Wednesday, June 30, 2010

it's not the breed...

It’s not just a face a mother (or owner) could love.

It’s a face that constantly exudes abounding joy, uncompromising love,  and unending slobber…usually delivered all at the same time.

I was surfing the internet the other night, trolling some of my favorite blogs, catching up on some news and a posting caught my eye. On, an update was given on some of the latest happenings in my city.

Lovelakewood is a great source of local information. Linked to the police blotter, it can keep you updated on all the crime in the area. The blog side of this site highlights some of the goings on in non-police pdf. blotter form. It's interesting stuff that usually doesn't get picked up by the news. This particular post listed all those with outstanding property taxes listed (amazing!). A lawsuit against Calanni Auto Service because they have a tendency to not return your car to you (incredible!). Police notified about several buildings stripped of the copper plumbing (unbelieveable!). A building demolished after being considered a neighborhood nuisance (so sad!).

But then in two lines, the author of this blog (who is a Lakewood resident as well), in a tongue in cheek way, managed to upset me with his coy delivery of an news item. I'm sure it was unintentional, but still upset me nonetheless.

I quote ‘There was another report of an 'it’s-not-a-pit-bull-it’s-an-american-bulldog' situation. Sounds familiar.’

Last year I wrote a blog post about Otis. I posted the video (which is hard to watch…) where the police tasered this dog. Several times. The City of Lakewood demanded Otis to be removed from the City limits or they would destroy the dog. The owner provided results of  DNA testing showing that Otis was indeed not a pit bull. The City refused the findings. It made National headlines. People were riled up. The owner eventually made a deal with the city and moved away.

On March 19th, former Lakewood resident Lenard Shelton has brought a lawsuit against the city because he feels he was subjected to undue scrutiny and harassment from police when he would walk his dog. The police think it’s a pit bull. He claims it’s a Boston Terrier mix. He provided DNA testing to prove that his dog is not a pit and the city refused those results as well. He moved to a neighboring city. Why? Because of  continued harassment and visits by police to his home threatening Mr. Shelton with criminal charges if he allowed his dog Rosco to remain in the city limits. He seeks $475,000 in damages.

There have been council meetings where residents have brought up that perhaps City of Lakewood employees should be schooled so they can identify, correctly, different breeds of dogs. The public safety guy was not pleased.

Lakewood banned pit bulls two years ago. Unless you lived here before that time and own a pit bull, you cannot register a dog with pit bull blood in any mix in the city. If you DO own a pit, you are required to provide a photo of your dog, copy of your homeowners liability insurance policy of not less than $100,000, provide proof that your dog has been micro-chipped, proof that your dog has been neutered or spayed, your dog must always be confined at all times and must be muzzled if walked in public. Oh, and the extra $50 for registering the dog.

All this is for dogs that have never had any history of violence.

506.03 PIT BULL dogs or Canary Dogs.

(a) All pit bull dogs and canary dogs (Perro de PresaCanario) are deemed to be dangerous animals even in the absence of a hearing by the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee.
(b) As used in this section, “pit bull dog” means any Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog, any dog of mixed breed which has the appearance or characteristics of being predominately of such breeds, any dog commonly known as a piut bull, pit bull dog, or pit bull terrier; or a combination of any of these breeds.
(c) As used in this section “canary dogs” pr “Perro de PresaCanario Dogs” also include any dog of mixed breed which ahs the appearance of characteristic of bring predominatnly of such breed.
(d) In the event of a dispute as to whether a dog or not a dog is a pit bull dog, a canary dog, or some other breed, the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee shall make the determination without a hearing, and the burden of proof that such dog is not a put bull dog or canary dog shall be upon the owner or custodian.

506.10 Evidence
The Director of Public Safety or his or her designee may hear and consider relevant evidence offered by any person desiring to provide such evidence at a hearing to determine whether or not an impounded or confined animal is a dangerous animal or a vicious animal.
In making a determination as to whether or not such animal is a dangerous animal or a vicious animal, the following evidence may be considered:
Any previous history of the animal attacking, biting or causing injury to human beings or domestic animals
The nature and extent of all injuries inflicted and the number of victims involved
The place where the bite, attack or injury occurred
The presence of absence of any provocation for the bite, attack or injury
The extent to which clothing or other property was damaged or destroyed
Whether or not the animal exhibits any characteristic of aggressive or unpredictable temperament or behavior in the presence of human beings or domestic animals
The manner in which the animal has been trained, handled and maintained by its owner or custodian
Any other relevant evidence concerning the animal
Any other relevant evidence regarding the ability of the owner or custodian or the City to protect the public safety if the animal is permitted to remain in the City

