Friday, May 30, 2008

Another Adventure

This morning I'm off to Fletcher/Hendersonville/Asheville, NC, to celebrate my mother's 95th birthday tomorrow. My two brothers and sister-in-law will be there, along with the wife of one of my cousins.

We'll have Sabbath dinner (translate: Sunday dinner) after church tomorrow. My sister-in-law has ordered a large cake to be served to all the residents of the retirement home. Then we'll go up to Mother's apartment, where we'll celebrate my brother Jerry's 65th birthday.

The babes and I are staying in a hotel near the Asheville airport to give us a little distance from the madness and a place to retreat if we get tired of yelling so Mother can hear. With her, it's never easy to know if it's a faulty hearing aid or simply an expression of her narcissism. Whatever. A hotel with an indoor pool and large guestroom is the perfect solution.

I'm hopeful that we'll drive up to the mountain cottage on Sunday. I spent so many happy hours there as a child and want my babies to run across those same fields.

(And yes, I am thinking of having my butt permanently attached to the driver's seat.)

And we're off . . . !

Thursday, May 29, 2008

How Many Lives Are You Living?

My friend Risa wrote the nicest note after my Monday visit. I was highly complimented by her words.

I really enjoyed your visit yesterday. You do so much, create so much, learn so much... it's like you're living 3 lives more than the rest of us.

I think I do want to lives lots of lives.

Birthday Girl

Happy 5th Birthday to our beautiful Ridley. You are truly one of a kind!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Back to Normal

I've been head-down since arriving back in Ohio. I neglected to let Faithful Readers know I was safely back at home.

Monday morning was another gorgeous day in DC. I picked up Lee and David, along with Charlie from L.A., who, I am sure, is a consummate scoundrel with the ladies. We went to Silver Diner for breakfast (yummy sweet potato and pecan pancakes), after which I dropped them back at the Westin and said good-bye.

Then I went to Risa's, where we sat on the patio in the fabulous weather and caught up on our lives for almost two hours.

After saying good-bye to Risa, I headed up to the old 'hood in Gaithersburg and had lunch and sudoku at Panera, gassed up the car, then started driving.

I had seen or been seen by a semi-retired architect on Match. He has business in Canton, OH, on a regular basis and lives north of Somerset, PA. He had suggested we meet in Somerset when I was driving through. So we spent an hour over a snack at Ruby Tuesday's, and then I headed home, arriving around 8:00.

The Architect is a nice man, nice looking, seemingly laid-back and quiet. He offered the story of how his marriage broke up. He came home to a note on the pillow and an absent wife.

I have heard a number of similar stories in my long and sordid dating history. Honestly, as these stories come back to mind, I wonder how men who have been burned in this manner can have any interest at all in dating.

Oooh, oooh. Did I just break the code? They really have no interest in dating, but they play at dating on the Internet so they can get back at the entire class of women?

I believe that's a question for better philosophers or psychologists than I.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

One More Beautiful Day

And here's the trip report for Sunday, May 25, 2008.

Picked up Lee and his friend, David, at 11:00 and raced down to Alexandria to catch the 11:30 water taxi to National Harbor. National Harbor is a new mixed-use development that just opened a few weeks ago. It's got a long way to go, but it's incredibly impressive. The new Gaylord National Resort Hotel and Convention Center is, simply, incredible. We were lucky to have such a beautiful day to walk around and enjoy this lavish new development.

It was so much fun for me to see The Awakening, having been moved from Hains Point at West Potomac Park. My boys enjoyed climbing around on this sculpture when they were eight or nine or ten years old.

We had great sandwiches from the delightful Potbelly's Sandwich Works and then wandered a bit before catching the water taxi back to Alexandria. We enjoyed more Ben & Jerry's and a stroll a few blocks up King Street before I took the boys back to their hotel.

I then picked up a couple of canvas jackets and matching tanks on sale at Nordstrom—perfect for my work environment. And then came back to the hotel to relax.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day!
Sunday photos

Why I Go to Arlington National Cemetery

The Columbarium.
John's niche.
Memories of wonderful times together.

One Beautiful Day

For those of you who live vicariously through my travels, here's the trip report for Saturday, May 24, 2008.

My first priority was to get to Arlington National Cemetery to get a new pass, as my permanent pass is in my file cabinet deep within the storage unit. I knew the visitor's center opened at 8:00 and had suggested to Lee that I would pick him up to be there by 8:00 or else meet him there at 8:00. But I didn't know the whole story.

