Wednesday, November 25, 2009

circles with no end...

Take a good look at a circle.
Can you tell where it started? Or where it's end is?

No, you can't. At least most of the time.

My view of families gathered for Holiday dinners are like circles.

We sit in a circle.
We pass the food in a circle.

"Always pass the food clockwise, honey." I'd remember my mother telling me as soon as I was old enough to handle the dishes.

Some in our family even talk in circles. I never did understand the endings to Uncle Kenneth's stories.

But the best circle story is actually the circle itself...

I have very fond memories of my grandparents farm. My mother grew up there. I spent many summers there with Grandpap and Grandmaw. It was a working farm; cows, chickens, sheep, horses and goats. I learned from them to wake early and get things done. Grandpa and I would concoct a mean chicken feed and make the rounds on the farm welcoming with each step the light of day. Grandma would rise, stoke the pot bellied stove and head to the kitchen.

When we finished our morning chores, we would start back towards the old house. Our noses would eagerly lead the way following the wonderful smell of fresh baked biscuits. We'd bring in the eggs we'd just gathered and Grandma would fry up a few for our hungry bellies.

The kitchen was large and open, the heart of the home. A big cast iron wood burning stove, sink with hand pump by the window. A huge expandable table that could hold the whole family held it's place by the door. The pie pantry held the goodies of the days bounty protected by it's doors and vented tin. The big butcher block table was well worn from years of cooking. That was Grandma's spot, between the pie pantry and butcher block, with her comfy chair nearby for rests.

I now have in my possession the butcher block and pie pantry. They are a couple of my favorite pieces of furniture. I can rub the block and almost feel the flour and hear the squeak of her wooden rolling pin.

One of my fondest memories is coming into the kitchen with grandmother making her famous mashed potatoes. She made the best mashed potatoes...ever.

No electric mixer to do the work. She mashed those suckers by hand with one of those zigzag kitchen mashing tools. Not only could she make delicious spuds, but all of her cooking was simple, yet amazing.

What holds me now even more in awe is that she cooked everything on a woodburning stove. Heavy iron handles lifted the grates off the cook top, she'd stuff a split log in, stoke the fire a bit and determine if the top or oven was now the correct temperature. Can you imagine?

Cakes, biscuits and pies all cooked precisely with no precision. No digital display. No push button technology to turn the oven on or off at intervals. No convection circulation for pastries to be cooked evenly. Just a log. And an iron. And Grandma.

Grandpa used to say that Grandma cooked the best 'fud'. That's what he called it...'fud'. When it was mealtime, Grandma used to open the door from the kitchen, stick her head out into the courtyard where the chickens were pecking bare spots on the ground and yell..."Harley!". It came out more elongated like "Haaaarrrrrllllllleyyyyyyyyy!" going up on the end like in a pig calling contest.

I'll never forget the sound. Or the way Grandma smelled of freshly baked bread.

It seemed to me a simpler life. Simpler times. Yet harder in many respects than the one I lead today.

We lost Grandma back in '77. Grandpa in '83. But every year at Thanksgiving my mind wanders back to the large meals that we would share in the kitchen down on the farm. The table heavily laden with food. As I think about it now, there was alot of preparation that would go into such a meal. No processed foods. No prepackaged ingredients. Everything was made by hand, from scratch. We ate the turkey that Grandpa raised, the potatoes that they grew, the cranberries that we picked.

It makes me appreciate the things that I have now. My digital convection oven with all it's bells and whistles. All of my Kitchen-Aid appliances. When I look at them, I think of the farm. And appreciate all that my Grandparents did.

Each year at dinner I thank both Grandma and Grandpa for my wonderful Holiday memories; Thanksgiving in particular. I give thanks for all of my loved ones that are no longer with us. Sadly, this year I've had to add my mother to the list.

Thanksgiving will have once again changed. Slightly.

My Grandmother taught her daughter, my mother, all of her cooking skills. She too, at least in my humble opinion, made the best mashed potatoes. An even better improved version of Grandma's. And then my mother in turn passed on that speciality to me.

My own daughter told me just the other night, "Can you make your wonderful mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner?"

"Sure, honey. But don't you want sweet potatoes instead?"

"No, Mommy. Your mashed potatoes are the best....ever."

I had to stop for a moment, and catch my breath. It seemed as if I'd been here before.
But I was the ten year old looking up at my mother, not the mom.

At one time it had been my mother saying those same words to her mom when she was but ten.
The circle.
The family circle.

Do you know where it starts? And where it ends?
It's continuous...

and I'm Thankful for that.


I hope that everyone has a wonderful, Happy Thanksgiving! And that you too, have memories that you are thankful for...

Monday, November 23, 2009

the literal landscape...

It's interesting how one week can change a landscape.

Figuratively, metaphorically or literally.

Every Saturday morning, like clockwork, I take my dogs down to the beach for a nice long run. You aren't really supposed to have animals at the beach, but in the fall there are few people there, so I bend the rules a little. Or mold them, if you will, to fit my needs. I highly doubt that a park ranger will come after me. They have other issues to deal with, I'm sure.

I park my car at the far end of the upper lot.

