Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy Birthday

John Edward Crews would have been 93 yesterday, had he not died in early December, 1984, shortly before his 70th birthday. He never saw me graduate from college or get my law degree or make it to a successful and happy marriage. But I hear his voice in my head whenever I do something good or right. He always tells me I'm a good girl.

We shared no DNA, no blood in our veins, but I pride myself on being his daughter. I look for characteristics within myself that mirror those in him. Once, while searching for my birthmother, I learned that he had known her, she had been a patient of his practice. I got this notion that maybe he was my father and that it had been covered up all those years. In response to my question of whether he was my birthfather, he replied, "No, but I wish I had been."

He was known by various names: Doodle to his sons, Daddy to me, Pakum ("PAH-kuhm") to his beloved grandsons, Dr. Crews to his friends, Jay to Mother, and Jake (for his initials, JEC) to his brothers and sister. He left the house at 6:00 a.m. every day to make rounds at Florida Sanitarium & Hospital. He would usually arrive home at 11:00 p.m. My sophomore year in high school I had to catch the bus at 6:00 a.m. and he'd drive me two miles to the shopping center where the bus would pick me up. We'd sit in the car and talk for ten minutes. That was the most time I ever spent with him in my life, and I loved every minute of it.

He always stood up for me. We lived on Lake Maitland, and my brothers, five and seven years older than I, were avid and skilled water skiers. But they couldn't be bothered with their little sister. Daddy would always make sure they gave me a chance to go skiing, and frequently on his Wednesday afternoons off, he'd pilot the boat to pull me around the lake.

He was an avid antique collector and patients would frequently tell him of a clock or a fabulous chandelier that he needed to see. My clock collection and the gorgeous light fixtures in my living and dining rooms are constant reminders of his good taste.

He was an impeccable dresser. The walk-in closet in the house my parents built in 1951 had skinny drawers just to hold all his ties. He collected old cars. We had, at various times, a 1915 Model T, a 1927 Model A, and a 1938 Chevy that he had restored and upgraded with rolled-and-pleated leather upholstery in the trunk and a Corvette engine under the hood. Recently I spoke to an old boyfriend from high school who said, "I should have paid more attention to Dr. Crews' daughter than to his cars."

He turned into a different person when his grandsons were born. Never were two children more cherished and loved than by this man who had been so busy and absent through his children's early lives. When Tyler was born and had many health problems, Daddy would leave the office early three days a week and stop by my house to just hold and rock and observe Tyler. After Terry and I moved to Texas and then divorced, Daddy made it a point to call them every Saturday morning, to maintain their special relationship across the miles. When Scott/TJ was around two, Daddy drove a Chevy Blazer and would always have Scott sit on the elevated console between the two front seats. He called it the "Buddy Seat." (Long before the days of mandatory seat belts!) He loved teaching them to fish and taking them for rides on the lawn tractor at the cottage on Lake Mabel.

You wonder how I stay so energized and keep so many projects going. Here was my model: After a long day standing over the operating room table, Daddy would relax by overstimulation. He would sit on the recliner in his den, jazz on the stereo, a ball game on the TV, and a crossword puzzle in his lap.

When Daddy was a small child, he got tonsillitus. His parents were too poor to have his tonsils removed, so it developed into rheumatic fever and severely damaged his heart. His first heart attack came at age 58. He ultimately died of heart disease.

The three quotes that I remember the most were these:

1) "Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see." (I always thought this was directly from his mouth. Years later I learned that the quote is variously attributed to Will Rogers or Mark Twain. Now as I Google it, I learn the actual quote is: "Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear." The author is Dinah Mulock Craik, a British author and poet, who wrote these words in 1858.

2) "The two biggest obstacles a child has to growing up are his parents."

3) "You may be right." (Ever the diplomat, when someone said something to him that he thought was laughable, stupid or downright wrong, he would gently say, "You may be right.")

And I'll leave you with more words from Dinah Mulock Craik, from her novel "A Life for a Life", published in 1859.

Oh, the comfort --
The inexpressible comfort of feeling
safe with a person,
Having neither to weigh thoughts,
Nor measure words -- but pouring them
All right out -- just as they are --
Chaff and grain together --
Certain that a faithful hand will
Take and sift them --
Keep what is worth keeping --
and with the breath of kindness
Blow the rest away.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

How Bad Do You Feel?

I had an appointment to get my hair color tuned this morning and I sat there with cough drops in my pocket and Kleenex in my lap and a water bottle at my right hand.

Then my friend Shawn Campbell called, asking if I wanted to come play in her closet to help her decide what to wear for the New Year's Eve Moveable Musical Feast at Arizona Inn. Playing in Shawn's closet is one of my favorite things to do. She has impeccable taste, can find exquisite garments on sale like no one I've ever met, and had this little size 2 body. She trusts my eye and my knowledge of fabric and craftsmanship, so we have great fun together. She heard my voice when I answered the phone and said, "never mind". If I would turn down a chance to play dress-up with Shawn, you know I'm sick.

If you'll excuse me, I'll go back to the couch and Mahler Six.

P.S. To add insult to injury, — err, illness — the rain made my pipes back up. There's gunk in the tub and the plumber can't come until Tuesday. Yuck!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Memories of Lives Past

As I sit here on my bed waiting for my NyQuil to kick in and tossing spent Kleenex on the floor, two memories come whirling at me.