Lee was with about a thousand bikers who had ridden from California and were scheduled to ride into Arlington shortly after 8:00 a.m. on Saturday. I learned this fact at 7:30 as I was eating my breakfast. So I quickly finished breakfast, grabbed my purse, and headed for the cemetery. I arrived seven minutes before the gate opened and, once the gate opened, was able to be about the twelfth vehicle through into the parking lot, after one car and ten motorcycles.

I got a temporary pass and decided to go on in to John's niche in the columbarium before going to pick up Lee. As I wrote yesterday, I was struck by the number of new graves. It's just sobering to see row after row of white headstones, so precisely set in place. To think of the loss, the broken hearts of parents and spouses and children—it's just an enormous loss. After fifteen minutes or so, I went back to my hotel.

After a quick post to my blog, I went over to the Westin Gateway and picked up Lee and we went back to Arlington National Cemetery. We went first into the columbarium, then drove around looking at the graves, marveling at those headstones incised with dates from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Then we went to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier—as we walked up the steps, I realized I hadn't been there since 1982 or 1983! Many of Lee's riding buddies were there, and four of them laid a wreath at the tomb.

Getting back in the car, Lee and I discussed our plans for the rest of the day and decided we would go to see Shear Madness at Kennedy Center last night. Several calls to 411 yielded no results, so we stopped in at my hotel to check their Web site. And my laptop battery died. Oops. That's what I get for packing so hurriedly.

Grabbed a Washington travel magazine and headed out for Alexandria. Lee called the number in the magazine and got very good seats for the play. We parked in a lot down near the Potomac and set out to find lunch. O'Connell's on King Street was our choice, and we sat at an outdoor table on the sidewalk, people-watching and enjoying a fabulous Irish brunch. Mine was crab Eggs Benedict with a fabulous scone. MegaYum.

Those who know me well know of my dream to open an arts center in Youngstown. So our next stop was the Torpedo Factory, where we wandered, poking into studios and chatting with artists. Then wandered out on the docks and headed back to Ben & Jerry's for ice cream.

It was about a quarter of four when we left Alexandria. I dropped Lee at his hotel, then checked my voicemail to learn my realtor had sent me an offer on my Continental Ranch house! And my laptop was out of juice! My next stop was Best Buy where I was able to buy a new HP AC adapter for a mere $90. (It's only money.) Then I ran over to Nordstrom to return some pants I had bought Boston two weeks ago. It's Women's and Children's Sale time at Nordstrom, but I exercised great restraint. How could I do that? By remembering how much I'm going to be out-of-pocket at the end of June!

Back to the hotel, to the business center, I printed out the contract, then checked my mortgage balances, then came upstairs to consult with my realtor. Left him with a couple of assignments, then ran back over to the Westin to pick up Lee and head for the Kennedy Center.

The play Shear Madness was, as always, a knee-slapping, laugh-out-loud hoot with lots of geographically topical references. We had a ball. I think the last time I saw this play was in 1987. Think of all that's changed in the world since 1987! Computers, cell phones, texting, cassettes vs. CDs, VCRs vs. DVRs, VHS vs. DVD. Mind-boggling!

Afterwards, we walked around the KenCen roof deck, then to Georgetown where we wandered down M Street. We checked out lots of menus, but ended up at Dean & DeLuca, picking up soup and bread and dessert and eating on their patio. Had an interesting conversation with the kayaker at the table next to ours, then wandered back along Georgetown streets and the towpath to the parking garage.

Interspersed in all this driving were calls from my tenants, my realtor, and my sister-in-law with more details about Mother's birthday party next weekend.

Dropped Lee back at his hotel around 9:30, then headed to my hotel to sign papers and fax them back to the realtor. Sent e-mail to tenants asking how I could help them over the next two months before they move to Colorado. Watched ten minutes of SNL and closed my eyes, exhausted.

Sunday: water taxi from Alexandria to National Harbor.

BTW: I'm loving my new Nikon CoolPix.

BTW2: I'm with Lee about hating Harleys. They're everywhere and outrageously, unnecessarily noisy. You know the saying about the inverse proportions between a man's equipment and the size of his truck? I think the same holds true for the number of decibels emitting from his motorcycle!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

One Down, One to Go

I don't want to count my losses before the contract is ratified, but I just faxed to my realtor a contract for sale of my Continental Ranch house. Two weeks on the market. In this market. He*who*shall*be*unnamed is smiling on me.

So Many Lives Lost

I visited Arlington National Cemetery this morning and am going back with the Traveler in a few minutes.

