Saturday, June 30, 2012

"Better to See You with My Dear"

I got new glasses today. And that was an event in itself. I was trying to dash into my eye doctor's office before the car's AC left my skins cells. It has been 105 degrees in Indy, and for the last two days my home AC was not working. Something about an overheated capacitor. Well, my personal capacitor was over heating, too. Throw in a couple of hot flashes and I was glowing like the tiles on the space shuttle during re-entry. Or put another way: I was hotter than Hades. But this blog is about new glasses; not molten lava streaming from my arm pits. Lovely imagery, huh?

Back to the spectacle at hand. So...I pull open the door, eager to say some silly stuff to the gals in the eye doctor's office. Immediately I smell the pungent odor of assorted chemicals. Gee....why did they move the racks of eye glasses and replace them with shampoo? My neurons began to fire and I realized I had walked into the hair salon. Guess somebody needed glasses pretty badly.

Soon I was getting my new spectacles adjusted and such. Didn't take long....slide them on, bend them here and there, read a card with various print and fonts. Now they even had a musical staff with notes on it. What's that about? I couldn't read music before or after glasses. Was that a trick question? Made me think of the classroom. I often asked my students when they got new glasses, "Do I look taller, thinner, and younger?" They didn't know it, but recess was riding on their answer. Some were winners, some were losers. No do overs.

But I think of the Big Bad Wolf. Remember what he said to Little Red Riding Hood when she inquired about his big eyes? "Better to see you with, my dear!" I kinda hope my new glasses let me see things better. I am not talking Superman's X-ray Vision, but I would like to be able to read the small print on important things like the time the movie starts. Or a phone number from a printed directory; the color of the shade of lipstick or the fat content in brownies. I really DON'T want to read that. new glasses are really okay. They hide the bags under my eyes and prevent me from squinting...which only creates more wrinkles. Perhaps they even make me look distinguished. Or simply old. I am trying to line up the bifocal part. Right now, my computer keyboard looks a bit warped or curvy. Do you think that is normal? And I keep stepping down stairs....where there are none. My daughter asked if I could see better. Hmmm. Not really. But I have paid the money, waited two weeks for them to arrive-- and I got to startle the folks at the beauty shop, so it's okay. I mean, you've seen one astigmatism, you've seen 'em all.

By the way you really do look good from here. In fact, I'd say you look spectacular! My new glasses wouldn't lie. "Better to see you with my dear!" Stupid wolf. Should have asked for contact lenses.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Stirrup Pants Stir Up Memories

Stirrup pants. Now there's a topic you probably didn't discuss at lunch. Now, I am not an equestrian but I used to ride the  mechanical horses at the grocery store as a kid, so I am kind of an expert on saddles and stuff. Plus, I used to watch "My Friend Flicka" on Saturday mornings and read the 'Misty of Chincoteague' series, so I am enlightened about horses. Guess you could say I have some horse sense! Need more credentials? Okay---here: I used to have my very own 'Mr. Ed The Talking Horse' puppet thing. You pulled a string and it said stuff. But this was in the sixties before little computerized sound byte things, so the darned talking box-thing was so heavy you had to prop your elbow up to play with it. And I wasn't a very big little girl, so Mr. Ed spent a lot of time under my bed, and sadly became Mr. Ed The Not- So Talking Horse. Sigh.

Stirrups. I know about those from a different angle. I am a woman. And any woman who has spent time in her OB/GYN office or a delivery room, finds out pretty quickly about stirrups. The metal kind. At the end of a table. Ride'em cowboy! Yeah...cowboys couldn't handle what comes next. Ahem. Just saying...

