Saturday, July 17, 2010

good trait or bad...

After years of introspective analysis, I’ve determined that I’m tolerant.

tol-er-ant adj. 1. showing the capacity for endurance; 2. showing respect for the rights or opinions or practices of others; 3. tolerant and forgiving under provocation; 4. showing or characterized by broad-mindedness.

Many times in my life I’ve been at a crossroads. I’ve had to make a decision. Once that decision has been made, I’ll stick by it and see it through. But this doesn’t mean that there aren’t times that I wish I could go back and perhaps react differently, say something, stand up or run away…but different than what it is that I’ve actually done.

Growing up, in our home, we learned tolerance. We learned acceptance. We learned consideration. We took others thoughts and feelings and many times placed them above our own. Not that we didn’t stand behind our convictions, mind you, but just that if others had opposing thoughts or theories, we never criticized or disparaged their views. We listened. We might debate, but we still listened.

We got all the facts before jumping on any band wagon or cause. We didn’t rock the boat. I wonder if I had grown up in a family that automatically jumped and then apologized later if wrong, if I would have a different approach to life. And in turn, things in my life would have turned out differently?

Once when visiting my parents, a friend came along with me for the drive. Carol had a new kitten and although it would have been fine left alone for a few hours, Carol wanted to bring it with us on my pilgrimage home to Sylvania. Cats don’t like cars. They make horrible guttural sounds. The drive is 2 hours long. I was about to lose my mind.

At my parents’ house, the cat had free reign. We were at the dining room table and this cat, whom I’m decided is most definitely possessed, is laying track through the family room, the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, the foyer and then back around all over again. And again. On one of its rotations it leapt up onto my brothers back, made a sharp 90 degree turn and grabbed onto my mother’s formal draperies directly behind him.

My brothers face was in pain. You could tell it hurt. His eyes were watering, his lips drawn tight, his shoulders now contorted into odd angles. But not a sound came from him. He didn’t cry out. He didn’t scream…although you could tell he most definitely wanted to. But that would be impolite. We were at the dinner table after all.

My mother spent weeks, months even picking out the right silk and having them made for their house. To see this kitten hanging with its claws halfway in the middle of these draperies…well, it didn’t please my mother. But this was a guests pet. She wouldn’t have said anything. That would be impolite.

Carol got up and removed her cat, as carefully as possible from the drapes, but even where I sat you could see the small tears that those little claws made. You could see the little drops of blood pooling on my brothers shirt where those little claws had been. But we just took it in stride and passed the brussel sprouts.

That’s tolerance.

My mother would offer the devil himself lemonade if he appeared on her doorstep. She was tolerant.

Recently my tolerance was tested. A woman that my family has known through church for years has tested it. And my dad. My dad has been on a kick to ‘clean house’ since my mother died. She wasn’t like on the television shows, but she did have a tendency to be a mild hoarder. My dad would throw away mail or newspapers and my mother would retrieve them, put them in a brown Krogers bag and stick it in one of the spare rooms to ‘take a look at later’. Sometimes later never came. And by that time there were 3 more bags of the Blades newspaper Peach section for her to look at before it was deemed ‘ok’ to throw out. It’s the 2 steps forward 1 step back syndrome. This went on for years.

When my mother was ill and at home, she thought that people were taking her things. And in truth, they were. My father never disturbed her ‘bags of things’ when she was 100%. He wouldn’t dare, although you knew it had bothered bothered him for years. But with her not running at full capacity, he thought this the perfect time to do something about it.

He had the cleaning lady start removing the bags from the spare room. Pretty soon she went onto the other storage space. And the hallway closet. And the eaves.

After my mom died, I went through her belongings. Icleared our her closet space. Some of her dresses I wanted to keep. The purple silk Schrader Sport dress that she wore to school when teaching was one of my favorites. It just looks like her. I wanted to keep that one. Her dressing gown that still smells like her. I wanted to keep that too. I wanted to keep some of the beautiful costume jewelry, and all her fine jewlery items. And some of the dressy gowns that I knew would make fun dress up costumes for Boo in the future. I don’t necessarily have that much room in my own home, but I transferred the items of mention into the closet in my room at my parents house.