506.04 Exception, Registration and Fee
Any owner of a dangerous animal as defined in Section 506.03 on the effective date of the ordinance who intends to keep such dangerous animal within the City of Lakewood shall have 90 days, from the effective date of this ordinance, to register such dangerous animal with the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee. The fee for such registration shall be $50.00. Registration shall take place annually thereafter. Registration shall include providing the name and contact information of the owner of the dangerous animal, the location where the dangerous animal shall be kept, and any other information deemed necessary to ensure the safety of the public by the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee. Registration shall be rejected and the dangerous animal shall be removed from the City of Lakewood if the owner fails to show proof annually of compliance with the following conditions:

The dangerous animal must be implanted with a microchip, and the information contained on the microchip, must be maintained in a database by the Division of Animal Control along with a photograph of the animal
The animal must be spayed or neutered
The owner must obtain liability insurance for at least $100,000 for the entire period of registration
The animal, while on the premises of the owner or custodian, shall be confined indoors or in a securely enclosed pen or “dog run” with sides six feet high, imbedded at least one foot underground, and with a secured top
The animal, while off premises of its owner or custodian, shall be securely muzzled, leashed with a chain not longer than three feet (having tensile strength of not less than 300 pounds), under the control of a person eighteen years of age or older
Any government or utility company employee, and anyone else who comes on the property, shall be immediately informed of the animal’s dangerousness. The owner of the animal shall immediately notify the Director of Safety of any change made to the information on the registration

506.12 Disposition of Vicious Animals
Any animal designated by the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee, after a hearing, to be a vicious animal, if not already impounded by the City, shall be immediately surrendered to the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee, Animal Control Officer or a police officer.
Any animal declared by the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee, after a hearing, to be a vicious animal shall be humanely destroyed.
The Director of Public Safety or his or her designee shall issue an order authorizing the destruction of the vicious animal to take place not earlier than five days following the written decision by the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee designating the animal to be a vicious animal. If the owner or custodian of the vicious animal, within such period, files a notice of appeal of the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee’s decision with a court of competent jurisdiction, serves the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee with a copy of the notice of appeal and removes the animal from the City pending such appeal, the City shall stay the order of destruction, pending the appeal.

(Ord. 58-08. Passed 7-21-08.)

Lakewood is trying to become dog friendly. They recently have allowed people to walk their dogs in Lakewood Park. Lakewood Park is the main city park open to the public on the shores of Lake Erie. Since a council meeting back in 1973, dogs have not been allowed on park properties within the city limits. You can walk them on the sidewalks, but if you want to enjoy the park…leave your dog at home. No one has been able to determine why this was originally put into place. The council, when asked, would always support the ordinance because it was more cost effective for the city. It was “too expensive to put up signs and waste stations”.

Yet the city is in the process of a Clifton Boulevard revamp which will add a landscaped median (why?), improved lighting (no need), bus-coordinated traffic signalization (whoop de doo), new bus shelters (the ones there were put up 10 years ago and look fine), and a dedicated residential-side bus lane in each direction during rush hours. This is going to cost the city over $7-14 million dollars.

When asked about the need for medians, the answer was that would add a safety element to the roadway. It would give pedestrians a mid point to stop. No one I know has ever stopped halfway between a 7 lane thoroughfare. If you are crossing the street, you cross the street. Not stop in the middle for the next traffic light sequence! And if someone DID stop in the middle...don’t you think it would be distracting to drivers and create problems for the vehicles? Bah.

The most interesting part is that in each meeting about this beautifucation project, they stress over and over that ‘at this phase there is no expense for the City of Lakewood.’ Although if you go to see the budget planning, it shows that this study was indeed paid for already. To the tune of $765,000. Although again the refute the cost by saying it was from stimulus money. Really? We couldn’t do something else with three quarters of a million dollars except get a study to show us how to spend another 14 million?

