Random Thoughts and Flat Apple Pie

~ The ‘Let’s Write That Book!’ blog series is starting Sunday, November 17th — not 16th — as this editor realized. And I’m the one heading the series …. sheeh….

 

~ Second wonderful day of retirement and I’m feeling sick and worn out. I wonder if that’s a psychological letdown or a medical paradox? I still feel like I’m on vacation and have to report to duty next Monday. That always made me feel sick…

 

~ Don’t teach your dog to bark at squirrels in the bird feeder if you don’t let them bark 24-7. My husband taught (as a joke) and we’ve been joking at 6 a.m. for the past few months. Now that I can sleep in it’s not so funny.

 

~ We dropped our Dish TV subscription and have been living through Amazon Prime and a pretty decent TV antenna. I have to watch my favorite TV shows through my computer hooked up to the TV now, which I don’t mind, but I’m finding I am caring less and less about all those TV shows that I had  to keep up with when I had DISH. I’d rather listen to music or watch Chinese TV series with English subtitles now. Strange turn.

 

~ The further I get from actually going to Paris, the further I am getting from writing book about going. I am hoping this is a temporary pause due to real life circumstances, but all the research and daydreams and twists in the story just make me tired.

 

~ Writing is making me tired.

 

~ I have to learn to cook all over again. With hubby on night shift and me coming home before he leaves, either he’s cooked and left it for me or I was on my own for dinner. Cans of ravioli aside, I haven’t tried to be Julia Child in quite a while.

 

~ Do you go through ebbs and flows like this too? Does time bring you back where you want to be? 

 

~ Think I’ll go make a Flat Apple Pie. Dessert is good for the soul.

 

What Is True Success?

So many things make us happy; so many things make us sad. So many times we wished we  had turned left instead of right; so many times we are soooo glad we did turn right instead of left. Sometimes I get really sad that I’m soon going to turn 60 — where has my life gone? Other times I look back and am sorry my mother never made 54. I’m sad that I had breast cancer; other times I’m so glad they found it when they did.

Life is packed with highs and lows, yellow and blacks, snow and scorching heat. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what it’s always been about. For us, for our grandparents, for George Washington and Kublai Khan and St. Joseph. I’m sure they all had a hundred things they wanted to do at one time, too.  Just like us. We all want to be appreciated for what we’ve done. What we’ve become. We all would like to think that our time here on Earth has been for the Greater Good.

This is not a confessional blog; this isn’t a tell-all or a bad news bomb.  I’m sitting on my sofa this cold Sunday afternoon, looking at the bare treetops in my front yard. Of course, you know me — I’m also watching football, eating lunch, doing laundry, getting ready to write some in  my latest novel, wondering what I’m gonna wear to work tomorrow. I’m also thinking about the fun I had with my grandbaby this weekend, thinking of taking some drugs for my achy legs, and feeling guilty I haven’t played fetchie with my dog today.

That’s really what this blog is about. Sometimes I feel I should be pushing this blog harder, trying to share the Word with more readers. Other times I think I’ve run this horse to the finish line, and should start a new creative venture.  Yet more often I think  I’ve let my writing simmer on the back burner for so long it’s started to dry up and stick to the pan.

How do you know if you’ve succeeded at what you tried to do? What is the measure of success? Big paychecks often are an indicator;  good health, always. Waking up every morning is a success all on its own. Family? Kids? Making the perfect apple pie? All of the above are successes if never done it before. Success has always been measured from the heart first, from the masses second. And often it takes on a meaning more cosmic than one thinks. I think I make the best spaghetti sauce this side of the Mississippi. If you don’t agree, does that mean it’s not good? Of course not. All it means is that I can eat it all myself.

Writing is the same thing for me. What is being a successful writer? Have I ever been published? A short  story here or there in the past 10 years. Have I won awards for my creativity? No. Have I ever I gotten a call or email from a publisher? No. Do I think I’m a successful writer? Yes. Definitely.  I’ve had people say positive things about my stories; I’ve brought smiles and tears to readers.  I’ve written 4 novels, 1 novella, 32 short stories, 42 poems, 84 blogs, and 3 novels in-progress. I think that’s being successful. Why? Because Ive continued to do what I love, no matter what the  result. I’ve had fun making friends, creating worlds, and trying things that make me uncomfortable. I encouraged people to believe in themselves, given life to middle-age heroines, and never killed off  the main character.

There are still so many paths to follow, worlds to explore. And that’s only after I play with my grandbaby, fetch my dogs, pet my cats, cuddle my husband, go to work 40 hours a week, clean my house, grocery shop, get together with family and/or friends, and dozens of other responsibilities. Life has only so many hours, and I’m still struggling on squeezing a few more out of every week.

So what this all boils down to is that I’ve driven the Humoring the Goddess train long enough. Hopefully I’ve encouraged you to believe in yourself, have fun with your life, and laugh as much as you can. There are so many things you can’t change, so why not toss your hands up and laugh and move on? You’ll know the things you CAN change..that little voice in your heart/head/soul is always there to remind you. Your job is to listen.

I have enjoyed entertaining you all these years more than you know. I have learned so much from you. I might try another blog, or finish one of my novels, or sit and spew poetry until I feel nauseated. I’m sure I’ll be back and visit sometime. If I start something new I’ll post it. I will look foward to hearing from you and YOUR projects. You will always find me at my email world…  humoring_the_goddess@yahoo.com.

