Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Purring

I'm spending every free moment working on Hallowe'en costumes. I was sewing 3" white fur on a skunk hood until 11:30 last night instead of writing today's post.

This morning I was catching up on podcasts, so today I'm gifting you with Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac from yesterday (9/29).

I love the thought that poetry is to humans as purring is to cats. And I love that purring can heal bones, and ease one's way into the Great Beyond.

Enjoy! (and purr a little today)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Coming In Second

My phone vibrated in my pocket during the movie last night. The half hour until I could check my voicemail was one of the longest half hours in recent memory. The realtor's message said it didn't look good. When I called him back, he said the news from the listing agent was not clear, but sounded like the bank had accepted the other party's counter-offer.

He's going to check back today and let me know for sure.

I suggested to Tyler that I could pick up a house on the next street that has had all the pipes ripped out and is listed for $40K. I could pay $25K or so restore it to its former glory. Tyler's response: "Mom, you're not a pioneer. You're a princess." Oops. I guess my son knows me too well.

It looks like my housing plans are on hold for the time being.

At the Movies

We went to the movies last night. Okay, let me clarify. The babes and I went to the movies last night, so you know our choice was rated PG.

We saw "Kung Fu Panda." It was darling! I thought I would be bored out of my mind, but it was a delightful movie. There were times when Boston laughed out loud, which always tickles me. And the images were a visual feast. It made me want to come home and pull out some white silks and all my fabric dyes and paints.

If you've got young ones, go see "Kung Fu Panda," but check out the list of voices beforehand. I wished I had, as I was astonished when the credits started rolling. What an amazing cast of characters!

What have you seen lately?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Real Estate Rants

I'm going to rant here for a moment, just because I can (and because I know my realtor doesn't read my blog).

"I'll call you right back" doesn't mean in three hours. It doesn't mean after the listing agent gets around to calling the bank and after he hears back from the bank and gets around to calling you back.

If you have to leave a message with the listing agent, it means calling me right after you leave the message with the listing agent and telling me you left a message with the listing agent. Geez, Louise.

At 1:30 you told me you'd call me right back. It's now 4:40. Give me a freaking break. "Right back" means right back.

Thanks for listening. I feel better now.

What's Next?

The network gods at work have taken away my ability to Twitter—which is about the only thing that's keeping me sane at work. What's next, they'll block my access to Blogger and Gmail?

Do they expect me to work the entire eight hours I'm inside their walls? How archaic!

Happy Anniversary, My Darlings

Ten years ago, on a Saturday with Hurricane Georges whipping around in the Gulf of Mexico, Tyler and Jaci stood poolside at a bed & breakfast in New Orleans and promised to love and cherish and honor each other. And they do that beautifully, each and every day.

Jaci is a wonderful wife, mother, and daughter. One of the luckiest days of my life was the night Tyler walked into The Cooker in Boardman with the cast and crew from the Youngstown Playhouse and sat at the bar where Jaci was bartending.

Happy Anniversary! May your lifetime continue with the love and happiness that the past ten years have held. Thank you for your kindness to me.

Such a Hard Decision

Boston and I were talking about the house on which I have made an offer. He loves the house and is very excited about it. He found a Matchbox car in the garage. That's enough to win any little boy's heart. But it also has a really cool attic that's just right for a play space.

When we were talking about it this morning, he said, "Grandma, it's a really hard decision. I love having you here, but it's a neat house."

Boston and I have been joined at the heart since he could recognize my face, and these months since I moved into the guest room have made him (and me) very happy. I thought his analysis of the situation was succinct—and right on target.

There is no new news. The realtor and I are waiting for the bank to take some action. Waiting is a very hard job.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ridley's First Morning Thoughts

Upon waking and hearing her brother downstairs eating his breakfast:

Ridley: "I wonder if he's eating the blueberry muffin."

Grandma: "Well, there's only one muffin left."

R: "I like blueberry muffins."

G: "You just like food, don't you?"

R: "Yes. That's why I'm glad there's such a thing as breakfast, lunch, and dinner."

First Morning Thoughts

The best thing that happens in my morning is when I hit the clock light and see that the first digit is only a 5 (or better yet, a 4), and tell myself I can go back to sleep. But then, simply because I'm awake, the first hot flash kicks in and I'm fully awake and sleep is Gone Like the Wind. Oh, well.

I love sleeping with the windows open. I'm not sleeping very well lately, and as I wake throughout the night, I hear the traffic on the Ave and guess the time by the volume of traffic. The closer to 6:00, the heavier the traffic.

As the days fly off the calendar and November approaches, I'm nearing two years without my estrogen. My doctor, when she took away my estrogen two years ago, said I'd probably have hot flashes for two months. Then, when three months had passed and I was still suffering, said maybe six months. A month or so later my friend Boo told me she, also, had no ovaries and was just getting over her hot flashes after three years. Argh!