I know, and I’m sure that everyone knows, no project is ever kept to budget. They started replacing pedestrian crosswalks with red brick. This was done at several stages. They would refinish the road with blacktop. Then come and cut the black top. They would then add the brick. Then the had to replace a sewer line and dug up both the brick and the pavement. They replaced the brick. They fixed the pavement. They are now adding these light poles which them damaged the brick and it has to be fixed again. When driving on the road it's uneven where it's been patched.

Does that make any sense?

Do the new Welcome to Lakewood signs really have to cost $10,000? Each? They want to replace all the current sandstone sidewalks. Granted, there are some that are in need a little repair…but it’s sandstone. It has character. It’s what all of Lakewood is about. Old with character. They are planning to remove and trash them all. Trust me, I once had an opportunity when they were diggin out some sandstone to do a repair I stopped to ask if I may have some that they were throwing away. They refused. He insisted that it HAD to be dumped into the dump truck, broken and trashed. ‘It was the policy.‘ he said. I’m sure that the city paid a pretty penny to have all that sandstone hauled out on a barge into Lake Erie and dumped as well. Why not let homeowners have their take at it and then dispose of the remainder? That would make sense.

But they would rather tear them all out and spend $810,000 (that's the estimate) to replace them with concrete. Supposedly this will help Lakewood remain in competition with it’s neighboring towns. Yes; Rocky River has a boulevard with a median. Yes; Bay Village has a median with plants. Yes; even Fairview Park has a median. Each of these cities had them in the first stages of city planning. They didn’t go to the expense of having this done after the fact. Especially during a recession. When unemployment still remains high, is it that necessary to spend $14 million of tax payers dollars? On a median and plants and new traffic lights and garbage cans and bus stops? On beautifucation?

If you go to the website, only 94 of the almost 55,000 people that live here commented in favor of this project.

But I’m on a tangent here. With all these project expenditures for the city, their excuse to not allow dogs into the park is “it’ll cost too much for signs”? Nonsense.

After the Otis incident, the council decided to do something to appease the upset pet owners in town. They did in fact put up signs and waste containers with bags for pet owners. It was never publicized. One day at the park I happened to see the sign. Prior to that viewing, I hadn’t a clue anything had changed.

“Hey Damian! I can NOW walk the dogs in the park!”

“Really? When did that change?”

“I haven’t any idea. But I saw the sign where I can leave the poo…if needed and took the pups in for a stroll. I DID get some nasty looks from others at the park. Apparently they don’t know you can walk your dogs here yet either.”

But it’s not just the cities view on dogs and dog breeds that has me again in an uproar. It’s the way people, like Mr. Davis, author of present news that concerns dogs, dog owners and dog breeds. By putting ‘American Bulldog’ in the same negative connotation sentence with ‘Pit Bull’; people that don’t have knowledge of either breed first hand will automatically connect the two and thus think that an American Bulldog is vicious like a Pit.

Not all Pits are vicious. Nor are American Bulldogs.
It’s the Owners not the Breed that makes a dog vicious.

When buying or adopting a dog, people should be aware of the personalities of said dog they are bringing into their home. They should take into consideration their own personalities. If you are a couch potato and want a lap dog, do not get a working dog that needs extra exercise! If you want a dog to run and play Frisbee with, do not get a dog that is unable to physically carry out these tasks.

Dalmatian adoptions went sky-high when the Disney movie 101 Dalmatians was released in 1996. In 1997 and 1998 there was a dog pound glut of these dogs that their owners no longer wanted. In order to please their children, many people brought home these dogs not educated in how to care for a Dalmation. They abondonned them in shelters after becoming too big or too unruly. Sure the pups are adorable, but high energy and a bit skittish, they need lots of exercise and interaction. They didn’t think whether this breed would be a good fit for their household, they just liked the dogs ‘look’. When the movie 102 Dalmatians was released activists asked Disney to put a small statement at the beginning of the movie to discourage people from creating the same puppy glut that happened after 101 Dalmatians was in theaters.

I short term adopted my brothers puppy after the death of his wife. Arrow was a Border Collie. Extremely smart. Border Collies are herding dogs, they like to make sure they know where everyone is. I already had two big dogs (a Bovier and a Canadian Golden Retriever) so I knew that this 3 dog thing wasn’t going to last long, but I wanted to find a good home for Arrow.

