My Melty Smelty Heart

Good Evening My Good Friends!

I have been silent these past four days. I know…me…silent?  I have about 50 blogs to read tonight because I have spent the last four days up nort’ in Michigan at our annual family Ski Trip. 

Now, I don’t ski. Telle Tubbies don’t ski.

My hubby and I, our kids, our grandkids, my kids friends, their kids, my daughter-on-law’s parents, their kid — it’s a grand ‘ol trip we have taken every year for at least 12 years. I  cook, sit around, talk, drink, sleep, walk around in the snow — all the things you’re supposed to do on vacation.

The great thing is that I did most of those activities this year with my grandkids.

Funny how life turns around and around.

I used to love doing that with my kids. Making snow angels,  pulling them on the sled, watching them snowball each other. My boys started skiing around high school. I remember picking up my youngest from the closest ski hill 25 miles one way every week for 8 weeks. My oldest became a skiing whiz when he met his wife-to-be.

Then there was that big gap in time. You know — that dramatic pause in life where one life fades out and another fades in. My oldest fell in love with his skier, whose parents skied, so here we went again. They taught my oldest grandson to ski at three; the two-year-old wasn’t interested this year, but next year, watch out.

So here I am again, walking around the snow-bound block (really a country block) with my little guy, striving to remember those walks of 26 years ago.

I’ll take my memories however I can get them. And if someday I mix up a grandkid with my kid, who cares — there was love bursting out all over with both of them. My life has been one big, melty heart.

Only one lesson learned on my ski weekend, though — don’t try matching shots with your oldest. You’ll do a fourth as much in half the time and still fall asleep at 6…

Make the Love

I had a wonderful weekend. We celebrated both grandkids’ birthdays. We laughed, spoiled, loved, gossiped, and enjoyed the company of parents, grandparents, great grandparents (grandpa is 90 next month!) my grandkids, friends with their kids and grandkids, plus a couple of dogs thrown in.

Today I read the following column at Ask Amy (http://tiny.cc/za2wmy)….

DEAR AMY: I have four adult children and three grandchildren. They all live 2.5 hours away and have very successful, fulfilling lives. My husband and I couldn’t be prouder. They usually call every week or so and I send an occasional text or email. The problem is our daughter-in-law, who wants nothing to do with us. She is the mother of our only grandchildren. She refuses to visit, especially on the holidays. When we visit, she is pleasant but seems to barely tolerate us.

We want to see more of our grandsons but we are not permitted to babysit, and if I ask to take them to the park, etc., she ignores me, hoping I will let it go (which I do to keep the peace).

I have spent many a sleepless night trying to figure out what I have done to her and cannot think of a thing. Honestly, in the 10 years they have been married I have never said a mean word or offered advice, even with new babies.

I say nothing to my son. I know he sees her treatment of us and feels guilty, but fighting about it isn’t worth it to him. The boys love to see us and I have heard the oldest asking if he can go home with Grandma and Grandpa and Mom always says no!

This made me very sad.

I don’t know the daughter’s side, I don’t know the grandparents’ side. But to keep grandparents from enjoying the best time of their entire lives —

What happens to families?

I know I take for granted the love and affection I share with my two sons and their kids. Love, friendship, all come naturally for us. We’re not all like two peas in a pod all the time, mind you, but we enjoy each other’s company and get together whenever we can.

Grandparents are the old souls, the old angels, leading the innocent young angels through the mess we call life. We try and lighten their burdens, play their games, listen to their secrets. We give them a safe space their parents can’t, just because they’re parents.

It’s a parent’s job to protect, guide, and teach their precious packages to ensure they make it through life with a good head on their shoulders.

It’s a grandparent’s job to spoil, cuddle, play and dream with those same packages, ensuring they make it through life with good dreams in their heads.

I look at Dear Amy’s question and my heart breaks for everyone involved. The grandkids will never have that close relationship with two people who love them so much; the mother will never find peace with the mother and father of her husband; and the grandparents will have to deal with empty arms and empty dreams.

Like I said. I don’t know the whole story — I never will. There is nothing I can do to change that family and their sorrows.

But what I can do is share this story so that you will go home tonight and hug your kids and grandkids and when you see your friends or your sister hug their kids and grandkids. Play catch or Chinese checkers with them. Tell them a story of when you were a kid.

Don’t just take the love — MAKE the love.

 

 

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Colin Batty

Artist Colin Batty puts an amusingly strange spin on photographs of the past.

Taking cabinet cards from the early 1900s, he uses acrylic paint and crafts entirely new and surprising scenes directly on the image.

His additions are often hilarious but also creepy, and he does a fantastic job of seamlessly matching the colors and shading of each vintage photo – without the help of the computer.

It’s so convincing that at first glance, you might not notice the images were even changed.

The amazing part is that Batty does this work all by hand — you won’t find a single image Photoshopped in his collection of cards.

More of Colin Batty‘s amazing photography art can be found at http://www.peculiarium.com/colin-batty.

Did You Know You Spoke Chinese?

I have a grandson who is starting kindergarten in a couple of weeks. Ahhh…innocence floating out the window. No, not him — me. Or rather his mom. Brings to mind a blog I wrote back in October of 2011. Think it still rings true.

I Didn’t Know I Spoke Chinese

Do you believe that children and their parents speak two different languages?  Do you ever try and communicate with someone who hasn’t a clue as to what you are saying?

The teen years are stressful for those going through them. Puberty comes crashing in any time between the ages of 12 and 16, estrogen and testosterone fighting for space inside a body that is growing in too many directions at one time.  But hey. What about the ones on the other side of those swings? Those who pay for hot lunches and gym shoes and nail polish?  Not only do we have to put up with I-pods and cell phones, but we have to learn to speak a whole new language in order to be understood.  It is as if we have stepped over the threshold of reality into an entirely new universe.

Life seemed so much simpler when our kids were toddlers. The years between two and, say, five, are probably the most rewarding for all forms of parental figures.  We can do no wrong; our children hang on our every word.  They fear and revere us. They bounce around from moment to moment wanting only to please those in charge.  Pick up your toys?  Of course! Eat your spaghetti?  Of course!  Clean your room?  Of course! We speak, they listen, and things are ideal.

Then comes those “cute” years, say, six through nine.  Everything they do and say is cute, especially when they pout and say “no” with wide-eyed enthusiasm.  Pick up your toys?  No! I wanna play with ‘em a little longer.  Eat your spaghetti?  No! I want pizza instead.  Clean your room?  No!  I gotta have twenty dolls in the corner!  They are starting to catch on to the power of being an individual.  They still brush their teeth and do their homework and go to bed pretty much on time, but they learn to manipulate the world by talking or playing or whining, probably all three.