I am not a rather apolitical person, but I was deeply saddened this morning to see how many graves have appeared since my last visit.

I will write more later, as I'm almost out of power and have misplaced my AC adapter. In the meantime, here's a link to the photos I snapped this morning.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Another Amazing Adventure

After five hours and forty minutes of driving, I'm happily in Washington again. The Traveler and I spoke at 4:00 this afternoon when he had just arrived.

I e-mailed him today with lots of options. In the morning we'll catch up with each other and begin our day with some time at Arlington National Cemetery.

I'm always thrilled to drive into the Washington Metropolitan Area. It's an especially meaningful trek on Memorial Day weekend. I was patriotic long before I met John. Our ten year relationship, his job at the Pentagon, his devotion to his country—it all rubbed off on me. Singing the national anthem causes my voice to break and my eyes to well up with tears. Seeing flags flying makes me feel proud.

I honor the motorcyclists and veterans who have made their way here this weekend to honor their brothers and sisters who have given their lives in service to this country.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mistress of Overscheduling

I did not plan this week well, resulting in a minor meltdown at work today.

I've only been on the job less than 90 days and the learning curve is rather steep. There is a lot of terminology and technology that I have to learn. Last week I realized I hadn't protected some documents from being editable before placing them in the online library. In my furor to rectify that error, I missed a request my boss made of me. Today I felt stupid and incompetent and was sure I was going to lose my job, as a result of which I'd have to declare bankruptcy and lose all the negative equity I have in my houses. When I finally sat and talked to my boss about some of my confusion, I told him I can get from A (made a mistake) to Z (losing my job) in the snap of a finger!

Of course it doesn't help that I scheduled myself, at Jaci's request, to make five teddy bears for Ridley's party. And do lots of babysitting during Tyler's business trip to DC. All this came during a week when my boss and I are trying to complete all the documentation for the next product release. Our deadline for the docs is tomorrow. Oh, and I'm driving to DC tomorrow, so I had to pack tonight. After I finished the teddy bears.

Would somebody disable the part of my spine that enables me to nod my head when someone asks me to do something?

Bear Watch

I went into production mode last night, sewing all the backs and then all the fronts on four bears. Then I started on the sides and completed one bear. Three more are ready for insertion of eyes and noses and then sewing up the sides.

I'm tired! I'm normally in bed at 10:00, reading or crewsing the 'Net for half an hour. This week I've been sewing until almost 11:00 every night, and it's catching up with me.

Two bears are sitting by my sewing machine, waiting to be stuffed by sweet little hands on Saturday. One of these bears, for the little cutie Max, has appliqued eyes and nose so Max can't pull them off and attempt to ingest them.

No, I wouldn't want to do this for a living, but I'm having fun.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Moveable Feasts

I'm constantly searching for the perfect portable breakfast. I thought I had found it today, but I was wrong.

When I have time or can make time to get to the grocery store, I stay stocked up on my fave granola with flax seeds. To that I add strawberries (and other berries when the prices are reasonable) and unflavored yogurt. Mix it all together in a plastic bowl with a lid, and eat as I drive. Yum!

But lately I haven't been making it to the store, so I'm out of everything. And that means stopping for something between home and office, or raiding the vending machine for a granola bar or a Pop-Tart once I reach my desk. Feelin' healthy? Nah.

The Ravenna exit is about midway between Youngstown and Akron/Fairlawn and has McDonald's and Arby's. Normally I get an Egg McMuffin meal, but lately they've felt so greasy to me that I have wanted something that felt more healty. An Arby's just reopened across the street from the Ravenna McDonald's. I checked online and they show a breakfast wrap that seemed like it would be better.

It is marginally better, but only in the grease quotient. It's scrambled eggs, meat (bacon, ham, or sausage) and potatoes! With a side of potatoes! If they'd just make a wrap with scrambled eggs, I'd be happy. Not necessarily healthy, but happy.

What I really want is the energy bars one could buy at the Price Club about twenty years ago. They were 1.5"x1.5"x4" mini-loaves of whole wheat bread chockfull of fruit and nuts. They were delicious and nutritious. But no vendor leaves well-enough alone.

Dannon used to make a wonderful yogurt smoothie, but of course they had to change the formula, and now it's got artificial sweeteners, to which I'm allergic. So that won't work.

So I'm back on my quest.

Morning drive: listen to podcasts and the New York Times feed; talk on phone to family and friends; dodge deer; eat breakfast. Oh yeah, and pay attention to traffic.

