Thursday, June 30, 2011

Be Still, My Heart ( Shaped Pizza )

The same day that I wrote about being cranky,
     I went to Whole Foods to take advantage of their "Two for Tuesday"
special - two pizzas for the price of one. 

I love my Whole Foods. 

It is the only "grocery" store that I can honestly say is a relaxing experience for me. 

As usual, friendly faces greeted me at the prepared food counter, as I asked about the pizza.

An adorably handsome and charming young man took my order
     ( 1 roasted veggie FOR ME, 1 cheese FOR THE KIDS, both wheat crust ),
and told me it would be about 20 minutes - an excuse for me to meander around the store
     and look at all of the cool and interesting ideas and items.    

When I returned for my pizzas, the young man said,
     "I have to show you something."  

He opened up the roasted veggie pizza box, and at first,
     I thought he was showing me that the crust was flawed -
it was not perfectly round; slightly flattened on one side.  

     " As long as it tastes good! "  I said.

As he closed up the box, he commented that the pizza was in the shape of a heart.

     " What?  Show it to me again, " I said.

When he reopened the box, THERE IT WAS. 

I could see that the crust had, indeed, been formed into the shape of a heart.

     "Flawed," I thought.  "Silly me." 

      "WOW!"  I said.  "No one has ever made me a heart shaped pizza before.  Thank you!"

The young man smiled and blushed, as one of his co-workers laughed and teased him.

As I walked away, I thought of three things:

1)  Isn't it funny how, at first,  my mood had effected how I saw the pizza -
          flawed instead of a work of art.  


2)  Just like when my kids were in preschool, always ask about the artwork first,
          before assuming that you know what it is. 
     That can be horribly embarrassing for both parties.

     Instead of :  

          "That's okay that the pizza crust is not perfectly round",

                                        I should have said, 

           "That pizza crust is not round.  What shape is that?" 


3)     It never ceases to amaze me how a simple act of human kindness can completely lift someones day. 

                                                       THANK YOU, PIZZA GUY ! 


Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Am I seriously about to write a blog about being cranky?


Why am I cranky?

Most of you could probably care less, and I wouldn't blame you.  

For those of you who don't, this is the point when you should stop reading.


This is your permission to go do something more important and worthwhile,
     like clean the dirt off the bottom of your shoes, or pluck your nose hairs. 

For those of you still here ( are you there?  are you there? ),
     please excuse me while I scuffle down this little narcissistic path, for a moment,
kicking a few rocks, in my way.     


When I announced this ( by text ) this morning, to a friend of mine,
     he texted back,

     "What brought it on?"

     "WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?"  I thought, in all of my crankiness.
     "CRANKY IS CRANKY! (regardless of the source).    

My battery was low ( on my cell phone ), so I did not respond back. 

But, I thought I would give it some thought,
     so, just as I would retrace my steps when something has been misplaced,
I tried to go back to the moment when I first started to feel this way.

It probably began the night before, after an argument with one of my teenage children.

A common occurrence, lately.  

It continued when I decided to watch a movie on DVD.

Normally, this would be a nice escape, however,
     the book that I was reading for my Book Club, in the midst of moving from one house to the other,
was not coming along at a rapid pace,   
     and I decided to try watching the movie to fill in the blanks.
The movie was about as exciting as the book, which only made me more irritated.

     "They made a movie out of this???" I thought.  

Barely an hour into it, I fell asleep.

The alarm went off way too early this morning, but I was already awake,
     as the sound of the trash truck awoke me at 6 a.m. ( and I had gone to bed at 1:30 ).

Three attempts to wake-up my teenage son for summer school, and he was finally up,
     but we were out the door later than we should have been.

Back at home, there were still boxes to be unpacked, toilets to be cleaned,
      floors to be mopped, closets to be organized, pictures to be hung,
trees to be trimmed (and I'm not talking Christmas), and (as I am saying this),
     MORE ADVIL that needs to be taken, as a result of all of the "tree trimming"
that was done over the weekend.