Edgewater Park is a very large park just 3 miles from my home. Just a stones throw from downtown Cleveland. It's a sprawling two level park boxed in by a Yacht Club, limestone cliffs and the Shoreway or Route 2. The Edgewater Yacht Club is located at the far end of the park on the lower level. It's considered one of the premier yacht clubs on the Westside for sailing. It's protected from foul weather by the break wall and you don't have to wait for bridges to rise to get out to Lake Erie.

The lower level has a large open area that has become home to many kite flying enthusiasts. The large horseshoe shaped beach is a popular destination in the summer months. In the winter, there are few people that venture onto the beach area. The north wind can quickly pick up the fine sand and literally sand blast your face if you aren't careful.

The upper level is wooded with a sharp cliffs to the lake below. Picnic tables line the edge for a wonderful view of the downtown skyline and the water crib standing majestically 5 miles out. Large ships can regularly be seen on the horizon and small watercraft bob with the waves while fishing for Perch. The right side of the upper level has a gentler slope with bike and walking path that leads down to the beach and lower level. In the winter months my daughter and I will sled there. Many times we've gathered enough speed that has taken us from the ledge almost down to the waters edge. It's a long walk back up, but well worth the effort.

In the middle is a hidden, beat up, wooden staircase. This trek leads you down to the beach on the far left end of the park. That's our favorite spot to walk. Driftwood washes up and makes the access limited. We like to forge our way to the point where the water meets the cliff. Canadian Geese gather in this slightly protected cove resting for the next leg of their journey. Sienna, my hunter and Labradoodle, tries desperately to catch them. But they are just a little too quick for her. Or they float just beyond her reach in the water, almost as if they are toying with her and testing out her swimming abilities.

On this Saturday morning, as I tight walked over the larger driftwood logs across a small pool of water left with the receding tide, I realized that the landscape had drastically changed in one weeks time.

I pulled out my phone to peruse the photos I had taken the previous week. To check to make sure that it wasn't just my imagination. As I sat on an old picnic table half buried in the sand, long ago tossed over the cliffs edge to land on the beach. I looked at the photos. Yes. Indeed. This week the shell encrusted beach had more stones and bricks that weren't there the week before.

In one week.

Over a ton of wave beaten old bricks and stones, parts of chimneys still intact with mortar, had washed up on our section of beach. How? And from where did it come?

I checked the grassy hillside above and there was no sign of trauma on the landscape. No sign that it was dumped down from above. Plus the age of the bricks and the wear on the finish belied the fact that these had been in the water for some time.

As I sat and contemplated the changes in the photos and watched the dogs romp, I realized how different things can be in one weeks time. Why should my beach be any different?

Last week it was sunny. And warm. The last of the barefoot beach walks for the year. Two weeks ago it was rainy and cool, borderline rain gear weather. This week there was a gray mist so you could hardly discern the sky from the lake from the beach.

Not only had the landscape of the beach changed literally from week to week, but my own life had changed. My personal life seems to have mirrored the weather.

I thought about how our own personal landscapes changes figuratively. Without our knowledge.

Sometimes I wonder how much control we actually have on the changes at hand. How many events seem to change us...not the other way around. That maybe I don't really have that much power to manipulate my own life. Just the ability to deal with what is served.

Perhaps it was just the day, or the color of the sky, or the sense of smallness one feels when sitting at the edge of a large body of water. Sitting there in the mist realizing how small I really am in the grand scheme of things.
And yet, in the mist, the gray haze, my inner optimist continues to remain alive and unfazed. It has this perception and tenacity that serves me well. That inner voice is always strong and clear. It says, "Look how beautiful things are...", no matter what week it is.

You see, it's really all in the perspective.
And view.

I'm so glad mine remains relatively in focus.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

just a little more, please?...

How time flies...

How many times have you heard that phrase?
A million? Maybe two?

"Time flies when you're having fun!"
"My, how times flies."
"Time is money"

Or my dad's saying, "Time is your most valuable commodity."

I know that I've complained about not having enough time in the past, but I really don't have enough time right now.

I'm under deadlines.

Social deadlines, remodel deadlines, financial deadlines and deadlines for work. It's the retail Christmas season, didn't you know? Elves don't come in and do the work. In my stores, it's me. All me. Everywhere you look is a little vignette of Christmas. All those little touches that seem to pretty and festive need to be fluffed. Each store takes at least 3 days to Christmas-tize. And they all need to be done...NOW.

At least Brooks Brothers doesn't set up Christmas before Halloween like some big department stores. I was in a big box store in October and stopped dead in my tracks when I realized I was hearing Christmas music. Or canned Christmas music. Like the holiday delivered as Spam.

I'm not a believer in the capitalisation of Christmas. It takes all the fun out of the holidays and makes it well...less Christmas; more Walmart. People rushing about, anxieties rising, tempers flaring. People trying desperately to complete everything in time for Christmas. Life is too fast paced as it is without the added pressure of having a perfect Martha Stewart holiday.

Presents wrapped just so, house decorated to the nines, holiday parties with all the trimmings...
Who has time for all that?!

I know I don't. At least right now.

I like to take things at a slower pace. Sitting around the fireplace with friends, the room awash in the soft glow from the Christmas tree. I cherish those wonderful evenings through the holiday season, but right now at this pace?...those slow down days seem pretty far away.