When my parents were on vacation I told them I’d check in on the house. I took Arrow and Cameron (the golden) with me that afternoon. Cameron was a great dog, but he was one like in Assops fables where he lost his bone in the stream trying to get the bone from the dog reflection IN the stream. I was on the phone in the upstairs hallway, sitting and chatting with a friend that had called knowing I was in town. Both dogs had big bones to keep them busy. Cameron would routinely stop chewing on his bone and go over, push aside Arrow (who was a ¼ his size) and take his bone. Arrow would patiently give his bone up and then go over, take the original bone Cameron had and start chewing. Cameron after a time would then go over and push aside Arrow, take his bone and lay down. This happened about three times when finally as Cameron approached Arrow, Arrow ran to the top of the stairs and tossed the bone down the staircase. Cameron went lumbering down after the fallen bone, Arrow turned and grabbed the other one and laid down happily chewing away.

Had I not seen the “FACE!” that Arrow gave the bigger, yet obviously less intelligent dog….I wouldn’t have believed it. “You want the bone, dummy? Go get it.” You could see it in Arrows eyes what he thought of this big dumb dog. It was priceless.

I want to protect MY American Bulldog. He is not a pit bull and I hate that people are prejudicing him.
Yes; he has a big head. Yes; he can be intimidating if you are afraid of dogs. Yes; he will slobber on you if you allow him too. But my cat is more ferocious than my dog. My dog can’t sleep at night if he isn’t tucked under the blankets just so. He’s a big baby, my American Bulldog. So I would appreciate it if people like Anthony Davis not use his name in a counterproductive way.

I couldn’t find any thing on the internet to substantiate the news of ‘it’s-not-a-pit-it’s-an-American-Bulldog‘. I’d like to know more. I e-mailed him with no reply as of yet.

In the meantime, I’m off for a walk with the pups. They have brought me their leashes and are ready. After my vent here….I’m ready as well.

Maybe we will stroll through Lakewood Park since we can. I dare anyone to stop and ask me if Stuey is a Pit Bull. Now would not be the time. I might fill their ears...


If you’d like to sign the petition to change the ban on certain breeds; you may do so here. And also here.
Remember: It’s not the breed…it’s the owners.

This is interesting! My friend Karl sent this to you think YOU can identify a Pit Bull? Take this test. I dare you! :-)

Postscript: I just received further identifying information about the news bit Mr. Davis wrote about on his post in From the police media log report:
(Page 37)
Animal - miscellaneous
6/16 at 4:48 p.m. at 15524 Detroit - Ross Deli
Out with two females who possibly have pit bulls.
Teresa A Gurthrie of 1249 Lakeland was walking two dogs that appear to be pit bulls. She claims
they are American Bulldogs. One is a 4-year-old male. It is white in color and is named Romeo. The
second is a 6-month-old female. It is white and brown and is named Ania. Animal warden notified for follow-up

I've met Romeo and his owner Teresa. Their street is just over from ours, so they regularly walk in front of our house. One time I walked out to meet them as Romeo looks very similar to Stuey. He's a bit smaller and not quite as handsome, but his eye patch is the same but on the other eye. He is very much an American Bulldog. As a owner of one, there are similarities that are quite glaring to be able to tell the difference. Ross's Deli is just walking distance from here. My daughter and her friends like to ride their bikes over and buy penny candy. Now knowing this information that Teresa was just out for a walk with her dogs not far from her home and was stopped and now has to prove to the animal warden her digs DNA? That troubles me even further! Do I ned to start carrying Stueys papers with me when we go out walking? Romeo is a very mild mannered dog. Lathargic actually when you approach him. So it's quite obvious to me that the officer wasn't responding to anything he/she saw aas a threat, just a random stop of a pedistrian with her dogs?

Looks like I should stop all gardening and house projects and call a realtor instead...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


All’s well in Nancyland.

I got an e-mail from Carlos the other day saying just that. “Is all well in Nancyland?” he asked. Which made me pause and look at my calendar. Are you kidding? What day is this? Which then made me realize that it’s been 21 days since my last posting. Yikes. 21 days. A veritable lifetime in bloggy world. I’m sure you’ve been fine without me, but still…I am so sorry.

The last few weeks have been slightly (ha-understatement) hectic in said land of Nancy…complete with a bout of vertigo, pneumonia, laryngitis and ear/eyes/nose/throat summer cold. Add to that the garage sale, landscaping project and a friend requiring help moving , and my daughters two summer camps coinciding on the same days (who planned that nonsense!)…the equation brings you to taking three weeks off from my beloved blogoshere and its inhabitants.

