Monday, July 31, 2006

News

Word came via the post today that I was not selected for the position I interviewed for in Michigan. I am at peace about it. I feel like God will lead me where and when He wants me and until then I'm right where I should be.

Thank you all for your good wishes and prayers.

DogHer

I realize there's some big blogging conference (BlogHer) going on somewhere right about now but to be honest, I couldn't care less. I attended my tenth high school reunion. I don't care to do it again.

To that end, I applaud those who blog simply to blog. Those who write because it makes a difference in themselves, not because they think 40 readers will find it funny or because they hope to quit their day job to blog professionally. I read some of the "big time" blogs, but the minute they ask me to fill out a survey for their advertisers I realize their heart isn't in the same place that mine is. I write simply to write. I don't care if I have 2 readers or 22. I don't always comment on what I read and I don't expect everyone to comment on what they read here. It just is. And that is just perfect for me.

And that is why, every day, my favorite blog is Oliver. Void of pretention or intention it simply is joy.

Friday, July 28, 2006

It's the Simple Things, Really

A week before my 35th birthday, I walked into the wine and spirits shop last night for an indulgent bottle of wine (the highlight of my weekend, I expect). In one short sentence, the clerk raised my spirits and provided me with the highlight of not only my Thursday, but perhaps my whole week when he said, “Can I see your I.D.?”

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

According to George

According to George:

The sign at the pool meant to indicate “No Running” was confidently translated by George to mean: “No Picking Your Butt at the Pool”.

Lying in the hammock together under the shade of an oak tree in the backyard, with a fresh cut lawn under our feet and a cold drink in our hands, I whispered to George, “Isn’t this heaven?” George shook his head no, “This isn’t heaven” he said. I said, “But it’s like heaven cause I feel so happy being right here together with you.” George reiterated, “This is NOT heaven.” I said, “What do you think Heaven is like?” He said, “It’s not a happy place.” I said, “No?!” He added, “it’s underground.” Realizing he was perhaps confusing Heaven with another eternal destination I suggested, “Do you think you’re thinking of the other place? The place where the Devil lives? What’s that place called?” George proudly proclaimed, “China!”


Bear was explaining to George that he had to attend a funeral on Monday so he wouldn’t be home right after work, he’d be home after George was asleep. George asked how come he had to go to a funeral. Bear explained that someone had died. George wanted to know who died. Bear said it was someone he knew when he was growing up. George wanted to know if he was older than Bear. Bear said no, he was younger. George wanted to know if he was bigger than Bear. Bear said, no, he was probably a little shorter. George wanted know how much shorter he was than Bear; “Did he come up to HERE on you?” Bear said no, but he probably came up to HERE on him. George asked why he died. Bear said, “cancer.” George exclaimed, “Everyone dies from cancer!” and then quickly qualified with, “well, not everyone. Not Army people. They die because they get shot, not because they have cancer.”

I commented to George that he must have decided to change his name again because his shirt said “Tommy” on the pocket. He said, “No!! My name is George!” I said, but it even says “Tommy” on the tag, so it must be your name if it says it in two places! George didn’t believe me that his tag said “Tommy” so we turned his shirt around so he could see the tag and see that it did, in fact, say “Tommy” (Hilfigger). And that’s how George got his Mafia name: Tommy Backwards.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Recanting

Okay, okay, okay!!!! So, about that whole ‘I hate the library’ thing….

The “unknown” book that I picked up, I can’t put it down. I’m about ¾ of the way through and I know I’ll finish before the day is done (I can’t help it!!)

By the way, it’s called “Wrapped in Rain” by Charles Martin.

Disclaimer: I have had many a friend recommend a book that I hated. To this day if I tell my sis about a great movie, she knows never to rent it as she probably won’t like it. To say I’m in love with a book in no way indicates that it would be widely embraced by normal book-loving people.

