29 November 2005

Snow Day!

Snow days!

It snowed last night. One of the best phenomena’s that can happen, in my humble opinion.
I live on the north coast of the United States; snow here is an EVENT.

What is better than going to bed in a regular world and waking up in a real-life snowglobe?
Everything’s beautiful, everything's quiet. Kids are excited, dogs are excited. *I* am excited.

Granted, I have the "luxury" of four-wheel drive. But I also have a nasty 25-minute commute that is mostly rural. However, if I have to go to work, I start late, take the backroads, and PLAY.

How often does an adult get to do that, really just play?
I turn the radio and the heat up and I play. I spin the tires, I go slowly. I stop if something is beautiful and needs to be photographed. I take my time.
Who cares if you get to work late? The world is not going to end.
If you are scared to drive, stay home. Please!

Look out the window. Don't you remember doing that as a kid? Watching the snow fall and fall. It seemed like it was never going to stop.

Build a tiny snowman!
Watch Christmas movies and wrap presents.
Call your friends & family...they're probably home too!

What's better than a snow day? An unscheduled day off to just hang out at home and do nothing or go no-where.

It's God's way of telling everyone to Slow Down.

It is supposed to snow tomorrow night too. I can hardly wait!

(for D... who calls the snow, and I directly quote: wintery plague....white curse...powdery prison...the drifts of hell that threaten my very sanity, the downy icy death that is my true abyss, flakes from the truest form of evil, filthy pureness washing the world in it's white blood )

The Brownie Story

(those of you who are my closest friends know this story but it's worth repeating...it still makes me giggle!)

So, I've had a craving for brownies for a few days...nope, not pregnant or doobie smoking...just one of those funky "Hey, that sounds really good" kind of things.

I mention this to my friend today who says-with a slight eye-roll - "Why don't you just make some?" gesturing to the baking aisle. Then she catches herself and says "Wait, what am I thinking? Look who I am talking too. You do not cook!" And on we go with our shopping.

Last stop on the way home was Freddy's to pick up stuff for my husband's dinner. (It's called car crash...if you don't know, don't ask) so I decided what the hell, I'll make some brownies. The oven will already be on! It's destined to be!

I chose the mix wisely: which one has the least ingredients required.
I actually had to buy oil as the only oil we have is for something with four-wheels & an engine.
Off I go home.

I make dinner...ugh, the things we do for our husbands. Good thing he's cute.

Then I begin to really read the directions for the brownies.

Oh, it needs a cake pan. Hmmm...cake pan, cake pan, cake pan...OH, that's right, I used it as a paint pan when my friend & I painted the floor blue. Uno small problemo.

I called my sister-in-law who thankfully lives next door. Of course she, being Suzy Homemaker, has all kinds of cake pans.
I walked over to her house and she has two pans and asks which one I need...Like I'm going to know. So, I took two home.
And use the tape measure to see which one I need. (9x9 by the way)
I mix everything up, no harm, no foul. Read the directions again...
"Grease the pan" Really bad words here.
Okay, improvise...fake margarine stuff that resembles butter. Close enough.
Put it in the pan...put it in the oven. (you know the one that flew out of my truck on the freeway - another story)
Set the timer and TA DAH! Brownies in 34 minutes according to the directions.

One minute left, we're eating dinner. (if you can call dinner "dinner") and my husband says - because he's met me "Are you burning the brownies?"
Nope, one minute left! But I check anyway.
A little overdone but no big deal. How can that happen when one meticulously follows directions? giggle

Then dinner's done, and the telephone rings and the dishes need to be done and the brownies need to cool for a half-hour. (what a stupid rule)
Now it's 9:30 p.m., I'm exhausted and going to bed...without my damn brownies.

Guess what I'm having for BREAKFAST!?!?!?

28 November 2005

Tiny Bubbles

Oh the wonders of a bath.
Now keep in mind, I am not a girly girl. Nope, that is not me.
However, when we were choosing what I called the Barbie Dream House, I was enamored with what the manufacturer's literally called the fantasy bath. It features a huge tub that a small child could swim in. An adult can also be lost in it, although in an entirely different way.