Outside of an annoying repetitive cough, I’m better. Now.

The vertigo started after Boo and I spent an entire two days riding the coasters at Cedar Point. We stayed at the Breakers which allowed us extra time after regular park hours and an extra hour before the park opens as well. We are yearly season pass holders, so we have gotten rather elitist about the rides. If a line is too long, we just come back later. Doesn’t necessarily have to be that day since we only live 45 minutes away. But when you get to ride the Maverik (average wait time 2 hours+) or the Millenium (average wait time 1 hour+) 3 times each before 10am…well, life is good.

That is, until the next morning.

I awoke and rolled out of bed heading for the bathroom and realized that I had no equilibrium to keep me standing upright. It was rather precarious as I found this out at the top of the flight of stairs leading down. In my minds eye I saw myself a crumbled heap at the bottom unable to call for help. ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!’ keeps running like a mantra through my brain. This feeling of nausea and unstableness lasted the entire day. Me thinks I must curtail my overanxious inner 12 year old. Just like alcohol…one must pace themselves.

I love to get manicures and pedicures. It's a time when I can just totally relax and be pampered. I get manicures about every two weeks and a pedi about once a month (unless there is some new fabu colour that I MUST have and have now)...but for some reason my timing has been entirely off when scheduling such events of late. Instead of having fresh, shiny nails right before some social occassion, I end up doing yard work immediately afterwards. Which even if wearing gloves, ruins said manicure.

My daughter has determined uncounsiously to break every toenail I have. For some reason she feels that walking on my feet when wearing flipflops is preferable to walking on her own in sturdy Keens. Flipflops against Keens? The Keens always win. The nail technician is always wondering what I do to my freakin' toes...

BUT, even though my nails may not be shiny presently, my darn yard looks great. Maybe the best it's looked since I've lived here. My ex-husband even said so. (yay me!) I built a stone table of antique sandstone along the driveway where we cocktail while playing Cornhole during the summer. It's fabulous! Like a mini-Stonehenge! I had stopped at a garage sale and they had all this thick beautiful slabs of sandstone. I bought it all. Didn't know what I was going to do with it, but had to have it. I pulled in the driveway and asked my contractor to take it out of my Jeep.

"George....hey could you unload this?"
"What is all this? What are you planning on doing with it?" he asked me. I knew that he was eyeing it and realizing that this shit was h-e-a-v-y. It was perhaps the hottest day this year and he was almost completed staining my deck. Not a good job in the mid-day sun.
"I'm not sure yet, George. But I couldn't leave it there...I had to have it!" I explained.

He just shook his head. He's getting used to my antics. As he unloaded these extremely heavy articles out of the car and placed them alongside the driveway, I stood over them patting myself on the back for the beauties I just procured. All of a sudden it came to me. "Dig two holes right here George. And we'll stand these up and mortar the long piece across the top."

"Your kidding."
"Nope. Dig. I'll buy you some beer."

My contractors cool. I think I find jobs just to keep him busy at my house.

My basement has been cleared of clutter, another manicure sabotage. Well, almost cleared. I’m not perfect, you know. I need a little bit of mess. Control is overrated.

Over the past year I’ve been taking things that I no longer want, but haven’t been able to fully give up quite yet. I’ve been sorting them into boxes of maybe I might use again and boxes of give away and boxes of garage sale. I keep a stack of price stickers at the base of the stairs so I’ll tag the item before placing it into the bin. I read about that once in a magazine and thought it a brilliant idea. Amazingly enough I’ve been able to implement it into my life. Most brilliant ideas I ponder but never, ever actually use.

This past garage sale has cleared a large area in the basement that I’ve put some new shelving units in. There are shelves along the walls, but the floor area has always turned into a jumble of miscellaneous. My idea is that the shelves are deep and ceiling height. You can access them from either side. I even made flaps or covers for them out of old sheets to help keep dust and dirt from the items stored. Another ‘good idea’ supplied to me ala Martha Stewart.

I used to have a catering business. I have a lot of catering equipment. From Cambros to keep the food warm or cold in transport to stainless roll top chafers. I have plates and silverware and glassware for 100. I have a plethora of serving platters and bowls for any occasion. The problem is storing all these items. And keeping it organized.