My dad and I had an agreement. Louise, the cleaning lady, can go anywhere she wants in the house and take anything out…but no one is to go in my room. I mean, you can go IN my room, just don’t go through anything in my room or remove stuff. There are items in my closet that belonged to my grandmother. Some stuff that belonged to Grandpa. My wedding dress was in there and my graduation dresses from high school and college. I used to collect vintage cashmere coats with ¾ sleeves. My collection of those and the antique hats were in there as well.

There were lots of really cool things in my closet.

They are no longer there.

At my mothers funeral, Gigi and her husband Bob attended. I personally don’t like Gigi OR Bob, but I’m tolerant. Gigi’s a busybody. Both she and her husband do not do anything without knowing that somewhere, someone will say, “Oh…that Gigi and Bob! What good people! What good Christians they are!!!!” I call bullshit. People shouldn’t do good deeds for the accolades they might and expect to receive. They should do it because it’s the right and good thing to do.

Gigi and Bob took aspirin and over the counter medications to South America on a mission trip. They like to tell people about it. To gain a listening ear, hear their voice congratulating themselves and get sympathy because of the hardship they endured while trying to ‘do good’. Whatever.

Gigi was a deacon at my parents church. She liked the recognition. Actually, she loved the recognition. It made her feel important. She busybodied herself into a place of importance when the church was between pastors. Once the new pastor arrived, he thanked Gigi for her service and her input, but she was no longer needed. She didn’t like that. So she left the church, in a huff. Gigi isn’t quiet about her thoughts of the new minister. It’s not good. And personally, I really like the new guy…the sermon he gave at my mother’s funeral was most amazing. It was moving. Most in attendance were in tears. It was a beautiful tribute to my mothers life.

Afterwards, Gigi and Bob were in the foyer. I stopped and thanked them for coming. I was raised tolerant. They wanted to talk…a lot. I tried to excuse myself.

“Gigi, Bob. Why don’t you join us for the luncheon? The ladies of the church have been busy; please join us in the fellowship hall.” I asked them, gesturing towards the other wing of the church.

“Oh no. I couldn’t. I can’t be in the same room with that man...”, Gigi responded with disdain in her voice. (She was talking about the minister.) “Because of him, we had to leave our church home.”

Now….this is bullshit as well. They didn’t have to leave. They chose to leave. They didn’t feel as if they were getting the right amount of attention for all their “good deeds”. Bah.

At this point, I’m mad. But I’m tolerant, so I don’t say anything. But DO NOT use my mother’s funeral as a platform to gain sympathy for yourself. Please. So these are my thoughts about Gigi and Bob.

I bet at this point you wonder, 'What does this have to do with her closet?'

Gigi’s daughter, who apparently is a self deemed expert at garage sales, resale shops and the likes, is in town from Tennessee. Somehow Gigi has filled my dad’s ear with her daughters skills and he invited them over to help sort through things for potential garage sale, resale shop or Goodwill. Where did they go? My closet.

This woman and her daughter went through all my things. Packed them all up and took them away.

All the stuff that I’ve saved over the years? It’s all gone. Why? Because of a woman whom I abhor.

My dad said that they told him there were some valuable items. No shit. And now they are gone.
I’m mad.

I’m mad at my dad for reneging on a promise to not allow anyone into my room. In his overzealous efforts to 'clean house', there are items lost that cannot be replaced.

I’m mad at Gigi for thinking it was okay to the rest of the family members to take MY belongings and those of MY mother and MY grandmother out of the house. What possibly could she have been thinking? Why wouldn't she double check before running off with my wedding dress, and my mothers wedding dress?

I suppose they are just items. Stuff. Clutter.