Of Things We Shall Not Speak Of (Just Yet)

Awhile ago, I posted on my desire to relocate. Mum’s been the word ever since as I have put my resume out there and tried to ready myself for all a move back to the Midwest would mean. I’m still not at a talking point as of yet. You can refer to this post if you need to. But I feel as if I’m sitting on the balancing point right now. It’s either going to work, or it isn’t. And if it isn’t, while that isn’t a life sentence, I think it would indicate a postponement of some duration. I feel very strongly that God has led me towards this end. If this door should close I would have to give pause to the message. I should know more in a week’s time. In the meantime, have an incredible weekend! Get out of doors for some portion of it (even if it’s hot, even if it’s rainy). Hug the people that you love. And if you’re the praying sort, perhaps mention my name once or twice.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Withdrawal

Last night I did something I haven’t done in nearly 15 years. I went to the library. Sorry, I should have made sure you were sitting down before I shared that shocking news, I know. I have read all the books I have, I have sold all the books I have and I’m in withdrawal so you could say my hand was forced. (When I told my sister I went to the library, I am certain I heard her gasp.)

I rarely set foot in a bookstore knowing what book I wish to purchase. I’m a browser. I like to look at the books; I like to read a sentence or two. I like to read recommendations by the bookstore staff. I wasn’t sure I would have a similar experience at the library so I visited Amazon.com and looked at their most recent recommendations for me (and fought my inner demons to not put each and every one into my cart and ship them overnight to my door. Sigh. ) I headed off to the library with a list of about five books, not knowing what I might find.

Upon entry, I headed straight to the check-out desk to obtain my library card. A painless process, it turns out, I had a card in hand within five minutes and was set free into the vast array of books. I quickly found the fiction section and prepared myself for the rush of adrenaline that comes when my eyes feast upon shelves and shelves of new, pristine books.

But these weren’t. They were used, dusty, dirty books. And there wasn’t really that many shelves of them. And they weren’t turned to face me so that a cover or title might catch my eye and beg me to read. And there weren’t any lists of suggestions, “If you love James Patterson, try…” I held my pessimism in check and with list in hand went searching for the titles I had written down. None of them were there. I found a shelf of “New Books!” and looked sideways at all the titles hoping something would jump out at me, but it didn’t. I was frustrated with the Damn Dewey Decimal system for covering up parts of the titles or authors of the books on the binding. I finally picked up a book by one of the authors on my list, although not the book I had hoped to start with. And in an effort to feel successful, I picked up another book, completely unknown to me, so that I might at least feel as if I had found CHOICES among the shelves.

I checked out.

I went home.

I felt defeated.

There is something to be said about marketing and product placement. There is something to be said about the atmosphere of a Barnes and Noble that draws me in far more than the death-like stillness at the Public Library. There is something, even, in the scent between the pages of a brand new book.

I’m reading the two books I picked up. I am. I am trying to overcome my need for “new” and to try to simply enjoy a good read no matter what the pages look like.

But it’s not easy. And I don’t like it.

I miss my books.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Of Houses and Lakes and Letters in the Box

Critics be damned I went. I knew it was my kind of movie, I knew it would touch the parts of me that believe in love, the parts that were once described as “hopelessly romantic”, the very same parts I try to ignore. How could it not? Even the title was my sort of title, “Lake House” was my sort of place and the idea that love could transpire through letters, well, it’s my sort of love story. It’s not for everyone, I know this from the empty theater I watched it in, but I prefer it that way. It doesn’t have to ring true to everyone; it just rings true to me.

I remember a time when I wrote letters. I remember the promises within. I remember the words he wrote back, words on a page I can see so clearly even now. I waited. For the time to be right, for the pieces to be in place, for everything to come together, I waited. But he didn’t.

Tonight I miss those words on the page. I miss the absolute certainty with which I trusted those letters, those words, that love. It is not him perhaps, that I miss anymore, but the woman I was when I was with him. The woman of whom he spoke in those letters. The woman I could only dream of being. I was a woman in love. Once.

Tonight, I am diminished to a woman in tears. Over all the things that might have been. Over all the things I have closed myself off to. It would scare me now to read such words. I am a cynic to anyone that might try to urge my faith in such promises again. It is my own undoing. Perhaps once upon a time it was to allow my heart to heal. Now it is just a way to keep it from having to feel at all. I know, deep down, that I believe, still, even yet, but I also know the depths within that I would have to climb to unlock that door, the depths that someone would have to go to even find the key. It is, perhaps, asking too much. Love is difficult enough in the years together, it shouldn’t be nearly so hard to get to in the first place.