My new doctor in Youngstown suggested soy to decrease the severity and frequency of the hot flashes. The Topamax that I take for my migraines leaves a funny taste in my mouth at all times, and the soy supplements makes that taste even weirder, such that no food tastes good. But I still get hungry. Gee—you'd think there'd be a killer diet in here somewhere.

The killer diet, for me, would be if the Ben & Jerry's people heeded the request of those insane PETA people. I heard about this on "Wait, Wait" this weekend and thought it was a very bad April Fool's joke. I didn't even sample breast milk when it came out of my own breast. There's no way I'm going to buy my beloved Coffee Heath Bar Crunch made with breast milk instead of cow's milk.

The beauty of being wide awake at 5:40 is that I can open the laptop and read all the blogs and my mail and start the daily crossword or do a Sudoku and not have to start worrying about racing for the shower until 6:15. A little quiet morning relaxation.

Oops, it's 6:15. Seeya!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Musical Theatre On Demand

Easy Street Productions is presenting "Hello, Dolly" the next two weekends. We're looking forward to seeing Maureen Collins in the role of Dolly Levi.

To prepare the babes for this theatre experience, we watched the movie a month or so ago. I also have the video from when their daddy musical-directed the production at the Youngstown Playhouse back in 1996 or 1997 and they have watched and giggled at that.

Boston absolutely loves all the tunes from this show and now can sing all the tunes on demand. At breakfast Sunday morning, Tyler would call out "Before the Parade", "It Takes A Woman", "Hello, Dolly", and Boston would start into each song on cue, perfect lyrics, tune and rhythm. What a kick.

His sister, on the other hand, has followed my lead and taken to "Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little" from "The Music Man."

How fun that these babes have inherited both our love of and ear for music and our love of musical theatre.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I'm More Surprised Than You!

Late Friday afternoon I applied to USAA for a VA mortgage, and said the requested amount would be roughly $50,000. At 9:27 this morning, a nice young man in their loan department told me I was approved for up to $50K, with 100% loan-to-value. That means zero percent down payment. As we were wrapping up the call, he said something about $350—the whole transaction will probably cost me around $350. Dollars, not thousands of dollars.

Y'know, when John and I got married twelve-and-a-half years ago, I just knew I was insanely happy, contented and loved. I had no idea that within a few months he was going to turn out to be very, very ill. I had no idea that the next 21 months were going to be consumed with caring for him—for the rest of his life. But he turned around and has cared for me ever since and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. The continued survivor's benefits he provided for me enable me to qualify for a mortgage even when I'm deeply in debt, and the nature of his death and our having been married at the time of his death qualifies me to this VA mortgage.

We loved watching the full moon. Every full moon for the past ten years and three months, I have looked up and told him thanks for all he does for me. I am blessed.

I imagine I'll make an offer on the house on Wednesday. You'll hear it here first.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Brief Real Estate Update

I'm very short on time but will let you know I saw three houses yesterday and liked one — the repo that is listed for $41K. Now it's up to the two banks where I've applied for pre-approval. If they think I'm a good risk, we'll move forward and start the negotiation process with the bank that holds the paper on this house. If not, I'll stay where I am and continue expressing my gratitude to my children for their generosity.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Watching the Future

You know those teenagers who sleep 'til noon? It's 9:15 and Miss Ridley, at five years of age, is just coming into wakefulness. I can see it now. She's going to be one of those teenagers who can sleep until noon or one in the afternoon and think nothing of it.

Hope your Sunday is productive or restful, whichever is more important to you.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Alone, Still, Naturally

I often wonder why, at 58, I'm still alone. In assessing myself, I think I'm pretty. I think I'm kind. I know I'm smart and accomplished. I think I'm pleasant and enjoyable to be with. Where did my life veer off the beaten path so that I'm all alone at a point where I should be planning retirement trips with my sweetheart?

Then I saw this joke/quote this morning and smiled:

Women are like apples on trees. The best ones are at the top of the tree. Most men don't want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt. Instead, they sometimes take the apples from the ground that aren't as good, but easy. The apples at the top think something is wrong with them, when in reality, they're amazing. They just have to wait for the right man to come along, the one who is brave enough and smart enough to climb all the way to the top of the tree.

I like that. There's more to the joke that I don't agree with, something about men being like grapes. If you want to read the rest of it, you'll have to Google it yourselves.

Hope Springs Eternal

I think I'll go look at a couple of houses this weekend.

Now scrape yourselves off the floor. I saw a repo that's three blocks away, 1950 square feet, built in 1925. It's listed for $41,000. I should be able to pick it up for significantly less than that to get it off the bank's books, and my mortgage payment would be less than what I'm paying for my storage unit.

