Saturday, May 30, 2009

Queen For A Day? Can I Do It Alone?


I have a great deal of company in the house, especially in the morning when nobody calls.
Henry David Thoreau

The last few months have been a tad rocky and emotionally draining. My husband's company teetered on the brink of disaster. I took on a crap job with a steady paycheck to help out with the missed income from shutdowns at his work. Oldest son graduated college and moved to his own place. Middle son came home from college and completed his search for an internship. Youngest son tore his hip bone playing baseball and my 84 year-old mom arrived for a three week visit the day after my sweat shop job ended. Not to mention a flurry of other activities. Everyone has those and their own drains, too. But, this is my blog, so I'm bitching about mine.

Last Wednesday, my mom flew home to Green Bay. She had arrived ill and I sent her home in much better shape. I enjoyed my time with her. She's my mom.

I got up at 5am that day of her departure to make her breakfast and my husband took her to the airport. My further plans for the day? To lie in bed -- all day long.

So how did that day in bed play out?

6am -Read the paper when my mom and husband left.

6:45 - Drifted off to sleep

7am - Garbage truck goes by. I get up to notice our can is not out there. Rush can to street.

7:45 - Drift off to sleep

8am - Mowers come to super trim my neighbors lawn

8:30 - Wish youngest son a good day at school

8:45 - Drift off to sleep

9:00 Phone rings - dentist appointment reminder.

9:15 Check email and see that Pam at Pam's Perspective has left me a Queen for A Day Award. How perfect is that? A license to relax. I sink back into my sheets.

10:00 Say goodbye to middle son as he heads out to work.

10:15 Husband calls to say he is coming home for lunch. Second time in 21 years. Wants to know if the house will be void of kids. (Now that means only one thing.)

10:16 - Curse

10:17-11:30 Doze while fielding telephone calls. Letting the cat in--and out. Answering the door bell from yet another roofer who wants to alleviate our hail damage.

11:31 Husband arrives - day shot to hell.

Okay, it was fun to be alone with him for an hour, but more than that brief pleasure, I so wanted solitude all day.

One of the things I missed most while working was time alone. I would sit in my car during my 1/2 hour lunch to take a breath and not have anyone around me taking one, too. Not so sure if it is the writer and reader in me that craves that, or just me. Actually, I do understand it. A good friend of mine often pined when her husband was in between jobs how she just wanted to be alone in her house, to come home from work and sit in the silence. Walk around naked, unmolested, if you know what she means.

I know complete solitude is not good for the soul, but a little bit right now sounds good. At this moment, everyone in my home is off on a morning venture. The house is silent. I think I'll run around naked for a few minutes, just because I can.

Check out Pam's site at Pam's Perspective . She has great book, travel, and TV reviews, plus a beautiful blog. Thank you, Pam. I'm taking my Queen day right now. At least for a few minutes.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Resting, Not Rusting

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.
Sir John Lubbock

Please enjoy the view of this picture taken at the LBJ Ranch when my mom and I visited a few days ago. After a long haul of work and visitors, I'm taking a day or two off from life to regroup, read, rest, restart my engine so to speak.

But in the words of Helen Hayes, I won't rest too long, as I don't want to rust. And considering the lists of items requiring my attention, developing rust is not an option. Tomorrow, I'll start it all tomorrow. I promise, Scarlett.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Not In My Wildest Dreams

Your children are not your children. / They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

Kahlil Gibran

When our children are born, we conjure hopes for their futures. Some might imagine doctor, lawyer, teacher, or Peace Corps volunteer. I hoped that by exposing my three boys to different environments, ideas, and arts, they could discover their own passions. I did plan to raise independent, honest, responsible, kind, generous, contributing members of society. I’m certain they are headed in that direction, but now I’m rethinking. Perhaps I should have been more specific—like get a desk job. Especially that middle son of mine.

As can be expected when the job front comes into play, the almighty resume moves to the forefront of the computer screen. My desktop carries my own, my husband’s, and my two oldest sons. My husband hasn’t needed his yet. You know the status of mine. The oldest son is graduated, employed, and now in his own place. But that middle one has been seeking an internship. With one year left in his college career in Arizona, Jordan was praying to fore go a seventh summer of life guarding and land something in his field of Wildlife Management. He found it.

This summer he’ll live in the middle of Bumf--- south Texas where he’ll bottle feed baby white tail deer – and kill rattlesnakes. Is he excited? On top of the world. As for me? Did I walk the floors, mend his hurts and heart, teach him to cook, garden, mow his neighbor’s lawn AND hold his head when he threw up so he could put his life in peril in rattle snake country?

Where’s the corkscrew?