There is always a path ahead of you. Always. It’s up to you which one you take, or how often you turn left or right. In the end, none of that matters — the only thing that matters is that you keep walking.

Keep Humoring the Goddess…and Loving your Life…

Claudia Anderson

May the Horse Be With You

          A friend of mine works at a wild animal sanctuary.  The work is hard and dirty, and the pay non-existent, as she is a volunteer.  At first glance you would think she scrapes out stalls and washes animals mostly because she is a Good Samaritan; because she wants to help animals who have seen better days. While this is true, she also works with the animals so she can give them space to share their stories, often sharing ones of her own.

            Nash is one of her favorites. He is a cougar who was used by a gang for protection, much like a guard dog.  Chewie is a camel, donated because he was to be slaughtered and fed to the wild cats as he had severed rear leg tendons.  And RC, her favorite, is a blind horse. RC came from a place that forced her to live in filth, which was the eventual cause of her blindness.  My friend listens to their stories, working with them to bring a bit of peace and comfort to their world.  And she swears when she look into their eyes she can hear them talking back.

            There is no hocus pocus here— there is no run away imagination or desperation for someone to talk to. Sue is a down-to-earth, hard working, funny friend that just happens to listen better than a lot of us.  You hear animals too – you just don’t realize it. How many times has your cat looked up at you and meowed, and, without thinking, you ask, “What do you want?” as if you expected an answer?  How many times have you gauged what your dog wants by the speed of their wagging tail or the perkiness of their ears? How can you figure out the difference between wagging for food and wagging to go outside and wagging for pets?

             Like Pavlov’s Dog (no pun intended), many interactions are learned through repetition, through action and reward. Animals don’t have the capacity to think at the same level as humans; they merely remember what gets them fed or pet and repeat these acts over and over again so that you, in your personification, believe they are thinking and speaking. But regardless of all scientific explanations, there are still plenty who connect with animals on all sorts of levels.  Some are upfront and obnoxious about their rapport; others never admit to conversations with anything lower on the food chain than themselves.  But there is something about the presence of animals, domesticated or not, that touches us in indescribable ways.  The connection is on an energy level that cannot be detected by scientific methods. You have to admit, the moment you look into the eyes of your dog or cat or the lions at the zoo, they look back and you feel something deep and primal.

            Oh, we say we listen — to our friends, our spouses, to our bosses and our kids.  But do we?  How often do we stop and really listen to what they’re saying? How many times does someone start to talk and, before you know it, your mind has slipped forward to what’s for dinner or a song you can’t get out of your head? How many times do we look into each other’s eyes and feel what’s truly there? Experience the unspoken energy?  Not as often as we could; not as often as we should.   We are too busy, too stressed, too tired, to stop the chatter in our head and listen to what’s being said, both verbally and non-verbally, by those around us. We don’t mean to not listen —we do care about others.  We care about how they feel, what they think, what they do.  But we have forgotten how to slow our lives down and listen —to feel the cosmic energy being sent our way.  There is no place we need to be so quickly and desperately that we need to cut off the current between another who is trying to connect.  We don’t have to connect forever — just long enough to make a difference in their lives.

            I’m not saying we should try and communicate with every chicken or cow we see, or every butterfly that passes by.  But who’s to say there’s not a basic need in all life forms be understood? To be accepted?  Even if for a nanosecond? Maybe it’s not a conscious thought; maybe it’s more primal than that. Maybe it’s just instinct. The instinct of comfort, of the instinct of contentment.

          In the long run, it really doesn’t matter if communication with animals is real or not. What matters is we need to think of others besides ourselves. We need to slow down and not over-think and over-analyze everything. In their simplicity, animals remind us of who we once were.  Of where we came from.  We came from a world that was quieter, simpler than the madness we experience these days.  And slowing down, communicating with animals, and each other, is worth the time you take.

           When my friend nuzzles RC, the blind horse, she may not be looking into his eyes, but she is feeling his energy, his story, his gratitude.  He thanks her for taking the time to brush him, feed him, to nuzzle him. She doesn’t care if this exchange can be measured by scientists — all she knows it that she is making the horse feel better, and in the act of listening, feels better herself.

            Not too long ago my cat of 18 years passed away. It was a gradual thing, old age and kidney shutdown all part of the cosmic circle. I spent a lot of time talking to her those last days.  I told her stories about our younger days, reminded her that I was there, and that we’d always share our energies in the form of memories. I don’t know if I made her passing any easier, but in listening to her breathing, I heard her story, I shared her life. 

            My life is better for it.  Yours will be, too.

I Can’t Believe I Believed That

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!)

Lizzie  Borden took an Axe…

Unfortunately this myth rears its ugly head quite often, and often no amount of effort is sufficient to disprove it to the true believers. First off, Lizzie – she is famous through the children’s poem:

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
And when she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.

In fact, her father was axed 11 times and her step-mother 18 or 19 but that is not the real myth – the real myth is the belief that Lizzie Borden committed the crime at all. After a mere one hour of jury deliberation, Lizzie was found innocent of the crime. To give further weight to her innocence, shortly before her trial a second axe murder happened in the area. Additionally, Lizzie was found with no blood on her minutes after the crime took place, and no murder weapon was ever found.

It’s safe to eat dropped food as long as you pick it up within 5 seconds.

The 5-second rule is one of the biggest food myths around. The reality is that food picks up bacteria from the second it hits another surface. One study at Clemson University found that food acquired 1800 bacteria after just 5 seconds.