By the time middle school comes around, there is a slight Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-ish personality starting to surface. Football games and study nights with friends start to take on a bit more significance as our middle schoolers begin to feel the strength of their own convictions.  Pick up your toys?  Oh please, I don’t play with ‘toys’ anymore.  Eat your spaghetti.  Red sauce? I’d rather have cheese.  Clean your room.  Oh mommy dear and/daddy dear — it is clean!  A little clip in their voice should be the giveaway that they are catching on to you.

Just when you think you have settled the beast that rustles inside your child, their high school days hit you right between the eyes. Music becomes some thundering beat with  talking rather than singing; wearing jeans that cut low enough to show off underwear or vertical fissures becomes the fashion statement of the day. Homework becomes an enigma.  School semesters are identified by fall, winter and spring sports, and words like Paris and Pink suddenly take on a whole new meaning.

You wake up one morning sprouting antennae from your head. Your voice becomes a booming echo down an empty tunnel or a high-pitched squeak riding the airwaves.  Suddenly you speak a foreign language: ρτε τα παιχνίδια σας  (pick up your toys in Greek);  съешьте ваше спагеттио (eat your spaghetti in Russian), and 投入您的衣裳去, (Chinese for clean your room). Their eyes become glazed and their expression reminds you of eating a lemon.  One day you are a friendly, loving parent, the next moment you are Godzilla’s cousin.  You don’t know what you are talking about ― your ideas or so old-fashioned they will be amazed if you make it to 50.

How did this happen?  How did we fall off of our pedestal?  One moment our child is reaching up to be held, the next moment they cringe if you hug them in public.  Is this the reward for all of our hard work?  All our love?

Well, trust me.  This too will pass.  As your children approach their twenties, they are amazed at how smart you’ve suddenly become.  Your old-fashioned ideas transform into newly discovered truths of their generation.  The older they get, the more human you become.  Your antennae suddenly don’t seem so out-of-place; as a matter of fact, they kinda look cute on your old frame.  You find a common ground through life and all its ups and downs, and they finally understand what you’ve been saying all these years.  Words and ideas flow once again, and your pedestal gets packed away somewhere deep in their heart, only to be pulled out when you are not looking.

Either that — or you have finally learned to speak Chinese.

Sunday Morning Art Gallery — Mother

For my Sunday  Evening Morning Art Gallery today, I’m going to do something  a little different. I am going to honor the most  famous — and probably underrated — mother in the world.

mary-baby-jesus



Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the best known female character in the Bible, yet very little is known about her. I mean, she doesn’t even have a last name!

mary india

Imagine her life. She was a peasant woman, simple, honest. She becomes engaged to a carpenter named Joseph. And while she’s planning her wedding — BAM! An angel appears and tells her she is going to keep her virginity yet be the mother of the son of God.

ballenger-black-madonna-and-child
She is a religious person, so she believes the angel. I can just imagine what her betrothed thought. It takes a lot of commitment to explain the unexplainable. There are varying theories as to if the two were or were not married when she delivered her son. Either way, there was a lot of shame and explaining to do before they reached Bethlehem.

Chinese Jesus

Yet this wonderful woman perseveres. Her and Joseph’s marriage date is lost in the dust of the past. But she delivers little baby Jesus in a barn somewhere, in a stable or a cave or a quiet building in the dark. And so Mary takes her first step into motherhood.

00964dfa5a24007519ccae0d8c3c5550

Raising the Messiah couldn’t have been a cake walk. I’m sure he had his terrible twos/threes/fours too. She was poor, Joseph was poor. I imagine Mary made the best of things, though,  and loved her little boy with her whole heart. She changed his diapers, played stones-in-the-bucket and washed his cuts. She fed him and hugged him and sang him lullabies. And as baby Jesus grew, so did his mother’s fears.

icon_mother

To have been given the blessing of having a child, and also knowing that he would be crucified for the sins of the world, must have been a burden almost too much to bear. Jesus knew of his calling from an early age; I imagine that brought about a bit of arrogance (in a holy sort of way) too, so his teenage years were probably a little testy between mom and son.

15th-of-august-indian-madonna

Eventually Jesus left the nest and went out to the world, leaving his mother behind. Some say she had other children. But she was, after all, the mother of the son of God, and sensed the tragedy yet to come. It’s not known when Mary realized her oldest was destined for a horrible death. Nonetheless, I can’t imagine living through those last few months of her son’s life. No mother can.

Mary

It is assumed Joseph died before their son started his fateful journey, so she was alone when her baby, her child, died on the cross. Like other women, she worked through her pain and loss and used her strength and faith to spread the message Jesus left behind. It is not clear when she died, and many religions profess she ascended into heaven full and whole.

madonna-of-the-rosary(1)

So on this day when we celebrate Mothers everywhere, let’s celebrate the Mother of them all. Mary. And let her normal, unusual, spiritual, female spirit guide us all. Let’s celebrate mothers who suffer and mothers who laugh. Mothers who cry and mothers who love. And mothers who love their children with every beat of their heart.

holy-theotokos-icon

Happy Mother’s Day to Moms Everywhere.

It’s A Small World After All

mickey_mouse_tired_wallpaper_-_1024x768In a couple of weeks my crew and I will be heading for the sunny confines of Disneyworld. Besides the fact that for the first time ever I’ve been able to pay for my vacation ahead of time, I am looking forward to visiting the world of Peter Pan and Lightning McQueen. The last time I paraded through those hallowed gates, the father of my grandson was barely older than my grandson is now.  Cosmic synchronicity aside, I am so looking forward to a week of not making my own bed and no extra charge for air conditioning.

Alas, the world of vacation in general and DW in particular is not the same as it was 22 years ago. This spritely body is not as spritely as days of yore. So I think I’d better update my To-Do List.

  • Be prepared for average day temperatures in the high 80’s and lows in the mid-60s. No sweats needed, as DW’s lows equal Wisconsin’s highs.
  • Bring a small, portable container of baby powder. No reason to stick together more than necessary.
  • Less is more. A week’s worth of underwear (Plus 1 method) is okay; 7 pairs of jeans, not.
  • Get a haircut now so that it has a couple of weeks to grow into something civilized.
  • Moving is relative. I can still cross distances as I did in the olden days. It just takes a little longer. Therefore, map out bathrooms and misting stations ahead of time. Note air conditioned venues as well.
  • Food rules from home count double here. No creamy, spicy, or burpy delights. Stock up on imodium and Pepto.
  • No need to try the lobster look the first day. Xtra duty sunscreen at 200+ suggested. ChapStik a bonus.
  • Reinvent your idea of what water play is. A 4-year-old does not hang around the shallow end of the pool for any length of time.
  • There are enough adults in the group that each one can schedule a time out. Use it. On yourself and others.
  • The Smartphone is the new camera. Keep it close. Preferably in your pocket. Also doubles as a patience-building tool, as in Jet Pack, Jewels Saga, and Swamp Attack.
  • Water is the lifeforce of DW. Pack many and refill often. Leave the imported beer until you get home.
  • You will undoubtedly leave one important thing behind. Put something to the side (that you can buy down there) and purposely forget it. Break the curse early.
  • Give up any idea of bringing a purse. No need to always take up two spaces. If it doesn’t fit in a fanny pack, you don’t need it.
  • Granola bars are your best friends at the park. Just make sure to get your system used to all that fiber about a week ahead of time.