I’m not sure when my aversion to those disgusting creatures began. I caught garter snakes with my oldest brother growing up in Minnesota. We dared each other to touch them. Maybe it was in college when, as a biology major, a South American climbing snake decided to slither along the lights in our lab and hang down right beside my head, surprising my ear with his forked tongue. I switched to English the next day.

Years later, my friend, Rebekah, born and bred in East Texas, and I would hike with our kids to find mudslides and swimming holes in the Texas river beds. Once while walking through a creek, I carried that new rattlesnake hunter as he was so small. I asked that friend leading the trail if we needed to watch for snakes in the water. She said no, that the current was swift enough. As I went under a tree branch, she said, “Watch out for them hanging in the trees, though.”

EEEWWW! Why was she my friend? One trip we altered our route due to a lounging cottonmouth on a rock up ahead and once after hiking two miles into the woods, startled one who swam into the pool of water we’d planned on splashing in for hours. We sat, sweat pouring from our brows. We were not going in there.

With a grounded fear in slithering beings and nightmares to prove it, I’m sending my son off to keep them from the Bambi’s he will nurture.

Jordan has informed me his hiking boots won’t suffice, that he needs snake boots. He researched them at the local sporting goods store. I asked how high they rise on his leg. He pointed to mid-calf.

“Don’t they have any taller?” I asked. “Like up to your neck?”

Jordan, in his kind honesty, only smiled.

I will shut my mouth, send him on his way, rejoice in his happiness, and set one more resume in our pile aside for a while. And I wonder why I drink.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Flattered, Honored and Begging Forgiveness

There is nothing better than the encouragement of a good friend.
Jean Jacques Rousseau

Lost in the last two months was a post to four very special blogger friends. I'm ashamed I haven't acknowledged receipt in a proper time frame. Please forgive my neglect and note the lovely additions on the right side of this site.

The Lemonade Award. It is given for blogs that show great Gratitude and/or Attitude. With great gratitude I thank Margaret of Margaret's Ramblings. I adore her blog as it takes me across the ocean to view the world of the British. I would love to have lunch with Margaret -- in her garden.

From the great state of Florida, I have the Smart Mouth Broad to thank for two awards. First, the Bella Award for new bloggers. I find this is a most lovely award. Looks good on my site, also.

Second .... a Sushi Grade Award for a blog a cut above other blogs that are canned and turned into salad or casseroles. A Sushi Grade Blog is fresh, lively and of superior quality. It is rare, has character and is of good taste.

Oh, and it’s packed full of heart healthy Omega 3 oils.

And, last, but certainly not least, Pseudonymous High School Teacher tagged me for an 8 Muse. Seems PHST and I share a few of the same thoughts so glad it has been a while since anyone has read hers (I used some of her answers.) Here goes:

8 Things I’m Looking Forward To

1. The school year ending
2. Summer reading
3. My niece's wedding in Grand Lake, CO

4. My mom being here for the next week and a half
5. Summer writing
6. Floating on the lake
7. Finding a new normal
8. Being alone with my husband for a few days so we can remember why we like each other.

8 Things I Did Yesterday
1. Lifted weights and ran on the treadmill at the YMCA (my foot and knee are now swollen - why do I try to pretend I can still run?)
2. Planted green beans, squash, yellow bells, plumbago, watermelon and cucumbers
3. Cleaned the cat box
4. Went to the store to buy my oldest son new sheets and a few kitchen items for his first apartment
5. Packed the car and drove my mom to the lake.
6. Unpacked the car, made a vodka tonic and watched my mom swim. I laid on the dock.
7. Cooked a Midwestern salt/pepper meat, potatoes, green bean dinner for my mom
8. Played three hours worth of Two Handed Hand and Foot with my mom (because my two sons who were supposed to do that didn't drive out.) Wasn't so bad. Had fun.

8 Things I Wish I Could Do
1. Travel everywhere
2. Eat food from all over the world and never gain weight
3. Play the piano, guitar, and sing my ass off -- in front of people
4. Win the Pulitzer Prize
5. Soar like a bird
6. Save my dad from Alzheimer's Disease
7. Swim like a dolphin
8.Paint like Renoir

8 Shows I Watch - I'm not a TV watcher, but...
1. Lost
2. Jeopardy
3. McNeil/Leher Report
4. Weeds
5. The Daily Show
6. Food Network
7. Reruns of Law and Order
8. Six Feet Under (on dvd)

Okay, now you know how boring I am.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Exit Ramp

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.
John Powell

Bad Habits and New Knowledge Acquired While Scoring Essays

1. Twenty-four years ago when I was pregnant with first son, I gave up caffeine. I’m now an addict. One cup when I get up, one on the way to work, a big mug of black tea at 10. Another after lunch. A large diet soda to sip on from 2-5pm. All without my hands shaking.

