Thursday, December 30, 2010

Three Days of Illness - My Billy Goat, and I.

Today, I ventured out.

Had it really been THAT long since I had stepped outside into the vast,
     winter world,
breathing in the fresh, cold air,
squinting my eyes at the brightness of the massive,
                  cesious colored sky?


As I looked up at the high-reaching, tawny-brown trees;
     their naked limbs, unprotected, beneath the pale, shapeless clouds . . .
I thought to myself,
       didn't those branches still have some of their leaves intact?

     and the last time I left my house was FRIDAY (Christmas Eve).

Saturday, of course, was Christmas, and Sunday morning . . .



Like an unexpected, heavy object falling from the sky.

I woke up feeling miserable.

Me, and my four boxes of tissues spent
    Sunday, Monday, AND Tuesday

                     IN BED,

watching one movie after another (after another).

   Some, good.

   Some, not so good.

During this time, my 16 month old puppy
     (who, according to the dog experts,
                                      should no longer be BEHAVING like a "puppy"),
transformed into a desperate, attention seeking "little devil",
                                      who attempted to eat all of my used-up tissues.


While that could be considered a very efficient and convenient,
     as well as environmentally friendly way of disposing of the SNOT RAGS,
I am sure that, had I allowed him to consume all four boxes of tissues,
                             it would have resulted in an emergency trip to the Vet. 

Not to mention, he did not just EAT the tissues,
     he SHREDDED them,
leaving little pieces of confetti . . .

                  ALL OVER THE HOUSE.

I do not own a dog, I said to myself.

I own a billy goat.    
And, did I mention his constant need for "field trips" to the backyard?

AND, his constant demand for a playmate?   

Not just ANY playmate; the "chosen" one - ME.    


Now that I am out of bed, dressed, hair and make-up done,
     sitting upright at the table . . .
he rests, calmly, in a nearby chair. 

Oh well.

I still love the little guy.

Even thought he IS a billy goat, in disguise.  

Monday, December 27, 2010

One Sick Poem

Dizzy, Sniffy, Sneezy, Drippy, Achy, Chilly, and Red.

These are symptoms, NOT the Seven Dwarves.

Oh yeah, and my POUNDING HEAD.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Je Ne Sais Quoi


Can it be THURSDAY . . . ALREADY?  

I have so much to write about, but I have had very little time, lately.

     RUSHING, and WAITING . . .

'Tis the season.    

As we speak, I am frantically searching for a dessert recipe
     to bring to a dinner party. 

Okay, wait.

That sounds so formal. 

Dinner.  With friends.


I am not a "baker".

I like to cook, but baking takes way too much planning and patience.

I like to find recipes that require only a few ingredients.

This usually involves a little help from my local bakery.

Combine this with a few additional ingredients (to give it my own "flair"),
     and the result is . . .
                          what is the French saying?

Je ne sais quoi.

Something that cannot be adequately described.


Anyways . . .

     I'd better get "baking".

Even the simplest desserts takes time.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Snow Days

Snow days.
I miss snow days, when the kids were little,
when the smallest of hills was a thrilling, exhilarating, GIANT sled ride adventure . . .
   when taking a walk in our overstuffed snowsuits was like going on an expedition,
listening to the sound of the crunch, underfoot,
     as each boot landed, brusquely, on the moon . . .
leaving our crusty, astronaut footprints behind,
                     as we navigated along the uneven surface.

And, as we walked along, our bodies blanketed up and protected by the bright,
     winter white world, we might have stopped, along the way,
to pick up a handful in our mittens - feeling the softness, the wetness,
                             and the cold against our faces . . .
sticking our tongues out to catch the fluffy, white, powdery wonder.

We would make snowballs for throwing,
     snow forts for protecting,
snow jumps for soaring.

And, snow angels,
   for . . .  creating, imagining, smiling -


Then, back down to earth, where we would journey together for shelter -
   a place to rest our weary feet.
And, what a sight to behold!
A cozy little cabin . . .
   the smell of hot chocolate, inviting us in.  
Sweet magic in a cup, to warm our insides.
Snowman poop . . . floating on top.

Sometimes, I still refer to mini-marshmallows, as such.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Be Patient, My Child.

Dear Blog,

I am sorry if it seems that I have been neglecting you. 
Maybe it is the distraction of the holiday season. 
One would think that would give me plenty to write about,
     but alas, it does not.

I am sure that something 
             will come to me soon.

In the meantime, I offer you the same advice I just gave to my eleven year old son,
     who was having difficulty waiting for the
molton-y, gooey, chocolate-y, yummy . . . souffle,
                          baking in the oven, just moments ago -

"BE PATIENT, MY CHILD.  Good things will come to you soon".  

Leslie Ellen Wynn (Morrissette) - aka "Becoming Me" 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snow Makes Me Smile

Soft and white.

It makes everything bright -

     Snow makes me smile.

It wakens the world.

On a breeze, watch it swirl -

     Snow makes me smile.

It tickles the nose.

Tingles the toes -

Snow makes me smile.

Magical glitter.