I’m sure you have your own dots you can add to my list. Any thoughts, experiences, or reality checks are appreciated.

Let’s hear it for the Mouse.

Unclogging the Soul

handsThe news has been pretty overwhelming for my middle aged mind to wrap around lately. The aftermath in Ferguson doesn’t make sense to me, even if you whole-heartedly have an opinion on the decision. The people whose businesses were set on fire and destroyed or sacked did nothing to the victim; the broken communication between sides has done nothing but destroy lives of innocent people who have worked hard for a living, hard for their money, hard for their very survival.

But I stray, because I don’t want my blogging world to be one of destruction. I want this world to be one of hope. Of laughs and rolling of the eye and a tear now and then because you “get it.”

Yet there are more stories. More horrors. More wtf’s going on in this world. And this is nothing new. I follow a couple of bloggers whose lives have been turned upside down by abusers; mental, physical. Their stories are told their way, in a their blog, in their world. And my heart hurts for them, what they’ve endured. Fortunately, my heart soars for the salvation they’ve found, for the fresh start they have made for themselves.

A handful of my close friends have been through hell and back in their lives. Like one, continuous soap opera, you can’t think it can get any worse, and yet it does.  Yet their love of life, of family and friends, has brought them across the burning coals and onto the soft, cool grass of today. And tomorrow.  Their strength has become my inspiration.

And in my naive, white-bread way, I wonder: How did it ever get that way? How were abusers and mind melters and bullies allowed to run rampant through my friends and bloggers lives and get away with what they did? What ever happened to being a decent human being?

I wonder how we can ever keep our head above all this muck. How we can keep our souls from being tainted by all the madness that permeates the world. After all, one’s goodness can only so far. I can understand, I can empathize, I can share my experience and my support and my strength, even if it’s from an armchair quarterback’s position. But all the positive vibes I can share with those I love doesn’t change the way the world is today. And my inability to do anything to change and/or stop the rampage makes it worse. Being an overworked (and overtired) granny doesn’t give me much time to raise the flag and march. Nor would my competency make me much of a leader. I can honestly understand those who don’t turn the TV on anymore.

But I don’t want to be one of those guys. I don’t want to be ignorant of the pain and confusion and absurdity of what happens in our world every day. I want to be there for my friends and for those I don’t really know. I want to find a way to translate the horrors that go on every day, even though I can’t bear to think about most of them. How do I do that? How can I help and run at the same time?

Maybe the best thing I can do on this day before Thanksgiving Eve is stand by what I believe, and to keep it simple.

Stop being a bully when the world doesn’t go your way. Stop abusing those who don’t see things the way you do. Get over yourself. You’ll never change things by violence. Grow up.  Learn to adapt.  Take your complaints and your problems to those who can do something about it. Not to the innocent guy who just opened a snack shop with the last of his savings.

On the gentler side, take one step at a time. One breath at a time. Every day the sun rises is another chance to change your life. Don’t judge your situation by the way others handle theirs. Listen to your friends, to those you can trust. Change your attitude. Change your routine. Live to make others happy. Listen to others. Offer support, a hand. And don’t be afraid to share your own darkness. There is light in friendship.

It’s so easy to say, so hard to do.

But it can’t be any harder than setting a car on fire and flipping it on its side.

You Bowl Me Over

bowlingLet’s start this out with the truth. I suck at bowling. Let’s finish this up with the truth. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is the crazy fun you can have with people you don’t fully know.

No one can know any one 100%. Fact of life. Who knows what’s in the minds of your significant other, your great kid, your best friend. Heck, you don’t even know YOU as much as you think. Having said that, think about how many “others” you come in contact with every day. If you work outside the house, if you have kids that go to school, you always find someone you can share small talk with. Sometimes the small talk grows into comfortable talk. Sometimes the comfortable talk tumbles into good friend talk.  But no matter where you allow the friendship to go, there is always something good to come from it.

Some people will tell you their life story in 10 minutes. Others will hold secrets as long as you know them. That’s a fact of life, too. As long as you don’t demand more (or less) from these “others” you might find real people that you enjoy being around.

I’ve been blessed in my life with a great husband, great kids, and great friends. It hasn’t always been this way. These days we laugh that wherever there’s an “A” (my last name initial), there is drama. Cancer. Passing On. Water damage from a broken faucet while your house is up for sale. It can be a big thing, it can be a small thing. But it’s always SOMEthing. That’s why you need to find friendship, a good time, whenever you can. A few fun hours can clear your thoughts, move you forward.

Back to sucking at bowling. I went to the company outing Saturday, doing my best to throw a ball down the alley, mostly winding up with gutter balls and single digit pins. To think I met my husband at a bowling alley 35 years ago was a flash down an alley I barely remember (no pun intended).

But what didn’t suck was that I had fun with people that I see in a totally different environment 40 hours a week. A single mother, a married mother of one, and a single would-make-a-great-mother, all made bowling and friendship such an easy thing. During the week we all sit tied to our desks, way over our heads in work, barely sharing tales of what we did yesterday, no less what we did years ago. Yet these are people that I see day in and day out. People who accept me for what they see. People who don’t judge me for past mistakes or slights or wrong turns. There’s no way we could know each other’s upside down lives, yet we are drawn by the common need for friendship and understanding that their “upside down” lives looks hauntingly familiar.

People don’t need to be a full-time member of your personal entourage to be your friend. While you don’t have to share intimate details, you can share the best part of yourself with others who need it. An ear to listen, advice from experience — it doesn’t matter. I learn from those who have walked my path as well as those who are walking across the field somewhere. Laughing over the little things, like bowling, makes the rest of life easier. It won’t cure the disease or a broken heart or unemployment, but it will let you know you’re not alone in the wilderness.

Now…if someone could just teach me how to bowl…

A Little More Sprinkles

buddiesI am getting ready for a Celebration of Life this Friday for my younger brother whom I lost to the “big C” recently. The Grim Reaper has always been around us — me — it just seems the older I get the closer his scythe is getting to me. To have a younger brother cut down quickly by something no one knew he had is just one more wake-up call. Not that I’m not awake — I have treaded on thin ice a couple of times the last few years, and I realize that if I don’t pay more attention (well, even if I do), that that scythe can sneak up on me, too.