2. I can close my eyes and fall asleep while sitting up. I just use my hand to cover the side of my face that has a supervisor glaring us all down to make sure we’re reading and rest my eyes for just a few minutes. I only had to catch my chin crashing into my chest about 50 times.

3. As those around me were let go from the project due to their inability to master the scoring rubric, I gained an ottoman and an armrest. Sort of like making a chaise lounge out of whatever is available. Management didn't approve of my comfort zone, but since I cranked 200 essays a day for them they didn't say anything.

4. You can take Advil five times a day, really. (Note to self: Always carry Tagamet in purse.)

5. Although hopeful that getting up at 6am every day would turn my nighthawk habits, I learned I can still go to bed at 12 or 1am and get up at 6am. Oh, how I wanted to be a 10pm sleepy person.

6. My family really sucks at giving massages. At night, the knot in my upper back is so big and just out of my reach. My husband’s attempts last about 31 seconds. My oldest son much better at 2 minutes (can tell he’s got a girlfriend). Finally learned if you lie face up on the floor and place one your weights in the center of the knot, you can roll back and forth like a writhing idiot to handle your own massage, and hope no one sees you through the window and thinks you are having sex by yourself.

7. I discovered the cure for hot flashes: Sit in a room where the temperature looms around 40 below. Wear long sleeved shirt with hooded sweatshirt and cover yourself with a not too thick blanket. Can’t be too thick, as you still have to maneuver the mouse while hands are covered with said blanket. (Side note: Some people have those gloves with the fingertips cut off and mufflers wrapped around their heads.)

8. There is an entire community of temporary workers. They float around the city throughout the year, passing information to each other as to the whereabouts of the available jobs. Many others in my job are retired folks getting in a few months pay to supplement the fixed income. Have to be pretty sharp old folks to keep this job.

9. While focused on a computer, I can be completely unaware of my surroundings. Can start out with 100 people in a room and after a few hours or days, notice there are only 24 left—the rest lost in the abyss of not surviving the rubric scoring process. Sometimes if those leaving are noticed, a pang of jealously fills my heart as I watch them take the walk to freedom.

10. I'm very good at this job. Was in the bonus each week. Breaks my heart to discover that. Just what I’ve always wanted to be good at. When asked to continue on more projects, I merely laughed, shook my head, and raced for the door. I’d honored my contract; we're not starving. I am so out of there.

Whatever lessons I’ve learned from this experience are still floating in my head. Hope to report on them later. Meanwhile, putting life back together, and I’m thankful that the part of this road trip for scoring State required essays finally found an exit. A most tedious, eye-sight costing and long stretch of road it was. I'll rest for a while while examining the next turn with a much closer eye. I’m anxious to discover another, although not quite sure what that is at this time. But I do believe this is only part of the process. Now I just have to remember the goal.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nature's Best - Selected Shots from the Weekend

To nourish children and raise them against odds is in any time, any place, more valuable than to fix bolts in cars or design nuclear weapons.

Marilyn French

Marilyn French, author of The Woman's Room, passed away last week. Thought it might be nice to honor her with her quote.

Meanwhile... The Weekend Visitors

My Three Sons
My Mom
The Most Lovely Girlfriend

The New Family Additions

The family is one of nature's masterpieces.

George Santayana

Bob's Newly Sodded Lawn

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Most Welcome Full House, Once Again

The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.
Erma Bombeck

The dining room table has long been the standard for gathering in my family. Here, we reconnect, often plopping into our seats without a plan for conversation or a desire to all be together. But by the end of the meal, everyone lingers, laughs, and leaves the table with a new sense of belonging.

Tonight, I'll have my full house at the table. Middle son, our soon-to-be-a- senior Fisheries and Wildlife major, is arriving from Arizona today. Just came through finals and is driving home for summer employment and most likely a home-cooked meal or two. (Which means I'll have to remember how to do that.)

Along with my husband, youngest son the baseball player, and oldest son--the moving out-on-his-own-next-week college graduate, his girlfriend, AND my mom flying in today from Green Bay, Wisconsin, we should have a fairly full table. One face missing will be my dad as he will remain in Green Bay, a nursing home resident now. We will include him via telephone calls. Never quite know who else might come by so we cook for more than we know for sure. Often some arrive by boat, car, or over the fence, or from down the road. They become family once seated. (Which means they also are obligated to do dishes which provides another opportunity for community conversation.)

Due to the current economic climate both in the world and our own home, we haven't had a large crowd at the lake in quite some time. Things are looking up and it will be a welcome treat to gather once again.