Can drinking coffee help a person sober up?

When you see a movie scene showing a drunk guy trying to sober up in a hurry, odds are he’ll be chugging a cup of stout black coffee to help speed up the process.  But can a person who is drunk function better — and possibly pass as sober — after downing a cup or two? The answer: A resounding “no.”

Coffee does not help you get sober. If you’re plastered, you’re going to have to wait several hours for the alcohol to leave your system on its own. Drinking coffee won’t make your body metabolize alcohol faster. However, coffee can affect your drunken state by tricking your mind into thinking you’re close to sobriety. It turns out the caffeine in coffee is a stimulant, which can make you feel like you’re ready to handle certain potentially dangerous activities — like driving.  If you’re drunk, coffee can’t actually prepare you to do anything important and/or responsible. It’ll only make it harder to realize you’re sloshed.

Captain Kirk Never Said  “Beam me up Scotty”

When mentioning the series Star Trek people are very likely to say the famous phrase “Beam me up Scotty,” even if they have no clue who Scotty is or what it’s referring to. This is presumably the phrase captain Kirk uses at the end of a show, when Mr. Scott teleports him back to the ship. However, the phrase is never really uttered on the show or in any of the movies. The closest version of the quote can be heard in the Star Trek IV movie when Captain Kirk says “Beam me up, Mr. Scott.” The difference is very small, merely a more formal usage of Scott versus Scotty, but fans of the show have argued for years that Captain Kirk would never use the diminutive Scotty instead of his formal rank, especially in front of the crew.

Eli Wallach Never Said: “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!”

In its original form in director John Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), it was actually, “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”

Mama Cass died when she choked on the sandwich she was eating.

There may have been a partially eaten sandwich somewhere in the vicinity, but she died of heart failure brought on by the effects of obesity and crash dieting. The coroner found no evidence of anything, ham sandwich or otherwise, blocking her windpipe.

Ozzy Osbourne routinely bit the heads off of live bats as part of his outrageous live performance antics.

Given his trailblazing efforts in achieving a high shock value with his live concert shenanigans, this myth isn’t too hard to swallow. The fact is, Oz did bite a live bat onstage – once, and by accident. He thought it was a prop made of rubber. The fact that the bat bit back, requiring Osbourne to undergo rabies treatments, kept him from ever attempting it on purpose.

Mr. Rogers was a Navy Seal

Fred Rogers and his classic children’s show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood were legendary in the TV world, so it was only a matter of time before a few scandalous rumors started floating around about him. Probably the most popular and downright ridiculous was the legend that claimed Rogers was a Navy Seal during the Vietnam War, and that he had numerous confirmed kills as a sniper. This same rumor often asserted that the only reason Rogers wore sweaters was to cover up all the tattoos he had gotten during his time in the service. Both tales are completely untrue, but this is one urban legend that refuses to die.

AND FINALLY…

If you cross your eyes on purpose, they can get stuck there.

There is no way that you can make your eyes cross permanently. If you cross your eyes, you will tire your muscles out, but you won’t do any permanent harm.

So  quit looking at me that way.

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 have gone full swing with fashion through my life. There was a time that clothing meant something more than tennies with mud and jeans with holes in the knees.  Power suits and tailored dresses (with shoulder pads, of course) were the trademark of the 80’s, especially in downtown Chicago.  Working on Michigan Avenue, there was a plethora of boutiques, department stores, and cutting-edge shops to keep even the weary well-dressed. I might not have kept up with the big-time dressers, but I did my best to look clean, chic, and, well, presentable.

Eventually I left the sparkle of the big city, choosing instead to become a mother and part-time sales clerk, and my wardrobe change again.  An elastic waistline took the place of leather belts, and casual pants and sweaters replaced the soldier-woman look.  Of course, once I became a mother, anything comfortable became the name of the game.  After all, who would want baby spit on a Liz Claiborne blouse?

Now my kids are either in college or married and on their own, and I’m at the point where the words “casual Friday” get me excited.  Back in the office after years of the “momma” mode, I am leaning towards a more crafted, uncrafted look. Flowing, easy going, with a bit of bling. These days women have their own version of dress up,  running the gamut from jeans to capris to dresses. Business suits (do they even exist anymore?) are kept for meeting clients, and people wear sweatshirts and jeans to office Christmas parties.

But here is the crux of my story.  I live in the country, and not long ago was co-owner of one old, crusty, buffy rooster named Rocky.  Left over from my husband’s desire to be a “country farmer”, Rocky was the last of a few generations of hens and roosters.  He had a little coop  all to himself, and, when the evening was pleasant, I would let him out to roam the grass and field around his abode. Well, one evening I went back outside to close his coop door for the night, and when I looked down, took notice of what I was wearing: pink slippers with Christmas socks, a long, flowery nightgown, and a faded purple housecoat. What a fop I had become!

What happened to fashion sense?  Why is it so easy to resort to horror story glamour when no one is looking?  I thought about other rendezvous I’ve had inside my four walls when no one was looking:  stained t-shirts, orange socks and green pants, nightgowns and chuggy boots.  Did I lose all sense and sensibility when no one was round? Most will say that when we are home we are free to be who we are, and if that includes wearing plaid boxer shorts and paisley t-shirts, that’s just fine.  This is true. I don’t mind skipping a shower on Saturday if no one is coming to visit, or wearing yesterday’s St. Patty’s day shirt because it’s got a little beer on it. I like to be comfortable, and I like to be practical.  And, after all, if the shirt is already stained from yesterday’s dinner, why not wear it while you’re making spaghetti sauce tonight?

