Thursday, April 29, 2010

lost in different translation...

My dad is a genius.

No, really, he is. He’s a card carrying member of Mensa. The International High IQ Society. Which is pretty darn cool. IntenseGuy the other day had a blog post about the Hubble Telescope, wishing it a Happy Birthday, if you will. I mentioned to him that it was my dad’s patent that allows the mirroring system to work on the Hubble. Fact is, all mirrors now sent on space missions are because of my dad’s input to the scientific world. He's got thirty-four current patents under his name. Neat stuff.

Growing up, this didn’t mean much to me. I knew dad went to work. And then he came home. We had a pretty normal nuclear family. It was right out of Better Homes & Garden Magazine. A family of four with both parents, one son, one daughter, a dog, two cars, ranch home and a television. We went on family vacations the week after school was out. The car would be loaded, camper hitched to the back and off we would go for two weeks into the great American countryside.

To complete the picture, my mother was even a Home-Ec teacher. She wore aprons at home. We had church ice-cream socials. They had bridge parties. My brother and I would bring out the cocktail nuts, say a joke to their friends and then go to bed.

We were the typical American family.

When my brother and I got older we started to understand that my dad was more than a little smarter than our friends' dads. He had a scientific mind. He was a scientist, so that worked out well for him. He could figure shit out. When solving a problem, he would not only solve the problem at hand, but found ways to improve the original design. Routine jobs became science projects.

I hung around my dad a lot. My mom too, but I liked to putz around with him. Each day was a learning experience. I re-seated my first toilet when I was five. I knew all the tools in the tool box and their uses by seven. I helped him re-roof the house at nine. I was mowing the yard with the rider mower when I was ten and learned how to drive when I was twelve. We planted award-winning gardens. With his guidance I learned the value of money and bought my first rental at nine. I learned a plethora of things from my dad. He was, and still is, a wealth of knowledge.

When I was sixteen the family started weekly sessions with Doctor Nausbaum. He looked just like you might envision a Doctor Nausbaum to look. Mousy brown hair, big glasses, slight in stature but he didn’t miss to many meals. He had facial hair, but that wasn’t uncommon in the late 70’s. Our family scheduled weekly sessions with him to help facilitate our family communication.

You see, since my dad had such a great mind, he didn’t know how to communicate outside of the scientific world. He didn’t understand ‘feelings’. He had a hard time getting his mind around the soft sides of emotion. My mom was the lovey-dovey one to us kids. My dad was the man in the family. And up until our own free thinking ways, we never questioned it. It’s just the way dad was. But then we started to realize that our dad was different and there was a break in translation.

It not bad being different, at all. But you still need to have the communication skills at hand to well, converse. We couldn’t talk at his level and he had absolutely no understanding of ours. Enter Doctor Nausbaum.

Doctor Nausbaum had this annoying trait. He would rub his beard and sort of hummm, and say, hmmmmm (as if in aggreement) ….so how does that make…you…feeeell? Hmmm?”

It made me want to scream. Or tear my hair out. Or as I just heard a line in the movie The Answer Man, chew my arms off at my wrists.

I can still hear his voice in my head. I can still see him rubbing his beard. I can still see his beady little eyes as he watched our family. I can still hear the Ka-ching in his head as he said “Come back again next week. We’re making progress.”

Progress? Please.

The sessions did have a benefit. It got all of us together at least once a week at that point. Me being a junior in high school, I had places to go; people to see. My older brother? He had even more places to go; more people to see. Doctor Nausbaums was not high on our list. But it succeeded in getting the entire family on the same page to understand that we disagree on different subjects. My dad would never fully understand how I resented not getting the message that one of the Daves had called, not being allowed to go to the basketball games as a punishment or missing ski club because of the Doctor Nusbaums sessions. And in turn I can honestly say in turn that I’ll never understand the process of how his brain works.

Over the years I’ve done a pretty good job translating what he says and does into human-oid terms. But sometimes my brother and I will share a shrug over the dinner table when visiting that equates to, “That’s dad for ya’.” After you Alfonzo.