I know as we get nearer to Thanksgiving, my brother and dad will start putting in their requests for dinner. I'll start getting a little stressed that I haven't completed everything on my 'to-do' lists. That my time line is a little off. I'll start feeling the pressure of making everything perfect.

One of the joys of Christmas is to give. I love to give presents. I like to find just the right thing for those I love. A signed first edition novel, the antique hand mirror, the handmade knitted creature from one of the local artists...all these were special gifts that I thoroughly enjoyed the expressions of appreciation from those I gave those gifts to.

And I love to get presents as well. Some more than others. There have been some gifts that have brought tears to my eyes, they were so thoughtful. And there have been those that you knew it's just a gift. No meaning behind the purchase. Just something that they got because they felt they had to give. How many times have you opened a package and the first thought is, "Boy, they don't know me at all..."

That's when I don't like Christmas. Because people have lost the meaning of it.
One of my favorite Christmas movies of all time is "The Grinch that Stole Christmas". People version or classic, that movie is not only entertaining but delivers a poignant message as well.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not ungracious. A gift is a gift after all. And it is wonderful that they thought of me to give a present to, but those are the gifts that usually go the Elf Shelf the following year.

Elf Shelf is a program at my daughters school. Children can pick out presents for their parents for a small sum. The funds then raised goes to support school programs. Since it's run totally by donations of gifts for the children to choose from, it's one of the best ways I know to recycle those unwanted gifts.

I used to re-gift. But had a problem one year when I re-gifted to the gifter. Yeah. That wasn't my best ever swift move. So I don't even try that any more. I learnt my lesson, but good.

But I'm almost done with the Christmas decorations. One more day and I'm finished with the stores work. The fluffing of the greenery has ruined my manicure and even wearing gloves the trees have made my hands raw. I hope to not see another Christmas tree, wreath or garland for a long, long, long, long time.

Geez. I forgot.
I've now got to decorate my own. More trees. More garland. More wreaths.

And Thanksgiving is just next week. Lots of details to tend to before the festivities of the holidays begin.

What I need just a little more time...
That elusive little bugger. Time. Spare time.


Saturday, November 14, 2009


I like to procrastinate.

I mean, I don't really like to procrastinate, but I tend to procrastinate. Often.

Subconsciously I find a way to put off things that I don't really want to do. I suppose in my minds eye, it'll be more palatable to get to another day.
These could be small things, like clearing out that basket under the sink with multiple bottles of dish washing detergent or cleaning out that junk drawer. Or they can be large tasks. Reorganizing all the storage bins in the basement or cleaning out the garage space.

If they are on the small list; I figure I can get to it another day. No biggie.
But, if they are on the large list; perhaps the task is too daunting to attempt on my own, or overwhelming in it's scope...I just get it off my radar.

I'm convinced that living in denial could possibly be the root of all happiness.

I'm starting a new project in my home. Yes...another project. As soon as one gets completed, I move to the next on my wish list. This one is going to leave most of the second floor a wreck for several weeks. But I know the end result will be fantastic and enjoyed for years to come.

My plan , if all goes well, is to have it completed for the holidays.

My daughters room is on the south west side of the house. The room next to hers has become the 'catch-all' room. Off season clothing, things to be sorted, school projects and supplies, junk that isn't junk but needs to be all gets tossed in there. And then the door gets shut.

Out of sight, out of mind.

That room faces the front of the house and has a large beautiful window to let in the morning light. My plan is to knock out the wall between the two rooms and create one very large room.

Sounds great, right?
Perfect for a pre-teen?
Room enough for all those future sleepovers?

Except that means I've got to clean out the 'catch-all' room. Which also means I need to organize to find 'homes' for all the stuff that has mysteriously filled the room. A goes to B; B to C; C to D; D to E and then E can finally go back to A. There seems to be much schlepping in my immediate future.

It's funny how things have steps. Alcoholic Anonymous has twelve steps. Overeaters Anonymous has twelve steps. Narcotics, Debtors, Gamblers, Smokers, Workaholics, Sex Addicts...there are an abundance of twelve stepper groups to associate with. There is even a CLA; Clutterers Anonymous which I'm sure would welcome me with open arms.

But I don't need to have group therapy for the task at hand. I need some planning.

There will be at least twelve steps to complete my project. And as with all step programs, the first step is the always hardest. I need to commit myself to the task. So I don't put it off to another day.

This morning I took my sledgehammer and busted a huge hole into the wall.

As I hit the wall I realized what wonderful therapy it was. I could skip my workout because this exercise of destroying my daughters pristine bedroom wall was exercise in itself. It was not only physically exhilarating, but also stress eliminating. I could feel my worries disappear with each and every swing. My frustration with a peer at work, my disappointment in my relationship status, my hidden anger at the medical field for the inability to cure my mom. All these things kept jumping into my head and low and behold, I felt better. Much better.

Sometimes hitting something, or breaking something is the best therapy.

Back eons ago, when I was separated from my then husband, he had moved out of our home and into an apartment. Not just any apartment, but a really nice one on the lake. I thought it a bit extravagant since his rent was more than our mortgage payment, but who was I to question. I didn't rock the boat. I didn't have a voice.

I suspected his continued infidelity although supposedly that was over and we were going to work things out. I was in that neighborhood and stopped by unannounced. Despite his protests to the contrary, his behaviour belied the fact that he not only was continuing to see his mistress, but that she was there, right then.