That doesn’t mean that I don’t care about the feminine side of fashion.  I love shoes that fit, earrings that dangle and bracelets that sparkle.  I love a comfortable pair of khakis as much as a flowery summer frock.  I shop at Good Will as often as The Boston Store, and bargain is my middle name.  I wear whatever I want whenever I want.  Having suffered through girdles, garter belts and shoulder pads, I have earned my place on the fashion ladder.  I like to think my fashion sense falls somewhere between fashion runway-itis and poverty chic.  I am not embarrassed by who I am; I revel in the fact that I can go with the flow and feel comfortable in any setting. That is the beauty of being a woman.

But I also admit that I’d be totally embarrassed if anyone outside of my dogs saw me tread out to the chicken coop in unicorn slippers and a ski jacket with a furry hood.
I’ve got to get a little common sense here; I need to find the balance between beautiful and bum.  I can never let anyone see me walk around the house in some of the getups I let myself get away with.

No one should be put through that kind of pain.

Cosmic Chatter

              Do you sometimes have a hard time concentrating?  I don’t mean pay-attention-to-your-driving duty or don’t-cut-your-finger-when-chopping-onions duty.  I mean concentrating on spiritual things.  Ethereal things.   The airy-fairy connection between us mere mortals and that famous ‘higher power’.  Do you ever wish that your mind would shut up for five minutes while you try to summon a spirit from the Great Unknown?

            You know how it goes. You clear your schedule, get rid of the kids, feed the dogs, and hide the cell phone in the silverware drawer.  You make an effort to visit your special place, your sacred altar.  This can be your garden, a spot deep in the woods, your kid’s sandbox, or your living room sofa.  You tell yourself that today you are really going to connect with the void and what lies on the other side.  You have read books on angels, faeries, ghosts and extra terrestrials, and figure it’s about time you connected with one. So you get into your sacred mode.  You breathe slow and deep.  You close your eyes, rest your mind, and say a prayer.  The atmosphere is perfect for communicating with whatever is the source of your power.  You feel the tingle of something larger than life not too far away. And suddenly, there it is.  That nagging thought.  That idle chatter.  That empty gossip.  And the more you try to tune it out, the louder it becomes.

            Monks in monasteries found salvation kneeling on stone floors.  Buddhist priests found nirvana contemplating a blade of grass.  Priestesses found the secrets of gods and goddesses tending fires.  So surely you could find what you’re looking for right in your own back yard.  After all, you have a whole ten minutes!  But your mind won’t cease its aimless prattle.  Your thoughts wander from your need to buy a shirt to match your navy pants that are just a bit too tight to the price of gas to trying to remember the name of the movie star that played that crazy professor in the movie you watched last night.  You snap back to the center.

             Block those thoughts!

            You close your eyes, trying to drown out the stray thoughts with the repetition of a prayer or a mantra or the alphabet — anything to bring structure back to your concentration. 

            Wham!  You forgot to mail the check for the phone bill! 

            Stop it! 

            Bang!  Did I unplug the curling iron?

            Pay attention!

            What should I make for dinner?

            SHUT UP!!

            You continue with a dogged perseverance.  You pray harder.  Louder.  You try to summon the angel, the sorcerer, the alien.  This being is a member of your guidance team, a pointer towards self awareness and universal peace.  A very important part. Yet your mind won’t stop trying to chat with you.  You think about your boyfriend, your job. You wonder about what the dog is doing now that you’ve tossed him in the back yard without supervision. You think about things you should have said, things you shouldn’t have said. And you suddenly become conscious of your outer-self nagging your inner-self to be quiet.

            Why can’t your mind just sit still for a while?  What is Archangel Michael going to think if you let everyday distractions get between you and him?  How can you have a direct cosmic connection with Cleopatra when all this blah blah is tainting your aura? You were so serious about this connection when you planned this escape!  You are a good person, a pious person.  You’re the sort of person that stops for squirrels crossing the road and kisses your kids ten times a day (even if they’re 27) and takes only ten items to the ten-items-only checkout aisle.  You are kind to old people.  Or you are an old person who is kind to young people.  So why is it so hard to quiet your mind long enough to connect to the spiritual?

            Maybe it’s because you’re already interacting with the spiritual.  It’s all around you.  Connecting with angels and prophets and faeries and ghosts of the past happens all the time.  We just don’t slow down enough to experience it.  The innocence of children, the memories of parents and grandparents, the words of sacred texts and of simple poetry all connect us with the ethereal.  We just have to learn how to recognize it.  The wild world of faeries can be found in the unbounded energy of a puppy; the music of the angels can be heard in the morning chatter of the birds.  God speaks clearly to us through our own conscience. We just fail to heed the advice we’re given. 

            What has this got to do with all this mindless chatter that drives you crazy?  The thousand thoughts that run through your head are nothing more than your own spirit cleaning house, sifting through all the garbage so that it can get to the heart of the matter.  In the peace and quiet of the sandbox or your front porch you can safely sift through your thoughts and emotions, finding clarity in reasoning and understanding in reflection.  Your mind finally gets tired of rambling and lets the purity of your intentions come through loud and clear.  You figure out where you are going, what you want to say, what you should do.  And that’s what you came there for in the first place, isn’t it?

            So don’t worry the next time you look for a cosmic connection and find static on the line.  It’s just the faerie queen telling you that you left the check for the phone bill on bathroom counter next to the unplugged curling iron.

