Monday, December 26, 2011

Olfactory and Flatulenc(y)

It's official.

I can smell again.

The once trusted olfactories seem to be back in working order. 

How do I know?


Imagine this:  


Christmas Day.  

The entire family - mom, kids, grandparents ( and the dog ) -
          gathered around the kitchen table for a friendly game of "Apples to Apples".

The lights are low, and the holiday candles on the fireplace mantel are lit,
          casting a warm, soothing glow.

Matt Nathanson music is playing softly in the background on Pandora Radio. 

There are smiles, there is wit, there is laughter, there is . . .

"WHAT is that SMELL ? ? ?

That ODOR ? ? ?

That STENCH ? ? ?"  

Looking around the table of faces and possible culprits,
          the guilty party immediately confessed with a wicked display of laughter.

Quick on my feet ( and in a moment of desperation ),
     I strategically reached over and pulled a "Cooking Light" catalog out of the
magazine basket,
     and fanned the bad air away.

And, with a grimacing look on my face, I announced :

"I'm Cured !"  

I can definitely . . . . . . smell . . . . . . again.  





              

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Through the Eyes of Innocence

In the spirit of Christmas, here is a short,
     sweet story that I pulled from the "archives" (slightly altered).

It was published in The Washington Post on December 16, 2006.

Please enjoy.     

-----------------------------------------------------------


 The time of day was dusk.
I was driving down a local, neighborhood street with my seven year old
     sitting quietly in the back seat.
The sky was crystal clear, and if I looked hard enough,
     I could just barely see the tip of the sun sneaking down behind the trees.  

Suddenly, as if by magic, the houses along the street began to light up.
One by one, the colors illuminated, and spread across the roof lines and trees. 
It was as if the people stood inside their homes,
     waiting . . . . . . as the sun dipped down into the sky,
and the darkness approached - waiting . . . . . . .
     for just the right moment to turn on the lights.

As I looked in the rear view mirror,
     I could see the whites of my son's eyes as he opened them wide,
taking in the magical sights around him.  

     "WOW!" he exclaimed, "THESE people must REALLY like Christmas!"

     "Why do you say that?" I asked.

And, with a look on his face that was just as SURE as SURE could be, he said,

     "Because they REALLY want to make sure that Santa sees their houses!"

 I smiled at my son, and silently thanked him for sharing his innocence.  





Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Taste of Food

Taste.

I LOVE the TASTE of things.

Not just ANY "things".

For example, I can't STAND the taste of postage stamps. 

It was a HAPPY, HAPPY day when they invented self-adhesive ones.

And, there are certain medications that I don't much care for the taste of -  
       anything with codeine, most throat lozenges, and certain antibiotics that leave a metallic taste in my mouth. 

Too bad they don't come in a "self-adhesive" form, as well. 

More specifically, I love the taste of . . . . . . FOOD.

That IS why I like to EAT, after all.  

Well, I guess there is that "hunger" factor, too, but . . . . . . . 

     I genuinely ENJOY food.

I love the smells, and the colors, and the textures, but most of all -
                                      the FLAVORS. 

Lately, I have not been able to taste my food.


Due to my uninvited guests "Bronchitis" and "Sinusitis", who came to visit me in October,
     and have become "the guests that will never leave", 
I have not been able to taste anything in months. 

For example:

     Last night, I had leftover Chinese food for dinner, and couldn't taste a thing.

     This morning, I had a nonfat chai latte at Starbucks.

          It was nice and hot and soothing, but it had no flavor.

     For lunch today?  A bowl of seafood gumbo.

          Warm and . . . . . . .flavorless.

So, I walk away feeling dissatisfied, disappointed, and disheartened.    

And, I find myself eating only when my stomach tells me I'm hungry -
     eating things like yogurt for lunch, that I do not normally care for, but it is healthy,
quick and convenient,  and since I can't really taste anything, what difference does it make?  


I suppose this could be a good thing.

Maybe I will lose those 10 extra pounds that I have been carrying around, lately.

And, if there is a shortage on self-adhesive postage stamps,
     I should be able to just  LICK AWAY with NO PROBLEM!

Of course, I can't stand the "feeling" of anything paper on my tongue
     ( kind of like nails on a chalkboard ),
so unless my sense of feeling goes away, as well,
     I am still going to need those self-adhesive ones.

Perfect ending to this blog?

My fifteen year old son just walked in the room and asked,

     "What smells?"

To which, I responded,

     "I don't know.  I can't smell a thing." 
































Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Simple Time

As I stare out into the world,
     the Autumn colors magnified by the splash of dampness
leftover from last night’s rain showers,
my memories take me back to a more simple time and place,
and remind me of my favorite holiday –

     THANKSGIVING.

I can remember my Grandparent’s house . . .

On the outside -

Bricks, the color of red;
grass, growing down the middle of the short, gravel driveway;
my Grandmother, standing in the doorway.  

On the inside -

Stairs, to the left, that creaked beneath my feet, with each careful step;
small, wooden door frames with copper colored doorknobs;
three modest-sized bedrooms.
   
I remember my Grandparent’s bed . . . 

Dressed in old-fashioned linens,
     it sat high, above the floor, and would take a giant, running leap
to reach the top.

