Pages

9.29.2012

THE OVER-VALUED VALUE OF WORK



If truth be told, and I was willing to admit it, I take after my father.  Many a trait of his can be found in me as well.  My mom occasionally will call me little Walt.  Curses and blessings both to genetics and environment!  The only choice we have is in our response to both of those stimuli that make us who we are. 

I have a natural and genetic bent to love work; to find satisfaction in changing things aesthetically, creating order, accomplishing something with limited resources or time or odds against me.  I love manual work too.  There is something almost freeing about getting dirty, building, caring for something that brings great satisfaction to me.  My dad is a lot like that too.  But, I look like a total slacker, a lazy-ass if you will, compared to his never ending ability to create constant work motion! 

Talking around the bonfire at my sister's last night, we both commented on our dad's ability to find enjoyment in working.  So much so that vacation, after about a week, just becomes excruciating painful boredom for him.  He actually likes and operates in his best zone when he can do - putter, work, care for yards and gardens and the like.  I find enjoyment in that stuff too.  It's a bit of a zen place for me as well.  But, I love vacation.  I love to read, do nothing, sit on a beach for hours at a time, curl up next to Doug on the couch and watch TV, go for a walk hand in hand, lay in bed leisurely on the weekend mornings, ease into the day slowly if time allows.  There is a ying to my yang.

When I got married for the first time 27 years ago, I had to work through not feeling guilty for taking a nap or sitting down during the day.  It wasn't the way I was raised.  Naps were for when you were sick and sitting down meant you had a bent to the lazy side.  There was stuff to do!  It took very conscience effort on my part to separate the need to do from the more important, being.  Frenetic work activity was ok, but more valid and lasting was working on being.  That had to trump activity.  I couldn't get all my validation from my list of dos and tasks.  I needed to foster inside of me growth, which involved doing nothing at times but slowing down, breathing, taking in the ride I was on.

I still find great pleasure in constantly moving, but I don't want to be defined by what I "accomplished" or "got done" on my to do list.  I want the enjoyment to be the process of doing it, not getting it done to get it done and move on to the next thing fearing that if I don't an endless line of things will back up in the sewer of life. 

I turned to my oldest sister last night and said, "Work doesn't go anywhere.  It's always there waiting on you and it comes back again and again when you get it done."  

9.27.2012

A NAME DESTINED FOR GREATNESS


Some names have a ring to them.  They flow nicely from first to middle to last name.  I give accolades to parents who can create such a name concert.  For instance, in today's paper the obituary listed a man whose middle name was Livingston.  That is not a common middle name.  It has a great air to it.  Very curious I was about the man who had the middle name Livingston. Other names are like bowls, they speak to the world what that person will hold.  It is as if their name is their map, their destiny, their definition for all that they will do.   


At the grocery recently, I picked up a pack of sweet onions.  I like to have them around for the myriad of things I might make that include onions.  And sweet onions are the best.  Nothing makes potato salad better, a burger more complete, stir fry more interesting and a roast in my Grandma Yeager's cast iron dutch oven turn out better than adding some sweet onions! 
 
I laughed out loud in the produce section as my eyes laid hold of the words on the package of onions.  Was this a joke of some sort?  A tongue-in-cheekish subversive way to drive home that sweet onions are good, and not BLAND?  I wanted to applaud that company with my already started standing ovation for their creativity, irony, and wit!  Was there an 800 customer number listed that I could call to congratulate their ingenuity?  Seriously funny stuff!!  A marketing dream come true.
 

So curious was I to why this producer of sweet onions called themselves Bland Farms, that I looked them up.  Bland is the last name of the family who owns the onion producing farm.  And it is no little "family" operation!   The state of Georgia grows and ships 100,000 tons of sweet onions in the US and abroad.  I most definitely help keep those numbers high!  Bland Farms in particular is the world's largest grower, packer and shipper of sweet onions.  There is nothing bland about that.
 
The Bland family is utilizing their name.  You cannot have a last name such as BLAND, and not do something with it.  Anything, in fact, that you would do would appear grand in contrast to this family's moniker.  Possibly having a last name like Bland gives you a one up over others.  Seriously, where are you gonna go with Jones?

 

9.25.2012

IF YOU NEED ANYTHING ELSE? *wink, wink



Recently my husband and I were in Indianapolis.  We strolled about downtown, perusing stores and just generally taking in the downtown Circle Center area.  It was a beautiful beginning of fall Saturday and the Colts were not in town, creating a somewhat dead downtown.  Just the way I like it!

After going in the same stores that just about every large city or region has, and purchasing a few items that we could have just as well have bought at our own GAP, we began looking for a place for lunch.  The criteria was it had to not be a chain restaurant, or at the very least, one that could only be found in places other than where we lived.  It also had to have clean food (a term I have used all my life to define food made without crap in it!) and a place to sit outside and enjoy the 75 degree blue skied sunny day. 

We settled on a place called The Capital Grille.  Despite it appearing a bit pricey, it had some great outdoor seating.  One could easily see its clientele's net worths were no doubt way above ours.  We ordered lobster bisque, some sort of shrimp salad and a burger made with Kobe beef served with hand made chips.  The food was good.  The tables were linen covered, including the outdoor ones.  If you were in a hurry of any kind this was not the restaurant for you.  It was a place meant to be savored slowly; drinks, bread, appetizers, main dish, dessert and coffee.  Those types of restaurants are a welcome stop once in awhile, like reading a book on a rainy day.  And, this was an interesting place with interesting people sitting near us.  We had a front row seat to all the street's activities.  The sport of people watching was in full swing.

Michael, our waiter, came to the table.  He sported a very large, almost handlebar-ish moustache and was close to 50+ years of age.  Obviously this might have been a life career for him - waiting tables in higher end restaurants all his life.  There are probably no benefits like insurance or a 401K, but given the right restaurants, good money could no doubt be made.  I tried to picture what else he could have done for a living but couldn't picture anything past Harley cyclist or bull rider.  He was a good waiter and very polished.

Doug and I played our "make up people's names" game with all those seated on the patio with us.  There was an older, very classy couple sitting with what appeared to be maybe one of their kids and wives.  They were classically styled, fit and quite attractive for their age and continually touched each other.  We settled on Edmund and Sophie for them.  There was also a young couple not far from us who conversely really never talked to or touched each other.  For all stretches of the imagination they were a Justin and Kelly.  We giggled and fought the urge to get up and let them in on our name game to see if we were close! 

Sitting directly across from us was a man and wife.  The man was somewhere near 55-60.  And the woman, in my opinion anyway (Doug did not agree with me on this one) was 5-10 years younger than him by looking at her face.  Though when you looked at her hands she did appear to be close to him in age.  Maybe she had plastic surgery or Botox on her face.  Doug said a person's hands show their age.  If that were totally true I would have appeared 20 years older than I am based on the old lady hands I have had all my life!  They seemed very comfortable with each other.  She seemed to like very nice things.  We couldn't settle on names for them as I got overly distracted at how much she cut her food up and how slow she ate.  I do everything fast, including eating!

