Running Free

Running Free

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Poof- be Gone...

Poof! Be Gone! That is what I wish I could say and make the myriads of piles just disappear.

What piles you ask? Well, the piles that magically appear on the family room couch for example. Dirty socks strewn haphazardly across the cushions; boxer shorts lounging languidly sans occupant, empty cheese stick wrappers ruing the day, television remote controls in prime view of Hercules the cat, milk cups with dried drops glued to the innards…the list goes on and on. The fairy godmother has until recently been magically managing these endless piles of stuff and sending the items to their proper home: the laundry room, the recycle bin, the dishwasher. Until today.

This is when the above- mentioned fairy godmother accidentally poisoned (well a slight exaggeration) said Dear Son (DS) by offering the young lad who I must admit is a wee bit under the legal age of drinking and driving – a bit of alcohol-laden chocolate sent to us from some dear friends in Paris. Now I will admit that contained within the package was a note explaining what went to whom. The chocolate package looked like it could have been for DS. So, I opened the package and took out a very innocent looking brown wrapper which DS began to unwrap and stick in his mouth.

“Bleck! Ach...” Cough. Sputter. DS ran to the sink to expectorate contents of his mouth and gulp down water. “Mom, what was that?!” he asked incredulously.

I looked at him, red in the face from coughing. I then looked more closely at the package and realized that although there was indeed chocolate and biscuit in the sweet offering there was also a good deal of liqueur – pear brandy to be exact.

Well, I couldn’t control myself and began to laugh somewhat hysterically while DS recuperated from his brief brush with alcohol. “I am so sorry honey,” I said with my most contrite mom voice.

“Next time I will read the note before assuming anything.” I gave him a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.

“That would be a good idea Mom,” DS said. “And while you are at it, maybe you could make that box of whatever it is disappear?”

I gave him the sweets intended for him which he promptly devoured.

Now what has any of this to do with poofing? Well, nothing really, except that it got the above mentioned fairy-godmother-of-sorts thinking that she had better enable her DS to fend for himself – from the likes of yours truly proffering candy – and better learn to control his environment- which means starting with limiting the messes. By not creating them.

Or having created a mess- cleaning it up.

Poof! Be Gone!

copyright 2008-2009 all rights reserved.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Daylight Savings....

“My hour of sleep was savagely ripped from my loins in April and today, the one day I can take comfort in reclaiming that hour by sleeping in my wife decides that I have actually gained an hour to do more with the day. “

These were the words uttered out of my husband’s mouth at 7:15 a.m. this past Sunday which happened to begin Daylight Savings Time. The sun was high in the sky and the actual time as I informed him was actually 8:15 a.m. And we had a whole new hour to carpe diem.

He looked at me with one eyes and rolled over in the bed, pulling the blankets up over his head. I tried to sneak under and give him a gentle loving kiss on the cheek. But alas, he held those covers tighter than he holds onto his wallet when I walk by.

“Papa, it is a beautiful day outside. You must get up, do a few deep cleansing breaths and welcome the start of the fall.”

I heard what sounded like a groan emitting from the bed.

“I am trying to gain back the hour that has so rudely been wrenched from my arms. The hour that I truly deserve and have earned.”

I tried futilely to pry the covers from his hands and provide him with a gentle shake, rattle and roll, to try and get the blood flowing through his body which was pulled into a fetal position.

“Just think of all the great things you can do with your newfound hour dear. “

I succeeded in helping my husband roll over and unleash the covers. I gave him a big hug and a smile and said, “Welcome to the fall my dear husband.”

The day was just beginning. An extra hour to enjoy.

If only I could make my husband see the beauty of this philosophy…

copyright 2008-2009 all rights reserved.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Wee Bit of ...

Paisley prints went out a while ago. Or so I would like to think. The spermatozoa splotches of pinks and purple and psychedelic shades of blue and green never did much for me. Which is why I was surprised to see a motley collection of shapes that looked like paisley prints recently rimming the seat of the downstairs toilet seat.

The seat itself was up. The messy collection of prints was around the circumference of the seat proper.

“Hm, thought I to myself, “That is strange. I just cleaned this bathroom yesterday.” (I am the maid, cook and bottle washer (make that cup washer) in our humble abode.)

Well, as I peered in for closer inspection I noticed that the normally clear water in the bowl was not clear. It contained. Well, this is a G-rated website, so I won’t bother with descriptive. Let it suffice to say that the color was a shade of liquid amber.

That said, I gave a squeal when I realized indeed what had taken place in the commode.

Kitty (aka that Hercules) had decided to go for a look, drink, goodness knows why. Curiosity I guess.

I do know that I went out of the bathroom and summoned dear offspring and asked him to come ‘have a look.’

“Now, my dearest son,” said I in my most matronly voice.

“What do you think has happened here?”

He took a look at the toilet seat, inspected the curiously edged paw prints rimming the white seat and pronounced, “It looks like Hercules was here.”

I gave him the “That’s your response” look along with a gentle finger pointing and said, “Please be more careful next time – put the lid down next time.”

He sighed and said, “I’m sorry Mom. I won’t do it again. Now can I go back and watch the wrestling match on television?”

I gave the toilet and the bathroom sink and the floor a good scrubbing.

As for Hercules- I contemplated giving his paws a cleaning, but wasn’t sure how he would react….

I swear this cat is going to make me decide that having a chameleon for a pet might just be the answer.

They don’t chew wires do they?

copyright 2008-2009 all rights reserved.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Kibble Loaf

I admit it. I am not the world’s greatest cook. Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray, Julia Child (rest her Butter lovin’ soul) have absolutely nothing to worry about from me in terms of competition. But, if they knew they would probably shudder and refer me to the Food and Drug Administration for family endangerment – if they knew.

But they don’t. In any case, it all is nonsense really. I am not a good cook. My family knows that. My friends know that. Practically every friend I ever had knew that. Past tense being the operative word here.

Once these former friends tasted the (ahem) comestibles from my kitchen, well, those of you wise and vintage enough to recall the song from the Sugarhill Gang from the early ‘80s just might remember the following lines:

have you ever went over a friend’s house to eat and the food just aint no good
the macaroni’s soggy, the peas are mushed
and the chicken tastes like wood….

The above lyrics, from the 1979 hit called “Rapper’s Delight” pretty much summarize how most folks feel about my cooking. And I am right there with them. I wouldn’t eat my cooking either- if only I were rich enough to afford a live-in cook.

I give me credit for trying- again the operative word – trying. Take for example the other evening- a typical dinner in the household of DH and his mini me- also known as DS – (Dear Son for those of you just tuning into this riveting blog). I served up a dinner of vegetables- asparagus I believe, salad and meatloaf.

I got a bit creative this time since I can never remember exactly what the recipe calls for anyway. So I added a dab of this and a smidge of that and served it up piping hot to my ravenous boys. So follow along if you will and picture the following.

The scene:

[The kitchen table, low light, father, son and mother sitting down about to eat. Son says evening blessing, “Thank you for our food. Amen.” Short, sweet and to the point you might say.]

Son: Mom, did you do something different to the meatloaf? It tastes a little well, strange.

Mom: No, not really.

Dad: Seriously honey, what did you add to it? It does have a different flavor. (Here he tries to swallow a mouthful – it appears to be somewhat painful.)

Son: Mom, is there kibble in this meatloaf?

(DH tries to not choke on his asparagus as son spots out these words.)

Mom: No, there is no kibble in here.

Son: Mom, did you put some of Hercules’ cat food in here? It does have a certain texture to it tonight I mean…

(Son and Father are in hysterics by this point over the possibility that I have indeed put kitty kibble into the evening meatloaf.)

Mom: Well, I can see that this is another successful meal.

Dad: Now honey, don’t take it personally. We still love you.

Mom: Indeed, I did not see you nor hear you for that matter jumping to my defense which by default makes you as guilty as said son.

Dad: But I didn’t say a word.

Mom: Perhaps that is the problem. Perhaps you could have asked our son to be well, less well, more grateful anyway.

Son: Hey that’s it Mom, our evening grace will from now on be:

"Thank you for our food and may we not be served kibble again. Amen."

I think I will end this scene here, with 'moi' grinding the evening meal down the garbage incinerator.

[Son and Husband are still laughing as they stick two spoons into a half gallon of chocolate ice cream and head off to watch an episode of the Disney show, The Suite Life of Zac and Cody.]

Sweet life indeed....

copyright 2008-2009 all rights reserved.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Kitty Litter

Six weeks ago I was a perfectly average domestic diva. For the record, I coined this phrase in 1998 the year my son was born and actually had taken out the domain names including, - and then my DH said that I didn’t need them- had I only kept them…but I digress.

As I mentioned, a mere month and a half ago I was just doing my best to juggle housework, meal preparation, family outings, swim practice for an eleven year-old and the usual collection of things that take up time. I was plenty busy with daily life. It was rather routine, but comfortable. No complaints really.