And, downstairs, the living room . . . 
In the corner, my Grandfather's green chair.      
Without hesitation, I would climb into his lap.
No words spoken; just he and I, sitting together in that chair.

And, I remember his guitars . . . 

There is an old photo of me -
a small child's curiosity, peeking inside of one.
And, with a hint of a smile, my Grandfather looking on.  

Today, those guitars sit in my living room.

Every now and then, I dust them off,
     and strum out a few chords and songs.

I remember the paintings 
                       that hung on the walls . . .

I wondered what the little girl (dressed in a blue coat and straw hat)
     was thinking and feeling?
If she knew me, would she be my friend?
And, what would it be like to walk along the cobblestone streets of that inviting little town?
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to transport myself there!
         
And, there was the kitchen . . . 

My Grandmother, standing in her apron,
     surrounded by all of the wonderful aromas of a home-cooked,
Thanksgiving meal.

The window, above the sink, where the ceramic bluebird sat;  
resting on its branches, with the tiny little holes,
     waiting to display dandelions or buttercups, picked by a small child’s hands.

Today, that bluebird sits above the sink in my kitchen.

Visible are the scars where pieces have been broken, and glued back together.
One wing is completely missing.
But, the colors of the paint, as well as the memories, are still quite vivid.

Next to the kitchen, was the dining room . . . 

Where the table was draped in freshly pressed cloth.
The places were set with fine china, polished silverware, and
     etched crystal glasses, waiting to be filled.

Radishes. 

I remember radishes.

The experience of biting into one;
                     crunchy, then spicy, then juicy . . .  

But, mostly, I just loved the way they looked.

Their radish shapes . . .
     each one slightly different from the other,
and the contrast in colors,
from the ruby red (on the outside), to the bright white of the middle.

I remember my Grandmother’s rice,

With onions and celery and turmeric,
     tossed together with buttery sweetness.
Every bite was perfectly fluffy, and tasted extra good with a drizzle of my
     Grandmother’s home-made gravy.

As for dessert . . .

Pies (apple and pumpkin),
     and my Grandmother's famous STRAWBERRY BAVARIAN,
which my family still talks about.

She would serve it up in a yellow bowl that now sits on a shelf, in my cupboard.

The other night . . . 

My kids were looking at the black and white photos of their relatives
     and ancestors displayed on our dining room wall.

My youngest son pointed to the one of my Grandmother, and said,

     “You look like her.”

     "You think so?" I asked.

And,
     just like my Grandfather (in the old photograph),
                      I was wearing a hint of a smile.  

Memories, and the observations of a child . . .
                                                                                are priceless.











Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Salmon Pancakes

It was a Sunday morning.
The air was crisp, the color of the Autumn leaves at their peak - the sun was shining brightly. 
And, on this particular Sunday, nowhere to be until 1:15.

 When I opened the door to let the dog out,
                          the scent of breakfast wafted through the air.     

Bacon.  

Definitely bacon .  . . . . . somewhere.


Maybe I'll cook pancakes for the kids today, I thought. 

And bacon.

Definitely bacon.


As I pulled a cast iron pan out of the cabinet, and placed it on the stove top,
     my fifteen-year old son, Jack, said,

     "You aren't going to use THAT pan, are you?  You cook MEAT on that pan.
                               Our pancakes will taste like MEAT!"

I brushed his comment aside, and continued with my pancakes.


As I poured the batter into the pan, I caught the scent of something unrecognizable.
I flipped the pancake over, and as it cooked through,
     I tore a small piece off with my fingers, and placed it in my mouth.

 It did not taste like pancake.

After a few seconds in my mouth, I was able to identify the flavor,
     laughing to myself as I remembered when I had last used the pan.   

     "Hey Sam!" I hollered over to my twelve-year old, who was in the next room.

     "Want to try the first pancake?" I asked.

My youngest of three, Sam, LOVES his food,
                                    and will try just about ANYTHING.  

     "Yes!" he responded, as he appeared from around the corner. 

He put a bite in his mouth, and I observed him closely,
     as a strange expression came across his face.

     "It tastes . . . . . . WEIRD," he said.

     "Weird . . . . . . HOW?" I asked (a slight smirk on my face).
 
     "It tastes like . . . . . . EGG?" he stated (in the form of a question).   

     "Are you sure it doesn't taste like . . . . . . SALMON?"  I asked.

His face immediately changed,
     as he realized the source of the flavor that lingered on his tongue.

     "Ewww, yes!" he said.  "It tastes like SALMON!"

The three of us exploded with laughter.   

As I took the pan off the stove to replace it with a new one, I said to Jack,

     "Man, I HATE it when you're right!"

In the meantime, Sam
     put the remainder of the "salmon pancake" on a plate,
and asked,    

                                                    "Where's the syrup?" 



Oh, and, if you are wondering about the bacon, THAT never happened. 

I ran up to the local market to buy some, and they were completely OUT. 

The new batch of pancakes (on the non-salmon cooked pan),
     however, tasted good.

More importantly, they tasted like . . . . . .

                                                            PANCAKES.




























Monday, November 7, 2011

Platypus Pie


My twelve-year old son recently came home with a bag of gooey looking green stuff -
     something he had made in his "Teen Living" class. 

     "Guess what it is?" he asked.   

     "I know what that is.  It's play-doh!" I said.  

     "You probably don't remember, but when you were little,
                we used to make play-doh, too," I told him.