As we prepared to depart after paying the bill, Michael the waiter came back to the table.  He presented us with his business card.  Now I have never ever ever gotten a business card at a restaurant with the waiter's name on it.  At first glance I thought maybe the card just showcased the restaurant information.  But no, in large print in the center of the card was his first and last name along with the restaurant name and address, and a phone number - his or the restaurants I do not know.  "Here is my card", he said.  "If you are ever in need of anything else, please call me."

What the hell did that mean, wink-wink-wink!  Doug and I's overactive imaginations kicked in; was there a subliminal message there, why would I need to call Michael the waiter from the Capital Grille if I needed anything else, what "else" would he be willing to do?  Did this handlebar moustached waiter have a side gig going?  My inquiring mind definitely wanted to know!

Later that night, when we returned home and were laying in bed snuggled in close to each other with the light still on, I said, "Honey, call Michael and see if he would come turn our light off so you don't have to stop holding me!"  When we woke up the next morning it was Sunday, a day to linger in bed a bit longer.  I again asked Doug to call Michael; I wanted coffee in bed!

9.24.2012

SHOCK AND PAUSE



There are a few folks in life that have strange and uncomfortable, if not inappropriate, social behaviors.  I'm not quite sure why those behaviors manifest themselves or why we are caught so off guard by their behaviors that we are paralyzed in reacting.

My husband and several co-workers were at a public event recently where he saw a 15-16 year old boy and girl who appeared to be boyfriend and girlfriend.  This was a school sponsored high school football game.  It was a rainy cool night and she wore a white t-shirt which highlighted her overly large breasts and chunkiness.  This, at age 16 to a boy, is like candy to child!  The young man proceeded to grab her breasts as she giggled in public.  They didn't hide the behavior in front of the adults.  My husband and co-workers, who were sponsoring a tailgate tent at the football game, were so stunned they watched in horror.  They discussed what to do while being  shocked and appalled by their behavior.  About the time the shock of what they were seeing wore off and they went to talk to them, the sexually inappropriate teenagers disappeared. 

There was a man in one of the churches my first husband pastored that habitually stared at women's chests as he talked to them.  He did not look them in the eye, but very obviously stared in the breast region.  Now, if he was talking to me it could have been that his staring at my chest was like trying to find Waldo in a picture - where are her breasts!  Other women in the church shared with me that he did the same thing to them during conversation with him.  We all laughed and wondered why none of us said, "Hey, James!  Eyes up here!!"  But in the moment, it always caught us off guard.

Once years ago I was in a dressing room trying on clothes.  Totally undressed I felt an odd feeling and looked down to see a man laying on the floor in the room next to me watching me.  I was so shocked and felt so violated that I yelled at him.  It startled him and he ran.  By the time I could get my clothes on and exit the dressing room he was gone.   What I should have done was kick him in the face as hard as I could.  Shock causes a delay as your mind tries to process what has just happened.  Telling the store management what had happened did me absolutely no good other than finding out this had happened before to other women.  They had been unsuccessful in catching the repeat perpetrator.

At another congregation we served was a former rodeo rider.  He was a charismatic, warm and touchy feelie sort of man.  He hugged everyone, but especially the ladies!  His hugs though usually involved his arm around your rib cage where it felt like he was seeing how much body fat you carried.  Again, the women in the church compared notes and all hated when he hugged them feeling as if he were checking out the fat percentage of the female population within the church.  Why non of us said anything like, ""Don, are you seeing if you can pinch an inch of fat around my middle by putting your hand there?"   It always caught me off guard which caused a delay in my reaction.

I was once hugged by a salesman while alone in my office.  His hug was highly inappropriate, way too hard and far too long. As I struggled to get away, he moved his face very close to mine and stopped there,  just staring at me.  I knew what was coming next and pushed hard to get away.  Panic rose in me, followed by anger and rage.  I should have reacted with actions and harsh words, but was paralyzed by fear and panic.  I just wanted him to leave.  My husband and employer both filed a complaint against the salesman with his employer.  Sexual harassment cases though are seldom a win for the victim!  It was then that I realized that when those moments happen in my life, I need to put emotions and paralysis aside and simply REACT! 

That is no doubt why people do not pursue formal legal action in sexual harassment, rape, or assault situations - paralysis.  And, if you do pursue some sort of legal action there is no guarantee for repudiation or undoing the creepy or panicked state you experienced. 

My employer's corporate office called me to let me know what steps they had taken and the results that came from them, which amounted to nothing!  They asked if there was anything they could do for me (I appreciated the concern).  Shock from the encounter had turned to anger and I said, "Well, next time I will not file a complaint, but merely react which would have gotten me more satisfaction and results than simply logging a complaint has garnered." 

There are times we need to think through things and not react.  Sexual inappropriateness in social or work settings is not a time to think or allow awkwardness to make us fearful, panicked or paralyzed.  Those are situations where our gut reaction to react is spot on.  We need to push through the myriad of emotions and panic and do something right then! 

9.21.2012

THE COST OF SOMETHING FREE




The hunger for convenience based everything, the ever rising health consciousness of our nation created an industry avenue which capitalized and sparked the rise of the revenue monster bottled water industry.  It is both ironically brilliant and a bit frightening.  We, as consumers, continue to fuel a huge money making industry by our purchase and consumption of water in convenient, throw-away plastic bottles.  I'm ready to stop!  

It's only been in the past 15-20 years that we have seen this amazing phenomena emerge and dominate.  What, I wondered recently, did we ever do without cases of bottled water?  How did we throw a party, have Thanksgiving, go to the beach, travel in the car, workout at the gym without bottled water?  What was life like before plastic disposable water bottles?  It seems I can barely remember life without their prominence.  Was I thirstier back then?  How did I live by drinking out of a glass from the faucet in the kitchen?  It seemed archaic, unhealthy, inconvenient and well, free!
If I had to pick some trend 20 years ago that would sweep the world, it would not have been bottled water.  Though to my defence I also would not have foreseen Facebook either.  I am just too down to earth, a lover of simple things like; a glass of water and real conversation with people I actually have a relationship with.  My not thinking like that has caused me to remain solidly part of the unnoticed middle class.

  
You might be thinking, she must not drink bottled water.  Wrong!  I am consistently just as lazy as you, even though I have several refillable bottles in my house that would cut down on the enormous amount of plastic waste we produce yearly.  I have definite issues with plastic in general though.  I won't cook with it in the microwave and don't like to store food in it either.  A product that is made from petroleum can't be good for us!  Yet, we continue to think we are being "healthy" by drinking bottled water.  It's sort of an oxymoron.
 
When I was growing up you didn't pay for drinking water.  Water was free.  If you went somewhere and wanted water, you put it in a container you had from home; a jar with a lid, a thermos, a Tupperware shaker, something!  Rarely do I remember feeling like I needed to take a drink of water with me.  There were no cup holders in the car, barring the small indentations on the inside of the glove box door much like you find on the trays in front of each airplane seat.  We didn't drink and drive:)
 
I'm thinking if I am bothered by this whole bottled water thing and see it a bit of capitalism gone wrong, then I would imagine the generations above me shake their heads.  Research says that water is among the top 5 beverages consumers purchase monthly.  At a recent concert, to get a drink of water I had to pay $4.50 for a bottle of water.  The same cost charged for a bottle of Coke!   Stats are staggering; 9 billion gallons of bottled water are consumed yearly in the U.S. alone, we as consumers spent 21.7 billion dollars on water in 2011, and wholesale revenues of the industry are over 11 billion dollars.   Amazing.  There would have been very few, if any, stats on bottled water 20 or more years ago!
 
