Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Circling the Stupid

I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day.

Frank Sinatra

When I was a kid, Westerns dominated the television screen. Gunsmoke, The Rifleman, Wagon Train, The Big Valley, Maverick, Bonanza and many more. Always had an allure to them even though I'm not sure what it was, other than the adventure. One scene I recall in all those shows was someone riding on a horse and noticing buzzards circling the sky. A sure sign something, or someone, had met their demise.

Last Saturday night, my husband and I attended a party. For some reason, one of those wild moods prevailed and we let go -- full force. We partied. Like in the old days. When we were young.

We ain't young, no more.

Didn't feel so good on Sunday. My friend, who also attended the party, texted me to say she missed us at the 11am church service. I texted her back, and lied. Said we had gone to the 8am service.

Arising late, my husband and I loaded up on Advil and ventured outside to work in our yard. Not only is the normal Spring cleanup and planting taking place, a time crunch has arrived for all the company headed our direction for the upcoming wedding and graduations. We gathered twenty-eight yard bags of live oak leaves and trimmings. I raked and pulled the dead plants that didn't survive the winter's harsh cold. Also, dug up and transplanted some Knock Out roses.

When I put the finishing shovel of dirt around the last rose, I felt an urge to lie down. I did. Right there in the yard. On my back, eyes closed. Felt the sun on my face and wished I'd taken some Alka Seltzer for my stomach. After a brief respite, I opened my eyes to view the sky. There, circling high up, but directly above me, was a buzzard. I stared in horror. Right out of an old Western.

Rightous retribution? Penance for my misbehavior? When I moved my arm, that old buzzard realized I was still alive and he flew on, circling for some other fresh kill to alert his friends to.

I took some Alka Seltzer. Got that party thing out of my system. Back to reality -- and my lists. How's this for a blog post filled with substance?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blowing the Whistle

Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.
John Cotton Dana

Yesterday, I had a half day afternoon job, teaching Latin. I'm not a morning person, so not having to show up until noon works for me. I spent my morning puttering around the house--reading a little, writing a little, checking my email, and planting a few columbines out in the garden. I emptied the dishwasher and brought up the garbage cans. Took something out to defrost for dinner, then washed my face, put on my teacher clothes, and headed off to the high school, and Latin.

Yeah, Latin. Like I know how to teach that. But in this stint of substitute teaching, I've become quite adept at learning a new subject in only a matter of moments. Often subbing is only babysitting as teachers leave boring worksheets or study time. But I find refereeing a room full of middle or high school students, with basically nothing to do for an hour and a half, offers more strain on my temperament than discovering a new subject and seeking a route to enhance both their learning and mine.

In the past few months, I've taught World History, Geography, French, English, Band, Theatre Arts, Algebra 2, Earth Science and Biology. I've learned, and hopefully passed on, some valuable material. But where have I spent most of my time? P.E. Physical Education. Picture a 53 year old women in the middle of a gym with 35 kids playing combat Dodge Ball. Not a problem, though. As the mother of three boys, I'm comfortable walking into a room with flying balls.

I'm requested often for PE. My friend at the YMCA gave me a whistle which I keep in my teacher bag. Comes in handy when the mom voice doesn't quite rise above the din in the gym.

If students become unruly in PE? I merely blow that whistle and say in a calm voice. "You guys aren't listening to me. Time to run."

As the kids run/walk/jog around me, tongues hanging to the floor, they ask how long they have to run. I look at my watch, then answer. "Until I get tired."

Works every time.

So, Latin. I go to school. Turns out I have my days wrong. My Latin assignment is on Friday. I blame menopause for the brain fade rather than stupidity. Like, didn't I look at the date of the job when I signed up? So thankful the women who work that front office are my age. They laughed with me, rather than at me.

Showing up for work, and then not having to? Almost like a Snow Day.

Until Friday then. Magister dixit. Carpe noctem.

Friday, March 19, 2010

What I Did on My Spring Break

Well, spring sprang. We've had our state of grace and our little gift of sanctioned madness, courtesy of Mother Nature. Thanks, Gaia. Much obliged. I guess it's time to get back to that daily routine of living we like to call normal.
David Assael

Remember this photo? And my post on my great housekeeper skills?