The very next day, I found myself sitting at the play-doh table at the preschool,
     where I recently started working. 

We were rolling our play-doh into long, skinny strips,
     then using them to trace the shapes of letters. 

Of course, it was awfully tempting to use the play-doh to make . . . . . .  other things.

A snowman seemed to be the most popular play-doh creation (especially amongst the boys).    

One little girl, however, had an absolute ABUNDANCE of ideas,
     and she was the fastest play-doh creation "creator" that I had ever seen!

The ideas would fly from her four-year old brain to her tiny little hands
     in seconds flat.

     "I am going to make a dog!" she would say.

And there was an awesome looking dog.

     "I am going to make a bird!" she would say.

And there was a fabulous looking bird.

My favorite, however, was the carrot.

     "I am going to make a carrot!" she said.

And, there was the most fantastic, stupendous looking carrot . . . . . .  in the universe!   

Then, she said ( and I wasn't expecting THIS ),

     "I am going to make a PLATYPUS."

     "A Platypus?" I asked.

     "Yep!  A Platypus, " she repeated.

     "Will you make me a nest for my platypus?" she asked,
                                    as she handed me a handful of play-doh.

      "But, of course!" I responded.  How could I say no?

And, as she molded together a very impressive and realistic looking platypus,
     I shaped and formed the nest.

     "How did I do?" I asked, when I was finished. 

     "Perfect!" she said, as she placed the platypus on the nest.

     "I don't know," I said, doubting myself.

And, upon taking a closer look at it, I said,

     "It looks more like a pie shell, than a platypus nest."

Then, I paused, and said,

     "That would make this a PLATYPUS PIE ! ! !"

Her eyes lit up and she SHRIEKED in surprise.

And, laughing at the silliness of the thought, she announced, 

        "YOU CAN'T EAT MY PLATYPUS!"

And, with that, she squished the platypus and the pie shell into a ball,
     turning it back into just . . . . . .

                                           play-doh.  






















 



Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Boots


I had been looking at pictures, and fantasizing about them for weeks.

I would even create my own pretend online shopping bag, just to see them there,
     up on the screen, looking back at me, where they were real,
and I could (almost) touch them.  

And, they were saying, "Buy me!  Buy me!"    

But (in my mind), they were too expensive.

Maybe even too good for me.  

Last weekend, I went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival with some friends.

The sun was shining, the air was crisp, and our minds were clear,
     which . . . . . . had nothing to do with the beer. 

And (over a few beers), they talked me into it.

     "You should BUY those," they said.

     "GO for it!" they cheered.    

     "Huzzah!" strangers hailed.    

Even the man dressed as Robin Hood, said so.

 The people had spoken, so . . . . . . 

     a few days later, I went to my online shopping bag, and clicked "buy now".

This time, I didn't even think about the price.

This time, I thought, those boots are good enough for me!  

The package arrived, a few days later, and I could not wait to open it.

When I pulled the lid off the box, they looked exactly as I had imagined -
      all brown and soft, and that new leather smell  . . . . . . ahhhh.

     But, would they fit? 

Or, would I be burying them beneath the brown recyclable paper,
     sending them back to where they came from,
paying extra, just for a short visit.        

I unfastened the zipper of one.

     I pulled it up over my right foot, and across my calf. 

I fastened the zipper back up.  

I had a good feeling, but did not want to celebrate . . . . . . yet.  


I unfastened the zipper of the other.

     I pulled it up over my left foot, and across my calf.

I fastened the zipper back up.  
 

I stood up, putting my weight equally into both, and stood there.

     I took a few steps.


They were soft; they were comfortable.

They were not too tight around my calves.

They were not too tall for my short legs.

     I LOVED THEM, and THEY FIT!   

I could hear my friends from the Renaissance Festival cheering,

                                           "HUZZAH!  HUZZAH!  HUZZAH!"

 . . . . . . as I did my little "boot dance" around the room. 
























Monday, October 17, 2011

Basement Seating, Please

Reservations for a party of five?  Right this way, please.

The hostess led us into the large, open dining room,
     where I immediately felt uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable like . . .

     when my kids were little.

And, meeting the in-laws at the country club for dinner. 

That feeling of knowing that my children would not be able to live up
     to the unrealistic expectations of behaving like little adults.

Uncomfortable like . . .

     me, as a child.

And, going to church.

Trying to control my giggles that were immediately induced (like a drug)
     by the sounds of the organ, the moment I stepped through the doors.

And again, when the minister spoke in that holy tone.

My only hope was that the sounds would 
                    put me to sleep.  

The room, where we sat (in a sterile sea of white covered tables),
     was cold and quiet.

SO quiet that I could hear my every breath and clumsy movement
     repeated back to me,
making me too aware of my own self.  

Looking around, I realized that,
     besides for my daughter and my nephew (and the wait staff),

I was the youngest one there.

As the waiter handed us our menus,
                   I leaned into the circular table and whispered to my parents, 
 
                             "Didn't you say this place has a basement?"

Apparently, there was a more casual eating area DOWN BELOW.

Like the child who felt she may not be able
     to hold back the laughter in church . . .

Like the parent who felt the temper tantrum of her own child,
     at the table, about to explode . . .

Like an URGENT CRY FOR HELP!

                                  I said . . . . . .    