Did I mention that was six weeks ago? Let us refer to that period of time as BP for ‘before pet.’ Now here I am six weeks later with a four-legged creature of the feline variety that has taken up residence within our house. Let us call this period of existence the Now Pet (NP.) This now ten month-old kitty named Hercules Apollo for his Herculean strength, has inserted himself smack dab in the middle of our daily life.

As a matter of fact he is more than comfortable and has made himself right at home. So much so that as soon as he hears a pot or a dish he comes running into the kitchen to see if perhaps there is a sweet nibblet available for his enjoyment. I know he comes running because around his neck is a crystal collar with a bell that jingles as soon as he takes a step. I would not be good with a stealth kitty under foot. Would not be a good thing – for him or me- or the family now that I think about it.

When said kitty hears me in the kitchen he can almost be assured that he will indeed be given a bit of something more than his rather drab and boring bowl of round brown pellets – the recommended diet from the veterinarian. So, he will often get a piece of chopped up deli ham or turkey on a plate that was part of our wedding registry (I digress once more). Hyacinth from “Keeping up Appearances" would be proud of me I am sure.

Kitty has his own little placemat with color coordinated bowls for water and dry food and then there is the lovely small china plate that holds special treats. Among his favorite are tuna, turkey and ham. He also enjoys a teaspoon or two of vanilla yogurt, but will not turn up his nose at blueberry yogurt for that matter.

Speaking of turning up one’s nose, he has developed quite the skill and does indeed register his dislike when I proffer him with salmon. After a sniff and a lick he turns his kitty eyes - two sparkling orbs – and implores me to take it away. If he really is displeased with the offered vittles he meows.

Imagine - it isn’t enough that we took him in when he was cold and hungry, that we provide him food and shelter, but now he has the audacity to meow when he wants something different. Like a petulant child. Indeed I say.

As life with a pet continues, I find that I think of kitty when I receive an interesting piece of mail that might provide entertainment for him. His hours are more like those of a movie star and he usually naps until well after noon unless I prod him awake for a bit of exercise.

I have created a few stimulation zones and try to insure that there are new and fun things for him to explore. His latest enrichment item is a Trader Joe paper bag in which I place toys from his treasure box - I am assuming that every kitty has a treasure box n'est pas?

Of course the whole kitty litter thing is an exercise in patient and humility. I try and change it daily. I don my mask, double bag and my scooper and get busy. It is a lovely site. Often Hercules will observe me from the doorway of the guest bathroom which is where we decided to place the kitty’s special throne.

He sits on his back legs with his front white mittens placed neatly in front of him with his head cocked to one side as if he is trying to figure out what it is I am doing.

“I am cleaning up your poop,” I explain. “I thought I was done with diapers but it seems I am not,” I sigh and he comes and nuzzles against my leg.

It is his way of saying thank you. At least that is what I imagine.

This is my life in the NP era….

copyright 2008-2009 all rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mad Catter Momma

I must be batty. Or Catty. Yes, that is it. I have become the mad catter momma. You have heard of the Mad Hatter. Well, close your eyes and imagine a wrinkly old lady with a stooped arch to her spine and leathery hands and a big mop of unruly hair on her head and you will have a picture of what a mad catter mama would look like.

Yours truly has become a cat owner. Who would a thunk? Certainly not moi. I mean, the closest I ever came to owning a pet was back in the mid 80’s when I had to babysit 25 hamsters in a lab during college spring break. While the rest of my fellow college buddies were off in the Bahamas or Florida, I was in a lab weighing said hamsters, observing how much of the hulled sunflowers versus the unhulled sunflowers were gobbled by my four legged furry pals and changing way too much sawdust. I had enough of the stuff to last me a life time.

Having a husband and a son is more than enough for this ol’ mama. Or so I thought. Life was fine just as it was. Until a couple of weeks ago when DS out of the blue inquired if I would like to go for a morning walk. Of course I jumped at the chance. As we walked along the Eucalyptus lined path near our house we talked about going back to school, the new adventures of being in sixth grade, what to have for dinner and when we should plan to go and see the new movie “G-Force.” Deep stuff.

We were on our way home when we heard a sound in the bushes. We stopped and looked; peering out at us was a honey colored tabby with white mitten socks. We stopped to say hello and noticed that the kitty did not have a collar.

But this kitty was ever so friendly. He (or she) came up and proceeded to give us purrs and licks and to follow us the three blocks to our house.

Well, DS and I figured that the kitty belonged to someone and that they were probably looking for him (her- we learned later that kitty was indeed a “he”). We also assumed that the kitty was probably hungry. We invited the kitty into our humble abode and since I was not sure that the kitty would like cheerios, I decided to offer the kitty some tuna.

He gobbled the tuna and sat there in the kitchen purring contentedly. DS and I watched in fascination as the kitty proceeded to snoop and inspect the various rooms of the house before deciding to join us for an episode of the Suite Life of Zack and Cody.

DS of course wanted to keep the kitty but I was concerned that someone was looking for this kitty without a collar and despite his attempts to ingrain himself into my non feline loving heart (he sat on my head, kneading it and purring with his little kitty head on the side of my face- I kid you not) I knew we would have to make a good hearted attempt to try and find his rightful owner.

We called the local animal shelter that sent out an officer to pick up said Kitty who by now we had nicknamed Hercules for his ability to push empty boxes around with the mere swat of a paw.

Well, to make a long story short, no one claimed the kitty. And here we are a week later with a new member of the family, hereby referred to as DK (Dear Kitty, who is also fine with being referred to by his name: Hercules Apollo.)

He sleeps on top of the head of DS and will come and snuggle on a lap and chase a ball and attempt to get into all kinds of mischief.

Not wanting kitty to be lonely I of course went out to Toys R Us looking for age appropriate kitty toys. After all, he is more like a baby than a baby really. When I explained that I was looking for small balls and such for a kitty the store clerk just smiled and told me to have a nice day.

Of course every kitty needs a soft blanket and Hercules loves his blue blanket which he sleeps with every night. When we leave the house I turn on the jazz station which I think he enjoys and I let him know we will be back in a few hours.

I have not yet resorted to calling and leaving messages for him to insure that he knows I am thinking of him, but I am sure that day will come soon.

Thus, closing your eyes can you not picture a bag lady – albeit with a big brown bag-and a good pair of shoes – walking the streets of a local beach community with a honey colored tabby following close behind- like the pied piper perhaps. Or the Mad Hatter.

Be kind to the old batty catty lady. She may be someone you know...

copyright 2008-2009 all rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mai Tai Monday

My Dear Husband (DH to those of you in the know - my dear followers) of a decade plus recently decided to take a one week vacation. A pure unadulterated stick to your roots stay-cation at the homestead. This was his dream. Simple and easy.

He has been in need of such a break from the daily grind for a while, and with DS in a half-day ocean camp, DH would pretty much able to do what he wanted to do on his time table. Of course should he require a partner in crime I would be willing and able. Caveat being I had to be back in time to pick up said son from camp.

Well, on Monday, the first official day of the DH sojourn to solitude and rejuvenation, I began my daily morning ritual of making beds, getting a load of laundry started and packing a lunch for DS to take with him to the beach. DH slept in and was left to dream and count little lambs.

I roused the younger version of my husband and he prepared for his day at the beach by wolfing down a granola bar and a cup of milk, and after a friendly reminder from yours truly,” “Don’t forget to brush your teeth dear,” DS and I left for camp.

We were running a few minutes late and usually when this happens there is a good deal of gruff from the small one grimacing about why brush when he would just be eating again in a few hours. But not this morning. This Monday morning was looking up.

Off we went, my pint sized blonde son with a smattering of freckles across his nose and his long tan legs poking out of his jammer. My goodness he was getting tall and lanky. He certainly didn’t look like a little boy anymore. But I wouldn’t tell him that.

On the twenty minute drive we chatted about the upcoming quiet month of August- no camps, no swim, and just pure sweet nothing. How exquisite. Especially for an eleven year-old whose only real responsibility thus far in life was to make his bed, brush his teeth, put his clothes in the hamper and help out when asked by Mama on occasion. Other than that, the world was his oyster as I often told him. “I don’t like oysters, mom,” was his pat response. “They are slimy. So can we make my world be something more like a Wiener schnitzel hot dog or pizza?”

After dropping DS off at the school where he would be transported with his class of twenty or so like minded beach bums in training I waved goodbye, blew him a kiss and headed off to the gym. I had an appointment with a nine o’clock SET class (strength, endurance and training class) and I didn’t want to be late.

While I sweated and groaned throughout the sixty minute class my DS was home unattended and getting into goodness knew what. So when I walked into the house looking very much like something the neighborhood cat had dragged in from a hard night , I was greeted by the sights of my my DS was standing there all smiles.