It’s Not Just About Humoring My Goddess

I know how time consuming it is to follow blogs, twitters, titters, tidbits, and all things electronic that fill your mailbox. The world of the Internet has opened doors we could never have imagined. Suddenly you can read other’s thoughts, rants, secrets, research, links and more with a touch of a button. It is easy to lose your way through this mesmorizing maze of information, spiritualization, and gossip.  I know first hand how easy it is to follow one person’s link, only to follow another and another and another until you find you have spent three hours chasing your tail, searching for one more bit of validation, one more line of information that can make you complete.

While I am thrilled at the thought of your sharing my quirky stories, my astro-astromony goddess sort of philosophy, I want to make a point to encourage you to make your own way through these worlds. There are unlimited versions of reality in this electronic cosmos; unlimited hearts opening, unlimited opinions to choose from. Any thought you want to Google you can. Any ancient philosophy, any current political opinion are available at a touch of a keyboard.

What I want to caution you about, though, is not to fall prey to everyone else’s angsts, discoveries, awakenings, and pain. For after a while, if you are not careful, their experiences will become yours.

What I want to make sure is that you are taking the time to form your own  opinions. I know I’m a writing fanatic; I find that writing brings out all sorts of feelings and thoughts and repressions to the surface, and, somehow, I feel others may benefit from my stumblings. I want to assure you that there are plenty of other ways to grow spiritually as well.  Religion, philosophy, fine arts, reading, working with children or adults or the disabled, all are ways to tap into your inner spirit, your inner muse, to find out what makes you tick. What tickles your fancy. What encourages you to move upward, forward, into the cosmos and beyond.

The road to the next level of cosmic consciousness is right in front of you. Don’t rely on others to show you the way. After all, some roads are pretzelly, others straight and sleek. Some tell you you can’t get there without blood, sweat and tears; others tell you it’s a piece of cake. It is up to you to choose your own road. It could be rocky or asphalt or muddy. It can run uphill, through the woods, through the slums or up mountains. What you need to understand is that the path you follow is your choice. Don’t leave it up to other bloggers, websites, published books, classes, or any other media that portend they know more than you do. Trust me. They don’t. They are voyagers on the sea of life, just like you.

Listen to your heart. If you need to get it out, find an outlet. Write, paint, garden, train for a marathon. Exercise. Babysit. Read. Research. Take notes. Learn a new skill. Make a quilt. Learn to cook. Become a gourmet cook. Stencil. Macrame. Share your skills with others who want to learn.

Don’t be afraid to share your dreams with others. Remember — everyone has dreams. The catch is that most are just afraid to share them.

Let that be their problem. Not yours. Don’t be afraid to follow that little muse that whispers in your ear, dances on your shoulder, or, in my case, bop me in the side of the head at the most inopportune moment.

Visit my blog when you have time. Create your own world when you can’t. And have fun every moment you can.

Diamonds Are a Pet’s Best Friend

Come on, admit it ― we all wish now and then we lived in the “lap of luxury.” Of course, we are perfectly happy in our little house/apartment, spending time  with with family/kids/friends, and splurging on a Dove Bar now and then.  But now and then don’t you think about noshing on that Dove Bar on a Paris street corner or on a deserted beach in Riviera Maya?

Alas, this little dittie is not about our lap of luxury ― it’s the lap of those who hold precious dogs and cats (and other furry little creatures) that I begin to wonder about. I have three ½ dogs ― two are mine, one inherited from grandpa, and one who spends more time here  than at my son’s. I also have 2 cats adopted from Touched by a Paw. All great companions, hunters, and cuddlers.  We cringe when we have to take them to the vet each year, spend money on their pills, food, chewies, cookies, ropes, grooming, treats, nail clippers, and all  other  paraphernalia, money  that well could have taken us to Vegas. But we grin and bear it, for we love our animals and want the best for them.

Aha!  Want the best for them. That is the key today. What exactly is the “best”?

Nearly $32 billion was spent last year in the pet industry. That includes vets, food, shelters, boarding, etc.  That’s a lot for Bowser and Fifi. But it’s not nearly what could be spent should you do a little investigating. If I may: Here are a few of the wonderful little somethings we  could also spend on our pets (and please do not move the decimals):

Mexican Hacienda Dog House: $30,000

Hello Kitty Crest Dog House: $31,660

Louis XV Pet Pavilion:   $23,900

Cat Cabin:  $1,398

22-K Gold-Threaded Pet Mattress:  $3,000

Versace Barocca Pet Bowl:  $724

Mink fur coat:  $725

Pearl and Diamond Handled Pet Brush:  $400

And then, for the pet who has everything (and for those of you who have a few extra dollars to spend), we have:

52-carat Diamond Dog Collar:  $1.8 million

Dog tiara:  $4.2 million

Now, we all know that these are purposely created as token items. No one in their right mind would walk Bowser in a diamond-studded collar or brush Fifi with a pearl-and-diamond handled brush. But just stop and think ― someone had to come up with this idea; someone had to sit in their little lab and say, “Geez, I wonder what the world will think if I design a mink coat for pets?”

Besides being a topic for morality discussions all night long, I bring this to your attention to point out the lengths we go to pamper those who walk on four legs and lick their you-know-what all the time.  Besides the obvious negative auras radiating around these creations (feed the poor, donate to charities, pay off second mortgages), the thought of  my dogs slobbering out of a Versace dog dish or sleeping in a Mexican Hacienda that costs as much as a car gives me the shivers.  Why do humans go to these lengths to take care of those lower on the food chain?