First, the tossing of spent Kleenex onto the floor is something I picked up from my daddy. If you don't know, I adored my daddy. He made me think I had some intrinsic value. No one else, until John Ross, gave me that sense. Daddy had severe hay fever (as we called it in those days). I can remember his lying on the bed, head propped up on a pillow, white handkerchief lying at the ready on his chest, waiting for the next sneeze or blowing of his nose. And what a nose he had! My brothers joke about being glad they didn't inherit Daddy's schnoz.

I was talking to my friend, Bill, in Fredericksburg, VA, last night. He has two grown daughters whom he adores, and the feeling is mutual. I've been with him in various European cities as he bought gifts for his daughters. All I can say is "Wow"! The man has a gift for giving. In the course of our conversation last night, he asked how my mother is doing and when I might come east again. I shared with him how I don't enjoy my visits to my mother. I call her daily and visit her once or twice a year because it's the right thing to do. Truthfully, I am relieved when she doesn't answer my morning calls because she's out shopping or walking or whatever. Whenever I spend more than 48 hours with her, I'm thirteen years old again, gawky and dumb, ugly & incompetent. But it was never that way with my daddy. And Bill and his daughters share a similar bond. Is it the opposite sex parent bond?

So to the other memory that came to me so strongly tonight and made me laugh out loud. Do you know the plural of Kleenex? This is such a classic John Ross-ism. I'll tell you after TJ and Ty weigh in — I want to know if they remember this at all. It's one of a whole basketful of warm memories of a joy-filled man.

Another Day, Another Nickel

I guess I should check in, although I'm still feeling pretty puny today. Headache, sore throat, coughing — all that head cold nastiness. But I'm at work, even though I would rather be home in bed. I'm out of sick leave (my company only gives us 40 hours a year, and those were all gone two weeks ago), and if I'm not here, I don't get paid.

Yesterday we had a fabulous rainstorm. (When one lives in the desert, every rainstorm is pretty fabulous.) My roof leaked. I called the home warranty company, who kindly informed me the roof wasn't covered on my policy. Then I called — who else — Frank. He came over an hour later, looked at the leak, told me the problem, then came back this morning and fixed it.

There's something good, I think, about having an ex-suitor come over to fix something. That's the fact that I didn't fix myself up for his arrival. I had showered in the morning, thinking I would go to work, then got back in my jammies and crawled back into bed. When he arrived around 3:00, I was still in jammies in bed. I didn't brush my hair or anything, and just stayed clad in the Very Unattractive Victoria's Secret gray t-shirt jammies. Even stripped off my top to reveal a camisole with no bra underneath each time a hot flash hit me while he was there. And I didn't care what I looked like. Eureka!

This must be why all the ex-girlfriends maintain their friendships with him. He knows how to do everything around the house and does it cheerfully. I told him I'd have to take him out to dinner to thank him, and he said that could be arranged. I then called him a scoundrel. Ah, but he does it so well!

Men! Can't live with them, can't live without them.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Meant to Be? Nah!

My subscription on Match expires today or tomorrow and I will not renew. So I thought I'd search one more time. Lo and behold, there was a man from work to whom I had been introduced six months ago by my CTG manager who thought we would really like each other. He also works with another dear friend of mine who transferred out here from Gaithersburg 15 years ago.

So I wrote him a note, asking if he remembered meeting me. I got a very disinterested note back from him (yeah, okay, so at least he responded) saying he did remember meeting me and was surprised I had found him on Match as he just joined in the last day or two.

This disinterested note matched his total lack of interest when we were introduced in the cafeteria.

Are we getting the feeling that Tucson is not my home?

I'm home sick today with bad sore throat, coughing, and general cold junk. To add injury to illness, Marcello just bit my leg. Waaah. Nobody wants me.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Okay, Kiddies, you've been good lately so I'll tell you two stories today.

First, from Short Stories and Nightmares:

Frank and I were talking recently about the power of words, and how people can say cruel things to their friends and lovers that just live on and on.

On my 22nd birthday, way back in 1972, I took the day off of work and spent the day sewing for myself. I made the cutest little shorts set. (I weighed about 125 pounds at the time.) It was a sage green cotton knit with white 1" high anchors knit into the fabric, spaced about 2-3" apart. This memory is so strong I can still picture the fabric. The pattern was a sleeveless tunic top with a pointed sailor collar and round neck. The hem of the tunic top left about an inch of the shorts exposed. The shorts were very short, but cute, not revealing, not by any means indecent. I don't know how to do indecent — didn't then, don't now.

The following Saturday my husband of nine months and I were running errands I was proudly wearing my new outfit, and hopped out of the car at the Maitland post office to drop a letter in the slot. When I got back in the car, he said to me, "You look like a slut."

End of story, but I remember every moment of that incident 34.5 years ago, and remember how horribly hurt I was that this man to whom I had pledged my life could be so cruel to and judgmental of me.

As I told this story to Frank, he popped right back with, "Hey, do you still have that outfit. I wanna see you in it." Ah, I do love being around men who possess a sense of humor.
- - -
And from Short Stories and Warm Memories:

This morning Marcello tucked himself in the small of my back as I was waking up, and in a flash I was back on Lamont Street and Irving Street in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, DC. John and I were together. He would get up at 5:00 on Saturday and Sunday mornings to go either to Andrews Air Force Base or Hidden Creek Country Club for his "oh-dark-thirty" tee time with Dicky or Dennis.

