Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Funk Busted

There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved.  
Charles Morgan

If I'd had something to say, I would have posted a blog in the past month or more. Still pondering all the comments made on my last post and lots of ideas have milled around my hayfever-addled brain. No order to my thoughts materialized. Instead of making something up, I succumbed to my funk. Last Thursday night, my funk busted.

There I was sitting in my chair, water glass on the table, TV off, reading a book about Central America and imagining a vacation when I heard the garage door open and footsteps coming into the house. I looked up and who did I see but my Ian, that Bama Boy standing beside my chair. Fall break and he had a few days off. Decided to surprise us.

I hadn't seen that face since the first week of August and, yes, I burst into tears.

After rousting his dad from bed, we had a toast to his arrival. Even after his 12 hour drive, we sat up talking into the wee hours. We covered the upcoming elections/Crimson Tide football/the Green Bay Packers/his two restaurant jobs/his friends/culinary schools/The Lucky Peach and much more. (Lost Dad after the first hour.)

When I get to bed after such conversation, my mind tends to ward off sleep--the words spoken revisited in my thoughts. I finally drifted off, content that kid was upstairs in his own bed.

Next day, we took a ride downtown Austin to eat lunch at one of the food trailer sites on South Congress.

Ian had a shrimp cole slaw cone

I had a soft Kerala Kokonu doso - squash, eggplant, zucchini, carrots and cauliflower in fresh coconut sauce. Cilantro chutney and Sambar - a lentil dipping sauce. Delicious.

Of course, for dinner, we had to visit our favorite Mexican restaurant. Last summer, Ian and Jordan worked weekends and Jacob and Chelsea during the week. Could never get everyone together for a family dinner. Wait a couple months and problem solved.

Here they all are, plus Jordan's lovely girlfriend, Leigh. Lots of fun.

Happy Dad.
A quick trip to the lake proffered a Packer game with Ian in attendance and...
a visit on the dock from both a heron and Great Blue Heron.
A most welcome visit. Thanks for coming home, Ian. See you at the Alabama/Texas A&M game in Tuscaloosa. Roll Tide and Whoop! Will have both flags on hand.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Update on the Midlife Jobhunter

How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?  
Satchel Paige

Time once again to add a year to the number in my blog header. Fifty-five no longer suffices, unless I lie. I'm not a very good liar. In fact, when I try to lie, my forehead tends to become a flashing neon

 She's Lying!

Here I am at my birthday a few weeks ago.

All my life, not being a good liar has hindered my growth.  Means I step on my foot, a lot, when someone asks my opinion. Even the fiction I write comes from life and not much made up. Perhaps why Science Fiction and Fantasy aren't my genres and personal essay is much easier for me.

I am now 56.  This getting older has hit me. Perhaps because this birthday my mom and dad weren't around to remind me I'm someone's child. My husband is after me to plan for retirement and I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

But Midlife Jobhunter? What was I thinking four years ago when I began this venue? I was 52. I honestly considered myself mid-life.  I'm not certain I'll make it to 104. And now, 112?

Do I change the title of my blog? I've considered a few.

Back When I Was Skinny
What's Ahead?
Where Did the Time Go?
How Can I Be 56? (Which of course will change every year.)
The Reluctant Matriarch
The Old Bitch
The Flower's Dropping her Petals
Somebody Pluck her Chin Hairs
Autumn Strikes
The Invisible Woman
The Youthful Elder

You may have noticed, I've also been fiddling with the blog's design. Not a great amount of time invested there as I'm not certain what I'm seeking. As usual.

I'm not up for beginning an entirely new blog and leaving this one behind. In the blog world, Midlife Jobhunter is who I am. Perhaps clinging to the word midlife brings me comfort.  (I must admit that it took me about five minutes to come up with that name when I began, but that's what I believed I was.)

From its early beginning of a woman in a panic, frightened of the world ahead, I must say I'm quite surprised at where Midlife Jobhunter is now. As well as where she isn't. My husband's company came around and the fear of its demise passed. I've managed to make a little money by utilizing some of my old skills - teaching, reading, and editing. I make about a dollar two ninety-eight an hour doing each. Not quite a lucrative career.

I had the crappiest job of my life - scoring state required test essays. Been chewed up and spit out by middle and high school students while substitute teaching--although discovered I carry quite a big stick so students need to pack a lunch if they want to take me on. (Raising three boys had something to do with that.) I can be any kind of editor someone wants me to be, yet still have trouble editing my own work.

I'm still the happiest when sitting on my bed, surrounded by my research and thoughts, my backyard my view if I should look up while plunking away on my laptop. Creating.

