It’s like an out of body experience this way for him…” Dr. Peddi explained.

He started to pant and had big google eyes. Big guy was stoned out of his gourd and the comical look on his face made me laugh through my tears. I thought about taking a picture of him, but didn’t.  
Big Stu went into cardiac arrest before they even gave him the final injection, he was that weak. And then, Poof! he was gone.

I hadn’t planned on returning from vacation to put down my dog.
I didn’t have it on my calendar.

Amazingly enough without him around my house seems to stay cleaner. Longer. I no longer have to put things on my leather chairs to keep him from jumping into them. I don’t have to cover my couch to keep in clean from drool or muddy paw prints. There aren’t little white hairs in all of my black clothing. My back yard no longer has worn spots from running.  The mailman no longer passes our house from fear of his bark and my dressing room no longer smells like pee.

But I miss him like the dickens.

Sienna misses him as well. She tries to tussle with me or Boo and it isn’t quite the same as it was with him. I’ve been taking Sienna down to the dog park for social hour with other pooches, but she doesn’t like the gravel they have in the fenced in area. I think it hurts her paws. She keeps running back to check with me and then looks about. I think she’s waiting to see if THIS is where Stu is…
When out for walks she always stops and sniffs the same places. I think she can still smell the beast and thinks he might be here. Or there. But is disappointed to not find him.

Boo is asking me when we’re getting another dog. I’m just not quite ready for it. Yet. I kind of like my house staying clean. I like the yard growing lush. I enjoy my pee free home.

But, I might be soon.

I just need to put it on the calendar. 
‘Cause if it’s on the calendar, then….well. I ‘m a planner, remember?
Rest in Peace dearest Stuey...4/20/12       

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sing along why don't cha...

I just celebrated a birthday.
No, no…I’m not telling you this in order to receive more birthday wishes. (although feel free as it makes me feel all warm, fuzzy and loved)…no, I’m sharing this with you, well, just because.

The day before my birthday the doorbell rang. I was nearby and wouldn’t be able to pass off that I wasn’t home, so as one normally does when the doorbell rings, I answered it. There stood a man holding a bouquet of flowers.
"Nancy?” he inquired.

“Yes, I’m Nancy.”
“Here ma’am, these are for you…” as he handed over the bouquet to me.

I accepted the flowers but cringed at the sound of ‘ma’am’. Ma’am was my mother and my mothers mother before that and my mothers mothers mother. I wasn’t ready for that moniker and inwardly was a little off put by it. “Thank you. Thank you so very much!” I said, “But please for future reference…ma’am is my mother.” I smiled to let him know I was just kidding with him.
He laughed, grinned and waved, “Yes ma’….I mean miss. I get that a lot. But I was raised in the south. Everyone is ma’am there or you get a whoopin’.”

Yes, sir. I bet you would. And if I were 10 years younger and you were….Oh Nancy. Stop yourself!
I did smile though. The thought pleased me, just a tad.

The flowers were just lovely. It held several rubrim lilys (my favorite), some daisies, some tulips, some curly willow branches and some other exotic things that I don’t know the name of but are oh, so lovely. I unwrapped the box it was stapled into and it revealed a modern square vase that was just as beautiful as the flowers themselves.
Tucked in the flowers was a card, which I then opened to find out who was so thoughtful (and prompt!) with birthday wishes.

It read: Happy Birthday Love, Dad

Birthday, check: that must be for me.
Love, Dad….Dad sent ME flowers? He never sends flowers. I’ve never, ever gotten flowers from Dad. He used to stop and buy a carnation or rose or a grocery bouquet every so often for mom as she loved flowers and flower arranging, but he’s really not the ‘send flowers’ kind of guy.
I turned the card over. Was it a mistake? I half expected them to be from my ex-husband. HE’s the flower sending type of guy, but my dad? Never.

I called my brother. “Did you have something to do with this? I got flowers from Dad!” I exclaimed.
“I talked to him the other day and reminded him there was a big birthday coming up, but no…the flowers were all his idea. He needed your address, but he’s the one that said “Hey, I should send her flowers!” he chuckled, "I thought you might be surprised."

Wow. Yup. Yes, Indeedy it was (and still is!) surprising!
The day of my birthday, well wishes coming via Facebook were off the chart. My daughter bought me some exquisite chocolates with money she’d saved. Her friends all sent me text messages wishing ‘Happy Birthday to mom #2!’.  I got a birthday video from a close friend in Florida and his toddler daughter with a charming rendition of the birthday song. Even the people at the Melting Pot brought me not one, but two huge boxes of the most beautiful chocolate covered strawberries.