I wrote this blog a couple of years ago after the “Big C”. I think it’s an appropriate thing to repost this week. Pay attention, my friends. To your body, your mind, and your soul.

A Little More Sprinkles

The past few weeks have been the bottom of the roller coaster ride for me. After a bit of a medical drama, I am well, back into whatever groove middle aged women get into, trying to build my energy back up to see what trouble I can get into. How much trouble can a goddess like me get into? We won’t go into past details, but there have been times in the past that I have stepped over that preverbal line, most times with no consequences, other times being dutifully chastised and set back upon the straight and narrow.

The funny thing about my misadventures is that, in the eyes of the world (especially to those under 40), the things that I’ve gotten in trouble for are powdered sugar compared to what others have done. I have never hung with the “wild” crowd, never gotten arrested, reprimanded by principals, or been asked to leave.  I’ve led a pretty vanilla life and stayed fairly happy and clean cut. I try not to compare my life, my ups and downs, with others. For, as you know, you will always be overblessed in one way and underblessed in another.  My dirty laundry is someone else’s humorous fluff.

Going in and out of the hospital changes your perspective on a lot of things. Suddenly losing those last few pounds doesn’t seem so important. Or finally losing weight to get healthy rises to the top of your list. Your family becomes a priority, along with your health, your pets, and your pastimes. You sit and wonder why you’ve wasted so much time setting unrealistic goals and then were so hard on yourself when you didn’t achieve them. Your desires and your timelines seemed to have gotten crisscrossed, a Celtic design that has no beginning or no end. You will do A as soon as you accomplish B. You will buy outfit C as soon as you lose D pounds. You’ll go visit someone as soon as you (fill in the blank).

I know you’ve heard this story a thousand times a thousand different ways. Don’t wait until trauma and tragedy arrive at your doorstep before you learn to live your life.  Well, what do you do if that dynamic duo arrives at your door and you’ve already been living your life? Are you supposed to go further off the deep end? Are you supposed to  throw away the restraints of society and be a wild and free sprite?

I was lucky, not only to have a good prognosis, but to have wild and fun things to come back to. Our Polish Sausage Making Party has been going on for 14 years, an annual madhouse that seems to be growing every year. I had a laptop, waiting for me to create another fantasy, another out-of-the-box story. I have kids to bug and a grandson to spoil and friends to compare drinking stories with.  I have a room full of second-hand books waiting to be read, sweaters that need sparkles sewn on them, and sushi that  needs to be shared with girlfriends.

I decided long ago that I was tired of being on the outside looking in. I was tired of being vanilla in a rainbow world. I’ve always respected my bosses and the law, always been polite (sometimes to the point of nausea), and given money to charity or to my kids (sometimes the same thing). But I also found out that if you want something in  your life, you need to be the one to go for it. You can’t wait for those things to come to you. That goes for friends, restaurant reservations, and health issues. Sometimes “going for it” makes you a little more aggressive than you usually are. Succeeding at “going for it” makes you feel stronger and smarter.  It makes you raise your own bar a notch or two higher. And you have yourself to thank for it.

Going through a health predicament only reinforced the importance of finding out who I am and what I want in life. That what I wanted in my life is nothing more or less than anyone else wants. I just make sure I made lemonade every time I can. I make a point of getting together with friends often, and family birthdays become family reunions a  dozen times a year. I don’t want life to pass me by and at the end be filled with thoughts of why I didn’t do this or that.

You are never going to be rich enough, thin enough, smart enough, for A to really ever meet B. So take the victories you make along the way and celebrate them. Don’t spend days and months and years waiting for the “payoff.”  The payoff is here and now. If you pass up picnics on the beach with the family because you want to lose weight first, you’ve done nothing but miss a great picnic. If you wait until your kids are in college to go away for the weekend you’ll never get away, for most of the time they come back to haunt you. Turning down an invitation to walk through a festival with family members because you need to clean your house does nothing but toss another fun time into the twilight zone.

There is always room in your life for adventure. To cross some lines. To speak up. To stand up.  There’s always time for you to change your direction, your health, your dreams.  To be proactive. Not inactive. If the jester hat fits you, wear it! If bling is your thing, bling!  Always wanted to try and cook Thai? Go for it ― even if you’re the only  one who will eat it. Don’t wait for someone else to initiate a pizza night or drinks after work ― call, plan, and do it. Don’t sit around waiting for someone else to “take their turn.”

This is the only turn you’re going to get. Don’t let anyone else take your turn for you. There’s nothing wrong with vanilla, but just think of how much better it is with chocolate syrup and whipped cream.

And me?  I think I’ll try rainbow sherbet with multi-colored sprinkles. Can’t get enough of that color thing…

Thanks is a Clean Word

ThanksI am writing my Thanksgiving Day Thanks Post a bit early this year. Between family gatherings and Black Friday shopping and all-weekend football games, I never know when a moment of mental clarity will hit, nor when I might be able to share said clarity with you. I have a lot to be thankful for this year. You do, too. I don’t need to state the obvious — my past blogs reveal the miracles of survival I’ve been privy to the last year (couple of years, really). And I’m thankful for the usual — health, family, sanity (although there are those who wonder about that last one). But there is one thing in particular that I’m extra thankful for. Especially this time around.

I’m thankful that with company coming Thanksgiving Day, I have to power clean my house.

Now, before you chuckle and say people come for the food and friendship and not the eye candy, you are right. But I’ve always said you need to throw one big party a year so that you can really clean house. How many of you pull out the sofa and pick up dust bunnies and lost pencils and ancient Cherrios? How many  of you move the super-fragile things you have precariously perched on shelves and speakers to dust?  When was the last time you vacuumed the crumbs out of your sliverware drawer? Or organized your mail pile?

This is not Hoarders over here. I do have an over-accumulation of furniture and boxes downstairs, some remnants of departed family members, others in a holding pattern until my son sells his house. We won’t talk about the Mud Room: that is my husband’s jungle, and I get lost just looking in there. Somewhere down there is a nice, cozy TV area, kinda a sports-theme corner with a small TV, sofas, chairs — you know. But I wouldn’t know what it’s like sitting down there because it’s temporarily storing a gym’s worth of exercise machines just waiting for bodies to arrive.

My plans for this pre-Thanksgiving weekend are not so ambitious as to break up the chi that has so carefully been arranged down there. The bedrooms are fresh and clean, and a path will be made in case family members are too full and sleepy to make their way home Thanksgiving night.  No, my thanks on this pre-T day are a lot more humble.