But they were MY items. To be sorted through and given away at MY discretion. Not Gigi and Bob and her daughter. Not even my dad. Had I known what he was planning, I would have removed everything long ago…but I didn’t know that my room was no longer my room. I didn’t know that anything left at the house where I grew up and what belongings I left behind would become rummage sale items. I just didn’t know.

And now I’m pissed. And I’m mad.

And I’m still damn tolerant.

I SHOULD call and give her a piece of MY own Christian mind for imposing on my belongings. But I haven’t, because that would be impolite. So I am presently choking on my horse sized tolerant pill.

I’ve done it before and lived, so I assume I can live through this as well.

Did I ever mention way back when I was married, I awoke from a deep sleep to hear my Land Rovers engine idling in my driveway? After looking at the clock and seeing it was past midnight, I went down to see what was going on. My then husband was in my car. There was a woman in my car. He said he couldn’t find his wallet and thought he had left it in his car. He was giving this gal a ride home, or downtown or somewhere, I can't remember. The excuse seemed lame at the time. It's still lame today. I was in my nightshirt with no shoes, no makeup, and the baby sleeping upstairs. I asked who she was and what she was doing in my car. Her response was to my ex, "I told you not to drive up the driveway." What?

Turns out it was his mistress.
But I didn’t learn that until over a year later.

I should have insisted she get out of my car.
I should have insisted that my husband turn off the engine and go back in the f*ing house.
I should have screamed, or thrown a tantrum, or been a bitch.
I should have done something.

But I didn’t.

I was tolerant.
What a great attribute to have….

But this morning is a glorius morning! I'm leaving soon to go pick up Boo from camp. I feel enlightened. I feel good. Today...there are going to be some internal changes for Nancy. I can be tolerant, but I don't have to be silent.

And I have Gigi's phone number.
Yup. Today is going to be a glorius day...God help her.

Update:  5:45pm...I talked to my dad. He assured me that he will do everything that he can to see if he can get the items back. He apologized for not understand OUR understanding. He said that he didn't know there was anything in there that I would want, or wanted, or did want. I don't quite believe that. I think a little of it is lip service...but hey, I guess he's trying. He's never been good at admiting to wrong or apologizing.

Gigi and Bob? Or Gibob (as Julie named them!) They didn't answer the phone. I was very polite, yet firm, with the message I left. I let her know that I was displeased...VERY displeased that she and her daughter went through my personal belongings. I let her know that I was indeed incredibly disturbed by the fact that they would have the audacity to ASSUME that wedding dresses could/would not be of any significance...and take them away. I asked to have anything that they removed from the house returned.

I'm not sure if they will call me back or not. I'm going to assume they will call my dad and deal with him instead of me. Oh....but I did also call and vent about this to my brother. He does not like Gibob either, and now his view is even less of them. He is going to see what HE can do about this as well. There is a crawl space behind my closet that has many of HIS things in there. If they got to his stuff? In comparison, my verbal attack will be nothing....

Oh, and Boo is back, sunburnt and very, very tired. But had a wonderful week. She's like the Pet Detective in ALL the animals in the house are presently trying to see who can get closest to her.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

a little Pitt-y party...

I’m beside myself.

Easy to do as a Gemini, there are usually two of us at all times. Invite one and it’s automatically a party. But no, this is no regular party. This is a pity party. Or a Pitt-y party to be perfectly correct.

Boo’s at summer camp this week. She's in Pitt cabin this year. Third time return camper, she’s old hat at this camp thing. No more ‘missing Mommy’ sessions, it’s more of a ‘yeah. Got it…time for you to GO.

It’s not that bad, but still. I can’t help but see that she’s grown up quite a bit since I took her to her first residential summer camp two years ago. That year I didn’t make it out of the parking area before tears welled up and I had to pull over because I couldn’t see.

One whole week of no contact. No phone calls. No mail. No nothing.