“Honey, how about you and I head down to Fashion Island for a nice lunch?”

I looked at him for a moment. My DS asking me to go to one of my all time favorite crime spots in the world – on a Monday morning.

I put down my sweaty towel and asked him if there was a reason he had chosen Fashion Island- an incredible outdoor mall set amongst palm trees, Koi pond and piped in music- not to mention my two favorite stores – Bloomies and Neiman Marcus.

I admit it- I am a shopaholic- I love clothes and as a former assistant buyer at B. Altman’s many many years back the love of fashion has stayed with me. Nothing better than a good dose of au courant to chase away the blues of a recession, yes indeed.

Of course I love any chance to have a date with my sophisticated man, but I knew there had to be more to the story since DS is anything but a shopper. DS explained that he needed to replace his Bose headset and there happened to be a Bose store in Fashion Island. Of course I knew exactly where it was located. After all, Fashion Island is my home away from home. I can often be found sitting under the umbrella of a large green tree with an iced coffee watching little children experience the magic of the Koi pond. It is a cost effective way to relax and enjoy at the same time.

After a 12 minute shower I was dressed and ready to go. We hopped in the car and made our way to the Island of Fashion where much to my husband’s chagrin the Bose store did not have the headset in stock. No worries, he would order it online.

Next stop- lunch. We decided on Cheesecake Factory and had a nice corner table where we could look out onto the skyline and the ocean. I ordered water and a salad and DS ordered a soup and salad combo and water – and a mai tai. It was 11:45 a.m.

“It is five o’clock somewhere,” DS said with an impish grin as he took his first sip.

I watched him savor this Monday morning treat and joked about it being a “Mai Tai Monday morning” and he laughed. We both did actually.

It is the simple unplanned pleasures of life that we must grab when they are afforded. And today, DS was grabbing for a mai tai and I would drive us home. All was good.

Well, we ate our delicious lunch and as DS slurped the last few liquid droplets of his drink I could tell that the alcohol had begun to work her magic and DS was smiling a big big grin.

“Everything okay Papa?” I asked.

He wiped his mouth on the napkin and glanced up at the ceiling, out at the ocean and then at me.

“I am wonderful,” he said.

And such was the first day of a vacation for an overworked husband much in need of a respite. Mai Tai Monday may become a yearly event.

Taxi cab at the ready!

copyright 2008-2009 all rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Take a Hike

“Honey, I am going on a hike.”

These were the seven words uttered by my Dear Husband (DH) the other evening. We were in the living room being lounge lizards. I was playing catch up on back issues of The New Yorker magazine which had begun to pile up in a most annoying way. DH was reclining on the other end of the couch looking at his Kindle. Somehow I can’t imagine the Kindle as actually supporting the task of reading, but, to each their own.

“Okay,” said I. “Have fun. Be back before breakfast.”

I studied the cover of the magazine in my hands. A nun, a girl in a bikini and a woman in what appeared to be traditional Islamic dress with a hijab and long black dress sat staring out at the reader. I noticed that the woman in the Islamic attire was actually similar to the outfit of the nun except that she wore a big ol' cross on her chest.

I listened to the smooth butterscotch voice of DH as I studied the cover trying to understand what it was the artist was sharing with his art. I traced my hand along the outline of the woman dressed in the bikini. She had on sunglasses and her legs were crossed. I noticed she had on platform shoes that didn't look very practical for a day at the beach.

“Well, I am not sure yet where the hike will take me,” said DH. “I mean I haven’t exactly decided. It may be Appalachia or it may be Argentina.”

“Well, at least you know which letter of the alphabet you are talking about,” I replied.

I glanced over at my DH looking very comfortable in his perch on the couch. His blue eyes were the color of topaz at dusk and he stared back at me as a rogue lock of sandy blond hair plopped over his left eyebrow. He had on an orange tee-shirt with skeletons dancing across the front of it. ‘Rattle them bones,’ was printed in block letters underneath the skeletons.

“You might want to get a haircut before you go,” I said.

He laughed and began to scroll through the electronic device propped on his lap.

"A hike,” I thought to myself. “I can’t even get him to go on a constitutional around the block and now he wants to go on a hike?”

DH gave me a big smile and a yawn, the wide open mouthed hippo-style yawn that seem to go on forever. That kind of yawn.

“Have you read anything interesting on your Kindle? “I asked my husband who had become way too horizontal on the couch.

I decided to try and get to the bottom of this sudden interest in hiking, and decided that maybe asking questions like Miss Marple – on seemingly unrelated matters might bring me closer to the truth.

“Well, there is a senator from South Carolina who is in a bit of hot water for a vacation he recently took,” DH said in a sleepy voice.

“Indeed,” I replied. “What kind of vacation did he take exactly?”

“Well, it seems that he neglected to tell his wife where he was going - just that he was going on a hike someplace to get away and think for a few days.” I could hear the cracks in my husband's ankles as he changed his position on the couch.

“So far sounds reasonable,” I said. Being a firm believer in the importance of personal space I support a few days here and there to get re-acquainted with one’s inner self.

“I guess you could say it turned into a little bit more than a commune with nature,” my husband said with a chuckle.

“It turns out that the good senator from the good state of South Carolina decided the scenery was better in Argentina and decided that neither his wife nor his staff needed to know how to get in touch with him. He was spontaneous- like you honey. Except that when he got to Argentina the only hiking he did was with a pretty Latina with whom it turns out he had been having a riveting email relationship."

I dropped the magazine into my lap and looked over at DH who was grinning- an ear to ear grin that said: “I am a goof.”

“Well dear, if you would like to go on a hike anywhere in the alphabet I am happy to accompany you,” I said in my sweetest candy voice and I winked.

And DH winked back.

Hike indeed.

I wonder who paid the bill for that hike? Come to think about it, I’ll bet the almighty senator will be paying for that hike for a long long time to come.

copyright 2008-2009 all rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pine Needle in a Haystack

It’s good to be a nobody. It’s kind of like being a pine needle in a haystack.

I mean, a nobody will never make it to the front page of the tabloids for having mismatched shoes or a missing button. A nobody will never be paraded in a five page spread complete with broccoli in her teeth and grey tufts peeking out from under a baseball cap. A nobody will not be hunted or hounded by the paparazzi tribe parading around with cameras and direct connects to the Internet.

As a nobody I can burn the meatloaf and the only ones who will give a fig- flying or otherwise - will be my DS and DH. Both of whom are eternally understanding and forgiving. What brand of toothpaste I use, the fact that I have crow’s feet, wrinkles or any other flaw will not become tabloid headlines or a point of reference on the Ryan Seacrest radio program.

Nobody cares about what a nobody eats or reads. When you are a nobody it is indeed like looking for a needle in the almighty haystack; and I like being part of the collective haystack. There is safety in bits of hay. Albeit prickly now and then, but good. Safe. Quiet.

In recent days we have had the passing of some great entertainment luminaries – Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Karl Malden, and Ed McMahon – each of whom shared incredible gifts with the world. Yet, each was singularly human. Each now is a subject of the vicious and insatiable appetite of the masses for salaciousness. Somebody wants to know the sordid details of the laundry and now the closets and dresser drawers are all being scavenged for who has the most untidy, most messy piece of fabric that needs to be hung on the interminable clothes line of lies and deceit.

Being a somebody comes at a steep cost. I applaud the efforts and talents of these individuals who have moved beyond and whose work here on this planet is now done. May they be resting in peace, sipping pink lemonade and listening to a few great tunes on a fluffy white cloud of hope.
When you are a nobody, it means that there isn’t a somebody to garner special reservations at the latest and greatest eating establishment. It does mean that as a nobody sometimes luck steps in and gives you a full hand. It means appreciation for getting a front row seat, or a great table or a smile or a bit of courtesy just because- not because someone expects anything in return- but just because.

Being a nobody means if I decide to run out in yesterday’s sweaty clothes that no one will care and actually it may provide an intended twenty feet personal space barrier to insure that those standing behind me in the grocery or bank give me an extra wide birth. Yup, being a nobody definitely has its advantages and upside.

I like being a nobody to the rest of the world. Because to those whom I care about and those who care about me I am a somebody - snug in the confines of our own little haystack. To me, that is just about perfect. I have no fear of The National Enquirer, People Magazine, TMZ, Access Hollywood, or any of the motley collection of fool’s follies knocking on my door or peering in my window anytime soon.
And that suits me just fine.

I like being a pine needle in the haystack.

copyright 2008-2009 all rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tissue for Your Thoughts...

I was in need of a piece of paper to scribble a thought I had about the recent death of Michael Jackson.

It was just a thought that the muse had whispered in my ear and the chance of it flitting away like an air bubble within the next five minutes was highly likely.

