A Country Song

Falling asleep last night these words popped into my head:

I’ve lost Faith
Can’t find Hope
But I’ve still got Jane

If that doesn’t sound like lyrics to a country song, I don’t know what does.

I have a cousin, Effron White, who makes his living as a singer/song writer in Nashville. He’s quite talented. Maybe he’ll use my lyrics in a future song. Hey Effron, let’s negotiate!

Peace, People.

Sometimes Handsome Just Ain’t Enough

When one has been married for 38 years one gleans a great deal of information about a spouse’s intentions from subtle verbal and nonverbal cues. How we work those cues to our benefit is up to us.

Case in point: Yesterday after golf Studly came in and immediately sat in his recliner. I knew from his posture that he intended to take a nap.

When he awoke he leaned over and gave me a kiss and informed me he was going to take a shower. I knew that was code for “meet me in the bedroom in 15 minutes for some mushy, married stuff.” Nailed it.

After said mushy stuff I knew he’d take another nap. Batting a thousand.
The nap was a short one. I knew he’d be hungry for lunch, so I wasn’t surprised when he opened the refrigerator and stared blindly into its depths as men often do. “I made chicken salad,” I said.” It’s right in front of you.”

He turned as if to ask a question. Before he could say anything I said, “Yes, I bought fresh bread.” Another question crept into his eyes, “and Cheetos.” I finished. He smiled.

Later that afternoon he asked if I wanted to do something. Now this one was tricky. He had on a ratty blue Indianapolis Colts t-shirt and old black golf shorts, so I knew he was thinking about working on our motorcycles or taking the car in for an oil change, but I wanted to go out for dinner and perhaps see a movie. I told him as much.

“Yeah, we can do that,” he said. “But I wanted to get the oil changed on my car first.” Ha, I knew it!

“Well, we can do that, too,” I smiled charmingly. “But you’ll need to change clothes first.”

“What?” He asked in that special innocent non-innocent way he has.

“Yep. If we leave the house with you dressed as you are we’ll end up eating at Whataburger and going to the $3 theater. I want a nice dinner and a first run movie.”

He gestured at his middle-aged face and body, ‘Don’t you think I look handsome anymore?”

I responded in my best Texas sweetheart twang, “Honey, sometimes handsome just ain’t enough.”

Studly changed clothes. We got the oil changed. We had a nice dinner at a Japanese grill–his choice, but I okay’d it. All was going according to plan. Right up until I realized we were mere blocks from the $3 theater. Well played, Studly. Well played.

Peace, People.

World One

Last night’s dream:

I trained for living on an alien world for many months (years?). Videos of a flooded, forested planet were studied in great detail. I was told our housing had been erected among the trees–durable, functional tree cubes.

The journey to our new world was a long one, so we (myself and three fellow anonymous travelers) were placed into a state of suspended animation aboard a craft capable of traveling at speeds faster than that of light. My education continued while I slept, in the form of dreams within my dreams. I wondered if I’d recognize being awake when I woke.

In the middle of a cautionary tale about massive, carnivorous turtles our interstellar journey ended. Fortunately I had dreamt of these turtles before, so I knew to give them a wide berth.

We had landed in a marsh near our new abode, and our ship easily converted into a water craft to deliver us safely. I don’t recall climbing the tree, but I must have because soon I was exploring my cozy little dwelling.

Basically each of us had our own little cube with built in cots and storage units. Our cubes were connected to one another’s by a covered walkway with a shared living/cooking space in the middle. There were hammocks hanging outside of our cubes for off hours relaxation. I also remember laughing about the shared privy at the end of a long walkway. One of our first decisions as a team was to agree on rules for the use and care of this toilet.

We quickly fell into our routines as explorers and researchers. I was tasked with learning as much as I could about the flora of our new home. What was edible? What was toxic? What plants might benefit mankind back on earth? Every day I ventured farther from our home tree to gather specimens and conduct tests.

One day I saw a craft similar to the one we’d arrived in land just a mile or so from our tree. I alerted my co-workers and we gathered to observe the new arrivals. Imagine our delight when two dogs emerged from the pod. One was a Golden Labrador puppy and the other was a small brown and white mixed breed dog.