I have no idea what it's like inside, so I may be dreaming the impossible, but we'll see. I qualify for a VA mortgage, thanks to John—that means I could buy a house with zero down payment.

There's also another house three blocks away, a few steps away from the park where the babes like to play. I am absolutely enchanted with the looks of this house. Again, I have no idea what it's like inside. It is a little more expensive than the first, and a few years older.

I'm very happy living with Tyler and Jaci. But really. Jaci deserves to live without her mother-in-law underfoot. And these babes deserve to have only two adults telling them what to do and correcting them. (I try. I really try to keep my mouth shut. but sometimes it pops open and corrections jump out! Motherhood is a hard mantle to bear.)

I've been seven months without the ability to just sink into my favorite easy chair and escape into a book for an hour. Seven months without the spring-loaded embroidery foot for my Bernina sewing machine. Seven months without all my shoes. If I'm only three blocks away, I can still run over whenever they need me; come on Saturday mornings to take care of the laundry; drop in after work for dinner and to do the dishes. And a $200 mortgage payment isn't going to deter my ability to help them financially.

I worry frequently about the deterioration of my belongings in the storage unit. I have some beautiful and valuable antiques and artwork that are in supposedly climate controlled surroundings. But I've seen how the humidity is not controlled and the boxes are collapsing. The sooner I can get my possessions out of that unit, the sooner I can stop worrying about it.

If this scheme doesn't work out this weekend, it's okay. But if it does, I think it's a win-win all around.

Is there some significant factor I'm being blind to?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Stay on Track!

Boston is easily diverted from whatever his task-at-hand might be at the moment. I'm constantly saying to him "stay on track" or "stay on target".

Last week I bought the fabric for Ridley's Hallowe'en costume. I won't tell you exactly how much I spent, but it was over $50 for the pattern and 3+ yards each of satin and rhinestone-encrusted organza in a deep violet-purple shade to make her a princess.

Last night she asked me if I could make a shirt for her pink Webkinz cat. I told her I had lots of projects that were ahead of that on my list. I said, "I have to make your costume." "Costumes," she corrected me. I asked her what she meant and she started reeling off three or four different characters she had decided to be for Hallowe'en, including an ogre and a princess and I don't remember what else. And of course princess was not among them. Oh shit.

I think I should have had her draw a picture of her princess costume and tape it to her bedroom wall so she wouldn't have forgotten what she told grandma-the-sewist.

Well, Ridley, this year you're going to be a princess. Only a princess. Tough luck.

I had to laugh — once I was out of her earshot.

(By the way, "O Girl", Boston's choice for her costume, was not among her selections for Hallowe'en.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Royalties

Reading through my mail tonight, the words "Amazing Adventures" grabbed my eye. I wonder which came first, the name of my blog or the name of this game. You think I could file for intellectual property infringement and pull in some bucks to pay down my debts?

Oh, probably not. But it was fun dreaming for a few minutes.

Where Does It End?

As I raced out the door for my long drive this morning, I forgot my iPod, so I chose to listen to the various news stations on XMRadio for my drive. I listened to the information about the "bridge loan" the government is giving to AIG (loan? will it really be repaid? eighty-five billion dollars? billion??).

Last night at rehearsal I met yet another out-of-work lawyer. A new friend at work tells me about her mother ("she's your age," she keeps telling me) who was laid off two months ago and can't find a job. When we were interviewing for the new tech writer at work, three of the six people we interviewed had been laid off. Every day it seems I hear of someone else who has lost his or her job.

On the radio this morning, I heard McCain speaking in Canton. He talks a good game; he sounds like he knows what he's doing. But I'm scared. After what has happened to me financially this summer because of the real estate market—which I, rightly or wrongly, blame on the Republican administration—I do not feel or believe I can trust John McCain. And especially with that ding-a-ling he has chosen for a running mate. As much as I lack respect for Hillary, I would vote for Hillary before I would vote for Sarah Palin!

But I got off the track of my original question.

Where is it going to end? What is going to happen to us? How many more people are going to lose their jobs before someone in the government is going to wake up? They can't keep rescuing big businesses that make stupid mistakes, that pay outrageous salaries to execs who make poor decisions. The government can't keep expecting the taxpayers to foot the bill. The execs with the six-, seven-, and eight-figure salaries are finding some way around the tax bills. They are not paying their share of the taxes. You and I are paying the taxes that are bailing out Fannie and Freddie and AIG and whichever big company is going to be in the news tomorrow.

And in the meantime someone else is going to lose her job tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. And then she won't be able to buy food or make her mortgage payment or put gas in her car to go to the next job interview or pay the electric bill when the lake effect snow hits this winter.