Maybe I should just get up fifteen minutes earlier so I could eat at home before hitting the road. Y'think?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Real Bears

Here's an early-morning jammie-clad Boston with the Papa Bear (his) and the Mama Bear (mine). Ridley's Baby Bear, whom she's named "Little Bear", was still sleeping.

Now we're on the great bear-making crusade. Jaci picked up the fabric and the nose-and-eyes kits yesterday and I cut out three of them last night.

The things we do for our [grand]kids! (she said with a big smile)

Monday, May 19, 2008

How Basically Can One Live?

I'm thinking of moving into my storage unit. No, no—it has nothing to do with the accommodations or amenities in the 1860 Annex.

I spent the entire day in my new sewing room. I think the babes and I descended the stairs at 9:00 a.m., came up at 1:00 for lunch, and came up upon completion of our projects at 6:00 p.m. I looked at the clock and couldn't believe an entire Sunday had passed and I was still in my PJs!

The projects? Teddy bears. Carol Cruise of Carol's Zoo puts out a cute kit to make a Papa, Mama and Baby Bear. The bear has only two pattern pieces, so is very simple to put together. Ridley and I made hers first - the Baby Bear. Then Boston and I worked on the Papa Bear, and when that was done I started on the Mama Bear for this grandma. While I was working on Mama, Boston was busily cutting up the scraps and making a blankie for his Papa Bear and for his beloved Spike (stuffed red and green dragon picked up at Target in the $1 aisle!).

The machine I was using today is a Bernina 1630, much loved. I've probably driven 100,000 miles, or spools of thread, on this machine. (There's the story of John's mother, after I bought this machine, querying the price I paid. When I told her, she asked if it had a steering wheel.) This is a computerized machine with tons o' stitches. I was astonished how quickly Boston, three months short of age seven, picked up the intricacies of this machine. I would explain the function, demonstrate once, and he was off and running. He was fearless about putting the pedal to the metal and running the thing full out, after he saw me do the same. The need to be worried about how advanced this next generation is!

Boston has a very creative mind. This morning as we were waking up from our sleepover at Grandma's "house", he saw me looking at fabric swatches online and started telling me what he wanted me to get a gold silk shantung for. He wanted a red t-shirt with an appliqued honey pot (cut from the gold silk) tipped on its side, honey spilling out, and two bees buzzing around above the honey pot.

He describes things in great detail and knows exactly the kind of fabric he wants, although he has to simply describe it related to other blankets or shirts he has, as he doesn't know the names of all the types of fabric.

Oh, I almost forgot. The storage unit? Every five minutes I would think of some tool I needed that is deep inside the storage unit in one of many boxes marked "sewing room items". Yesterday I bought new scissors and pins, but so many of my specialized tools are just Missing In Action.

Just think. By the time I get my own place and get the storage unit unpacked, I'll have duplicates of all my tools. Hey, I can teach one-on-one sewing lessons and be fully equipped.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Stories in Reverse Order

Lying in bed with sleeping babes alongside. Trying to create today's post when I feel I don't have much to say. But I know the Traveler checks the blog via Blackberry as he's making his way eastward across the U.S., so don't want to leave him readless. He's got 300+ miles a day alone with his thoughts, so I should give him something to mull over.

I realize I hit you with the "He's just not that into you" post without the backstory. So here's the backstory.

I was getting ready to delete my profile from Match for the final time (yeah, yeah, heard it before) when I saw a man who looked to be a pretty good fit. He's age appropriate and lives in Akron, where I spend five days out of every week. He's educated, spent a career in the sciences, and is a classical musician. He played bass for years with Akron and Canton symphonies. After my initial "we should meet" e-mail, waited for him to finish classes he was taking at U of Akron and then met on Thursday night for coffee at Barnes & Noble.

Date Lab participants always assign ratings to their dates, on a scale of 5. I would have given this date a 5.

I always allot one hour to these first meetings, but stayed 90 minutes on this one. He was delightful. Without going into all the superlatives (good looking, smart, easy conversationalist, blah, blah), I could see many more dates with this man. And by all appearances, he felt the same way. There were initial "what's next" discussions.

The next day I e-mailed him to say how much I enjoyed our time together and hoped there would be more. When I got back to my desk from my department lunch meeting, an e-mail was waiting. "You are an extremely interesting, multi-talented lady. I think though (thinking about it more & more after our meeting) that the distance factor for now is a show-stopper --- the one-hour drives just freak me out. So I think it best that we not get further involved. Sorry."