The Lab jumped into the water and began swimming toward us. Soon we were hugging and petting this charming addition to our lives. The little mutt stood shaking in the pod. One of my companions rowed out to get him, but the little dog panicked and jumped into the water. We all laughed as he realized he could swim and began paddling happily to his new home. Then, I saw a huge turtle heading toward him underwater.

We began urging our coworker to paddle faster, faster, but the turtle was faster yet and devoured the little guy. I woke up in tears.

Interpretations welcomed.

Peace, People

Test Anxiety

Test and anxiety. For many, those two words are inseparable. I don’t mind tests; in fact, I’ve always welcomed the challenge, but as a former classroom teacher I know I’m in the minority.

Perhaps, I thought, folks could benefit from my tips to reduce or even alleviate test anxiety. Here are my top five:

1. Don’t sleep the night before a big test. Instead, stay up all night watching a “Criminal Minds” or “CSI” marathon. There’s something about the combination of sleeplessness and competent police work performed by abnormally attractive people that helps one put things in proper perspective: There aren’t any serial killers after you? Relax! It’s just a test!

2. Skip breakfast if it’s a morning test, or lunch for an afternoon test. When your stomach begins rumbling you’ll be so embarrassed that you’ll forget to be nervous about the test. It might also annoy others around you thus potentially affecting the curve.

3. Imbibe large quantities of alcohol just before taking your test. Watch your test anxiety fade into the background as your blood alcohol level increases.

4. Wear your Jammies on test day and bring your favorite stuffed animal. It’s almost impossible to be anxious while wearing one’s softest pair of flannel p.j.’s and cuddling Teddy Bear.

5. Carry your favorite handbag and/or wear killer shoes, then imagine that everyone else is in Kmart couture. You’ll feel superior and confident. Obviously this tip shouldn’t be paired with #4.

Disclaimer: These tips are good only for relieving test anxiety. They do not, I repeat DO NOT have any positive effects on test results, and indeed could lead to just the opposite. Positive results generally derive from a healthy mix of studying and test preparation.

Peace, People!

Notes to Self

One of the best things about writing a blog? I pay attention to each of my random musings hoping to snatch a topic from their midst.

One of the worst things about writing a blog? I pay attention to each of my random musings hoping to snatch a topic from their midst.

Typically my ideas come while I’m driving and either listening to NPR or a random music station. I don’t have access to satellite radio in my car, so I’m at the mercy of whatever turns up on my am/fm dials.

Since I can’t type a note during drive time, I have gotten in the habit of leaving myself voice notes through SIRI on my iPhone. This is a wonderful tool that I also implement for grocery lists and appointment reminders. I highly recommend it. Just be sure to speak slowly and distinctly.

Some of my notes have gone amusingly wrong. An idea for a blog post called “Swap Meet Saturday” went through the following permutations before I got it right:

Lock gate Saturday
Call me Saturday
Swamp Meat Saturday

I like the title “Swamp Meat Saturday” a lot, so it might be featured in a future post.

Similarly, I wanted to write a post about the amorous insects the locals call “love bugs,” those annoying little insects that hook together in some sort of in-flight mating ritual. I asked SIRI to take the note, “Love Bugs are in the Air.” Instead I got “Love Butter Beware!” Again, I have plans for writing about Love Butter in the future, perhaps on my adults only blog site.*

Just a few days ago I wrote a post called “Hypochondria and the Art of One Upmanship.” The voice reminder for that translated first as “Hypochondriac and One’s Up On the Ship,” then as “Hypochondria and the One on the Ship.” Both possible future titles!

I don’t think SIRI and I are in sync all the time, but we make it work. Kind of like a good marriage. She has some really great random thoughts. I just can’t figure out why she can’t understand me. Everyone else seems to. Right?

*I don’t really have an adults only site.

Peace, People.

Dominique’s Day

Twelve years ago today Studly Doright and I became grandparents for the first time when our son’s daughter, Dominique Grace, entered the world. She was incredibly beautiful, a perfectly round porcelain-like face with wide open blue eyes that seemed to say, “Hey, I know you!”