I was getting ready to drop the children – yes you read right- children- as in plural – as in more than one – at their summer camp. For the next three weeks my DH, DS and I are part of the goodwill ambassador foundation. We are sharing our house and home and our simple life with a fourteen year-old French boy. Oui- c’est vrais.

I was taking our young Frenchman and DS to their Ocean Camp at the other end of town. Two mop heads poked up from the back seat of the car as I made sure that I had indeed opened the garage door.

Garage doors and I have a somewhat static relationship. I once upon a time backed up a brand new car into the garage door that was coming down and it scalped the back side of the new car’s bumper.

Another time, the same car now that I think about, I decapitated a side mirror. My poor DH….but stories for another day.

This morning I was in mom mode and needed to get my charges to their camp on time. Garage door opened, key in ignition, I was listening to the familiar deep throated growl from my car when the thought hit me. My icon of youth, Michael Jackson, had passed away. He was just a few years older than me. Immortality or lack thereof was sending goose bumps down the back of my neck.

I began backing the car up looking over my shoulder to make sure I didn’t accidently hit a concrete boulder or an unsuspecting neighbor walking the dog. Michael Jackson was still with us. He had just taken on a different form I told myself. His music lives on in the myriad of his LPS, CDs and DVDs I had collected over the years.

I wanted to write this thought down in case it slipped out the back door before I had a chance to at least introduce it to the grey matter of my rather spotty mind.

I stuck my hand into the dark belly of my purse that for some reason seemed endless this morning. I felt around with my fingers and felt the shape of a phone, a wallet and a soft and squishy item that I was not sure about.

Aha! My fingers brushed against a slippery piece of something that crinkled when I tried to grab it. Paper! I pulled the sorry looking scrap out of the purse and stopped the car. On the paper was the following:

turkey meat
small packages of Pringles chips
sun screen
Gatorade large six pack orange/red/yellow
cheese squares
one carton of organic low fat milk
Paul Newman’s lemonade

Riveting I thought to myself. How could I ever find room on this eensy weensy bit of paper to scribble my latest thought?

“Mom, can I have a tissue please?” I heard from the back seat of the car.

“Sure, honey,” I said, reaching into the console and pulling out a wad of the soft white stuff. Handing him the tissue I had an epiphany.

I can write my thoughts on a tissue - albeit unused.

“Thanks Mom,” said my son blowing into his cotton cloud.

“No, it is I who must thank you,” said I. “You helped me to be resourceful in a dire time of need,” I said as I furiously scribbled my thoughts on the soft tissue in my hand before they muse left me.

Desperate times desperate measures.

Salt and Vinegar

After picking up my two charges from their morning summer camp we made our way home for the afternoon meal. Two hungry boys with growling bellies is not a pleasant thing to encounter. Lunch was needed ASAP.

Thus, I scrambled as quickly as a mom with two legs can: hauling out deli meat, mustard, mayo, cheese, wheat bread, veggies and created a lovely lunch complete with a watermelon appetizer, Sprite and organic cookies.

Emile, our visiting French boy, sat next to my son on the couch. They chuckled and laughed as they watched the antics of a television show about two mop headed boys names Zac and Cody. I gathered from the raucous laughter that the boys on the TV had similar dispositions to that of the two boys sitting in my living room.

“Hey Mom,” said my tow-headed son splayed on the couch.

“Can we have some of the Salt and Vinegar Pringles I bought for Emile and me?”

“Okay,” said I making my way over to the pantry.

Where two of the blue and gold cans had recently stood at attention there was now a big empty space.

I gulped, realizing that these salt and vinegar chips were something the boys looked forward to almost on a daily basis. And it was summer, so I didn’t sweat it too much. However, I began to sweat thinking how was I to break the news of MIA Pringles to the young lads?

I felt a tap on my shoulder. “Hi Mom, I thought I would come over and help you find them,” said Dear Son. Sheesh, he was getting tall, I realized. Now he came up past my shoulder. I shook my head and stepped back while he stuck half his body inside the pantry prowling for the cans.

“They were here yesterday,” he said pointing to the gaping maw of what used to be home to two cans of unopened Pringles.

“Hm,” said I standing there perplexed, as my son’s eyes filled with tears.

Part of me wanted to laugh - after all, we are talking about chips - not even spilled milk- over which the phrase, “crying over spilled milk,” was created. But looking at his pinched face I realized that this was no laughing matter.

“Well, honey,” said I putting on a stiff upper lip. “I am not sure where they went. Perhaps Daddy has been having a midnight snack when we are all snuggled safely in bed. You know how he enjoys a good munch while he is watching a movie or playing WOW.”

DS closed the pantry door with a sigh and a small sob and just stared at me. His eyes were glistening and I knew that I had about three seconds to resolve this situation.

“We bought those chips for Emile and me, Mom” DS moaned.

I rubbed my hand across his cheek, and wiped a lone teardrop slipping forlornly down the left side of his face.

Shaking my hips left to right, I did what I do best, the Mama dance. “I will r-u-n, o-u-t, n-o-wwww,” I crooned to the tune of the Jackson Five’s ABC-123.

“I will be back before you are even half way through your lunch,” said I trying to feel as brave as I sounded. Now I knew how George Washington must have felt before the battle of Brandywine Creek.

I hopped out, ran to the market and picked up two cans of Salt and Vinegar Pringles as well as two bags of Lay’s Salt and Vinegar chips. They were on sale - buy one, get one free.

I flew home, feeling like Glinda the good witch of Oz, except that she had an amazing ability to poof while I had to wait for three lights to change from red to green. Opening the door I found four eyes, four hands and two mouths eagerly awaiting S&V chips, and I delivered. Smiles and a myriad of ‘thank-yous’ greeted my ears.

“You’re the best Mom,” said DS with a mouth stuffed with the salty pleasure.

“Glad to help,” I smiled as I made my way to DH’s cave where I deposited the two-for-one bags of salt and vinegar chips. This way, he could have his own booty without dipping into that of the boys.

Everyone would be happy.

At least this was my hope.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Expedition of the spuds

Today being Thursday I had nothing planned for this morning at 6:30 a.m. Nothing other than volunteering time at my son’s swim team to help prepare for a four day swim meet. Lucky for me I am an early bird, proud to claim that I often am awake before the sweet song of the crow and parrot compete for best vocal.

I had signed up to help with hospitality, which in a nutshell means setting up a table (two actually) and providing coffee and fruit and donuts to coaches from the various teams. Or so I thought. It has been a few months since I last ’volunteered’ in the hospitality area and thus my surprise and near heart attack when I was informed that there was cooked food being served at the tent.

“Cooked food?” I muttered to myself. “What do they mean exactly by cooked food?”

Nick, one of the old timers, and my version of a living breathing teddy bear, informed me that several months ago a new team of volunteers decided to add cooked food to the menu - like omelettes and pancakes for the coaches.

“Uh-huh,” I replied. Tongue stuck to the roof my mouth, I wondered what in the world I would do now since my culinary talents begin with a smile and end with pouring coffee. Visions of me flipping a pancake in a pan were not pretty. I was recalling the episode of I Love Lucy when she tries to make a pizza. Not a pretty picture.

Needless to say I decided there and then that my volunteer skills would be better served behind the scenes, as in the back room.

I was then chartered with washing grapes and blueberries and slicing vegetables for use in the said omelettes.

Luckily, the Head Hospitality Mama loves to cook and that is her domain so that I and my other volunteer moms were more than happy to oblige and stay out of the way and simply follow commands.

One of the gals had been given an instruction which was brought back to me: “Expedite the potato prep.”

I stared at the deliverer of this message, a petite blond with incredibly sea blue eyes. Okay Patti, how does one expedite the dicing of potatoes? We giggled as she picked up her knife and helped me slice and dice the spuds. Hash browns were the next order of business on the food deck out front. I needed to get busy expediting.

“Expedite the spuds,” I said and began to laugh. We looked at each other. Were we in a board room meeting and had simply forgotten ourselves?

I looked around the room, realizing that with the motley collection of folks here, many in shorts and tee-shirts and smelling of sunscreen that I definitely was not in a board room of any traditional format.

I repeated my hollowed phrase: Expedite the spuds - and hold the suds.

I honestly don’t know why we found this to be funny, but suddenly it was. Perhaps being volunteers in the wee hours of the morning – sans coffee – we had gone off the edge of normality.

Out on the pool deck was a full blown swim café complete with piping fresh coffee and made-to-order omelettes and pancakes…and to think just a few months back the swim coaches were happy with a coffee and a bagel.

How times have changed. And this being a recession no less.

Expediting spuds . Two words I never would have sewn together but now they have become part of the fabric of my swimming lexicon.

Let’s salute the expedition of the spuds.

All hail hash browns on deck….

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Parlais Vous…

I don’t know the word for garbage in French. I wish I did. It would have come in handy the other day as I tried to bleakly explain to our visiting French friend Emile, why it was we could not move the car.