But I digress. I am speaking of stirrup pants, the fashion staple of the eighties. Or, at least they lasted about two weeks in the eighties. At any rate, I owned a couple of pair of stirrup pants. And I kinda liked 'em. They stretched the pant spandex-ish fabric down with elastic stirrups which latched under your foot. Now this gave most women a very cool fashion experience! Big, flowing tops covered our big butts and made our legs appear so tiny! And the pants didn't ride up in our nether-regions. Heck no, those elastic stirrups were in for the workout of a life time. I had a calamity with one of mine. The elastic became all spaghetti-like on one leg of my pants. Not wanting to waste, I doubled up the elastic and safety-pinned it in a big wad at the bottom of my foot. It truly deepened my faith as I prayed that pin would never fail me. I mean, my elementary students were not ready for the vocabulary that would have come out of my mouth had that pin malfunctioned. I hardly even limped.

But I am a short individual. Finding stirrup pants that fit my small stature was a trial. I mean, normal pants can be hemmed. But you can't have baggy stirrups; it is against the Stirrup Pant Regulation Guidelines. The other problem with this fashion item was that the stirrups sometimes pulled the crotch down. And while if felt like an extra room in the basement, no one could see the falling crotch because we had those big, flowy tops hiding our big butts (see preceding paragraph). With big shoulder pads. I guess we all went out in public thinking we looked chic; instead, we looked like top-heavy, spandex-laden triangles, with big hair, rocking' out to Bon Jovi and New Kids On The Block.

I saw a program once and women were stuffing 'Fashion Worsts' in a box. The stirrup pants briefly made a comeback as they were held in front of the camera--then, with groans and cheers, were put in the casket of fashion no-no's. I was sorta sad. I liked my stirrup pants. But then, I still rock out to Bon Jovi, so go figure. Maybe one day I will find a pair of these ill-fitting and ill-fated pants at a thrift store and try to bring them back in style. Or take up horse-back riding, and not the grocery store kind!  Either way, I bet I 'stir up' things quite a bit. Oh, I'm sorry for my bad humor. I'm not quite right. I fell off a horse when I was a kid...and the grocery store didn't even give my dime back. Guess my feet came out of the stirrups, or the stirrups came out from my feet. Bet Mr. Ed the Talking Horse would have something to say about that.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


No, I have not been hacked. Yes, I meant to put those two letters as a title. These two small letters are innocent; it is the naughty meaning that we have assigned to them that make the jaw drop.

I maintain that F and U are two forces that drive our souls. The 'F' stands for 'familiar'. We like things that are familiar. Ever have to borrow someone else's car for a day? is great to climb back into the our own vehicle with the seat adjusted just so, and the radio on our favorite pre-set stations. 'Familiar' is the tune we whistle when visiting our hometowns--replete with memories and old haunts. We smile as we babble on about "Remember when we..." and "I can't believe that building is still there..." Familiar. It is like slipping into a pair of old shoes or hearing a friend's voice on the line. It is comforting and anchoring and soothes our sore spirits. We like familiar, do we not?

The 'U' hovers above that which is 'unknown'. It's that scary arena that holds us back from opportunity and accepting folks different from ourselves. The 'unfamiliar' is what ties our stomachs up in knots that first day of school or when being wheeled in the delivery room for child number one. It is reporting for a tour of duty. The unknown can hold us hostage if we let it. It is standing on the diving board, watching the water churn, then going back down the ladder. The unknown must be challenged if breakthroughs in science, medicine, inventions, are to be made. But even walking across the room to shake a stranger's hand is entering that great unknown. Pioneers left the 'F' to travel in covered wagons to the 'U'. Good for them.

And sometimes the familiar and the unknown collide and a whole new adventure begins! Perhaps this is what we call marriage, raising children, going on vacation. No matter what we knowingly bring to the table, surprises await. Makes life interesting. And terrifying. But all the while, creates a dynamic in our souls that keeps us stepping to the edge, and running back into our mother's arms. I think that the familiar and unknown is what keeps us balanced, growing, and safe. It pushes and pulls. But just remember when life is really getting to you just, shout F U! Curses! The battle of the familiar and unknown have begun once again. Be brave. After all the fussing and cussing-- victory awaits.
F U, indeed.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Risky Behavior!