We always slept spooned together, John in back with his left arm wrapped around me. As he got up, he would take his down pillow, smoosh it up, and tuck it into the small of my back to replace his belly against my back. He knew that I could then go on sleeping while he went off to tackle eighteen holes.

Wonderful, warm memories of a man who knew how to live life with great gusto.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Wise Man Came From the East

Okay, so three miles to the ENE. On Christmas day my phone didn't ring once, until 7:00 when Mr. Match called to see what I was doing! He came over, we had a couple of drinks. Go figure.

I had not seen him since September 25th. Is this the new definition of three-month relationship for my life? I meet someone, get involved with him, then don't hear from him for three months? Ouch.

Oh, by the way, it was wonderful to see him. I thought I had no more feelings. Oops. I still have feelings. I accused him of carrying his broom everywhere he goes — to sweep me off my feet.

Watch this space . . . .

Monday, December 25, 2006

Some Assembly Required

Y'know those Christmas toys and gadgets that come with enormous instruction pamphlets, frequently translated from the Japanese? You sit on the floor surrounded by parts and tools, trying desparately to figure out how to assemble the new item that's going to enhance your life or the lives of your loved ones. At the end of the instruction pamphlet is a toll-free number you can call to reach a help desk manned by caring individuals who will hold your hand while you enable this new device.

I've decided men should be like that. Men should come with a help desk of former girlfriends who can listen to your woes and say, "Yes, you're right on the money with that assessment of what he's doing or why he's doing it."

I got a haircut on Saturday afternoon, administered by a woman who had dated Frank several years ago. This haircut came the day after he had told me he found someone new. She nodded her head in assent to everything I said about him, and tossed in a few observations of her own that I hadn't previously seen.

I think there should be informal organizations, maybe a listserv, for new love interests of confirmed bachelors. Get the information you need fast, without suffering through two or three months of investing your heart in a man who will then throw it away like yesterday's newspaper.

Of course I have to follow this with the fact that he called me on Sunday morning to see if I wanted to go to breakfast. (He got a new sports car and was looking for excuses to take it out for a spin.) Fortunately I had the babies with me and we were already breakfasting by the time he called, so it was a non-issue. But really, what was that about? Are you bored, your new honey isn't available, so you call Good Ol' Jan? Fuhgeddaboutit.

You made your decision. Now live with it.

And a ho ho ho to you.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Greener Grass

The worst trait a man can possess is the tendency to move on to the next relationship before dealing with the one at hand. Please. Treat me with courtesy. Either decide that what we have is working or not, is earmarked to move forward or not, and communicate that with me — face to face, preferably — before hooking up with someone else.

I will give Frank points for telling me to my face that he had found someone else. Unlike the Lemonade Tycoon who broke up with me in an e-mail. Oh right, Frank doesn't e-mail and doesn't know how to text message, so those weren't threats!

I gave him a piece of advice before he left: take your on-line profiles down or hide them. Don't keep implicitly telling her that you think there's someone better out there. He looked at me like he didn't believe me. I think he really doesn't get it.

Oh well, that would be her problem now, not mine. Right?

Bless Tyler's heart for solicitously calling me last night to make sure I was okay. During our conversations yesterday I told him a story I'll pass along here now. A couple of weeks ago the babies and I were at Frank's house. As we left, they rolled down the windows and signed "I love you" and called out, "Bye, Frank. Love you. Love you." He couldn't even say "love you" back. C'mon. They're five and three years old. You're not making a commitment to them. In a month they'll be gone and you'll probably never see them again. In six months, they won't even remember your name. What would it hurt you to say "I love you" to sweet, beautiful babies?

Please tell me what it says about a man who can't reply in kind to open hearts?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Can You Spell Schmuck

I was so right on. He's started seeing a woman in his neighborhood. He had mentioned her before and I guess when he went to the neighborhood party last Saturday night while I was singing, something went right.

His loss.
Zero for Four
or Four for Four?

I was cleaning out my inbox today while killing time at the office and realized that a year ago this time I was looking forward to my getaway to Silver City to meet Mike Correll, the first of the three-month relationships that defined 2006.

What an awe-full and strange year this has been. May 2007 not be a repeat!
Emotion of the Day: Disgust

Is "disgust" an emotion? Is there a list somewhere of certified emotions?

Frank finally called this morning and said he wanted to see me in person. Uh oh. That can only mean one thing. We're done.

My disgust is with men who say they want one woman but are unwilling or unable to settle down with one woman for even two weeks to see where that relationship is going to go. I maintain that you cannot test one relationship while you're constantly cruising online sites looking for others.

So now I'm heading into the darkest month of my life — try to fill every moment with memories before the babies leave — with no emotional support from a significant other. Guess I'll have to stand on my own two feet, huh?

Oh well, it's been done before. Guess I can do it again.

Who makes Kleenex? I need to buy stock!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

And the Heat Goes On

I saw a Pi Phi friend last night and we got to talking about (what else?) hot flashes. She is nine years older than I and went off estrogen three years ago. She told me she is just now having days with no episodes. Three years! To hell with those women who croon, "Oh, I never had one hot flash."

Tyler asked me last week what a hot flash is like. I gave him a subsequent explanation, but have now amended that description to this: Imagine standing in a grocery store refrigerator case and then, in a heartbeat, racing outside to a typical Tucson 115 degree summer day. Stand there for 3 minutes, then run back inside and, instead of going into the refrigerator case, go stand in the freezer for 10 minutes. Return to refrigerator case. Repeat every 30-60 minutes all day long. Oh, and wake at 4:00 or 4:30 a.m. burning up to start the whole process over again for another day.