Huh? All the normal rebuttals popped into my head, the greatest of which being, "I'm in Akron five days a week." I got sadder and sadder as the afternoon progressed, wondering what I did wrong. Finally I slapped myself upside the head and said, "It's not about you."

I can make all the excuses and offer all the explanations I want, but the bottom line is he wasn't interested and he's not the one. I can argue all I want and convince him to see me again, and it's going to end up in the same place.

Out of all that, I decided (yet again) to take my profile down. Match ain't working. I went through all the resignation screens last night to terminate my membership and remove my profile. After I closed the browser window, I realized I hadn't clicked the final "remove me" button.

Then an hour later I received an e-mail from an architect who lives part-time in Akron. So I guess I'll do this meeting thing one more time before giving it up. One more. That's all. Really.

(Oh, stop snickering!)

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Bottom Line

He can say it however he wants: "we just don't have that much in common"; "I didn't feel any connection"; "you're very interesting"; "you're geographically undesireable".

It all comes down to: "He's just not that into you."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sleeping Beauty

The babies have decided that in addition to their sleepover's at Grandma's "house" on the weekends, they want an individual sleepover during the week. Last night was Riah's night.

I was doing something on my laptop as she was falling asleep. I wasn't paying attention to her, but was stroking her hair with my right hand and driving the touchpad with my left. After she was quiet for a few minutes, I glanced over and saw this beautiful little girl, hands folded in the most perfect Walt Disney "Sleeping Beauty" pose. Her little sparkly pink painted fingernails glistened at me in the darkened room.

What a darling she is. What a perfect work of art.

Aren't we lucky?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Par on the First Hole, and a Mulligan on the Second

Finally, today I heard from the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus. I'm in for the summer, two performances at Blossom Music Center. And Maestro Porco graciously gave me a do-over. I will audition again in August for the COC.

Look up "mensch" in the dictionary, and you'll see his picture.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Salute to the Traveler

Bon voyage to The Traveler, my friend Lee, who has completed the first leg of his annual Run for the Wall. He left a message for me a few minutes ago telling me he was in San Diego with his buddy David. Tomorrow they will ride up to Los Angeles and register, and Wednesday they'll start riding toward D.C.

My next Amazing Adventure will be meeting up with Lee in D.C. a week from Friday, then sightseeing and eating and having fun in my favorite city in the whole United States. Tentative plans are to knock around Old Town Alexandria, including a visit to the Torpedo Factory, then a boat ride across the Potomac to National Harbor. I'm thinking about Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center for Saturday night. Sunday morning I think we'll get a continental breakfast someplace and take it up Rock Creek Parkway for a little picnic. Or maybe out to Great Falls or the C&O Canal Towpath. Maybe Sunday will conclude with the concert in back of the Capitol.

He knows he would be hard-pressed to find a guide who loves Washington DC more than I.

Ride Safe, Lee.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Motherly Day in This Beautywood

I had a really lovely day. When my boys were adolescents and living with their father, Mother's Day was always very painful for me. Their father would not see to it that they called me. He focused the day on his wife and let me be ignored. At the same time, I was married to a man who said, "You're not my mother. I'm not doing anything for you on Mother's Day."

So there you go. There are a number of insensitive men in this world, and many of them have inhabited my life.

But that was then and this is now. As I sat at the breakfast table, expecting nothing and wanting this day to be about Jaci and what a wonderful mother she is, Tyler and the grands presented me with two gifts and two beautiful cards.

I'm a lucky mom.

(For the musicians in the reading audience, Tyler found a very neat little music notation notebook, about 3.5" x 5.5", that's just the right size to be tucked in a purse or bag for notation on the fly. Genius!)

Mothers: Not Necessarily Happy.

A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.

Over the course of the past month I've been thinking a lot about mothering and grandmothering. I basically gave up what life I had in Tucson and came to Youngstown to continue the grandmothering that started in Tucson with Boston's birth almost seven years ago. It's a role that fits me well. The way I do it, it's a lot of work, but I enjoy it and excel at it. I relish my role. When Tyler and Jaci indicated they would welcome my help here in their new life, I didn't hesitate to take the steps necessary to end up here, in the 1860 5th Annex.

In two weeks the babies and I will drive to Hendersonville, NC, for Mother's 95th birthday. She has seen Boston twice in his life and Ridley once. I think the last time she saw TJ was at John's memorial service. She has pictures of them in her apartment and listens with interest when I tell her about their lives in my frequent calls. But know them? No, she doesn't.