I was hurt. I was angry. But I didn't say anything and got into my car to leave. At the base of the driveway I had a change of heart. What I realized at that moment was that I needed a voice. One that could be heard. One that would resonate loud and clear, way beyond this minute in time.

Who would've guessed that my voice would come in the form of the brush bar of my Land Rovers. I put my Discovery into drive, floored the gas pedal and crashed the garage door.

Oh yes. I did.
Twice. For full measure.

On my second smash into the heavy wooden door, the alarm from the BMW cradled inside started to wail. I had an exuberant feeling with each high pitched squeal of the car I just killed. I backed down the driveway, flew the bird to my husband standing gaped mouthed in the window and drove off.

I decided it would be prudent to make a visit to my parents home. I reasoned there would be a high probability that I may need to secure a temporary loan from them to fix the damage due to my impetuous demolition derby. My mother stood in our U-shaped kitchen washing dishes while my dad and I sat at the kitchen table. I braced myself for the lecture of a lifetime, but instead what I got was a laugh.

My dad started laughing as I've rarely heard him before. One of those deep guttural laughs that can only be described as a chortle. Tears streamed from his eyes. At which point I couldn't help by laugh along as well.

My mother peeked her head from under the kitchen cabinets and a sweet soft voice said, "How...did it feel?"

"Great, mom. Fantastic even."

"I've always wanted to do something like that, but have never had the courage to do it.", she said in her sugary voice.

My dad chimed in through his laughter, "So that's why you have a brush bar!"

That was it.
We were all done in, laughing hysterically in the kitchen. We laugh about it still.

That one moment was worth 5 years of therapy.

It allowed me to step beyond where I was. Which before then I hadn't been able to do. So yes, there is therapeutic satisfaction in hearing the sound of breaking glass, splintering wood and crunching metal.

It also makes us push forward. Without the possibility of procrastination.

Just about the same way this huge hole in my wall just did.

I suppose the next tool that I a checkbook.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

one more cocktail party...

I'm throwing a party!
An awards party to be exact! So c'mon in, settle down and grab a cocktail...

Okay, so it's not noon yet where I am, so I have a chai instead. Just grab a beverage of choice, and settle on in and we'll get started.


I was recently the honoured recipient of several awards from some really wonderful bloggers that I would like to acknowledge and then pass on to others that are more deserving that I.

The first one comes from Dan. at Vacant Mind. He thinks I'm Fabulous!

Darlhrlink, I never knew? *wink, wink*
Dan always amuses me with some wonderful insights and humor. Please do go and check out his blog. You'll be glad you did. I know I you will be too! Trust me on this.
The rules for this little award is to give 5 current obsessions and to pass it on to 5 other bloggers who are also 'fabulous'. So let's see...what are my obsessions this week. (you know they change, don't you?)

1. Raking leaves.
We have a annual leaf pickup in my community and they travel up and down the streets with these big trucks and suck all the leaves off the treelawn. My timing is usually off. I either get them out there too early and it burns the grass from having them piled up there, waiting...too long. Or I hear the trucks on the street and I'm frantically raking and blowing the leaves to beat their passing me by. I've been watching and I think I have it timed right this year. We'll have to see...

2. Rock & Rye.
I went to the Melting Pot for dinner last week. (Great, by the way) We stopped by the bar on before leaving to watch a little of the game. The bartender, Kellie, bought us a shot. I'd never had it before. Rock & Rye. It's whiskey blended with rock candy and fruit. Sounds weird, tastes great. But I now need some aspirin...

3. Napping.
There's nothing like an afternoon nap. If I can squeeze them in. It's a sorry state of affairs when once up you already start thinking about when it'll be nap time. What can I say? Just don't call around 2...'cuz I won't answer the phone.

4. BigMac's.
I shouldn't eat them, but when you get a Mac attack, you gotta listen! Somehow I think the current Mac attack I'm having ties itself to the Rock & Rye. And probably the nap gets tied in there as well. Hmmm.

5. Bonfires.
Something about bundling up on a chilly evening throwing logs on a outside fire is quite zen like. I could stare into a good fire for hours. The weather this fall has been quite good at cooperating and we've enjoyed some rousing flames. You can always smell a bonfire in the air. I like it when the neighbors pop over, "Hey, we smelled the fire, what's in the cooler?" Insta-party.

And now, the five recipients that I think are fabulous!

1. John at Ride My Mind. He's one of my new favorites! I even have him now on my sidebar so I won't miss any postings!

2. Sondra Stinglash at Callithump Thunderblog. She's got some really good humor. Always an enjoyable read.

3. Kfred at Flatline Thinking. He's off the wall in a beautiful sort of way. Go look see, and tell me what you think.

4. Leah over at Funny is the New Young. I love in her profile she states that she's vertically challenged. She's pretty damn funny...

5. Shell at Everything is Better on a Stick. Go say "Hi". A fellow Ohioan, he's got some great things to say. We just need some people to listen!


The second award comes from KaLynn at Kacklin' with KaLynn. She's a new bloggy friend but has commented on just about every post Ive made since we 'found' each other! Isn't that fun?

The rules with this one are that I pass it onto some new bloggers that I have recent;y discovered. I will pass it onto 5 newbies that I enjoy reading.