Our hearts, all a flitter -

     Snow makes me smile. 

Winter stars falling, drifting, dancing,

Whisper- soft landing,

Wide-eyed child, wondering -

 Snow makes me smile.

If My Car Had a Bumper Sticker

If my car had a bumper sticker, it would read something like this:

I have kids. 
I am proud of them
(when they're not pissing me off). 
They go to school; they play sports. 
We go on vacations.
But, I'm not telling you where. 
Oh, and I have a yappy dog. 
Proud of him, too.  
And, he probably yaps louder 
   than your whiny child. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Caveman Goes to College

My daughter is a junior in high school, and so begins the "hunt" for college.

AND, much like during the caveman days, in addition to hunting, there is also searching and gathering. 

Recently, she and I spent an evening at her school, listening to several "experts" speak and give powerpoint presentations on how to go about the process (gathering). 

Imagining that we were all cavemen, sitting in our modern, plastic chairs (like in the Geico commercials), somehow, made the evening much more amusing to me.

Like a young child, I try to create my own entertainment in my head, if it is not provided for me. 

Fortunately, I was born with a pretty wonderful imagination. 

During the hour and a half presentation, there was ONE comment that made an impression on me.

One of the speakers was the spouse of an assistant dean at one of the local colleges. 

In pointing out the importance of ALLOWING OUR CHILDREN TO TAKE OWNERSHIP OF THE COLLEGE SEARCH PROCESS, she mentioned that, from her husband's perspective, one of the BIGGEST RISING PROBLEMS WITH COLLEGE STUDENTS in recent years has been the INABILITY TO MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS AND PERFORM SIMPLE TASKS.   

While they carry with them, through the "prestigious university" doors, all of the necessary grades
such as: 

Managing their own money,
Doing their own laundry,
Cooking a simple meal,
Plunging a toilet,
Organizing their time (and their rooms),
and yes,
Making even the most simple of decisions.


I smiled, and nodded because, I have been well aware of this growing problem since my children were little,  by observing those around me. 

While I was busy raising my kids to be independent,
understanding that through autonomy, grows confidence,
I would watch other children their ages constantly depending on others to fulfill their needs -
children who were well above the age where they should be tying their own shoe laces,
cutting their own food up, making their own lunches, etc. 

Having said that, my daughter, especially, made it easy for me, as she was born with an independent spirit, and many times, though I wished for her to "need" me a little bit more than she did, I lovingly gave her the space that she required, while always keeping a "watchful eye" over her.

Of course, that never ends.  That applies more than ever, now that she is seventeen
 (and doing her own laundry). 

Borrowed from the words of a two year old ( "I do it!"), I have always tried to raise my kids with the philosophy - "YOU can do it!"

Now, while this may seem like a push for "mother of the year", believe me when I tell you, I am FAR from the perfect parent.  I am sure that my children will contest to that. 

BUT, I do know that when I send my kids off to college, they will be self-sufficient. 

At 17, 14, and 11.......................they already are.

I think that is worth more than a few extra points on their GPA.

 Don't you?      

Monday, December 6, 2010

A "Toast" to Mr. Scrooge - A Holiday Story

Once upon a time (on a recent Saturday),
I bravely and boldly (and stupidly), attempted to go to the DMV. 

Why would I go to the DMV (located in the mall) on the FIRST SATURDAY of the MONTH in DECEMBER during PRIME HOLIDAY SHOPPING TIME?

Because I'm an idiot.

Somehow, I did not realize that my plates had expired on my vehicle, and every second that I spent out on the road, felt like a ticking time bomb. 

At any moment, one of "Fairfax County's Finest", could pull behind me and notice the NOV 10 tattooed to my car.      

This is how it went down.

The mall was crowded because...............well, as I mentioned, it was the first Saturday in December,
so I parked in the "overflow" lot, requiring me to walk across the busily traveled
four lane road that circles the mall. 

I waited for a break in the traffic, then quickly ran across to the other side.
My foot was almost touching the curb, when the driver in an oncoming car blared his horn at me,
while giving me an ANGRY look, and throwing up his arms, as if to say,

     "What the hell are you doing, crossing the street?"

Startled (to say the least), I stopped and looked at him in disbelief,
and threw MY arms up in the air, as if to say,

     "What the HELL is your problem?"

A nearby car full of people gave me sympathetic stares, shaking their heads at the
     "unpleasant person" who practically ran me over.

     "And HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU, TOO, MR. SCROOGE!" I said (in my head).

With that, I continued onward, towards the mall, and to the DMV. 

Just as I thought. 



Actually, a LOT longer than I realized, for as I stood at (what I thought was) the end of the line,
I looked to my right, and realized the line extended

Well, I KNOW what a 2 1/2 to 3 hour long DMV line looks like,
and this was at least DOUBLE the wait.

NO (bleeping) WAY.

They are going to have to take me away in a straight jacket.

So, I did what any sane person would do. 

I left, I borrowed a friend's car for the weekend, and I went back on Monday, when the experience was MUCH more feasible.