From the first moment I saw her, the moment I first held her, I felt love beyond any I’d ever experienced. This tiny human, this connection to the future made my life complete in ways it had never been before. Ok, I was smitten. I didn’t want to put her down. I guess I would still be holding her if someone else hadn’t insisted that they wanted a turn.

As an infant she gave her parents fits. She didn’t much like to sleep, so many hours were spent trying to find ways to soothe her. I didn’t live close enough to help, and I felt pretty helpless listening to their woes. We might chalk their troubles up to payback, though. Her dad wasn’t the easiest infant to care for either.

As she became more autonomous, there was nothing that didn’t interest our Dominique. She loved, and still loves art and animals and kind people. When she was three the highest compliment she could pay a person was that they were so nice they even liked ants. She’s become quite an avid reader, as well, (that makes her Nana incredibly happy) and she can run like the wind. Have I mentioned that Dominique is still quite beautiful?

I cannot believe that she is twelve and a sixth grader. It seems like just a heartbeat ago that I cradled her in my arms and told her how much I loved her. She doesn’t really go for that mushy stuff these days, and that’s okay. Grandmothers have really good memories.

Since I’m not a grandmother who knits or bakes or sews, I’ve written stories for my grandchildren. Here is Dominique’s. It’s all true, except maybe the last line. Happy birthday, Dominique Grace. We love you more every day.

“The Girl and the Butterfly”

One little butterfly, orange and black
Circled the flowers in the summer garden.

One little girl, in red, white, and blue
Danced around the flowers in the summer garden.

“Here, little butterfly!” called the girl.

But the butterfly flew higher than the girl could jump,
And faster than the girl could run.

“Please!” said the girl.

No matter how hard she tried, the girl could not catch the butterfly.

“You must let the butterfly come to you when he is ready,” said Mama.

“I don’t think he will ever be ready,” sighed the little girl.

“Here, sweetheart, I have an idea,” said Mama. “Hold out your hand.”

Mama poured a drop of orange juice into the girl’s hand.

“Now hold out your hand and stay very still.”

The girl did just that.

She waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And would you believe it? The butterfly landed ever so lightly onto the girl’s hand.

The girl smiled at the butterfly.

And after sipping the juice, the butterfly smiled back.

Peace, a People!

Hypochondria and the Art of One Upmanship

Most everyone knows at least one hypochondriac. They are those folks who turn a case of the sniffles into pneumonia, a headache into a tumor, and a freckle into cancer. I know this because I have something of a hypochondriacal mindset myself.

One hypochondriac can be fun to mess with. Say, “You know that cough sounds pretty serious. I hear there’s a bronchial disease making the rounds. High mortality rate. Very bad.” Then stand back and watch them scramble for an appointment at Convenient Care.

But two hypochondriacs in one room can be really interesting. Let’s listen in on Gloria and Zelda at the birthday party of a mutual friend.

Gloria: Zelda, darling, it’s been ages!

Zelda: I know! I’ve just been in so much pain. Gallstones, you know.

Gloria: I had gallstones last year! They were awful, but not nearly as bad as the kidney stones I had last month. I swear, my doctor said mine were as big as a Buick! It was like giving birth to a freaking Buick!!

Zelda: Oh, my kidney stones were worse than that. It was like a roll of double-edged razor blades was trying to escape from my body. Just horrible. The doctor said he’d never seen anyone in so much pain. Of course that was nothing compared to when my youngest was born.

Gloria: You’re telling me! My first baby weighed 10 pounds, 6 ounces. A Buick sized baby! It took me 15 hours to push him out. I couldn’t sit down for a month! I swore I’d never have another, but I’m extra fertile you know.

Zelda: Me, too! I was in labor for four days before the doctor decided to do an emergency C-section. Thank goodness that was my last child. The doctor said it took three hours just to stitch me up. I’ll tell you, I’ve never been quite the same.

Gloria: Three hours is nothing! That’s how long it took for the surgeon to make the initial incision for my tonsillectomy back in ’08.

Zelda: Were your tonsils Buick sized?