1. C.J. Koster at Mr. Teacher Man. I never tire of C.J. I mean seriously, how could you?

2. SuziCate at The Water Witch's Daughter. I love the look of her blog. I love the title of her blog. She's pretty damn cool. Like water...

3. Joshua at The Technical Parent. He too is a new bloggy. We've all been there. Go check him out.

4. Cyndi at Take Note. Clever and honest, she sometimes says what I've thought but didn't say. Did that make sense? Mind meld with me here...

5. Mike at DigitalMCS. He just got engaged! He's rather funny...and he gives me compliments on comments. Flatery will get you anywhere...

Click on each.

Thank you.


And pausing ever so slightly to announce the third award. This also comes from KaLynn. (She's obviously been stockpiling her awards over there and has been so generous by sending a few my way.) Fact is, both that she sent to me I hadn't seen before! So these are new special beauties that I can now prominently display in my cabinet of awards!

The rules are pretty simple (as great lemonade is!) . Link back to the giver of said giver of lemonade and then pass it onto other bloggers with great attitude or gratitude!

The blogs that I choose for this award are:

1. Chrissy at IShouldBeenAStripper. Not only is she my best friend, but she got me into this whole blogging arena. Add to that she doesn't already have this award and she's been given a huge dose of lemons in her personal life as late...she needs a lemonade stand. SHE is the grand master of great attitude. Love ya' Chrissy.

2. Menopausal New Mom. A new blog for me, but from what I've read so far, I'm going to enjoy this one!

3. Julie at At home with Myself. You might have seen her as my Follower of Note last week. If you missed her, go take a look. She's beautiful, smart AND witty!

4. Poems by me. I'm not always a big fan of poetry, but I like the way she writes. I hope you do too!

5. Judge Fudge at I don't know you but I probably don't like you. Now normally with a blog title like that you might think, "How does this guy have positive attitude?" Check him out and you'll see. The title does not reflect the person...:-)

The past two awards didn't tell me HOW many people to pass it onto. So I suppose you can use as many or as few as you'd like. I like the number 5. Can you tell?


The next award is from Chandni at Life, Through my Eyes. She honing her writing craft. She's quite the artist. Go check her out!

The rules with this little award are to list 7 things which nobody knows about me. Hmmm. Since I've listed things that no one knows in the past, you might already know these! But I'll give it a shot.

Remember, I don't answer to keep those thoughts from your mind.

1. I have a morning routine that uses not one, but six different creams for my face and body. That's alot of counter space, yes.

2. I have a stash of 'snacks' in the bottom drawer of my nightstand. Sssshhhh. Don't tell anyone.

3. When I buy new shoes, I walk around the house in them first. I hate it when I see people that can't walk properly in their new (or old for that matter) shoes. If I can't walk in them, but they look fab...they go back.

4. I hate word verification when leaving comments. I've only gotten a handful of Spam, but that's why the trash icon is there! You don't like the comment, delete it. I can't tell you how many times I haven't gotten the letters right and lose the comment. I won't bother to go back and try again.

5. I'm horrible at saving presents. I bought a Christmas present for my daughter yesterday and was so excited I went ahead and gave it to her. Ooops.

6. I lost my daughters second hampster. I left the top off it's cage by accident. I don't know whether it got out or the cat got it...but it's gone. Double oops.

7. I like a little coffee with my sugar. Thick, rich, sweet. Like the kind I had in Cuba. Yummm.

And I will pass this Kreative number onto:

1. Shannon at Recovery From a Life Not Lived. I like to compare my "been there done that' list with hers...

2. Pines Lake Redhead. I love her comments, her posts, her blog. Okay?

3. Pseudonymph at Rad Mamblings. She just, frankly, keeps me entertained. A hard feat, I might add.

4. Living on the Spit. I love the photography in this blog. Just go see...

5. Jennifer at Momma Made It Look Easy. I like to grab a cup of tea and see what their up to. It's cozy. You'll kike it.

6. CAM at MoonScribble. You just never know what you'll find. But I usually kike it.

7. Adventures in Dating (and life) Single Mommy Style. She just flat out cracks me up.


So thanks to Dan, KaLynn and Chandni for my new banners of adoration! I love them!

I will keep them, and care for them and polish them when needed. It's nice that you thought of me. But damn, is it hard to abide by all these rules! The best thing about getting the awards is to pass them on. It's a wonderful little blogosphere in which we write and really neat how interconnected we all are.

Enjoy your new reading list! There's alot of new ones there!

Phew. That was alot of work! Nap time? Cocktail time? Nah...

Now, I've got to go out a rake a few more leaves...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

hot pipes...

Do you have a favorite restaurant? Or bar?

You know, one of those places that just feels like you've come home?
Like Norm from Cheers?

I have one of those...

It's just a small little place, still decorated from the 1960's. Complete with wagon wheel light hanging above the horseshoe bar.

I've been going there for years. I know all the people that work there. And they all know my name. I don't ever have to 'order', as I'm a creature of habit and get the same thing every time I'm there. They even know how to time it. Put the order in when the first drink gets down to about there...

It's seamless. It's comfortable. It's a 'no brainer', if you will.
All I have to do is show up.

