Saturday, December 27, 2008

After Christmas Thoughts--Time to Make a Plan!

So the madness is over now and life can return to normal.  Right?  Whatever normal is.

In a few days I can hang up my new Wizard of Oz calendar, purchased during my visit to Mystic, Connecticut.  A new year ahead so it's time to start planning for 2009.  Do you have a plan?  So far I don't.  But it's time to get busy and make one.

I've never really liked plans.  I've always been a "fly by the seat of her pants" kinda girl.  (Thank you, Julia Roberts' character in Pretty Woman)  Just shuffle along, take life one step at a time and see what happens.  Only flaw in that philosophy?  Quite often nothing happens.

I will never forget a line from one of Shakespeare's plays.  (Sorry, but I can't remember whether it was Richard II or Richard III)  Richard is locked up in a prison and he says, "I wasted time, and now doth time waste me."  And why is that so memorable?  Because it concerns the nature of time-wasting. Just what constitutes wasting time?  How does one determine that?  If a person spends the entire afternoon playing video games, is that wasting time or is it time spent having fun/relaxing?

If a person spends the entire evening watching television or DVDs, is that wasting time or is it spending an enjoyable evening on the couch being entertained?

Who can say?  It's all a matter of opinion.  But the gist of that line spoken by Richard is that HE felt he had wasted time, wasted his life not doing important things, and now he was rotting away in prison.  And that's the point I want to make here.  Each of us has to determine what it is we want in life and how we are to make it happen.  Time is only wasted if we're not accomplishing the things we want to accomplish.  Everyone needs some down time to unwind and have some fun.  But too much down time means that list of accomplishments will never get fulfilled.  The master plan will just be a bunch of meaningless words on a piece of paper or computer screen.

So I'm going to make a plan.  And I'm going to try to make it come to life.  I don't want to end up like Richard dying on my deathbed spouting the words, "I wasted time and now doth time waste me."

Nope.  It's time to make a plan!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Too Hot To Handle

So, I was watching a fashion show on The Today Show.  As a young model pranced about wearing a tight pair of black pants and a white shirt (or maybe it was silver), the spokesperson narrating the event was saying that the model could wear this particular pair of pants since she had a "hot" body.  Hmm.  The model was quite slender and that got me thinking about the term "hot body."  What exactly constitutes a "hot body"?

Does one have to be model thin to have a hot body?  And isn't the term subjective anyway?  Surely there are some people who think ultra thin women aren't really all that hot, right?  I mean aren't curves supposed to be sexy?

But what do I know.  I suppose men would accuse me of being jealous because these teensy weensy waisted women are thought of as "hot".  But if they truly are hot, what did that make someone like Marilyn Monroe?  She certainly wasn't pencil-thin.  Would she be considered fat in today's world?

So what do I want?  To outlaw the word "hot".  Let's just erase it from the English language.  Nobody gets to be called "hot" unless the thermometer reads 100 degrees and/or the person is sweating.  He or she is hot and needs a nice, big, cold drink of lemonade!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Christmas to all!

It's four days 'til Christmas
and all through my house
Not a youngster is stirring,
not even my spouse.

They're asleep in their beds
just as snug as can be,
I'm the only one up,
yup, just me and my tree.

So I glance out the window
and what do I see?
Not something I wished for,
don't want it, not me.

It's that four-letter word
people whisper 'round here,
'Cause to say it out loud
makes them reach for a beer.

Yes, it's SNOW!  Here it comes
falling down from the sky!
All my plans are now history,
I'm bumming, am I.

Can't go do some shopping,
can't visit my mom,
Don't tell me to chill out,
I just can't be calm!

I'm stuck in this house
and the walls will close in,
Yes, claustrophobia's
sure to begin.

I guess I'll just write down
these thoughts on the screen,
After all, I'm a writer,
Ya know what I mean?

Ah, I'm feeling much better
and all through my house,
The youngsters are stirring,
including my spouse!

And they hear me exclaim
as I'm typing away:
Merry Christmas to all!
and to all a good day!

Friday, December 19, 2008

sometimes only a poem will do...