Jan, whose malfunctioning internal thermostat causes her to be dressed in five layers today to flash back and forth between a freezing cold office and her own personal summer.
The Rest of the Dream

For ten years I've been self-critical for not being able to pass the bar. There was always a reason, some excuse why I couldn't focus for the two-three months necessary to prepare for this horrific exam. Once I had just lost my job. Another time Scott/TJ had just been sent home from the Merchant Marine Academy to learn how to study; he was living with me and Tyler was home from Interlochen preparing for a year in Germany. Another time I had just gotten married (#3). Another time I was working full-time and trying to study at night. And so on. And so forth. The last time I was scheduled to take the bar, D.C. that time, John was diagnosed with cancer and the rest of that life is history.

So part of my new dream is being able to study for the Ohio bar, learning how to write an essay exam properly, passing, and then having a small practice — a couple of wills and trust documents and contracts a week — and doing pro bono work for the less fortunate.

It's my dream. I can make it as complex or unrealistic as I want, huh?!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Fairy Tales Can Come True . . .

And I do believe I'm young at heart, as the song says.

I've started having a [day]dream. It involves this fabulous house in Youngstown and running a bed & breakfast (which I've done before, if you didn't know) and having a space to throw elegant parties for arts organizations or host weddings or sponsor fiber art workshops.

The house was built in 1955 by members of the Wick family, who were influential in finance and steel in Youngstown's heyday. The design is inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and sits on 10 acres a mile away from our friends, Ron and Marcia Gould.

<Sidebar on>
Ron Gould was Tyler's mentor and dear friend during Tyler's four years at Youngstown State. Ron and Marcia consider Tyler their fourth son. I asked what Boston called Ron and Marcia when the Clarks stayed with the Goulds for their house-hunting trip. Tyler said the babies had heard their parents talk about "Ron and Marcia Gould" so much, that Ron was "Ron" and Marcia was "Marcia Gould". Ah, my babies.
<Sidebar off>

Anyway, back to my dream. I bought my lottery ticket tonight. ;-)
Easy Come, Easy Go

I just searched on "easy" through the life of this blog and spent a few interesting minutes rereading old posts. I started this blog on July 1st. Boy, a lot has happened in 5-1/2 months, huh?

I didn't hear from Frank yesterday, which felt very strange. But when I called him on Monday afternoon, we chatted for four or five minutes and he seemed very distracted. So I determined not to call him on Tuesday. Of course I immediately jump to the conclusion that he's found someone else to take his interest away from me.

I think the longer one dates, the more relationships one is into and out of, the easier it is to break it off, and the less deeply invested one gets in a relationship. Anyway, I think that's what I think. I may have to mull this over for a while.

This is the fourth three-month relationship I've had this year. I don't like that. I don't want to be somebody's date — I want to be somebody's Girlfriend.SignificantOther.Lover.Partner. And I think I figured something else out (along with everything else I've been thinking I've got figured out lately): I think I should not count on a handful of dates turning into a relationship until the man in the equation hides his profile or removes it. Oh, and by the way, I'm not ever never doing online dating again. I'm done.

Only the Lemonade Tycoon hid his profile after he started dating me. (And that without discussion, so I don't really know what drove him to hide it.) NoseHair from El Paso and Mr. Match and Frank all still had profiles out long after they were spending time every day on the phone with me and, in the case of Mr. Match and Frank, having three or five or seven dates a week with me. Frank checks his profile on Yahoo and Cupid every morning, and (I just learned this weekend) also goes and searches on Match to see who's new and might require his attention. (Okay, that last statement about why he searches on Match — that's just my interpretation. WhoTF knows why he does this. He's got me, for God's sake. Why isn't that enough to satisfy his curiosity about women for a while.)

I'm pondering Washington, DC. I'm pondering Youngstown. I'm pondering Cave Junction, Oregon. And many other cities. I saw (online) a fabulous Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home in Youngstown yesterday that I would kill, absolutely kill to own and relish living in. If I sold the mountain property, I could afford it.

So that makes me wonder if it's only the men in Tucson who are stoopid about relationships and love and recognizing a good women when they see her. I think Washington is too big and overwhelming to find someone, and men there are all about their careers and getting ahead. How about the Midwest? I wonder if men in the Midwest would be different, more self-assured, more capable of being satisfied with a bird in the hand. (I can't wait to hear what my friend 1800-miles-to-the-north has to say about this!)

My darling DIL describes herself on her blog as having "Midwestern roots". Maybe there's something to be said for that.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It's Not Just Me

I'm suffering horribly (to me) from, errr, power surges. I know there are far worse things to suffer from — cancer, for one. But this is my life right now and it's miserable.

My doctors have told me to take black cohosh, which I paid big bucks for and have been taking religiously three times a day for several weeks. No change. No improvement. I thought it was just me. Then I picked up the paper this morning while waiting for my car to be serviced, and read this about black cohosh: it's "practically ineffective".

Looks like I'm just SOL and will have to live with these blasted (get the pun?) occurrences until they subside in a year or so! I am not happy!
I Beg to Differ

In today's Composer's Datebook:

Even though Stravinsky is on record stating that "music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all," in his Symphony of Psalms . . .