In the meantime, my faith in humankind and the spirit of Christmas was restored Saturday evening,
with a visit to the quaint little waterside town of Occoquan
(and the location of one of my favorite "watering holes"),
where the store fronts and streets were dressed for the holidays, making everything look and feel.....................................magical.

Driving through the town, embellished in white lights and greenery, and having a wonderful dinner
with "my kind of people" (the ones who GET me, and don't yell at me for crossing the STREET), as well as a NICE COLD BEER, replenished my soul with warmth and peace. 

And as I raised my glass in a toast that night,
     I believe my thoughts were something like............

"Go Scrooge yourself, Mr. Scrooge!"

Fa la la la LA, la la la LA!

The End. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Blue Jeans. Blog Worthy?

My jeans and my skin care products. 

That's all I need.

I can deal with losing anything else (non-living, materialistic items)  
   but, when I can no longer find my jeans,
 and if, heaven forbid, they should stop making my skin care products

Okay, maybe I won't . . . DIE. 

But, for sure, I will be OUT OF SORTS. 


Well, I can no longer find my favorite jeans. 

Years ago (once upon a time), a company made the most BRILLIANT jeans.
They camouflaged all of my flaws,
   leading the world to believe that I had long, slender, beautiful legs.
Not to mention, they complimented my ass(ets).
Friends would ask me,
   "Where do you get your jeans?"

Weeks later, they would thank me, declaring,

   "These jeans have changed my life!"

BUT(T), they are no longer. 

Victims of "fashion pressure", they caved in, they gave up . . . they conformed.
They CHANGED their jeans, giving them names like "SKINNY" and "TAPERED" -
   names that I had always tried to avoid.
They felt tighter around my thighs, made my legs look shorter,
and, most certainly, did NOT compliment my ass(ets).

So . . .

Sadly, I am now in search of a new pair of jeans.  

Maybe not "life or death",
   but definitely "blog worthy".  

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Possibilities (An "Outer Banks" Thanksgiving) Photo Album

Possibilities - An "Outer Banks" Thanksgiving

My kids were with their Dad this year. 

Along with divorce, unfortunately, comes letting go of certain traditions.

I could have stayed in Virginia and continued the tradition without them,
     but I felt the urge to step outside my box, and experience something different.

I wanted to go away somewhere . .  ANYWHERE,
   let go of the old traditions,
surround myself with new people,
experience unfamiliar surroundings.

I found a small, pet friendly, condo just steps from the beach.

My "partner-in-crime" and I packed up the convertible on
   Thanksgiving morning, and headed south.
Unexpectedly, some friends, who were staying just north of us,
   invited us to join them for Thanksgiving dinner.

How perfect!    

We had a FABULOUS meal, and the people were wonderful,
   making us feel welcome the moment we stepped in the door.  

For the rest of the weekend,
     my mornings would start with a wake-up whimper from Charlie.
As my partner slept in, Charlie and I would walk to the beach,
   soaking in the fresh, sea air, along the way.  
I could feel it cleansing my pores, and my very existence.

Unleashed, I would allow Charlie to run free.  
With unbridled joy, Charlie took full advantage - chasing the birds,
   digging in the sand, playing at the water's edge, as it teased him . . .  
watching him was sheer delight, and an energizing start to my mornings.

Our days were filled with warm sunshine and sea-filled landscapes.
We ate a hearty breakfast at the local "dive"
   where the hand written sign above the cashier read,
"Unattended Children will be Served Espresso
           and Given a New Puppy".

We drove to unexpected places, taking photos to my heart's content,
      filling my art spirit to the very brim of happiness.

We discovered new friends in Lane and Gabriela,
     with whom we sat with for HOURS on the front porch
of Zillie's Island Pantry, on Ocracoke Island.

We raised our glasses in a toast, celebrating their anniversary,
     as we shared the warmth of the stone firepit -
hypnotic flames dancing across the sea colored rocks.

We witnessed the ending of yet,
   another day from atop the majestic sand dunes,
watching the sun drop beneath the water colored landscape, just below -
the air, filled with the melodies of Christmas.
Giant kites, lit up festively, were hovering, up above -
   anticipation of the new holiday.

And, while, along the way, I could not help but think about my kids,
     wishing they could share my experience,
I knew that they were enjoying themselves, too.

I knew that they, too, were happy, even . . . without me. 

I guess this is what "growing" is all about.

So, I did the next best thing.
On my way home, I picked up a dozen
     from Duck Doughnuts to let them know that I was thinking of them. 

Will I return to the Outer Banks for Thanksgiving next year?

Who knows.

But, it is nice to know that the possibilities . . . are endless.   


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Color of Gratitude

My friend and I went out to dinner with my parents the other night.

We went to Dolce Vita, which has been a favorite Italian restaurant to frequent, over the years. 

The tone is always hopping, even on a Sunday night,
     or maybe it was because it was the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

The pasta dishes are all wonderful,
     but it is usually difficult for me to pass up one of the daily fish specials -
     rockfish, tilapia, or grouper 
     that melts in your mouth the moment that first bite lands on your tongue.