    Okay...I admit it. I have done some risky things in my life. I have completed aerobatics in a WWII Navy trainer airplane, I stupidly approached gang bangers when teaching in the inner city of Indianapolis, after they refused to hand over a football, and I still lend a hand to strangers, which often means offering them a ride. I bought a brand new car and refused to purchase the extended warranty. I applied to hitch a ride on the NASA'S space shuttle when the 'Teacher in Space' program was launched. (Sorry...couldn't resist it).

     But this pales in comparison to what I do habitually. Yes, folks, I am the one who removes those labels on pillows and such that says: "UNDER PENALTY OF LAW--this tag should not be removed except by the consumer." Well, I am the consumer, so I am safe. But what about pulling it off things that I haven't actually purchased myself? Like hand-me-downs. Hmmmm? Are the feds coming to my door expecting a receipt? What a kooky thing for the government to do...monitor tag removal.

     Another behavior that some deem a bit out of the box is tearing off price tags attached with those plastic strings. My mother used to say, "Deborah, get some scissors! You will rip the fabric doing that." Rest in peace, mom, I have not ever torn the fabric jerking those things off. It is all in the wrist, is what I say. But one time, I witnessed five grown adults all befuddled on how to remove a tag without scissors. I reached over and promptly pulled off all the tags. Laid down the clothing and walked out. I swear I could hear the music of Queen, "We are the Champions." It was a hard task but somebody had to do it; otherwise good clothing would have hung in the closet before the arrival of Super Scissors.

      Now I am not trying to push myself onto any kind of pedestal. I am just saying that sometimes we make life too hard. And encountering risks is part of life. The good thing, I suppose, is that we bravely trod forward and do not consider behaviors as 'risky' until the outcome is good. Then we can look over our shoulders and say, "Man--I sure took a chance on that one!"

       What risks have you taken today? Changed lanes without signaling? Eat dinner without washing your hands for the allotted time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday?" Shame on you!! Didn't fold laundry the minute the timer buzzed? Mailed a letter without your return address? You rebel! Maybe you even took an unknown individual home so he/she wouldn't have to walk in the pounding rain. Now we're talking!

       Risks. You took one when you fell in love. When you told the spouse, "We're pregnant." When you rescued that scared puppy and promised it could not stay. Now it owns your heart. See...that is how it works in life. We step out into the unknown, put our hearts and souls out there for the taking, and are scared beyond words. Soon, it is as if life would have been terribly skewed had we not made the choice we did. Some call it courage. I call it absent minded bravery without guarantees.

       All I can tell you is that I will sleep very soundly tonight knowing I took a chance--risk--on a lot of situations which had very good outcomes. And I will sleep on a pillow that used to have a tag that I was forbidden to remove under penalty of law. Am I brave or what???

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Not Just An Ordinary Tissue

          Mothers are known to carry treasures in their purses. You know, Kleenex, Band-Aids, chewing gum, cough drops, extra pens, spare change, blank paper, etc. Kind of like ‘standard issue’ goods necessary for motherhood. And my mom had the same contents on her person for three generations. Now, that is a lot of ‘mom-stuff’!
            But her inventory did not stop at the bottom of her purse. Nope…even her coat pockets were lined with essentials. Every coat or jacket held tissues. Mom was on guard for that drippy nose, errant sneeze, or cleaning grime off a little one’s face with mom spit.  So it was fitting that we placed a tissue in her casket. Didn’t want her to “go to glory” unprepared.
            So, when I donated her coats to our church’s thrift store, I forgot about them. And then the big sale came and mom’s coats were displayed for purchase. I went by and touched each coat, knowing that every jacket had a story. One had been too tight at the wrists, one had a belt that always slid out of the loops—aggravating her----and the other one looked like a teen should be wearing it during the eighties, with big hair and attitude. It was her favorite. Not mine. But I never said a word.
            As I looked at each coat, missing the woman whose shoulders and arms filled the fabric, my hand slid down to the pockets. I knew what I would find, and I was not disappointed. In each and every pocket was a tissue. Folded and ready for duty. I pulled out each tissue and held it as if it were a holy thing, because in my mind and heart it was. I knew the smooth, arthritic hands that had placed them in the pockets and I felt as if I were holding the hands of my mother.
            It was an odd but knowing connection, yet seemed so appropriate. ‘Tissue’ in the human sense is connective, keeping our cellular selves intact. And so that day, I pondered the Kleenexes that lined the pockets of my mother’s coats and marveled at how such a simple act affirmed the person that she was: predictable, loving, and ready to serve. And eager to send a small message to her girls that if our tears would fall, she was still ready to catch them.
            These were no ordinary tissues, left by an extraordinary mother.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It All Started with Snoopy Band-Aids