I think music is eminently powerful and eloquently expresses emotion, whether in the Symphony of Psalms or in anything else. I think it's the rare piece of music that doesn't evoke a memory of previous hearings or previous performances. Tears well up in my eyes when I hear and/or sing the National Anthem. I have to fight choking up when I sing "libera cas de ore leonis, ne absorbeat eas tartarus, ne cadant in obscurum" in the Mozart Requiem. (If you're not up on your Latin, it translates to:

[Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory,
deliver the souls of all the faithful
departed from the pains of hell and from the bottomless pit.]
Deliver them from the lion's mouth.
Neither let them fall into darkness
nor the black abyss swallow them up.

I could just sob every time I sing that. And the In Paradisum from the Fauré Requiem sends me to paradise.

I think Stravinsky got it wrong on this one.

Monday, December 18, 2006

On Being in Control

I'm feeling like there's no part of my life I'm in control of. (Okay, all you objectors, I know the feeling is irrational, but it's my feeling, so shut up.)

My job as a contractor could go away faster than you can say "budget cut". My financial situation, with three mortgages and my tenants paying below-market rent, could have me selling my house and moving to a trailer faster than you can say "I don't believe in bankruptcy". And my love life. Well, he's checkin' out women on Match and Cupid and Yahoo every morning, even though he's seeing me three or four or six times a week and talking to me several times a day.

On the issue of control, I refer you to an earlier post. That post was written two weeks before I told Mr. Match to figure out what he wanted and let me know. (By the way, that still hasn't happened. He calls every couple of weeks and says, "we need to talk." We still haven't talked.)

I've been thinking of asking Frank to amend his behavior, to give me a break and let me be his girlfriend for the next six weeks, during this difficult time when I'm preparing for the departure of my kids. And by girlfriend, I mean, "Quit looking around for somebody else. Be content with me." I don't need for him to quit all the social engagements he has with his entourage. I just need to know, for a brief period of time, that I'm not going to be supplanted. I would like to have one single thing in my life that is good and that I can depend upon.

But as I stand in the shower and ponder this, I don't like that I need to be in control. I don't like controlling women.

And what does Frank's leaving his profile online and checking every morning to see who's looked at him say about his need to be in control. I know he's happy with what we've got going on. But somehow it doesn't meet his needs. Go figure.

Can I live through the next six weeks with every single aspect of my life in flux? I guess I'll try. But too much flux is not a good thing, as any solderer will tell you!
Jingle, Jingle

I was greatly relieved to sing the last "jingle" yesterday. But I have to admit that by the third performance, I was enjoying "Little Bolero Boy". I doubt I will ever again be able to listen to either "Bolero" or "Little Drummer Boy" without thinking of the other sing.

There was much more tomfoolery happening at yesterday's concert. There were six or eight red Santa Claus hats in the orchestra. (Still no ho ho ball cap on Jeremy Reynolds' cute bald head. He said the cap belongs to Tish Bryant and she forgot to bring it. I think I'm going to have to Google around for another of these caps to gift to Jeremy as he wears it so well.) During "We Need a Little Christmas", Bruce prompted the chorus to salute the conductor at the point in the song where we're singing "We need a little music conducted by our maestro." It was totally unexpected by Maestro Michael Hall and he laughed and grinned at us, then applauded us when it was over. During intermission, some members of the brass and winds sections borrowed hats from the mariachis. Then during the 73rd verse of Feliz Navidad, the hats appeared on the heads of these musicians and, during the final 16 measures, they stood up to make their hats obvious. There was also a mariachi hat strategically placed on top of the harp. (I'm sure there's a technical term for these enormous hats, but I don't know what it is.) We were playing to a sold-out house (yea!) and everybody in the house, whether on stage or in the audience, seemed to be having a good time.

For your reading pleasure, I leave you with yesterday's review in the Washington Post of Saturday afternoon's Christmas concert at the Kennedy Center by the Washington Chorus.

<Soapbox on>
I've learned from friends in D.C. that the board handed Bob Shafer a script from which he was to give his closing remarks. He — wisely — read about two sentences from the script, then spoke eloquently from his heart. My heart aches for this dear friend who has been through hell this year. He is gifted and talented and deserves so much better treatment than what he's received from this board.
<Soapbox off>
Favorite Quotes

I love reading and listening to books to hear how different authors use words. So much cleverness!

I've just finished listening to Mozart, a biography by Peter Gay. In describing the story of Mozart's opera Don Giovanni, he writes:

Half inclined, half tempted by the Don's smooth persuasions — no composer ever excelled Mozart in setting ambivalence to music — she ponders his promise to marry her, starts to go off with him, but is saved by Donna Elvira and will eventually secure his forgiveness.

I recommend this highly interesting book about a genius musician.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Santa, Part Two

Last night's concert was more upbeat, from my seat on the third row behind the orchestra. Only two chorus members showed up after 7:00, so Bruce didn't need to harangue us. And there were no wardrobe malfeasances. My favorite tenor, Brad, wore hoop earrings (in both ears, thank you very much) with small gold Christmas trees hanging from each hoop. And a large brooch on his lapel featuring a champagne glass with pearl bubbles overflowing the glass. He had enough bling for all the women.

Frank came over for a drink after the concert. Just when I think I have everything figured out, I realize I don't have one single thing in the universe assessed correctly. Ho ho hum.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Here Comes Santa Claus

The concert last night was technically fine. It was our de facto dress rehearsal — the first time we ran through the full program start to finish.