I awoke this early this morning with the flashes of heat lightening illuminating my bedroom. I immediately reached for my cell phone on my nightstand. I’ve got the Weatherbug App on it and have Camp Tippecanoe programmed in to monitor the weather in that area. Camp Tippecanoe is about 115 miles south of here. It’s been unusually hot this past week and I lamented signing her up for camp in July. Seemed like a good idea a few months ago, plus it fit into the rest of the busy summer schedule…but July? It’s usually the hottest in July! What was I thinking? It’s supposed to stay humid and in the high 80's and 90’s all week. There is no air conditioning. How will they manage? Is it raining there? Is it too hot to sleep on that upper bunk? Leslie, the cabin counselor, had said when I emerged from the cabin sweating after helping Boo unpack her things said that one of their fans broke and she was hoping to get a new one. With that info, instead of heading back home perhaps I should have located the closest Wal-mart and brought one back for them.

But they're kids. It probably won't bother her. I shouldn't worry.

As I looked at my phone I saw that not only was a storm approaching Lakewood, but that there was a storm front moving swiftly in on the Little Town of Tippecanoe as well. I wonder if she'll remember where I put her poncho? I left it in the duffle bag. I thought that perhaps by leaving it packed away I was creating a positive mojo to keep it from raining during her week at camp. Doesn’t look like that plan worked. But perhaps the rain will bring down the temperatures.

Camp Tippecanoe is run by the YMCA. I like that it is a rustic camp. It’s not very built up, located on an undeveloped lake in Stark County. They have all the amenities that they need; running water, flush toilets, electricity…roofs. But they are secluded enough to be part of the wilderness. Or as much wilderness as they want. But no cell phones, no Nintendos, no TV’s, no iPods. This is about camping and bonding with new friends.

It’s considered an Adventure camp. They have horses, swimming, archery and hiking. There are old Indian caves and acres and acres and acres of woods. To get there you follow a gravel road that isn’t located on my cars GPS. It winds you higher and higher into the rolling hills of Ohio around a large meandering reservoir. There is no cell signal once you leave the county road. Actually, even on the county road there is no cell signal. Even my satellite radio lost its oomph 20 miles from camp.

I went to an Adventure camp when I was a kid. I remember it well. For many years I went there. I looked forward to the two weeks spent each summer. Camp Todemeka was even more rustic than Camp Tippecanoe. We slept in covered wagons or teepees. We cooked our own food. We would order the food that we desired from a list and each day they would deliver our daily meal plan. But we wee campers were responsible for our own meals. Cooked over an open fire, no less. We all had ‘kitchen’ duty for meals and if you burned the bacon for breakfast?…well, everyone ate burnt bacon. There were some times that we had to wait for the next meal to get anything somewhat passable to eat. But that was the fun of it.

I’ve felt a little lost since I dropped Boo off on Sunday. I didn’t cry coming home this time. I waited until the morning when I realized I couldn’t wake her as I usually do. The fact that I can’t talk to her makes me want to hear her voice all the more. I've felt very vunerable and emotional these past few days, constantly on the verge of tears.

Some of it I’m sure has to do with missing the Bear. But I’ve been thinking of my mom a lot lately as well. The feeling of not being able to talk to Boo has brought back the feeling I had when I could no longer talk to mom every day. After her last stroke, she lost her ability to communicate…so I couldn’t just call like always when I wanted to hear her voice. It was horrible. Prior to that stroke I spoke to my mom every single day on the phone and I no longer could.

This afternoon I took a nap in Boos bed. Why? Because I could. I didn’t have anything else on the schedule this afternoon. The way I feel presently, it’s an amazing feat that I even showered or got somewhat dressed. But I also did it because the sheets smell of her. It gave me a little comfort. Made me miss her a little less.