I'm feeling OLD!  

Thank goodness for my partner in crime, who helped TREMENDOUSLY.

I was more of his assistant, really.

He is also feeling the pain ( in case you were wondering ), but he is a few years older than I.  

In addition to the Advil, I have been smothering myself with Neosporin for all of the cuts and scrapes,
     and Benadryl,  for the potential patch of poison ivy,
which I have never experienced before (that I recall).

Guess it wasn't smart of me to be wearing flip flops when I was clearing out the ivy.  

There are also bills to be paid, a box that needs to be mailed to my daughter at camp,
     my car needs to be cleaned out, and my youngest son is asking a million questions,
making noise just to fill the air (which I know I will miss, one day),
and (like my poison ivy) . . . . . .  itching for something to do!

Why didn't I sign him up for camp ? ? ?

On the positive side, he does seem to enjoy my company, 
     and I do take responsibility for my personality.  

By that, I mean that the transition from "school year schedule" to summertime,
     is not always easy for me.
I like to have "quiet time" in the mornings, to give me a chance to reflect,
     to write, and to organize my day.
I don't like to have conversations in the morning,
     and most of all,


My boys always have lots of questions.

Well, my 12 year old has lots of questions.

My 15 year old has lots of COMMENTS.

I am not sure which I like least.


Anyways, I realize that I am probably not a lot of fun to hang out with in the mornings.

Unless, maybe, you are a librarian.

I would do well in a library, in the mornings.

"Shhhhhh!  NO TALKING!" 

Anyways, where am I going with this?

I'm not really sure, but one thing I realized is that there are two things that I have been neglecting, lately.

Two things that I was really making an effort to fit into my daily routine:  

Writing and Exercise. 

Lately, I have not made time for either, and, as I have mentioned in previous blog stories, 
     it makes me feel out of sync.  

That, and I could really use a vacation.  

I was really hating Facebook, this morning, as I was looking at all of the vacation photos. 

All of those happy, rested "friends" with suntans.  

Then, I looked in the mirror and saw this pale-skinned "person", looking back at me, 
     with well-formed bags under the eyes, and in need of a haircut.    

That vacation does not look like it is happening anytime soon, 
     but after I dropped my youngest off at a friend's house, 
Bon Jovi's, "Living On A Prayer" (playing on the radio),
and leftover Thai food (from the fridge) for lunch . . . . . . lifted my spirits. 

AND, I fit in some time for my writing, even if it is about being cranky.  

As for the exercise?  

That will have to wait - time to pick my son up from school and take him to his job. 

I may grab a dark chocolate Dove bar out of the freezer, on my way out.

Chocolate, also, helps to relieve cranky behavior.  




Friday, June 17, 2011

My New Neighbors

To the left, lives a nice couple (Jen and Doug) with two adorable little boys.
 Jen and the boys, 5 (and a half) and 2, brought over two delicious plates of brownies,
     which MY two adorable (not so little) boys scarfed down before the day's end.
 They gave us all of the "scoop" on which community pool to join,
     and a few of the social events coming up in the neighborhood.
 I met Doug when my boys and I were out pruning trees.
 He was thrilled to see us cutting down many of the unruly branches, and offered his help.
 Apparently, the previous homeowners did not do much in the way of yard work.

Across the street, lives a military couple. 
The wife, Molly,  is a retired "empty nester", and the husband works at the Pentagon. 
They have 3 grown children (all out of the house), whom are all 15 MONTHS APART.

     "Where we were stationed," she said, " there was nothing better to do!"


We had a very enjoyable conversation, which I sensed that neither of us wanted to end,
     as she shared a little bit of the history of the neighborhood.
I look forward to talking to Molly again.   