My basement is a basement not meant for anything but a basement. My home was built in 1905. At that time families didn’t use their basements as another room in the home. It was a concrete filled space below the house that had the guts of the house in it.

The ceiling is low. Fine for me, but if you are over six foot, please watch the beams. You might end up with an unscheduled trip to the hospital. I’ve painted lines around the furnace and hot water tank so nothing gets stored close to those items. Another tip from Martha darling. And I’ve tied a red ribbon to the spigot for the overflow tank hiding in the ceiling beams for my boiler. I can’t tell you how many times I myself have hit my head on the valve knowing full well that its up there and that I should avoid it at all costs. It hurts. It leaves marks. It makes you swear like a trucker.

“Mommy! THAT’S a BAD word! The worst of the words!” my daughter once said after the tank leaving yet another large dent in my forehead.

“I know. I’m sorry, baby. That IS a bad word and I shouldn’t have said it.” I told her as I tried desperately to compose myself and keep my forehead from bleeding all over my white shirt. I thought it’s not quite the worst word, but damn near close. “I just hit my head on that fuckin’…I mean, darn thing AGAIN!”

After hitting it about a dozen times I finally got the bright idea to tie a ribbon dangling from the spigot so to unconsciously see it before banging into it. Again. And again. And again. You get the picture. (I get the bruises...)

All of this organization has come only after a long bout of un-organization. If asked for a tool, or an item I can recall where it’s located. I have a memory like that. I made more money off my dad by finding his wallet or glasses over the years. I’d be a good detective. I can walk through a space and then recall what was in there. I don’t go into the room thinking that I need to remember stuff, I just can see it in my minds eye. I’ve no need to pray to Saint Anthony for lost items, I can find them myself.

The problem is I can find it because I know where it is. I just can’t direct anyone else to it.

“The clips for the tablecloths are in a plastic bag on the second shelf over by the hot water tank next to the candles in a shoe box under the bin that has the gift wrap ribbon in it. It’s a blue shoe box, you can’t miss it.”

“Huh?” is usually the reply. “Where exactly?”

So I put down what I’m doing to go and retrieve it myself. It’s much easier that way. But it would be better if I had it organized so anyone would be able to find things. Delegate responsibility. That’s what I was always taught as a manager. You may do a better job yourself, but if you delegate responsibility correctly you’ll get more work done in a shorter period of time.

Thus the organization.
And the time put in. Or should I say…overtime.

Thank goodness the basement is cool. The last couple weeks have been scorchers up here on the North Coast. So to spend time in my not made for habitation basement was actually pleasant. I’m going to try to make it another year without air conditioning. I’d like to say it’s because I’m trying to reduce my carbon footprint on good ol’ Mother Earth. But truly it’s just to keep my energy bills down. I’ve not central air in my 1905 home. And I don’t care what kind of window unit you buy, they are not energy efficient. There are about 3 weeks of the year that I would gladly sell my home and buy some prefab McMansion just to have central air…but if I can make it through those 3 weeks then I love all the glory of my century mission style home.

Enter in the sick part.

Hot. Sticky. Humid. I slept with a fan blowing on me in close proximity one night. I awoke with a cold. Which continued to get worse. Which turned into laryngitis. Which then moved into my chest. Which then landed me with a minor case of pneumonia. Summer sickness is the worst.

But I’m better now. I still sound like a was a smoker from way back. My voice is deep and cracky. My friend Melissa thinks I sound like Kathleen Turner. She thinks I should re-record all my outgoing messages for voice mail now so I can add a sultry sound to my normally nasal “We can’t come to the phone right now….”

I don’t like the sound of my voice recorded.
But then again, I don’t like my image in print either. Unless it’s taken while on the front car of a roller coaster. Before the vertigo sets in...


Thanks to all for hanging in with me during my little involuntary reprieve from the blogosphere!


Thanks also to Molly of Hope, Fate and a little Hypothetical Coffee for tagging me in a 25 things you really never wanted to know about me-MeMe. Of course, HER 25 things are grand. 25 things about me? I really don’t think you want to know….but to appease Miss Molly, I’ll give it a go.