      "I REALLY THINK WE  BELONG IN THE BASEMENT."

Or, at the very least, the KIDS table.

BUT, I could see that my parents were committed,
      and we had our "good" clothes on.   

 SO . . . we stayed. 

And, we were LOUD.

We LAUGHED . . .  a LOT.   

A glass of wine was spilled.

            RED wine.

On the WHITE tablecloth.

And, we LAUGHED some more . . .

Our waiter loved us.

Our water boy loved us.

He was trying not to show it,
                               but he eventually flashed a guilty smile.

I think they were sorry to see us leave,
     when everything went back to COLD, and WHITE,
              and COLORLESS . . .

                                                       and QUIET.
                   
We may come back, some day.

But, if we do, I think we'll check out the basement.

I really DO feel more comfortable there.    































Friday, October 14, 2011

A Case of "Freaky Friday"

My parents were picking us up for dinner at 3:00. 

I told my (teenage) daughter to be home WELL BEFORE then.     

I believe my exact words were:

     "I don't want you running in the house, just seconds before, keeping granddad waiting."


In the meantime, I had planned to go walking with a friend,
     and be home in plenty of time to take a shower and get ready for dinner.   

After our walk, however, my friend and I decided to go for coffee at the local Starbucks.  

     Which is where I was.

                                 When my daughter called. 

     At 2:40.

     "Be home in a few minutes!" I said, calmly.

I hung up the phone, and . . . . . .

     "It's 2:40 ?  OH SHIT !"  

There would be no time for a shower (which seems to be a theme, lately),
     and barely time to change my clothes and make myself look presentable.  

I raced home, hoping to make it there before my parents.  

I wanted to avoid the scene of my parents, waiting by the curb,
     as I show up (late) in my exercise clothes.  

Which I did, thank goodness.

I ran inside, washed my face, slathered on some deodorant, dabbled on some make-up,
      threw on a pair of jeans and a top, and . . . . . .

Voila!   

Just as my parents were "entering the building".   

I walked downstairs to greet them,
     where my very prompt, obedient,
and well put together teenage daughter was ready and waiting. 

     "Oh," said my dad ( to me ).

     "You might want to change your clothes. 
                      They don't allow jeans in the restaurant dining room."

This is where I thought to myself,
                                          somewhere during the last 24 hours,
                                                        my daughter and I have switched places. 

And I ran upstairs and changed.

                  Again.    














Thursday, October 13, 2011

Release

He'd thought I'd heard the alarm go off.   

               But, I didn't.    

     "Hey, Babe," he said, in his morning voice, "You'd better get up."

My eyelids opened, slowly, as the rest of me tried to make sense of my surroundings;
     the taste of bad breath on my tongue.  

I managed to speak a long, drawn out, single word.

     "Whaaaaaaaaat?" I asked, confused.

But, before he could answer, my reality slowly sank in -
                there would be no shower . . . . . .  today. 

     "What time is it?" I asked.

     "7:15," he responded.

Forty-five minutes PAST my wake-up hour.

Annoyance quickly replaced confusion.

     "Why didn't you wake me?" I asked, as I haphazardly stumbled out of bed.

     "I thought you'd heard the alarm go off," he answered.

As I attempted to steer myself toward the bathroom, I thought,

           "What PART of me lying STILL in the bed, NOT MOVING or 
                                   MAKING A SOUND
                    made you THINK that I had HEARD the ALARM ? ? ?"  

I stood in front of the sink, surveying the night's damage.  

     "Could be worse," I thought. 

I turned on the faucet, and filled my cupped hands with water; 
     the shower, looming, in the corner of my eye.  

And, as the warm wetness spilled from my hands,
                                           across my face . . . . . . I let it go. 

Just like that.

I let it go.  





                                               


















Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Time

My girlfriend and I had been trying for MONTHS.

Trying to find a time when we could get together.  

But, things just KEPT HAPPENING.  
                                  
First, a sick dog.

          Then, the unwelcome flu. 

Then, on Saturday . . . . . .


     "Mom, you need to come pick me up.  I fell on the ice and hit my head."


I ALMOST CRIED.   

I was SO in need of adult conversation and companionship.

And, in particular, I had really missed spending time with THIS friend.  

But, of course, I quickly switched gears back into "mom mode",
     jumped in the car, and drove toward the ice rink to pick up my son.

After several hours at the doctor's office, a ct scan,
and an unpleasant person yelling obscenities ( in traffic ),
     it was determined that, while my son has a perfect and beautiful brain,
he DID, in fact, have a mild concussion.


When we returned home,
and my son was resting comfortably on the couch,
     I called my friend and left her a message: 


     "Can we try this again tomorrow morning?"   



I picked her up at 10:00, and we drove toward the lake.  


          It was a GLORIOUS October day.

The leaves were in the early stages of changing colors;
      their reflections on the still glass - like a paint brush, dipped in water.    

The sun was shining brightly, and the temperature was just right.  

As we walked along the dirt path, bordering the lake, we were (once again) two old friends -
     our busy lives, just shadows.   

Time went by too quickly, however, and before we knew it,
     we were back at the spot where we had begun.  

So, we continued our conversation at a nearby coffee shop,
     where we talked and shared some more,
as only two old friends can.   

For, who knows when time would allow us this opportunity . . . . . . again. 