Perhaps part of it is the feeling of “innocence” a cat or dog emotes. Those big eyes, that  follow-you-around-because-you-are-my-hero antics stir many a heartstring. They are loyal, obedient, and clean (look how often they clean themselves??) They don’t trash their bedroom, drink the last soda, or spend all night on the Internet. They sleep most of the day, eat your leftovers and protect your abode from evil predators like mice and squirrels. Why don’t they deserve a generous portion of your income?

And what of those who fork out those prices to show off the love-of-their-life? For many I imagine the pet is the love of their life. Dogs and cats probably know more celebrity secrets than any group of therapists around. Who else would let you carry them around in designer purses? Who else would look so good next to your Calvin Klein jeans and Gucci bag?  Who else would portray a sidekick (or main star, for that matter) in a movie and let you computerize their mouth to reflect human speech?

I suppose you could say those who dish out for the dish (oh so funny), are compensating for something. Their need to be noticed extends to their immediate family, which,   for some, is only their pets. Husbands and wives come and go, kids leave home, and career opportunities  appear only when you have just had a baby or have just earned three weeks of paid vacation. My mother (and others) always said where there’s a will there’s a way, and W.C. Fields said there’s a sucker born every minute. All of this may be true. It’s  up to us and our common sense to find a happy middle ground, both for us and our pets.

I often think the world is upside down.  But then again, maybe that’s why I’m not living in the lap of luxury.  Perhaps I’d better go out on the deck and teach my dog to move her lips like a human. After all, I wouldn’t mind eating out of that Versace bowl, either…

See What You Have Missed??

While everyone is enjoying this holiday weekend, merely peeking in at their various inboxes, I thought I’d share the fun and enlightening titles you may have missed in this irreverent blog:

My Muse is an Irish WenchWhat to do when creativity dances on your shoulder ― and on your head

Chocolat and the Tuscan SunOpening up an oatmeal cookie boutique in Europe

Feng Shui in the Cubicle — Trying to find harmony and flow in the office cubicle

Paint Who’s Wagon?Defining the generations by the songs we sing

Real Lists vs. Fantasy ListsWhy making “to-do” lists is a matter of one’s point of view.

The Importance of Unicorns and Bratwurst — How our weekly lives run from the optimistic, ethereal beginning of the unicorn, through the dumps of life, back up to the raw, spicy optimism of sausage.

Moonrise at SunsetEven the Moon can fool you.

Dinner With the QueenHow far does your unpredictable meter go?

Middle MagicHalf empty or half full? In reality we just need a bigger cup.

AND YET TO COME

What Is Role Playing and Can I Do It By Myself?Inspirational messages from dwarves and gods.

Cosmic ChatterConnecting to the cosmos through life’s everyday static

Paranoia Writings ― Beware of what you write when you’re pumped up.

Hot Flashes and Cold FeetWhat did I ever do to my hormones to have them treat me this way?

Sex ― What Is It and Where Did It Go?By the time the floor is free the well is dry.

Everyone’s Life is a Best SellerSurely you have an oddity or two hanging from your friends & family tree

Come! Join the Party!

Dinner With the Queen

In the mundane throng of your very predictable life, don’t you now and then want to just break out of the box and do something different? Now that you have the experience of all those years behind you, don’t you want to make that experience mean something? Don’t you ever want to be bigger than life? Just for a day?

Oh, you say, I am happy being just who I am. Of course you are. We all try and walk that fence between selfish and selfless; between modesty and bravado. But admit it. There are many times in our very predictable life that we’d like to do something unpredictable. Of course, unpredictable varies from person to person. Bungee jumping is one way, as is impulse buying a Hummer. More low key, there are times when we want to guffaw aloud instead of snickering quietly. We want to dance naked in the living room and wear chuggy boots with a sundress. But most times we settle for eating Thai as a means of excitement. While that sounds fairly adventurous, I assure you, the dreams of the experienced are filled with possibilities never imagined by the inexperienced. In other words, the older we get, the looser the parameters of our dreams become.

There was a time in my life that I worried about what others thought of me and my opinions. A time when I tried to fit in, vaporously reflecting their ideas on religion, child rearing, and employment. It was important that I pulled my own weight, never rocked the boat, nor raise the hackles on someone’s neck. I was (and still am) respectful of others.

But eventually I got to a point in life where I wanted the river to flow where I wanted it to flow. I wanted my own boat, my own crew, and my own destination. I found that the further I wander down the road, the less I’m concerned about what I have done and more about what I can do. The thought of being no more than a passing blush in the cosmos makes my selfishness bubble to the surface. So I find myself wanting to be bigger than life: a heroine to all, someone who makes a mark and leaves it for others to decipher. That doesn’t mean I want to be an assassin or a movie star or a nuclear physicist. But a motivational speaker, a middle-aged trend setter, a famous author — what’s wrong with that?

Maybe that’s not really “out of the box,” but for me, it’s peeking out from under the lid. I’ve been a loving mother, a great wife, a dedicated friend, and all-around good person. I have dotted all of my i’s, crossed my t’s, and given to the United Way.

