Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Taking Care of Business"

I've been at this now for two months on and off.  Its time to fix a few mistakes and clarify some things; so please bear with me while I'm "taking care of business!"  In no particular order:

1)   No, the "new" profile picture is not a picture of the new haircut.  Its an old haircut, several years old, as a matter of fact.  I just like the picture.  (Haven't got a good picture of the "new" hair yet.)

2)  I did not go to 12 schools before H.S. graduation.  It was only 8 or 9 (depending on how you count).  Don't know what I was smokin' that day.  We did move a lot, just not quite that much.

3)  I know that its peek, not peak; drought, not draught.  My fingers just got ahead of my brain for a bit.

4)  Most embarrassing that I could not spell embarrassing!!!

5)  I was joking about my sister's age being the first strike against her!!  Also, if you're interested, I have added a picture of the two of us to the "Sisters" posting.

6)  I'm working on figuring out how to insert photos and other graphics to make the blog more visually interesting.  It will be a slooow process, but I'll keep at it.

7)  For these and all other errors, omissions, mistakes, misinformation, and all things boring, I abjectly apologize!  I am purposely NOT going back to make corrections.  I figure this posting has "taken care" of the whole thing....until the next time.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"The Unfinished Symphony"

With the exception of my mom, everyone in my family loves to read. Me, Mikey, Ratchlet, Little Sis, her kids, T.A., Maddie the Great, and my dad -- we all spend as much time as physically possible reading a book, newspaper, or magazine (or in a real pinch, the milk carton or cereal box on the kitchen table!) Its been that way for as long as I can remember. If Mom needed my dad, Little Sis, or me, she didn't even usually try calling us more than once. She would just stand in the doorway of the room we were in and sort of stare at us....even though we would inevitably be reading and oblivious, particularly my dad. Eventually she would get frustrated enough to walk over to where we were and rattle the newspaper or tap the book to get our attention. Then, depending on whether or not she was really mad, she would either roll her eyes and grumble angrily, or she would just walk away shaking her head as if to say, "Hopeless!" I don't know if she ever understood it, but she did come to accept it. Her family was full of readers.

Little Sis and I, of course, inherited this from Dad. He loved to read. Most children never really know their parents very well, but this was the one thing about him of which I was absolutely certain. He never had enough time to read as much as he would have liked.

He was a pretty eclectic reader too. He read what ever was handy. For most of the time I was growing up, there wasn't a lot of extra money for dad to buy things for himself, like books! No such thing as Half-Priced Books and going to the Library never seemed to be an option. (I don't know why. It would have been heaven-sent for my dad.) When LS and I got old enough to pick out books for him as gifts for his birthday and Christmas, I think he was thrilled. It was the only way he got books of his own.

Looking back I finally see how hard this must have been for him. I cannot imagine not having books available to read whenever I want. He didn't have that availability. It was a running joke in our family that, anytime dad would take us into the city to go shopping (we lived in a very small town and Mom didn't drive), he would disappear within about a minute and a half of our entering the store or mall. Mom, LS, and I would spend the bulk of the day, getting what we needed and when we were done, there was no question that we find Dad in the nearest Book Section. There he would always be. Standing by the shelves, holding a half-finished hard cover book in his hands, which he immediately returned to the shelf. Never once do I remember him actually buying the book he had spent the afternoon with. He left unfinished books all over town. I don't know how he could bear it.

He picked up all sorts of random knowledge about a wide range of things. He would never admit to being smart (even though he was), he would just say he was like a Jack-of-all-trades -- he knew a little bit about a lot of things, but not a lot about any one thing. In some ways that sort of summed up Dad's life.

I always felt he never quite figured out what he wanted to be when he grew up. Mainly, I suppose, because of lack of opportunity due to the Depression, no college, WWII, and right into marriage and family responsibilities. He never had the chance or the choice to find out what he wanted to do, where his own gifts would lead him. He was always too busy working to support himself, his mother, or his family. His life, like the books he left on the shelves, had that unfinished quality....the pieces never quite came together, never tied up all the loose ends, never fully explored the possibilities.

So he took his refuge in reading. I am glad that he had that love of reading. It was the one thing that always made him happy.

My dad died much too soon and somewhat unexpectedly 3 months before his 60th birthday. He died of a heart attack at 2:00 a.m. on December 26th, after a lovely holiday celebrated with the whole family. The last photograph we have of him was taken that Christmas evening just a few hours before he died. That photo caught the essence of my dad as we knew him best. In it, he is reading the book that we had just given him for Christmas, oblivious to having his picture taken. He was doing the one thing he loved -- reading a book. I'll never know, of course, but I've always hoped he had time to finish it.