As for the followers I've met on this wandering? You are incredible people. Real people. Smart people. Creative people. Most interesting to have followed your paths as you followed mine. As my blog segued beyond jobhunting into everything from weddings, funerals, hangovers, travels, writing and reading, bird watching, and who knows where else, I have enjoyed following your journeys. Sharing your intimacies, your fears, your joys, your lives.

So, what is this about? Hell if I know. It's almost the end of August and I need another post so I'll have two this month.

Honestly, though. Have any of you considered changing the name of your blog? Did you worry about your followers finding you? I don't plan on giving up blogging, but does a 56 year old woman still have credibility as a Midlife Jobhunter? Does it matter?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

It's Always Something

How can I distract myself? Let me count the ways.
Julie Sucha Anderson

I have a new distraction. I don't know that it's a distraction per se as I don't really know what else I should be doing. I could say writing my book, cleaning my house, watering my plants, spending time with friends, finishing an abundance of unfinished projects, reading the long piles of books in my stash. You know, making the world a better place --volunteer service and all that jazz.

Seems like I did that crap for years. Not interested anymore.

Do you feel like I'm setting myself up for an excuse? You betcha baby. A few months ago I was hooked on Scrabble. Now I play only a few games with three people, but I also added a couple of Words with Friends games. I know, I know. I'm ashamed. I know I'm a hypocrite, but Scrabble wouldn't load and WTF would and there you go. Impatient and fickle, I go with what works.

Since I only play with a few family members and a couple Canucks I met in my more active Scrabble days, I no longer seek random partners in word building throughout the world to distract me and occupy my time.  I've discovered a much better opportunity. Pinterest. So fun and so brainless. Look at a picture. Decide if you like it. Repin it to your boards which are very easy to make up. Couple clicks here and there. Only takes five minutes a shot.

 They even offer a few boards already made to get you started, but it only takes a couple hours of perusals to figure out that what they originally offer will not suffice. Hence, you create your own.

Very sick Halloween decorations
Weirdest Animals in the world
The "Okay, I could live there" or
"I want to go there" pin.
I went there
Or maybe I do like birds or
I'd like that hat and that cat and that pizza pie on that grill lodged on top of the Taj Majal. Wait!!!

Suddenly an entire scenario comes forth as you choose from this massive mosaic in front of your fingertips. Patterns emerge and  the opportunity to shore in on what you really like organizes your life right before your eyes. You can plan your perfect day - or week - or trip - or life.

For instance - how about a trip to Alaska?

Like those? Pin them on your Alaska album. Or maybe you like motorcycles --

Or you like flowers -- 

Or views from windows--

Or blue water
Or lakes or oceans --

Let's do a dream trip.

Dear Mr. Pinterest,

I have made my decisions based on what you presented on your website. I appreciate your assistance in making my dream fly.

I want to go to Iceland and stay in that snow cave hotel and when I'm there, I want some conch tacos shipped in from Providenciales. And that hat that's shaped like a peacock. Oh, and don't forget my husband - but if you can't find him, get one of those young muscular guys leaning on some car who has his shirt off. Really tan. About 35. Nice pecs. Any of those guys will do. And the car - don't forget the car. You know, right next to the really big tree you can drive your car through. Yes, that one - the VW bus.

Oh, oh, oh, don't forget to bring some flowers and pretty dresses and teacups for afternoon lounging and a clothesline. Have to have a clothesline or else all the clothes will smell like people who don't have a clue about clotheslines.

Bring the Mystery Date and Twister games from the past and the Yardley lipstick. Leave Chatty Cathy at home. Find a Merry go Round.

Bring all the weird looking animals and the cute ones, too. Make certain all the amazing bugs are in cages. Don't forget to pick up the Airstream for the ride home.

What else...

Food - everything on my pin, plus drinks. Which means we'll need a cook and a bartender. Okay, you have all this? Because I need to get back to planning my next trip. Hmmmm. I think Machu Pichu. Don't forget the wheelchair for that one.

Hey, if you want to share in the fun, just type in and in a few days you can be a member too. You can waste time just like me, yet see the coolest stuff. You can see the desert in bloom, baby animals, cool insects and sea life, recipes, cabins, oceans, dreams.

Even better part? You run into some of your blogging friends and even your neighbors.

Dreaming. Putting dreams together or not putting them together. Just seeing them. Fun.

Come join me. There's a pin right there in red on the right side of my blog that will get you there. You can see what I like and see if it is for you. Addictive pleasure, but, hey, beats crack, channel surfing, and cleaning toilets.