Whispers of winter white
dance upon the rooftop,
sprinkle across the windowpanes,
envelop my home.
Jewels that twinkle bright
bounce along the branches,
hugging the evergreen so tight,
lighting up my home.
Soft strains of Silent Night
echo on the airwaves,
touching and lifting hearts this night,
peace will warm my home.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Sounds of Silence (or not)

Drip drip drip.  That's rain water dripping onto my carpet.  Why?  Because my roof is leaking.

Ping ping ping.  That's the heat circulating through the baseboards.  Vents.  Whatever you call them.

Bling bling bling.  That's my son strumming some chords on his guitar.

If you listen carefully there are sounds emanating from various places all throughout your house. We're visual people, most of us, noticing the things we can see with our eyes, except when we're not really paying attention.  And when it comes to smells, well, the rankest ones hit us right in the nostrils, commanding our attention.  But the sounds.?  Not always so obvious.   Much more subtle.  But they're there.  Close your eyes and listen.

Even when you think a house is silent, it really isn't. 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Part 2 of Mothers Are the True Survivors

(continued from last post)

"Good going, Survivors!  You're all doing splendidly.  But don't get too cocky yet.  You still have enormous challenges ahead of you.  Now you'll face a school age child.  You must pry this 8-year-old out of bed at 7 am, coax him into getting himself completely dressed for school, to eat a bowl of oatmeal, use the toilet, comb his hair, brush his teeth, and search for his backpack while you simultaneously take a shower, comb your hair, apply some makeup, throw on clothes, gulp down coffee, wash the dishes, feed the goldfish, and sign a permission slip.  Sound easy enough?  Ah, but you must do all of this in less than thirty minutes.  And you may not commission a spouse or anyone else to help you.  Survivors ready, set, go!"

Well, only three moms survived that last challenge.

"Congratulations!  But before you pat yourselves on the back, you'd better get mentally prepared for the next test.  This may be the toughest one of all.  You're now going to go head to head with a teenager.  No, not just any teenager.  In fact, we're throwing in two of them--a boy and a girl.  The boy is 15, the girl is 14.  They both need rides.  She needs you to pick her up at school, then drop her off at the hair salon, come back later and drop her off at the mall, pick her up again then take her off to a babysitting gig.  Meanwhile, the boy needs a ride to his friend's house, back home again, then to another friend's house, a hockey game, a rock concert and back home again.  Now since this is just a simulated test and not actual events, we're giving you one hour to accomplish all this.  And just to make things interesting, the two teens will argue with you, ask to borrow money, criticize your driving, tune the car radio to a station you hate and make you listen to it the whole way, and meet you in a different location than the one you agreed on when you go to pick them up.  Whew!  I told you this one would be difficult.  Survivors ready?  Go!"

If there's a mom still standing after this last challenge, then SHE's the true Survivor.  There's no monetary reward, just the satisfaction of a job well done.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mothers are the True Survivors

Does anybody out there still watch that reality show Survivor?  I've never been a fan, but I've got an idea for a new Survivor-like series, a spin on the original one.  This one would pit sixteen mothers against each other to see WHO is the ultimate Survivor of the trials and tribulations of motherhood.  But unlike the TV show's remote locales, oh, just for the fun of it let's make it a different kind of island.  Like Rhode Island.

To start things off the host would say something like this:  "Okay, Survivors.  Your first challenge is to change a dirty diaper.  You must change the diaper in three minutes or less, while the baby is crying, kicking and squirming.  And rubber gloves are NOT allowed.  Ready? Set? Go!"

The moms who fail this first test get booted out of Rhode Island.  The ones who accomplish this messy task can move on to the next challenge.

"Okay, Survivors.  Your next challenge is to get this red-faced, screaming baby to STOP crying.  And whiskey in the baby bottle is NOT allowed.  You have ten minutes to accomplish this task.  Survivors ready?  Go!"

Once again, the moms who fail this test get booted out of Rhode Island.  The ones who persevere will move on to the next challenge.

