Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Road Goes On Forever but the Party Ends for Mom

The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.
Sydney J. Harris

If you've ever driven through Texas, the road indeed goes on forever. Such was the case last week as I drove 1200 miles with middle son, Jordan, for the beginning of his senior year at university.

Three years ago, I made a similar drive, with a boy who didn't mind when I suggested we stop at the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest National Park. One grateful to escape his new environment for a visit to the Grand Canyon. One I had to make go back to his dorm to spend his first night rather than staying in the hotel with me, even though it broke my heart.

On that road trip, ambivalent and nervous about beginning a new life in a place far from home, he wanted the road to go on forever.

This time, the man I rode with had no desire to look out the window and see the sights on the alternate route I chose. When I pulled my guidebook out of the door pocket, I pretended not to notice the grimace on his face. Nor did I comment on the relief that echoed throughout the car when I put the book back in its pocket.

How children change. How children become independent. I know that is the job of every parent to monitor and instill those goals. Makes me proud to see it happen, even though there is a twinge in my heart I have to let rest. It's Jordan's road now. As it should be.

The night before our departure, I prepared the favorite spaghetti dinner. The little brother and Jay, Jordan's friend since pre-school all shared a cheer for a successful school year.
At 7am the next morning, we meandered through Texas Hill Country roads before joining the freeway.

My eyes wandered to take in the ever changing terrain.

or to notice the miles of windmills high on the hills.

A few hundred miles in, conversations about adventure and life took the place of our high speed picture taking. The camera rested on the floor as we dodged thrown retread tires in El Paso and I marveled at UTEP, the Rio Grande, New Mexico State University and Texas Canyon just inside Arizona. Jordan feigned interest, even though I knew him well enough to know he noticed it all.

Alas, the day grew very long.

Check in at our hotel in Tucson granted us two free drinks at the bar. Bingo!

On the road by 8:00am, four more hours of driving landed us in front of Jord's dorm. Yes, smile for the camera, Son. You have to do these things for your mother.

And who wants to hang with Mom when you have friends to reunite with? Young men for whom your mom holds a tad of jealousy for they get to know how your days go, like I used to. Look at the smile on my son's face. You think he is glad to be there?

The car and storage unit unloaded, I leave him with his roommates to set up their abode for the new year. I venture to the local Target to restock his belongings with new sheets, cleaning supplies (that will probably stay in the bag), a new razor, and fresh socks.

The next day, after a trip to the observatory, we stop at an overlook, his school in the background.

My hotel. I'm so glad I can easily amuse myself. (That sign lights up redder than red at night.)

This is only one of 124 trains that blast by the hotel night and day, all blowing their horn for God and everybody to get the hell out of the way.

At the airport on Sunday, my son wore his new socks. I hugged him and told him to always be proud of himself. He has his list from mom on all the things to accomplish this year -- take on every adventure possible, change his sheets regularly, and make sure he graduates in the spring. Date all kinds of girls. That he'll never have this plethora of young women in one place ever again.

I will miss him, but am, oh, so glad to have shared a few days alone with him.

Have a great year, Jordan. Enjoy the road.

Please visit my mom at her new blog site Old? Who? Me?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Who's Got the Funk?

funk 1 |fə ng k| informal noun 1 (also blue funk) [in sing. ] a state of depression : I sat absorbed in my own blue funk

Is it just me? Or does the word blue in that sentence definition seem a tad redundant. I suppose there are some funks that are worse than others. In fact, I think I just came out of one. A long one.

As I've written quite a bit on this blog since it began last January, there has been much to remind me of my age. Such as:

* Assessing what I've been doing, or not doing, for the past 20 years to meld into a resume
* Reading thousands of essays from 17-year-old kids helping little old ladies - like 50 - across the street.
* My oldest son graduating from college and getting engaged
* Middle son beginning his senior year of college
* Discovering arthritis in my feet
* My youngest son embarking on his senior year of high school
* My hot flashes trading places with an occasional period accompanied by a growing gut
* Being labeled an "older voter" - one of those over 50
* Getting serious with exercise and gaining 7 pounds
* 64 days straight of 100+ degree weather
* Trying to figure if going back to school at age 54 makes any sense.

Lest I go on?

Last week I turned 53. Feeling drawn into a deeper mote of mope, I felt the need for a jarring experience. I didn't want to jump out of a plane or ride on my husband's motorcycle. I wanted a controlled leap out the rut. Something to let me know I was alive, but the assurance I'd survive the outcome. Like a ride on the Tilt a Whirl or the Scrambler. Instead, much to my husband and youngest son's surprise, I chose the waterpark, Schlitterbahn.

Best thing I could have chosen.

Even though I was afraid to put this older body into a inner tube and ride through chutes and drops, I did it. My favorite was the free fall slide, just my body on a rolling drop. Even channeled my fear long enough to keep my feet crossed so I wouldn't get a wedgie from the pool at the end of the slide.