I think it is time that I reveal that I do indeed know the origin of some of this country's woes. I will focus on health care. It all started with Snoopy band-aids. Now...I have nothing against Snoopy; he's a cartoon dog and I like all dogs, made-up or otherwise. But when folks were given a chance between a nondescript bandage or a colorful one from entertainment fame, people adopted Snoopy. It became a time for competition between good, old boring Johnson and Johnson and Charles Schulz. Then it escalated. But the bottom line was identical: cover the wound.

Have you seen delivery rooms lately? Okay...rename that: have you visited the Hospital Hilton for a stay in a suite, complete with cherry furnishings, free wi-fi, and the trappings of a vacation condo? All for what mid-wives did back in the day: catch a baby. Okay. I am being simplistic but it is true: health care has become an elaborate scheme of one-up-man-ship. I swear....if I had accommodations during labor and delivery that exist today, I would have had twelve kids instead of four. Not because I love children, but to have stayed in the Hospital Hilton. Cool digs. So what if you have to push out a baby to qualify. I did that anyway, with no drugs, and a roommate to boot. Now-- that was the pioneering spirit! I mean, clean, sterile and comfortable with competent medical humans was all one really needed. Snoopy could do no better than the pink bandages of yesteryear.The only ones who are truly suffering are folks like us playing along. I opt for simple yet competent. Insurance CEO's are lining their pockets because we are 'wowed' by such extravagant trappings. When I was in labor, I could have pried off one of those fancy framed portraits and chewed it in half with my teeth, my discomfort was that strong. I swear, there's a special place in Hell for insurance CEO's, and I doubt it will be outfitted like the Hospital Hilton, but I do suspect it will be mighty warm. I am smiling as I type this.

Oh, we can debate the Health Care dilemma until we waddle off to the nursing home. But the rising costs have to link back to the delivery of medical care in such 'fancy schmancy' environments. We feel we are entitled to luxury, even when puking in a basin. I don't get it. I do not feel we need to go back to the days of nurses in crisp, white dresses with hideous shoes. All I'm saying is that we need a little less Snoopy. Go ask Lucy. She's been seeing patients for years in a formerly occupied lemonade stand. You go girl! And when it is all said and done, we heal, get better, and go home, with  Snoopy waiting at our very ordinary doors. Health care? Let's not be dazzled by the 'zeal in the heal' propaganda and let's just settle for good care that does not hold our checkbooks hostage and dictate every job by the pox of insurance coverage. The simple band-aid has been begging for a comeback. I say its time is now. Snoopy agrees, and has traded in all of his character bandaids for the plain old pink kind. Good dog, Snoopy; good dog, indeed!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Childhood Summer

A childhood summer is laced in magic. It is like a season within a season. The first days of a silenced alarm clock reflect hours oozing with laziness and that great joy of sleeping in, sleeping over, and sleeping between spring and fall. It is hard to confine images and moments of summer to one span of my life. As a youngster, my friend Frankie and I would ride the city bus to the (old) Children's Museum. Sporting my seahorse pin--which was the logo back in the late sixties, and my membership card, off we would go, eagerly leaving Brightwood behind for the wonders of the world. My mother, employed at Indianapolis Life Insurance Company, worked right across from the museum and I thought this was just the coolest! You know what they say: location is everything, especially when your mother can look out her window and see the coming attractions. We were practically famous!