I was replacing a light fixture in the hallway. It’s an old house; very old. 105 years old to be exact. The wiring in places has been replaced and in others it hasn’t. This particular light was on a four way switch. I understand basic wiring and can easily follow a diagram, yet I couldn't get this fixture to work. One switch would have the light hot all the time and another wouldn’t work. Run down two flights of stairs, turn off the power, go back up two flights and change the wiring around, run back downstairs turn the power on and let’s have a go again. Different problem but still not right. down two flights of stairs, turn off the power, go back up two flights and change the wiring around, run back downstairs and turn the power on and let’s have a go again. Still not solved.

By the fifth or sixth attempt, not only was I getting an excellent stair master workout, but I was getting a little frustrated. I called my dad. He’d know what to do, I was sure of it.

“Dad…I need your help. I can't quite figure out this wiring.” I asked.

“OK. What have you done so far?” came the fast reply. He perked up with the knowledge that his knowledge was needed.

“Black to black, white to the other wire, green to ground, second black to black and well….I must have mixed up the travelor. But it’s not working.”

“So there’s two wires from the ceiling, but four in the light?”


“And it’s a 3 bulb fixture?”

“Yes. But one stays on all the time and it’s not supposed to.”

“Did you change the wires?”

Duh. Many times. “Yes.”

“Did you…blahblahblahblah….” while he was asking all the did you questions, I started daydreaming and thought about the wiring and figured it out on my own. He didn’t give me the answer, but listening to his questions made me realize where I had made the mistake.

“Thanks Dad. I got it. I think I know the problem.”

“Are you sure? But….“, he hesitated, “I didn’t tell you what to do yet!”

His scientific mind had made my problem more than what it was. I just needed to attach the 3 wires to the same lead. No worries. It worked.

But that’s my dad. What he thinks is the easy fix is actually the hard way around. That’s okay. I’m older now. I get it. I understand that we see things differently. We process differently. We’re different.

He’s Mensa.
I’m not.

But I’ve got a better arsenal of common sense….so it works out.

Plus I beat him in Scrabble now three times. I wrote it down. It's a big deal. It is. Nobody beats dad at Scrabble. The game was almost made for him. The first time I caught him re-adding the scores because the game had been close. Very close. He’s one of those Scrabble players where he’ll play one letter in between 3 words and get 42 points. Tough cookie that one, my dad.

Maybe someday I’ll get to be a card carrier of Mensa. I'd wear that ring proudly. But I highly doubt that will happen. And I'm okay with that. However, I can always dream. And I can hear the voice in my head...

'But how does that make you feeeeeelll?'

Sunday, April 25, 2010

perhaps a vodka gimlet...

Amusement parks are great people watching places.

Over the years, I’ve found that I can pass time faster while herded through miles of aluminum railing by looking at the other park guests. It’s hard not to look at them. You pass by many of the same faces every four minutes or so.

But the best people watching happens not at the regular amusement parks that sport roller coasters, it’s the water parks that provide the most stellar sights.

Boo had Friday off from school this week. So a few of us KoffeeKlatch moms took advantage of a weekday offer at Kalahari that was hard to pass up. A room with four water park passes, 14” pizza, 4 fountain drinks and a full spread breakfast buffet…all for the low, low price of $129.00 +tax.

Normally the same room with amenities goes for $299.00 (the cost of water park admission alone is $39 per person for an all day pass), so immediately I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy about our visit to one of the areas nicest water park facilities.

There are several Kalahari water parks. Fredericksburg, Virginia; Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin; and Sandusky, Ohio. It’s about an hour away from our home. Easy enough to get to without becoming time consuming. It’s a great mini-vacation spot. Lots of things to do; spa, rope course, game room, various restaurants and bars, shopping and yes…an indoor and outdoor water park.

Now, I’m not a big water park gal. The idea of over chlorinated water, standing in line with others while wet and in a bathing suit doesn’t really appeal to me. Walking up stairs behind strangers with their behind in my face doesn’t appeal to me. Walking up stairs with my behind in strangers faces doesn’t appeal to me. But on the urging of my friends and my daughters insistence that “This is going to be great!”, I succumbed to the pressure and booked a room.