It's got to end somewhere. I'm sick of thinking about Obama and McCain. I want the election over already. I want whoever is going to win to just step up to the plate and a) implement affordable health care coverage for Americans, and b) stop bailing out big companies who make stupid (and probably unethical) decisions, and c) get the stinking economy under control so I can stop paying so much for gas on my daily commute, put more money towards my bills, and be able to move out and have my own place to live before my grandchildren reach high school.

I want my things out of storage. I want to be able to walk to my bookshelves and pull down my books and sit in my chair and read. I want to be a dinner guest, not a squatter. (I love and appreciate my kids. Please don't misunderstand. But you know the adage about fish and visitors. I don't want to start to stink!)

We need someone who can fix the things that are wrong with our country. And we need it as soon as possible. We are in dire circumstances!

(Make note of the date. The Southern Belle who never talks about politics or religion has talked about politics. And the understatedly elegant Miss Priss who doesn't believe in bumper stickers thinks she's probably going to order a Obamacan bumper sticker from Cafe Press for her car. The world may stop spinning in the next 24 hours.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Have Seen Your Future

On Sunday I measured Miss Riah for her princess costume for Hallowe'en. You'll remember that this little sweetheart just turned five at the end of May. You'll remember also that her mother had two aunts who were over six feet tall, and that her mother is 5'11".

Her main measurements, according to the pattern envelope, were size 5-6. But her back waist measurement, the length of her torso above the waist, was longer than the size 7-8 pattern.

I see a long retirement career ahead, making clothing for this young lady. I'm thinking she's not going to be able to find things she likes that will also fit her in any store!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hey, Ike - Thanks a Bunch!

It's not enough that Ike had to roll through and dump thousands of gallons of rain on the Grey to Green Festival on Saturday. It's not enough that people are still without power. (And that's just the FirstEnergy customers—there are other providers in the state whose customers are also without power!)

The ultimate insult is that the gas prices have shot back up. After a few weeks of relief, my bi-daily fill-up cost just under $50 again yesterday. Dang!

Thanks Ike. I appreciate your help in paying down my debts.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Oh, What A Storm!

This morning I was very thankful for my gym membership. It meant I could get a hot shower in a well-lighted room, and dry my hair with an electric dryer.

Hurricane Ike hit us hard last night. Terrific winds started up around 5:00 or 6:00. Around 8:15 the power went out. Of course Tyler and I were both online in the middle of projects. I walked across the street, where power had not been interrupted, but couldn't find WiFi that wasn't security-enabled. I think we need a database of Northside WiFi for just such an occurrence.

The power blinked once during the night, but this morning was still out. So I grabbed my clothes and makeup, and headed for Akron.

I'm hopeful that we'll have power again by the time I get home. You don't realize how much you rely on electricity (and WiFi) until you don't have it!

Get 'Em While They're Gettable

It's only early September and already the toy catalogs are pouring into the mail slot every day. It annoys me beyond description. Ridley has already started writing letters to Santa. Saturday afternoon Boston spent at least two hours with a catalog that contained lots of Spy Gear stuff, identifying all the items he didn't yet possess. Again at Sunday breakfast, he was spelling out words to me so he could read and understand the descriptions of items in yet another catalog.

I guess it helps his reading, right?

Just for the record, I came from a family where Christmas was big. Quality-big, not quantity-big. We each got one big gift and several small gifts. One year, when we were older, we each got new record players. Another year, a family friend gave Daddy a set of mag wheels for his new Thunderbird. Frequently there were new water skis for Christmas, then on Christmas afternoon we took the boat out to try out the new skis.

But in the 50s and 60s, it didn't start until November, to the best of my memory. And we didn't have television, so I don't know if there were commercials targeted at kids.

I think the way the companies target children for Christmas, and the way they hit them early and hard, is reprehensible. And there's probably no way to tone it down without seeming like UltraScrooge.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gray, Wet, Miserable

Yesterday was the Grey to Green Festival at Wick Park. I'm afraid the organizers didn't get quite the turnout they had hoped for, and it's a shame. A lot of planning went into this event to focus attention on bringing more recycling and future-focus to the area. Had the skies not opened, it would have been a fabulous event.

Jaci was there all day in a crafts booth, making tissue paper butterflies with the young 'uns. Ty and the babes and I went around noon. It was pouring. We stayed about an hour and a half and my all-weather coat was completely wet by the time we left. I guess I'm going to have to break down and invest in a real raincoat.

There were lots of unused household items we wanted to take to the Drop 'n' Shop booth, but just not worth the effort in the torrential rain. I hope someone will host a Drop 'n' Shop booth again on a non-rainy weekend.