I haven't had a bath in...well, let's just say since I was a child. I had to remember how to put bubbles in, to place the towel where I could reach it. Oh and a hand towel so I could read a book with dry hands. I have also figured out how many candles it takes to read said book without the glare of overhead lighting.

It is remarkable how simple water can literally float away stress of a day. How does it do it? It's just water!
Is it the being shut in a room where no one can bother you? Perhaps. Is it the fact that you're doing something only for yourself? Perhaps. Truthfully, who cares? It's wonderful.

Tonight's bath was something completely different. I had the, dare-I-say, JOY of listening to Christmas Carols while I relaxed. Not just top 40 Christmas songs but belt 'em out at the top of your lungs Christmas Carols. How fun is that!?! In fact, the book was discarded while I listened and sang along.

Even my husband, every bit of a man's man, has enjoyed a bath or two. Nothing takes the sting of 30-degree weather out of your bones like a bath you can swim in.
In fact, he was the first to take a bath in the new house, even advised me that "You only fill it to here, because if you dunk under you'll swamp the bathroom." This said, of course, with the smile of a six-year-old boy.

So, even if it's only for five minutes...go take a bath. Light a candle, play the radio, read a book, stare at the wall, blow bubbles. It is remarkable how rejuvenating it can be. I am new girl, relaxed and now even more in the Christmas mood! All because of water.

25 November 2005

Raise Your Hand if..

A friend of mine just sent me a link to a page where Richard Scarry's Best WordBook Ever has been updated for Modern Times. The Politically Correct Police have taken their hold of this childhood institution. No longer can we have only mothers in the kitchen or a lady labeled as "pretty." (and as I spell check, it suggested I not use the word "lady" either. Sigh…)
Apparently, the world will come to an end if this is allowed.

Now I can understand if they had an African American as a bellboy (which spell check just suggested "bellhop") or chauffeur. This makes sense to me. But to not label the lady as pretty just makes my eyes roll.

The Politically Correct Police make me grit my teeth on a regular basis. Especially now as we head into the Holiday Season.... Oh for the love of God and all things Holy, do not call it the Christmas holidays.
Remember when we were kids at this time of year? Every school had a Christmas Program. There was Carols sung...or dare-I-say Hymns! I remember there was a nativity scene re-enacted.

I also remember we learned how to make the Star of David and dreidels. Now it is a Winter Break (do not call it a holiday!) and there's nothing Christmasy about it.

We are losing our heritage as the Political Police make their way through our lives. It makes me sad.

Raise your hand if:
You remember saying the Pledge of Allegiance with "Under God."
You regularly sung Christmas Carols other than Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
You could call someone an Indian Giver...which by the way insults the Pilgrims, not the Indians.
You actually could celebrate Holidays and not just benign passing of seasons.
You wore a Halloween costume to school. Sometimes there was even a parade!
You sung patriotic songs and knew the stories and meanings behind them.
You can fold a flag.

The children of this generation aren't experiencing these traditions and they are fading away.
It seems as if we can't do anything without the fear of insulting somebody somewhere.

Now, don't get me wrong. The "N" word should be completely abolished from the English language. I cannot believe that it's been used regularly now by certain groups that should know better. I do not care if they're not pronouncing the "er" on the end of it. It is still wrong.
I also recognize that some stereotypes are demeaning and shouldn't be encouraged. However, some stereotypes are there for a reason. That's how they came to be in the first place. Let's not be so hyper-sensitive.

I am just saying let's relax a little bit. We can have Christmas, just include Hanukkah and other celebrations. We can have the Pledge of Allegiance; the kids whose parents don't want them to say "under God" can sign a waiver. Kids can wear Halloween costumes, the world won't end.

Let's not lose our "American" traditions because our populations is so diverse and we have to acknowledge everyone and everything. It’s impossible to do so and sets expectations way too high. It also gives people way too much power and attention.