(I feel like Pinterest should pay me for this advertisement.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Chihuly Patchouli

What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit.  
John Updike

A few weeks ago I took a break from my home -- the fraternity house -- and drove north to Dallas to see my long-time friend, Savannah. You might recall her from previous posts. We go way back to the early 80's in Denver where we played softball together  and both worked in the oil bidness.

In April, Vanna had flown up to Green Bay to help my brothers and me empty my mom and dad's house. After that fun, I was eager to visit with her in a less emotional setting. 

When you live with a bunch of men, as I do, it is always a pleasure to have extended time with women friends. Women look at me when I speak and appear to comprehend what comes out of my mouth. They respond.

Always shocks me.

But Vanna and I did more than just chat for hours on end. We did stuff, too. Fort Worth is a very cool city. I'd always heard it called Cow Town, but it wasn't no Cow Town in the museum district. Our first stop was the Kimbell Art Museum to see the touring exhibit The Age of Impressionism: Great French Paintings from the Clark. (I like the way that makes me sound like an art snob, which I'm not.)

The Sterling and Francine Clark Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts has many fine impressionist paintings. This tour brought many with them. I do like many other artists, but I'm true to the Impressionists. (I love the books of the era also.) Renoir is my favorite and I wasn't disappointed by what I saw.

I had never seen either of these, but both became favorites. My guess the collector's favorites also?
And this one, by Berthe Morisot. 

But you can only handle so much great art in one day. With an eye to all the museums in this area, we planned a return visit and pondered lunch. We headed to what Fort Worth was really all about way back when - the Stockyards.

We had a fabulous hamburger and a beer.

We got propositioned by a couple of guys to go over and get a room with them here, but, no, Vanna didn't want to.

We ended up here, checking out where they hold the ROOODEEOOO.

You can only have so much fun in one day so after a return to Dallas we got a good night's sleep and spent the next day at the Dallas Arboretum where a Chihuly show was going on.

Who is Chihuly? Yes, I was ignorant enough to have to ask that question. Sounded like some Chilean, Italian, or Chinese guy to me. Neither my arboretum guidebook or the docent standing nearby   overflowed with information. (I did my own research when I got home.)
For those of you as unaware as me - Dale Chihuly is a renowned sculptor of glass. You can find out more here. Turns out he's American - his family long ago emigrated from what was once Czechoslovakia. Chihuly resulted from some Slavic name. I have one of those, too. My maiden name -- Sucha.
At this special exhibit, Chihuly's glass sculptures were installed throughout the botanical gardens. I've never been a huge fan of Murano/Venetian glass art. I'm still not quite certain what I think. How about you?
Pretty. Like the blue. Like the mist.

Bad hair day?

These creeped me out. Sort of like the horns on Cinderella's stepsisters' ball hats.

Colorful. Fun. Odd.

Incredible view. Carnival!

I hate to say, but I liked the real live blooming lilies better. One of my favorites though.

Pretty. Flowing.

What is it with me? Why do I have friends that are petite and 5'2" and I always feel like the Jolly Green Giant standing next to them?

Remember at the end of the first episode of Lonesome Dove? When the nice, young Irish guy is afraid to cross the river on his horse? And then he does? And the mating ball of water moccasins kill him?

Hey, we're in Dallas. Did you think you were gonna get out of here without seeing the Dallas star? (Packers Rule!)

Then, just when I wasn't certain what to think, we came across a series of little houses with artist names attached to them that I understood. Here's the Georges Seurat house. They had a Picasso, Van Gogh, O'Keefe, too. For little kids. And me.

 Monet's bridge in Giverny.

Monet house. That guy standing there? I ran out of patience waiting for a clear shot. His children weren't listening to him. He wanted them on the bridge for a picture. Don't you hate that when people don't listen to you?

What would an artistic weekend be without beautiful food? Blueberry souffle anyone?

How about a Bananas Foster souffle? Decadent.
Okay, these photo essays exhaust me. Take me 20 times longer than using my words. Plus, we've arrived at the end of the story. I had to drive home and go back to my house that smells like a bunch of boys live there. In a much better mood though.
Thanks Vanna.

Monday, July 2, 2012

What's On Your Summer Reading List?

I find television to be very educating.  Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book.  
Groucho Marx

I know, I know. It is now July and I'm finally posting  my summer reading list. Goes right along with my total laxness in the blogging world at present. 

Not to say I haven't been productive. I am working on my novel again. And the toilets in my house are clean. So rare to have both of those things run concurrently. 

I have been reading, too, although not as quickly as normal. Here is my stack for the summer. 