Checking in was a breeze. There was no line for the valet. No line for the concierge. No line for the elevator and no waiting for the bellboy. This made me happy. We looked through the large picture window displaying all of the indoor wonderland and lo and behold! there were no major lines for any of the attractions either. We raced to the room, changed into our bathing suits and off we went to see what sort of wet mayhem we could get into.

Slipping into my suit was slightly anxiety driven. I’ve not had it on since last summer. Will it still fit? Why didn’t I try the bloody thing on at home first? kept running in the back of my head. A little snug across the bust line but surprisingly a little looser across the bum. Thank you, treadmill. Bear had hers on in record time and as I was adjusting, turning this way and that in the mirror, making sure that I wouldn’t entirely embarrass myself when I dropped my cover up, she was impatient and nudging me, “C’mon already! You look fine….”

“Good enough”, I told her, “Let’s go! Nothing I can do about it now anyway!” I hadn't noticed any 10 minute liposuction kiosks on the way in, so this is as good as it was going to get. Today.

Once inside, we found the rest of our group. The adults concluded that a little liquid confidence delved out from the Tiki bar was all that was needed to drop the cover and hit the wave pool.

As I stood there dodging the waves (too much fun), I looked around me. I don't know why I had gotten myself worked up about my appearance. I hadn’t anything to worry about. I mean, yes, I would love to lose a few pounds; get myself back in to my comfort zone. But geez, some of the people here need a lesson in proper attire.

There’s the older woman, whom by the look of her figure, her hair is premature gray. White really. In good shape for her age, perhaps even a tad too thin, but has seemingly borrowed a bikini from her 17 year old daughter. It’s nice that she can borrow her daughters bikini, but I hasten to think that a string bikini adorned with bedazzled skulls is not befitting a woman of her years.

Or the late 20’s gal with her toddler son. Granted, she obviously gave birth 16 months ago, but perhaps you might save the skimpy (very skimpy) two peice for when you lose the baby weight? A few to many folds to content with…and darlin’ please! Do not bend over to grab your boy! There are people behind you! Ugh.

Or the body builder guy all tatted up in his Nautica swim trunks. Not bad. But the color combination was not. They were white, he was dark skinned. Add water…what do you think happened. Yeah. He needs a little personal grooming. Double ugh.

Not everyone at the park were Galmour No-No's. There were some very tasteful swimsuits on all kinds of body types. But there were some seriously out of shape people traipsing about in very skimpy coverings. I stood there not really worrying about my own shape any longer. But I thought about what I was seeing in front of me.

Granted, water parks aren’t where you’d expect to find the pretty people of the world. They are out in hot tubs on private yachts, lounge chairs on cruise ships and lying on beaches in Cabo. They are not at Kalahari on discount days. Even so, this is a sad state of affairs if the majority of middle America is grossly overweight.

It made me think about parts of the movie, Food, Inc. It followed a family whose parents in the documentary couldn’t afford to buy fresh fruit or vegetables for their brood, so they ate fast food instead. They wanted to buy organic for health reasons, but could only afford the dollar burgers instead. The movie is fascinating, yet disturbing. On many levels.

I love corn. Corn on the cob, canned corn, corn muffins, creamed corn. Hell, I even like corn puffs and popped corn. I got nothing against good ol’ corn. Rightly American, corn seems to be. I’ve never been to a barbeque where there hasn’t been some sort of corn product. Or two. Or three. I know when I eat corn. I can tell by the next time I use the bathroom. Not to disturb you, but after I eat corn; I inevitably can see it has passed through my system. It’s right there in brown and yellow.

That’s disturbing enough. But did you know that corn and corn by-products are hidden in products that you wouldn’t have suspected have corn in it? Most kinds of baby powders, foot powders and feminine powder use corn for their primary ingredient. Duracell Batteries, Kingsford Charcoal and Febreeze Deodorizing spray is also corn. Natural Living bedding at Target is corn. I mean, even Q-tips use corn for the stick! Who knew?