Another hot summer day would find us getting a free bus ride from our favorite driver, Elmer, and we would ride to the (former) Indianapolis Zoo. We were eager to ride the train, feed the goats, and peer into the mouth of a big fiberglass whale which overlooked the pond. We owned the world and this was our own personal safari. Kickball games in the alley, collecting pop bottles to trade for penny candy (yeah, there really was such a thing) at Bultman's Grocery, and building go-carts that never worked: this was the essence of summer in the city. Everyday was an adventure and I do not believe we ever uttered the words "I'm bored." For us there was never enough daylight to pack in everything our creative and imaginary agendas held. Summer was in itself, bliss. We asked for nothing more except one more day to play.

Then the day would come when I would be whisked out of the city to visit family in Grant County. My grandfather was a farmer and my life of sirens, traffic on East 30th Street would melt into the drone of a John Deere tractor, clucking chickens, and the hum of the milking machine as Grandpa tended his herd of dairy cattle. My summers of urban chaos and family drama would be soothed by fields of stars and soybeans...all of those summer days would shape this little girl who was blessed by two worlds. It was in this span of time that the author in me was born. The country would still the the noise of the city so I could hear the stories of my soul. And who would have ever dreamed that the little girl, who dreaded school and lived for every day it was closed, would find her life's work behind the teacher's desk? Life takes odd turns, does it not?
And here it is...summer once again and I look over my shoulder and ponder life. Thank you for joining me in the process. May your summer be laced in magic. Oh...and don't forget to go play.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Busy or What?

Some folks who know me rather well, have indicated that I might harbor a slight symptom of Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I must admit I have a high energy level and tend to spin a lot of plates at once. And not just the ones I am eating from. (I'll never get used to ending sentences with prepositions). I can be distracted easily by a piece of dust or a conversation in a restaurant three tables away. But I do accomplish quite a bit, albeit at the sanity of others. I call it mental, social, and physical multi-tasking. Others just say I'm like a pre-schooler on Red Bull. I like to think of myself as curious, random, and excitable. Onlookers have deemed me 'freakin' nuts. What do they know? Most folks have actually learned to keep up with my stories...even if I am telling three at one time. My grandkids are used to my stopping in public to talk to total strangers, former students, or myself. Perhaps you have a friend or family member who is 'busy' like me. I would like to have a parade to celebrate our uniqueness, but it would wander for days and we would all be bouncing off this float and that, and stopping to try out the band's musical instruments, and visiting with the spectators. It would be a catastrophe. Sigh. My point of this pondering is that I accept the fact that I am the hummingbird and not the regal eagle. I cannot glide across the pond with the grace of a swan. Nope. I am more like that annoying crow that squawks and dives and is shooed away by old women with brooms. I mean, I'm an old woman with a broom, but oh, never mind. Well, I need to finish this up as I just remembered that I need to start three projects for church, write seven letters, fold two loads of laundry---all while I am talking to my sister on the phone. I have tried to tame these demons. I wrote these quotes on two lovely china saucers that said: "Plant stillness. Harvest calm." They are at the end of my bathtub. I am sure that I will read them and meditate on their meaning, as I relax in my luxurious tub of bubbles. Oh wait! I forgot! I take showers. Oh well. I have always liked hummingbirds better than swans.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

Father's Day. Is it a bag of mixed emotions for you, too? My father and I loved one another and I have a plethora of rich memories. But my father wasn't perfect, and I think the demons he fought were wrought by the pressure to be just that. It is true; we had some dark days. But in 1985, he traded his earthly existence for his place in Heaven. If forgiveness is all it is promised to be, my dad is sitting at the feet of his God.

I have been involved with that dastardly job called spring cleaning, which is a blog for another day. But the day came when I reached into a box and found a dozen letters from my dad. I did not remember corresponding with him, let alone keeping the letters. So I sat down in my mother's old recliner and read letters from my father. Suddenly, I could see his smile, hear his voice, and appreciate his ability to go from serious to funny in an instant! I could feel the affection and hear his cautious advice. It was bittersweet. But a lot of healing washed over me as I realized he had taken precious time to talk to me in a form that is lasting. Old tattered letters, forgotten and stored away in a lost box, became an odd reunion for my father and me. I took him two roses from my rosebush, and smiled at how this has been one of my best Father's Day ever. It is not about perfect is about ordinary, flawed people who wanted to be perfect in their child's eyes. I get it now. And with every bit of my being I can say, "Dad....Happy Father's Day." But better yet, I can read between the lines and know that my father's day is happy.