In years past, the orchestra members always showed up with lots of holiday finery. Jeremy Reynolds, clarinet, has a great Ho-ho-ho ball cap he wears, missing last night. There were always other Santa hats and big sparkley earrings and red this and green that. The horns tended to string Christmas lights across their stands.

This year? Almost nothing. The chorus members were allowed to deviate from the standard pearls for this concert, and some went wayyyy out there. One of the basses showed up with some sort of red and gold ascot that he didn't really know how to tie. A tenor (no, he's straight; he's just strange) had a large (probably 6" scross) plastic poinsettia blossom pinned to his lapel. A soprano showed up with a red velvet jacket (what part of "black" don't you understand?) and then had to wear her black coat throughout the performance after Bruce took her aside. And in the Green Room beforehand, Bruce went on a tirade because 40% of the singers don't understand that a 7:00 call means 7:00 is when you're supposed to be butts-in-seats, not approaching the music hall! Each person who walked through the door after 7:05 got the same lecture about 7:00 means 7:00.

I asked Shawn Campbell, friend and fourth horn and Director of Education and Community Programs for TSO, what had happened. Had someone told them to tone it down this year? She said no, she figured everyone was just too busy.

But I have my own take on it. It think Jacki Sellers and Vivi Cumplido and all the others who took leave this year must have been the ringleaders and the musicians with the most joie de vivre. And now that they're gone, there's much less joie.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Ho ho ho.
Dense, Not Dumb

I finally get it. I finally get it!

Frank is looking for something, and it ain't me. For all his protestations that he always alienates the women he's interested in and that he doubts he'll ever get into a committed relationship again, that he doesn't think he can open himself up to that pain again, he's looking. He has profiles on and and checks them every day.

I put a profile back on Match and Yahoo for this weekend only. This is my last attempt. On Sunday night I'll take them down and simply forget about it — let nature take its course. Well, in the first 12 hours out in dating cyberspace, guess who was the only man who looked at my profile. Right. Frank.

[Friday evening and night are usually really active times on dating sites. Guys who are home alone tend to go out and look at every available woman. For me, last night, nada.]

For two months he treated me like his girlfriend. At least I assume that's how he treats a girlfriend. It was wonderful. He's funny, fun, thoughtful, considerate, affectionate. Wow — when he decides someone is his girlfriend, is she gonna be a lucky girl!

So here's the deal. I may be dense, but I'm not dumb. This thing with Frank — it's been enjoyable; it hasn't been real. Aaah, but it was fun while it lasted.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Further on Surviving

. . . and pick up my dry cleaning (so I have a black skirt to wear tonight) and take the car for service and take the cats for booster shots and . . . . (You get the idea of what this week has been like.)

Personal note to Eileen: We love Michael Hall. He knows where the downbeat is and communicates it clearly. What a concept!
Surviving Hell Week

My greatest desire as I lie in bed this morning trying to wake up is for the Clutter Fairy to come in here while I'm at work today and make order of this chaos that has resulted from a week full of rehearsals and recovering from a cold.

One more programming note: Tucson Regional Ballet is performing five movements of A Southwest Nutcracker in the pops concert this weekend. It defies description. There are ocotillo, rattlesnakes, and the Prickly Pear Fairy. (But the dancers are skilled, talented, and the kids in the audience will love it.)
A Programming Note

My two most hated pieces of classical music are Ravel's Bolero and Pachelbel's Canon. Trite. Overplayed. Boring.

Tonight at dress rehearsal I saw "Little Bolero Boy" on the program. Imagine my horror when the orchestra started playing "Little Drummer Boy" set to the percussive background of "Bolero". My reaction: Yuck.

I love "Little Drummer Boy", being the mother of my own little drummer boy. But this puts a whole new spin on it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Serial Monogamists vs. the Still Singles, and Aloneness

I subscribe to Dr. Laura Berman's daily newsletter. Today she writes about serial monogamists and still singles.

This year has been about serial monogamy for me, although that's not what I'm seeking. I'm seeking that one good guy who wants to be part of my life for the rest of my life. With each new relationship, it seems "this might be the one". But it isn't. And that's distressing.

As with the difficulty of breaking up the first marriage relative to the ease of breaking up each subsequent marriage, the longer I go through this three-month relationship stage, the quicker I draw the limit on what I'll put up with.

Case in point. When I said to Frank (okay, we're a known number here now - can I please use his name rather than trying to remember his pseudonym?) on Friday that I wanted more, we had just been dating two months.

And we keep plodding along. I saw him on Sunday and we've spoken on the phone several times a day every day this week. And I'm quite fond of him. But he sends mixed messages and I'd like straight talk. Either you want me as a girlfriend or you don't. If you don't, just let go of me. One of my sick days this week, he offered to run to the store for me. I replied, "stop being nice to me."

When we spoke on Friday, he said, "you need to go out and find someone who can give you what you want." And I replied, "Forget it. I'm done. It's not happening. I give up."

Am I in the wrong city? Is Mr. Right-Now-and-Forever in Washington or Youngstown or some city-to-be-named-in-the-future? Am I just going to be alone for the rest of my life?

My dear friend-1800-miles-to-the-north wrote me this morning that he had a new appreciation for my complaints about being alone. His wife had been away for two days and he was faced with buying and preparing his own meals and eating alone and a long lonely night stretching ahead of him. (At least he didn't confess to eating his dinner standing over the sink, which I have been known to do.) If he thinks two days is difficult, he shouldn't try two months or two years.