Again, kudos to the organizers. I hope this is the First Annual, and that next year a stinking hurricane won't dampen the event.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Portent of Winter Drives

This morning's commute was the worst since the snowstorm of March 7th. I drove through bands of rain, and when it was raining, it was pouring. Heavy, driving rain. I hydroplaned on numerous bridges, and frequently couldn't see 20-30 yards in front of me.

All I could think of was a winter full of this daily commute.

Did I mention that my new cube-mate drives from Mansfield? Her drive was equally horrific.

(Whispering into the VH atmosphere: telecommute, telecommute, telecommute.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ahoy, Mateys

That fabulous Virtual Hold Once-A-Month Fun Committee has outdone themselves this month. We've been invited to a clambake on the 30th, in honor of National Talk Like a Pirate Day. (Is there really such a day? If so, what fool dreamed this up?!)

I came home tonight with my photo assignment for this month. There are fifty photos on my photo scavenger hunt assignment, things like "in front of your house", "on a boat", "by a body of water", "by a statue". You get the idea.

But here's the kicker. We were given a parrot and an eyepatch. Extra points if the pics include the parrot. Even more extra points if the pic includes a stranger wearing the eyepatch.

Here's a very strange stranger holding the parrot and wearing the eyepatch.


You've got to admit this is a crazy bunch of people I work with!

Alike:Different

Boston has a new friend at his new school. Her name is Hannah. Of course it's a girl. Isn't he just like his dad, who also had far more girlfriends than boyfriends throughout his childhood?

Boston told me about Hannah this morning.
"We're just alike, except for two things," he said.
"Oh?"
"Yeah. I'm a boy and she's a girl. And she's seen Kung Fu Panda and I haven't."

The great differences in life.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Remembering Things You Missed

Today was the most absolutely gorgeous day I've seen in forever. There was a thunderstorm last night while I was sleeping. The lightning woke me and I lay here enjoying it while going back to sleep.

I've mentioned how one longs for rain when living in the desert. Being able to sleep with the windows open in early September, with the temperature dropping to the mid- to low-60s, and the added treat of rain is just heavenly.

I drove through bands of rain on the way to work this morning. By the time I got to Akron, the rain had mostly stopped and the temperature was about 65 degrees. Three of us drove over to Subway for lunch as the lunchroom was being used for a photo shoot and we couldn't go in. We walked outside and I marveled at the blue sky and 70 degree temps.

When I got off work, the temperature was around 71 and the sky was clear blue. I went to the first rehearsal of the Akron Symphony Chorus and sat in the First United Methodist Church, looking through the sheer curtains at the dusk. Pretty soon I could see the quarter moon. Crisp, clear, autumn sky.

Now I remember how much I love fall. I love the crispness in the air. I love the bounce in my step. I love wearing long sleeves and sweaters and the briskness. It makes me smile.

Summer makes me drip. Winter makes me shiver. Fall makes me smile.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Things You Don't Miss Until You Don't Have Them Anymore

If you've never visited Tucson, you don't know that the busiest month in Tucson is February. The reason is the annual Gem & Mineral Show. For over 50 years, gem and mineral dealers, collectors, buyers, and aficionados have been flocking to Tucson for three weeks every February to deal in gems, jewelry, minerals, fossils, and beads. It's a big, big deal.

The hotels all triple their room rates. If you want to eat at your favorite restaurant, you have to make reservations several days in advance. Rental car prices are hiked up and the agencies have to bring cars in from Phoenix to handle the demand. Traffic is insane. My normal half hour commute would take an hour during the entire month of February.

But there was also great fun to be had. Many of the show venues were wholesale only. Everyone you knew was asking each other, "Do you have a business license?" Anything to get in and see all the goodies to be had for a few dollars. To give you an idea of the sorts of items we could pick up:
  • The Doubletree Inn had lots of vendors of African items. Just tonight I was working a bead crochet necklace with black seed beads and small African beads that I bought there two years ago. I got a two strings of these African beads for $2. I saw this same string of beads at the bead store near my office in Akron for $15.
  • When I left my job at the Tucson Symphony, my boss gave me a lead crystal perfume bottle she had gotten at another venue. I had seen those perfume bottles sold at the show for $5 and later seen them at gift shops for $30.

Anyone in Tucson can tell you similar stories of deals gotten. And anyone who is as into beads as I am will just grin telling you about the various bead shows that are in town at the same time as the gem and mineral show. Best Bead Show, Whole Bead Show, … . There are about five large beads shows, each with no fewer than 150 vendors selling lampwork beads; silver, gold and Thai silver findings; charms; seed beads; wire; torches, glass, and all the equipment to make your own lampwork beads; — you get the idea. All the best-known lampwork artists in the world of beads come to town for the shows, and it's great fun to renew friendships.