Friday, June 15, 2012

"Let's Do Lunch!"

We've all done it. Run into that person that you kinda know and after the polite chit-chat, say, "Let's do lunch." Yeah, sure. Not that we're insincere, but women know that "doing lunch" is serious stuff. We can't waste our lunch tickets for more superficial 'weather channel' conversation. No sirree. When females lunch, it is a flurry of verbs: reconnect, delve, repeat, expand, preface, explain, listen, giggle, laugh, cry, elaborate, and on and on it goes.

Now...layer that with a group of old friends, and the act of "doing lunch" is between taking a long hike and wrapping oneself in a warm blanket. It is crossing that great abyss of time and distance and being enveloped in a perfect hug. It is reaching across the table for a bread stick, and coming back with the last twelve months of that gal's triumphs and trials. It is being able to leave gaps in the story, because they were part of if. Lunching with folks with whom you share a deep history, is recapturing the part of your self that time stole away. Lost your sense of humor? You will find it before the main course, because those pals are going to have you laughing to the point of leaking---either tears or well, lower tears. I mean, when the phrase "Do you remember the time...." is uttered, those old stories are going to come forth like great waves breaking.

"Doing lunch" is the going to and coming back. It is a reward for every minute you spent investing and reinventing that relationship. Sure, it takes energy, planning, and a bit of a commitment in showing up. But boy...the rewards are immeasurable. Our gender profile states that we process life verbally. True. And that it takes a posse to go to the restroom. Okay. But what we are really good for is making and mending relationships. So, the next time a dear friend utters that mandate, "Let's do lunch!" don't miss it. It is what we do--for them and for ourselves. Man cannot live by bread alone, and women must break bread together; this is what restores our souls and spirit. Lunch. Do it soon.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

First impressions are lasting.

First impressions are lasting. Especially between neighbors. This was never truer than when I moved into my new house and did battle with the trash collectors. Being new, I was going to supervise my first day of pick-up. I looked out the window and saw the trash truck drive by. Like, completely without hesitation drive by.  What? I had a lot to contribute to the city landfill and I was being denied. Flying out the door, I grabbed my trash bags and started following the truck. He stopped and explained that he did not see my trash bags because my car was parked on front of them. Oh...a man sitting high in a mobile trash compactor cannot look down on my pile of move-in mess. Hmmm. So, now I knew the rules: no cars blocking obvious trash on trash day. Got it.

 So I asked Mr. Trash Collector Man, if he could stop and back up and get my trash. Nada. He is not allowed to go in reverse. Huh? I then went and stood in front of the truck. Driver Man and Deb were in a face-off. I rounded his truck and climbed up on the side of the trash truck and started talking to him about the absurdity of the situation. "Okay...I blocked trash that you very well could see. Now that I have explained about being new and not knowing the rules,  you still won't take my trash. But the real tragedy here is that you can't drive a truck in reverse, not because of municipal code, but because you are a moron." wasn't kind but it was true. He then threatened to call the 'po-leese' if I did not get off the truck. He then rolled up the window, with my head still peering in. That was close! So, I dismounted the Giant Garbage Can of Indy and started pitching my trash in the back of the truck. Another kind neighbor chipped in. I was then admonished that a citizen is not certified to throw the trash in the back of the truck. Whatcha gonna do pal, jump in there and pull it out? I was ready to call his supervisor but I was very satisfied that my neighbor and I had done what Trash Man said could not be done: I had succeeded in Trash Pick-up 101 and did not even need Barney Fife. HA!! As I marched across my yard, ever grateful that the last 7-8 minute exchange was history, I saw my new neighbor, an elderly female, laughing with a phone in her hand. "Honey--I can tell you that I have never seen a little lady like yourself, stand in front of a trash truck and climb up on it, then put your head in the window to give that guy grief and THEN haul your own trash down and sling it into that garbage truck! I have been laughing so hard and enjoying this, I had to call my son and tell him every detail." I just smiled and introduced myself and told her that I usually do not climb on trash trucks. It was a new adventure.