"In the Mood"

If you ever have occasion to read or see an interview with an active writer, whether published or not, one thing seems fairly consistent with them all. They write every day. It is frequently the main advice that those writers give to neophyte writers. Write every day! Often authors describe their work ethic pretty much like that of any other job: get up, have breakfast, write until noon, eat lunch, write until quitting time. Next day, do it again! I admire that. I really do.

It must be somewhat of a yardstick for determining whether or not writing is truly your calling. Write every day. Write something every day. That's a LOT of writing. I would assume that "writing" would include editing, re-writes, scratching out and starting over. It would be just too mind numbing and intimidating to think that anyone could just sit down, put down words for 8 hours every day, and use everything that was written each and every day. If that is true for anyone, I just don't want to know!

For me, I cannot do it. No matter how hard I try, I cannot force myself to write! If I try, all I end up with is unusable, stilted, pedantic, garbage that doesn't even come close to saying what I intended to say! Whether I am writing a business letter, a journal entry, a book report for 8th grade, a Master's thesis, the great American novel, or just a plain ole blog makes no difference. Some days I can write and other days I cannot. Its as simple as that.

On days when I can write, the words and thoughts fly out of my brain faster than I can type them on the screen. I hardly even have to do much editing. Once it starts, I write like the wind. It comes when it comes and when its gone, its gone. Its a great feeling, but I just have no control over it.

So, this is my apology for the time gaps that I'm certain will appear here regularly. Its not that I forget, or I get too busy (usually), or any other good excuse. For me, writing all depends on whether or not I'm "In the Mood", and if I'm not, well, there's just no point in even trying. I just have to trust that the mood will come again. It hasn't let me down yet.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Look to the Rainbow"

I'm not particularly scientific, I can understand some principles when explained, but generally, I'm a words person, not a concept person. Neither am I mystic, psychic, or much into karma, chakkra, or anything that goes "bump in the night". That said, I once had an unbelievable experience that amazes most people when they hear about it. Let's see if it amazes you!

When Ratchlet was still in college (at St. Mary's College at Notre Dame), my BFF, Cath, and I planned to drive from Chicago to South Bend, IN to see a production of "West Side Story" that the Theatre Department was doing. We planned to leave on a Friday evening right after work at about 4:30 pm. Its only a 90 min. drive, so we would have plenty of time to get there, grab a bite, still be in time for the 8:00 pm curtain. As "West Side Story" is one of our favorite musicals, we were excited to see it and had been looking forward to the trip for weeks!

That Friday morning brought horrible rainstorms that lasted all day long, complete with pouring rain, thunder, lightening, and big, black ominous clouds. My BFF, my daughter, and I traded phone calls all day trying to decide whether or not to attempt the trip. We were so disappointed that we might have to cancel. We kept putting off an actual decision, hoping the weather would improve.

Finally, just before it was time for a make-or-break decision, the rain slowed to a sprinkle, the thunder and lightening disappeared, and the clouds began to slowly move off to the Southeast. That was good enough for us! The trip was a "GO!!"

All was proceeding just fine. Traffic wasn't too bad, the light sprinkling was manageable and we were on our way, high spirits restored. After the road made the required turn from South to East, the sun began to peak through the still cloudy skies in the West behind us. That breakthrough of sunlight began to make the roadway steam and the clouds ahead once again looked big, black, and ominous. It actually was kind of pretty; the rising mist with the sun highlighting the beautiful green trees and foliage all up against the nearly black sky ahead. As often happens in those circumstances a rainbow appeared.

As Cath and I were talking and laughing, having a good time, we began to focus our attention on the rainbow. It was a beautiful rainbow, a full arc, with the colors extremely vivid and well-defined, probably the best either of us had ever seen.

After a short while we realized the the rainbow was not dissipating, nor was it moving away from us (as mirages and other optical illusions often do). We were actually getting closer! We were heading right for it. The colors were still extremely vivid and the rainbow seemed to end right in the middle of the road upon which we were driving!! We couldn't believe it. Wow! Neither of us had ever been this close to a rainbow! How utterly amazing.