But it’s the high fructose corn syrup that is in everything. It’s a substitute for sugar and adds body to the product. Most processed foods in the USA contasin high fructose syrup. Did you know that the average American eats 41.5 lbs of high fructose corn syrup per year? Peanut Butter, condiments, breads, cereals and soft drinks to name just a few.

Outside of the fact that beverages containing high fructose corn syrup have high levels of reactive carbonyls which are linked with cell and tissue damage that leads to diabetes, they are just not good for you. With a 12 oz Pepsi containing 103% of your daily allowance for sugar (32g or 8tsp) at 150 calories and 41g of carbs, it’s no wonder there are so many overweight people. How about yogurt? Thought that was a healthy addition to your lunch routine? All those Activia commercials got ya’? 110 calories, 2 g of fat, 19g of carbs and 5 g of protein. But it contains high levels of what?…yup. High fructose corn syrup and MSG.

Studies have shown that MSG causes obesity, stress, fatigue, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, retinal degeneration, migraine headaches and can lead to brain damage in babies and young children. I always order Chinese food and ask them to hold the MSG. I've been doing that for years. A friend, who's a personal trainer, told me to. I never questioned it, but now I'm glad I listened to him.

Corn in itself is hard for the body to process. And much of the corn we get is from Monsanto Genetically Altered corn, which scientists have just recently found causes liver damage in rats. Nice. So by reducing our intake of corn, we not only are being nicer to our bodies but may make a difference, however small, in how the mega companies make the food we eat.

I’ve given up sodas. Every once in a while I crave one, and succumb to it’s bubbly goodness. But not often. I’ve started buying from our local growers and buying organic (actually super organic as many organic products are marketing ploys). Trying to be a smarter consumer makes me feel as if I do have a choice. I remember the days when I was blissfully ignorant of everything confirmed by Food, Inc. It just makes your head spin. I hope I don't end up like Red Buttons character on the original Poseidon Adventure. A health conscious Habasasher, he places before him the pills he'll take through dinner. Not that he was having dinner like the rest, he took the pills as a substitute for actually eating. Geez, and that was back in 1972. Before Monsanto. Before Food, Inc.

I’m hoping that this time next year with the changes I’ve been making in my grocery list, I’ll be that much slimmer when I put on my bathing suit at Kalahari. Every little bit counts. Or perhaps even some of the other guests at the park might have done the same. It'd be nice not to have to endure all the plumber butt cracks and personal grooming faux pas.

But I suppose that means I'll need to pass on those Pina Coladas. Too much corn syrup. And no Icees for me ever again. 280% of the daily allowance of sugar. And that Cuba Libre? Nope. Can't have that either.

I wonder, is vodka made with corn? God, I certainly hope not.
Then I’d be royally screwed…


Monday, April 19, 2010

flip side of the pillow...

Have you ever woken yourself up at night? And then wondered...'What the hell?'

Last night as I was happily snoozing away and I hear Gwwack! Loud.

Good Lord, what an amazing sound! It was so deafening and annoying that it woke me from my slumber. My mind somehow acknowledges that the sound has emanated from me, although I wish I could blame it on something else. I didn't even know I could make such a noise.

The scores are running the board. 7.5 - 7.0 - 8.0 - 8.0 - 9.5!

Yes! A nine point five!
She's done it ladies and gentlemen! Almost a perfect score!
Nancy has reached the pinnacle of her sleeping career with this unbelievable display of sleep apnea!


I've talked to you about this before. This inability to get a good nights rest. I've tried many things to induce a deep sleep.

Melatonin. Nope. That seems to work the opposite on me. I take it and 20 minutes later when a 'normal' person would be in a deep sleep lala land, I'm tossing and turning; tying my legs in knots within my down comforters.

Tylenol PM. Huh-uh. Nothing. I'm just spinning in my sheets with a feeling of Jimmy Hendrix purple haze.

Blue Moon pints with a Washington Apple shot chaser. Yeah. That doesn't work either. Fun and delicious, but not a sleep provider. And no, martinis or wine don't work either. They just make me snore louder.