And because of this February event, Tucson has become the place for beads. There are, as I recall, six or seven bead stores in Tucson, several of these having more than one location. If I can't find what I want at one place, I can find it elsewhere. I don't have to order online and guess at what I'm getting. I can buy local — go see the colors of all the seed beads, match up my thread and beads and findings and know what I'm getting. And it's all high quality merchandise. It's not Jo-Ann's or Hobby Lobby.

Boy, how I miss that!

There's a small store about four miles from my office in Copley. There are two more stores in Tallmadge, one small, one minuscule and rather boutique-y. There's nothing around Y'town or Warren or Boardman, that I've found. I've given in and bought some things from Jo-Ann's and Hobby Lobby and Pat Catan's, just to have something to do with my hands, but I hate spending the time on a project that's less than the high quality beads I'm used to buying in Beaucoup Congé or the other shops in Tucson.

So I buy online, and occasionally duck out of the office a half hour early on Friday so I can make it to Tallmadge before that store closes. And I just may have to plan a trip to Milwaukee in June for the Bead & Button Show. (Actually, Boston has asked me to take him to that show. He heard "button" and perked up!)

You don't even want to hear what I have to say about fabric stores!
(Okay, I'm a sick person. I spent the last half hour Googling fabric stores. Haberman's. Detroit. A half-hour closer to Youngstown than G Street Fabrics in Rockville, MD. If I leave from the office on a Friday afternoon, it would be an hour-and-a-half closer! It's a sickness.)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Talent and Art Everywhere You Look

I was going to talk about music today, but then a Cleveland area woman I follow on Twitter tweeted about an incredible book blog that I just had to share with you.

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Go look. I think you'll agree with me that it's fabulous.

And while we're chatting about books and writing, I'll tell you I sent off my submission to Real Simple's Life Lessons Essay Contest last night, with big thanks to Lucy for her edits; to Five Husbands, Tyler and PianoLady for reading and sending me their comments; and to BA for suggesting it in the first place. This is the first time I've submitted something I've written to a national magazine. I'm excited just to have stepped up to the challenge, picked a topic, and limited myself to 1500 words on any topic! The winner will be announced in early January.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

We Are All Artists

One of the women on one of my fiber art lists posted this video. I felt I needed to pass it along to you. Jaci and I had a discussion many months ago when she first knew she wanted to start a photography business. She said, "I'm not an artist." I immediately contradicted her. Anyone who knows Jaci knows what an incredible artist she is. Her art seeps out her pores.

As I was listening to and watching this video, I heard the words of the author, Jan Phillips:

"To be an artist, it is not necessary to make a living from our creations. It is necessary to live with our eyes wide open, to breathe in the colors of the mountain and sky, to know the sound of leaves rustling, the smell of snow, the texture of bark. To be an artist is to notice every beautiful and tragic thing. To cry freely. To collect experiences and shape them into forms that can be of use. It is not to whine about not having time, but to be creative with every moment. To be an artist is not to wait for others to define us, but to define ourselves, to claim our lives."

We are all artists, in some small way, every day. Whether it's noticing the full moon, or putting our pants and shirt together in a pleasing color combination when we dress in the morning, or arranging our loved one's dinner plate in a beautiful arrangement of colors and textures, or creating a quilt or a stained glass lampshade or porcelain mug or poem or song. My Boston has designed his Halloween costume and he's thrilled he's going to wear a costume that no one else in all time has ever worn before. That's art. It's around you ever day and you're a part of it.

What a magical world we inhabit!

This video is seven minutes long. I hope you can find that time to watch it. It's inspiring.

You Are Worth the Time

Friday, September 05, 2008

Something for Everyone

This morning I downloaded Brad Meltzer's "The Book of Lies" to ease my commute. Brad's wife used to be the law partner of John's son-in-law and I started reading Brad's work with his first book.

I'm enjoying this book very much. It's another of those books that makes the miles slip under my tires without my noticing.

That made me think about how many different books and different types of books have been written throughout time and how there's someone who has read each one of these books and enjoyed it.

I downloaded a book two days ago and, try as I might, I can't get into it. I resent wasting one of my Audible credits on it.

This weekend I'm going to co-process. I'm going to start reading Walker Percy's "The Second Coming" in hardcopy for my book club. We'll see if I can keep two books straight in my mind at the same time.

What's the first book you read that had a significant effect on you or that you have an outstanding memory of? Mine was The Pink Dress. I wasn't allowed to read novels—you know, commandment number whatever says "thou shalt not steal" and lying is stealing the truth and fiction is lying, so Adventists didn't read fiction. I walked over to the Maitland Public Library and sat in the little chair at the little table and read this novel, absolutely lapped it up. (Just Googled it and found it, written by Anne Alexander, on Amazon, used, for $387.00. Think I'll skip it just now.)