We had finished a nice leisurely breakfast at the neighborhood International House of Pancakes (IHOP) and had strapped ourselves into the car which was parked near to an enclosed area that I soon found out was home to two very large garbage bins.

“I am sorry,” I say. “Je suis désolé, mais nous avons un petit problème.” I turn to my passengers in the back seat. I notice my son is wearing a milk moustache and that there is a splat of something yellow on Emile’s tee-shirt. “Two peas in a pod,” I think to myself.

“It is the garbage truck,” I try to explain, adding a French accent for affect- the closest thing I can get to fluency.

I suppose it is more correct to refer to the giant metal monster as a waste management vehicle, WMV for short, but somehow garbage truck just seems to roll off the tongue so much easier.

Le Murphy – as in Murphy’s Law - is my personal guide through life. I contemplate trying to explain the concept of Murphy’s Law, but decide against it.

Emile is looking at me through his glasses with a smile of sorts, not sure what to make or what to say to this strange American lady behind the wheel of the car.

My Dear Son (DS) pipes in, “It never fails, if there is a fire truck, bus, student driver, little old lady, or hearse somehow they find my mom- or she finds them. I am still not sure.” I grimace and catch a glimpse of his face in the rear view mirror. He smiles at me.

“Isn’t that right mom?” DS Says with a chortle from the back seat.

Emile, our 14-year old from Versailles, says, “oui, camion d'ordures.”

I am too busy keeping my eye on the big green bin, bin being the understatement. I watch in utter disbelief as the garbage truck uses its orange pincers to pick up the monstrosity, empty it into the gaping hole on its upper back as if it were no heavier than a tissue, and then gingerly place the big green box back down right behind my car.

“Well, look at that,” I say to no one in particular. The green giant is on wheels and the waste management expert, also known as a garbage man in my ignorance, pops out of his truck and proceeds to wheel the green bin into a fenced area. He then latches the gate, looks over at me waves, gives me a big grin and pops back into his truck.

I smile and wave and pulling my head back inside the window where it has been stretched like that of a tortoise looking to catch a bit of morning sun. How this happens to yours truly is a question best left for another day.

As I pull my head back into the car I notice something shiny on the ground. I open my door, get out of the car and realize I have found two quarters. Yippee!!

That Murphy - he sure does know how to keep one guessing.

“Only you Mom,” DS says as he and Emile snap their fingers in time to a song on the radio by some band of brothers whose name escapes me at the moment…

I start the car, listening to the refrain, “Now I'm speechless, over the edge I'm just breathless...”
Kind of like me...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tortoises, Turnips and Hippos

I like to be spontaneous which is why when my DS had asked me several weeks back what I wanted to do for Mother’s Day my reply was noncommittal and fluffy, “Oh let’s just see what they day brings,” said I.

One of the true luxuries of life for me is not having plans. So much of our daily life is microscopically planned, where one needs to be when, etc. So, when I have what I refer to as a “down” weekend or a “down” day- I am ecstatic. It means not having to be any place special at any given time. It means someone else isn’t waiting for me or a loved one to be at some special place at some special time. It means I can do things as I please, when I please.

Ah…the sweet delicious drink of nothingness. It is like no other.

I digress…

Yesterday being the day of giving thanks for Mothers I was thanked with some wonderful thoughts and sentiments by my two boys. And after a morning constitutional with DH to a local French bakery we sauntered back to the homestead where I made the spontaneous decision that I would like to go to the zoo.

Well, after a quick change of clothes we three amigos headed off to the San Diego Zoo. I figured there were few mothers who would want to spend the day grazing and gazing at bipeds, mammals and furry friends- and I was right. It was a beautiful day not too cold, not too hot and we had such a fun time chock full of adventures and laughter. And no crowds!

As always, we began our day with a visit to my ‘ancestors’ as my dear son refers to the wrinkled, wise and crone like features of the tortoises. The males can grow up to six feet from head to tail and can weigh up to 573 pounds. They can live up to more than 100 years- which is why my DS has decided that I will be a long living reptile – despite the fact that I am not a reptile, but perhaps I have more in common than I yet know.

We witnessed a great scene yesterday with a giant tortoise eating a delectable known as a turnip. A Nerf ball size sphere of scrumptiliciousness for a tortoise. How does a tortoise eat such a thing one might well ask. Well, we actually were privy to the amazing feat of this four footed RV on feet. A tortoise doesn’t have teeth, but rather a hard, sharpened edge that he uses to bite with, kind of like a bird’s beak. We stood in awe as this long necked leathered friend held this turnip between his two front feet and with his knife-like beak ripped off bits of the turnip which he managed to swallow whole and seemed to be in Tortoise nirvana.

After our visit to the tortoises we moved on to a collection of lizards in various shapes, sizes and colors sunning themselves on rocks and sand dunes in the soft morning light. We also went to see a show at the world-famous Wedgeworth amphitheater which featured some beautiful birds and a regal wolf and of course a very large sea lion – it was lots of fun - and wetness for those who dared get close enough- we know better and sit far enough back to avoid the splashes from these sea creatures.

Watching the tortoise gobble his lunch had made DS and DH a bit peckish and thus we set off for Albert’s restaurant in the tree house–like setting high above the animal enclosures below with a view that is spectacular and you feel as if you are nestled in a tree. The food was great, the wait was short and we had a lot of laughs.

Speaking of laughs…we strolled the path from Tiger River into the Ituri Forest where we were off to find Hippo Grotto. One of the boys’ most memorable exhibits. Why you might ask? Well, imagine if you will, a rather gregarious river hippo doing water ballet. The luxurious pool in which the hippo named Otis was swimming allowed us to witness some true acts of nature as only she Mother Nature could enable them to be.

We witnessed Otis in all his glory though the spectacular underwater viewing window which showed off his imminent releases – if you get my drift. The guffaws and the ribald laughter that came from the crowd of onlookers was priceless. Especially as we learned that the scratches on Otis were from his “introduction” to the female hippo- seems he is need of some hippo etiquette.
Speaking of etiquette, DS and DH are still laughing about the amount, duration and expanse of poor Otis’ releases- liquid and otherwise. Since this is a G-rated site I won’t belabor the point too much. The humans that came to see them Otis in his luxurious pool were not disappointed.

Great eye-to-nostril encounters were possible through the special underwater viewing window.
Since he’s a male hippo, Otis likes to mark his territory and does it with much exuberance. What does he use? His feces and urine, of course, and the more the better! His paddle-shaped tail swished back and forth as he pooped, making a jet stream along a rock wall along the backside of his enclosure.

Needless to say the boys are still talking about this once in a lifetime moment. And when we asked about this amazing activity in a gift shop the young gal explained that there is a zookeeper wall of shame where those unfortunate enough to be in the line of fire have experienced the almighty power of Otis…

Back to the concept of unplanned moments- we planned none of these great memories-and yet we all had a great time and laughed, learned lots and came away with a renewed respect for what the San Diego Zoo does for conservation and protection and education of animals big and small.

A great day indeed. Spontaneity is truly the spice of life. What more could a mom ask for than the love and good will of her significant others? Not much.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It's Good to Dream

I like to dream. Especially when looking at one bedroom apartments for sale in the Marais district of Paris. Especially since I know almost exactly where the apartment is located – given the accompanying photos shared with long lusting viewers such as myself courtesy of the The New York Times.

The beastly publication - said with all due respect -since one of my greatest pleasures is sitting in my striped ottoman on Sundays devouring the paper from top to bottom and front to back.

And my homepage on my web browser is set to The New York Times.

But they must shoulder some of the blame for my latest daydreaming and wondering with just how I can come up with a quick mil. As in million – as in Euros….wish I had a rich uncle right about now….Suggestions welcome…

Anyway, today’s front web page had a little section in the right hand corner of the website that caught my eye. Practically anything with the word Paris or Europe will catch the corner of these ol’ eyes, bifocals not withstanding.

With interest piqued I clicked on the link that took me into a world I knew and loved. A world I had become one with just a few short years back. I had walked these same cobbled rues and avenues with my dear Julie, a French daughter of sorts to me- a youngster who had lovingly shared with me this engaging treasure of Paris.

It was very cold as we passed the wonderful jewels of shops, so many tiny gems each sparkling and welcoming in their own Parisian way - the art and the sense of Bohemian joie de vivre.

In Le Marais I bought a pair of leather gloves from a little shop the color of pink taffy where the leather goods were made in the City nearby. The young girl that helped me spoke perfect English and looked like a porcelain doll from a high end catalog. While I do not have much occasion to wear my gloves given that I live in southern California, any excuse – that being a temperature dip to fifty degrees or so I do wear them - and think of Julie and the sense of energy and life that pulsed through every cobblestone we walked on. Every smell of bread and coffee, every well-dressed woman to the college student on his or her bicycle, to every smart car neatly packed into its proper place and time. I touched Le Marais and it touched me.