1. I’ve been buying clothes other than black, white or gray.
2. I’ve been taking all the clothes other than black, white or gray back.
3. I spend too much eating out.
4. I won’t curtail my eating out although I should.
5. I love dirty martinis.
6. I can’t drink more than two or I become a blithering idiot.
7. I’ve not answered any phone calls in the last 3 weeks. That's why I have voicemail.
8. I only have checked voice mail once every two days. Unless absolutely necessary. I'm sure it drives my ex-husband insane.
9. It’s been like heaven not answering the phone.
10. I just ordered 3 pairs of shoes that I don’t need but must have.
11. My credit score has finally recovered from my divorce so many years ago.
12. I now get 3 offers daily to open credit cards.
13. I love apple. Not apples, although I like them too, but apple Inc. The stock I bought back when the market crashed at $80 a share has now about paid off my house.
14. Who knew I was a stock market genius.
15. My daughter is funny.
16. She likes gray, black and white clothes too. With a little splash mixed in.
17. I like to procrastinate. I mean, I don't LIKE to procrastinate; but obviously I must since I do it so often.
18. I love doing laundry, but hate putting it away.
19. I love to entertain, but stress out and hate doing it prior to anyone arriving. Once they're here, I’m fine.
20. It’s been almost a year since my mom died. I still talk to her daily.
21. I was never a coffee drinker until I met Damian. Now I can’t hardly go a day without it. Cold/Hot…doesn’t matter. But it HAS to be with crème. Bah.
22. I could eat sushi everyday.
23. I love to buy sparky party jewelry, but never wear it.
24. I own 26 evening bags. I like to display them in my dressing room.
25. I hate celebrity magazines and such but love to read PerezHilton.

Now I must tag 10 people to also tell me more, tell me more, tell me more!

These 10 unsuspecting people are:

(drum roll……)

1. Chrissy @ I ShouldaBeenAStripper . Why? Because she’s one of my best friends and I pass everything on to her.
2. SuziCate @ The Water Witches Daughter  Love her!
3. Julie @ At Home with Myself.  Jules is soooo adorable.
4. Karl @ Intense Guy. 'Cause I'd like to know 25 more things about him!
5. KaLynn @ Kacklin' With KaLynn KaLynn always makes me smile.
6. Maureen @ Island Roar If I lived closer, we'd be best pals I'm sure of it. :-)
7. Janice @ Take It Aweigh I need to do this and be accountable. Maybe just THEN I could skip those sweets. :-)
8. Renee @ Style...the New Black Renee is just one of those all around talented gals. You should SEE the scarf she knitted for me and the pin she made for Boo!
9.Tinkerbell @ If I were my best friend...  She makes me feel. Nuff said.
10. Senorita Andauluciana @ The Decline of Youth and the Beginning of Me She's one that's been with me for a long time. I always look forward to her comments!

Many of these people you've seen probably before. (hint: most are in my reading list) But....NOW they will be peer pressured into giving us more insight into who they actually are. 25, my friends. 25.

(all those that I didn't officially 'tag', feel free to pick this up even if I didn't call you out!)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

another deja vu...

As I sit here typing this, I'm experiencing a serious sense of déjà vu.

It was a year ago today that I sat on this same chair, looking at the same scenery, senses experiencing the same set of stimuli. The lake is silent. Calm. Flat. The sun just peaking over the trees on the other side making the water sparkle like perfectly cut diamonds. The only sound is the swans speaking with each other.

It’s obviously going to be another perfect day.

The rest of the household is still sleeping. There are no window treatments in the room I’m in, so I laid in bed last night watching the full moons reflection make it’s way across the black and blue water. It was too beautiful and serene to sleep. But I did; eventually.

To wake to this.
This calm. This peace. This beauty.

Sometimes when I’m at places that take my breath away; like the house I rented on the ski slope in Colorado, or the home deep in the Tennessee hills, or the beachfront property on Amelia Island. I wonder if the owners of these gracious vacation homes, or their neighbors, see it the same way I do. Do they see it’s perfect-ness? Or do they see it so often that they no longer feel the zen that perhaps it created for them on their first visit to the property.

My brother has lived here for seven years now. His intent when he purchased this particular piece of land on the lake was to build, sell and build again on the lot next door which he owned as well. It was about business. He wasn't building a home, he was building an invesment.There is a gorgeous large weeping willow tree between the two properties on the edge of the lake that he was going to have removed.

“It blocks the view. It’s got to go.” he told me one day.

“Uh. No, Charles. It raises the property value. It’s beautiful!” I desperately tried to convince him.