2011 was the first year since the rise of the water industry that numbers showed a slight decrease, though that is an arguable stat currently being debunked by other stats!  I think there are valid reasons why there is a questionable blip in the water line.  We are maybe all realizing that plastics are not healthy!  Possibly we have now gotten over the convenience blinders and looked at the cost.  Research has come out with some negative reports about the processes and sources of water that are being bottled.  In some cases, your tap water is better quality.  The duping is being exposed.
 
I recently saw GAP carrying a line of glass water bottles (finally!) with a cushioned sleeve over them.  That will probably be the next thing to catch on - a complete exodus from the plastic craze.  I really don't want convenience to trump health.  Even with WATER!   Buy a filtered pitcher, a faucet filter, a water line filter or a ROS system.  Save the earth, and reduce the toxins we ingest from plastics. 


9.19.2012

IF DAYS HAVE A FEEL



I don't know about you, but it just doesn't feel like Wednesday today.   Yesterday didn't feel like Tuesday.  I'm not sure where the offage came from because Monday most definitely felt like a Monday feels.

This week seems hyper slow - if it is possible to conjoin those two words together and they don't cancel each other out.  For whatever reason, some weeks appear to move faster or slower than others.  Particularly off in the time portal realm the days within this week appear to be.  It is somewhat ridiculous to truly believe that certain days of the week have a feel.  Just as preposterous as it is to think that colors have smells or tastes.  But both are true, at least in perception even if not in total scientific truth.


On days that aren't seeming to own their specific particular identity or normal feel, I check with others regarding what I am experiencing.  I like my impression to be corroborated by others - VALIDATION!  Crazy if felt by others isn't quite as crazy:)  It helps me separate what might be affecting my view of the day from some time offage that is affecting the masses as well.   More times than not I find the strange contortion of time is likewise being felt by others.  Though still mysterious and unknown in its origins it is, none-the-less, universally felt.

It shouldn't seem strange that time is felt.  A cold, dark wintry day still has 24 hours in it, but because of the shortening hours of daylight and the cold, it feels long.   A warm June day also has 24 hours in it, but because of the lengthened hours of daylight and the warm temps, it feels long.  If that is the case, then indeed though constantly the same, days ebb and flow differently.  Even absolutes sometimes seem altered.

I woke up today knowing it was Wednesday, but feeling it should be Thursday.  Thursdays have their own dynamic silent language that prefaces Fridays.  Today, my heart and mind are living Thursday on Wednesday.  Which means that tomorrow, when it is in reality Thursday, I am hoping that the time contortion catches up to itself and the right feel will return to the appropriate day.  If not, then tomorrow's Thursday will behave more like Friday - minus the weekend thing following it!

I asked two people yesterday if it felt like Tuesday to them.  I did not ask if they wanted it to be Tuesday.  Both people said it did not feel like Tuesday to them but that it should in fact be Wednesday.  Though technically does anyone really ever want Tuesday?  It is a somewhat overlooked and possibly under acknowledged day of the week.  It has a bit of obscureness and anonymity to it.
FYI - Tuesdays are documented by studies as the MOST productive day of the work week.

9.18.2012

THE REASON FOR ASSUMPTION



I am always overly curious as to why we as humans do certain things.  Why we react to things in specific ways, both logical and illogical at times. 

We were made by God to be finite.  We have a beginning and an end.  A start and a stop.  Birth and death.  In making us finite, God created within us a system of processing.  We don't necessarily understand that system as kids.  There is no comprehension of time and finiteness as kids.  How often have you responded to your kids, when asked when will they get to do such and such with, "In a few minutes.  In 15 minutes.  When this hand goes from the 6 to the 3."  Most children, until they are older, don't get that system of operation.  Everything seems forever to a kid.  Even being a kid feels like it is going to be forever.  Kids live without parameters of time, which is good and bad at times.  As we grow older we come to fully understand the limits of time, the start and stop system.

Take for instance the word assume. It has several completely differently meanings but I am referring the one that follows; suppose to be the case, without proof.   We all assume things sometimes.  But why?  Why do we assume things as humans without proof, without verification of facts? 

If assume means, suppose to be the case/without proof, then assumption is acting upon a premise that has no concrete or supporting evidence but is accepted as truth.  That is a scary concept really.  It is a gamble of sorts on the outcome of something, the reason for it, the direction it will take, and at its worst, the heart or motive behind it.  Assumption is more accepted in the eyes of people than is judgement.  Our justification of assumption is that it denotes a logical step in knowing something incomplete and unknown. 

We use assumption as our delivery system for processing things that are not concrete or clear or where no first person information is available.  We use assumption as humans mostly because we are start and stop, finite creatures that struggle with open ended anything.  If our minds and hearts are like cupboards we have a need to have all things categorized and put away, reasoned and understood.  If we are unable to do that we will use assumption to finish the process for us.  It allows us to not have open ended things in our life.  We struggle to process things that aren't concrete or nailed down.


People have a view of things whether based on truth or not.  Sometimes
without all the information we make assumptions.  Many from my past made
those about me with little to no information.  We, for some reason, don't like
to have open ended, unresolved and puzzling things left not boxed, so we
assume to finish the process.
 
 
Assumption is the human system we naturally gravitate toward.  We confuse that finite operating system as the right way to think and navigate in life.  It is the complete polar opposite of God's system of faith and trust - believing something we can't figure out without seeing it and without us assuming our humanness into it.  It is believing things that are bigger and more complex than us and not  trying to define them, parameter them, figure them out, assume, or reconcile it all neatly in a box.  It's more than ok, even faith stretching, to have things in our lives that we cannot neatly put on a shelf.  If I assume things all the time then I am actually in essence thinking I am controlling them too.  And that my friends, is one WRONG ASSUMPTION! 

9.17.2012

WE ARE ALL PERFORMERS OF SOME KIND



Over the weekend my husband and I went to see Jason Mraz in concert.  I am a huge Jason Mraz fan.  It was a great night for an outdoor venue concert; clear skies and cool temps in the low 60's. 

Arriving about an hour before the concert, we ate dinner in the VIP make-shift tent/restaurant.  Can life get any better than a Caesar salad pre-made served in a clear plastic take-out container, dressing packet on the side and a vodka with cranberry juice served in a plastic cup - mostly made up of cranberry juice.  Doug's Chardonnay wine tasted like it may have come out of a box that had sat around opened for months.  But the what the hell, it was Jason Mraz, right? 