But last night I was actually asleep. I could tell. Johnny Depp was sitting by my bedside reading The Hobbit to me, glancing over time and again to make sure I was comfortable. And then, Gwwack! I woke myself up. I remember apologizing aloud. I didn't want Johnnny to get the wrong impression of his muse. But he was no longer there and the dogs couldn't have cared less about what was going on. They rolled over, garnering a little bit more of the space left on the bed and stretched. It didn't matter to them what sound I emitted, sleeping or not, as long as it wasn’t a command to “Get Down!“.

I'd like to believe that I sleep like those you see in the soft lit scenes from movies. When they do a close up and the sleeping beauty is just that...a beauty. A soft glow illuminating the perfect skin and hair while the heroine sleeps peacefully.  Lips slightly parted, brows unfurrowed. A man watches her rest. And because of her obvious perfection she has become the object of his desire, adoration filling his eyes. She lies there, peaceful; flawless.

I don't think I fit that picture.

I don’t want to disturb the impeccable image you have developed of me, but I need to clarify a few things that may change your opinion. I have to get up a few times in the night to readjust my pajamas as they have managed to twist and wedge themselves into places they weren’t meant to inhabit. That and flip over my pillow in order to get a dry spot on the pillow case due to my drooling. My lips aren't slightly parted, they are relaxed and slack. my jaw opening wider with each deep breath. My hair looks as though I spin and breakdance throughout the night on my pillows and because of the dogs, I contort my body into unnatural positions while I'm unconscious. I look more like those sick people you see in the NyQuil commercials as they snore their way to a perfect nights rest than that of Liv Tyler in Lord of the Rings. I don’t sleep gracefully. I toss and I turn. I drool and I now find out I make sounds like Gwwack! when I sleep.

I remember one New Years Eve skiing with friends. On a whim several couples decided to trek over to Peak N’Peak, a nearby ski resort in Pennsylvania, for the holiday. We all shared a small condo for the festivities as all the large houses had been booked long before. The couple that pulled it together got the one available bedroom and the rest of us camped out in the large great room. It was a blast. We didn’t mind the close quarters.

After the first night there, we all awoke stiff from the skiing and sleeping on the floor; and groggy from a night of swilling local wine. The recollections and stories of events of the previous day started over breakfast. We all laughed about how we stole Lee’s clothes while he was in the hot tub. And he, not a modest fellow, got us all back by not caring and walking about naked. Gail was a primper, hogging the only bathroom. So we turned off the hot water halfway through her 12 minute shower to make a point. In turn she over seasoned our Salmon that evening leaving us all scurrying for dry bread to cool the burn of the red pepper flakes. We teased Barber that he didn’t need that name since he was going bald; rapidly. And Suzie informed us that my ex and I were perfect for each other. Not only had she noticed that for breakfast he ate the yolks of our eggs and I the whites, but as we slept…we made music.

No. Not that kind of music. At least at that moment, thank you, but seemingly choreographed snore music to the delight of those sharing our immediate sleeping space. He emitted snores by air out and I apparently, snored in. Who knew?

I don't have much knowledge of Sleep Apnea and had to do a little Google’ing about it. I find out that this is indeed the culprit for my lack of quality rest. My brain has to continually wake me up because I have stopped breathing while I sleep.

I called and spoke with my doctor about my sleeping habits. He feels we should run some tests, but basically told me that my brain now is on alert; always ready to wake me. It thinks that at any time I will stop with my in and out air flow, so it’s ready to nudge me into awake mode that allows me to live just a little bit longer. This process doesn't allow me to get to the proper depth of sleep needed for REM mode. So I wake each morning still unrested. Still tired. Still in need of recharge.


So not only are my dreams of looking peaceful and fabulous while I sleep dashed, but it looks as if those deep nights restful sleep are like a carrot dangling in front of a horse. I want them, but may not get them anytime soon.

I don't think I'm going to be winning any beauty contests while sleep comotose in the near future. If ever. I sure do hope that someday my Prince Charming is enthralled by the sound of Gwwack! and the coolness of my drool. Or at least tolerant of it.

That’d be cool.
Just like the flip side of the pillow…


FOOTNOTE: On the recommendation of many of you, I did a little search on those CPAP machines. Although it seems that this is the solution, and may indeed 'improve my quality of life', I will look into them and ask my doctor about being fitted.