I shall go, it upsets the pup when I cry.

Ghoti

The similarities are not lost on me. A history of tragedy ill-defined for most. Mementos from the past safeguarded against viewing, emotions tucked away, left perhaps undealt with. Never truly attached, although his heart has belonged to many – he gives it away for a wink, hopeful and trusting and takes the pieces back in with a familiar routine, chastising himself for foolish infatuation yet always hopeful that one day will be the right day. Never ruling out the option of star-crossed lives, of destiny and true love he defines the optimistic romantic.

Smart, self-educated by a hands-on approach to life he reads, listens, talks, discusses, travels, dares and dreams. Although he’ll quickly beg off the word “fluent” he speaks a handful of languages better than most and can turn words into picturesque visions on the page.

His self-deprecating humor comes honestly enough. He’s aware of his talents and his shortcomings and accepts both with the same tip of the glass and moves on. He is always invited and rarely declines. His friends find him to be honest, funny and generous. He is a friend to many, allowing anyone and everyone to be their most human in his company, but he has allowed few in to the depths of his quixotic heart. His career and his social life are full of people, gatherings and parties and yet he has perhaps never felt more alone. Finding people to share a drink with is easy, finding someone to wake up with for the next 50 years has proved more of a challenge.

His eyes watch the horizon looking for a reason from any direction to move, for his life to finally be uprooted for all the right and provocative reasons. He is divided on whether to go it alone or stay the course. I have no right, of course, to offer up advice or direction, but to this man, to a body so full of talent, compassion and romance, I dare say that in the place where his heart leaps, where the setting is one of choice reached through determination and will, at the very spot where he might breathe the air of truth and freedom, he might just be found. And the elusive, mysterious love that has escaped him thus far, it might then be able to find him, too.

Forgive me, Ghoti, my perceptions.

Friday, July 14, 2006

If Dreams Were Horses and Beggars Could Ride

Today is exactly the sort of day (and this week has been exactly the sort of week) where I would like to leave work and call my sister and say, “I’ll order pizza if you want to bring the kids over tonight”. And they would come over and the dog would get all wound up and the kids would run through the yard and come into the house with their dirty little summer feet and we would eat pizza in the kitchen, around the kitchen, with everyone talking at once. The kids would play until dark while my sister and I would sit on the deck and talk about nothing and yet everything. And later, in the glow of a Disney movie, the littles would fall asleep and I would say to Jules, “Just leave them here. I’ll bring them home tomorrow.” And she would give me a hug and drive home and I would carry the kids one by one, stepping over the dog, upstairs to snuggle up on the floor of LM’s room to sleep for the night. I would fall asleep in my own big bed with the exhaustion of a summer day well spent and the complete contentment of being surrounded by those that you love.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Darn Genetics

Finally, at long last, Amy finds the relative responsible for her abnormally large snout.


* This blog in no way means to suggest that humans have evolved from primates. This is a Christian blog with the author a firm believer in God and creation. Consider this simply a humour attempt at further self-deprecation, specifically a poke at the size of my nose.

Copycat

Amanda (Orchestrated Happenstance) and I share a love for the Pivot Questionnaire (best known from "Inside the Actor's Studio"). She posted today her answers and asked readers to share theirs. I had to really give some of these questions thought, but for now, here are my responses:

What is your favorite word? Joy

What is your least favorite word? hate

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Moments of majesty or grace.

What turns you off? Ambivalence, arrogance, anything done to excess.

What is your favorite curse word? I rarely, if ever use it myself, but when someone uses the word “Bastards!” in a sarcastic tone it cracks me up every time.

What sound or noise do you love? Children laughing, a distant lawn mower, the sigh of a horse.

What sound or noise do you hate? Listening to a neighbors air conditioning compressor when you have your windows open in the summer.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Photography or perhaps writing children’s books.


What profession would you not like to do? Anything mundane or lacking any socialization. Any sort of fishing.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “Welcome home! Your mom can’t wait to give you a hug!”

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Speechless

And as I sit, drinking a Sprite and munching on pretzels, wondering what I will do with my evening, this is happening.

It feels impossible not to take for granted the amass of freedoms we experience each and every day of our lives as Americans.