A 60-ish year old woman crooned out elevator music in the corner of the restaurant for an entire hour.  I wondered if it was a bit disheartening to sing to a crowd that has; 1) absolutely no intention or desire to pay you any mind, 2) came to see someone who is NOT you, or 3) you realize that at 60 years old your musical career has peaked at venues such as this quasi VIP restaurant tent where you are relegated to singing in a bit of a Bill Murray-ish lounge singer style of voice.  She stood on a stage in the corner with a huge shiny gold tripod which held a large well-made professional sign that read:

KLIPSCH MUSIC CENTER PROUDLY PRESENTS...
SUSAN BOOTS
 
No one noticed, listened, acknowledged her, applauded or connected to her cover songs of all things elevatorish. I did not google her name, but rather doubt she is known much beyond the local Indianapolis area.  What do I know is that I loved the show "Kath and Kim" and it got cancelled after the first season!  I also think the show "The Bachelor" is assinine. But obviously at times, what I like and what others may like, are worlds apart!  In my opinion, canned music would have been just has effective, if not more so.  I saw VIP tent singer Susan Boots and her husband after the concert when the masses were exiting.  They had stayed to imbibe in the musical goodness of Jason Mraz as well.  Maybe that's why she sang - free admittance to concerts!
 
Jason Mraz is a mix of musical styles really.  A lot of jazz rhythms, phrasings and scats mixed with folk.  His music is not necessarily easy to dance to as jazz beats are everywhere at times.  It is creative music though instrumentally, lyrically and vocally.  I appreciate the freedom of interpretation of play and the level of instrumentation he uses.  He is around 35 years of age and a self-proclaimed vegan, love the earth sort of guy.  His closing comments to us, the crowd, as he exited the stage was, "Be kind to the earth, pick up anything you brought in with you and dispose of it kindly."  He probably is a bit of a modern day granola and would have fit as a hippie of sorts.  He performed like usual in a pair of blue jeans, a simple cotton shirt and barefoot while standing on a big area rug.  I love that as I too hate socks and sometimes shoes!
 
Concerts are interesting to me.  They are a huge melting pot of people who love that particular artist.  Some audience members, by merely looking at them, you would not imagine that they had a love of music period.  That is what makes music an amazing medium.  It brings people together, connects us universally over notes and lyrics. 
 
There were two empty seats between me and the two women at the end of the row.  It appeared one was my age or older (45+) and the other one, possibly in her early 20's.  I couldn't figure out of their relationship dynamics; mother/daughter, aunt/niece, friends, etc.... What I easily found out was they had no sense of rhythm.  None.  Now mind you, Jason's music as I stated earlier, is a bit hard to dance to.  That didn't keep them from dancing.  Personally I can't call it dancing unless you also call what the character of "Elaine" from the TV show "Seinfeld" tried to do in the episode about her dancing ability.  These two women were off and awkward, but seemingly unaware.  They were lost in the music. 
 
Not only was their dancing horrific and muddied the quality of Jason's music, but the older of the two seemed to want to pretend she was 16.  In the middle of about every song she would just scream.  Many times it was in the midst of a slower more ballad sort of song.  Her scream broke the continuity of the song but fit perfectly with her inability to dance rhythmically or technically well.  I found myself mesmerized with watching them.  It was pure hysterical entertainment!  At times I glanced behind her to see the reactions of the people near her to her awkward and blatant singing, dancing and screaming.  They too, like me, were highly amused and couldn't keep it off their faces.  She was beyond oblivious. 
 
The very overweight couple in front of me sat during most of the concert, though the crowd stood for the vast majority of it.  Evidently they didn't care if they saw anything but their smart phones which they played with pretty much the entire three and a half hours!  Technically, she played with her phone non-stop and he just stared straight ahead unmoving for three plus hours.  I was beginning to get disturbed by Jason's quality and caliber of fans.  Could I continue to love this guy's music when it appeared awkward people flocked to him?  Was I one of them too?

I began to frantically search for more normal, middle of the road or high class fans.  Definitely not him, the other fat guy two rows up, who showed us his entire large and gross butt crack while trying to stand up to let someone down his row.  Doug and I, and the two women seated next to him, lost it in out loud laughter combined with a few "ughs".  His butt crack forged a relationship with those two women for the next couple of hours.  They were a class far above the "Elaine Benise" dance impersonator, the fat sit down smart phone couple in front of me, and the butt crack man.  So that least there were 4 normal people at the concert:) 

What I did realize was that no matter who you are, music is leveling - a barrier breaker.  It is something that no matter what you look like, your socio-economic class, IQ, education, lack of rhythm or dress style, connects to all people.  It is one of those things in life that meets us all where we are.  Music was not just to be enjoyed only by those that were smart enough to get it and treat it right.  It met all people wherever they were, including the rhythmically impaired and chunky butted plumbers who showed their cracks.  That also included the two overly emotional crack pot girls several rows up who stood the entire concert.  One of them conducted the music with her left hand, much like a symphony conductor, occasionally touching her ear with that same hand in a weird kind of emotional showing.  I think she cried several times.  Her counterpart writhed aimlessly and did the long live rock-n-roll symbol with her hand high above her head.  Lady, it is Jason Mraz not Led Zeppelin!!  I wondered if Jason Mraz was radical music for her very, very conservative style of dress and hair even though she appeared to be under 25 years of age.

A cool starry night, good music, sitting by my Love, and being entertained by the masses made up for anything that may have been lacking concert-wise.  I got entertained far beyond the music!  There were performers on and off the stage.

9.14.2012

CORN CONFECTIONERY



It is a very controversial issue.  One of those polarizing sorts of things.  No middle ground.  No Switzerland (neutral).  You either love it, or you hate it.  Period.  Though it is only at the forefront for a few months every year, people have strong opinions regarding their dislike or favor of it.

I love autumn in the Midwest.  The cooling of air temperatures, the change of colors of the plant world, even the sky and clouds have a different look to them as fall ushers in a crisp tone.  With the subtle changes that the start of fall brings, candy corn enters the display shelves in retail stores.   I love fall and I love candy corn.

Even in my own family candy corn is a divisive issue.  My oldest sister, a huge candy corn connoisseur from way back, loves the tri-color corn shaped confectionery wonder.  Whereas my middle sister is not a lover of it though she is married to someone who belongs to the camp of candy corn lovers.  I have met a rare few who can say, "I can take it or leave it."   

Standing in the nut and candy aisle at a Target recently, I was reading the ingredients and nutritional facts on a bag of Planter's sea salt roasted mix of pistachios, almonds, peanuts and cashews.  Two women stood perusing the candy which included a section of bags of Brach's Candy Corn.  With great passion and animation I overheard one woman say to the other, "I don't get candy corn.  Who would think that is good!  There is no point to candy corn."  As they exited the aisle they were still talking about their hatred of the candied corn. 

I fought back to the urge to defend candy corn to them, to highlight that though I am not a circus peanut lover we are all entitled to our subjective tastes.  I wanted to share the fact that though they don't see the point, don't like candy corn, it is resplendent of the first Thanksgiving when the Indians shared their bounty (which would have included corn) with the settlers.  There was quite possibly historical significance to this sugary seasonal candy.
(cue patriot music here)

Those women, the candy corn haters they were, needed to be educated to the fact that every year nearly 20 million pounds of candy corn are sold.  Brachs, the top selling candy corn producer, sells enough candy corn every year to circle the earth 4.25 times if the kernels were laid end to end.  Oh ladies, people LOVE candy corn.  Brachs too is the best candy corn you can buy.  I have tried off beat brands but they lack the creamy soft consistency that Brachs offers.  I can see why they are the top seller - their corn is superb!