Our meal - accompanied by a nice bottle of red, of course.

At one point, the owner came over to clear some items out of our way. 

     "Don't touch that bread basket!" my mom announces, protectively. 

As he pulls his hand back in laughter, I tell him,

      "And she's not even Italian!  Can you believe that?" 

     "I'm French," she says, with confidence.

My dad quickly throws in,

     "And German." 

      "Oui, oui, Madame!" says the owner (Joe).   

Then, he leans in close and says,

      "You know the difference between an Italian mother and a French mother?"

Unfortunately, I do not remember the punch line,
     but it had something to do with the French mother using her knuckles.   

After our meal, the waiter asks if we will be interested in dessert. 

     "YES!" we all respond, without hesitation. 

With a smirk on his face, the waiter retrieves the dessert tray, for us all to salivate over,
     as he describes each one in detail. 
We pick three to share for the table - something with chocolate, something with almond,
     and something with coffee. 

Along with our dessert, a strolling accordion player stops by for a few requests. 

My dad is always good for that, and throws out a few suggestions.

The accordion player delivers, performing not one, not two, but three songs for the table.

We clap and graciously thank him, leaving a few dollars in his tip jar, on our way out.     

When we leave, the hour is still early, and I am not yet ready to call it a night. 

The energy of Dolce Vita has filled me up, and leaves me craving for more.

My friend and I meander over to The Wine House in Fairfax City,
     where the mood is much more subdued - the ambiance much more dark,
     but the smiles and warmth, along with the anticipation of a good glass of wine,
     convince us to stay. 

The wine is excellent - a glass of cabernet sauvignon. 

Surprisingly, I find myself still hungry, and wanting something to nibble on while I sip my wine,
     so we order a cheese platter, beautifully displayed with crackers, bread, and fruit,
     to accompany the four types of cheeses of our choice.

Our evening ends with a visit to the Fair Trade shop next door, filled with wonderful, unique gifts. 

Fair Trade, if you are not aware, are socially conscious, sweatshop free,
     environmentally sustainable crafts made by people from countries all over the world,
     providing low-income artisans and farmers with a living wage for their work. 

The simplicity and the craftsmanship that goes into many of these gifts always fascinates me. 

So many unique items to look at, I could spend hours appreciating each one,
     with all of the colors, textures, scents, and sounds.

I leave with a few unique Christmas gifts (my first of the season),
     and a new, festive accessory to brighten up my living room.

I walk away from the evening feeling very happy and full, both in appetite and in spirit,
     and the crimson colored pillow that now sits upon my couch - a sweet and comforting reminder. 


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Me and My Muffin Top - No Baking Required

My personal favorite is banana nut, though I really like pumpkin.
It's definitely a close second.  
I do NOT, however, appreciate the one that has developed around my mid-section.

No baking required - just zip up my jeans.

I had heard roomers of such a thing, from those who have been here before me.

   "Just wait 'til you're in your forties!" they would say.

But, I did not believe them.
THAT won't happen to ME, I thought.
But, it did.

When I first noticed, I tried to use my stern "mom" voice.

   "Go to your room, until I tell you to come out!"

And, like a rebellious teenager,  it did not listen.

It just continued to grow.

Time to regroup, I thought.

Exercise more?  Check.

Eat less?  I can do that.

Give up my wine?  Silence.  

As a parent of (more than one) rebellious teenager,
   I do not typically recommend this advice,
but I may just have to become friends with my muffin top.   

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Autumn Rain

Grey skies

drape the colored landscape.


too heavy to contain their tears.

Nature's call to be awakened.

Like a warm hug,

the earth will embrace

with open arms. 

     ~ Leslie Ellen Wynn (Morrissette)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Reigning in Charlie

I made the mistake of allowing my dog, Charlie, "free reign" of the couch. 

His favorite spot is nestled on the very top cushion, 
   where he is high enough to see what is going on outside the living room window. 

Who could blame him? 

It's the best seat in the house.   

After discovering the slight dirty brownish color that is starting to take over that spot, 
   however, I am trying to "undo" my mistake.  

Not an easy task - I know.

He is pretty good about listening to me when I ask him to get down,
   though he gives me this look like,

     "What?  What did I do?"

Humans are difficult to understand, Charlie.  I know.   

The biggest challenge is how to keep him off the couch when I am not in the house. 

I KNOW that as soon as I leave, he leaps up to his favorite look-out spot. 

And, for those of you who are thinking, "Put him in a crate," 
   I have tried that route. 

That did not work out so well for him, OR for me. 

So, a friend of mine recommended placing tape, strategically on the cushions. 

Apparently, this works well for cats. 

I looked at him, full of skepticism, as he demonstrated how to apply the tape. 

After coming home one evening,
   I took Charlie for his nightly walk, and heard a strange sound. 

At first, I thought it was the sound of his nails scratching on the concrete. 

I stopped walking to see if the sound would stop, too. 

And, it did.   

When we resumed walking, the sound resumed, too.  

I stopped Charlie, and lifted up his paws. 