Heck, I even received a text message from my ex boyfriend sending birthday wishes. Truly, I wouldn’t have expected him to remember. And if he did, actually acknowledge it.
It was all rather surprising.
And touching.

I’ve been to many huge birthday parties. I’ve been to ones thrown by the birthday girl (or guy), ones thrown by friends, spouses and significant others. I been to surprise parties and some that were supposed to be surprises but turned out not to be. I’ve even been the host of some of the above…but I’ve never had anyone throw me a party. At least as an adult. My mother used to throw the bomb diggity of birthday bashes when I was little...

Wait. There was that ONE time...
When I was turning 40. I was going through a divorce, I had the day off, I wasn’t dating anyone special and didn’t have any plans…so I loaded up the baby and went to visit my parents. I didn’t feel like being alone.
Around 8 o’clock I got a call from one of my girls that worked for me.

“Nancy!!! Where are you? I thought you were coming to the Pub!” she exclaimed. “C’mon! Get here!”
“I can’t, Lauren. Sorry...I’m in Toledo.”

“WHAT? You CAN’T BE! Everyone’s here! We even got you a cake!!!!!!” she whined, "How long will it take you to GET HERE?!"
Yeah, two hours. Ain't going to happen.
Ah….the first rule of surprise parties, Have control over the surpriseee. That will go down in the column of good intentions, although fail. I’m to understand that they all had a smashing great time. Albeit sans the birthday girl.

I’ve never been one to blow my own horn. I have a hard time drawing attention to myself. I enjoy attention, but not if it has to be asked for. I suppose that’s one of the reasons why no one really knew it WAS my birthday. Those closest to me know, and those linked to me via some social network or another probably got an email ‘You have friends with birthdays this week’ but otherwise I’m not about to go around telling everyone ‘It’s my Birthday!’, although I have been doing that a lot this year with all the coupons being sent to me. Everywhere I hand one in I get a gaggle of people wishing me Happy Happy.
I smile and thank them but really, please…don’t’ sing. I don’t need to wear a sombrero, I don’t need to be serenaded, I don’t want that free dessert. Well, no..I take that back…bring me a free dessert. AND a martini.

And more of those scrumptious chocolate covered strawberries.
I might make this birthday a birth WEEK celebration. Hell, maybe a birth MONTH!

And you know...I might even learn to like; the birthday song.

PS: It has turned into a birth week celebration thus far. Monday I was surprised by the ladies at work that not only brought me in a delicious (YUM!) chocolate cake but then took me out for drinks. I love my co-workers...This milestone is off to a good start.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

time edited...

Where does the time go?

Is there a place that all those wasted minutes stack up? Large piles of hours and minutes and seconds of time just waiting to be used? Properly...

I’ve always been pretty good at time management. I am rarely late. I'm usually where I say I’m going to be at any given time and I try to use my time wisely. I’ll blame my mother for that one. She was the queen of time management.

I think back and wonder how she did all that she did. AND make it seem so effortless.

I try to emulate her, and without sounding conceited, I do a pretty damn good job at it. But I still seem to not quite measure up to my mother. She wasn’t a queen…she was a damned goddess.

I used to golf with an older woman who was spry and witty and funny and downright did not act her age. She cracked me up, turthfully, each week that I golfed with her. One day I asked her, "What's your secret? I want to be like you when I get older."

"Honey...", she purred, "when I hit fifty instead of adding a year at each birthday, I suptract a year. I'm now 27 and loving it more this time around!"

I’ve been driving in to see my dad once every week. He’s getting up in age and although in great health, his memory is lapsing and with my mom gone…well, I now have the hat of making sure everything is going smoothly with his home.

He has a bookkeeper that comes in three times a week and makes sure all his mail is sorted, opened and answered. A housekeeper that comes once a week to basically dust and put a load of laundry in. A handyman who comes two or three times a week just to putz in the yard and help out with whatever is needed at the moment. He goes to bible study once a week but has lunch with the minister at least twice a week. Those aren’t just 'gobble down a sandwich and leave' meetings, but two hour long debates on politics and the stock market meetings.

In a nutshell, he’s got a good support group at hand and isn’t just sitting around watching the time fly. He’s a pretty busy guy at 86…which in turn, keeps him pretty fit and healthy.

When I drive in I usually just spend the day. We’ll have breakfast, then do some paperwork, tour the yard (which is like out of Better Homes and Gardens) and many times dig up plantings for me to take home with me for my own yard. We talk, we laugh, sometimes we disagree and argue…but not much.

My dad was a ceramic engineer. He has over 65 patents in his name from his research. Many of them are only known in technical circles and others may be used by you daily. Long story short, he’s a brilliant man. A little quirky, but brilliant.