Tuesday, me and Ian - eight hours spent shoveling out the study where three boys have unwound and only spot cleaned for (dare I say?) years. Keep in mind, in the above picture you can't see all the junk (i.e. baseball uniforms, golf clubs, school work, old computer games and the boxes they arrived in, soda cans, underwear) lurking in the crevices beside the couch and computer - or the floor. Nor the mountains of dust on the books. I won't mention the old rug. The result?

Tell me it looks better. Please. I know it smells much better.

Also, youngest son is mad at me. After the first day of NCAA basketball playoffs, I'm 12 for 16. Ranked 143000 on ESPN. Told him when we picked our brackets not to mess with me. That I knew how to do this. He scoffed at my choices. Hmmmph. No scoffing going on today!

Also, spring has sprung in Texas. The Bradford Pears have been most beautiful.

Tomatoes once again planted, dauntless in memory of my previous thwarted attempts.
Cabbage salad soon available for dinner.

Had a pomegranate martini for lunch the other day -- and a nap in the afternoon.

With a clean study, a trip to the library, two miles swum at the YMCA, and 8 high school baseball games behind me, once more to the lake for the remaining two days of vacation, my copy of EB White's essays under my arm. Next week, back to work.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Help! Closet Dweller Needs a Tune

Child of mine, child of mine
Oh yes, sweet darling
So glad you are a child of mine.
Carole King

Today I changed the sheets on my bed. Not because I planned to, but because Janna at Something She Wrote posed a question on her blog the other day as to how often we might fess up to changing our sheets. Okay. Weekly, of course. Right?

Couldn't sleep last night. Got up this morning, stripped my bed and washed the sheets. Maybe if I had more than one pair of sheets. But they're not fresh when you pull them out of the linen closet - and I like to hang them outside, and ...

I've lost the thread.

Anyway, so Jacob, my oldest who is getting married in April, calls me while I'm tugging on the last corner of the clean bottom sheet and says,

"I need you to pick a song for the Mother/Son dance."

"Okay," I say. "I'll think about it and let you know."

Back to making the bed. While I'm putting on the blanket and trying to make neat corners in the tiny side leftovers on the King size cover that's REALLY MADE FOR A QUEENSIZE EVEN THOUGH IT SAYS KING (why do they do that?), a deep thought hits me. I fall onto the bed and after a few moments of hyperventilation, grab the phone and call Jacob back.

"So like the two people who prefer hiding in the back row, in the dark, have to get up in front of everyone -- and dance. Like alone?"

"That's what I said," he replies.


All I can think of is Hank Williams - Six Pack to Go.

I Googled Mother/Son dance and the only one I liked is the Beatles - In My Life - 2 minutes 37 seconds. I have always loved, and sang to my children, Carole King's Child of Mine. But I would sob all the way through that and it is also 3 minutes and 53 seconds. An eternity. On a dance floor. In the spotlight. In a silver pair of shoes that are killing my feet.

When Jacob came by today, he said we don't have to do it if we don't want to. Now I feel I have too much time racked up in the best song pursuit. Easy to puss out on it, but must press forward.

So, I pose the question to all of you. An appropriate mother/son dance song that is cool, not sappy, not sad, not at the top of the mom/son dance Google hit list, has a little sass, classs, not too slow, not too fast, and will hopefully make everyone else join us on the dance floor when the next song is Love Shack.

Help required, indeed.

Please click on the songs to the right to see what I'm thinking.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Job Hunting - Not Just for Old Ladies

The closest to perfection a person ever comes is when he fills out a job application form.
Stanley J. Randall

All this talk of weddings and college visits and choices has bypassed another son in my house. One embarking on a new adventure. Remember Jordan? The boy who raises fawns?

And kills rattlesnakes?

Tucked in the middle of that wedding and high school graduation is the completion of a Bachelor's degree in biology -- trip to Arizona for my husband and me to see that boy grasp his diploma. And, of course, college graduations bring gainful employment where children elope from parent's payrolls. Permanently. Right. RIGHT!

In the file of resumes I've kept on my desktop for ready use this past year, Jordan's has the freshest face. Young, unattached, eager to take on the world -- everything he owns will fit in his car, opening up the many possibilities he's finding countrywide that offer his next adventure.