I am further put aside about my future appearance in bed though with wearing said contraption. My Prince might no longer have to hear Gwwack! but hopefully he will be a big Sci-Fi movie fan. I'm a mouth breather, so the masks that look to fit me would make me to look a little like the Alien from the movie Predator. How attractive. Even if I were wearing make-up like the starlets in films, you would never know it under all the cords, belts and hoses.

I suppose that I'll get extrodinary rest and look a million times better in the morning! Perhaps if I take Marvin the Martian point and sleep sans pajamas then perhaps no one will notice the head gear? I think the spelling for this machine should be changed to CRAP.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

enough already...

She felt harried, rushed; overworked. So much pressure, so hard to be a single mom. Still so much grief still bottled up inside since the untimely death of her soul mate three years prior.

Her responsibilities were overwhelming. Her two youngest children barely remembered their father. Alex was 4 and Sophie had just turned 2 when he died. They didn’t have enough time with him. Why does God always take the best so soon? she often asked herself. He was such a good man. She was so happy to have found him after all those years alone. She thought they would have had more time. There’s never enough time. She realized that right now as she rushed to hide the Easter presents from the kids.

“Madeline, could you keep them out back for a minute?” She called to her eldest daughter from her previous marriage.

Madeline and Claire have been God sent in helping out with the little ones. There is no way she would have been able to get through Lou’s cancer without them.

“No problem, Mom! Hey, can I use your car later?” Maddie called back. “I’ve got plans to meet up with some friends.”

“Sure, hun. But don’t be out too late…it’s Easter tomorrow.” She’s such a young lady now, she thought. It's hard to believe that she's in college. It's so nice to have her home through the holiday; to have the whole family together.

That’s why she needed the babies in the back yard. She wanted to sneak the Easter presents from her car in through the front. The ongoing to-do list ran through her head: Unpack the groceries, hide the presents, make the baskets, make dinner, clean the house, arrange the flowers, try to work out. Yeah, like that was going to happen. She was so tired at this point she could hardly think straight let alone get on the treadmill. Maybe tomorrow. There’s always tomorrow. Sometimes, she thought sadly. That's what they always said..."we'll deal with that tomorrow". It was the way they made it through those agonizing months as the cancer slowly took away Lou's vibrance.

But first things first….get the Easter stuff hidden. She wanted Alex and Sophie to hold onto their innocence and beliefs in the Easter Bunny a little bit longer.

Alex looks just like Lou. So does Sophie. It’s hard not to look at them and see that magnificent man. He always cooked Easter dinner. He always made the day special for us all. Actually, he made every day seem special. He was so good with the kids. The children adored him. Everyone adored Lou. He was just that kind of man. God, she missed him.

She hung her head for a moment to regain her composure. Alex gets inconsolable when he sees his mom break down. Okay. It’s okay…pull yourself together, she said beneath her breath.

The evening is finally almost over. The kids are bathed and put to bed. She thinks she might do the same. Madeline comes asking for the keys to the car, but they aren’t where they normally are. Where are they?

“Just use the spare set Maddie, I’m too tired to look for them right now.”

“No problem, Mom.”

“Be back before midnight!” she calls out.

Mooooommmmmmmmmm. A little later? Please?” Maddie quickly asks.

“12:30. Latest. OK Madeline?”

“Alright. Geez, Mom.” she answers. “I love you.”

“I love you too. With all my heart.”

Easter morning. The kids are awake and digging through their baskets. Foil wrappers strewn on the floor, bunnies on the coffee tables missing their ears.

“C'mon kids…let’s go. We don’t want to be late for Mass.”

It was a long night. Her heart was heavy and she's overtired, but it’s so great to see everyone in their new Easter clothes. The girls are gorgeous, with their long hair and easy smiles. She is so lucky to have them. Where did the years go? They all clamor out the side door to the driveway where Maddie left the car last night. Her daughter had been late getting in. 1:00am the clock had read. She had woken up when she heard the car doors lock with it’s annoying, yet reassuring Beep!Beep!