And now sitting at my desk, safe in the comfort of my little office, viewing the photos of this remarkable one bedroom apartment well, I got to dreaming. At least for a few minutes. Laundry as many of you know, takes no breaks and demands attention – all hours of the day, all days of the week.

And then I thought to myself, tsk, tsk, you have a lovely home that you should be so lucky to own given the uptick in foreclosures in my very neck of the woods. Indeed, some of the neighbors less than a quarter mile away were now stretching their necks ways above the cornfields trying to save their elongated gullets.

So truly, I am content. But as I said, I like to dream.

I can imagine myself humming a little tune as did Leslie Caron in An American in Paris, and I can pretend that I am she. Again, key word being pretend. To wake up and throw open my shutters after a restful sleep and smell the fresh baked croissants wafting up to my nose from the boulangerie down below. And look, over there, Madame Leroux walks her little poodle Fifi .

“Bon jour Madame," says I with a smile and a wave as she looks up and nods. There goes Monsieur Gidot with his bald pate shiney and smooth setting out his daily menu next to his boulangerie.

But all dreams must end. I wake up and remember that my fluency in French is limited to deux mots: “Oui” and “Merci” okay maybe three: “Non.”

The word my DH will surely use more than once in the course of any quackery I may try and throw his way about the smart investment a pied de terre in le Marais would be. One word he is quite fluent in:

“Non.” Imagine Ricky Ricardo telling Lucy, "No" and you can imagine the scene. All the batting of eyelashes will never work. And I have nary a trick that Lucy had- oh if only I did!!!

Ah, C’est la vie…

Join me in my dream if you dare:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tolerance- Teach it- Preach It- Reach It...

Give us all a reason to love and care about everyone…not just some – this article hit home- I share it with all of my readers – pass it along- especially those of us with children of the same age as these two young little boys- their lives had barely been lived…

April 24, 2009, 3:04 pm

Two Little Boys

By Charles M. Blow

On April 6, just before dinner, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, a Massachusetts boy who had endured relentless homophobic taunts at school, wrapped an extension cord around his tiny neck and hanged himself. He was only 11 years old. His mother had to cut him down.

On April 16, just after school, Jaheem Herrera, a Georgia boy who had also endured relentless homophobic taunts at school, wrapped a fabric belt around his tiny neck and hanged himself as well. He too was only 11 years old. His 10-year-old sister found him.

Two beaming little boys, lost. To intolerance? Too tragic.

The sad ends to their short lives shine a harsh light on the insidious scourge of the homophobic bullying of children.

Children can’t see their budding lives through the long lens of wisdom - the wisdom that benefits from years passed, hurdles overcome, strength summoned, resilience realized, selves discovered and accepted, hearts broken but mended and love experienced in the fullest, truest majesty that the word deserves. For them, the weight of ridicule and ostracism can feel crushing and without the possibility of reprieve. And, in that dark and lonely place, desperate and confused, they can make horrible decisions that can’t be undone.

For as much progress that’s been made on the front of acceptance and tolerance of all people, regardless of our differences, enough hatred remains–tucked in the crags and spread about the surface–to force Carl and Jaheem into the abyss.

We should commit ourselves to ensuring that their deaths are not in vain, that their lives are the last page in this sorry chapter of our development as a people. And, the first step in that direction is to fully understand the scope of the problem.

In short, homophobic bullying is pervasive. It disproportionately affects black and Hispanic kids. A new study suggests an apparent link between bullying and suicide. To wit, black and Hispanic adults who are gay reported higher “serious suicide attempts” than their white counterparts, most of those attempts taking place when they were young.

Let’s look at the data:

According to a 2005 report entitled “From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America” that was commissioned by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, students are more likely to be subjected to homophobic bullying than bullying for most other reasons …

We, as a society, should be ashamed. The bodies of these children lay at our feet. The toxic intolerance of homophobic adults has spilled over into the minds of pre-sexual children, placing undue pressure on the frailest of shoulders. This pressure is particularly acute among young boys who are forced to conform to a perilously narrow concept of masculinity. Or else. My colleague Judith Warner put it best in an online column that she posted after Carl’s death:
“The message to the most vulnerable, the victims of today’s poisonous boy culture, is being heard loud and clear: to be something other than the narrowest, stupidest sort of guy’s guy, is to be unworthy of even being alive.”

Well, no more. All people are worthy just the way they are, the way God and nature made them, the way they see themselves through the truest eye of the soul. We must teach every child, nay every person, that the greatest measure of our own humanity is the degree of human dignity we afford those from whom we are different. A smile, a kind word, a handshake, a hug, understanding and compassion – the simplest acts of goodness can bridge the widest chasms.
These little boys deserved our love. Instead, through the vessels of our children, they were shown our scorn. We failed.

Carl and Jaheem, I will never forget you. I am the father of 11 year-old twins. I will give them extra hugs and kisses tonight in memory of you. I will teach them to be even more tolerant, in memory of you. I will make sure that they know that I am always there if they need an ear or a shoulder, in memory of you. I will let them know, when the waters get choppy, that the storm will always pass, in memory of you. And, I will make sure that they know in no uncertain terms that whomever they grow up to be, I will love them always and forever. This too I will do in memory of you.

We will soldier on in your stead. You rest in ours.

(It should be noted that to my knowledge neither child had self-identified as gay or bisexual at the time of their death, but now it matters not. Whomever they would have been is forever lost to the grave.)

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Friday, April 24, 2009

New Home for Mama

I got to thinking last night. It being my birthday and all. And the fact that the world was mad at me for perceived infractions along the line of not being able to provide a hot dog at nine o’clock at night to a small person. It was time for bed. Not eating. Dinner had been several hours earlier and he had a bag of starburst during the movie we had just come home from watching at the theater.

Thus, a strong string of rants and groans and grunts ensued from said small person’s mouth. It got me to thinking….what would it be like to find a secure, safe place with three square meals a day where I didn’t have to do laundry, didn’t have to worry about bills, didn’t have to worry about unsolicited telemarketers calling me at inopportune

Wouldn’t have to think about keeping the car maintained- where all of my medical needs would be covered and I would be given a supply of clean clothes – uniforms even - where I wouldn’t need to be concerned about labels and keeping up with the latest fashion trend.

The more I thought about this scenario of another world I got to thinking that maybe just maybe, I could finagle a way into the system of permanent healthcare, food rations, good security and no bothersome phone calls. I might even have access to a library where I would have time time to actually read a book...Heaven....

I wouldn’t have to worry about laundry or feeding other folks and making sure that the refrigerator was stocked. I wouldn’t be expected to plan outings and day trips and provide hot dogs to wayward offspring at inopportune and somewhat late hours.

Nope, the more I thought about this idea the more sane and rationale it is beginning to sound. I think I will place a call to our local branch of the government penitentiary and see what qualifications they need for me to become a member.

“Hello, my name is _______________________, I just turned a ripe ol’ fifty and would like to know if there are any openings in your facility?

I promise I don’t snore. I can keep my room clean and will follow all the rules.

What was that you ask? Am I crazy?

Well, I haven’t been certified but maybe you can help assist with that….”

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What would you do....


...If your new favorite pair of Taryn Rose shoes got peed on by your really nice neighbor's really cute little poodle...

(A) Cry?
(B) Say "oh, no problem" like I have plenty more where these came from (HAH!)
(C) Discreetly place your foot in the grass to try and wipe off the fowl stench and stain

...If your wonderful vanilla latte from Starbuck's blew up in the microwave (in the teacher's lounge no less) as you tried to reheat it?

(A) gulp back tears
(B) lap up the liquid as it ran out of the microwave and all over the counter
(C) run to the cleaning closet and get as many towels as you could to mop up the mess and get rid of the evidence before you were accused of trying to blow the place up

...if you started a load of laundry and when you went to take out the supposed clean clothes noticed a peculiar lavender color to everything including the jeans....

(A) Yowl as you realized the culprit of the color change was a tres tres deep purple suede jacket by Ellen Tracy that had been purchased more than a decade ago and was now really vintage and earmarked for DRY cleaning only....
(B) laugh and say "Oh well!"
(C) tell your son that purple is the new white.....

All in a day's life of "This could only happen to me."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Blind, Batty and...

I wish I were a bat. Or at least had the ability to see with my ears as a bat does. It would have been very handy the other evening driving home from an Easter celebration with friends. The friends live about an hour away. But for some reason, this particular Sunday night meant that 80 miles away was a two and a half hour road trip.

I was the designated driver. I had bought my driving glasses. Without them, I am close to blind. But my glasses make the world clear and sparkly new again. Except, something was wrong with these particular glasses- they seemed to be rather, well, frosted, I don’t really know how to describe it other than to say that I couldn’t see anything other than fuzzy shapes and blurry cars.