I've said since my first experience in psychotherapy in the 80s that I had no need to bear a grudge for her emotional abuse during my youth. I believed her actions were out of ignorance or an emotional void in her life, not out of malice. And while I still believe the "not out of malice" portion of that statement, I'm getting a little hazy on the "ignorance" part.

When Terry and I divorced in 1981 and he got custody, Daddy was totally dedicated to calling the boys every other Saturday morning. He was determined to maintain the relationship with his beloved grandsons. Mother, on the other hand, was afraid that Terry would answer the phone when she called and she'd have to talk to him, so she simply didn't call. Inexcusible behavior! How do you let your fear of talking to another person on the phone [!] rob you of a relationship with your grandchildren?!

Over the past ten years, her contact with both her grandsons and her great-grandchildren has become more and more sporadic. She sent TJ a birthday gift ten or twelve years ago and he either didn't write a thank you note or didn't write it within the time period she deemed appropriate, so she has never sent another gift. Again, inexcusible. Who's the adult here?!

What's my point? I believe children and grandchildren are a gift and should be treated accordingly—cherished, loved, supported, encouraged. Ignored? Never! Abandoned? Never! (And if you jump in here and say I abandoned my sons, then you don't know the complete story or fully understand it.)

When I was in therapy in my thirties, my therapist asked me, after about three years of individual therapy, to join a group she ran of about eight women. We all had been severely emotionally damaged by our mothers, and referred to ourselves as "The Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers". I've had to remind myself of that character trait many times when Mother works to turn every conversation back to herself.

She doesn't know me. She doesn't appreciate me for who I am and what I've accomplished in my life. She doesn't know my sons, nor see what wonderful men they've grown into. She doesn't know my grandchildren, who are precious beyond belief.

It's her loss.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Guzzling Money

Yesterday afternoon on my way home from work I stopped to fill up the gas tank, a twice weekly activity. The total charge was $49.90. That's only a sneeze away from $50.00. I never thought I'd pay $50.00 for a tank of gas in my entire life.

When I mourned this occurrence to Jaci last night, she told me she paid $60.00 to gas up the minivan yesterday.

I'll shut up now!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Moving Again

I'm getting so good at this moving routine,I'm doing it again.

The staff at Virtual Hold keeps growing, so the office space keeps having to be reconfigured to accommodate all the new employees. This weekend and next week the cubes that house the integration engineers, software engineers, and technical publications are being reconfigured. So everyone in those departments was moved into the training room today to wait for our new cubes.

This is my new "desk". You can tell it's mine because of the pictures of Boston and Ridley in the background. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I will be in a class in Cleveland, and when I come back on Thursday, it will be time to move again to my new cube.

I'm very lucky to work with a whole bunch of really nice people. I can put up with a cube to be in such a wonderful environment.

Real Estate Maven

I now have two—count 'em, two—houses on the market in Tucson. Oy!

A TSO friend and I had been talking about his renting my house, but after weighing all the costs and the need to have a roommate to be able to afford the rent, he decided he'll keep his privacy and go for something he loves less. The former owners and I thought it would be great fun to continue the musical tradition in that house, but there's only so low I can go with the rent!

And I'm losing my fabulous tenants in Continental Ranch. The husband got a job offer with HP in Colorado. It was simply an offer too good to refuse. So after polling everyone they knew who had ever expressed interest in the house, we agreed that selling is the way to go. However, when my realtor pulled the comps, I'm going to bring in not much more than I paid for it in 2003. I'm hoping I won't be underwater with this house, too. Selling one house at a loss is quite enough, thankyouverymuch.

I'll appreciate all the finger-crossing you want to do. I would be so happy to get these millstones off from around my neck!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Life's Too Short to Be Mean

Today's Real Simple thought for the day is "A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge." I liked that and wanted to share it with you.

I've deleted a couple of comments off my blog in the last couple of days. That's not something I regularly do. In fact, my censorship of comments on the blog is very rare. But I felt these comments were mean-spirited and petty.

I would never post something like that. Would I think it? Sure, I'm human. At times I think mean things, but I quickly banish them. I would never memorialize them in pixels for all the world to see forever and ever. Really—what's the purpose? What's the point in trying to make someone feel bad?

Many times during John's illness I thought about cross-stitching a wall hanging that would say "Kindness spoken here."

I hope that's how you view my blog: Kindness spoken here.

Happy Birthday, Tyler

This morning I Googled "May 6 birthdays" so I could tell you what other luminaries were born today other than my Tyler.