While lying there with my eyes closed I saw my mom’s face, like it was hanging above me. It made me cry. It’s a year to the date that we got the first of several “she may not make it through the night’ calls. I remember leaving home immediately to be at her side. She was a fighter, my mom, and she wasn’t quite ready. At least that time. But she deteriorated fast and died on the 20th. That date is fast approaching. I try not to think about it but some invisible time clock inside me must know that. So I’ve been schmeeshy.

Bear’s camp has an online thing called BunkNotes. Since they’ve no mail there, you can bring mail to be delivered each day at dinner or send e-mails that they print out and give to the campers. I brought notes and cards so she’ll get one each day. The one that will be delivered at dinner today is a music card blaring the Hampster Dance. That should bring a smile to her face. Enclosed in the envelope is a new whoopi cushion that she can terrorize the counselors for the rest of the week. I’m sure she’ll put that to good use. Bear’s cabin mates will be glad that her mom thinks up such things ahead of time. They are allowed a care package on Wednesday. I decorated a big box for her and filled it with goodies to share. That should make up for the whoopi cushion debacle I’ll have created. (amongst others) Hopefully Bears fellow campers and the counselors won't egg me when I come on Saturday to pick her up.

Bunk notes posts photos taken of the campers doing daily activities. So I’ve seen Bear busy being a tie-dyed Ninja, whatever the heck that is. Between stalking the Weatherbug page and Bunk Notes, it makes me feel like I kindof know what’s going on down there with my Booest. Makes me a little less antsy. A little more connected. Slightly closer even though we both know it's miles and miles away.

The parent handbook suggests to hold off on the ‘Miss you terribly' messages so they don’t get the midweek 'I want to go home. I miss my mom' scenerios. They say that it’s usually the parents are child sick, not the kids being home sick. I get that. And I’m feeling it.

I am full fledged child sick.

So I’m having a pity party, or Pitt-y party, with both of my Gemini sides. I’m left here wanting to talk to my kid and my mom and unable to do either. Some might celebrate being kid free for a week, but I’ve no desire to go out. I’m going to see if I can last the week without dressing in anything but yoga pants and tees. I’ve a nightstand of books I’ve been wanting to read, but have been unable to find the time.

Now I have the time, but not the desire to delve in. Perhaps I should check to see if they’ve posted new photos instead? Bah. Turn off the computer to stop watching the camp from Google Earth and monitoring to see if BunkNotes has posted new pictures that might give me a glipse of the Booest. Oh, and shut off that weather app. As if knowing that it rained .26 inches and is 73% humidity with a heat index of 88 degrees with a south west wind of 5mph is going to help at all.

Camp Tippecanoe is Bears stepping stone into being independent of her mom.

Now, if I can learn to become independent of my Bear…

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

grace under pressure...

A big THANK YOU to Pam and Sandy of Words of Wisdom for honouring me by naming me as a Blog of Note! If you've not checked out Words of Wisdom, you should. By nomination, they review blogs and then highlight them on their own blog. It's a grand way to find new reading material and revisit old friends of the blogosphere!

Join the conversation!

I've been blogging for a little over a year. It's been great fun meeting so many people all over the world. I'm pleased to call many of my new aquaintances 'friend'. It started one frosty winter morning talking with one of my best friends on the phone. " should start a blog.", Christine told me. "I did. You'd love it." And you know what? She was right. I do.

And I'm glad that YOU do too! Thank you to all of those that have been with me from the beginning and those just coming on board. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Also,  a big thanks to Leah Rubin of Funny is the New Young for nominating me for this awesome award! It's truly good to have friends...


I sat down.
For a just a moment.

I decided to take a little time for myself since no one was home and not expected back for a few hours. I made myself a highball and put in a movie rented from Blockbuster that’s been sitting on the bureau for weeks. And sat down. It was heavenly.

Not the movie.
Not the highball. Although it wasn’t all bad.