Attached to his front, right paw, was a long strip of tape.


Okay.  Now, what?   

"What?  What did I do?"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Hairy Eyeball Syndrome" (It's All About Balance)

Last night, I CRASHED on the couch. 

It happened towards the tail end of watching the movie, Juno, which is a GREAT movie, by the way. 

I had not seen it since it was out in theatres, years ago, and forgot how simply wonderful it is. 

The writing and the timing with which the actors deliver their lines is true comedic genius.

It is funny, and sweet, and real. 

It's the kind of movie that makes one feel privileged to watch, because everything comes together so well.    


     I was so tired and out of it, that I barely remember the trip upstairs to my bed. 

As I was barely conscious, I was not able to perform the basic functions of
          washing my face and brushing my teeth. 

Fortunately, I had taken my contact lenses out earlier in the evening. 

The thing is, I can't really sleep well when I have not completed my "bedtime routine",

so I tossed and turned for a good part of the night, until I finally forced myself out of bed,

grabbed my glasses off the nightstand, and shuffled over to the bathroom.

     "AAAaaaah!"  I shouted (to myself), as I looked at my reflection in the mirror.

While the hair on the LEFT side of my head lay flat and straight, the hair on my RIGHT
     was sticking straight out, as if only THAT half of me had been caught up in a wind storm. 

Oddly enough, my right eye felt strange, too,
     as if long strands of hair were wrapped around my eyeball.

I can only describe it as "Hairy Eyeball Syndrome", yet, there was nothing there - 



And, to make matters worse, apparently during the wind storm,
     I had been chewing on the inside of my left cheek (in my mouth), causing it to grow twice the size of what it should be, invading the space in between my upper and lower teeth.


"Well," I told myself, "At least I am just going back to bed.  Maybe this is all just a dream, anyways."

I washed my face and brushed my teeth, and stumbled back into bed.    

When I woke up this morning, like de ja vu, I shuffled back into the bathroom,
     and (like de ja vu)..................


The hair on the RIGHT side of my head was STILL sticking straight out,
     and the inside of my LEFT cheek was STILL swollen, BUT..................good news -
The "Hairy Eyeball Syndrome" in my RIGHT eye seemed to have dissipated.  

So while, unfortunately, it was not all just a dream, at least I felt more balanced, now that the "Hairy Eyeball Syndrome" had gone away,

             which means I shouldn't walk with a limp for the rest of the day.     


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Let's Do Lunch!

One cup of organic, creamy tomato soup,

accompanied by .........

one slice of whole wheat toast (slightly crisp),

served "open-face" with 2 thinly sliced, juicy, sweet, 

Beefsteak tomatoes,

fresh spinach, a drizzle of olive oil, a dash of salt and pepper,

and a sprinkle of shredded Swiss and Gruyere cheese - 

baked in the oven,

until the cheese melts into gooey yumness.

Warm, healthy, delicious...............................

Autumn Lunch goodness. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Spoon Full of Sugar

Last August, I wrote a story about HICCUPS.

I described my personal experience with hiccups, as such -   

"My hiccups are LOUD and PAINFUL. I do not experience them very often, but when I do, they can last for HOURS, leaving me EXHAUSTED, though most people around me consider it quite entertaining and comical, causing them to double over (in pain), from laughing so hard."

This describes my experience from last night. 

Quite often, when I drink carbonated drinks,
hiccup . . .  will escape me.

Sometimes, a second one will follow, and if it does,
      there is that fear that a THIRD hiccup will follow, as well.

And if THAT happens, I'm in trouble.

I am, for sure, sentenced to an evening of

            HICCUP TORTURE,

which is what happened last night,
     when I was having dinner with my partner.

Well, ALMOST.   

The hiccups began after a swallow of carbonated water.

After about thirty minutes of one
obnoxious sounding, 
painful hiccup, after another,
(which my partner compared to the sound of a sheep),
I did what any intelligent, sensible, desperate 
person of the 21st century would do -


And then, an angel named Laura spoke.

      "A spoon full of sugar," she said, "and chase it down with a glass of water." 

My partner already had the spoon full of sugar and the glass of water waiting.

As he held out the spoon full of white, magical crystals, I thought to myself,

      "Damnit!  This is the first day that I have gone "candy-free" since October 31st,
             and here I am, about to eat an entire spoon full of the sinful stuff!"

One hiccup later . . . 

     "Give me that spoon!" I said.   

Into my mouth went the sugar, feeling dry and heavy on my tongue,
     quickly chased down by a glass of water,
dissolving it into sweetness in my mouth. 

Before I could put the glass back down on the counter . . .



But, WAIT. 

Seconds later . . .
                  no hiccup.

Minutes later . . .
                  no hiccup. 



I danced about the room like Mary Poppins, singing "Spoon Full of Sugar" in my head.

      Oh, the miracle of Facebook. 

                Oh, the miracle of Friends. 

      Oh, the miracle of Sugar.