Mama's Got a New Attitude

My brilliant best buddy Keith is my hero of the month. My attitude at work has been getting worse and worse with each passing day. As I've mentioned with increasing regularity, my cubicle is positioned equidistantly under four air conditioning vents, turning it into a cold air typhoon. There is no way to dress appropriately for the weather in my cube.

Yesterday Keith walked by to say hi and noticed me wrapped in all my winter finery when it was 88 degrees outside. He looked at his former cubicle next to mine, then looked at the ceiling and noticed there were only two vents feeding his old cube. He asked why I didn't just move over there. My manager heard the whole conversation and, sick of hearing me complain about being cold, nodded and asked why I didn't just try it.

I picked up my laptop and rolled my chair next door. Within fifteen minutes, I was considerably warmer. Within two hours, my manager had cleared the move with the director, had put in the order for my network drop to be changed, my phone to be moved, and the seating chart to be updated. When I got back from lunch, I moved my books and things. There were several times throughout the afternoon when I actually took my sweater off!

And I didn't even once think about quitting my job because of the physical discomfort of the building.

All for a six foot move! I wish I had thought of it the day Keith moved out of his old cube. Actually, I wish I had thought of it!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Darkest Before the Dawn

I wake at 6:00 and these days it's still dark. Arghh. I don't like that.

The worst part for me is knowing that very soon it will still be dark when I leave the house to drive to work. By late November or early December, it will probably be dark for my entire drive. Why, oh why, can't someone in my company get a clue about the greenness (and other benefits) of telecommuting?

My manager ordered a heater for my cubicle. It arrived yesterday. The problem with my cold cubicle is that there are four air conditioning vents placed equidistantly over my head to blow cold air into my cubicle, on top of my work space, to set up a typhoon of frigid air swirling over my neck, shoulders, and hands. One day last week I even donned gloves. I sit in my chair wearing a fleece jacket, a pashmina shawl, a scarf over my neck, and a blanket around my legs. A heater is a nice thought, but it's not going to offset four air vents in the ceiling! Yes, my attitude sucks, but if you'd give me a cubicle away from those danged air vents, I'd be much happier.

You know those canvas covers you could have made for convertible cars years ago where you could zip yourself into the car and just your head would sticking out? You've seen them in period movies. That's what I want. I want a canvas cover that is attached to the sides of my cube with a pullstring to secure it around my neck. Then my hair will blow in the breeze from the vents and the rest of my body will stay warm. Hey, I could probably get a patent on it, sell it to all the other cold cubicle-dwellers in the world, and quit working. Then my temperature would cease to be an issue. I could stay home and sew all the time!

But back to the dark outside. Les bebes and I went to Mill Creek Park last night for the final concert of Summer Fest. We heard Maureen and Todd and the Easy Street bunch sing a number of Broadway show tunes. We took a blanket, not realizing that the rest of the audience would be in chairs. Next year we'll take chairs so we can actually see. And next year we'll arrive forty-five minutes early instead of twenty minutes so we can sit near the stage. Live and learn!

This summer has been manageable, climate-wise, for me. I was concerned, when I moved up here, that I would die from the heat and humidity. But there have only been about four nights when I've been uncomfortable trying to go to sleep. And by morning it had cooled off enough that I had reached for a blanket. Now that's the kind of sleeping I like.

So I won't complain this year. And maybe my next year I'll have air conditioning for those too-hot nights. Who knows . . . .

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Birds Do It, Bees Do It, I Did It, You Did It.

Really, how many people do you know who didn't have sex while still a teenager? I know one person. Oh wait—two. I think PianoLady held out for marriage. (Sorry if I just outed you, PL.) And FOMC. That's the sum total of all the people I know in the world who didn't have sex as teenagers. (Mid-day correction: two more of my male friends have informed me they are in the post-teen category. One adamantly stated: "but I didn't want to belong to that club!)

Why do we act so freaking surprised when a teenager gets pregnant? And why in General Tso's name is poor little Bristol Palin gonna marry this guy? Hasn't anybody in her family done the research on the odds against that marriage working? Doesn't she have a big enough liability in having a mother who's running for Vice President of the United States? (You notice I didn't say "who's going to be . . . .") Has anybody reading this blog read this dude's MySpace page (the baby's father)? (And you know I don't use the sobriquet "dude" easily. I reserve it for dudes like him. That boy's got a big L stamped on his forehead.) You know Governor Palin is against contraceptives being made available in high schools. And you know when contraceptives are not made available, the rate of STDs increases.

Does anyone really believe abstinence as a method of contraception works in a population with raging hormones?

My birthmother got pregnant for the first and only time, "out of wedlock", as they say, when she was 37. (Hoo, boy, has anybody done a dissertation on the word "wedlock"?) She left Massachusetts and went to hide in Florida for six months or so. Aren't we beyond that?