To the right, lives a woman from Thailand (Becky), who has one college-age son. 
She told me she is 58, but she does not look a day over 43.
After her husband died, her older sister came over from Thailand to live with her.
The sister can be seen out gardening, most days, wearing her traditional Thai garb, 
and she always waves, enthusiastically, when she sees me. 

The three of us stood out on the front yard, and had a discussion about Thai food,
as I love to eat it, and took a Thai cooking class a few years ago. 
Becky and her sister walked around and showed me all of the wonderful herbs they are growing in their garden, including an abundance of fresh mint, to which they offered me unconditional use. 

"Just walk over and take a clipping, whenever you would like," said the older sister. 

They also invited me to a Thai Festival coming up this month. 

"We could go together," said the oldest,
       "and when you come visit Thailand, you stay with me!"   

I don't know if I will make it there anytime soon (buying a house is expensive),
but I am considering the festival (in between a graduation party and completing a fence),
will definitely take them up on some fresh mint (and have them over for mojitos),
and am considering asking if I can borrow one of their hats -

the gnats have been terrible!

In the meantime, as I have been out doing yardwork,
people have randomly stopped by to say "hello", and welcome me to the neighborhood.
There is a lot of foot traffic in this neighborhood, which is nice. 
People out jogging, people out walking - by themselves, with partners, or with dogs.
LOTS of dogs. 
More for Charlie to bark at. 
I may need to consider taking him back to dog obedience school. 
Otherwise, I will become the "new neighbor with the adorable, yet obnoxious barking dog".
My house sits right next to a public walking path,
and even though there is a six foot privacy fence separating the two,
Charlie's canine hearing works perfectly well. 

I think I am going to like my new neighbors,
and once I get control of Charlie's barking issues, I think they will like me, too! 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Saying "Good-bye" to First Person

Recently, I wrote a couple of stories for a local newspaper.
A small pittance, though it was, I was so excited to have my first "paid" writing assignment.
I put all of my heart and soul into it, spending time with my two subjects (both Special Olympic athletes), and their families. 
These wonderful people set aside time to meet with me, opening up their hearts and their homes.
It was not difficult for them to win me over.  
I spent a few hours with each of them, and wished I could have spent more.

Soon after I arrived home, I sat at my laptop - all of my notes laid out in front of me. 
Like an artist at work, I molded and formed the notes and conversations into stories.
They came out effortlessly, and when I sat back and read them . . . . . .  they made me smile. 
I wanted to produce something that would make these two families proud,
 and I felt that I had.

I sent them into the editor, and waited. 

And waited, and waited. 

Since this was the first time that I had been given a writing assignment (versus me just sending one in), I was a little unsure about the rules.

Should I wait until he contacts me?

Should I just look at the paper, day after day,
     until I see that it has been published (or not)?

Should I call him,
or will he think that I am being a nuisance and wish that he had not hired me?             

I was definitely over-thinking things. 

Fortunately, I was in the middle of moving from one house to another,
     which was more than enough stress to keep my mind off of my stories. 

Still, I kept thinking, I could use this right now.  I could really use this.

In the meantime, the families began contacting me, so I decided to send an e-mail to the editor.

Less obtrusive than a phone call, I thought.  

     "I would like you to consider doing a re-write," said the editor.
                                                    "There is too much of YOU in the story."   

In other words, SAY "GOOD-BYE" TO FIRST PERSON. 

I got it.  

Right away - I got it. 

This was my first tough lesson in being a writer for a newspaper.


Could I write like that?

Could I say "good-bye" to First Person???

More than anything, I wanted the stories to be published,
     and more than anything, I want to learn and improve, as a writer. 

I want to spread my wings, and stretch my horizon -
     to be able to write about multiple and diverse subjects. 

     "It won't be easy for me," I said, "BUT, not impossible." 

I went to work on them right away, taking the "ME" out of the stories,
     and though it was not as difficult as I thought,
I felt that it made the stories less personable. 

And, I think that is what people LIKE about my stories - the "ME" in them.