We are Americans, by nature we have always been politically incorrect. Think about it, isn't that how we got here in the first place?

21 November 2005

Mean Girl

I am teaching myself to be non-judgmental. Not that I am a horrible person. I just felt like I personally needed to improve. It is human nature to dwell in your own stuff. I don't want to become a bitter old woman.

Everyone has their own set of problems and issues. One person's no-big-deal is another person's catastrophe. My problems may seem huge to me but not to someone else. How many times in your life have you poured out your worries to your best friend or your mom or whomever and by the time you were finished, you felt - not only better - but also a tiny bit foolish?

Everyone's perception is not necessarily the reality. I've often said and believe that there are three sides to every story: theirs, mine and what actually happened.

And everyone has a different set of coping skills. Some people have high thresholds for stress and others are just High Drama. At my work, we have a twisted sense of humor. It's not uncommon for one of us to say "Oh, I just broke a nail, I have to go home now." Some days we mean it, some days we don't. It's a coping mechanisim.

Another one that works well for us but not necessarily everyone appreciates is to comment "Of COURSE it has!" when something has gone terribly awry. Some people think we're insane, it's just the way we've found to cope.

Everyone has read the email pass-along about not swearing at the person who just cut you off in traffic because it may be someone driving with tears in their eyes because they’ve just gotten the worst news ever. Or not being rude to the distracted cashier because she may be trying to figure out how to pay rent, buy her little one new shoes and feed her too. It kills me every time.

I also deal with people every day that are struggling to make ends meet. I am the girl that can alleviate a small portion of their burden, most of the time. Each time someone thanks me, I ask them to remember what happened to them and pass-it-on when they get in a position to help someone. I appreciate their thanks and gratitude, but it is more important to me that they help someone else.

The previous makes me sound like I'm a wonderful person but keep in mind: I am a sarcastic person with a pretty quick wit and a good vocabulary. It's all too easy for me to slip into judgmental behavior. Look at the world today, there is just so much material to work with! But everyone could use some fine-tuning.

But I digress. I know, you're surprised.

When we were building our house, we experienced all kinds of people. Not all of them savory. Fortunately, we did make friends with people in the process. If we were truly judgmental, then we wouldn't have had the opportunity to meet these people.

Our first experience was a contractor that was to bid the site preparation. He came out looking like Tony Soprano. I swear this guy was a Made Man. Black slacks, snake skin boots, white polo shirt, and black slick-backed hair. Warning buzzers went off huge with this guy. We heeded the warnings and we were correct: he overbid the job. In this case our judgments were correct

Then I came home one hot afternoon to a crew of Hispanics working on the house. I must admit, I was uncomfortable. My husband came home a few minutes later. Having never met a stranger EVER, he introduced himself and the next thing I knew Jesse was talking to Randy a hundred miles a minute and they were best friends. Turns out, Jesse was more polite and sincere to me than probably most guys I have ever met. By the time he was finished with our house, we were friends. But, had I not met him before, he would be someone I would avoid in a store parking lot.

We have a repairman/troubleshooter that is doing finishing touches in our house. The contractor warned us that he was a black man, because - believe it or not - there are people who still care. I arrived at my house to meet George and he was the most beautiful black man I have ever seen. I swooned. Really.
He too was the KINDEST person you could ever meet.

Also during this time, Oprah had a show on about prejudices and biases. One of her questions was: "Would you let a black or Hispanic man change your locks?" Having just met Jesse & George, my opinion was an instant YES! But, before that, would my answer be the same? Would my attitude be different if I lived in the city? Who knows?
I was raised in a racist environment. Not necessarily my parents but in the town where I went to high school. But it never stuck with me. I always thought it was ignorant.

I brought the Oprah show up during dinner in a restaurant. As luck would have it, there was an African American woman sitting behind my table. I don't think she could hear me but it made my husband uncomfortable. I wasn't uncomfortable because I knew his opinions and I felt it was a positive conversation. Who knows? Was I being judgmental? Sometimes it’s difficult to tell.