I am going to give thanks by cleaning out my Tupperware cabinet. I then hope to move along to my bedroom closet. Not too much at one time — progress is often made one step (or cabinet) at a time. But my heartfelt thanks for getting one more thing off of my to-do list will be with me long after the turkey is turned into soup.

Remember — giving thanks on Thanksgiving — on ANY day — is not only about thanking the powers-that-be for your family or your health or your connection with Spirit. The powers-that-be hear your thanks for that every day. And the Universe thanks you in return.

What they don’t hear is your thanks for finding the shoe you’ve been looking for for two months. Or the flash drive that fell down into the sofa a long time ago.

Thank you.

What’s Back There?

book4Greetings! I did a little “rollover” dance with my Explorer the other day. All is well, thank the Goddess, but I thought a little backwards glance into my glorious blog might entertain you while I recuperate a little…

Chocolat and the Sun 

Escapism with a Reality Check.  http://wp.me/p1pIBL-2w

2 Chocolat and the Tuscan Sun1

Life is a kaleidoscope of feelings: it is pain and death, birth and life. Because the cosmic implications of these things are way above my head, I would rather contemplate my own daydreams.

I Can’t Believe I Believed That

Legends are So Much Fun…  http://wp.me/p1pIBL-6g

Dolly-Parton-with-Crossed-Eyes--58695a

Urban legends are as old as Medusa turning those who look at her to stone — old as dirt.  The more society has matured, the easier it is to decipher falsehoods from the truthhoods. Or is it? Here’s a list of ditties I found on my wanderings while doing research for my Great American Novel #3 (let’s hear it for the Internet and a few spare hours!)

Fashionable Hobos from Hoboville

Dressing comfortable is one thing … dressing like a hobo another … http://wp.me/p1pIBL-67

31 Fashionable Hobos from Hoboville

Are you one who enjoys presenting your best side to the viewing public?  What I mean is, do you spend time fixing your hair, pants, shirt, purse, shoes, the whole bit?  Not that you strive to strut your stuff down the Chanel or Yves St Laurent runways ― it’s just that you want to be presentable. Most women who take care of their heart and/or soul take care of their appearance, too.  What I’d like to know, then, is why is it when we are away from the public eye, we look like hobos from Hoboville?

I Didn’t Know I Spoke Chinese

Parents and their kids often speak two different languages. http://wp.me/p1pIBL-8N

chinese_symbol_for_laugh_postcard-p239398313843791555trdg_400

Do you believe that children and their parents speak two different languages?  Do you ever try and communicate with someone who hasn’t a clue as to what you are saying?

You Make Me Dizzy Miss Lizzy

Ever feel like you’re always doing the spin-a-roonie?  http://wp.me/p1pIBL-jt

dizzying

Not so long ago I wrote a blog entitled, “I Make Myself Crazy.” You know ― it’s the on-sweater, off-sweater, hot/cold thing.  http://www.humoringthegoddess.com/2012/04/07/i-get-on-my-nerves/  Nervous ticks aside, I now try to slow down and think before I flutter.

Home on the Farm

034I have always enjoyed the feel of this blog…I try to make it light, witty, and, if I’m lucky, life-affirming. This is one side of me. Like all of you, there are many facets to my diamond. I read a very warm, articulate piece by my fellow blogger ittymac (http://ittymac.wordpress.com/) which made me think about all my other writing facets.

I’m going out on a limb this evening and posting one of my favorite stories. It’s about 1,036 words long, so it shouldn’t take you too long to read it. It is a tribute (in a way) to my father. I hope it touches you like it touched me.

Home on the Farm

He woke up before the crowing of the rooster, something he hadn’t done in a long time.  There was only one rooster left now, a strutting white leghorn with tan wings and black spots on his chest.  The old man stretched carefully,  surprised to find the shooting pains in his legs gone.  Remarkable. Last night the pain had been so bad he had to double his medication just to make it to his bed.  Now — now his legs felt sturdy and strong.

Sitting up in bed, his watery eyes looked out the window towards the coming sunrise.  The light sparkled like a million crystal chips shimmering at the edge of his vision, stretching the morning clouds into ribbons of pink and gold.  Someone once told him that the sunrises were brighter these days because of all the pollution in the air, but he didn’t agree.  John had witnessed many a sunrise on his farm, many a sunrise and sunset since his father plowed the land when he was a boy.  Maybe they all didn’t sparkle like this one, but they were all unique, all beautiful.

Climbing out of bed and into the bathroom, John savored  the fact that his bodily functions were once again running smoothly.  What an enjoyable respite from the dribbling and splashing he had been going through lately!  Looking into the mirror, his large blue eyes were the clearest he had seen them in a while, the age splotches on his face nearly non-existent.  His hands didn’t tremble as he shaved, nor did he need his glasses to comb his hair. It was about time.

Donning his flannel and overalls, John called his hound to come join him on a morning walk.  The 84-year-old had not wandered through his farmland in ages, and his legs felt so great, so strong, he couldn’t resist the urge to revisit fields that had seen better days.  Bouncer didn’t come running, though, but merely slept in the puddle of sunlight that fell in front of the living room sofa.  Fine, John thought.  Sleep the morning away.

Opening the back door, the chill of the morning air danced around him, invigorating his senses.  The scent of hay and grass filled his nostrils, along with the earthy sweat of horses and cows.  John looked down at his legs and for a moment worried they wouldn’t carry him across the porch and down the stairs to the old barn.  He hadn’t been able to make that trek in quite some time, his body having grown more useless as the years passed.  But this morning — this morning was different.  There wasn’t a cloud hanging over his thoughts anymore.  No depression, no drugs to slow him down. He could do it.

He cautiously moved down the stairs and followed the dirt path that led to the empty red barn. Vivid memories of his father and mother and brothers bombarded him as he neared the dilapidated structure. His parents had moved to Wisconsin from Poland, hoping to find freedom and a new life in the rural countryside that looked so much like their native land. His father tended 25 cows in his day; John almost 40 during his middle years. Adding chickens and a couple of bulls to the mix, he made a decent living, enough to support a wife and three children in the heyday of the 50’s.

But the kids grew up and moved to the big city, and his wife took on a bout of cancer about ten years back and never recovered, leaving the farm and livestock to run wild with abandonment.  John finally allowed the neighbor to plant corn in his empty fields, providing a small but decent return that, combined with his small pension, afforded him a comfortable retirement.

The past was the past, and now all John could visualize was the barn full of cows and the chickens raising a ruckus in their pen somewhere behind the milk cans and the  ’52 Ford pickup that was down a quart of oil.  His footsteps were lighter than air, quick and sure, walking the path they had carved into the earth for the past 80 years. He saw horses in the pasture and hay bales stacked up in the loft and barrels full of cracked corn.