I did not have any alcohol in my system – I had stuck to water- and one Buck’s Fizz – more than seven hours earlier. So I knew it couldn’t have anything to do with spirits of the liquid variety. I was perplexed and more than a bit baffled.

My DS had quietly decided to take a respite and was blissfully sleeping in the passenger’s seat and DS was right behind him- figuratively and literally. My driving partners would be of no use to me on this night I could tell.

If I were a bat for example, while my eyes would be small and poorly developed, with visual acuity, I would be able to use my vision as an aid in navigation especially at long distances, beyond the range of echolocation. And goodness knows echolocation would have been most mightily appreciated on what promised to be a long sojourn home.

I felt like Edith Wharton’s character Ethan Frome stuck in a heavy New England snow storm, unable to see more than a few inches in front of him. Luckily, my life has no parallels to his and I was in a car and not a horse drawn wagon.

However, the wagon might have moved more than the fifteen miles an hour I moved for close to thirty miles of the drive home. I guess that in hindsight (no pun intended) it was a good thing given that I lacked vision, night goggles that worked and echolocation.

Well, we made it home in one piece and none the worse for wear.

The next morning I trotted down to the optometrist where I had just purchased this pair of glasses a mere two weeks earlier. The optician was perplexed. Imagine what I was.

I had after all, purchased three pairs of glasses – two of which were for distance- one being a pair of sunglasses, the other a pair for night time driving. The third pair was, I must admit –a pair of – gulp- reading glasses.

Now given that these three pairs of glasses had cost more than a few pennies, I was less than satisfied with the state of affairs. Especially when the call came in a day later telling me that the so-called pair of distance glasses actually contained my reading glass prescription.

“Imagine that,” I said to the optician. “Lucky for me traffic was moving at a snail’s pace for much of the drive home.”

Of course billows of apologies were proffered across the telephone line. I hope that when they come back to me the glasses are the way they are supposed to be.

Bats have it pretty good in my opinion.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Spousal Semantics

I like to walk. In the morning, at night. Both are good.
My DH likes to walk – sometimes. He says he likes to walk in the morning and also in the evening.

The only problem is the semantics of the terms ‘morning’ and ‘evening.’

You see, to me morning means before 6:30 a.m.

To my husband, morning means after 8:00 a.m. I should caveat that walking for my husband is a weekend activity. He is after all, the breadwinner in the family. I am the maker of peanuts (but not the ones causing all of the salmonella poisoning). My earnings are more like peanut shells now that I think about it. But I digress.

By 7:30 a.m. the day is half over, the birds have been chirping, the bees have been buzzing and I have gotten two loads of laundry done – folded if I am on a real roll. I like to get up before the sun and get busy, stop and smell the flowers, listen to the gentle stretch of the leaves as they unfurl their strong green tendrils and wake to another day. I like to become one with the morning. I like to say hello to the bunnies nibbling sweet grass near our home. I like to listen to the soft coo of the morning dove gently wake her spouse.

And speaking of spouse, I do have a technique I have used for years to try and gently coax my DH from the ether world of deep sleep. I give him a gentle kiss on the cheek and a gentle massage along his back.

This is where once more, semantics differ. What I refer to as a gentle loving kiss upon the cheek of my slumbering beloved, my DH refers to as a ‘power suction peck.’
What I refer to as a gentle nudge, DH refers to as an SSR which stands for ‘shake, rattle and roll.’
Now, being that he is of the left hemisphere species and I am of the right hemisphere species, we sometimes are left in a quandary.

By the time my gentle attempts at rousing DH from his supine state take hold, the sun has placed herself high in the sky and is beaming way too bright for this fair skinned maiden to even fathom walking in her Vitamin D-enriched rays.

‘Not to worry’ I console my DH who by now is bright eyed and ready to start his day at an hour where most of the work of the early morning has been done and stowed.

“We can have an evening constitutional,” I say to him with a loving and caring smile.
Being the patient and obliging husband that he is, my dear sweet DH agrees. But the look on his face sometimes is more like someone in a state of well, kidney stone passage.
And thus, the day passes.

Until the appointed walk time. For me night is 6:30, 7:30 p.m.

For DH, it is anything up until the point of actual darkness. Semantics.

I try and explain to DH the wonders of an evening constitutional: the owls calling to each other, the moon silently making her entrance into the night sky. Not to mention the silence of moment, with crickets as a sweet serenade and backdrop to the growing peace of the evening.
But alas, semantics once more creep into the moment and I must bat my lashes such as they are and croon sweet nothings to ask my DH to accompany me on a walk through the trails that surround our home.

It is lovely and calming and very Zen - but alas, once more, the two shall be but ships passing in the night, one heading north, the other heading south.
Recently, my DH and I were on the walking trail that parallels our home and one of the garage doors was open letting us peer in where we were greeted by the sight of a very large television screen and a man on an exercise bike, or maybe he was sitting on the couch. My eyes being what they are, it was hard to tell.

“Now that is what I call a set up,” said DH.

“A place to escape from all the noise and chatter inside the house, a place of one’s own, where you can do what you want, when you want…”

Indeed, I thought to myself.

He didn’t need to say another word. I got his message. Virginia Woolf I am not, but I am happy to walk by myself in the peace of my own company.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Good Day

When my magic carpet left me stranded in the middle of motherhood I really had no idea what kind of ride I was in for. After all, corporate life – deadlines, meetings, business plans, stats and travel were the life that I knew. These things were all containable, all identifiable.

So when Magic Carpet took a wrong turn, and took me along for the ride, I had no idea just how wild a ride it was going to be. If I had only known…

And now here I am, eleven years after the start of the ride that has me here today, waxing philosophical and a bit regretfully at just how quickly time can, and does pass. I have been on an eleven year journey of growth and discovery thanks to the young man in my life known as my Dear Son (DS) for short. Of course his being here today would not have been possible without the “ahem,” generous contribution from my Dear Husband (DH.)

And as we sing Happy Birthday to our DS and give him hugs, telling him just how proud we are of all that he has done in his decade plus in this world, we, well, me anyway, stand in awe of what we have created – and what I have not yet broken.

I realize just how fragile little minds and bodies are. I give thanks to the angels and gods and goddesses who have deemed me worthy of a bit of luck and happenstance to thus far not have poisoned my son with my awful cooking, snipped off a wayward digit, or left him unattended in the shoe department at Bloomingdale’s.

Hard to believe. Even harder to do- I am better off not thinking about it too closely- which is what I have learned from my DS. To be in the moment. The dishes can wait- they just sit there anyway. Staring at you- mounds of goop and dried egg. Not very inviting if you think about it. So much more fun to play a game of hide and seek or cards or these days, Scrabble. And I don’t win. Sigh…

I have learned much from my son including the fact that patience isn’t so much a virtue as it is a necessity. That hugs are cheap, easy and ever so comforting. Sunshine is made in a smile from a child.

So as DS enters the next decade of his life- ‘offically a ‘tween’ as he has coined himself, I look forward to the ride. I have learned to strap on the seat belt. Take a deep breath, keep my eyes open and expect the unexpected. After all, that is when the truly best surprises can be found- when one least expects them.

Happy Birthday DS - may you have many more.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Goats and Pie

Goats and Pie.
Who woulda thunk?
“Not I,” said the little mousy wife trying to stay alive and out of mischief”
“Not I,” said the big brown bear looking around for a chair.
“Not me,” said the hen again and again.
Goats and Pie…as in pie a la goat?
As in goat a la pie?
Either way….it would be best to say bye bye…

Okay now that those of you brave enough to read beyond the first line are scratching your head wondering where did the original goofy gal go? No worries. I am right here, scraping the egg off my face, pulling the twigs out of my hair and the sprigs of feathers from the bottom of my feet. And to think this is just the first week of my low residency MFA program…only 103 weeks more to go…What joys and treats you are in for my dear loyal readers!

Fear not, I have gone just a bit loopy my friends and fellow Thespians. But I must share with you two recent happenings that left me sitting on a local street corner sans shoes - singing, squawking really, for my dinner- actually a cup of coffee - I made ten cents, and a fellow crazy person donated the dollar to me to purchase said beverage. (story for another day- someone remind me…memory of the ol’ gal ain’t what it used to be.)

Why you ask was I sitting on a street corner? Well, when you have nothing left but dotty thoughts of apple pie and goats well, where does one turn? To the street my friends, to the streets.

It began on a recent afternoon around 3:00 p.m. Dear Son had just come home from school. Imagine if you will.

The Scene:
Scruffy mousy mom sitting at keyboard pecking out a story upstairs in her office.
Door slams from somewhere below.

“Hello Mama!” a familiar voice bellows.

“Hello My dear,” the mousy mom bellows back down at her young son. “I will be down in a minute dear,” she quickly pounds a few keys and hits the “save” button.