I don't like alone. I don't like starting new relationships over and over again. I want Mr. Right. If my kids would give me a fully functioning crystal ball for Christmas, I would be one happy girl!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Thoughts for the Day

Today is the first day I've felt halfway decent in a week-and-a-half. When I look back through history, I tend to make life-changing decisions when I'm sick, as I've been this week. I basically broke up with the Gardener on Friday, but everything is continuing as it has been. When we were together on Saturday, he said, "nothing about me has changed." We had breakfast on Saturday, then hung out at my house for a few hours. He had breakfast with me and the babies on Sunday, then went with me to the Fourth Avenue Street Fair, and saved my grandma-butt when Boston started acting out and running away from me. After I dropped the babies back at home on Sunday, we had dinner and watched TV. He's been very solicitous during my illness. He's an incredible friend, if nothing else. (And has not asked to be included in the locked-down blog, so I can talk about him more freely.) ;-)

The bottom line for me is this: I want more. I want to belong in a relationship, I want to be someone's girlfriend. Am I not being true to myself if I continue with the Gardener the way things are? He has about five women friends with whom he does things socially-but-not-romantically (to the best of my knowledge). I don't want to be one of those women. When we cuddle on the couch in front of the TV, his arms wrapped around me, I don't want to think that he does that with other women. When he kisses me goodnight — quite nicely, thank you very much — I don't want to think that he kisses his women friends that way.

For today the relationship is plodding along as it has. It will change at some point, but I don't know in which direction it will change.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Okay, this blog is now open to invited guests only. I'll try to keep it interesting in exchange for your honoring me with your presence.

TSO Chorus is in Holiday Pops hell week. I have very little voice left from coughing up my lungs all day, so tonight's rehearsal was interesting, to say the least. It seems a third of the singers are sick or coughing. I'm hopeful we'll have enough voices for this fun concert on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Monday, December 11, 2006

And What's Wrong With That?

What's wrong with just enjoying time without worrying about the future is the risk of having my heart broken yet again? The more time I spend with the Gardener, the fonder of him I become. If he is just killing or filling time with me until he finds somebody better, somebody more to his liking, then how fond of him am I going to be by the time he finds That Perfect Woman, and how deeply hurt am I going to be when he turns from me to her?

Risky? Yes.
Scary? Yes.

I haven't posted for the last couple of days because I've been very sick with a cold. Today I'm somewhat better, but coughing horribly and suffering from an even greater occurrence of hot flashes. Tyler had his first exposure to my reactions to this internal combustion yesterday when I took the grandbabies home after a sleepover. We were standing in the living room talking, and suddenly I'm ripping off my jacket and excusing myself to go stand outside where it was cooler. I told him I had decided the universe was not created by a benevolent God, as no benevolent God would wish the horror of hot flashes on a woman who had diligently placed one foot in front of the other for 56 years, wishing no harm to anyone. So that leaves only "no God" or a God that is not benevolent.

I'm in the process of making the blog unfindable without a link or an invitation. I applied to several jobs in Washington over the weekend, and have been reading that employers Google job applicants . . . . I don't want anything I've posted on the Web to stand in the way of my finding the perfect fit job.

I spent quite a bit of the weekend with the Gardener, after thinking it was all over on Friday. Quite simply, I enjoy his company enormously. He's a helluva nice guy, thoughtful, considerate, helpful. Quite precious. If I don't know where I'm gonna be in six or twelve months, why does it matter if I don't know who I'm going to be there with? ('Scuse the bad grammer, but I think you get the gist of the statement.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Quitting While You're Ahead

I believe this blog has outlived its usefulness in cyberspace. I am going to remove it from public view, but will probably keep posting. If you're a regular reader and would like to continue reading, please e-mail me and I'll add you to the list of approved readers.
One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

It takes two to tango.
Tea for two and two for me, me for you and you for me.
It's a two-way street.

At what point in a relationship do you become a couple? I guess there's no hard-and-fast rule, no timetable.

I tend to move very easily into coupledom. I consider every activity I participate in, every invitation I accept, as a couple invitation, a couple event. True, I don't automatically accept for both of us. I check with the other person to see if he wants to participate. And I'd do that even if we were married or cohabiting. But the only invitation I'd accept alone would be my Girls' Night Out group that meets once a month.

So I am taken aback when my supposed partner accepts an invitation for a social event and tells me about it afterwards. Yes, it's my problem, not his. But it feels uncomfortable and jiggles, not rocks, my little world.

Oh, to be a part of a real twosome, not an imaginary one.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thin Skin is for Oranges

The anonymous comment the other day upset me so much that I considered briefly discontinuing this blog. Then for a while I was thinking about the utility of the blog. I started out writing about the horrors of online dating for the over-50 crowd. Since my family's decision to move away from Tucson, I've been overwhelmed with constant thoughts of who I am and where I'm going and haven't been obsessing about men and relationships.

As far as relationships go, I'm very content with what I've got going now. I don't know how content he is — we have too much else to talk about whenever we're together. However, as Tyler said to me regarding a previous man who was totally noncommunicative, "Mom, he keeps asking you out, so he must like you." I don't think he's gonna fall in love with me, but I think he's in like with me. If he's just killing time with me until something better comes along, I don't want to know about it. Please leave me alone in my blissful ignorance.

And as far as readers' reaction to things I write, there's a simple solution: if you don't like what you're reading, stop reading. You don't need to take a sledge hammer to my head. I do that well enough all by myself.