Now I swear that I am NOT making this up, as we continued (at about 50 mph, this was the Indiana Tollway after all) suddenly we were smack dab in the middle of the rainbow!! We were driving right through it!!! Oh my God, was this even possible?? We could see the refracted light on every surface inside the car....the hood, the dash, the doors, the seats, our clothes, everywhere! My hands tightly clenching the steering wheel each had a very clear rainbow of refracted light across the back. If I moved my hands the rainbows stayed right with me. It was unbelievably beautiful! Both of us could see it, so if it was crazy, we were BOTH crazy!!

We had no camera, so we couldn't document it; and no, we didn't stop and dig for gold! That never even occurred to us; the reality of what we were seeing was enough!

And then, just as suddenly, it was gone. Completely and totally gone, as if it had never been there at all. The whole thing couldn't have lasted much more than 15 or 20 seconds. Cath and I kept asking each other, "Did you see that??? I can't believe it!" There was no outward sign that any other driver had experienced what we had. We continued on our way, but we didn't talk about anything else for quite a while! Once we returned home, no one we talked to had ever experienced anything like it.

As I said, I am no scientist so perhaps this experience was nothing unusual. It might happen all the time, I just don't know. I'm sure there is some simple explanation for how or why it happened. Nevertheless, after all this time I don't think I want to know. I'd rather consider the experience unique and special. I'd rather think that somehow Cath and I are unique and special because of it. All I know for sure, is that now, whenever I "look to the rainbow," I remember....and I smile!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Silver Threads Among the Gold"

I have been told that I had virtually no hair to speak of at birth, a condition that lasted for upwards of three years! My grandmother was so worried that she would frequently massage my scalp with mineral oil (or something like that) to encourage hair growth. Finally all that rubbing paid off, because at about 3 1/2 my hair began to come in....with a vengence!

At first, it was blond, not quite towhead but recognizably blond. Along about 8 yrs old it had darkened to a kind of golden brown. After having it very long (pony-tail-down-my- back-long) for several years, I got it cut fairly short. As if to punish me for cutting off all that hair, from then on it was a mousy brown....seriously, muddy, boring, lackluster, uninteresting, I'll-never-get-a-date, plain brown. The only saving grace as far as I was concerned was that there was lots and lots of it! (Gram took all the credit!) Once I got the hang of styling, my plain hair would at least hold a "do". So I figured I could live with it.

Well, I now believe that Gram's ministrations might have just accelerated my hair growth beyond a "normal" progression straight into premature aging, because at age 29 I began to go grey!! What a shock! I wasn't even 30 yet and I had grey hair?? No NO NOOOO. So off to Miss Clairol I ran. We became good friends. She brought me to a lovely strawberry blond hair color that was much more suited to the "inside" me. I began to get great compliments on my "pretty hair". How delightful!

Unfortunately, getting it that way was a major pain. Do-it-yourself may have been cheap, but it sure wasn't easy!! It was a messy, stinky, awkward process that never came out quite even. I ultimately figured out I needed help, so off to the hairdresser I went. Having someone else color my hair was so much more pleasant. Didn't even feel guilty about the expense; "You're worth it" became my motto.

Through the next couple of years (okay, okay....decades), the color of my hair was consistently some shade of blond. I loved it! It felt good. It looked good. It suited me. It got me whistled at. Whoo Hoo!!

Now flash forward 25 years (yikes). I lost that youthful appearance that we all have up to a "certain age". My body had settled into the mature me. Glasses got a little thicker every year. You know the drill. The blond just didn't seem right anymore, so I decided to let it go natural. Maybe that little bit of grey would be kind of pretty nestled into my brown hair, sort of like highlights, right?

Well, not exactly. The hairdresser had been saying for years that I had a "bit" of white in my hair. This he knew because it "wouldn't take the color". Ok, but it was probably a sort of "silver threads among the gold" thing. I could live with that. I pulled it back into that severe pony tail again while it grew out. When it was long enough to be rid of the blond and still have more than a buzz cut left, I uttered the fateful words to my hairdresser, "Cut it off!" So he did, to a bit beyond chin length.

As I looked in the mirror while it was still wet, there wasn't a blond hair in sight. In fact there wasn't anything in sight except dark, boring, uninteresting, unrelenting GREY! Oh God, I looked just like my mother!! I began to panic, Jimmy (the hair guy), wouldn't let me go over the edge. "Wait, wait. I'm not done. Wait till its dry and styled!" Okay, I'm a reasonable, rational, and realistic woman. Maybe it was unfair to judge wet, unstyled hair. Right?