Monday, November 8, 2010

Falling Leaves

"This time of year is always bittersweet. The vibrant colors of the leaves, boldly leaping out into the landscape, filling me with energy and life!  . . . will soon give way to the naked branches, fading into the background of the long, dark, winter days."
                                                                                       ~ Leslie Morrissette

Wednesday, I spent four hours blowing and raking,
                              filling twenty bags of leaves, from my yard. 

The next day, I could barely MOVE.         

Saturday, my boys were sentenced to yard work for bad behavior.

They did a great job mowing . . .  and raking . . .  and blowing.   

Later on, as I was trimming the bushes, I glanced up at the trees.

Half of them were still full of leaves.

Look at them TAUNTING me, I thought.

Like mischievous teenagers, waiting for darkness to settle,
     before gleefully dressing some unknowing person's yard with rolls of paper,
they cannot WAIT to shed their leaves, like confetti, all over my yard.

The next morning, the yard was covered in "confetti".

"Nature is, above all, profligate. 
Don't believe them when they tell you how
economical and thrifty nature is, whose leaves return to the soil.
Wouldn't it be cheaper to leave them on the tree in the first place?"

                                                                                            ~ Annie Dillard

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Shuttle Run

Remember Field Day?

I LOVED Field Day.

Back in THOSE days, I was fairly athletic.

AND, they handed out RIBBONS.

Not for participation (like they do today),
                 but actually for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.

I was BIG into ribbons.

I used to thumb tack them to the wall, above my bed.

One of my favorite Field Day events was the shuttle run.

Remember the shuttle run?

All you needed were two chalkboard erasers, and a stop watch.

Remember chalkboard erasers?

The rules of the game were as follows:

1) Stand on the designated line.
2) Run as fast as you can to the opposite line, and pick up the first eraser.
3) Run BACK to the first line, and place the eraser OVER the line
        (not before it, or you will be disqualified).
4) Run BACK to the opposite line, and pick up the SECOND eraser.
5) Run BACK to the FIRST line, CROSSING it (without stopping),
                            AS FAST AS YOU CAN.

Back, and forth; back, and forth.

Not everyone liked the shuttle run, but I LOVED it.

I was fast and coordinated, and could pivot, quickly, on my feet.  

As a parent, I feel my "shuttle run" skills have helped me tremendously.

Thursday night is my "shuttle run" night.

1) I start out at point A.
2) Pick up child/eraser number 1, and drop him off.
3) Immediately, I turn around and go BACK to point A to pick up child/eraser number 2.
4) Barely time for a pivot, I drop child number 2 off.
5) Immediately, I turn around to pick up
           child number 1 . . . AGAIN.

All of this MUST be done within an hour.

Any dropped erasers (or unforseen traffic) could cause disqualification.

Speaking of erasers, in walks child number 2 (returning from soccer practice).

I guess I need to feed him some dinner. 

Do you thing chalk dust would do?    


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Soccer Shoes

Shopping for soccer shoes is not just shopping for soccer shoes. 

It is shopping for ART. 

Rows upon rows of colorfully decorated designs, perfectly placed on the clear, plastic display shelves for every soccer loving, soccer player's viewing pleasure.

Reds and yellows, blues and greens, purples and pinks, or classic blacks and whites. 

Neon and pastels.

Glossy or matte?

Notice the lines and the shapes - the movements and the textures.      

I sat as I watched my eleven year old fantasize about the possibilities -

How will they look on my feet?

How will they feel? 

Will they make me run faster, kick harder................jump higher?

Fortunately, there were no other customers in the shop that day. 
He had plenty of time to critique EVERY shoe, standing over them
with his chin in his hands and a critical eye.   

In the end, he tried on two pairs, and decided on the bright, neon green, with the baby blue.


Now, for a new soccer ball. 

He brought his own money, so that he could add to his collection.
The balls were resting in a net, high above the top shelf,
and fortunately, the salesperson was tall (and patient).

     "You might want to get one that looks kind of PLAIN," I said.  "You wouldn't want to confuse your soccer ball with your feet."

The salesperson laughed.

But, he did not go with plain.
He went with yellow and purple, and left the store - a satisfied customer. 

Unlike collectible artwork, these investments will not be displayed on a wall at home,
but they will definitely be appreciated by one eleven year old boy. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Change in the Music

My youngest son recently decided to change my name without telling me. 

My name, of course, for the last eleven years of his life has been "Mommy". 

He now calls me "Mom". 

I realize that he is getting older, and it is probably TIME.

But, it just sounds so . . . WEIRD.

Partly, because he speaks it very quick and short, much like an 8th note in music -
barely enunciating the "o", as in . . ."mm",
   versus a quarter note, including the "o", as in . . . "mom" .

I'm not sure WHY he says it like that.

Maybe he thinks if he says it quickly, I won't notice the change.

If that were the case, however, you would think he would say "mo-om",
   to make up for the second syllable, as a musical half note would.   

Maybe I will start saying his name like an eighth note, as well. 

I will call him "Sm", instead of "Sam".

He probably won't notice, but it will fun finding out.    



I'm doin' a silly celebration dance!

Why? It's plain to see.

25 viewers, I now have on my blog.