God be with these people, these countries and this world.

Monday, July 10, 2006

"I Did It"

There’s a reason fathers tend to teach their children how to ride a bike. LM was nearly seven and long overdue for the lesson before I realized the task would be left up to me. He didn’t request the demonstration, he was more than content with training wheels. His riding was limited by the very short sidewalk in front of our apartment. But we were moving. To a real neighborhood. Where wheels would rule. I knew it was time he learned.

We walked the bike across the street and down a block to a small playground. The basketball court had a layer of little rubber pieces over the pavement that in my mind might make for a softer landing. I talked him through the process. I reminded him that falling was part of learning. I was there to help him on and to hold on until he was ready to go it alone. I was right.there.behind.him.

To say I was ill-prepared for the emotions that followed is an understatement. I didn’t realize how much I would hurt each time he fell. I didn’t realize how much strength it would take to let go of his bike when I knew it would fall again. I wasn’t ready for the tears that soaked my cheeks. But we kept at it and I became the cheerleader I never was. LM was a trooper. He stuck with it for several nights slowly getting the idea and gradually making progress. I remember saying over and over to him, “Jacob, when you get this, when you go all on your own on your bike, you will feel like you are flying!” and I knew he would feel that flight in the depths of his soul. And when, at long last, his bike found its way to the opposite corner of the court while I stood back and watched and cheered and cried, his face lit up like something I had never seen. I knew immediately what the expression was: Accomplishment.

A week ago, I rode on the back of the pontoon boat as my brother floated in the water explaining to LM how to get on the knee board and how it would feel when the boat pulled him. I worried and fretted as I watched that short little board wiggle under his weight and I was nervous that the first fall would end his desire to learn. It was really only the second try when he did it, and the boat cruised around the cove with LM smiling as wide as the lake. Sitting next to G’ma Judy, we both cried. I cried again a few days later when he did the whole process all by himself, without his uncle holding onto the board to get him started, having to pull himself up as the boat tugged him behind and to get the strap up over his knees while still holding the tow rope and balancing on the board. My tears are not for a sadness over a new-found independence. I don’t cry because he is growing up and growing away. I cry because so far, I haven’t messed it up. That allowing a village to raise our children makes them better people than we could raise alone. That a week ago, just like three summers ago, my son felt the pride of a new accomplishment. He did it. And I thank God that was there to witness.

I am reminded of what a crime it is to underestimate our children. I am so grateful to my brother for even thinking about teaching the kids about a knee board, something that would never have crossed my mind. And LM taught me, again, what it feels like to let go, little by little, as our children learn to fly with their own wings.

He will be gone for 8 weeks before I’ll see him again. I miss him more than I have words to describe. But I can close my eyes and hear him holler, “I did it!” under the sunshine on the lake and I know that I am doing the right thing. So far.

Do The Dew

I am not a caffeine drinker. I used to be. I used to drink Mt. Dew while watching Johnny Carson (yes, I’m that old) and fall asleep immediately after. Then I graduated from college and entered the real world where caffeine actually has an effect on my body and I can no longer sleep after consumption. I occasionally forget while dining out that the soda at a restaurant contains caffeine and it will be 4am when I am still awake in bed before I remember the reason for my insomnia.

Last weekend, however, I drove 11 hours to TN to visit my family. This drive required my entire cd collection, the laptop for LM’s amusement and copious amounts of Diet Mt. Dew to keep me from taking a little siesta during the drive. My visit was a short one, so I saw no need to force my family to suffer through my withdrawal, so I continued to consume Mt. Dew as if it were not available in Pennsylvania during my stay. On my return trip home, having barely slept the night before and driving without any companions to help keep me alert, I relied upon three 20-ounce bottles of Diet Dew to carry me through the trip.

I had one caffeinated Diet Coke upon my return to work on Wednesday morning and then cut myself off cold turkey to deal with the withdrawal and just get it over with. By Friday mid-day I had a raging headache that would not succumb to the medicinal effects of Advil. By Saturday I lay listlessly on my couch begging the throbbing to please stop now promising a life of atonement. By Sunday pup and I were out to the Bark Park and I was back to feverishly cleaning the condo (four trash bags left my home last evening. Four. Translation: LM’s closet has been cleaned.)