"All right, Survivors.  You've managed to do what others could NOT do.  I'm very impressed.  But more challenges lie ahead.  Now we move on to toddlers.  Ooh, I hope you are all up to this daunting task.  You must get this two-year-old child completely dressed, to practice using the potty, stop playing with blocks, back on the potty again, into a snowsuit(yes, I know it's 80 degrees out, but...) and strapped into a car seat in less than twenty minutes.  Survivors ready?  Good luck!"

Now, in all likelihood, at this point there will be only a handful of moms left to compete.  The others get kicked out of Rhode Island.  Those still remaining will move on to the next challenge.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A New Home

And so another business bites the dust.  My favorite hair salon I've frequented for the past 10 years is going out of business.  I drove by yesterday greeted by a sign: For Lease.  The owner had sent me a letter back in November, alerting all of her loyal customers about the closing.  Hard times, slow business, so regrettably she was closing her doors.  

And I was a loyal customer at this safe haven, spending a relaxing hour or so sitting in the comfy chair while my stylist worked on my hair.  It was more than just a haircut or coloring; it was a time to chit chat with Nicole, have a few laughs, and read a few magazines under the dryer to find out what Britney, Lindsay and Jessica were up to these days.  (always good for a laugh)

But then Nicole decided to leave and that was quite depressing.  She knew me so well and knew exactly what to do to make my hair look its best.  She was my friend as well as my stylist.  I still miss her.  I continued to visit the salon and tried to make friends with my new stylist.

So now I'll have to find a new hair salon.  I'm sure I can find one, but it won't be the same.  Ten years establishing a rapport with someone/someplace, then leaving your cozy home and getting booted out in the cold.

Another business bites the dust.  And another customer searches for a new home.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Everything Must Change

It's so different now.  I know things have to change, but maybe I have a hard time adjusting to change.  This year I did some things the same way--sliding a new tablecloth across my dining room table, setting the plates, glasses and silverware in place the night before. Then I placed a small candle in the center of the table to provide some warmth and atmosphere.

But on Thanksgiving morning as I prepared to prepare the meal, I thought about what was different this year.  Dad is no longer with us and Mom resides in a nursing home, rather oblivious to what day of the week it is even after you've told her several times.  Thanksgiving has no real meaning for her anymore.  But oh it used to.  I remember those delicious aromas wafting through her kitchen as she prepared the stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, squash and various other veggies, along with our turkey.  Mom in her apron overseeing the feast, fussing over the burners trying to time it right.

And then it was my turn to oversee the feast for my own family.  Three little kids sniffing the air waiting for the turkey to turn golden brown.  I sat them all at the table where they displayed their best holiday manners.  Our whole family sitting down at the table together for an entire meal!  Priceless!

But this year, on the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, Laura and Ben came driving into the driveway, followed five minutes later by Alex.  All three of my grown-up kids home for Thanksgiving.  No longer do they bound down the stairs as I call them to the table.  No, it's quite different now.  They sleep late.  Sleep is more precious, more important now than food.

But eventually that turkey aroma is too powerful, too tempting to keep them in their beds.  They came to the table, bringing their appetites with them.

And we all sat together at the dining room table as a family and ate our Thanksgiving dinner.

Yes, it's different now, but in many ways, it's the same.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What I learned from Nanoing...

Trying to write an entire novel in one month is quite the challenge.  I learned a number of things. Here are some of them:

1. You can't write a perfect, meaningful, error-free novel in a month.
2. People bug you and interrupt you when you're trying to write each evening.  You're not really busy, you see.
3. If you edit as you go along, you'll never reach 50,000 words in a month.
4. I like to edit as I go along.
5. I need to think before I write.  Sometimes I spend a lot of time thinking.  If I spend a lot of time thinking, I don't end up writing.
6. It's very easy to get distracted when you work at home.  There are way too many distractions.
7. I don't put enough description and scene-setting in my novels.  Maybe I should be writing screenplays instead of novels.  I like dialogue.
8. My novel might not require 50,000 words.  Maybe 34,000 was enough.
9. Perhaps November is not the right month for novel writing.  We need a month with 31 days instead!  One extra day!
10. Perhaps I should just stick to writing poetry.  It's something I can finish!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Waiting In Line

Cash.  So simple.  So easy.  But somehow disappearing in the exchange for goods.