There is some controversy over how people prefer to eat their candy corn.  Some prefer it just plain, eaten by the handfuls straight out of the bag or some sort of decorative fallish candy dish.  About the only way to stop eating candy corn once you start is when you begin to lapse into a sugar coma.  Others prefer to mix a bag of candy corn with nuts of some kind; cashews, peanuts, mixed nuts, etc.  It creates this wonderful salt/sweet combination.  The nuts temper down the overly sweet candy corn.  Just like coffee removes a bit of the sticky sweetness of pecan pie if ingested together.

Its history of origin dates back to the 1880's when a man names George Renninger from the Wunderlee Candy Company created this farmishly sweet treat.  It combines the sweetness of sugar, corn syrup and in later years, marshmallows to create a softer corn candy. 

And, FYI one serving of Brachs candy corn is 19 pieces (way too few pieces in my opinion), 140 calories and zero grams of fat.  The sugar content though, too high to be recorded:)

9.13.2012

WHERE WERE YOU?


There are markers in time.  Things that happen that we know exactly where we were when we heard the news.  It is a moment frozen in time.  I equate it to being in an accident; though only seconds pass, time passes in a sort of slow motion yet in hyper speed.  Clearly going on within the accident, the tragedy, is our running play by play of thoughts and feelings and questions.  There is likewise a sense that though very real, it is strangely surreal. 

9/11 is one of those markers in time.  Years passage can dim the clarity or emotional impact that an event may have had but not the event itself.  Childbirth's pain though real becomes further away with age but the event is still powerful and real and lasting.  I remember the day my daughter was born 25 years ago.  I know where I was when the contractions started, the thoughts I thought as the ball got rolling to birth.  I know the weather that day, where we lived, what time of day she was born, that we stopped at a pharmacy to get a Charms Pop sucker (allowed by the Lamaze Nazis).  

Standing in my house on September 11, 2001 I was doing regular morning kinds of things.  I worked three 10 hour days, Monday/Wednesday/Friday, so Tuesdays were days I did home and errand stuff that normal everyday people do; laundry, groceries, making the bed, probably mowing the lawn, getting my daughter ready for school that day during her 8th grade year.  It was a day like many others before it.

I lived in the Eastern time zone, the same as New York City on that date in history.  So what happened that day was in real time with my clock.  At 8:46 a.m. when the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center, it was 8:46 a.m. in my world as well.  My phone rang a few short minutes before 9:00 a.m.  It was my church organist, a dear sweet soul whom I loved deeply.  She asked if I had the TV on and, if I didn't, to turn it on.  Briefly, and with urgency, she brought me up to speed with the news speculation at the time.  An eeriness entered my house as I watched in horror the events that unfolded in the minutes, hours, days and weeks to come. 

Shock has a way of paralyzing you.  It's like standing up after sitting with your legs crossed for way too long - a momentary stalling of all things firing correctly.  Like most of the rest of the country, I was glued to the television coverage for days on end.  Most shocking though was watching on camera that second plane plow into trade center tower two.  As the next couple hours progressed, and the structural integrity of both buildings became further compromised, it was horrific to see people jumping to certain death from those towers.  The chaos and fear that would have prompted choosing to die by jumping rather than the very real possibility of burning to death or being buried alive was magnified with cameras rolling.  Death is inevitable for all of us.  None of us really get a big choice in how we die, but the massive tragic loss of human life was overwhelming.

When tower two fell to rubble I felt the collective gasp of the country.  It was like watching a head on collision and not being able to do anything about it.  And, when WTC tower one fell less than an hour later, disbelief and deep painful sorrow ran sprinting for a tie in my mind and spirit.  News of the Pentagon and the downed plane in Pennsylvania completed the chilling picture of purposed killing -  of conscience harm planned, calculated and carried out against fellow humans who shared the same planet with one another.  It was just inconceivable.  I couldn't process it or wrap my mind around the evil nor the ripples into tens of thousands of lives that it affected.  Senseless.  Heartbreaking. 

We rallied to God and country during those months.  Everything in life took on a fervency, a freshness, a tenderness to others that signified our helplessness, short of God's presence, against foes bigger than us. We all slowed down, found manners, and kindness again.  That was the good part of the mayhem, the horror, the unadulterated murder of masses of human lives. 

The core of the world shifted that day.  I still remember it.

9.12.2012

A WAND OF BEAUTY


I stopped at a Walgreens today while wandering aimlessly downtown Chicago. Wasting time, I wandered up and down the aisles. I perused the makeup aisle for mascara, which is part of my quartet of makeup I wear. My quartet consists of; eye liner sometimes, mascara, eyebrow pencil, and the cornerstone of my beauty products, lipstick.  Being extremely low-maintenance in most areas of my life, beauty not-withstanding either, I felt overwhelmed by my choices.  Just another marker of western excessiveness!

Make-up aisles in pharmacies are subdivided by brand name, ie; Maybelline, Loreal, Rimmel, Neutrogena, Almay, Cover Girl, just to name a few common companies.  I choose to have the least amount of chemicals and ingredients in my make-up to avoid 1) poisoning myself just to look good, and 2) I have sensitive skin.  I went to the Almay make-up section to find the mascara I normally wear.  Obviously I haven't bought a new wand of mascara for some time as there were now 4 or 5 new choices in just that brand alone.  Did I want something that is supposed to "highlight" my green eyes?  Did I want something that, should I be lost at sea for an extended period of time, or weep when my publisher calls to tell me Barnes and Nobles picked up my book, is waterproof?  Did I want something that needed to be removed by buying yet another beauty removal product?  Did I want jet black, brown/black, midnight, onyx or quartz?  Were my eyes blue, brown, hazel or green?  UGH!!

For a simple girl this was taxing and ridiculous.  I don't like to wash my face before I plunge into bed at night.  Maybe I would have less wrinkles if I washed and slathered on more cream like I do every morning, but that's just an extra step I don't want to do.  So based on that fact, I chose mascara that did not require another product to remove it other than the face wash stuff I use in the shower every morning.  I so prefer to wash today's face off tomorrow morning in the shower. 

Now, were my eyes really blue or green?  Sometimes they are greener than others.  Some days they are smokier colored.  Did they have some shade of mascara that could interpret chameleon eyes?  Geez this wasn't a major life decision, but it was beginning to feel like it!  I settled on intense i-color for green eyes - color called chocolate quartz.  What in the world is chocolate quartz!!  Do I eat it or use it to make jewelry?  Quartz is a broad term that involves transparency, translucency and opaqueness depending on the type.  How would this "quartz" component of the name of my mascara make my eyes look?  Marketing ploy no doubt. 

The sign below the mascara display read, "Original price $9.49 on sale for $6.99.  Buy one at sale price and get 1 for 50% off (equal or lesser value applies)".   Here I could get a bargain.  But, I didn't really need the other product for 50% off.  I only wore a quartet of make-up anyway and didn't know, or care if mascara had an expiration date.  I would forgo my opportunity to save money since it was not something I really needed.  Plus, if it takes me a year or more to go through one wand of mascara, I might miss out on the next great product soon to be released when I am ready (in a year) to buy another wand if I stocked up now.  One for me please.

I was also a bit confused on how long it really takes to go through an entire wand of mascara.  It's not like lipstick that get re-applied several times throughout the day.  Mascara usually gets applied once a day.  I wish they would tell you how many applications per wand.  Mine currently is a bit dried up as my eye lashes don't necessarily look any longer after application but clumpier.  I think I am applying dried up bits from the bottom of my mascara wand!