Next Scene: (The family Room):
Mousy mom bounds down stairs and plants a west kiss on sweaty cheek of young ward who smells like a wet puppy dog.

Sweaty young son is plopped on leather oversized couch drinking a bottle of water watching a basketball game on television.

“Hey Mom,” sweaty young son asks.

“Did you send in my form and money for the apple pie?”

Mousy mom stares at young lad and questions:

“What form, what pie?”

Sweaty young son turns off television and gives mousy mom a long stare with two pools of dark chocolate in which water appears to be cresting the dam.

“What are you talking about?” Mousy mom (aka yours truly in case you haven’t figured that out) asks in disbelief.

Young son stares at crazy lady with paint splotched oversized oxford shirt and bleach-splotched sweatpants and socks complete with holes where big toe peeks out unceremoniously.

“Mom, Miss A. says is it the best pie in the world. Everyone in the class is getting one. I was the only name she didn’t call when she read out the list of those who had sent in their forms and money.”

“Well, okay then” says I in mock agreement. “But please, may I ask you, when did you develop a craving for apple pie? I can barely get you to eat the apples I put in your lunch. And while we are talking about apple pie, since when do you or I or Dad for that matter eat pie? When was the last time you saw a pie in this house?”

The dam broke. I was faced with a ten year old soon to be eleven crying buckets because his mousy mother had neglected to send in a form for an apple pie that was going to cost fifteen dollars. And we don’t eat pie. At least I wasn’t aware we did.

But there on the couch in front of me sat the young lad telling his mousy old mam that he loved apple pie…I guess it must have been with his other mother that he ate the aforementioned apple pie.

I sighed. It was a losing battle that I was happy to let go. I would give in and let him buy a pie which I must admit, I was curious to see exactly how it would make its way home on a 2-hour bus ride. Might be worth the humor factor- cheaper than a movie ticket. And I was even more curious to see who would eat this supposedly ‘to die for’ pie.

…Just when I thought things couldn’t get more surreal, I read an article on The New York Times home page

that shared with me that the most populous meat the world over is: GOAT. As in horns and bleating and head butting four legged, hooved creature. I am heading toward complete vegetarian and now this- goat? I guess I learned too may nursery rhymes in preschool including Baa Baa black sheep and read too many stories about Billy Goat Gruff to ever fathom (gulp) eating such animals.

Anything with eyes is circumspect in my book when it comes to food.

Speaking of eyes…Apples don’t have eyes do they?!...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Luck O' The Irish

Recently, I decided that I was losing my mind. I realized this as I tried to come up with the reasons why I had decided to go back to school and endure two years of grueling work – like five classes that start in a week. Why I was working two jobs – one that I really enjoy which doesn’t pay very much but is really satisfying in a much deeper way and another job that taxes my brain sometimes and makes me feel really dumb. And oh, then the reality of being a mom, chauffeur, wife and sometimes really bad cook.

I realized that trying to be all things to all people at all times means giving up things like matched pairs of socks and cold milk. Cold milk you ask. Cold milk I say.

And this is why I believe I have lost my mind. St. Patrick’s Day- a few days back arrived cool, crisp and clear. I made breakfast for the DS and prepared lunched for DH and DS. I readied myself for work after dutifully planting kisses on cheeks of said husband and son.
Off we trotted to our respective destinations in the wee hours on the day of the Irish. My son to school to learn the golden rule; my husband to work, from which he did not shirk; and me to play with my three year olds hurray!

So we went. And so I returned to the domicile four hours later where I began to unload the dishwasher and put the dishes away. As I opened a cupboard there grinning at me was a face on the side of the milk carton. I wondered what it was doing in there with the plates.

It was a half gallon container. Almost full. Now warm. It was supposed to be in the refrigerator. It was not supposed to be in the cupboard. I scratched my head and truly began to wonder whether I had completely lost my marbles, every single last one.

And this is when I decided to share my latest debacle with my dearest and bestest friend from years back (we are delicate in our doting age of agelessness and shall simplify refer to our friendship as entering a golden period). In any case, I lamented my inability to put a simple carton of milk back from whence it came.

On and on I yowled like a petulant child or a hungry cat. In either case, an email groaning is not a pleasant way to start one’s day or end one’s night. And this being St. Patty’s Day no less. I asked my dearest and best friend whom I shall call Karen Alice, if I was indeed losing my mind. And her answer is below. It says it all and it says why she is indeed my dearest and bestest friend (next to my Dear Husband of course who already has the number for the neighborhood men in white on auto dial – just in case…)

As told to me by Karen Alice:

"well...I'll tell you what my sisters told me when I WAS losing my mind: "No you're not, You're awesome, remember how good you are at______, do something nice for yourself, things will get better....

But on the off chance that you lost your mind and I find it, I'm keeping it... when Nathan was home for weekend and little cousins and such were visiting, the dishes were so high in the sink, I couldn't see out the window, there were so many pillows and blankets on the floor, I couldn't walk, my feet were so sore, but I still didn't get to bed until 12 midnight. and I call that a pretty good, fun weekend!

Maybe the leprechauns will put a wee little spring in your step, I've been warming up my best Irish Brogue all afternoon. Have a wonderful day my special lassie.

I love you,

Karen Alice St. Murphy

Now, I may be losing my mind, but with a friend like Karen Alice, I don't think I can get much luckier than that!

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Good Day

There is a recession going on around the world. We are all in its midst- well, at least I am- and most of the folks I know are as well. We are looking for ways to trim here, snip there.
It is a good thing in some ways. Forcing us all to reevaluate what is important. What really matters. What one really needs to get through not only challenging times but life in general. I am fortunate and I do try not to take what I have been given for granted.
I understand that everything can be swooped out from under one’s feet in the mere breath of a butterfly wing – whoosh.
I was reminded of this recently. I hosted a small brunch for some of my fellow writers. We had become chummy through the UCLA online extension program. We spent three months or what seemed like three months writing and editing each other’s work- all online in that mysterious netherworld of zeros and ones that we call the Internet.

We got to know each other’s styles and got to know each other’s lives a bit – sometimes with perhaps more detail than we cared to know, but part of taking an online writing class in the genre of personal essay is all about learning to share.

We had enough in common that four of us wanted to try and get together once the class ended. The fact that we all lived in southern California also simplified the possible connections as well. And so we did.

We began our 'ladies who write' gatherings over a year ago and we have kept them up – sometimes at someone’s home and sometimes at a restaurant or museum.

It has all been good. These women whom I shall refer to as “Dr. J”, “Lady T” and “Lady G” represent what the newly coined “fempire” world would look like. We may not be thirty anymore and we may not have the name Diablo or Cody as our calling card, but we are fun and mighty with words.

I stand in awe of "Lady G." who has not only finished her first book but has actively sent it out and has gained the interest of several agents. An amazing accomplishment. But she is also a might force of acting- the consummate professional and so amazingly beautiful in a most refreshing and real way. What? you ask - an actor who is real? What an oxymoron. In this case. No. It's the truth. She is the 'real deal.'
Moving on to "Lady T." She is what every good friend should be. A come, take charge and whip me into shape kinda gal. All with a smile and an amazing ability to create works of wonder out of a few bits of string and hemp. And her humor is unparalleled. To take the energy that spouts forth like a gurgling brook from her is to be in the presence of what it means to live and enjoy and to seize the moment. Oh did I mention she has two grown children and looks amazing. You know, that kind of sunny disposition female you want to hate...she is it. Except that you have to love her. At least I do. As do her kids and husband and the list goes on and on....

And then there is the patient curiosity of another writer whose mere presence is truly a reminder to taking life fully. Grabbing it tightly and holding on. I am most humbly reminded of this when “Dr. J.” enters a room. Imagine a soft warm glow of ethereal light bathing its surroundings with a sense of peace and calm. I guess this is what I feel when I am around this incredibly poignant and ever so talented writer. She has depths of understanding and life experience that she has made her own and her fabric- her life’s tapestry is rich in color and vibrant in texture.

Imagine if you will, sitting down to a casual lunch of salad and sandwiches and sweets and of course chocolate covered strawberries- and homemade carrot cake (courtesy of "Dr. J.") and chatting for hours - and hours. Delicious. It was just an amazing flow of conversation on topics of every shape color and weight. And with four different mouths all chatting and sharing there were a thousand more thoughts roaming and waving hands here and there- and we laughed and we shared and we even sniffled a bit.
And it was all good. Like life should be when we are surrounded by beauty and acceptance and honesty and truth. The simple things really.
"Lady T" said it best, “Because despite all that is going on, it is the continued creation of friendships, communication and aesthetics that give value to this life…”

And thanks to the kindest efforts of My DH and DS who poured punch and picked up the food for the soiree, we had a moment bathed in happy warm goodness.

I am indeed a lucky gal.