And yes, I do suffer from thin skin. My kids have been working on me for years to correct that physical defect. It's better. It ain't perfect. But it's better.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Daily Thought from

If you don't get everything you want, think of the things you don't get that you don't want.
— Oscar Wilde
Happy Birthday . . .

To TJ, my firstborn. He is smart, talented, curious about lots of things, hard on himself, and hardworking. Hmmm, sounds a lot like his mom, huh?

He was born 33 years ago today, about 10 minutes until 7 p.m., as I recall. It's been a pleasure to watch him grow up. Sometimes I think he lives on another planet, but he probably thinks the same thing about me, so there you go.

TJ/Scott, hope you have a great day.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hallelujah! Take Three

Whew! Another year of Messiah performances is done for TSOC.

This year, George was in rare form for the Halllujah encore. He turned around and conducted the audience, with occasional arm-waves back at various orchestral or choral parts for entrances. He encouraged the sopranos in the audience to higher and higher notes, and they all seemed to love it.

I'm rather conflicted about the audience singing along on the Hallelujah Chorus, but two people really got to me yesterday. One, a little lady, very simple in her appearance and demeanor, was sitting in the third row, center orchestra, house right. You could have lit a room on the darkest night with the beam from her face as she was singing. Another little lady, fifth row, center orch, house left, was quietly clapping along in rhythm as she sang. You could just tell by the look on her face that she was deriving great joy from this experience.

It is all about the music!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

What State Am I In?

Physically, I reside in the state of Arizona. Emotionally I'm somewhere between Arizona and D.C. and Ohio. But really, I'm in the state of confusion.

How can I expect any man to be seriously interested in me if I'm so conflicted about who I am and what I want to be when I grow up?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Lucky Ones

I want to have a 20th anniversary. Hell, I want to have a 30th anniversary, but I think I'm a little old to be starting now.

The lucky ones are those who can hang in there and make it work. To that end, I share with you today's Writer's Almanac.
Going Along to Get Along

I've been thinking about what it takes to get along in a relationship, to make it work (allow it to work?).

I tend to tuck my needs and wants away in order to have a relationship. I want to be accepted and loved — the Little Adoptee cries out, "please keep me".

With this cold weather, I've been remembering my third marriage where I moved into his home on 27 acres on the side of the Short Hill Mountain in western Loudoun County. I had the most wonderful cat I've had in all my life. Wolfie is the cat by whom all subsequent cats have been measured. But the Mountain Man said animals belonged outside, people belonged inside. (Hmmm, he liked to urinate outside in the woods, so does that make him animal or people?) When I was preparing to move out of my apartment, he informed me that Wolfie would live outside. I should have put my foot down, but I went along to get along.

The image I have in this cold weather is Wolfie sitting on the porch, scratching on the door, crying to come into the house. I would bundle up and go sit out on the porch with him to pet him and cuddle him. But I wouldn't bring him into the house. God forbid that I do something to cause someone to reject me again.

(Yes, I'm in therapy!)
(BTW, to level set you, this is the marriage where the son threatened to shoot me, and the Mountain Man said I took things too seriously.)
(BTW again, after we divorced and his daughter graduated from BYU and moved back home, they got two cats — who lived inside.)
(And yes, Wolfie's full name was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.)
Two Hallelujahs Down, Four to Go

Only one train wreck last night: Their Sound Has Gone Out. George tends to take this at the speed of light, and each section of the chorus chose its own tempo. But we all ended together and that's what counts, right?

Other than that, a full house, and tonight and Sunday are sold out.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Notes from a Tired Musician
(Didja catch that little pun?)

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm sick of singing Messiah. And since George always uses the Hallelujah Chorus as an encore, that means six — count 'em, six — Hallelujahs in the next 72 hours.

Thank TheUnknowable (with a wink to Tyler) that I'm not a first soprano having to hit all those As or Ds or whatever they are.

I never wish people ill, but I wish the Foghorn Leghorn tenor over my right shoulder would come down with laryngitis.

The Battle of the Sexes

I believe men and women think very differently about their attractiveness to members of the opposite sex.

I think women will look at a man and assess, based on various factors, whether or not he would be interested in her — whether or not she would stand a chance of getting something going with him. I think men see a pretty face (or shapely body) and set out to add it to their lists.

I will look at a man who is fit and buff and, after looking in my mirror in my mind, determine that he wouldn't be interested in me, who carries an extra 15 pounds around. I look at a man driving a high-priced car or with a very fine wardrobe and think he wouldn't be interested in someone who loves to make her own clothes and has a very eclectic wardrobe. I look at a man who is breathtakingly handsome and think he wouldn't be interested in plain ol' ordinary me.

Men, on the other hand . . . . Well, I can't tell you the number of e-mails I got when I was active on Match and other sites from men who had absolutely nothing in common with me, whose personal attributes were nowhere on my "what I'm looking for" list. Basically, if you have a pretty face and post a good photo, you'll get mail. Did you see the piece on CBS Sunday Morning a few weeks ago about photo manipulation, where the Photoshop geek in NYC opined that 100% of the photos on Match are digitally manipulated? (In NYC, that's probably true. In Tucson, fugedaboutit!)

Give me a man who is realistic, who can look at my profile or my lifestyle and say, "I would fit into that" or "That's not a good fit for me."

I don't care for reality TV (except Project Runway) but I do love reality.