If I were an artist, chalk drawing would be my forte.  They create a picture quickly that is best seen from a distance.  That's how I view make-up.  Get it on fast and get on with it!

9.10.2012

SOMEONE MISSED THE SEXUAL HARRASSMENT TRAINING VIDEO!



Standing in line at the lab this morning waiting my turn to register, I was texting my husband.  ...thought I would be safe at the lab at this time of day and not have to wait in line.  Huge line:(((  All old people, and me!  I wasn't really paying much attention to the people sitting in the waiting room chairs literally 2 feet from my legs.  I was engrossed in texting and not pleased that I had to wait and waste time.  Unlike the vast majority of those in that room, I did have things and an agenda to get to today!

As I pushed SEND, I heard the two old men to my immediate left sitting in chairs commenting to me.  "I'm sorry", I said, "Were you talking to me?"  They were relatively unabashed in their staring at all of my body parts, but in particular my legs.  Having run this morning, I still had  on my running shorts and white long-sleeved shirt as the temps were 50ish this morning.  Here we go, I thought to myself, two dirty old men with no filter and believe all of life is pornography for them to be enjoyed!  I kept texting my husband a play by play of what was unfolding in a public clinic lab waiting room....

The two old men with wide-eyed enjoyment asked, "How do you stay so thin?  You look great."  I could feel every set of eyes in that room turn and look at me.  Unbelievable!  Just what I wanted, a loud conversation regarding my looks with two 80 year old men in the waiting room in front of everyone.  What the hell am I going to say to get them to stop commenting on my looks in this highly inappropriate forum, I thought to myself.  "Well, I run and don't eat donuts", I said hoping that my direct humorous approach would deflate them.  The dig on donuts was because it appeared they consumed them on a regular and steady basis. 

It was to no avail.  These two ya-hoos carried on hurtling sexism like it was shit from a pig barn.  "So, you don't eat biscuits and gravy either?"  "Nope" came my terse response.  They charged onward as if they just had to empty every last thought from their heads - both of them:)  "Hmmm, well if you are so healthy and thin and exercise why are you in the lab?"  Oh My Gosh!  I was fastly running out of patience and niceness with these two loud mouths!  Pushing ahead right through the yellow turning red light, the leader of the sex crazed old men club said, "Well, my 50 year old daughter exercises all the time and she don't look like you at all!  You gotta be in your thirties."  I was 46 but had no desire to brag about that with two 80 year old men who probably had been intimate with a woman in years!  The end had been reached by me at the exact same time I was called to the window to register.  We were both saved!  I walked away without saying a word.  What would have come out of my mouth next would not have been nice at all.  It would have been fairly blunt and direct and loud. 

As I walked to the lab draw room I was fuming.  I told the lab tech woman my story of the two men in the waiting room.  She said it has been a problem with several of the elderly men  who frequent the lab and that now the one male phlebotomist was the only who would draw their blood.  We discussed why some old men think that is ok; because of their age, there is no time left for wasting time on filtering anything or it's just who they have always been.  Simultaneously we both came to the conclusion that there was a good chance those men were like that in their 40's as well.  We pitied their wives if they had any.  No doubt that is definitely where the phrase dirty old men came from!

9.09.2012

NANCY'S FOOTBALL NOTATIONS



I am a girl.  Non-typical I am in girlie stereo types mostly.  Except for probably one area; I don't know football well.  In that one context, and one context only, I am bit of a stereo typical generalization of a woman. 

One of my good friends, Sharon, is a football maniac.  When living across the street from her some years ago, I was privy to her mad love of football, in particular, the Detroit Lions.  Just like one of the boys, she popped a beer and cheered at the TV.  She though not only loved football, but was a 50 year old grown up jock herself having been a great athlete all her life.  Though she is all woman, had birthed four children, was married for 25 plus years, she loved competition of any kind.  That would occasionally include scooter rides down my hilly driveway to see who could coast the farthest.   Now mind you, I could out bike and run Sharon.  She though, could whoop me in just about any other competitive platform short of pie baking.

My husband coached football for 17 years running both the West Michigan Youth Football League and coaching Manistee Catholic High School.  He was later a licensed official in the state of Illinois.  The love of football for him started in the 7th grade, a mere few years ago:)  I watch football with Doug.  In fact, I am the entertainment and spectator chatter that any die-hard football fan loves to have around them while watching a game. 

I want to learn about the downs and penalties, the line-up, to understand the positions and plays.  I do.  Really.  The problem is that I get easily distracted by so many things surrounding the actual game of football that I just can't be quiet.  I am curious.  Always have been.  I want to know stuff, all kinds of stuff even strange football sorts of things.  And, I have things to comment on, funny things, quirky things I see.  I commentate through the entire game, but not many of my observations have to do with the plays or game itself.  I feel it is my duty to point out and/or question some of the quirky things about the game.  In that context it takes the life or death competition down a notch.  It is a game.  A flipping game!

That being said, today while watching the the Lions vs Rams, I noticed a green sticker on one of the player's helmets.  My initial smart-ass am always funny self declared, "What is that sticker on the back of that guy's helmet?  Oh, it's a banana sticker:)"  Now I know it's not a banana sticker, but I explained to Doug how it might possibly be one.  You know horse playing in the locker room, like when we were kids, and somebody slaps a note or sticker on you without you knowing.  Just because they make millions does not mean they aren't still boys in bigger bodies.  He laughed at my theory but corrected it. 

The green sticker on the quarterback of each team is there for the officials to see.  In the NFL only one person on each team can have a headset helmet on the field at any given time.  So, besides watching the intricacies of plays to call, officials have to scan the helmets making sure there is only two green stickers on the field.  I guess code of honor rules in the NFL and no one would ever sneak another headset helmet on the field without a sticker.

 
I commented on the amount of tattoos on players, long hair, a few fat asses that if they lived a life outside of the football field would be deemed a bit overweight.  That kind of weight is handy to tackle and block, but detrimental to find clothes that fit or possibly live a long life.  And, how do you get to be the mascot for say, the Detroit Lions.  I loved his big lion head but on a normal human body.  It was sort of like the man/horse man from the movie, "The Chronicles of Narnia".

The Lions won today.  That I know.  But while watching I got mesmerized by the Rams coach and his grouchy demeanor.  Doug informed me he probably wasn't grouchy, but focused.  "Nope" I said, "that is a grouchy demeanor!"  That made me google his personal life.  I had to know what would create a bit of a owie sort of scowl.  Then I had to comment that he and Doug were exactly the same age.  We had a whole conversation on who looked older.

Officials in the NFL are typically attorneys.  I don't know why that is exactly other than smarts.  More likely though I guess it has something to do with their ability to work another part-time job that appeases their childhood love of the game.  Plus, financially and career-wise they might have the freedom to do so.  Amazingly enough they don't make what you think they do.  On average, for a 4-5 month season, they make $25,000 to upwards of $100,000 if they are tenured.  Though if you figured their pay divided by hours worked, they make good money.  A great second income!