 She became one of my favorite people. Years would go by and now and then she would say, "Debbie...remember that day when the trash men..." yep, refused to take my refuse. I am certain that I won her over that day, by providing such a crazy encounter with the Trash Truck. But it goes without saying: one person's trash mishap is another person's pleasure.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Moving takes guts.

Moving takes guts. Truly. No matter what the circumstances...first home, newly built home, eviction, foreclosure, downsizing, retirement is hard stuff. Packing up all your belongings and memories in a box is like peeling off a layer of your soul. Oh sure, new adventures await, but it is a bit like being off balance. Familiar surroundings is a big deal in life. Routines bring a calm and steady dimension to ourselves. I know this to be true, for I have moved a fact every circumstance I referenced above I have lived.

Have you ever driven by a former home? It is nice to try on the overcoat of yesterdays, just for size. I found out the house where I raised my kids is for sale. So...I did what every nosy female does: I called the number on the sign. I got to hear this nice stranger telling me about a place I knew intimately. He described the new landscaping. I pictured the tree house that used to be in the Magnolia tree. He described the privacy fence and I counted kids from the neighborhood squaring up before home plate. And I know that the new energy efficient updates are grand; but I savored the warmth that four energetic kids brought into the house after sledding. Yes, as he mentioned that the property was a "must see" I was seeing Christmas mornings, and birthday parties. I saw spilled milk and anxious nights with sick kids. I saw marks on the wall where we had measured growing sons and remembered artwork on the fridge. New carpet throughout? Cool. But the stained stuff was unnoticed by giggling kiddos rolling around on the floor with their Basset Hound. "Very homey." Well of course. Why else would two little girls beg for 'rockins' (being rocked in the old wooden rocker) if it wasn't homey? Curb appeal? Yeah, the curb was very appealing when I sat down and watched them get off the bus.

The kids know the house is for sale. We may go buy and see it. I may even come clean and tell the seller, "We aren't in the market for a new home, but we are hungry to see the old one." And I can imagine we will tell story after story, and recall this and that as we walk through the place. It might happen. But no matter where we move to and from, it is not the address that makes a home. Nope. We carry that within our souls. Home is a state of being and if we are really rich, we realize that the location of our shelter doesn't matter. So, if you are moving, be brave. It will be fine. Oh....and welcome home.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Oh, you're fine."

I'm kinda liking how folks are telling each other that we're 'fine'.
You person gets in the other's way and says, "Oh, I'm sorry!" and the other guy says, "Oh you're fine." How nice! It is good to wake up and amble through the day and have perfect strangers reaffirm our 'fineness'. 'Fine' is a very safe word. I grew up saying, "That's fine" which is an impersonal way of addressing a situation. Or, I might storm out of a room after a directive was given, and scream, Fine!!" Once, when I was in high school, I walked by a guy and heard him say, "Now she is fine!" It's my blog so I can lie and say that he directed that comment towards me. But you know, sometimes 'fine' is the word we reach for out of our bag of answers, when asked point blank, "How are you?" "Fine." It's much simpler than saying, "Well, I'm heartbroken." Or "The test indicates cancer."  Or, "I didn't get the job." It is fine to say you are fine. Sometimes. Recently, I was in the pet food aisle of the grocery. I was waiting for this lady to move her cart and just stood. She looked up and burst out with "Oh...I am so sorry." No big deal for me. I was in no hurry to lug 25 pounds of dog food off the top shelf. So, I replied, "'re fine." And that is when the exchange got creepy. This gal walks over and peers directly in my eyes and challenges me: "Am I REALLY fine?" She was serious. I was scared. I was not going to question anyone's sanity over cat litter. So...I backed up my cart, smiled sweetly and as cheerfully as I could replied, "You're just fine by me!" And then I fled to the frozen food aisle. Now this entire exchange made me think about telling perfect strangers that they are fine, when indeed they are kooks! But that's okay. I've been told I was fine, when I wanted to retort, "Oh-- I am SO far from fine!!" But what would that have solved? So folks, I say, let's just keep on playing nice and treating one another with kindness. And in the end, it really will be fine.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Not all sisters are created equal