I love that so many creative people share his birthday. Tyler is a musician, a writer, an actor, a programmer and businessman, . . . . Above all, he is a thinker. I was not taught to think as a child, so I cherish this trait in him. I credit Interlochen Arts Academy for helping shape the man he is. His fellow birthday celebrants I noted were George Clooney, Tom Bergeron, Tony Blair, Bob Seger. Oh, and Sigmund Freud.

TJ/Scott was nine months old when I learned I was pregnant with Tyler. I remember saying to a friend that I didn't know how I would ever love another child as much as I loved Scott. I couldn't imagine dividing the amount of love I possessed, or diluting the relationship I had with Scott. Then Tyler came. He had a number of health issues and required much care and tending. I, who had suffered tension headaches from age 16 and migraines from age 18, empathized with his illnesses and medical conditions, and formed a bond with him that I never could have imagined. Later, when he was nine or so, I was able to see myself in him and found a validation to my life that I had never felt. I feel I was reborn through Tyler.

I'm blessed to have two loving sons who love and respect me.

Happy Birthday, Baby.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Fake Steak and Phony Bologna

Lifelong BFF Gail sent me this list this week, and I read it with laughter and grimacing. In retrospect, I hated growing up Adventist. I've said many times that I think it should be a crime to raise a child in that restrictive a lifestyle. Of course, everything is relative and when one looks at the mothers of the FLDS compound in Texas and thinks of the lives those kids have, my life doesn't look so bad!

I always admired jewelry and hated that all we could wear was functional jewelry - watches and pins. I hated having to kneel down and have my hems touch the floor. I hated not being able to wear what I wanted—I grew up in Florida and we couldn't wear sandals or sleeveless tops because our toes and our armpits would turn the boys on. When we swam, it was in same-sex groups, or with a rope separating the pool or lake into two same-sex areas. Of course everyone knows it's the female's responsibility to prevent the escalation of every male's sexual urges.

When a girl became engaged, her fiancé gave her a watch, which she wore on the opposite wrist. In middle school and high school, when a boy asked his sweetheart to go steady, the girl would wear his watch. My boyfriend, my beloved Buddy Brinson, had an identification bracelet that he gave me to wear when we were going steady. I always wore it with the ID part turned to the inside of my wrist. Alas, one day my mother discovered it wasn't a watch and made me give it back.

But I did enjoy Fri-Chik and VegeLinks and Skallops and all those meat substitutes. My mother was a really good cook; a meat-eater could eat at her table for a month and never miss meat. Now, at almost 95, she's gone vegan, and I miss the way she used to cook. You'll never convince me that scrambled tofu is an acceptable omelet substitute! Oh, and I loved fried egg sandwiches at Steak 'n' Shake. I was very sad years j

The reference to the earth lasting? I was raised to believe that the world would end, Christ would come again, in 1964. I used to just cry that I would never marry and have a family. I guess I showed them, huh? I married FOUR times!

Don't even get me started on the Tribulation. You wanna know why there are so many atheists and agnostics in the forty-and-up age group? I firmly believe it's because of all the dogma that was crammed down our throats as children.

It is reassuring to me that there are other adults out there who share my feelings about growing up Adventist. It makes me feel like I'm not so bad to scoff at all those SDA absurdities.

Okay, I'll step off my soapbox. Read and enjoy and, to some extent, understand why we are who we are.

You know you were reared SDA if...

  • You pronounce "Adventist" as "AD-ventist", not "ad-VEN-tist".
  • Your "Little Friend" wasn't a person.
  • Your bedtime stories were about real people instead of fairy tales.
  • You had an Uncle Arthur, Uncle Dan, and Aunt Sue and were amazed to find out that all your friends in Sabbath School did too.
  • You think of kids instead of cars when you hear the term Pathfinder.
  • You can remember what the letters "MV" and JMV" stand for.
  • You have a board somewhere in your attic with a bunch of knots glued to it.
  • You wondered if the earth would last long enough to have a girlfriend/boyfriend.
  • Parenthood held many nasty surprises because you really believed Uncle Arthur when he said, "and he never disobeyed again."
  • You know HMS as a name, not a ship.
  • You know how to play poker with Bible Authors cards and Wheat Thins.
  • You know how to play Rook but not Bridge or Hearts.
  • You have looked for angels outside of a movie theater.
  • On Saturdays you catch yourself telling your children, "You can wade, but don't swim."
  • The word "Philistine" has a meaning in current terminology.
  • Your tie falls in your soup because you don't wear a tie tack.
  • The Review is not a full military dress inspection.
  • You agreed to sing so you wouldn't have to solicit.
  • Saturday Night Live had meaning before the TV program.
  • You read labels on cans years before nutritional labeling was available.
  • You saved labels off of cans years before recycling became fashionable.
  • You have asked for a Veggie-Whopper at Burger King.
  • You take more time at the Taco Bell counter than the last six customers.
  • You take a helping of Nuteena because you like it, not out of courtesy.
  • You can tell the difference between Linkettes and Vegelinks with your eyes closed.
  • You know 101 ways to prepare Fri Chik.
  • You have more than twelve uses for soybeans.
  • You can stack 3000 calories on a plate at a church potluck.
  • Your guilt trip ended the day Nabisco started using vegetable shortening in Oreos.