Doug quizzed me after the game to see how much I garnered from my time on the couch with him; who won the game, who Jim Schwartz coached, which team did Sam Bradford play for, why is there a green dot on the quarterback's helmets.....  I asked him if my commentating got on his every last nerve or if he found it entertaining.  I mean really there is a whole other part of football that needs to be noticed, googled, commented on and even ridiculed. 

He wondered if I knew how much time and focus football had taken up in his life before he met me.  That he chooses not to watch sometimes, decides to go for a walk instead with me, lets me blab during the game, is yet another way that love changes us.  I guess that makes me more powerful than football.  That's what I really learned today during the game.

9.06.2012

YOU LOOK LIKE A JOHN



It is said that married couples eventually, after a lifetime with each other, begin to look similar.  That is alarming possibly, but there is a bit of science behind it according to a study done at the University of Michigan by psychologist Robert Zajonc.  He studied photos of newlyweds and then pictures of them 25 years later.  The results showed that couples began to look similar to each other with time.  And, the happier the couple reported they were the greater their physical similarities were. 

It is also said that owners and their pets can have have similarities with their looks.  That too is a bit disturbing, and seemingly impossible.  Or is it?  The premise is that most owners gravitate to dogs whose personalities are similar to their own or have physical characteristics that match the owners love of possibly snuggling, romping, hunting, sleeping, etc... 

There is an older gentleman who rides his bike in our neighborhood.  He comments if I am outside working, and always greets Doug and I when we are out for our daily walk.  Usually commenting on us holding hands, he once said, "you don't see many people hold hands like you do".  I've never seen a woman with him.  I don't know if he is married, his wife is deceased or he just prefers the bike ride alone every evening.  He has a kind spirit about him, a gentle face, and an inviting way.  Even though I see him regularly, I do not know his name. 

While walking tonight we saw the bike riding gentleman.  We did our normal conversating while passing each other.  He commented on us holding hands and seeing us again.  When he had ridden past ear shot I told my husband that after all this time we should have stopped and introduced ourselves, giving him real names instead of the hand-holding couple.  What too was his name?  We hadn't a clue!

What name fit him, fit his demeanor, his personality, his age, his clothing, his hairstyle, the quality of his bike, even his voice?  We kicked a few names about, giggling over some of them.  Wendall, no.  Albert, no.  Martin, no.  Addison, possibly.  Robert, could be?  Glen,  sounds plausible. 

Isn't it amazing that certain names appropriately and precisely fit certain people.  Rarely do you find someone whose name doesn't fit them.  It's actually hard to define the whys of that name to face match.  How many times, after learning someone's name I didn't know previously, have I said, "He or she looks like a ____________!" 

My husband and I like to make up stories for strangers from time to time.   Sitting in an airport, enduring a layover, we have been known to study people, giving them a name, a made-up life even.  Some people just look like a Bob.  Others, look like an Arthur, a Gloria or a Doug.  I suppose Hitler even looked like a Hitler.  Definitely not an Eddie.  And, anyone named Inge should have a blond braid and large breasts.  For sure.


9.05.2012

BETTER THEN, OR BETTER NOW?



The newspaper article, on the heels of the Democratic National Convention, asked, "Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?"   Political camps aside, whether you are for or against the Ass Party or the Dumbo Group, that is a great question to digest.  Some political die hards might not be able to separate that question from their political leanings.  I want you to try.

I thought about that question all day, laying that lens next to all areas for comparative values. The first thing I noticed and remembered is where we were 4 years ago financially as a nation. The stock market had taken a huge dip, one of the record book's historic losses. Banks lending regulations were too loose creating an uncollectable high risk debt table in the mortgage industry. The real estate market had began a cliff nose dive with no parachute. It wasn't stellar 4 years ago by any stretch of the imagination.

But those crisis' came as a result of greed, over inflated values and too much unsecured high risk debt. It had been hurtling toward us, bull horning the message that procrastination and not being offensive would create a much needed correction that would force and crash and devastate all in its path - our economy, our states, our personal worlds. We didn't face issues head on through several administrations, both republicans and democrats.  Instead we created a false sense of wealth by margining ourselves in a corner.  Now we faced a cost to unrestricted debt, spending and speculating by borrowing believing growth would continue. If our nation had a risk tolerance it appeared to be in the highly aggressive category.

In the same newspaper today that asked was I better off today than four years ago, was a whole 6 page section announcing properties to be sold at tax sale. Six pages, 250 properties per page, totalling 1500 properties. The population of my entire county is 198,000.  That is a bit staggering and hits home.

In regards to housing, I could not say things were better than four years ago, even taking the category of foreclosures out of the picture. My own property value has decreased every year for the past 3 years. On the one block stretch of street I live on there are two empty properties. When I run through my neighborhood I see vacant and tagged properties regularly and in increasing numbers. Foreclosure is far more common today than it was 4 years ago. 

In the world of health care insurance, things are not better than 4 years ago. I pay more dollars toward the employee portion of my health insurance plan than each preceding year.  That is manifested even further with much higher deductibles, more max out of pocket dollars, and less coverage payable amounts on prescriptions and procedures.  There are more hoops to jump through to get the care needed.   Two years running I spent, out of my own pocket, over $8,000 in medical costs - the cost of a used vehicle!  I had no surgeries, and no hospitalizations. 

Food has increased by a stat of I believe 4.6% from a year ago.  If you go to the grocery every couple of weeks you can clearly see the continual rise in costs.  There are all sorts of consumer price indexes and stats which break out each category; food, energy, vehicles, apparel, medical care, gasoline.  All of which have had an increase in cost to consumers over the past year.  The problem is that even though statistics show a very slight increase in wage percentage growth, it is being eaten up by consumables increases.

In the stats I researched, I found some conflicting reports or differing percentages of growth or stagnation.  The one statistic I looked for was violent crime.  Believe it or not, in the face of what appears to be an onslaught of violent crime, that category has actually seen a decrease.  I wondered if our skewed view of the level of violent crimes came from the proximity of media coverage in our every day life.  There is more AP new wires in 2012 than in 1970.  There are more avenues for presenting news, reporting crime than 20 years ago.  It is always before us in coverage but not necessarily in incidence increases. 

There are some early indicators that personal consumer debt is decreasing.  That is a good thing.  It may be a result of a conscious response from the population to cut corners, live on less during financially turbulent times.  That result is a positive from a negative situation.

No political party is totally responsible for the spot we are in.  No political party will be able to affect change purely by a belief system or political methods.  To make anything different takes caring more about the solution than the methods.  That means caring more about finding change agents than about a economic philosophy or method that defines your political party.   It is time to quit blabbing, quoting, twisting stats, blaming and make the corrections and courses of action to make it better than four years ago. 

9.04.2012

SIMBA TAKES THE LEAD


How is it you can know something intellectually, but experientially be caught off guard by it.  That was me on August 1st, 2012.

My daughter texted me that Wednesday morning early, "Are you working today mom?"  I smiled at 7:00 a.m. getting ready for work at the thought of her being up on her day off and texting me a question that we had covered yesterday.  "Yes," I replied.   Not thinking much about the texting interchange, I went to work.  My work that day was not more than a 5-7 minute drive from my house.  My thoughts upon arriving were of the normal start of a work day; pulling wires from the printer, checking the schedule, doing callbacks from messages left, processing to do's for clients scheduled for the day, checking the buys and sells.