Last week my favorite little hole in the wall replaced some kitchen equipment and closed for several very long days. I kept forgetting. I would head there only to be disappointed that they were still closed for the remodeling. I would approach and see that they parking lot was near empty and silently 'hooray' that I wouldn't have to wait for a bar stool. And then I would see all the chair turned up on the tables and realize that indeed they were still...closed.
I can live without going there, but because I knew that I couldn't order my normal bowl of spicy garlic wings...I had an almost insatiable craving for those messy things.
And others just won't do. I've tried. They have to be Herb's wings.

They re-opened yesterday.
Just before the dinner rush.
And what a rush it was...

The place was packed. Most of us regulars were there clamouring for our favorite spots at the bar. Some had to linger in the background as their weren't enough seats. Or grab a table, God forbid. All the conversation happens at the bar.

Because of it's shape, it's not unheard of to have the entire bar involved in some conversation or another. It can range from every topic imaginable. Newbies there probably feel a little irritated with people talking over them while they eat, but this is a Herb's tradition. And one that won't die easy. If you don't like socializing, sit at a table. Don't take up precious bar space.

There is a great mix of people who are regulars at Herbs Tavern. The walls show all of the history of the place. Old photos and memorabilia adorn most available space. Not the generic kind like at a TGIFridays, but personal stuff of people that have been there through the years.

One of my favorite people to saddle up by is Clarence "Clancy" Shaffer. He's in his 100th year of life. On September 19th, 2010, he'll be the grand age of 100. I asked him whether he's excited that he'll get a nod from the President when he turns 100.

"Bah. I've already met 10 of them. United States Presidents, that is."

I bet he has. I love Clancy. He's got some fascinating stories. I want to write them all down.
He won a silver medal for boxing in the 1921 Olympics. He raced in the Whitbread Challenge and just recently sold his sloop that used to belong to JP Morgan. Clancy's a big game hunter and has ventured far into untamed regions that we only view on NatGeo or read about in magazines. He's an inventor that has credited to him manufacturing the A frame rafter used to support most homes.

There are a gazillion more things that Clancy has done. It's always fascinating. His wife Gertrude died a few years back. They were married for over 70 years. She was 94 when she passed.

Clancy orders the same drink every time he's in.
Vodka and tang. With 12 Sweet & Low's. In a tall glass. He orders two each visit. No more. No less.

I've come to believe that it's all the preservatives in those little pink packages that may just be responsible for his longevity. They are preserving him, 1 gram at a time.

He's always in a suit coat and tie. He tells me he owns 92. I believe him. I don't think I've seen him in the same one twice.

If Clancy's there, expect an hour long conversation. And then he'll pat your hand, kiss your check and drive the 2 miles back home in his big Buick. On parting he always says, " I hope to see you again."

I hope I see him too. I suppose at 99, seeing anyone at least one more time is definitely a bonus.

Sometimes newbies will question the presence of this older man at the bar drinking his peculiar concoction. Most are enamoured. Clancy's like a rite of passage into whether you're new or a regular.
But there are a few that just seem to have no respect for their elders. There were a young couple in last week sitting at the bar and snickering amongst themselves at Clancy's expense. It angered me.

When Clancy left to use the restroom, I asked them, "Do you know who that is?"

"Noooo. Just some smelly old dude." giggled the bimbo.

"Uh. Yeah. No. That was Clancy Shaffer. He's 99. And has done more in his lifetime than you ever will do in yours. Have some respect."

They left shortly after. They don't deserve a space at the bar. Our bar. My bar. They weren't part of the regular clientele. You have to earn that.

There is a drawback for being a regular. People know you. There is a camaraderie amongst those familiar faces. It's very easy when they are all there to get over served...

People are always buying rounds for each other. Last night I had 2 shot glasses denoting a free drink, overturned in front of me almost the entire evening. Maybe it's because everyone was there. Lance and Heather, Pam and Dave, George, Kurt...everyone. Add to that that Dean and Lisa got married, the evening turned out to more festive than usual.

It was like being at a reunion with everyone that you want to see.
A good time was had by all.

Perhaps too much of good time. If that is possible.

I drank 7 bottles of water from the time I went to hit my bed to present. I guess I'm trying to flush all that excess from my system.

"Hot pipes", some people call it.
And that's what I have this morning.

I stopped drinking soda awhile back, but I crave bubbles today. What I wouldn't give right now for a Diet Coke. I just may have to break my 'No soda" rule.

And junk food. A Big Mac would be awesome. And some fries.

Yeah. That's what I'm going to do.

I'm going to go to McDonald's and get me a Big Mac meal. Consume 120% of my daily allowance of caloric and sodium intake in one. big. meal.

And then...I'm going to nap.
It's 9am and I'm already scheduling in a nap.

Life is pretty damn good.

It's a glorious day. It's looks to be one of the last great weekends of the year before the nasty weather is headed our way. The remainder of the week is going to be 30's a wet. So I will get my 'sorry over served ass' up and out to play in the leaves today. I must.

But right now, I'm planning my junk food bliss.
As if all those wings last night weren't enough.
The leaves can wait just a few more hours. Or days.
I've got to rid myself of these 'Hot Pipes'.
But it sure was fun getting them...