You May Have Gone To A SDA Academy/Boarding School/College If:

  • You know all the basic square dance steps but only know how to execute them to march music.
  • Your high school principal was an expert on female hemlines.
  • You rolled down your skirt on the way to the principal's office.
  • Your Friday night date was to Vespers.
  • You went to banquets instead of dances or proms.
  • You were called out of class to clean your room.
  • You can grill cheese sandwiches on the bottom of an iron.
  • You learned how to study in the dark after lights out.
  • You've seen "Sound of Music" with a hand in front of the projector during the kissing scenes.
  • You have been to movies during which the lights came on periodically for a hand check.
  • You knew who was engaged by asking the time.
  • You couldn't dance at school parties, but passing an orange under the neck was a non-censored activity.
  • The only time you could hold hands was while roller-skating in the gym.
  • The other side of campus was no-man/woman's land.
  • You know what MCC stands for.
  • You took cinnamon rolls back to the dorm on Friday afternoon.
  • You have referred to high school as academy.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Sisters of the Wine and Blue

Today I drove to Akron (yes, on my day off) to celebrate Pi Beta Phi Founders Day with eleven other Pi Phi alums. We had a delicious lunch in the atrium of the Akron Art Museum, followed by a docent-led tour of the modern collection. This is a wonderful museum and the docent was very knowledgeable and nice.

I enjoyed meeting these women, and was welcomed as warmly as by the Tucson alums eight years ago. One woman lives a couple of miles from my office and gave me her card, saying I could call her any time I was too tired to drive back to Youngstown at the end of the day or the weather prevented my driving. My own snow family! I've been hearing Garrison Keillor talk about snow families for twenty-five years and now I have my own!

I think it's wonderful that women around the world, who share something so small as membership in a chapter of the same fraternity at some point in their lives, embrace and support each other with enduring constancy. I feel blessed to be a part of this organization.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


My remorse is washing over me this morning. I'm a musician. First and foremost, above all else, I am a musician. I've been playing piano since before I can remember; I was the first pianist hired by Walt Disney World; I've been singing in a choir since I was eight years old; I have played accordian, organ, clarinet, oboe, guitar and banjo; I'm the only person on Facebook who is one degree of separation from Nadia Boulanger. I Am Music.

To suffer a humiliation as great as last night's debacle is extremely painful.

From the day Tyler and Jaci told me they were moving back to Youngstown until the day I received the job offer from Virtual Hold, I felt sad. Every day of every week I felt sadness cloaking me like a heavy cloud. I felt I would burst into tears if anyone looked cross-eyed at me. Since arriving in Youngstown, I have felt content and fulfilled. I don't necessarily feel happy, giddy, elated. But I am content. Complete.

Today I feel that cloak of sadness again. I wanted this badly. It was a goal I passionately wanted to achieve. Forget the miles. Forget the hours. Forget the inconvenience. I wanted to be able to say, "I sing with the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus." And now I just want to sit and cry.

Damn my aging body—my overused nervous system—for sabotaging this audition. (Oh, by the way, at least I didn't have a hot flash while I was standing there trying to sing. Hey, maybe that's the solution to hot flashes. Have a nervous breakdown and you'll be so busy trying to cope with your nerves that your thermostat will behave.)

Y'know, it really can't get much worse than what happened to me last night. I should just go take the Ohio Bar Exam now. I'd be sure to pass!

Morning-After Musings

I want to make a few comments about the behavior of Maestro Porco during last night's botched audition. The man was a rock!

I was standing by the piano dying. Whenever I looked up at him, I could tell he was very sympathetic to my plight. His facial expressions and body language were sending me strength and breath and centeredness and techniques to get through the audition. But by that time, my body was so overcome with the malfunctioning of my nervous system that I couldn't get back on course.

If I never get to stand in front of the man and sing under his baton, if I only see him from the back for the rest of my life, I will always remember his kindness last night.