I watched Mean Girls for the first time this weekend. What a social commentary! I went to school with girls like that, I think we all did. Oooh, I hated them! I can't say that I would like them NOW to tell you the truth. In my case, they all own a jewelry store together and it's safe bet that I will never step foot in that store! Now, is that judgmental...or self-preservation...or conflict avoidance?

Have you ever met a mean girl from your past? Were they the same? I've experienced that they have been both the same and different. One person was incredibly insecure and made a HUGE deal about how GREAT it was to see me and how FUN it would be to get together and can I BELIEVE how long it's been!?!. Ugh. Pathetic. One still treated me as if I was a little person who was to do her bidding. Yeah, that didn’t work out so much for her.
In the movie, the girls get their comeuppance. I think that although it doesn't usually happen during school hours like the movie. It usually happens over time. The scales balance, eventually. I think that is one of the fun things about getting older: getting to enjoy KARMA.

I recently read and then watched someone who had to do an exercise in thinking before you speak. She had to answer a few questions before she could respond to even the simplest of questions or comments:

I’m trying to keep that scrolling through my head as I live with my life. I’ve found that I am much quieter now. And I think it’s a good thing.

Being judgemental can be as easy as swearing at the person in traffic, or assuming that person is a thug or dismissing someone else's problems are small or petty. It's an insiduous thing and I want to keep an eye on it.

However, this change in attitude has not exempted me from the occasional outburst. I don’t care how much I work on myself, I will probably not ever be able to NOT comment on truly stupid people. Not the disabled, but the truly stupid. The ones that it takes all of their IQ to breathe. The ones that tell me it’s okay that they have pizza every day and that’s okay because it’s vegetarian. The ones that ask a person with headphones on a question and wait patiently for an answer when a) they didn’t hear them and b) there were other, more appropriate people to ask. The ones that ask me if it’s okay to throw light bulbs away. (swear to God she was serious)
Nope, I can’t set the bar too high. Those people must be commented on, if not only for the comedic value.

Nevertheless, I am working on it. It’s an ongoing process. Try it! It’s kind of fun, actually.


I drive a piece of shit Honda car. It is not a morally indignant statement upon the government or fuel companies; it is simply a fact. I wish I could be that socially conscious. But truth is: I choose not to have a car payment. The gas mileage is a bonus too. Actually driving it could be construed as trendy and cool!

Originally, my husband was driving the POSHC and I was driving a rather cool 4x4 truck. It became necessary for him to drive the truck, due to hauling AND self-esteem issues so we traded.

At first, it was fun to have a zippy little car to drive, I could park it anywhere! Then I realized that I am driving a POSHC. It is a little hit to the ego, I must admit. Nevertheless, I reminded myself to practice what I preach: we have few bills, we own our cars outright, and have sparkly toys. So it shouldn’t matter what car I drive, right?

Then I picture myself meeting someone from my past in a parking lot…ex-husband or mortal enemy, okay those are two of the same…and having to get into the POSHC. Then I am not feeling so groovy in my convictions.

My husband has said that he is embarrassed that his wife is driving the POSHC. (I think he has nightmares that I will be seen by his ex-wife/mortal enemy too) He says that he/we have worked too hard to drive a POSHC. To a degree, I agree with him. However, I then remember that I don't have to make a $300 car payment to International Bank of Car Salesmen for the rest of my God-given life and I feel better.

Then, to my shock and surprise, someone mentioned how they had a car like mine and LOVED it. They even MISSED it! Suddenly, I felt a little better about the POSHC, but it passed quickly enough. It is still a little four-door beater car. Certainly not my dream car and definitely not the coolest car I have ever owned.