     



    



   








Friday, October 7, 2011

"Eat a Salad, and Take a Walk!"


I wanted to share with you some of my "take-away" quotes
from the writers conference ( Write Your Heart Out Washington).  

Enjoy . . . . . . 


Roy Peter Clark


"It's the SPECIFIC that helps us SEE." 

"EMPHATIC WORD ORDER!" ( Word order, emphatic).   

     "WHITE SPACE (on the page) is one of the most important and powerful forms of punctuation".

"White space VENTILATES, allowing the text to BREATHE."

     "Place the most POWERFUL STATEMENT in the SHORTEST SENTENCE."


Keith Woods


"Finding YOUR story in MINE."

"Identify the POTENT MOMENT - FIND YOUR MOMENT, and write from there."


Lonnae O'Neal Parker


"It's all about CONNECTING ( with the reader)."

          "What can you RENDER?"

          "Find an editor that you can 'fight' with."


Gene Weingarten


A few favorite jokes -

     Question:  "Why do dogs smell poop?"
     Answer:    "They're reading."

     Question:  "Does your wife make a good apple pie?"
     Answer:    "NO, but she makes my banana cream!"
                                 ( Soupy Sails )


On winning the Pulitzer prize -  

     "The best things seldom win."


On the realization that his pants were frayed on the ends -

     "Look at me. I'm half a human being!"


On writing - 

     "It's not so much the words you write, but the words you DON'T write,
                 allowing the reader to become an ally." 


A borrowed quote from Dave Barry -

     " I always try to put the FUNNIEST WORD at the END of a sentence."



Anne Hull


Sometimes . . . . . . "we all just bumble around."

"Just be quiet!  Sometimes we talk too much, and don't listen enough.
                                             Very often, that is when we learn the most."

"REGIONALISM -  REGIONS have as much character, as people!"

"Did the mall have carpet, or not?"  

          "READ IT ALOUD."  

"What happens next? - the ENGINE to every story." 

"FIGHT to keep editors from taking important details out!  Fight to keep it IN!"


Kathleen Parker


On writing - 

     "First thing I do is take a shower." 

     "I LOVE tightening my sentences."



Eugene Robinson


An example on taking a risk as a writer -

     "Eat a salad, and take a walk!"


Leslie Morrissette



     On THAT note . . . . . .

                      I think I'll go take a shower, then go for a walk 
                                   ( not necessarily in that order ).  

                                                     Then, maybe, I'll eat a salad. 











































Wednesday, October 5, 2011

" A Writers Conference (Just Bumbling Around) "

The night before (and the morning of ),  I was nervous.

It may sound silly - it's just a conference.

But, it's the self-doubting "me" . . . . . . the "me" that tells myself these people are out of my league,
     that causes me to feel this way.   

WRITE YOUR HEART OUT WASHINGTON ( hosted by Poynter Institute),
     was the title of the conference,
where several well-known Washington Post writers and reporters were scheduled to speak.

The location of the conference was at the prestigious Georgetown University Campus.

Coming from someone who never completed her college degree ( yet ),
     not only did it feel good to walk upon the historical brick walkway
                    (where many a scholar has rushed to class),
but for the short distance from 37th and O Streets
     to the Edward B. Bunn, S.J. Intercultural Center,
                                it actually felt like I could belong there.      


That feeling ended, however, as soon as I opened the doors to the conference.

For, I was assuming that the room would be filled with REAL writers and reporters,
     as opposed to the IMPOSTER that I often feel I am.   

I walked into the small theatre, and settled in, introducing myself to the woman, one seat over.   

Her name was Kate.  

     "What do you do?" asked Kate.  

I have always hated this question,
     because there never seems to be an appropriate answer that sums up "ME".

But, I gave her the "answer of the hour" which was,

     "Mom to my three kids and freelance writer".



Side note about Kate:  

     Kate did not return to her seat, after the first break, and even in this very moment, 
I am wondering if it is due to the accidental brush of my hand across her, um, "BUM", 
as she got up from her chair.  


Anyhow . . . . . . 


I spent the next eight hours listening to some pretty awesome writers, 
     but more importantly ( I realized, as the day wore on ), some pretty awesome PEOPLE.   

And, as I listened to their stories, and laughed at their jokes; 
     smiled along, as they made fun of their imperfections,
I discovered, to my surprise, that I absolutely DID belong there.  

Sure, there were writers with PH.D's and Pulitzer Prizes, 
     writers who have traveled the world and written books, 
writers who have had meaningful conversations with people, well-known, 
as well as with nameless faces living in a world that few of us COULD know. 
    
     But at the HEART, we are all the same.  

We are life observers and people connectors,
     in search of a "moment", and recognizing when it's there.  

Self-doubt, always looming in the shadows.   

But, that's what keeps us humble . . . . . . and aware.  

And, let us not forget PROCRASTINATION, procrastination,  
                                 PROCRASTINATION.  

Or, as I like to call it - PREDESTINATION.  

Because, we WILL  . . . . . .  get . . . . . .  there.  

We are truth searchers, story tellers - we are writers.  


Roy Peter Clark, of the Poynter Institute said,

"Writers are people who write."

Washington Post reporter, Anne Hull said,

"We, sometimes, (as writers) all just bumble around." 