I am now on the other side of addiction and have only this to report: How in the world do smokers/drug addicts/alcoholics/etc. cope?!

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Few for the Road

The Lake

Mr. Serious (LM)


Not-So-Serious George

George's Feet

Highlights

"The Elephant"

"The Goofball"


Riding the 'ol John Deere


The Three Muskateers


LM on the Knee Board


Borrowed Knee Board: Free, Gas for the Boat: $20, Learning how to get up on the Knee Board all by yourself: PRICELESS!


G shows us how to throw washers like a pro, or is that like a redneck?


Skis with a view

Show Off


Little Bird Does It!!


The King of Armpit Farts

Expander Update

This is the dreaded expander. We are officially done turning the top (the space we generated was about 3/4 of an inch wide. YOWZA!) The bottom one needs about nine more turns but those are only once a week and LM says they don't bother him a bit, so it looks like we're home free on this one!



Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Trip

For those who participated in the Annual Family Vacation in Tennessee this year, here’s a quick recap quiz to make sure you were paying attention. For those who weren’t there, well, ya missed out!!

1. On the 11 hour drive down, LM and Amy saw something in the sky they couldn’t immediately identify. What was it?
a. Hang glider
b. Helicopter
c. MetLife Blimp
d. Hot air balloon

2. What 5 states do Amy and LM pass through to get from their house to Papa’s?
a. Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee
b. Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee
c. Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee
d. Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee

3. Throughout the weekend, Amy’s sister declared that despite being the eldest in the family, she was NOT:
a. In charge of disciplining the children
b. Making decisions
c. Cooking
d. Doing Laundry

4. When asked what the plan was for the day, George said the family was going to:
a. Go boating, golfing and then eat cake.
b. Go swimming, shoot pool and order pizza.
c. Drive the lawn tractor, play baseball and have ice cream
d. Catch butterflies, play and eat blood.

5. On LM’s first publication of the Daily News, the dinner menu included “MM”. What did the MM stand for?
a. M&M’s
b. Mystery Meat
c. Marinated Monkeys
d. Mom’s Mess

6. Uncle G scored major points with the kids by:
a. Teaching them how to knee board.
b. Giving them each $10.
c. Telling them they could stay up past 11
d. Doing their summer homework for them.

7. AWTAA stands for:
a. Amy’s Wicked Tea (with Absolute and Apricot)
b. Another Weird Technique for Annoying Amy
c. American Washer Throwers Association of America
d. A Wet Towel Armors All

8. When told he had to eat the salad he put on his plate even though he disliked the dressing it came with, LM:
a. Gagged and ended up choking on lettuce.
b. Ate three bites and threw up.
c. Put the lettuce in paper towels and tried to wash off the dressing.
d. Cried.

9. The funniest joke Bear told involved:
a. Beer
b. A blonde
c. A priest, a rabbi and a nun
d. A man (and his horse)

10. The most shocking truth about the trip is:
a. We’re all still alive after driving the hour long boat ride in the dark.
b. George’s arm did not fall off after making no less than 2008 armpit farts.
c. Papa played poker.
d. LM, Jules and G’ma J don’t suck at the various games they all played.
e. All of the Above


Answers:
1. c. But it took quite awhile to figure out it was in fact a blimp because it was not circling, it was traveling in the same direction we were, thus all we saw was the “butt of the blimp”.
2. d. Strange, but true, when you pass through south central PA, you actually pass through that funky arm of Maryland and a little protruding part of West Virginia and then enter into Virginia all within 30 miles.
3. b. Therefore a qualifier is in place for all happenings since “Youngest” and “Middle” were thereby left in charge. Oh my.
4. d. And I believe it was moth blood to be exact. Oh to be 5.
5. b. It was yet undecided what dinner would be at the time of publication.
6. a. While I will never forget the look of accomplishment on LM and Little Bird’s faces, I am certain I have grey hair from watching the process.
7. c. And if you don’t know the game of ‘washers’ you’re just not redneck enough to roll with my fam.
8. c. Ingenious, you must admit.
9. d. And it was an ‘in the moment’ sort of joke that may never be as funny again.
10. e. Emphatically. We all had a great time and can’t wait to be together again!