Several hours into the morning I glanced up to see my daughter, Hannah, stroll in the door.  I was a bit surprised that she would drive 25 minutes to see me on her day off when she makes that drive every other day to work.  Her husband, my son-in-law, works just down the street from my office and I assumed that she either had come to see him, or was en-route to a bank meeting at their corporate office.  There was nothing really to alert me.  Nothing to hint that winds were about to change.  That life was about to take a turn. 

I smiled and hugged her hard when she popped in my office.  I love her with a deep, white-hot passion and usually can't contain my delight in getting to be her mom.  She is just a cool person!  Based on her mode of dress, I quickly surmised she was not going to a bank meeting.  Dressed in shorts, I questioned her why she drove over on her day off.  Did she come to see Brandon, her husband?  I noticed nothing out of the ordinary really.  She didn't glance her eyes off to the side as is the case with liars at times.  She responded, "I came to give you your birthday present early."

She held out a familiar box to me.  It was the same jewelry box I had given her for her birthday the week before which had held a unique necklace I had picked up in Washington D.C. with her in mind.  Our birthdays are 15 days apart with hers on July 24th and mine, August 8th.  I laughed and told her I didn't want my birthday present a whole week early!  I sensed nothing brewing, nothing teetering on the brink.  Holding it out she said, "I thought you might want this early." 

As I took the box from her hand I commented how familiar that box was, that she was utilizing the art of re-gifting but missing the point that you don't re-gift to the person that had given you the gift.  We both laughed at our shared loved of a bargain, including re-using gift bags, boxes and what have you.  I felt blessed that she had driven over to see me on her day off.  It made me feel loved and allowed me the privilege of getting to see her.

The truck was barreling toward the guard rail, but I remained unaware.  I gently lifted off the lid of the rectangular jewelry box revealing a layer of tissue paper.  I was excited for what I thought she had given me, another necklace.  She knows my style and has given me several very simple and artistic hand-made necklaces as gifts.  The past necklaces were beautiful and I had one of them on that day.   My heart was already thinking about how she just gets me.  She knows what I like and constantly gives me gifts that reflect things I love.  I wondered what beautiful hand-made by some artist necklace she had found for me this time.

I pulled the tissue paper back.  What I saw caused an immediate, involuntary and uncontrollable result.  Sobs burst from me as I saw a pregnancy test laying where I thought my birthday necklace would be.  It showed a pink + sign.  My mind whirled in warp speed and yet I clearly experienced a myriad of thoughts and feelings in slow motion.  She was pregnant on this day, August 1st, her third year wedding anniversary.  My sobs continued in unstoppable waves which involved me sobbing and hugging her tight and then pulling away to look at her and then starting the process all over again. 

I tried to get control.  I tried to stop sobbing but to no avail.  They were tears of pure delight, amazement, wonder, nostalgia and blessing.  She responded to my tears and exuberance with teary eyes.  She fell into my arms to share my joy and I think feel connection to her mom and get reassurance.  In that split second everything shifted.  The world as I had thought it to be was changing.  Something shifted.  I felt joy in a way that could not be contained or articulated.

Kudos to them as a couple!  For removing the birth control implant and telling no one that they were going to let the natural progression of reproduction take its course.  I admired their quest to live their lives not under the microscope of parents and friends watching them trying to get pregnant.  I was infinitely proud of her.  I was overwhelmed with love.

I didn't see the semi truck hurtling down the mountainside with no working brakes.  I knew in my head this day would someday come.  But, much like riding the school bus daily knowing someday you will grow up, it seemed like her having a baby - me being a grandparent - was out there someday but not now. 

Hannah - my baby's
having her first baby.
A moment of nausea at the zoo!
The smell of buffalo can do that.

Me carrying Lexie, one of our other grandkids.
My son-in-law Brandon, the soon to be
new dad, walking ahead of me.
We have matching ponytails:)
I felt like Mufasa.
Simba had come
into her own.

9.03.2012

ANSWER ME!!!



Do you ever have something that just grates upon your every last nerve?   The issue  I am thinking about not only makes me have a bit of flaring of anger, but leaves me with a bevy of questions about why it is such a hot button for me, and what is the root cause of this societal irritation.

School started back up for the fall recently.  That means more traffic on the roads, kids walking to school, buses causing more minutes added to the morning drive to work, police sitting in the church parking lot across from the school chomping at the bit to ticket any poor soul that does not abide by the "school zone" speed limit.  It also means that when I run early in the morning through my neighborhood high school and junior high kids are waiting on various intersections for the bus. 

It happened again the other morning.  About 6:45 a.m., on the back side of my run, I ran past a group of kids waiting for the bus - 4 boys ranging in age from 12-16 ish.  I did what I do, acknowledged the humans in my scope of proximity with a good morning.  Silence came from the boys.  Nothing.  No response.  No acknowledgement of my greeting or reciprocating words.  I'm sure they were not thrilled to be up and on their way to school at that early time of day.  I will give them that.  But stilll.......

You couldn't miss me, a 46 year old woman running at 6:45 a.m.  There wasn't anyone else out. My voice was not lost in a symphony of sounds, it was quiet out!  I ran by them with the only space between us being the strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street.  I was literally only a couple of feet from their posse.  They simply turned toward me and blankly stared.  They stared.  Nothing else. 

I momentarily wondered if my left breast had miraculously escaped my sports bra and tank top.  Had I blinded them with the sight of a 46 year old barely A-cup breast?  I looked down hoping that I had been the cause of their silent response to my greeting.  My breasts were still lassoed in.  I ran on, fuming about their lack of social skill.   What I really wanted to do was stop and explain in humor what is acceptable and expected social behavior.  I wanted to tell them that eventually there would be a woman that they loved and that learning those communication skills might be the determining factor between them getting the girl of their dreams or NOT!

Out on a walk the other evening, Doug and I came upon a group of young elementary kids riding bikes and playing in the street.  Doug looked at two of the boys riding bikes and said, "Hi.  Who's winning the race?"  They stared at him, no expression on their face, did not smile nor respond verbally.  Anger surged through me again.  What is going on with basic social behaviors with kids presently? 

As we walked on I spewed!  I ranted.  I raved.  And then, I wondered what is causing kids to lack basic manners of communication?  Could it be that the pendulum of schools and parents preaching to kids to not talk to strangers, to not trust all people has swung too far?  Could it be that in teaching safety, we have taught rudeness, distrust and poor human behavior?  Could it be that kids are not exposed to situations teaching them how to respect other adults like the generations before them were?   Could it be possible that technology; computers, texting and gaming are contributing to the lack of social skills that I see displayed?  Could it be that these kids will grow into adults that are lacking greatly in social communication skills that will cause massive relationships issues?

I remember being taught that if someone talked to you, a response was expected.  It was respectful to reciprocate a greeting, to give an answer when asked a question by an adult.  Shyness, fear or laziness was not allowed to override manners.  And if you did, there was a consequence, a lesson, a talking to that occurred.

I grow very weary, very saddened and very perturbed with kids' lack of social communication etiquette.  Fads, technology come and go, but respect and acknowledgement of other human beings needs to be an unchangeable.