“Maddie? Where’s the car? She asks her daughter struggling with the deadbolt on the house door.

“Right there Mom…right….” Maddie turns around to find the driveway empty. The car is gone.

“Right where, Maddie?”

“Mom! I parked it RIGHT THERE….Right there!!!” she points to the spot in the driveway where she had parked the Jeep last night.

The morning isn’t spent at Saint Malachi like planned. It’s spent in the living room accompanied by uniformed police officers taking reports. They’ve managed to put together that her keys must have been stolen. Her key chain is attached to a small card wallet that had her driver’s license, Giant Eagle card and debit card. It was a gift that she had liked for its convenience. It’s not very convenient now.

Seems whoever has taken her keys has charged $1200 in gift cards at Giant Eagle, returned later and stolen the car. Filled up with gas and drove to Detroit. They found the car wrapped around a light pole right outside of the Motor City. No passengers. Nothing in the car. Everything is gone, except for some empty RedBull cans.

“Ma’am, we need you to come with us to the grocery to look at the security videos. To see if you know who used your credit cards.” The police officer looks forlorn. He knows this family. He knew Lou and had attended his funeral. He knows the amount of stress they have already endured. Why can’t this family catch a break, he wonders. They sure do deserve it.

They watch the stores videos. She brings the girls to see if they know who these boys are. The theives are young. The dark haired boy looks to be about 19, the other not even that.

“No. I don’t know them.” she replies. “I’ve never seen them before.”

Both of the girls nod in agreement. They don’t know them either.

How did they get her keys? She had them when she returned home. Did she leave them on the front porch? Did they pick them up from there? Her mind is a jumble as she tries to retrace her steps and figure this puzzle out. The purchases at the grocery were at 10:32pm. Madeline had the car at that time. She didn’t get back until 1:00am and the car was found in Detroit at 6:30am. So these boys came back and stole the car after Madeline returned home?

Shivers went up her spine and raised the hair on her neck. The thought that someone was watching the house, her house, planning on stealing her car unsettled her. It dawns on her that they still have the keys to her house.

She was now not just scared, but angry. How could the people at Giant Eagle have approved a $1200 sale! Don’t they ask for identification? She just bought this car. And what about her bank card? All of her money gone. Oh God…help me, is all she can think.

Haven’t I been through enough already?
I’m just so tired. So tired.

NOTE: This short story is based on factual events of a neighbor. It's a sad story, but I hope you liked it.

Friday, April 9, 2010

the gloaming voyeur...

Twilight. Dusk. Gloaming.

This is my favorite time of day. Or night, if you will. I enjoy the dusk. When the light fades enough from the sky that people are forced to turn on their lights. Still enough light lingering to see exterior details, but now with the flick of the switch, I can view inside as well.

I find I'm a bit of a voyeur.

I like to look in the windows and create stories about what lies within.

At dusk the world takes on a certain glow. A certain calmness. A certain settling in.
I like that. It fills me with a sense of peace.

It’s quiet. There’s a solitude about dusk. The time between getting home and going out. On a warm night, like this past week, there is a freshness to the gloam. You can feel the excitement the warm weather brings. The exhilaration felt while driving with car windows open or tops down after the long months of bitter cold. The sounds of conversation and radios overheard. Gathering with friends for a pint, or two, at watering holes with outdoor patios. The smell of barbeques and fire pits hanging heavy in the air, sweetly mixing with the blooming hyacinths and forsythia. Freshly pedicured toes escaping the confines of closed toed shoes loving the feel of the crisp air.

Nights like this, if time allows, I head over to the beach. I sit in the sand and watch the festival of colors displayed before me on the horizon. I could relax and watch the lake at sunset for hours. I take my camera so I can capture that particular moment in time.

Years ago as a passenger in my now ex-husbands car, I sat contentedly looking out the window and peering in the houses we passed. This was our street. Our boulevard. Homes I’ve seen time and time again. It was dusk.

“No matter how many times I drive down this street, I always see a house I havn’t seen before”, I matter-of-factly told him.

He laughed. Heartily. “You crack me up. Nance, all these houses look the same!”