The Greater Journey - David McCullough
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies) - Laurie Notaro (More than a giggle and chuckle. Hawhawing from the dock.)
The Tiger's Wife - A Novel - Tea Obreht
Final Payments - Mary Gordon
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents - Julia Alvarez
Suite Francaise - Irene Neverosky
When Everything Changed - The Amazing Journey of American Women 1960 to Present - Gail Collins (a must read for all young women, young men, old men, everyone!)
Close Range - Annie Proulx
Clair de Lune - Jetta Carleton (From rediscovered author of The Moonflower Vine)
Beloved - Toni Morrison (I know - been on my list every summer. Maybe this summer?)
The Lacuna - Barbara Kingsolver (I loved this one.
As Texas Goes...: How the Lonestar State Hijacked the American Agenda - Gail Collins
Below Stairs - Margaret Powell

And from some of my great blogging and writer friends:

Stick a Fork in It - Robin Allen (Out now) PLUS you can get Robin's first book in this culinary adventure spree If You Can't Stand the Heat for FREE on your Kindle right now.

Whipped, Not Beaten - Melissa Westemeier (AKA Green Girl in Wisconsin - mother of three sons so obviously a kindred spirit.)
Being Miss (Blogging friend from England and this book is so well done.)
The Eight Fingered Criminal's Son - William Snyder (Blogging friend) 1600 sold copies needed for a book deal. You can get it now for $3.95 on Kindle.

And for those of you with kids or grandkids, I'm toting this one by my WriterGrrl friend Bernadette Noll Make Stuff Together: 24 Projects to Create as a Family 

Now, as many of you know from your past experience here at this blog, I end up altering my list all summer as I trade books at book club, wander through the library, or just happen to go past that book table at Costco. So it goes in the world of reading.

But, SHARE! What's on your summer reading list?

P.S. Can anyone tell me how to center my header on my blog page?


Friday, June 1, 2012

Let's Talk Scrabble

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.  
Victor Frankl

My husband thinks playing Scrabble online is a complete waste of time. He tells me this while he is flipping channels on the television set. I'm thinking there are worse ways to spend my time and I enjoy playing Scrabble. I'm good at it. So, there.

I also understand it is one of those things that distracts you from what is really going on in your life, but for the past year or so, fun distractions have been most welcome in my world. I could have found something else - like a boyfriend, or drugs, even more wine or, God help me, channel changing. But, no, I chose Scrabble. I play with a few of my friends and my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. And when they don't play often enough to satisfy my desire to form words, I choose a random player. From that has come a small group of people I play often.

Many people I know play Words with Friends and I tried that. But cheesy design, too many bells and whistles, and too many cheaters for my taste. Where is the satisfaction in resorting to an app to find the right word for the most points? It's like having the questions to Jeopardy right in front of you while Alex reads the answers.

Not to say there aren't cheaters in Scrabble. If I get into a random game with someone who has an incredible record and consistent scores in the 500's - CHEATER! I opt out of the game and wait for more of a purist.  Plus it is most certainly not like sitting down at the table and playing the real game for there is that little dictionary there that tells me that thone and qi are words. But it is similar to the real game and fun. And, did I say I'm pretty good at it?

But, my fun hiding place has been turned upside down. The past few days it has been hard to get the game onto my screen without freezing. Then, a new game board appeared and advertisements kept popping up. I had to spend quite a while finding my games amid all the clutter and cheese of boxes asking me to invite everyone on my Facebook list to play with me and a bunch of other crap I had no desire to see.  And, the screen looked just like Words with Friends. A mess, indeed.

I may do my best to keep up with the changes in life (I can text. I succumbed to a Kindle), but when I go hide in a Scrabble game, by God, I want to play Scrabble. Not feel like I'm at a carnival with barkers taunting me to come into the tent - and then having to wait 5 seconds before I can click away the ad unless I want to entice 3 of my friends to play Scrabble and then I can be ad-free for one whole week. Wow -- who thought that up?

I voiced my complaint on their feedback bar - after waiting two days for that bar to work. Perusing their discussion lines, I'm not the only one upset. I haven't seen one positive comment. Many are calling for a boycott. I say YES!

Are there better causes? Probably. Is there a more serious essay here that I could develop? Absolutely. Do I care at this moment? No.

Yet another forced change in my life, but this one, nope, this one, I don't have to accept. I'll finish the games I have going. Maybe play once in a while with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, but other than that, I'm done.

Perhaps I'll take up writing in my journal lonesome for my confused thoughts, or working on that unfinished novel, or cleaning my house. (Maybe not that last one.) Or, maybe I'll just play the real game when I get a chance.