While completing 17 hours of study to adhere to the four year tuition schedule allotted by his parents (those dwindling funds now assigned to his younger brother) each day he searches the wildlife websites for open positions, adjusting his resume and cover letter to fit the job. A science guy, he has utilized his mother's typing fingers to tighten up the verbiage. Makes me feel useful and I'm glad he's asking. (I can fix other people's sentences much better than my own.)

Impatiently, he checks his email to await responses to his applications. Nothing yet. But the windows keep opening, he keeps applying, and he is ready to fly.

If I compare his possibilities to mine, the Midlife Jobhunter, I see a much broader skyline in his search. Youth backs his flight. Although his credentials may not contain as many skills or as much experience as mine, he is more employable simply because he is young, flexible, willing to relocate, and has the energy to work long hours and get his hands dirty.

Not to say midlifers can't do that, but a definite difference exists for those of us no longer trained in the newest technologies. Those that have too much baggage to pack up all our belongings in our Civic and head off down the road. Those that can physically no longer take on the tasks that younger years offered.

Makes for a most exciting time for this young son. One that will strike out on his own and has not completely figured out how exciting life will be.

Another one - that I once carried in my arms - all grown up.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What Lies Ahead

We've had bad luck with our kids - they've all grown up.
Christopher Morley

Once upon a time I spent my days with a gaggle of kids that followed me where ever I went. My world revolved around the three souls I pushed out of my womb and then made sure they had food placed in front of them, shoes that fit, and swimming holes to explore. My days sometimes seemed to never end. I ached for an hour or two where no one needed me for something. Just an hour. Or a minute. Like an opportunity to shut the bathroom door and pee alone.

Even though it didn't seem possible I'd ever escape the always present mountain of laundry, the sticky floors from juice spilled, or the driving schedule that began at 3pm and ended when the last game or guitar lesson ended hours later, I knew there would come a time. That time is now. My last son is a high school senior and next year, my calendar will not have hours of baseball games filling the slots and there will be no one's ass to chew about getting homework completed.

How in the world did this little boy become old enough to go off to college?

Youngest son, Ian, and I took a road trip last week. College visit. He had been accepted to a few schools. Some even with in-state tuition. But he had a dream, and never one to not encourage those, I arranged flight, a car, and time to visit an old friend who teaches at the university.

Ian and I walked around campus, taking in all the sites. Took a tour. Visited with our old friends who drove us for hours on end to see the surrounding area. Overwhelmed, Ian and I retreated to our hotel for siesta time, watching the Olympics or talking about what we'd seen. As Ian endured Ice Dancing, for his mother's sake, we read the local newspapers and just soaked up the entire environment - not talking about a decision.

On the last day, Ian went on ahead of me as he had a meeting scheduled with the head of his department. By the time I got my camera out, (my hands were shaking) he was almost out of my sight and in the building.

We've since had a discussion on which college he's chosen to attend. Come fall, the last of those that followed me around will be off on their own. How does that happen so quickly? My grieving has begun, although...

...I'm probably going to be working so much to help pay for his butt to attend, that I won't have time to miss him. Now, there's fodder for future posts - that midlife job hunting thing again.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

...and the women gathered...

[W]hen you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.
Nora Ephron, When Harry Met Sally
A report on my college road trip with youngest son is in the works, but not quite ready for a reader's eye. So much emotion building in me regarding the upcoming absence of children in my home. My grieving smacked me in the face. I'm also stumped for the perfect quote today. Been looking for an hour or more to find the perfect rune for how women gather -- one that might focus on how women support one another. Watch out for each other. The quilting bee. Anyone come across one, please send it to me.

I returned from the road trip and after two baseball games fell right into the wedding shower for my oldest's bride-to-be. What fun we had.

My friend, Savannah, and the Bunco Bitches outdid themselves. Check out this apron Linda made and all the attached kitchen accouterments they collected. Try to see how her necklace is made from corn on the cob picks. (First picture probably a better avenue.) And, yes, all those women on the apron material do have fruit for butts.

Champagne punch. Petit fours. Chicken, fruit, pasta, and green salads. All the lovely touches made this day very special for the bride and made me most grateful for the women who brought us together for the day.

With genuine appreciation, I thank you.


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