Addendum 2:20pm: I've had my BigMac (delicious) and my fries. But decided instead of the Diet Coke to go for the Iced Mocha. I mean, why not?
I've also managed a short nap AND taken the dogs for a long walk AND played in the leaves with then down at the beach.
Life IS good.
And I'm not talking about the T-shirts.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

magic paw lost it's magic...

Many of you have asked what's been happening on the Mr. Handsome Moving Sale Man front. So I thought I would take pause and fill you in.

Follow along closely so you don't miss out on all the little detailed innuendos.

Here's what's been going on.


Yup. That's the extent of it. My leap out of my comfort zone netted me pretty much nothin'. Except for a new-to-me loveseat for my office. Which, as you can attest to previous pictures, my dogs absolutely love.

Yes, there was flirtation.
Yes, there was the promise of budding romance.
No, it ain't gonna happen.

My rabbit's foot has lost all it's magic. It's time to get another.

As it turns out, Mr. Handsome Moving Sale guy must have some hidden issue. For what I was able to find out via Internet (thank you Google) he's not rich beyond your wildest dreams, per se, but not bad off either. So for a successful man you'd think he had a little more moxy, more confidence, more initiative.

I did my part.

I got out of my comfort zone and dropped off a business card, under the guise of interest in a piece of furniture.

He must have seen through my flimsy facade when he made the comment of "Classy move", but I followed through and bought said interested item at garage sale. Which has now become my dogs favorite spot in the house.

I texted a couple of times to dangle the carrot, make sure he didn't forget about my existence. Then I got sick. And then he was traveling. Timing was not on our side. But this past week there looked to be a viable opportunity to get together.

Wednesday afternoon I sent over a message, "R U free 4 a drink this evening?"

Innocent enough, yet slightly flirtatious.

Response from Mr. Handsome Moving Sale man, "Not really...sorry. Friday?"

"Friday I can't. Hosting a Halloween party for my daughter. Maybe another time." It was just a slight fib. It was partially for my daughter, but many of my own friends and well, I just don't know him well enough to invite him to that...yet.

I thought of how several years ago Chrissy invited a guy she had recently begun to date to be her escort for a wedding. She was in the wedding party. They got on fabulously and everyone loved him. Things looked good for the two of them. She never heard from him again.

So, yeah. I made the decision to not invite him to the pumpkin fest. Fib a little by allowing him to think that it's a kids event. We'll wait just a tad to see if a.) he's a keeper to show off to my friends; b.) he's able to handle my friends...

I immediately got a phone call from him. Perhaps he thought I was giving the blow-off? As in another time/amother life kind of comment? He explained that he was leaving for Pittsburgh and would be back tomorrow. "Could I do lunch?"

Yes. No problem.
Lunch is good.

He asked where my favorite spot was. That's a hard question. Where to go? My answer could be a maker/breaker. If I answer a place too nice, he might view me as high maintenance. Too beer/shot, he might think me a closet Nascar fan. Lunch place to talk....hmmm, somewhere middle of the road. Jesus, that's a hard question....

All this is playing through my head for that split second.

I opted for the Switzerland answer of, "You decide."

Immediately I started shaking my fist at myself! How lame! I just stoided and couldn't get anything out. Bah, Nancy.

We reached a decision to indeed have lunch on Friday. The plan was he'd call in the morning and we would then figure on a time and place.

With the iffy weather, I was in full throttle party plan mode on Friday. I really didn't have the time to spend flirting and lunching, but I didn't want to pass up this opportunity. So whilst getting everything set up, I made sure my phone was within reach.

At 11:36am he texted that he was "Waiting on AT&T".

He is moving, after all. All those utility set-up service calls. I thought the delay was great, it'd buy me a little more time to complete some work before changing clothes.

I sent back, "Hi Patrick...ah, the dreaded service call. At least At&T isn't too bad, I speak from experience. Are you still free for lunch? Time frame?"

I mean, it's okay if he needs to cancel. I do have this party in a few hours to prepare for. I almost was wishing he would reschedule. It would ease my pre-party stress a little.

A couple of minutes later I heard the *bing* of the incoming text.

"Yes, as soon as they r done. They aren't here yet."

That was at 11:49.
Friday morning.

Tuesday at 2:46pm I sent him "You can't still be waiting for the cable guy? ;-) Hope you had a great weekend."

I've not heard anything from him since.

No cancellation.
No apology.
No "how was your party", nothin'.

I got a big ol' stagutz...nada, zip.

I told Chrissy about it the other night. She sent me an e-mail with just one word in the body.

and then the link to

Maybe driving a big, black Escalade made his ego too large.
But in my book a no show, no call is just rude.
I don't care how good looking you may be. Or how successful. Or busy.

Rude is rude.

It's too bad. But it's okay.

I do have a new-to-me loveseat.
That the dogs love.
But do you know any single guys?
eHarmony is a little pricey.

I've got to get me a new Rabbit's foot. The one I have is all worn out.

Monday, November 2, 2009

one bad apple...

I love to entertain.

But I hate the clean-up.

Every year at Halloween I host a pumpkin carving party. It's really an excuse to gather all my neighborhood friends and eat, drink and burn stuff in the fire pit. All that merriment; plus we have our pumpkins already carved come Halloween night.