Now that's Words with Friends.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Waiting in the Weeds

It's so curious:  one can resist tears and 'behave' very well in the hardest hours of grief.  But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer... and everything collapses.  

Funny how life spins. How you plan that when you reach that certain point in time when a task completed will allow you to move forward, you suddenly discover you haven't finished where you were at all. Can set you right back on your ass. And, there, perhaps the only place to hang out is in the weeds, waiting for another day when it might be a little easier to emerge -- slowly.

Plan to return to my blogging world very soon. School's out for me next week. Several other things to tidy up and then, well, then I will see where the summer takes me. If I'll pull the  weeds out or let them hide around me a little longer. 

Hope all of you are well. I miss your worlds. Hopefully not for much longer.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What Goes Around...

You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back.  
William D. Tammeus

About twenty years ago, I volunteered at a living history farm. I had joined a natural science guild and had the option of working at a nature center or at Pioneer Farm. The farm depicted 1880 in Texas. As the mother of three young boys, that sounded like the best escape for me. Besides, at the nature center, you had to take out the snakes and show the visiting children. Not my thing.

I had two boys in elementary school at the time and my neighbor looked after my youngest while I enjoyed four hours a month dressing up in a long dress and apron. I milked the cow, collected the eggs, fed slop to the pigs, started a fire in the old stove and made pies or chicken stew while showing off chamber pots and corn cob toilet paper to the visiting school children.

Very peaceful for me, those four hours once a month. Loved it.

But, as mothers often discover, peace is a misnomer. Due to the illness of my neighbor, I found myself at the farm with Ian, then two years old. We were at the Tenant Farm that day. A place where the original farmer and his wife raised 12 children. The farmer's mother got to sleep in the only bed. Outdoor kitchen.

On this particular day of volunteering, I was getting the fire going and Ian was washing clothes in a washtub. He'd rinse out the towels and hang them on the clothes line. He had to climb a stool to reach the clothes line and between washing, rinsing, wringing, climbing and hanging up, he was quite busy.

About 9 weeks earlier, eight piglets came into the world and for the past three weeks running with wild abandon around the farm had become their bane. Sort of like a pack of teenagers with nothing structured in their lives. This day they decided to help Ian with the laundry.

As soon as he'd climb the stool to hang a shirt or towel, the pigs would gather at his wash bucket and pull out the item soaking and run off. At first he tried to chase them, but the group of eight ran in circles around him. One could almost hear them laughing as they played Keep Away.

At home, one of the books I was currently reading to Ian was Caps for Sale by Esphyr Solobodkina. In the story, a peddler who sells caps that he carries stacked on his head decides to take a nap under a tree. While he sleeps, a group of monkeys steal his colorful caps and arrange themselves in the branches above. When the peddler awakes, he stands with hands clenched in frustration, berating the wild group to give him back his hats.

Ian resorted to the same tactic, shaking his hands at the mischievious crew. "You pigs you! You give me back my clothes."

Memories. As he relayed the story to his older brothers, so it came that my days of going to the farm alone became a time of volunteering more often, with three boys in tow. Amazingly enough, on one of our visits, the bluebonnets were in bloom and even more amazing, I had a camera in the car. (I know I put this at the beginning, but just had to show it again.)

My kids loved the farm. They planted crops, collected eggs, made cookies, stacked wood, played hide and seek in the barn, fed the pigs, cows, horses and baby chicks while interpreting for crowds of visiting children. They had the run of the place, right along with the pigs. When my parents came for Christmas, we would all volunteer. We depicted a multi-generational family at the Homestead on Christmas Eve. My husband and dad welcomed the walking crowds and my mom played the pump organ while those visiting sang carols.

When she grew tired of pumping, the boys would take turns sitting on the floor pushing the pumps up and down. Somewhere I have a photo of all of us (of course can't find it now.)

And so we come to the point of this tale. Many of you have followed my stories of middle son, Jordan, the Fisheries and Wildlife major on his treks through the world of job hunting. From raising baby deer in south Texas to the wilds of Wyoming and West Texas and trading substitute teaching jobs with me.

A few Saturdays ago, my husband and I returned to Pioneer Farms after quite a few years of absence. Not much had changed other than further improvements on more farm scenes and the addition of a town square.

And some new animals.

While we wandered, guess who showed up walking from town square?

 Yup. That's Jordan. The farm hired him three days a week. 

He spends the other days of the week subbing or working landscape. Such is the life for many of our young college graduates. Several jobs. But, oh, how he enjoys this one, nurtured in childhood. Perhaps one good thing I did.


Related Posts with Thumbnails