He has a dry sense of humor and likes to tell jokes. He has good delivery of them, and even if I’ve heard them before I like to listen. Growing up I don’t remember tons of jovial banter, he was stern. But lately there is some little prankster boy in him trying to get out and I never know what stunt he’s going to pull.

A few weeks ago we were out planting flowers in the front yard.

“Nancy, can you go get that curved downspout from over by the garage? I need to use it over on this side to divert some water into these beds…” he asked me.

“Sure thing dad…” Never one to question what hes asked of me I immediately started over to the downspout. I bent over to grab it and while lifting it up something green and animal like fell out and hit my thigh. I jumped, let out a small scream while my mind was busy trying to identify the foreign object.

Granted, the jump and scream were a bit of an overreaction. But just a week earlier I had a similar experience that I did not enjoy. While vacationing in Florida I would wake early and take my dog Sienna down to the beach and we’d walk, and walk, and walk. I wouldn’t turn on the lights so as not to wake BooBear. In the dark I would grab my beach shorts (normally discarded haphazardly on the floor in the dressing room), brush my teeth and comb my fingers through my hair and be off. I stopped briefly to check my reflection in the bathroom mirror. It was just getting to be daybreak so there was enough illumination to see a little, but not a lot. I leaned forward and peered into the glass. I dragged a washcloth over my face to get rid of the eye makeup smudges beneath my lashes. I put on some lip balm, straightened up, smoothed my tee and was about ready to go. I noticed that my camera strap was in my pocket…”Good” I thought, “I won’t have to search in the dark for my camera…”

Then my camera strap moved.

What the hell…?”

I know they exist.
I’ve seen them. In photos.

But I’ve never seen one here at the beach cottage. And here it was residing in my pocket and now crawling out to find out why it’s being moved and oh my God it’s crawling down my shorts and if it gets on the skin of my leg I’m not going to be able to contain my scream Oh my God please don’t touch my skin please don’t touch my skin PLEASE DON’T TOUCH MY SKIN!!!!!

I quickly sashayed trying hard to move fast and make it to the bathroom without moving so IT wouldn't move. I was silently wishing my shorts were longer in length as the bug was now just at the hem. I got to the next room just in time to flick it OFF my shorts and into the toilet. I flushed so fast my arm movement was barely visible.

It was a palmetto bug about the size of my thumb. Yuck.

I texted my friend who owns the cottage.

'MICHELLE!!!! Your not goin to believe what crawled out of my pocket an almost got on my skin this morning!!!!…a palmetto bug. Or at least I think it was a palmetto bug. EEEWWWW’

I normally wouldn't call or text anyone that early in the morning, but I figured after that scare it was ok to wake her if she wasn’t up yet.

‘oh! THOSE are the GOOD bugs. They eat the BAD bugs’

Good bugs?
Bad bugs?

Personally, I don’t care if it’s a good bug or a bad bug….if it’s on my skin…well just thinking about it is making the hair on my arms stand up…double yuck.

So my jump and scream overreaction over what turns out to be a toy?

Yeah. Warranted.

This gila monster or something of its ilk came flying out the drainpipe, bounced off me and landed in the grass. I heard laughter and looked up. Here was my dad peering around the corner of the house laughing at me.

Not laughing, but snickering “tee-he-he-he” just like the little old lady in the book The Funny Little Woman by Arlene Mosel.

DAD! What are you trying to DO to me! Did you put that there?”

“What? Where?” he replied with a gleen in his eye.

“Very funny Dad…” I said, “Very, very funny.”

It’s kindof nice seeing this playful side of my dad. This week he rubber banded that same gila monster toy to a napkin holder that has geese on it. It looks like it’s biting the gooses beak. He did this while we were going over some tax figures. Nonchalantly he replaced the napkin holder to the counter and put the napkins back in as if nothing was out of the ordinary.

It makes me laugh.
It makes me chuckle.

But also keeps me on my toes while I’m there. What will I find next week? It’s quite amusing really. Two weeks ago while out walking in the back meadow I saw something out of the corner of my eye that seemed out of place. I swung around only to find two large yellow eyes glaring at me from high up in a tree in the woods bordering the field. As my eyes focused on what was out of place it appeared to be a Halloween latex mask nailed to the side of a tree.

Of a werewolf.

When I got back to the house and asked him about it his reply was, “Funny isn’t it?”

Nice, Dad.

I guess time hasn’t gone anywhere. Or maybe it’s just managed to circle around in on itself. Or he's doing the same thing like the woman I used to golf with, except his math is a bit different. He IS brillabt after all.

My dad is not longer 86, but 12.
Playing pranks and giving me a heart attack.

I better get my will in order.
Just in case.

Who knows what surprises he’ll have for me in the future!
...and if my heart can take it.