Washington Post columnist, Gene Weingarten mentioned that one of his favorite quotes is: 

                                                   " The meaning of life is that it ends." 

So, I think it's safe to say: 

"Writers are people who (bumble around and) write (until they die)."  

Yep!  

I DO belong . . . . . .  HERE.   










  






















  





Sunday, October 2, 2011

"Everything Under the . . . . . . Carport!"

Last weekend, I had my first yard sale.

Well . . . . . . CARPORT sale.

Instead of "EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN",
     I had an "EVERYTHING UNDER THE CARPORT!" . . . . . . sale.

Furniture, jewelry, shoes, books (FREE books!), Halloween items, electronics,
     knick knacks and . . . . . . JUNK!

All YOURS for the taking / buying / taking !

Since I was a carport sale "virgin",
     I googled some tips on how to make it less . . . . . . . painful.

My three "takeaway tips" were:    

1 )  Have plenty of small bills on hand,

2)  Have a chair to sit in ( to help pass away the longer hours ),

                          and

3)  Have plenty of patience.  

So, I went to the bank (the day before) for small bills,
     I pulled my blue beach chair out of storage
 and, as for the patience . . . . . . 

                               the patience . . . . . .

                                             the patience . . . . . . .? ? ?

Only time would tell.  



With the help of a few extra ( and reluctant ) hands,
     I was up late, the night before, pulling everything out of the basement -
lifting, and cleaning, and pricing; inspecting (sweating and swearing).  

As is my nature, I tried to talk myself out of it

e-v-e-r-y   s-t-e-p   o-f   t-h-e   w-a-y.

That is, until the moment when I had so much "stuff" piled up on the main level of my house,
     that I had to risk my life and perform a daring circus act in order to walk
from one side of the house to the other,
and I realized it would be less work to carry it all out onto the carport,
     than it would to transport it all back downstairs.      


Just for fun, however,
     I did mention something when my (reluctant) helpers
carried up the very last item from the basement. 

     "I think I've changed my mind, " I said.

     "Could you start carrying everything back down to the basement,
                                                                                please ? ? ? ? ? ?"





The start time for the carport sale was 8 a.m.

I set my alarm for 6, and began carrying everything onto the carport.

Even before the sun had an opportunity to make an appearance, "expert" yard sale shoppers
     began to slowly drive by my house, like hired hitmen observing the scene before the crime. 

The serious ones showed up early, and worked alone,
     asking for such items as records and c.d.'s, jewelry, electronics, or bikes. 
They had no interest in anything else, and they were all business. 

Next, came the "50 cent(ers)" -    
     shoppers who were only willing to pay 50 cents for an item on the "dollar table".    
And, if an item was selling for two dollars?
Only one dollar and ( you guessed it ) . . . . . . 50 cents.  

     "Sorry, but I am staying away from change," I told them.

     "Not interested," they would say, and walk away.

This is where my patience came in handy.  

                                "HAVE A NICE DAY!"

Then, gradually came in the "strollers" - just out on a beautiful ( muggy ) Saturday morning,
     strolling through the yard sales to pass the time.   
Entire families, couples, mothers and daughters and girlfriends . . . . . . Oh MY!
And kids, with their pockets full of allowance,
     and their parent's permission to buy some JUNK.   

One boy was thrilled to find a spice rack sitting on the "Free" table.  

     "My mom could use one of those!" he said, excited.

     "Great!" I said, hoping his mom would be as thrilled as he was. 

If not, HER trashcan probably isn't any worse than MINE. 

The time went by fast and slow, at the same time.
People were rolling in and rolling out.

Oh, and, remember that "chair" that was recommended for me to have
                                                          ( to sit in, while passing the time) ?
 
I was on my feet talking to people, making deals, and selling things ALL MORNING.

No TIME for "the chair" !



Things did begin to slow down ( a bit), around the 11:00 to 11:30 hour.
I even started to consider . . . . . . "the chair".

That's when one of the "50 Cent(ers)" made a second appearance.     

     "1.50," the woman offered for the last pair of shoes. 

I was closing up shop at 12:00, and I wasn't stupid.

     "Deal," I said.

My last shopper of the day showed up just after closing time, 
     as I was beginning to take inventory of what was left.

Coincidentally, he had come looking for "what was left ( for cheap )",
     and I sold him the last of my 3 television sets for 5 dollars.  


At the end of a very long, yet productive morning, I finally sat down in "the chair".
And, as I looked around, 
     I deemed my very first "Carport Sale" to be a success.      



Later that day, my 12 year old son asked,
  
     "Do you think you would do this again next year?"

In my mind, all I could think about was childbirth.

    "Ask me in a few months, when my memory of the pain and exhaustion has faded," I told him. 

The truth is, I probably would.

Don't tell my (reluctant) helpers that I said so.

 


























Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Good Cry ( With a Side of Chocolate)

Over the last week ( or so), I have stared at this blank page on my computer,
     trying to "will" a story out of my head, and onto my blog page.   

Nothing.

The responsibilities of life have got me down -
     the right side of my brain, plagued with the inability to produce creative thought. 

Still . . . . . . nothing. 

Instead, my head - swarming with thoughts, concerns, worries.

Not just those of my own, but ( it seems ) everyone else's.

Such is the burden of being a mom -
     absorbing the stresses of everyone around us, stockpiling it onto our own,
until the weight becomes too much to bare.  