At the end of the day, we sat in the swim up hot tub bar, a margarita in hand, and I silently cheered myself. I felt good. Came home with only one bruise on my arm and the knowledge that it wasn't about not being a pussy riding rides or having to do something really stupid to prove something to myself. Instead, taking the opportunity to do something out of the norm. Something beyond the usual.

I still love to lie in my hammock and read for days on end. But I'm not dead yet either.

Suddenly 53 doesn't sound so old.

So, who's got some funk?

funk 2 |fəŋk| |fʌŋk| noun 1 a style of popular dance music of U.S. black origin, based on elements of blues and soul and having a strong rhythm that typically accentuates the first beat in the bar.


Please visit my mom at her new blog site Old? Who? Me?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

On The Road

And that's the wonderful thing about family travel: it provides you with experiences that will remain locked forever in the scar tissue of your mind.
Dave Barry

I decided to road trip with my middle son on his route back to his senior year. One more long ride with mom while he is still under my tutelage. Seventeen hours in a car, all...the....way... to.... Arizona. What better way to bond? He is ecstatic that I've made this decision.

I can't think of a better way for me to end the summer and get back into a new year routine than by walking through the aisles of a university. Get that fresh back-to-school tingle of excitement and anticipation. I will come home to a fresh plate and new vigor for diet, exercise, writing, working, all those things. Right?

Besides, I haven't visited Jordan at school since his freshman year (several family members have taken turns the past two years) so I also want to make sure he truly has washed his sheets, comforter, and rugs since the fall of 2006. (He puts all his stuff in a storage unit during the summer breaks.)

I stopped by AAA to get new maps and guide books as I've decided we'll take a different route than the Lubbock, Muleshoe, Clovis, Albuquerque highways of previous trips. I'm opting for the long ride through Texas to El Paso onto Tucson and up to the mountains. Jordan is most happy about that, too. He can hardly wait for me to look up from my guidebook and say, "You know, if we go down this road 10 miles, we'll find the largest collection of..."

Oh, what would his life have been like without me?

I don't think you get internet service out there in those hills and deserts, so will catch up with everyone after I get back. Meanwhile, put your seatbelt on, Son. Mama is going on a trip.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm Humbled to Accept

Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul. Henry Ward Beecher

In the past couple weeks I've had the pleasure of accepting several commendations. With so many incredible and prolific bloggers out there, I'm surprised and flattered when I'm awarded with these honors. I am most grateful.

The Super Comment Award/You Don't Say Award is given to bloggers who leave comments worth discussing on other blogger’s posts. It may also be because those comments are great in quantity, great in substance, or just great in general.
An award that recognizes great commenters is a brilliant idea. And that's the idea behind this You Don't Say Award.

Pam's Perspective and Words of Wisdom from a Smart Mouth Broad were both kind enough to send it my way. Getting awards is always an honor but an award that recognizes those bloggers who consistently comment is a high honor indeed. The You Don't Say Award "... is for beautiful people who practice blogging etiquette by visiting or visiting back, and leaving comments. Their observations are apt and helpful and it's a pleasure to have them comment on your posts..."

I'd like to pass this award on to Linda at Wander To The Wayside . Her comments are always thoughtful and giving.

From Missy at Missy's Book Nooks The Heartfelt Award came into my life:
Do you reach for a cup of cocoa or tea when your relaxing, seeking comfort, sharing a plate of cookies with family and freinds? You know the feeling you get when you drink a yummy cup of cocoa, tea, or a hot toddy? That is what the Heartfelt Award is all about, feeling warm inside.

And also from Missy, The Proximidade Award

Being a recipient of this award affirms that this blog invests and believes in the Proximity – nearness in space, time and relationships.

I am honored and humbled by the attention of these fine bloggers. I thank them.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You Can Give Me Roses Anytime

I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.
Emma Goldman

Thanks to my sweety for the anniversary roses. I loved them. And, okay, maybe I'll hang out for a few more years.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Long Hot Flash of Summer Tends to Twist the Mind

What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.
Jane Austen

By the time August rolls around in Texas, survival is the name of the game. Sweat on my brow and under my pits in spite of my deodorant are simply facts of life. Now that I'm in hot flash hell, I've significantly added to the number of times I soak myself during the day. But no matter, this too shall pass. Right?

There was a time in my life when sweat wasn't the norm. In my days of living in the North, East and West, I believed sweating occurred when my face turned beet red and I thought it might blow up. I had no clue that little beads of perspiration could turn into flowing rapids down my back or that wiping my eyes with the back of an equally moistened hand to clear the flood from my brow might become a rote act. I prided myself on perspiration etiquette.

No longer.

I recall an afternoon, soon after moving to Texas. While digging holes to plant my newly purchased shrubs, my face began its usual red blowup, then something popped. The sweat paraded down my back, legs and face. I joined the ranks of the dripping sweat mongers.

Of course, my ability to sweat like a pig allows me to cop an elitist attitude with my mom and two of my three brothers - who still believe if you crack a sweat it means you're overheating and need to sit down. I'm so glad I've evolved.