It was incredible how good it felt to be alive, to feel the earth and the farm under his feet, the sunshine on his weathered face, to hear his children laugh and scream and chase the dogs around the front yard.  John fleetingly wondered about his newfound energy, the firmness of his limbs, the accuracy of his eyesight. There were no hints of arthritis or pneumonia; there were no more regrets about the past or thoughts of suicide. It was as if he had always been this way.

Past the farm equipment, through the barn and out the double doors on the other side, John spotted his wife sitting on the picnic table under the huge oak tree at the bottom of the hill, laughing and talking to his mother and father. Margaret took on a subtle glow as she beckoned him to join her under the overgrown tree.  His father sat in the wooden chair that used to sit by the fireplace, and his mother stretched out on a blanket at the base of the tree.  The kids squealed in the background, the dogs barked and the crows threatened from their perches atop the trees.

The sun crested above the distant pines and the rooster crowed, cracking the morning with its triumphant sound.  At that moment John heard a jumbling of sounds:  a phone ringing, a dog howling, voices and noises and the shattering of glass.  But it must have been the wind playing tricks, carrying nonsense through the open fields from the farms down the way.  He hesitated as a thought, a rationalization, tried to take form in his mind.  But it was gone as quickly as it appeared. The world was full of enchanting sounds and scents, and it all belonged to him.  He turned, and smiling, went into the arms of his beautiful wife.

The reunion had begun.   John was home. Home on the farm.

 

And A Good Time Was Had By All

107-A Good Time Was Had By AllThis past Saturday was our “End of the Summer” Barbeque and Madness Day. This year we scheduled it on the last day of Summer, although with the clouds overhead and crispy wind from the west it was closer to a Chill Fest. It’s a great time, as cousins, brothers, kids, kid’s friends, neighbors, parents of kid’s friends, and others gather for an afternoon of too much food, too much beer, and too many rides on the go-cart.

My family and friends have a thing about getting together. We have Polish sausage making parties, birthday parties, game nights, pool parties, camping weekends, and all other sorts of “occasions” that bring us together.  Sometimes we have real reasons to get together; the kids birthdays, Thanksgiving dinner, weddings. Other times it’s important occasions like “we’re opening the pool” party or “we’re canning pickles” party. Sometimes we dress up (Halloween); other times we puff out in ski jackets and ski boots. One group of us try to have “Adults Only” dinners where no kids are invited so that we can talk about them, sex, and the good-old-days. Other times it’s a double-generation free-for-all as adults and their grown kids and their kids kids get together to play games and feast on potluck goodies.  Sometimes we go camping with our kid’s spouses parents (in-laws-once-removed?), and sometimes we have a “build a deck” party or “pour a new patio” party. Work and play and food and drink seem to swirl into a waterfall of laughs, tears, and sweat.

Throughout the years I have come to embrace getting together with those we love. Most times it doesn’t cost a dime (except for gas money), and the commradere is a reward that cannot be found on Facebook. We celebrated my father-in-law’s passing with the same people who pile into the Polish Sausage Making Party, and those who bring homemade salsa to barbeques are the same ones who were there for me after my cancer surgery.  We reach out to others, and they return in kind tenfold.

I’ve always loved my friends and family, but as I get older I not only love them, but cherish them as well. Perhaps that’s because I know the road in front of me is shorter than the one behind me. Maybe its because I realize that what you get out of life is equal to what you put into it. I don’t wait for others to invite me, call me, text me. I invite, I encourage others to invite. I expand our circle all the time, and find others are doing the same. What’s a couple of more people sitting around the fire? What’s one more person grinding pork or skiing down the slopes?

But maybe it’s because I know that life is too short to waste time on people who don’t really care — about others, about themselves. The world is full of mean people, selfish people. There are people around you that put you down, judge you for your size or marital status, people who have no patience for anyone but themselves.  Perhaps they have life-issues; perhaps they have self-issues. But they are part of the human race too, and no man is an island. We all have our problems. We all deal with death and diabetes and unemployment. That is no reason to be mean to everyone else.

My family and friends come from all walks of life. Some of us live three hours from each other. Some of us work two jobs or have a job and go to school. Some deal with arthritis, failing kidneys, and bankrupcy. Some lost a parent when they were young; some have children from previous relationships. But when we get together none of that matters. We share stories, compare aches and pains, reminisce about those who have gone before us, those who are yet to come, and talk about kids and dogs and recipes.

Don’t let life pass you by without sharing it with those who matter. Have a game night. A barbeque. A potluck. Invite friends over to watch a football game. Have birthday parties with no presents. Make an effort to get up and get out. Memories don’t cost a thing. Neither does true friendship.

On the other hand, the price you pay for being alone is more than anyone can afford.

Enter Stage Right …The Drama Queen

opera-singer-1Ahhhhh…the life of a Drama Queen. Always in the spotlight. Always one-upping friends and family with tales just this side of Edgar Allan Poe. Their problems, their accomplishments, are always bigger/sadder/more confusing than anything you may have experienced. You’re allergic to cat hair? They’re allergic to cat hair, laundry soap, pollution, and chocolate. You get headaches? They get super-duper three days-in-the-dark whoppers.

I know we all have our physical and mental ups and downs…no race is run without sore feet. It’s just that most times Drama Kings and Queens are more…dramatic…than their counterparts. They always have something wrong with them, whether it be their health, their job, their relationships, or their kids. Every time you turn around — well, you get my point.

Now — what do you do if one day you yourself become the Magi of Drama??

It’s so easy to cross that barrier at times — often you don’t even know you are one. When my friends tell tales about their kids, I always have a story to tell about my kids. You’re going to Las Vegas? I’ve been there three times! You had the flu for three days? I had it for a week! Are these the signs of one-upmanship?  Am I competing or sharing? Encouraging or bragging?

I suppose what it comes down to is how deep the puddle is that you’re/I’m splashing in. I waver between telling friends about serious situations (such as illness or death), and trying to mind my own business. Yet these things boil and bubble inside of me until I find it’s easier to tell the truth than get tangled in the web of lies and half-truths that trinkle out. Before I know it I’ve offered TMI, and think — Drama Queen.

Yet I find there is incredible healing in slipping into the DQ role at times. Like the day I found out I had the big C. My husband and I were shocked enough, and when I went back to work, I immediately told my workmates.  It just kind of bubbled out. I found so much support and tears and understanding that I suddenly was embarassed. Yet relieved. The same was when I had a bit of surgery a few months later. Or my mini bout in the hospital. Not a big deal. Yet it was easier to tell others where I was than pretend I was in Graceland for three days. Same with my dog passing away. As my last blog indicated, A Dog is Just A Dog and a Cat is Just a Cat…Right? was a therapeutical way to deal with a sad situation. Yet as soon as I hit publish, I thought — Drama Queen.