Well, wonder of wonders, he was right! Because I have such good body to my hair (thanks, Gram!), all he did was gel and "scrunch" it. Easy peasey! When it was dry this kind of lovely, mostly white, salt and pepper halo framed my face. The color was actually pretty! The cut was youthful! The scrunching looked great! Amazing! What a relief! When Ratchlet first saw it, she said it took years off. Well, I'm all in favor of that! It was still a bit surprising to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, but all things considered, not bad at all. Wow!

Until today....I was crossing through a parking lot on my way into a store this afternoon and there was a woman with two young children right behind me. I suddenly felt a small hand slip into mine and heard a small soft voice say "Grandma!" We laughed and the embarrassed mom tried to apologize but I just brushed it off. After all, all the little cherub saw was my grey hair! I guess one grey head is practically interchangeable with any other grey head when you're 4 years old. Its okay. It doesn't change anything. Doesn't mean a thing. Right???!!

"Jiimmeee! Help!!!"

* * * * * * * *

Monday, September 14, 2009

"Cool, Clear Water"

As predicted, the heat wave has broken at last. As a bonus, not only has the temperature dropped into the 70's, but rain has returned to central Texas! I don't have information on what affect the rain we've received will have on the long-term drought conditions, but it has been raining on and off for the last week. Great news for farmers, gardeners, landscapers, water management folks, wildlife, and other such lovers of all things wet! Not so good news for those afflicted with "Seasonal Affective Disorder". For these SAD folks, a week without very much sun is just....well....sad! Nevertheless, the "cool, clear water" falling from the skies is very welcome! The sun will be back soon (I hope). In the meantime, let's go play in the puddles!!

* * * * * * * *

"I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter"

"Speaking often comes without thinking....writing allows for corrections before others are involved."

I confess, I copied this statement from another blog. It really struck a chord with me. Its a real pity that I didn't come across this long ago, because I repeatedly get myself into very hot and very uncomfortable water when my mouth goes off on one of its tangents, seemingly with no control whatsoever from me! Ratchlet has hinted on more than one occasion that I don't seem to have any verbal filters. The sad thing is, that most of the time I'm not even aware that I'm in that mode. Of course, in my case, writing doesn't automatically ensure that I won't be just as impulsive, outspoken, or outrageous as when I go off on one of those tangents. When writing, however, there is at least a CHANCE that prudence will kick-in and keep me from alienating every soul I've ever met! So I think I should "sit right down and write" (and by extension, EDIT) before "saying" just about anything!!

* * * * * * * *

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"What's the Use of Wonderin'"

A bunch of things I just don't get:

1. Why bicyclists insist on riding directly ON the white line -- Don't they know that the cars and trucks whizzing by are bigger than they are? Lots bigger!

2. Why many men seem to think it is OK to spit outside, in the grass, on the street, in the driveway -- I know that NO mother EVER taught her son that was a cool thing to do!! Ewww!

3. Why, no matter how carefully and often I proof read every piece of my written material, it is not until AFTER it is posted, published, sent, or copied that I discover the mistakes -- Sooo embarrasing!!

4. Why Ladies' Restrooms in public place are routinely the coldest places in the entire building -- Does no one understand that women must get half-naked to use the facilities?? Cripes!

5. Also, why there are rarely enough stalls to accommodate the number of women who require their use -- An auditorium with 3,000 seats cannot get by with four stalls! Do the math!

6. Why so many kids who graduate from college these days seem to know less than I knew at High School graduation -- Where are the great teachers who don't settle for less than the best from their students??

7. Why so many men seem to be born knowing how to back into a parking space -- Watch one sometime, its amazing!

8. Rap and HipHop -- don't get it, never will, and I don't care!

9. Who decided it was OK for women's lingerie to show -- Having bra straps visible is just sloppy looking.

10. 8 hot dogs, 10 buns -- Totally unfathomable!

11. Why there are a gazillion choices in the grocery stores -- And why the one I want doesn't exist anymore!

12. Why people feel totally OK with practically screaming into their cell phones in public places -- Who wants to hear all of these conversations that should be private?

13. Why some restaurants have multiple TVs, music over the speakers, and the juke box playing all at the same time -- Bring on the ear plugs!

14. Why women of a certain age seem to become invisible -- This one's kind of scary actually! I know I'm still breathing, I can feel it.

"What's the Use of Wonderin" about any of these, right? Pondering unanswerable questions just gives me a headache. I think I'll go bed instead!

* * * * * * * * * * *

You might also like....

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...