Happy weekend to everyone!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

We Don't Need Know Stinkin' Dictionary

I respect a man who knows how to spell a word more than one way.
Mark Twain

After too moths of reding 11th and 4th grade essays, I know longer no how to spel. Words meen no think two me ennymoe. Doesn't matter if your talking a bout there ants knot filling good after surjrey or angles pasting over the nite skie or hereing birds churping in the quite morning, or gosts honting are favorite hoses, or any udder words that half no sertin form, I haf cumpletley loss mi perspective. So if I hapen to post sumthing were I misyous a work like you're or your, or they're or their, pleese don't worry. I will haft too reed sum realy good books wan I'm done and than I will bee OK.

P.S. Forth graders right more better then 11th graders.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

No One's The Bitch

Today a friend and fellow Austin WriterGrrl, Jennifer Newcomb Marine launches her first book, No One's the Bitch - A Ten Step Plan for the Mother and Stepmother Relationship. Many years ago, Jen (a most talented writer) mentioned this project collaborating with her husband's wife, Carol Marine. I thought it an incredible idea - to write a book about mothers and step-mothers working together. Following along the difficult path--idea, book proposal, agent search, editor, publisher--has been most interesting. I wish them great success.

I defer to the multi-talented Fragrant Liar as she has written a much better promo for Jen and Carol's book. Friday is the first reading at Book People, an Austin independent book store. Great title, don't you think? Please click on the book to arrive at Jen's site or the title above to view it on Amazon.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Wind Change

Yesterday I cleaned my toilets and changed my sheets. As I broke open the new box of dust cloths, the phone rang. While searching for one of the FIVE phone receivers I know are in this house somewhere, I noticed a framed quote hanging in my kitchen:


I can't believe I forgot that. I immediately opened a bottle of wine.

I'm not going to vacuum until Sears makes one you can ride on.
Roseanne Barr

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Somewhere Down There - An Essay of Whine

I wish I had an answer to that, because I'm tired of answering that question.
Yogi Berra

Lately, I'm too tired to even remember the question. Having a bit of trouble zoning in on my tasks. I sit at work and try to recall what errands I need to run before I get home. Just as in the 200 or so essays I read a day, focus seems to be an issue. Grocery store, YMCA, garden center, post office, library, book store, grocery store, wine store, baseball game.... ah, what was I trying to put together? Oh, yes, that I need to do all those things after work and have no clue which to choose or their order. Often I choose one not on that list--melting into my chair at home.

I am a woman lost. Sometimes I just put the car on autopilot and am amazed where I turn up. I've even found myself in the YMCA parking lot, unaware that is where the road took me. Take that! I sneer to that naysayer--myself-- who never seems to arrive at that destination willingly.

Ramble, ramble. That's what lost minds do, I guess. Ramble. Lost in the fog. The more I find on my plate, the more I wander into the mists. I've redefined procrastination. Right now, I'm relaxed, whining to you while a slight breeze rustles all the new leaves on the crepe myrtle outside my bedroom. The slider is open to let in the spring air. Several snapdragons planted last fall are blooming in tall spires providing a backdrop in contrast to the greening lawn.

But surrounding that view, there are things growing on my toilets. I can leave my foot imprint in the dust on my foyer and dining room wood floors. I just wrote my name in the dust on my night stand. The dirty clothes are flowing out of the laundry room and into the hallway. The sink is filled with dirty dishes in hopes that someone will call the dishwasher repair man, and be here when he comes. The weeds in my garden are nearing a foot tall. The tomato plants I purchased two weeks ago still reside in their plastic containers on top of my picnic table. I'm sure I've changed the sheets on my bed in the past, hmmm, two weeks.

Actually, this is not what this post was to be about. My fingers have rambled on auto pilot themselves this morning. I miss writing more often on this blog and I miss staying in touch with all of those I follow. The blog world has come to fascinate me. Sometimes at day's end when I lend my weary eyes to a quick view of your sites, I see that I am several posts behind all you steady and productive writers of prose. I'm jealous.

I blame staring at a computer screen from 7:30am to 5 each day. Then trying to pick up the pieces and maintain a home life with my family while my brain is fried. Yet that is what each and every one of you do, too. And each and every woman/man out there, whether they work at home or work outside. You, and they, are obviously better at it than me.

Okay, enough lamenting for the day. It is the weekend after all and although I could have worked today and tomorrow, I declined. I will post this depressing muck and come back with a much happier rendition tomorrow. I have awards to distribute, a meme to answer. And about 500 ideas for other posts. Oh, my mom is coming from Green Bay this week for a long stay. I need to shovel out a room for her. Don't know where that middle boy will sleep when he arrives home from college in couple of weeks. But I think that oldest employed, new college graduate is moving to Dallas. Room Open.


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