The "what I think and how I feel". 

BUT, that is not what this particular assignment was about. 

I got it. 

And, ultimately, the stories were published.


One day, I would like to have my own running column, where people will open the paper (or laptop) day after day, just to read about what I think. 

In the meantime, I still have my Blog. 

It doesn't pay much , but I can use as much First Person as I want! 

And, I will continue to take those "paid" writing assignments, no matter how small,
     and continue to learn and grow, as a writer,
for writing gives me pleasure in a way that nothing else does,
     and any opportunity to write, is a blessing.   

Friday, June 10, 2011

Covered in Boxes

Move complete, but covered in boxes. 

When I find my way to the top, I will let you know.

I WOULD post a photo, but I can't find the box that has my camera chord (cord?) -
     that thing that allows me to download photos from my camera to my computer.

All of this unpacking is affecting (effecting?) my brain.     

Please be patient for more stories !   

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Deborah, The Bank Teller

She was my lucky bank teller that day.

That sunny, beautiful day. 

THAT day - when I would walk up to her window,
     requesting a very large cashiers check,
which I would soon bring with me to the settlement of my newly purchased house.

Soon, to be my new HOME. 

She had a friendly face, which was needed and valued during my moment of anxiety,
     and warm eyes that peeked out over her glasses.  
"Moment of anxiety" . . . . . . . ha!

I laughed to myself, as I could not remember the last time I was NOT feeling anxious.

Not lately, anyways.

Through the opening, at the bottom of the glass window,
     I handed her the small piece of paper with my account number
and the amount that I needed for the check.

I, then, opened my wallet to retrieve my driver's license,


Are you kiDDING me? 

Are you KIDDing me?

My driver's license sits, uninterrupted, in the sleeve of my wallet, most days of the year,

BUT, when I NEED it - like, at the airport,
or on those occasional rare days when I get "carded",
     or, apparently, when I am at the bank,
about to write the largest check EVER, in my lifetime -

it goes MISSING! 

My mind went blank, as I tried to think why it would not be in my wallet. 

When would I have taken it out of my wallet, and for what? 

     "You DO need to see my driver's license, right?"  I asked
                        (though, it was more like a confirmation, than a question). 

She smiled a calm smile, and nodded her head.

I scrounged through the bottom of my purse, and . . . . . . 

A HA! 

( It is only now, as I am writing this,
     that I remembered using it at the very same bank, just days before.     
Obviously, I did not put it back properly.) 

I slid it under the window.

     "I need you to write this out for the amount that you need," she said,
                                             as she handed me a pen and a blank check.

As I began to write out the numbers on the blank line provided,
     I realized that the only time I had ever written a number that size on a check,
was back in grade school math class, FOR PRACTICE.

At the time, I think I may have even thought it was fun. 

As I handed the check back to her, I held it with a firm grip,
     as she attempted to take it from me - her eyes half smiling, half questioning.

"I'm . . .  not . . .  ready . . .  to . . .  let . . .  go!"  I told her, as she broke out into laughter.

I did, though, and she stepped away from the counter for a few moments with my check.

She came back, and held up a newly printed check for me to see.

     "This is the correct amount, right?" she asked.

     "Yep," I said, as the number glared back at me.  "That's what I wrote."

     "Anything else that I can help you with?" she asked. 

     "Do you really want me to answer that quesion?" I asked back. 

In a very wise sounding tone,
as she handed me the check and my driver's license, she said,

     "It will all work out.  It always does."

Funny, but those are words that I always seem to be telling myself.

On this day, however, I needed to hear it from someone else.

That "someone" was Deborah, the Bank Teller.

     "I have a feeling," I said, "that I will not be forgetting your name anytime soon, Deborah."

She laughed, and said,

     "Have a wonderful day, Leslie!"


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Moving Soon



I am moving into a new house (among other things), and have had no time to write,
but I will be back soon.