That's when our coping mechanisms kick in.
 
Like . . . . .

     a good cry, or . . . . . . chocolate.

This morning, I had both.  

That reminds me to add something to my "responsibility list" : 

BUY MORE CHOCOLATE. 



 






 



 


 





Friday, September 16, 2011

Another Giraffe

So, there seems to be an unusual, reoccurring theme in my life, lately. 

Not too long ago, I had the dream about driving around with a giraffe in my car. 

Recently, while waiting for a traffic light to turn green, 
     I noticed a hand written sign posted on the nearby street sign that read -

Missing:  Giraffe Painting.

I'll keep an eye out. 



Fall

Fall.

That's exactly what happens every damn year.   
I stroll through the summer months of July and August feeling happy and content,
until .....................
BAM!  

OUCH!   

I stumble into something unrecognizable and "fall" on my ass,
     feeling so stunned (as I sit there on the hard pavement),
that I can't get up. 

So, I just sit there.

Stunned.

Until, I realize it was the flipping of the (or just plain "flipping") calendar that hit me so hard.

The word AUGUST has been replaced with S-E-P-T-E-M-B-E-R.  

Ugh. 

As a friend of mine recently mentioned on Facebook,
     it's like being forced to give up summer COLD TURKEY.

Like a roller coaster that goes from 0 to 90 in a split second,
     school begins without even giving you a chance to tie your shoes.

In the first week of school, alone, there were 3 Back-to-school nights
     and 1 Senior/Parent college night.   


Followed by soccer practice ( 4 times a week ), soccer games, tutors, driving school,
hockey lessons, allergy shots, carpools, haircuts, school pictures,
orthodontist appointments . . . . . .

Not to mention the "Mom, I need a ride here," or, "Mom, I forgot my ............"

My plan this "Fall" is to go back to school and work.
I am still trying to figure out how to do that.
I know, at some point, I just have to jump right in.
There are plenty of parents out there who juggle it all.
But, I am not a "jump right in" kind of girl.
I like to feel the waters first - the temperature, the rate at which it is moving, the depth . . . . . .  the mood.


Last night, David Letterman had a guest on his show who falls all the time.
He started out with skydiving and free falling from buildings,
but he is most famous for his "flying squirrel" suit that enables him to "glide" through the sky
at speeds of over 100 miles per hour.  

CRAZY.  

I have no interest in jumping off buildings, or flying through the air in a rubber squirrel suit,
     but maybe I should take up skydiving.

Every year, on the last day of August.

Maybe it would help me transition into Fall.

After all, what's the worst that could happen?  

My parachute won't work ? ? ?
   


    
 


Friday, September 9, 2011

Gray

My hair was becoming longer than before the birth of my second child (who is now 15),
     and the unruly, gray colored ones were attempting to build a nest
on the top of my head.

I was counting the days until my appointment.   

In the meantime, our entire area was caught up in a vortex of hurricane-like weather
     and tropical storms, one after the other,
causing it to rain for days and nights . . . . . . days and nights.   

Until . . . . . .
           
               the creeks, and gutters, and sewers, and drain pipes
could no longer contain the amount of water being poured into them,
causing it to spill out onto the streets like giant buckets being poured from the sky,
carrying with it tree branches, debris . . . . . . and cars.  

Street after street became impassible and unrecognizable,
     turning into rivers and ponds.

Bridges, obsolete - disappeared.

For miles and miles, gridlocked cars, barely inching along - going nowhere.  

School buses, filled with children, with no place to go.   


It took me an hour and a half to travel three miles to pick up my son from school,
     put gas in the car (  it was on empty ), then back home.   

In our neighborhood, water was shooting out of the sewer like a geyser,
     ten feet into the sky, landing in the flooded roadway.

That was Thursday evening, and the rain was to continue through the night,
     and into the next day.  

School for Friday was canceled.

I awoke Friday morning to a . . .

          "Boom!"

and then a . . .

          "MO-om!  The electricity just went out!"

The good news was that without the light,
     I could no longer see my gray hairs in the mirror.  

My appointment was scheduled for 12:00.
 
I texted my girlfriend / stylist.

     "Are you going to make it into the salon today?
                           If not, I am coming to your house!" I said.

She texted back to me ( in the words of Michael Jackson ) -  "I'll be there."

     THERE IS A GOD.  

I drove in the rain to get there, and after two hours, the gray was gone.   

No, I mean, REALLY - the gray was gone.

For, when I opened the door to leave the salon, 
     there was a light and a brightness, 
a warmth upon my skin . . . . . .  and in the sky, the color of blue.      

No gray on my head, no gray in the sky.  

LIFE IS GOOD.  

And, when I arrived back home, the electricity was back on.  

Unfortunately, I know that the gray will eventually return ( in one form, or another).  

But, there is solace in knowing that there will always be color.

There will ALWAYS be color.
                                                                            
                                                                               




 


 




















 


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Wrong Room


I was attending the senior/parent college night
     at my daughter's high school, trying VERY hard (after a very long day and an early rise)
to pay attention to all of the detailed information thrown at us by the three
well-intentioned college advisors,
     when I realized that I was in the wrong room. 

     "I know we are all Type "A" personalities," (one of them said),
                 "and, we want as much information as we can get,
                                                   in order to feel like we are in control."