It's so fortunate that customers in front of me in line cannot know what I'm thinking.  As I stand there waiting for them to push all the right buttons in those little boxes in front of the cash registers, it's all I can do to wait patiently and resist the urge to poke them on the shoulder and yell, "Use CASH!!!  Cash is fast!  No buttons required.  You just whip it out of your wallet, hand it to the cashier, get your change back, take your purchase and leave."

And if someone were to say, "But I don't carry any cash on me," well then they'd just be out of luck.  I'd say, "Okay, too bad.  You're out of here.  Next!"

Now it might happen that I'd be the ONLY customer carrying cash.  That'd be okay.  I'd just go to  the front of the line, pay for my purchases, grab my stuff and go.  And leave all the rest of them punching numbers into that box to their heart's content.

That's my fantasy.  A day when the cashier makes this announcement:  "Anyone who has cash to pay for their items come to the front of the line.  You're first.  No sense making you wait behind people who are clogging up the line."

It's either that or I'm staying out of stores for good.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Music is Eternal

I didn't even know the man.  But when I heard him singing on the radio yesterday (Same Old Lang Syne), it brought back a flood of memories--a bittersweet reminder of love lost and another loss, Dan Fogelberg himself.  What a huge loss for all of us.

The first time I bought one of his record albums, a double record set, I scanned through the song lyrics one by one, drinking in his words.  So poetic and profound, how did I not come to appreciate this man until this point in time, I wondered.  Friends had talked about his songs while I was oblivious.  But when I did read his lyrics for the first time I thought:  These songs are true poetry.  They could stand alone without any music at all.

But of course the music was wonderful, too.

And now it's Christmastime so Same Old Lang Syne is played again on the radio quite often from November through January.  The song always made me sad, but even more so now that Dan Fogelberg has died and left the world a little sadder, a little emptier, devoid of the musical contributions he had yet to deliver.

But like photographs that capture pieces of youth, moments in time, Dan's songs have been captured on CDs, ours to enjoy and revisit every time we play them.  What a fortunate thing know that music is eternal.

Monday, November 17, 2008

May I help you?

I think Rocky Balboa said it best.  Pointing to his face he said, "See this face?  Is this a face you can trust?  They should put this face on a stamp."

That's how I've been feeling lately.  I must have a very trustworthy face.  Little old ladies take me aside in stores and ask my opinion on the products they're thinking of purchasing.  Like today.  A woman in the bread aisle touched my arm.  "Excuse me, dear.  Can you read this number?  Does that say 155 mg of sodium?"  

I looked closely at the numbers on the back of the bread bag.  "No, it says 135," I told her.

"Oh," she said.  "Is that good, 135?  I have high blood pressure and high cholesterol."

I pondered for a few moments.  How should I answer this?  I'm not a doctor, not a nutritionist, not an expert on sodium and blood pressure.  I do have my own issues with blood pressure and cholesterol though.  We struck up a conversation about the two conditions.

She was adamant that once you're on high blood pressure pills, you're on them for life.  I told her I was planning to go off of mine soon since my blood pressure has come down quite a bit.
She asked how I managed to bring it down.  Exercise and eating right, I told her.

She asked what kind of bread she should be eating for good health.  I recommended pita bread.  Her face twisted into one of those "Ewwwwww" expressions.  "It doesn't taste that great," I admitted, "but it does seem to be healthy."

She asked if there were any other things I was doing to lower my blood pressure.  I figured I'd shock her a bit by revealing one of my latest accomplishments.

"Well, I did take a belly dancing class."

Her eyes kinda went wide.  

Maybe I didn't look so trustworthy after that.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

One of the true hallmarks of the Christmas season is hearing those old familiar songs everywhere you go--malls, dentist offices, restaurants, the workplace--you name it, they're blasting Jingle Bells, The Christmas Song, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and various other little ditties on loudspeakers and radios all over town.   And whether you want to hear them or not, you're gonna hear them.