But I also offer sympathy and a lending an ear to others who are in need. I don’t think twice about listening to friends about their saddest moments: their father passing away, their bouts with Crone’s Disease, their inability to find a job. My heart hurts with them, as if it was me going through the ups and downs. Their happiest times, too: a friend at work got a beautiful tattoo; I gushed over it to the point that I want to get one, too. My kids are going away for five days (their first since they were married 7 years ago); I gushed over their adventure to the point that I want to go, too.

So I think — are my friends and family Drama Queens and Kings too?

When you think about it, talking about your ups and downs is very therapeutic. I know at least half of my recoveries have been because of friend and family support. The pressures that build up inside of us are more than we can handle. Even if we are SuperMan/Woman, we all get to that point where, if we don’t let our anxiety out, we turn and twist into something ten times as messed up as before. Sometimes we need an outlet, an ear, of someone who can do nothing about our problems, but still can relate to the feelings. They are our pressure cooker valve, our second glass of wine.

And they are our mirror. Good friends and family don’t let us become Drama Kings and Queens. We get too dramatic, too out of control, they steer us to calmer waters.  Which is what we needed in the first place. The point is, don’t be afraid to share your highs and lows with those around you. Your therapy is their therapy.

And after a hot spell, what’s better than a cool dip? I know lots of people who are cool dips….

Movie, Movie, Who’s Got The Movie?

I wrote a blog not too long ago called Hannibal Lechter vs. Harry Potter  https://humoringthegoddess.com/2011/07/27/harry-potter-vs-hannibal-lecter/ .  In that ditty I had just finished watching Hannabal’s first movie, and wondered if I was a reflection of that movie. Having decided that I am everyone and everything I see and do, I took the cosmic message and moved on.

Well, there I was, alone for the weekend, hubby gone up north, no one here but  me and the girls (2 dogs and one cat) and the boy (TomCat), and, left to my own whim, in charge of not only the TV but the movies.  And I am sorry to say I found myself falling into the same familiar grooves. I did watch a brand new movie sent to me in the mail…Wrath of the Titans…which said something about my taste to begin with. But I found myself falling into the same familiar pattern of watching movies I’ve seen ten times before.  Does that mean I’m more predictable than I ever imagined?

In my Lechter vs. Potter rant, I found myself defending polarity ― or bipolarity, if you wish. I found myself saying:

 But back to the crazy movie. In watching this psychological mess, I oft-handedly wondered if this kind of movie reflected my inner self. I have many friends who talk about the movies they watch:  middle-aged love comedies; retro pot-smoking, chick-banging absurdities; historical pieces.  Some are huge fans of horror; others cannot live without  lots of sex and drama. Do these favorites define who they are? Do these choices influence our cosmic journey?

 I was content thinking that we are not our movies. We are not our job, we are not our clothes or our car or our choice of beverage. But the older I get, the more I see that we are all of the above ― and more. On the positive side, I believe it’s good for us to go outside our comfort zone now and then. Finding a new job, trying tofu burgers, watching a documentary on polar bears or the creepy world of Hoarders, all are experiences that may or may not add to the wonderful sparkling jewel we call ME.

Yet, when I find some real free time, all by myself, my energy level not high enough to write a sonnet or a novel, I find myself searching the cabinet for movies that will make me feel good. And, most times, there are the “eternal” movies. You know ― the ones you can watch over and over again and over again. Mind you, not all movies fall into this “special” category. There are many, many movies I’ve seen once, and once is more than enough. There are some that I enjoy if I come across them on TV or if I walk into someone’s house and they’re watching them, but wouldn’t go the extra mile to bother with after that.

Then there are the die hards that I always, always enjoy. For me, Avatar, The Rock, The Mummy, Con Air, and Closer reruns, all can entertain me almost any time. (It used to be tearjerkers, but menapause has turned me into a crybaby.) I sometimes wonder if that means something. For my fun stuff is not my son’s fun stuff. Or my husband’s fun stuff. Or my friends at work’s fun stuff. And I’m sure my stuff is not my kid’s stuff. At least some of my stuff.

On further reflection, I think age, social circles, emotional states and personal history all fine-tune us in one direction or another. There are no “right” or “wrong” movies ― what makes one person feel wonderful makes another sick to their stomach. What is righteous to one is sacrilegious to another.  I suppose that is why humanity is such a varied, colorful tapestry. And I do love tapestries.

Are there movies that you return to time and time again? Do you think they reflect a deeper part of you?  Or are they just oddities in the rainbow of life?  Actually, this isn’t a cosmic question.  Just think about the movies you love to watch time and time again, and let them be a wonderful reflection of your heart and personality. 

And, hey — don’t worry if you love the Freddie Kruger or Saw genre — there’s a place in this world for you, too.

Just don’t move next door to me…

Everyone’s Life is a Best Seller

Did you ever think your personal life had enough twists and turns to put Scarlet and Rhett to shame? Did you ever think that your cousin Teddy or your Great Aunt Miriam would be fodder for a story that would be passed down generation to generation? What about that celery-and-water trick your dog does? Or the straws-in-the-nose trick performed by your own kid?

 Everyone’s life is a best seller. If only we could get our story into print, onto the big screen, everyone would see how unique our out-of-whack our family and friends really are. The funny thing is,  if you take a look around you, you’ll see your story is not so very different from the person next to you.

 Take the world of the working stiff. Ninety nine percent of the people you talk to have someone they work with that drives them crazy. There’s always a co-worker who talks with gum or food in their mouth, has a vocabulary made up of five or six words, or leaves a trail of potato chip crumbs from their desk to the bathroom, or squeaks their chair back and forth and back and forth back and forth.  There’s someone who knows someone who knows someone who can get you a great deal, is sick twice as often and you or whose symptoms are enough to scare the hair off a rabbit,  or are the first to complain that they are overworked, underpaid, and misunderstood. (Wait! That’s me!) There’s a dozen stories right there.

 Then there is the world of family. A labyrinth of people, traditions and bloodlines that, for better or worse, are with us all of our lives. We have kids that cross the line between naughty and nasty, mothers who are martyrs, fathers who are dictators, spouses who are inconsiderate. I imagine we all have a brother-in-law or sister-in-law who is linked to the planet Mars. We have the sister that collects bobble heads, and the uncle who makes his own vodka from potatoes in his garden. We have cousins who like to ski in their underwear and others who pull out calculators for the tip on a three-dollar sandwich.