He was unwavering in his decision to remove the tree. Once Charles has made up his mind he may listen to other peoples input, but he usually follows what he has already planned out. But for once, my argument worked. He listened to me. He did not cut it down. It is a focal point on the lake. If out on a boat, you can see it from just about everywhere with my brothers house behind it. It's idealic. I’m sitting under this magnificent tree right now. He ended up staying in the house he built and sold the property next door.

His home is large. Three stories of large windows face the lake. It's built for entertaining, complete with infrared stereo system that extends all the way out to the water line. But his house is sparsely decorated. He is a widower of seventeen years. No ones quite been able to fill Terse's shoes. His home lacks a female touch. The kitchen would make a gourmet drool except that it doesn't have any cooking utensils. Things aren't put logically into the correct drawers or cabinets. Where the silverware should be, the drawer houses pads of paper and appliance manuals. The best spot for pots and pans holds small isualted coolers instead. The pans are located next to the fridge and the plates are where glassware should be and visa versa. Granted, he doesn't cook or use his kitchen much, so he doesn't think about these things.

Model homes tend to have more knick-knacks than his house does. I noticed a huge change on this visit. It's taken seven whole years, but on this visit he actually has artwork hanging on the walls. There is a beautiful large area rug in the living room and a tall copper pot with fronds. He's now decided that this house is indeed his home. The throw pillows gave it away.

Oh, and he now loves the tree. You’re welcome Mr. Willow.

We set off fireworks last evening. Normally when I come up we pass the signs on the highway touting ‘FIREWORKS! Easy off, Easy on’ but we keep on driving. Each driveby we comment that some day we should stop someday when we have more time. We’re usually in a rush to get there, or in a rush to get home…so stopping at the FIREWORKS store is not a priority.

Yesterday it was.
We stopped.
And we bought.

In Ohio it’s illegal to sell or set off fireworks. In Michigan they do sell them, but it’s still illegal to set them off. But on a private lake where there are always someone lighting the night sky with sparkly lights. We had Black Cat mortars which went extremely high and sent lovely colors in every direction. Ending with a sparkly, fizzily finish. A package of 12 tubes called Size doesn’t Matter that sent timed shots airborne that made us look like professional pyrotechnic operators.

But the most amazing thing we lit and sent off was floating lanterns. Not floating as in water floating, but floating as in air floating. A semi-opaque biodegradable three foot high coated tissue thin paper balloon of sorts with a black flammable square attached to the base. You can write messages on the side if you wish, light the base, wait a moment for the hot air to fill the balloon and up and away it goes.

It was beautiful. Starting out slowly at first and then when it reached the height above the tree line it took off. We lost sight of it about a mile or so away, but it was still up there. No losing altitude. Yet. I wonder where it will land. Who will find it. Who sat on their porches or decks last night pointing up at the night sky “What the hell is that, Mable?”

“I’m not sure Irving. Some sort of alien ship? “, she’d answer. “Git me another beer while yur up.”

We’ve let go many a helium balloon and watched them float away. Some on purpose, and some not. But nothing compared to the sight of this glowing orb floating up into the clear night sky. There was something peaceful and calming about watching it drift ever higher. Tilting this way and that in the gentle breeze.

I went online first thing this morning and bought a case of them. Whenever I feel the need for zen, I’m going to write my woes on the balloon, light it up and watch my cares disappear.

Not that I have many woes. Today is my birthday. Life is good, just like those T-shirts. And I’m sitting on the deck on the lake at my brothers house. Coffee in hand watching the lake come alive.

Just like last year. The zen is still here. I still see it. I still feel it.

As my daughter I said to me yesterday, “It’s all in how you look at it, Mommy.”

Yup. She’s got that right. I asked my brother what he saw when he looks out over the lake on which he lives. He likes it here, but he's just too damn busy. He doesn’t get to spend all that much time on it. He doesn’t savor it’s beauty as often as he’d like. He doesn’t take the time to sit here under the willow and listen to the signs of life around the lake.

So I’m savoring it for him while everyone still sleeps.

I love this time of day. I love this tree. I love this lake. I even love that water skier because he is has made my déjà vu complete.

It’s good to be alive. Even though after today I might have to start lying about my age.

Footnote: Many people have asked about the sky lanterns and where to purchase them (or see them!). There are a few places that sell them, but this is the one that we sent off and it worked great. Just check here to send you to their link!