I just think it's horribly hypocritical that teenage pregnancy happens on a daily basis in every state in the Union, and then it happens to the daughter of this incompetent that McCain has decided will get the women's vote, and everybody goes Nucking Futz.

I saw a Disgruntled Republican bumper sticker today. I think I'll order one.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Anxiety Dreams

I've started dreaming about being cramped for space. When I return to my home, I have to climb up a vertical ladder (like Boston's ladder to his top bunk) into a space where I can't stand up. The carpet in my space is an ugly dark plaid of rust and olive. In my dream I have no space to spread out.

In real life I've started losing things. I can't find my prescription sunglasses. I've lost my good jeans. I keep trying to straighten my room so it doesn't look so cluttered, but what can you do when you have all your personal possessions in 150 square feet?

There's a little English cottage three blocks away I have my eye on. There's another center hall Colonial a block away my realtor wants me to look at. I could have a "land contract" on that house (Ohio-speak for rent-to-own) for $400/month!. But I'm happy here. But I don't want to wear out my welcome. But I'm providing a needed service here. Ah, the dilemma of so many decisions.

Luckily, I don't have enough money in the bank to be able to make any kind of decision today about the matter.

But it is in my dreams. Don't you hate anxiety dreams?!

Monday, September 01, 2008

What Brings You Joy?

Boston had a sleepover at Grandma's "house" last night. When he woke up this morning, he looked over at me and said, "Grandma, sometimes I miss Tucson." "Me, too," I replied. He said, "I had a really good friend across the street I used to ride bikes with." "I know, Boston, I had lots of good friends, too, and now I hardly have any friends."

Tomorrow he starts school and in a week he'll have tons of friends. I'm so happy and hopeful for him.

As I fight my daily feelings of overwhelming sadness, I seek ways to break out, to feel better. Today I'm choosing to list some of the things that give me temporary respite from the dreeriness of my aloneness (and I think that's way too much -ness for one sentence!).
  • puzzles
    • crosswords
    • Sudoku
    • jigsaw/picture puzzles
    • find-a-word, find-an-item, however juvenile—anything to challenge my brain

  • walks around the 'hood, with or without the grandbabes
  • settling down with a good book, the kind that the end of a chapter makes me want to start the next chapter (and if you're unfamiliar with Youngstown's Chris Barzak, One for Sorrow is just that kind of book. Run! Buy! Read! you'll thank me.)
  • digging into my fabric inventory and dreaming of projects to sew
  • yes, and actually making a dent in that inventory!
  • doing things with the grandbabes, both to take a bit of the burden off their parents to give their parents time to be adults, and to get to know the babes as people while building memories for them to carry to their adulthood
  • writing—I'm working on a piece for a Real Simple magazine contest that's due in a week; I'm working on a book about the horrors of dating over age 50; and the daily exercise of writing in this blog always brings me joy and satisfaction.

Note: An average of 23 people read this blog each day. Some have been reading since day one, over two years ago. Some are dear friends who read from Tucson to keep track of what's going on since my move, even though we're all too busy to talk as often as we did when we were in the same time zone. Some link in from other blogs in the Youngstown Blogosphere. Some click in by Googling for this or that obscure set of words. One of the oddest, to me, was when someone at USAA started reading after I wrote about my dealings with USAA while shaking the trees for money in preparation for my real estate closings. Someone in San Antonio at USAA must have had a Google alert set for "USAA" and my blog popped up. He or she must have been intrigued by what I wrote, and returned several times to keep reading. You never know what people will find interesting! Whatever brings you here, thank you for reading.

And now I'll return to my daily Washington Post crossword, after asking you: What brings you joy?

Your Ecological Footprint

My three-day weekend has sped by and I haven't gotten nearly enough things off my to-do list. So instead of spending an hour on a post this morning, I'm going to give you a quiz to take.

I saw this WWF Ecological Footprint quiz on Ivanhoe's Medical Breakthroughs eNewsletter this morning and thought it was interesting, so am sharing with you.

I hope you enjoy your holiday today as much as I'm going to enjoy mine!

My Fellow Commuters . . .

One of my favorite weekly contests is the Washington Post's Style Invitational. I've been reading it for fifteen or so years now, and frequently laugh out loud at the entries, forcing people around me to stop and listen as I read aloud to them.

Many commuters in the Washington area share the amount of time it takes me to drive to work, although their distance is probably shorter.

I laughed out loud when I saw this entry today:

My long commute is brutal, but it gives me a lot of time to listen to language tapes. Now I can say "get off your bleepin' phone and drive, you idiot" in Mandarin, Basque and Urdu. (Keith Waites, Frederick)