On my journey to . . . "Becoming Me" !

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Haikus

HAIKU - a major form of Japanese verse, written in 17 syllables divided into 3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables,
and employing highly evocative allusions and comparisons, often on the subject of  nature or one of      the seasons. (


Aliens, monsters,

and vampires, oh my! Watch out,

all you princesses.

Cold, wet, runny nose

I can't feel my toes.  Must fill

bag with more candy.   

Darkness sneaks in, Ghouls

creep in, knocking on soul's doors.

Craving sweet candy.   

Darkness falls. Moonbeams

and candlelit walkways raise.

Childhood emerges.


Waiting for darkness. Little

ghost asks, "Is it time?"

Dark night, candlelight.

A hand to hold, in case. Trick-

or- treat.  Sweet embrace.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"The Path to Success - A Journey On A Bulletin Board"

Years ago, when the kids were very young,
                               I started to write stories for children. 

Though I always felt I had a "knack" for writing,
     it was not something that I felt I could openly SHARE.

Maybe it was because I did not think people would believe in me.

Maybe it was because I did not believe in MYSELF.

Anyhow, over the years, I have had moments of courage (or insanity)
     when I would lift a small corner of my carefully protected world,
and offer (to my close circle of trusted friends and family) a quick peek.  

The first story I shared was with my sister.

It was a lyrical, COMICAL poem titled, "Rush, Rush Day".    

I did not tell her that I wrote it,
               as I wanted her to read it with unclouded eyes.

     "What did you think of that poem I sent you?" I asked.

     "I thought it was GREAT!  I forwarded it to my friends," said she.

     "You (gulp) . . . WHAT?" I asked.   

MANY years later . . . 

I attended an SCBWI conference (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators),
     and gathered up the courage to submit my first story. 

Choosing which one to send was a difficult process,
     and I consulted with the experts - my kids.

I don't remember how long it was before I         received the rejection letter . . .

It was dated August 1, 2008, and I posted it to my bulletin board,
     NOT as a reminder of my failure, but as a symbol of success.

     and I received some valuable feedback.  

I jumped over the first hurdle, crossed the first bridge,
     and I am on my way down the path to . . .


I am in the process of sending out my second story,
     and I would not have the courage to do so, if I had not sent the first.

Might I receive another rejection letter?  


BUT, I am absolutely, positively IN this. 

I believe in myself; I believe in my stories.

And, my bulletin board is quite LARGE,
                             with plenty of room for more rejection letters.

Eventually, the reward will be a letter of acceptance,
     and I will proudly pin it on top of the others,
knowing what it took me to get there.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

" The Truth Will Set You Free ? "

“If you truly want honesty,
     don't ask questions you don't really want the answer to”

                                                                       ~ Proverb quotes


My youngest son pulled a muscle in his ribs, and my back right fender was hit by a car in the parking lot.


One had nothing to do with the other.

My son woke up, complaining about pain in his ribs, so I decided to take him to the pediatrician.   

The good news was that it was just a pulled muscle, although, still quite painful to him.

As we approached our car in the parking lot, a man walked up to me and said,

     "I was just about to leave a note.  My car hit your rear bumper."

I immediately checked it out.  It wasn't too bad, but enough to leave a small scar. 

I thanked him for his honesty. 

     "At first, when I saw you walk up to me," I said, "I thought you looked familiar."

I turned to my son and said,

     "Doesn't he remind you of............................."

     "Tom Cruise?" interrupted the man. 

     "Yes (even thought he didn't)!  And everyone confuses ME with Julia Roberts," I responded. 

We laughed together, and then he said,

     "Well, I was going to say..........................well, your son is standing right there............ so I won't." 

HUH ?  HUH.  HUH? 

I wonder what he was going to say? 

Especially since I looked like I had just rolled out of bed, thrown on some clothes that had been lying on the floor from the night before, and my hair - a sloppy mess. 

Oh, the possibilities in my mind were limitless. 

My son and I got in the car, and as we drove away, we discussed how much we admired the man's honesty.

     "Yeah," my son said, "and I wonder who he thought you looked like?"

I do have his phone number, I thought.  Do I dare ask?


Think I'll go home and take a shower, instead. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The "No Mess" Mess

No parent ever wants to hear these words:

     "Mom, I need to show you something."

My youngest son did not say "I WANT to show you something",
                                         or "COOL!  Look at THIS!  Check this out!"

He said, "I NEED to show you something". 

That USUALLY means it's something I don't really WANT to see. 

I was immediately on guard.

"WHAAAaaaaat?" I asked, like a lazy teenager that had just been asked to get out of bed at the early hour of ...................10 a.m. 

"I need to show you something in the bathroom," he said, " It's BIG."


Again, wanting to show me something BIG in the BATHROOM? 
NOT something I want to hear about or deal with on a Sunday morning (or ANY morning, for that matter), especially, not before I've had my coffee.

I mean, did the toilet overflow, and there is sewage all over the bathroom floor? 

Did someone vomit?

Is there a dead rodent involved?

I don't REALLY want to know. 