“No. They actually don’t! Look at that one, see how the deep set the windows are? And that one has a large wrap around porch that this one doesn’t. But what's with that portico? Ick. But check out their gorgeous double front door. I'd like that on our house. And see…that one has the kitchen that runs along the outside wall…..” I stopped with my diatribe because I could see he was smiling. He had been poking fun. He knew the houses all are different, but he was just letting me ramble on with my observations.

It's become a running joke between us. Which has now passed onto my daughter..."Hey Mom! Have you seen this house...?", she'll smirk. Ha. Very funny, little one.

Somehow at twilight, when both the exterior and interior are exposed…you see pieces of houses not visible in other light.

I live in an older community. Established in 1889, Lakewood is located just 3 miles west of Cleveland. We are positioned on Lake Erie's coast, the North Coast as they call it here. A small 5.6 mile community with the majority of the homes built between 1900 and 1930. Much of the architecture is distinct among the vintage residential homes. Most can qualify as century homes now. It’s an interesting place. Architecturally and otherwise. Urban suburbia.

This Old House chose Lakewood as the 'Best Place to Buy a House' in 2008. Business Week recognized it as the 'Best Place to Raise a Child' in 2010. With it's outstanding school systems and City services, it's always listed as having one of the Best Libraries in the US for years running. Steps from award winning Metroparks and easy access to all that Cleveland has to offer, all in all, Lakewood is a pretty nice place to live.

I sometimes wonder why my voyeurism of the residential fishbowl hasn’t transferred into a love of reality television shows. I’m not the slightest bit entertained by the likes of them, but could stand outside a strangers window taking in the minute details of their home not realizing how much time has passed.

I mean, I don’t actually stand there staring in. That would be rather sick. But I see things, unconciously gathering information that then allows my mind to wander with its wild scenarios.

The opposite of dusk also has me equally intrigued. Dawn. Sunrise. Aurora.

Add to that the crisp invigoration of an early spring morning, I'm hooked. I'd rather be up than slumber through this. It’s the time when most are still asleep or those awake are just starting their day.

I walk in the early morning. I enjoy exercising before first light. If it doesn’t get done then chances are it isn’t going to happen. It amuses me to pass by a home and recognize the smell of coffee or bacon wafting out into the street. In the spring and summer it’s even more prevalent as windows are open, you hear snippets of conversation along the way to guide the movie playing in your head.

A coffee cup shattered. Was it accidentally dropped or hurled at a wall because of a spouses indifference?

A baby crying. Where is the mother? Too tired to respond immediately or in the shower trying to steal time before the day starts?

A loud television. Are they trying to hear the morning news over the sound of water while brushing their teeth or is it covering the sounds of morning sex from the close proximity of their neighbors?

All these things filter through my mind as I make tracks on the sidewalk. I don’t need an iPod as I walk. I've got my own soundtrack for life. My thoughts keep me plenty entertained. By the time I get back to my house I’ve got several screenplays running. All due to the what I’ve caught, by accident, while briskly passing by out on the tree lawn.

Yesterday I walked home from the local car dealership. I had stopped for a quick service. However, it was going to take a little longer than anticipated, so I decided to hike it back home and return later. It was a warm day, although starting to get windy with a sky threatening rain. Much nicer being in the fresh air than in a dingy waiting room with a TV blaring some horrendous show.

As I walked through the somewhat busy downtown area I smiled at those I passed on the street. I nodded my head in their direction…a gesture of ‘ain’t it beautiful-spring is here-good to be alive’ kind of nod. Some people wouldn’t even meet my gaze. Others sort of sidestepped out of the way. Very few returned my smile of greeting.

I wondered why? Did I appear as a loon smiling along as I walked? Someone just released from that hospital or police station that I passed? I wondered if those driving by me were now playing their own scenarios of this lone woman baring her teeth at passersby.

The voyeur had become the voyee.

That thought amused me even further. And made me grin even more.

Splattered with a few drops of rain, here I was trekking along with an added spring to my step. My reflections entertaining me with each footfall.

I think I might just might write this all down once I get home....