The flip is that I am a car snob. Cars are a major part of my life, fast cars in particular.
I don't believe that you have to drive a BMW to be my friend or be important, I just see co-relations between who a person is and what car they drive. It is a pretty basic theory: the state of their car or even the type of car gives a person a little perspective of how the person is.
If the car is filthy, then we can surmise that they might not be as clean as a person may want in a relationship.
If the car is cluttered, the person appears disorganized.
If the car is usually clean and well-taken care of - regardless of what kind of car it is - then you can surmise that the person has some self-respect and motivation. (And most days the POSHC pretty clean although I do find myself randomly tossing books, newspapers and other effluvia carelessly in the back seat. This did not happen in the cool truck...well, as much :-)
If the car is pimped out and the person is obsessive about it, then it is a safe bet that their priorities may not be in order.
If their SUV or 4x4 is lifted with huge tires and all the accessories available for a vehicle and then some, it’s again the priorities thing but then we also face what we call "The Little Man Syndrome." You can safely bet that the owner of this truck is under 5’ 10" or has some abnormality that is overcome by owning a truck like that.

Nevertheless, of course there are exceptions to every rule. Look at me: I drive a POSHC. (:-D

15 November 2005

Frankie Says Relax


Write letters to friends…Go to a matinee…Light some candles…Sing your favorite song…Plant some flowers…Reflect on your joys…Be grateful…Dance…
Spend time with your favorite people…Curl up with a great book…Play with your pet…Meditate…
Let go of things you can’t change …Soak in a bubble bath…Lay on your back & Watch the stars…Go to lunch with your friends……Look for the silver lining Work on your hobby…Dream…
Take a walk…
Hug someone you love…Blow bubbles…
Watch the sunset…Laugh out loud…Go for a drive…
Sip a cup of tea…Read the funnies…Go to the beach…
Write in a journal…
Just listen…

Remember…time is passing…you will never get Everything done…bills get paid…heartaches pass…what seems big now will be small in awhile…worries rarely come true…


Desperate Friendships

I have recently concluded that friendships are a more difficult relationship than marriages.
At least with marriages, there is a legal commitment. Spouses *have* to stay with you, no matter what. Well, theoretically. (:-D

Friendships, however, not so much. They come and go. It seems like it was easier when we were children and your best friend was “forever.” However, as adults it becomes nearly impossible to fulfill the forever part. People move, jobs take us away, families shift our priorities. Stuff happens.

And if you are married, it’s even more difficult. Not only are you finding a friend that matches You, they have to be somewhat compatible with your spouse! And oh, God help us if they have a spouse too. Couple friends are something that exists only in sitcoms, I’m convinced.

Why is it that guys can talk to complete strangers at sporting events and auto parts stores but ask them to attend a dinner party with couples they don’t know and they lock up?

But I digress…I warned you I’d do that.

It is difficult when you have built a friendship and the inevitable happens: a new job, a new home, or new baby. As much as you tell each other that you’ll keep in touch, I’ve noticed that reality always intervenes. Everyone has the best of intentions but it just rarely seems to work out.


Suddenly there is a fatal flaw discovered. You have built this friendship but find out that they are self-absorbed, or drink more than you are comfortable with, or horrible to waitresses and cashiers. Then what? How to gently exit the situation without concocting some abduction story?
How do you soothe your heart when the friendship fades slowly away and you are powerless to change it? The friend whom you know & love fades into addiction or is just unable to be a true friend?

Out of my group of friends from high school, only two of us are still in regular contact. We scattered to the four winds. One of us joined the Marines and never looked back, one of moved to Missouri and created a whole new existence, one of us are in jail and one of us lives in Germany and we hear from him only when some major event occurs.
Two of us remain, feeling slightly abandoned and wondering what-the-hell happened. Is it us? Is it the environment where we grew up? Or is this “normal”?

It’s gotten to where I scoff and eye-roll at the commercials, movies, and books that so warmly portray the life-long friendships of a group of women. My perception of friendships is more like the relationships of Desperate Housewives, which basic tenet is that we never know everything about anyone, especially our friends.

There are many levels of friendships now. There are work friends whom you socialize with occasionally, email friends that you’ve never actually met or email friends who used to be best friends but have been downgraded to email. There are friends that you see only at certain events: church, sports, etc. Everyone has that elusive friend that pops in and out of our lives at the most unpredictable times. Friends that you call when you’ve had a rotten day and they’ll make you feel better and friends that you Don’t Call when you’ve had a rotten day because they will often reply with “Oh, I know! You won’t believe what happened to ME today.” Ugh. (I guess that’s really not a friend then, huh?)