 There is always fodder for stories in everyday gossip. This one is cheating on that one, this one did this at work and that one had the nerve to do that after the party Saturday night. All the whining, cajoling, and caterwauling we do to ourselves and others is enough to make a bartender quit serving alcohol. I’m fat. I’m stupid. My brother-in-law is fat and stupid. I should have said grilled, not fried. I could have been prom queen. I should have been prom queen. My husband’s friend from bowling is the prom queen. We have enough dirt on ourselves that we could give Jackie Collins a run for her money.

 I listen to myself enough to know that one of me is enough in this world. I enjoy laughing at my own jokes, getting my own innuendos, but I think a book full of me would be too much for even patient readers. That is why everyone should show off everyone around us who march to the beat of a different drummer. There’s Grandpa with his howling hound dog Bubba, and your best friend who can quote all of the dialogue from Spaceballs. We all know someone who is on their third spouse or their fourth child; we have girlfriends with childbirth stories that make us shiver and in-laws with enough fishing stories to fill a library. I have an irritable acquaintance? You have five irritable acquaintances. You have a cat that sings? I have a chicken that sings.

 The world is not as big as you think. We all have people in our lives that we adore, all have people we could do without. The loves in our lives may be special and personal, but the irritations we experience are universal. Perhaps that is what connects us all. Our idiosyncrasies are their idiosyncrasies. My pain is your pain.

We all walk through life on thin ice, isolated, thankful for the little things. So to counter our fear of isolation, we fill our history book with memories of amusing personalities and odd family members whose unique experiences bring us larger-than-life characters. How else could you explain the uncle that wears boat shoes to a wedding? How do explain a child who wears the same pair of underwear for soccer games every week for four months? What can you say about one who has a room full of unicorns or a garden full of gnomes?

 Sometimes there are no scientific explanations for the phenomenon of friends and family. Write about them. Talk about them. People are strange. Be proud of those who color your life.  It is the spirally, pretzelly people in the world that make it interesting. Just know that your strange is no stranger than my strange.   We’re just all different cracks in the same wall of life.

 It’s just that some cracks are wider than others.

Nothing to Write About — My Life is a Bore

            Fifteen hundred words.  One thousand, five hundred words.  That’s what the contest rules stated.  Surely I could come up with something to write about in fifteen hundred words or less. I sat at the kitchen table, spiral notebook open, pen poised.  But my pen stopped after the word “Someday”, the “Y” becoming an ornate doodle of Elizabethan proportions.  What could I write about?  My life was so ordinary, so mundane compared to the experiences of those around me.  I had no juicy stories of divorce to share; no exotic locations to describe, no secrets to expose. 

            I sighed, looking at the fancy “Y” on the paper.  What about humor?  I thought about some of the funny stories I’d heard through the years.  There was the one about my husband’s childhood friend Meathead who built a go-cart out of a lawn mower engine and a ladder and some old wheels.  It was direct drive, no brakes, no steering wheel to speak of — all it did was go forward.  Meat took off, drove down the alley and right into a telephone pole, splitting the ladder by its rungs, the scene unfolding like something out of a cartoon.  Or the time another friend tried to be George Washington on the point of their fishing boat, standing strong and proud as it came to shore.  The boat slid onto the sand bank, hitting a sand hill just a little too fast, and he went flying into the air, making a perfect mud angel.

            Naw, I wasn’t good at humor.  What else?  What about drama?  I thought about tidbits I could turn into an entertaining yet meaningful short story.  I thought about my father, a proud man who fought in World War II.  He remembered the war as if it were yesterday, yet when he died at 85 he could barely remember what he had for breakfast.  I remembered the story he told about being in a foxhole with a couple of his buddies.  He turned to grab his thermos and pour a cup of coffee; a shell landed in the foxhole, exploded, and when he turned around his bunkmate was gone. Or the story of my friend’s daughter and her struggle with cystic fibrosis.  The beautiful girl who died at twenty-eight because her lungs just couldn’t support her body anymore. It was the first funeral service I had been to where I’d had seen a “life” board; a bulletin board filed with pictures that spanned the girl’s entire life.  I couldn’t believe her board could be so full at 28 years old. Or something sappy about family illnesses or faithful pets.

            No, those weren’t the kind of stories judges wanted to read.  Not in a mere fifteen hundred words.   Surely there was something extraordinary I could write about.  Oh, there’s my friend Ari — she’s wild and creative and just a bit eccentric.  She talks to spirits and ghosts, and is delightfully in tune not only with her psychic powers but also her business sense.  What about the friends I made at the Renaissance Faire?  There was the gypsy wench from Germany and her artistic husband who created medieval magic from fabric. And there was the short, hairy artist with a beard that ran half way down his neck that worked marvels with pewter.  Wild people, great people.

            Or my family members.  Loud and burly Uncle Bill, balding and boisterous, a loving man that enjoyed a beer or ten as much as burgers and brats; or Uncle Scott on the other side of the family, the one with the heart of gold and a passion for aqua shoes.  Then there was Grandpa, the fishing guru and legend, someone who knew everybody and everything that happened in his little town.  And what about my kids when they were little?  Rooms so messy we’d need a bulldozer to clean them, or paintball wars, or wrapping Christmas presents while eating shrimp at midnight?

            I kept doodling on the empty page.  What about all the friends I’ve made through the years? I’ve known farmers and writers, mechanics and truck drivers.  I’ve come to know special education teachers and helicopter pilots, football quarterbacks and massage therapists.  Surely there were stories scattered throughout their lives.  Well, I had friends, but no one extraordinary to write about.  No one who spent time in prison or traveled through Africa on safari or had lunch with the President of the United States. No one that broke any records or invented something that changed the face of America.  All I knew were people who worked for a living: ordinary people that fished or painted or watched movies on the side of a barn or made jewelry or delivered pizza or coached soccer teams.

             I tore off the top sheet of paper, crumbling it into a tight ball, and started on a fresh, clean sheet.  The black ballpoint rested on the thin blue line of the paper, ready.  Yet nothing would flow.  Not an “E” or an “S” or anything in between.  I looked outside the window at the emerald green fields and weatherworn barns in the distance.  The sky was electric blue, and the pine trees appeared as arrows pointed skyward.  The chatter from the birds was almost deafening as cardinals, blue jays, and a handful of other serenaded from the edge of the woods.   For all I knew there could be elves and fairies just on the other side of the sumacs, unicorns mingling with the horses at the farm next door, and aliens making crop circles in the field on the o]=her side of my house. There could have been CIA agents or ex-Nazi criminals posing as salesmen at the store in town.  There could be a meteor heading towards my little town right at that very moment, or treasure buried under the lopsided oak tree at the edge of my property.

            But I would never know, because I was convinced I lived in a vanilla-coated world.  There wasn’t one single person to interview, nor one inspirational vista, nor one slice of comedy to fill my empty sheet of paper.  There was never anything interesting going on in my life.

            At least not fifteen hundred words worth.