Control?

There are people in this world who are under the illusion that they are in control?


     "Excuse me?" I said (on the inside of my head),
                 "Where is the meeting for Type "B" personalities?


















Tuesday, August 30, 2011

There's a Giraffe in my Car !

I had a dream.

I had a dream that I was driving around town in a red, mini Cooper.  

And, there was a young giraffe sitting in the back seat;
     his long neck and head extending out of the sun roof, 
up toward the periwinkle sky.  


  





Though I can hear my father saying,

     "It's just a dream",

this one definitely caught my attention,
     so I asked my trusted Facebook friends what they thought. 


          "You really know how to party?"

                    "You have a lot of tall friends that like to party!"

               AND, my personal favorite -

     "You really stick your neck out for people...in fashion!!!"

While that was fun, and made me evaluate how much my friends and I like to "party", 
    I decided to do some research. 



Who’s driving?  



"Who is actually at the wheel in your dream? 

This often indicates who or what is controlling your ego or conscious mind. 

               Is it you?  

Then you are probably making conscious decisions about your life."

       ( http://thedreamwell.wordpress.com/2008/08/18/dream-symbols-driving-the-car/ )



That is GOOD. 


But, what about the giraffe?

  

To see a giraffe in your dream, suggests that you need to consider the overall picture. 
Take a broader view on your life and where it is headed. 
The dream may serve to indicate how you are "sticking your neck out" for someone.
                                                                                                                          (www.dreammoods.com)

Okay.  

But, what about the color RED ? 


  Red

Red is an indication of raw energy, force, vigor, intense passion, aggression, power, courage, impulsiveness and passion. 
                                                                                                                                              (www.dreammoods.com)

So, what does it all MEAN?

I am driving the car, which means I am in control.

As a MOM, I am always sticking my neck out for my kids.

As a DIVORCED mom,

I am forced to "take a broader view of life and where it is headed".   

As for the color red?

It could mean any of the above mentioned words,

OR
                                                      
     the fact that I have nothing RED in my closet 

to wear to my son's Red Hawk soccer games.  

SHAME ON ME.   

As for the mini cooper? 

I have always wanted to drive one. 

And, though I have always liked giraffes, 

I would prefer not to have one in the back seat of my car. 

  














Monday, August 29, 2011

My Night With Irene

 6:00 p.m.

Immediately after I clicked "post blog" for "Soccer Tournament Irene", the electricity went out.

     "Did I do that???"

This was right around 6:00, and the winds had not even picked up.
My boys and I drove the mile into Fairfax City to eat dinner at
     Hard Times (much needed comfort food), and part of the road was closed, due to a fallen tree.
We hoped that was the source of the outage,
     as it looked like the power company was on top of the job.
By the time we ate dinner and returned home, the power was back on.


   
Observations of neighbors, this evening?

Young children outside, splashing in the puddles.

They, for sure, will remember Irene.


11:39 p.m. 

There seems to be less time in between the strong wind gusts.
Roadways,  covered in wet leaves, and mostly small, fallen branches can be seen throughout the neighborhood.
The crickets seem unaffected, as I can still hear their steady chirping sounds.
I am going to bed, hoping to wake to no damage and a coffee pot that will turn on.

12:40 a.m.

It's really beginning to sound like a hurricane out there!
Wind and rain whipping against the side of the house at a pretty regular pace.
Feeling a bit uneasy about going to sleep.
Concerned about some of the trees in my yard.

1:00 a.m.

Apparently, my neighbors across the street are uneasy, as well. 
I see lights on in several windows . . . in several houses.

2:00 a.m.  

Sleeping not going well.
At least there are some good movies on TBS -
     "Must Love Dogs", followed by "Music and Lyrics".
If I watch too much news, it will make me insane.



Every so often, I hear an unidentifiable moaning-like sound.
Trying to figure out what that might be.

WOW.

The entire house just rattled.

The strength of the wind is amazing.
And, this is just a category 1. 
As I can hear small branches hitting my roof, I fear the sound of a large tree.

2:40 a.m.

Electricity keeps flickering.
I have a feeling I will not have power long.
My teenage son (also, not sleeping) said he saw the sky turn blue outside his window.
The wind does not seem to be letting up.
The occasional branch on the roof, or against a window makes me jump.
Sirens can be heard in the distance.  
My adrenaline is pumping, and nerves are on edge.
Don't recall a storm ever having this effect on me before.
I have a feeling the moaning sounds could have been from transformers blowing?

Possibly . . . . . .


10 a.m.

The worst of the storm has passed.
Electricity and trees intact.  
Rolling clouds with peeks of sunlight, in between.
The air feels invigorating - like a blustery day at the beach.
I am so surprised by how things look outside.
I would have expected to see tree branches all over the yards and streets,
     but it is mostly leaves, plastered to cars and roadways, and small twigs scattered everywhere.
I have seen worse debris left by a summer storm.   

Not that I'm complaining . . . . . .

And, in case you were wondering, there were no soccer games today,
     but a valid source told me that the sprinklers were still on at the field.


And, speaking of "valid source", that reminds me of the highlight of my night -  

     a glass of red wine and a great conversation with a wonderful friend,
which, probably would not have happened . . . . . . 

                                              if it weren't for Irene.