"Just TELL me what it is," I responded.  "I don't WANT to come look."

I braced myself for the response. 

"There's............a hole.  A BIG hole.  In the door," he said. 

A hole?  That's IT ?  No sewage?  No vomit?  No dead rodent? No bad smell? NO MESS?

"Okay," I responded, " I will come take a look at it after I've had my coffee.  Thanks for telling me." 

I can handle a hole. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Splash of Color on an Autumn Day

It was a beautiful October day.

Two friends, and (for the next couple of hours) untroubled souls. 

We tossed the dog and my camera in the convertible, and hit the road - wherever the road should take us. 

          "I have a place in mind," said my friend.

 Apparently, he knew where the road would take us.        

          "I know of a nice little winery," he stated. 

Drag me out in the beautiful Virginia countryside
and force me to drink wine ? ? ? 

I think NOT ! ! !

BUT, I went anyways.
The air was crisp; the sun - warm, on my face. 
I closed my eyes, soaking in the last of the late Autumn rays  that would soon be overcome
by clouds of pre-winter gray.               

Turning off the highway, we followed the sign that read "Corcoran Winery",
          gravel kicking up behind us along the winding, dirt road,
          and made a left onto Corky's Farm Lane. 

Perfectly witty and appropriate, I thought.   

As the wind blew back my hair, we came upon a clearing -
          an enclave of newly built homes; a misplaced suburban community. 

We would find out later on that these were homes to the Corcoran Winery "family".  

Around the corner and up the hill, we followed along the fence line.

Grape vines danced in the fields to the left,

          and an old, rustic barn stood staunch, to the right.

We pulled the car into the perfect spot, and sauntered down the drive.

In contrast to the modern construction of the homes that first greeted us,
          the tasting room was housed in a small, unstately structure, more characteristic of
          the country setting in which it sat.

The front yard was dressed with garden tables and chairs -
a welcome introduction to the charming front porch. 

As I grabbed the handle and walked in the front door,
          I could feel the history of the 1750's restored log cabin. 

Oh, the stories this old dwelling could tell. 

Once inside, I was transformed back to an earlier time, yet, with modern day faces. 

It felt both welcoming and familiar. 

We were greeted with smiles and warmth - even the dog. 
          Though small enough to tuck under our arms, we are not always sure how he will be received.

          Here, there was no pause. 

There were two tasting rooms - one in the front, and one in the back,
          where the bathroom was located, as well. 
That was my first stop before moving onto the wine. 
On my way out, my friend introduced me to Jim Corcoran, one of the owners of a husband and wife team,
          who graciously offered a friendly handshake.   

Stephanie was our host for the next hour, walking us through each taste -
                   full of knowledge and a very down-to-earth style. 
Any pretentiousness that may have been carried through the front door,
          was immediately dissolved by the warm spirits - of both the wine and the people.

We ordered two glasses of red, cheese and crackers............and a bottle "to go",
          and found a nice table for two outside.

While I was drawn to the peaceful setting of the beautiful pond, lined with willow trees and 
          picnic benches on the backside of the house,
I chose one of the wrought iron tables out front, where I could see all of the "comings and goings". 

We engaged in pleasant conversation with a few of the other patrons as they passed by,  and watched others as they walked in and out, arriving in cars, pick-up trucks, and motorcycles.
There were friends, families, couples, and other dogs - each here to enjoy and get away from it all. 
I was just about to go inside and order another glass of wine, when Jim came out with a bottle to share.           

He pulled up a chair, and over a glass of Cabernet Franc, we enjoyed getting to know one another.  
It was just a snapshot view,
          but enough to see the real flavors, and colors, and shape. 

We talked about the winery, and we talked about life.

As he raised his hands up, arms wide, looking from one side of his property to the other, he said,

     "It's not so much about the wine, as it is about THIS.  Bringing people together. The wine is just an excuse."

I think he is onto something, there. 

As we sat talking, he welcomed three other people to our table -
          friends from the past and present.
All of us, who were of different ages and backgrounds, sat together and enjoyed a glass of wine,
          as if we had known each other for years.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end,
          and responsibilities at home were knocking on our door. 

It was time to leave......................................... but not without a souvenir.

It had been quite windy all afternoon. 
In fact, in between sips of wine and conversations,
          I spent a good part of the time trying to keep from blowing away. 

In the midst of a conversation with Jim, the wind literally lifted my glass off the table,

          sending it air bound,

                    landing several feet away,

          but not before leaving a splash of color all over my white t-shirt,

                              as well as my dog's white "coat".

Jim felt terrible, but we were BOTH laughing.

What else was there to do? 

It was quite impressive, actually. 

And besides, it was JUST a shirt. 

How is that in comparison to the glorious afternoon we had all just shared?

It was worth it. 

Did the stain come out?  Not totally.

But I know that when I go back to visit my new friends at Corcoran Winery,
          if they do not remember me by name or by face,
and if they do not remember the wonderful conversations that we had,
          they will at least remember me by my purple colored ......................left breast.  

Maybe I will just show up wearing the same t-shirt.