Now don't get me wrong; I like Christmas songs.  I even like singing along with them.  Sometimes I even make up my own lyrics to go with them. (Sometimes by accident.)  For instance, years ago when I was a youngster I recall hearing Jose Feliciano on the radio strumming his guitar and singing Feliz Navidad.   "Merry Christmas", how perfectly appropriate.  I, however, mistook the lyrics he was singing for "Her Knees Knocky Knock."  I sure did wonder what was so Christmasy about that.  It finally took some all-knowing adult to set me straight.  "It's Feliz Navidad, Kathy."

And then there was my brother-in-law's little faux pas when singing "Hark The Herald Angels Sing."  Instead he sang, "Hark the HAROLD Angels Sing."  Guess he figured the song was about some guy named Harold.

I have a friend who likes to change the lyrics to "The Christmas Song."  Instead of that familiar line, "Jack Frost nipping at your nose", she thinks it's funnier to say, "Jack Frost ripping off your nose."  Not a bad substitute considering how cold our New England winters can be.

Since I was sure there must be others out there who goof up Christmas song lyrics, I decided to do a little research.  I found out that Jingle Bells has been mangled with lines such as:  "Oh what fun it is to ride in a one whore, sauce and sleigh."  Wow, that's a Christmas you won't forget.

And apparently some people misinterpret some of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" when they sing:  "oh bring us some frigging pudding" instead of the usual figgy pudding.  Guess they want that pudding in a hurry!

I also discovered that some who've heard "Away in a Manger" have interpreted "the cattle are lowing, the poor baby wakes" as "the cattle are blowing the poor baby away."  Not a pleasant thought at all.

But I think the cutest Christmas flub of all was the one by my youngest son when he was in second grade.  Although it's not a song boo-boo, it happened at Christmastime and it's Christmas-related.  He came home one day in late November and handed me his report card.  While my two older kids were telling me their numeric grades, my youngest child announced one of his grades.  Excitedly he said, "I got Santa's factory."

That sure sounded "satisfactory" to me.

Leave a comment if you can relate!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Are you ready for Christmas?


Well, why not?  After all, when I visited my mom today in the nursing home the little Charlie Brown Christmas tree was already up.  Or perhaps they never took it down.

It's kind of sad the way Thanksgiving gets lost in the shuffle.  The media makes a big deal about Halloween.  The stores are bursting with decorations, masks, costumes, and accessories.  Why, my daughter even sent me on a frantic last-minute trip to purchase some fake blood.  No costume is complete without it.  So Halloween gets its share of attention.

And now apparently it's time to move on to Christmas shopping.  Time to decorate, play those timeless songs, and get out there to hit the stores.  Except...

What about turkey day?  Where are the turkey songs on the radio?  Are there any?  Surely there must be SOME Thanksgiving songs?  Is Thanksgiving really just one day in November?  Or perhaps we should be celebrating it all month long.  If the holiday is about giving thanks, maybe we should be doing that every day in November.

So today I tried to put aside my griping about the poor economy, my many bills, and lack of money.  I have a roof over my head.  It's a leaking one, but it's a roof.  I have clothes to wear.  I have enough food to eat.  I can feed my kids.  My health is not perfect, but it's good.  I have a great family and wonderful relatives.   I have a one week old niece, just starting out in life who will move our family into a new era.

Today I told my sister, "I'm thankful for everything I have."  And I'll try very hard to remember that all the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I'll pass on passwords

I'm about to pass out with all these passwords.  I've created so many in the past few days I don't know how I'll remember them all.  Yes, I've written them down, stored them away like a good little girl.  But little scraps of paper have a way of getting lost, falling through the cracks.

It's a modern world we live in and here I am trying to keep up with the times.  Everybody's blogging it seems.  I resisted for a long, long time.  But resistance is futile.  Everybody has an opinion, wants to be heard, read--wants their ideas and opinions considered, pondered.

But back to passwords.   I know what they're used for, I understand their purpose.  But they drive me crazy anyway!  A password for this, a password for that. Pretty soon you'll need one for everything.  Want to get some clothes out of your bureau?  Punch in the password first.  Want that cereal box out of the cupboard?  Password please.  Want to hit the sack for a quick snooze or maybe something else?  Not without the password.

We're a high-tech world now.  I live in a high-tech house.

Excuse me now.  I have to go log off of half a dozen sites I'm logged onto.