But now and then I feel this little quiver in my reality that makes me wonder what it would be like to leave the cookie baking and office typing to someone else and find something different to do with my time. How cool it would be to become a fashion maven or a world traveler. To stand before a crowd and sing like an angel. To be the next Food Network Star. To be asked to be on the next “Tour of Homes” because my house and garden are so incredibly fantastic that the world ― or at least the citizens of Whitewater ― have to experience them. To nosh with Stephen King at lunch and have dinner with Queen Elizabeth. To design a line of clothes that would knock the socks off Calvin Klein or raise enough donations to build a new wing on the local hospital.

All right — maybe not the “Queen Elizabeth” part or the “wing on the hospital” part ― but to create something new, something eye-catching, something memorable, would be a trip I would never forget.

We love and appreciate the little things in our life. Our friends, our family, all are a part of who we are. We work hard and, if we are lucky, play hard. Being famous would take us away from all that we worked so hard to create. And, after all, celebrity does have its price, privacy and anonymity being the first two privileges to go.

But while those platitudes make perfect sense, every now and then my daydreams take a cosmic swing to worlds just past my fingertips. Writing a best seller that becomes a movie lover’s dream, people paying $200 a ticket just to have lunch with me, opening a boutique that splashed between the covers of famous magazines ― what a thrill that would be! Who wouldn’t like to be a travel reporter visiting small European towns or American homesteads and talk about their cuisines and cultures? Who wouldn’t want to have their art on display at at the Art Institute or the Milwaukee Art Museum? Who wouldn’t want to be the one person the President could come to for advice?

Aspirations breed inspiration. Not being afraid to follow the muse within your heart brings freedom to your soul. Feeling positive about who you are enables the world to mold itself around you. Most ― if not all of us ― will never get a chance to live out those kinds of dreams. Not on that grand of a scale. But that doesn’t mean our inspirations can’t be grand. That our forward movement can’t be grand. Understand that grand is all in one’s point of view. Don’t worry what any other point of view is but yours. Dress up for any or all occasions. Paint a mural on a wall. Start blogging your most outrageous ― and delicious ― recipes. Grow an exotic garden, take pictures of it and enter them into photography contests. Design jewelry. Show horses or dogs. Enter your prized whatevers at the State Fair.

Don’t be afraid to break out now and then and have a good time. What others think of you is not nearly as important as what you think about yourself.

Besides ― I’m sure the queen made other dinner plans anyway.

The Importance of Unicorns and Bratwurst

   The Importance of Unicorns and Bratwurst. This is one of those ethereal, out-of-body titles that try to connect the cosmic to the ordinary, the magical to the mundane.  I was hit by this title some time ago, not having a clue as to what it meant or what I would eventually write about.  Even now, as my fingers hit the keys, I have no idea where this storyline is going.  But isn’t that so much like our everyday lives?

We start out the week with the most noble of intentions.  Perhaps we have a satisfying experience meditating Sunday morning, or are able to sleep in a couple of extra hours.  Maybe our football team finally won a game.  Nonetheless, our day is delightful, and we end the night feeling satisfied.  All is right with the world, with our dreams and our desires. 

This is the power of the unicorn.  It is the magical sensation that connects earth and sky, dreams and reality, kids and parents.  In this hazy-yet-authentic state, the world is a soft, mystical place, offering rewards and blessings at every turn.  Our children clean their room without being asked; the washing machine doesn’t screech when spinning; even the movie we choose to watch had one of those feel-good endings.

In the unicorn state the world holds unlimited possibilities. You could actually lose those ten pounds or finally clean off your desk, or even finally start reading that novel you bought five months ago.  You are still based in reality, but the remnant good feelings are enough to move you towards the light and find satisfaction in the simplest things.

 Monday comes along, a tough day for many.  A majority of us will drudge our way to work, blinking at the shortness of the weekend, and find our nine-to-five groove again.  Tuesday seems to be a lot harder than Monday.  Our failure to go to bed early over the weekend now is catching up with us, along with laundry that has mysteriously piled up and the bills we swear we mailed yesterday.  Our favorite TV show is coming on too late for us to watch with any coherency, and the last tape we saved to record said-TV-show was used to record a football game that everyone knows we lost.

 Wednesday is hump day and we wonder just who is doing the humping.  Our resolve not to eat ten chocolate chip cookies in a row is weakening; our commitment to walk a mile or two after work is being thwarted by thunderstorms or ice storms or plagues of locusts.  We can never get our hair to do what our hairdresser did; our plans to cook Coq a Vin has gone by the wayside, seeing as the chicken is still frozen and we don’t have any red wine in the house to cook with anyway.

 Thursday creeps into our lives with a thread of hesitancy.  After all, school has scheduled your son’s basketball game at the same time as your daughter’s piano recital, both of which are at the same time as your bowling league, which is at the same time your other favorite TV show is on, which you would have recorded had the football game not taken up the whole tape.

By Friday your resolutions are out the window along with that novel you can’t choke down anymore, and your thoughts try to center, not on what has been, but what will be.  The weekend is coming; that means a thousand activities shoved into a mere 48 hours. 

It means going to visit your mom on the way to dropping off your kid at the mall, fighting the Saturday morning free-sample crowds at the grocery store, and coming home to an overanxious dog who just dumped the garbage all over the kitchen floor.  It is hoping the video store still has a copy of that brand new movie that everyone is talking about but you, and trying to decide whether to cook a gourmet meal or just throw sausages on the grill.