I was fearful that the weather wouldn't hold for the party this year. There was a huge storm system that stretched all the way from the Texas panhandle up through the Great Lake region. There was no way escaping the rain, it was just a matter of when it would arrive.

Carving pumpkins inside in case it did pour, like it was threatening to do? Not a good idea. I'd be finding pumpkin rinds and seeds until the next Halloween season for sure. The thought of little kids inadvertently throwing pumpkin guts on my walls and furniture was enough to give me a rash. At least keep me from sleeping soundly and dream of drinking heavily.

I became obsessed watching the radar map following the storm on WeatherBug. Waking up in the middle of the night several times to check on my iPhone the storms progress across the Midwest. I started sketching out a 'Plan B' and perhaps even a 'Plan C' in my head if indeed the storm landed in Cleveland when we should be out putting another log on the fire.

But the Weather Gods were on my side, for once, and it was a beautiful day extending into evening. It was even warm! 70 degree flip-flop warm, which is unheard of this time of year. If it holds, the kiddies won't have to don winter coats over their costumes for once.
All was looking good.

The storm hit at 1am. We sat by the bonfire until it started to rain. Feeling the wind pick up as it neared. The clouds overtaking the moon, the wind blowing the branches on the trees to the point of breaking. The sparks from our bonfire lighting up the night sky as if a swarm of fireflies alighted into the air. It rained hard throughout the night and blew many of the glorious colored leaves from the trees. The storm had perfect timing. With it's passing, it would leave the night for Trick-or-Treating clear and rain free. Verging on a full moon, Saturday was shaping up to be quite fun...

Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. It's the best holiday to decorate for, in my humble opinion. Christmas is good, but you can really get your creative juices working for Halloween. Many of you know that I work in the display industry, so you can imagine, I deck out the house. I think I have almost as many Rubbermaid's with decorations for that holiday as for Christmas.

This year was no exception. I even created a new element to add to the already spooky setting.

I've an old chandelier refitted with candles and spiderwebs that gives the front porch a Gothic edge; a large rusty Victorian steamer trunk that holds all the candy; gargoyles galore, tombstones, wrought iron and mummified mannequins. Strobe lights and music complete the ensemble.

This year I built a large archway with black cloth streamers, so you'd have to walk through to get to the front porch, and the candy. It looked pretty cool, if I do say so myself. I lit the pumpkins and chandelier, donned black scary finery, ghoulish make-up and a rusty chain or two and I was ready and waiting for the kiddies to arrive.

I love costumes.
I love making costumes.
I love seeing the costumes that others make.

My daughter went out with her posse from class this year. They've been talking about what they wanted to be for Halloween since school started. One of her friends gets a catalog each year that she chooses from. My daughter balked.

"My mom makes my costumes.", she informed the other girls.

"Uh...we always buy ours.", replied Chloe.

"It's okay. My mom will make yours too!"

And so it was that it became my job to make vinyl jumpers for the girls to be the Go-Go's. They looked fabulous, darling. Really quite colorful and fun.

But this year while handing out the candy, I have to admit I was disappointed with the costumes I saw.

There were a few that were clever, and some that were nice. I understand there are alot of people who don't have a vision for costuming. They go and buy whatever Target or Wal-Mart is selling. I get that. But this year the costumes were really lame. Some people that came asking for candy didn't even wear a costume.

C'mon now.
You've got to be kidding. Right?

There were only about 15 or 20 kids that I knew. Most that came around weren't from our neighborhood, and I don't think even within the community. And again, that's okay. I get it. But still...

However, this year, there were a couple of groups that made the normal fun Trick-or-Treat'ing event distasteful.

You've heard of the "One bad apple spoils the whole barrel"?
I didn't get just one bad apple, I got a peck of them.

A few kids knocked down my archway. Seemingly on purpose.

But that wasn't the extent of it.
When I came off the porch to right it, the others in the group took off with half my candy stash.

What does that say for society? How are these kids being raised?
There was no respect for me, for my home or my property.

I didn't yell at them, or chase them or say anything to them as they ran off. I was afraid that they would come back. If they were that disrespectful while I was standing there, what might happen to my home after I've retired for the night?

And by my passiveness, what does that say about me?

Perhaps because no one holds these kids responsible for their actions they feel entitled to treat people in this manner.

I give out full size candy bars.
Or at least I did.

Not anymore.

I'm not sure if I'm even going to participate in Halloween Trick-or-Treat 2010. I might just have a party for my daughter and her friends and call it a night.

If I do decide to hand out candy, I'm taking a chapter from the classic Charlie Brown cartoon and handing out rocks. I'm going to forgo the Snickers and Reese's and Hershey bars and give out the crap candy that no one likes to those without costumes next year. Or those too old to be out collecting candy anyway.

I'll save the large, yummy candy bars for the few that I know, or that have gone to the trouble to assemble a real costume. Not just a hoodie and a $1 mask.


All it takes are a few bad apples.

With all the Halloween decorations now put away for the year, perhaps in the next 364 days I might have a change of heart.

I do like to throw a party. And give out candy. And make costumes. And see the costumes.
So I'll probably cave and hand out candy even though today I say I won't.

But I will be picky next year.

I don't give out bad apples.
Nor will I give to bad apples. They'll be getting tricks, no treats.

Don't say I didn't tell you.
You've been forewarned...