As we embark on our 40th or 50th or 500th day in a row of 100+ degree heat, and my 22nd summer in Texas, no longer do I have to dig shrub holes to work up a sweat. In a few minutes, I'll leave the confines of my home to walk to the mailbox. Perhaps I'll stop to grant the pathetic looking plants in my front garden a few sprinkles of precious water - just a sip, however. A long swallow would only soften their reserve and restrain them from their ability to survive in the sweltering sun. The tomatoes in pots, I'll bypass. They have led the battle well, but lost.

Truly pathetic, isn't it? Droughts are so not fun.

When I finish, my bra will be sweat laden so I'll run the warm ground water from the hose on my feet and return to the let the air conditioning cool me, before I venture out for the next sweat trip.

Oh wait, I'm getting one just sitting here. Ain't midlife great?

But I must admit, come August, the heat tends to twist me. Puts me in rather a funk, I'd say. Makes me think of sledding down hills while my snot freezes in my nose. Makes me eager for motion beyond the elliptical at the Y. Perhaps the reverse of cabin fever in the dead winters of the north only similar in that I want to do something fun, something wild. Something with rapid, wake-me-up movement. I am bored with the boundaries of the heat. Stir crazy, as they say.

Tomorrow's my birthday. I want to ride on roller coasters. The kind that end up in a swimming pool. I hear Schlitterbahn calling. Just what every tomorrow-to-be-53 year old body needs. Falling down a slide and hitting the water at full force. Something exhilarating to get the heart pumping again. That'll work.

Don't forget to look for the Perseid meteor shower tonight. 2am is the best viewing. Lie spread eagle on your front lawn.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Some Days Need Few Words

My son and his fellow intern have ten days left working with these beauties. I'm certain they will remain imprinted on their minds for a long time to come.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Hammock WIth a View

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.
Sam Keen

In an effort to rest an ailing foot, I've spent the last week lying in my hammock. To hell with exercise. Maybe not forever, but for this last week at least. After a visit to the library and checking out 10 books, I plopped my hiney into the recesses of my hammock. Happy to say I no longer limp. Progress. I'm ready to test it at the YMCA - maybe tomorrow.

I've wavered from my original summer reading list once again, and have a few thoughts on my reads. A friend had given me several mysteries - something I don't normally read. I think I will still not normally read them.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Steig Larsson
These words from Page 577 summed it up quite nicely. "Berger thought that the book was the best thing Blomkvist had ever written. It was uneven stylistically, and in places the writing was actually quite poor—there had been no time for any fine polishing—but the book was animated by a fury that no read could help but notice."

Editor, Editor where art thou? Translated from Swedish, I'm sorry this author did not live long enough to have the opportunity to fine tune his books. Also, may just be me, but I didn't care for the torture of women. I did enjoy the setting in Sweden and I now know why my Swedish mother likes liver, pickled herring, and dill pickles.They are staples in the Swedish diet.

The Galton Case - Ross McDonald
They sat like a very old couple waiting for the afternoon shadows to lengthen and merge into the night.
One of the best 100 mysteries, this story line seems to reign among many in the genre. Macho, gruff, tough retired cop, now a private eye, is hired to search for a long-lost relative standing to inherit a mint. The writing was good, but the storyline fit together with just a tad too much coincidence for my taste. Written in 1959, the depiction of women didn't work for me. I'm so thankful for Betty Friedan.

The Talented Mr. Ripley – Patricia Highsmith - Recommend
This one I liked. Set in Italy, the conniving Mr. Ripley appears an innocent, yet is truly a chilling and dangerous man. Written in 1955, I found the writing compelling and the storyline complete. No dangling unanswered questions or puzzle pieces that appear out of nowhere. I hear it is a movie. Can’t wait to see it.

Siddhartha - Herman Hesse - Recommend
Translated from German, this book hasn't withstood the test of time for no reason. A pleasant surprise and a journey of the spirit. "Quiet beauty" indeed.

We Are All Welcome Here – Elizabeth Berg
Always a simple joy to read Berg’s work. Universal truths. Well put together. Quick read. Sweet ending. This journey travels through the eyes and heart of a young girl living with the reality of a disabled mother. Setting – 1964 in Tupelo, Mississippi. Civil rights movement in full swing but on the outside of innocent, yet capable mind of 14-year-old Diana.

“Oftentimes on summer evenings, I would sit outside with my mother and look at the constellations. We lived in a small town, far away from city lights, and our skies were inky black and so thick with stars it felt as though somebody ought to stir them.

Summer of Roses - Luanne Rice

I picked this one up from the library shelf because of the picture on the cover – roses and the seaside. Should have left it on the shelf. If you want an easy, super sweet read that doesn’t pursue the drama it brings into the picture, this is a mindless summer read for you. I bypassed many pages. Did enjoy the setting in Narragansett Bay.

Fearless Fourteen - Janet Evonovich
Always a fun romp to run with Stephanie Plum, although I still think Seven Up was the best one.

Reading on, reading on.


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