Not all sisters are created equal. one sis enjoyed owning a ski boat and an RV. My oldest sister got to drive around the Windy City in a Lotus Europa. I still remember the slogan that came with it:"If you don't know what it is, you won't know how to drive it." Heck-I don't even know how to spell it, so driving it was not an option. fate was driving a Volare station wagon, complete with a tail gate that was propped up with a broom stick. It had no heat in the winter (yeah...I live in Indiana) and the stupid car had car doors that froze open. Ummm, yeah. No typo there: froze OPEN. What car door freezes open? One morning, after dropping the baby off at the sitter, and taking another kid to daycare, I had the dubious pleasure of straining to hold my frozen-open car door closed, as I made my motherly rounds before facing second graders. The Volare and I had a violent morning. It is hard work steering in the snow while battling the inertia of a windswept door. Corners were the worst. It got away from me a time or two and more than one person gasped to see me motoring along with my door open in freezing temperatures. But let me tell you now...I won. Yep. Steered that car into my driveway, got out, slammed the door open and did what any woman would do. I picked up a ratchet that my spouse had left laying around since spring, and broke out a headlight. Felt so good, broke out the other one. Freud was right; catharsis is energizing. So....with my lil' ratchet in tow, I pummeled the hood. A lot. Looked like hail. Or hell. I can't really tell you I am proud of my behavior, but I never had to explain it. Never traded that Volare. Nope. It became one of those demolition derby vehicles. I mean...I had primed it for such destiny, right? Just ask my sisters; to this day I am not allowed near any of their vehicles with a ratchet. Go figure.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Mother's Day rich in laughter, stories, silly pranks

A Mother's Day rich in laughter, stories, silly pranks--all laced in love. Kids racing around, truths revealed, special gifts and tears. This mother is rich beyond measure as the celebration of motherhood melts into reality. An hour ago I watched my youngest son leave the nest for the big dream in L.A. Perhaps that is the true measure of motherhood....when they need you no longer. A bit tough to celebrate when his hug's warmth is so fresh. And I am truly content that my role of 'mothering' has done its work and the four kids are grown, happy, and independent. And I celebrate this even though I do so through my tears. When I asked him if he would call me tonight and let me know how far he drove today and he shook his head no. And I laughed. Why? Because I am fine if he does or doesn't call. I'm a mother. And I'm tough. And so very, very blessed. (I also know his 3 siblings will be calling and texting him all the way. And that is what truly makes me admire my kids: the way they love one another). Happy After Mother's Day, indeed.

The newspaper shares disheartening news.

The newspaper shares disheartening news. Facebook reveals some rants and raves. The television conjures up fear for ratings. How nice it is to have a goofy dog like Max who bounds into your morning with such enthusiasm for the day and sheer joy that I am (finally) awake. He smiles with his entire body and wags his tail with such vigor it sweeps away every negative thought. How blessed we are to have animals who balance out humanity. Thoughts on a lovely Wednesday.

I don't quite get this 'swag' thing.

I don't quite get this 'swag' thing. Does it come a kind of curtain that dips down? Is it like the walk someone imitates from an old western? Does it mean you're part of a group? Does it stand for something like: Single Women Are Great? Seeds Will Actually Grow? Sexy Wrinkles Are Gorgeous! If someone says, "I've got my swag on" does this mean they are wearing deodorant, underwear, or cologne? Or does it mean they have attached a new persona to their old tired self? So help me out. If I should have a swag, please connect me to the Swag Guru. I don't want to be the only 'swag-less' girl in this big world.