Everyone has one friend, the one friend whom you can call at 2:00 am because something horrible has happened, remembers your birthday, and will often call just to talk. I believe that a person always has one best friend; it just may not always be the same person.

Adult friendships are complicated. There are just so many variables.

What happened to “We both love Bon Jovi, you’re going to marry Jon, I’m going to marry Ritchie, and we’re going to be friends forever!”?

09 November 2005

Speaking of the Holidays

I've decided something. I've made a new resolution.

Everyone complains how commercial Christmas is, the "reason for the season" is lost and how it starts earlier and earlier. Granted, this year it began in full force right after Halloween. I'm okay with that.

My resolution is to just Enjoy it. Roll around in it.

Everyone says they LOVE Christmas but just as many complain about it. Everyone says how stressful it is and how busy they are. How expensive it is.

Well, the retailers of the world have just given everyone from October 31 to January 2 to celebrate a really great thing: the birth of Jesus - if you believe, Santa Claus - again, if you believe, family, friends and LOOT. (haha, going to hell for that one, aren't I?) And it ends with a new beginning for everyone.

They've given us extra time (for whatever reason....who cares if it's financially motivated...) to do all of this stuff and spend time with friends and family. E-X-T-R-A time. Extra time to shop, extra time to eat, extra time to go to parties. Extra time with your friends and family.

Stop being cynical and enjoy it for what it is - or perhaps whatever you make it to be.
Look at that way:
Who cares what brings them to the table, as long as they come?
Who cares if you can't afford lots of presents...socks make good gifts!
Who cares if you don't believe...take it as an opportunity to love the ones you're with anyway.

That's my resolution. Now bring on the Christmas music and cookies!

Just when you think nobody notices

Having lost a favorite uncle unexpectedly and discovering that my husband was being diagnosed with a life-altering disease, my days last summer were shaped by grief and worry.
Few things were penetrating my consciousness those days. Certainly, few postive things.

As I watched the school-agers leave on their daily trip, I was once again caught up in my own sad reverie. Until a small hand in the window caught my eye.
Focusing, I looked more closely at the hand waving.
In the window with a big grin, was a red-haired boy with a toothy grin, flashing the ASL sign for "I Love You".

Through tears, I waved back and then returned the sign to him. His grin became huge and he happily waved back at me as the van pulled away.

A nine year old boy can make one realize that, indeed, life goes on and people do care. Even if we aren't conscious enough to notice.


Mothers are interesting creatures. Take mine as an example. She is a saint, having raised three kids in a quite literally explosive environment. Nothing rattles her. Well, maybe I've seen her rattled once, just because my dad carelessly caught the backyard on fire with a tossed cigarette. She was so excited that it resembled a scene from a sitcom. We could only understand every third word. Imagine her consternation at our giggling while she's trying to tell us to dial 911 before the "G.d" house burns down. It's no wonder she's completely gray haired. Well, that and she is 70-something. Pesky detail.

But, I digress. Get used to it. It happens often.

My relationship with my dad is tenuous at best. While I'm the youngest and the only daughter, quite often a bat of the eyes, coy smile and a "Please Daddy?" will garner anything from an extended curfew to oh, a substantial loan to buy a new house. But with that I also get to enjoy guilt making that the normal mind cannot conceive.

A topic that was discussed during the most recent marathon conversation with my mom was my relationship with my dad and by extension my brother who is apparently made it his goal to be come my father. As you are probably well aware, the holidays are approaching. Bringing with them the joy that is family.

Yes, that is sarcasm.

When I expressed my Chandler Bing-esque dislike of Thanksgiving, my mom immediately surreptiously began to plot how we could minimize my interactions with my father and brother, inclusive of diabolically managing place settings & using my nieces as human shields.

Now that's a mom.