But the sitting down just for a little while.
Forgetting that the garbage needs to be taken out, the yard mowed, the dishwasher unloaded, the laundry put away. I still have on my list to re-paint Boo’s bathroom…I could get that done in this block of time, but no. I’m just going to plant myself on the couch and watch a film, of my choice, by myself, for a change.

As I sat there, I wondered if this is how my parents felt. The weight of all this responsibility. Always having a 'to do' list running in the back of their minds. Too much to do and not enough time to do it in. The burden of having a family and running a home. Maintaining schedules. Making sure that everything is in place at all times.

My mother always had everything under control, but she was not controlling. She never, ever showed any distress. She never got caught unprepared when guests were arriving. She had everything planned days in advance. I never looked in the refrigerator for a snack and was unable to find anything. Our fridge wasn’t full of processed packaged foods…it was stocked with things that my mom made full well knowing that we would be sticking our heads in the ice box after school looking for something to eat.

As a high school teacher, her schedule mimicked ours. But also as a teacher, we usually got home before she did. She taught at a downtown Toledo public school. We lived in the suburbs of Sylvania. It wasn’t far, but we usually would be home at least an hour before she pulled in the driveway.

I grew up with an outstanding role model and at the time really didn’t know it. Just like everything else in my bubble, even though my mind knows differently, I forget…and think everyone is like me. That everyone's parents were like mine. That everyone had what I had. That everyone went on vacations. That everyone had to learn to play piano. That everyone had Saturday chores to complete before being able to play with friends.

I remember being in school and wishing that we lived in the development down the street. I had many friends from school that lived there. That seemed so cool at the time, all those houses close together on curved roads. Cul-de-sacs seemed to be the golden place to live. How neat to be able to ride yours bike in circle all day long. They had sidewalks. Their houses were close together so you could cover more ground at Halloween. You could talk between windows with cans tied with string.

We lived on several acres of land. My neighbors had several acres, and the next neighbor had several acres. Our lots were very deep and wooded in the back. The woods all connected and we rode our bikes and mini-bikes through the trails we forged. At Halloween we had miles to cover since the houses were far apart. But everyone gave out full sized candy bars, roasted hot dogs and apples to bob for all the children in costumes.

My friends in the developments wanted to come to my house to play. I wanted to go to theirs.

That is my first memory of the 'grass is greener' syndrome.

But now, as I’m older, I appreciate more what I had as I was growing up. My dad was the provider. My mother was the ultimate homemaker. She worked and ran the house. Growing up I hung equally with both my parents. My dad taught me how to properly use tools, fix things, garden. My mother taught me how to plan and cook meals, iron shirts and balance the checkbook. My ex-husband said I was Bob Villa and Martha Stewart wrapped into one. And I was. Am.

I can have a meal cooking and go out to lop down and tree and split the wood for a fire by time dinners done. Paint a room while the soufflé is rising. Run for a quick manicure while the laundry is on spin cycle.

I’ve become my mom. And my dad. With a bit of Nancy thrown in as a twist.

I appreciate my parents more now than I ever did. My mom was a gem. My dad, too. Grace under pressure. That’s what they both taught me. What an amazing lesson that I’m still trying to perfect. Do your best. Plan ahead. Don't get caught unprepared. Smile.

How did they do it? Are things that much faster now? I think so. The lazy days of summer you see in movies are long gone. Now is the time of schedules. Blackberry picking is about choosing a cell phone, not of gathering materials for a pie. I wish things were just a tad slower in pace. To take some time sipping sweet tea on the hammock. Relaxing shouldn’t just happen on vacation. It should be something implemented into daily life, before daily life passes us by. Quite an epiphany.

So I sat down.

I plugged in a movie I’ve been waiting to watch when I had the time and I made the time. I enjoyed it.

Not the movie.
Or the highball.
But the time spent doing nothing...


Footnote: Thanks to both my mom and my dad for all their support over the years. I'd never be where I am without their love. I'll even add in there my big bro'. No matter what happens in the future...I know that I'm a pretty lucky gal to have had them all in my life...