 This is the bratwurst part, the raw-meat-of-reality part. Bratwurst is a wonderful German sausage, filled with flavor and spices and grilled to perfection.  How metaphoric that little pocket of meat and fat is!  It is the answer to all the cosmic questions in life! It fulfills the need for sustenance (it is a food group), it nurtures your creative side (sauerkraut?  Mustard?  Hot or German?)  It is available in abundance (you can buy them in a pack of six or three pound boxes), and it affords you the freedom of choice  (10 minutes on the grill; burble them in beer and onions for 15 and grill for five; slice them up and fry with potatoes for 20).

How clear it all becomes!  This little sausage is the answer to all metaphysical speculation, the answer to who we are and why we are on this planet.  It is tasty and filling, satisfying those inner child needs and outer kid bravados.  It ties the madness of the week up into a link that goes down easy and can be burped out in a satisfying form later through the night.  It is the spice of life.

I never thought of unicorns and bratwursts as the symbols for Life; I always thought that symbol was that little stick person with the big egg head.  Now that I have been enlightened, I can see that symbol does look like someone celebrating the bratwurst of life, arms out, joyous and all encompassing.

 And the unicorn part?

I’m not quite sure, but I will ask the one standing behind me after I find out if he wants sauerkraut on his bratwurst.

Real Lists vs Fantasy Lists

            Everybody makes to-do lists now and then.  As we get older, our nows seem further back in history, and our thens become obsolete.  So to keep track of the void between the two we need a list to keep things straight. But what kind of list do you make?

            My husband is very fond of making lists.  When he gets ready to go fishing or hunting, his list fills up two pages of college-lined paper.  There are things to bring, things to pack, things to sort, things to find.  I must admit that part of the length of his list includes things to bring/pack/sort/find for everyone else, too. But that is another story.  His real “to-do” list reads more like an instruction manual, all bullet points being checked off before he takes off to the wild blue yonder.

            I make my share of “to-do” lists as well.  Mine usually consist of mundane things to remember:  take ground beef out of the freezer for dinner, call Teresa tonight, write a check for my son’s lunch fund.  Practical, important things that I need to remember to do so that my day — and life — runs smoother.  My real list also extends to calling work or home and leaving voice reminders to myself in case I misplace my physical list.  I can’t help it if my list barely fits on the back of a sticky note; my real list is limited by energy and time and the phases of the moon and how many sticky notes I have.

            But what exactly is a fantasy list?  How is it different from a reality list?

            A real to-do list has tangible edges.  They have beginning bullets and ending periods.  Real lists can be scratched off one line at a time.  Progress can be made and seen through ledgers and spreadsheets and check marks on college-ruled paper.  Real “to-do” lists create deadlines and goals, culminating in that “feel good” sensation when you cross off a task that has been completed.

            A fantasy list, on the other hand, is as wild as clover in the field.  Each task reproduces itself every time you turn your back, manifesting into a half dozen more fuzzy bullet points on your list.  Fantasy lists are things you dream about, things that may or may not come to fruition.  Fantasy lists may have a foot in reality, but often it’s a child’s size 2 shoe, something that, for all practical purposes, couldn’t hold you in a mud hole if you tried. If you are able to check off one line on your dream list you are doing good.

            Fantasy lists can include a wide diversity of ideas and ideals.  Lose weight often tops a lot of lists.  Variations of this task are:  lose five pounds in three weeks so that you fit into your jeans, or lose 25 pounds by next summer so that you can fit into a bathing suit.  Pull weeds is often another chart topper.  It doesn’t matter if you have mums in a pot or a vegetable garden on the hill; weed pulling is often an arduous task that takes forever and seems to produce no long-lasting results.  Fix the squeak in the (fill in the blank) is a good one, too.  How long has that lid or chair or washing machine door made that high-pitched, irritating noise?  How much longer can you endure it before you finally take care of it?

            There are other bullet points on a fantasy list that are full of good intentions but most times get lost on the sidelines:  sew the falling hem on your pair of brown pants; give the dog a bath; call your sister.  Sometimes the list is full of ideas triggered by others:  find a recipe for a spaghetti squash, something like Emeril’s but with not as much garlic; look up how many Academy Awards Tom Hanks has won; call Jill to see if she wants to go to the café for coffee or to the pub for a burger, and if she wants to do it next Thursday instead of tonight because your son has baseball practice at five and the café doesn’t serve alcohol and a beer would really go great with that cheeseburger.  These are innocuous-looking thoughts that have the intention of being done, but somehow never get checked off the list.  This is most likely because a few points from the “real” list sneak onto the list, taking precedence over the more drawn-out ones, and we never seem to get back to the ones that were triggered by our wandering mind.

            Once we step up to the next level of a fantasy list, the bullet points look more like a doodle than a black dot.  The list gets more complicated in an ethereal sort of way: find out how much a flight to Cancun would be in February versus July; check out the price of cottages in the North Woods, say Eagle River or Sturgeon Bay; research the difference between inter-galactic space flight by nuclear fusion and nebula-to-nebula propelled travel for that science fiction story you are writing.

            The edges of the “to-do” list may get a little fuzzy, but that doesn’t mean that these ideas aren’t earnest.  These tasks are just as important as calling for a dentist appointment or making sure we pack aspirin for the trip.  They are just a little harder to maneuver; they are not weighed as heavily as the ones on the “real” list, and are scoffed at by those whose bullet points are five words or less.

            I just don’t get it.  Fantasy lists are just as important as real lists.  And I’m sure that if my husband sat down and made a fantasy list with me, he would be able to move that hunting trip to Alaska right up there to the top of the list.