Gloria: Well, yes! How’d you know?

Zelda: I just had a feeling. Listen, I’d love to talk longer, but my back is killing me. I think I’ve ruptured a disk, and the doctor wants to run some tests. They’re going to inject some dye into my spine. I’ll have to be immobilized for 24 hours. I’m afraid he thinks it might be a tumor.

Gloria: I know! When my back was out the doctor wanted to do exploratory surgery. You can’t imagine the pain! It was like having hot pokers rammed into my spine. Over and over again. Hot pokers the size of Buicks.

Zelda: I hope we run into each other again, but if I have a tumor this might be it for me.

Gloria: Well, I’d tell you to keep me posted, but I’m having surgery on my sinuses at the end of this month, and you know they’re going to be working close to my brain so there’s a possibility I won’t make it. Or even worse I’ll be a vegetable.

Zelda: Or a Buick.

Peace, People!

Remembering September 11

IMG_2311-0           I don’t often take this blog to serious places, but it is difficult to ignore September 11 as anything other than a serious date. On 9/11/01, I was at a conference in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. The day was beautiful. Bright blue skies beckoned outside of our conference room, and a group of us planned to head into D.C. that afternoon. It was my first trip to the area, and I couldn’t wait to take in all of the sights in our nation’s Capitol.

Our group was engaged in a lively discussion, but then, in the middle of the conference session, cell phones began buzzing. We laughed at first. It seemed amusing that we’d all get calls at the same time. Then one of the presenters stepped out to take her call. When she returned to the room her face was devoid of color, and she said we were adjourning to the lobby of the hotel.

There, we gathered around a television and watched footage of a plane crashing into one of the World Trade Center buildings. A coworker began sobbing. Her parents had a business next to the building and she excused herself to try to call them. We stayed focused on the screen and watched in disbelief as yet another plane crashed into the side of the second building. The dawning comprehension that this was not an accident registered immediately. Some cried. Some cursed. Some prayed.

My room was on the first floor, just around the corner from the lobby. I felt the urgent need to be alone, so I went to my room and got down on my knees. I prayed for the families of all those on board the planes. I prayed for those inside the buildings. Then I prayed fervently for those who had perpetrated this unimaginable act to be forgiven.

When I emerged from my room I began hearing all sorts of stories: the Pentagon had been hit, the White House was under attack, another plane had crashed in Pennsylvania. I wasn’t sure what was real and what was rumor. I tried to call my husband who was en route to Houston that day. When I finally got through he was frantic. He knew how close my hotel was to the Pentagon–15 minutes by Metro.

He’d had an intense day. Studly and eight of his coworkers were traveling in a white rental van from Kansas to Houston. They’d planned on playing a few rounds of golf on their trip. When they received a call from their company’s vice president to find a spot to convene a conference call, they found a bank in a small Texas town. The bank had locked its doors and required Studly and his coworkers to present picture i.d.s before admitting them to the building. Their Houston meeting was cancelled, so they turned the van around and headed to their respective homes.

I’d never wanted to be home as much as I did that day, but all flights were cancelled. Colleagues began trying to rent cars, but those were hard to come by. One of my closest friends urged me to stay put. The hotel said we could stay at no expense until we could arrange for travel and our company promised to take care of us until we could find a way home. So for three days we stayed in the hotel, checking flights and watching the news. On Friday morning we headed to Dulles, hoping that our flights would be cleared.

I’d never seen lines that long at an airport–around the terminal and out the door. People were beginning to feel a sense of desperation. First we were told our flight to Dallas was cancelled. I was ready to give up and head back to Tyson’s Corner, but again my friend urged me to stay put. That advice paid off when a gentleman came through our line to gather those of us ticketed for the Dallas flight.

We boarded the plane and then sat on the tarmac for two hours. No one spoke. The silence was more unnerving than anything I’d experienced in the previous three days. Finally, we were cleared for takeoff–the first plane to depart Dulles after 9/11.

When we landed safely at DFW a palpable feeling of relief surged through the cabin. One of the flight attendants broke into tears. I cried with her. I had to catch another flight to Amarillo, TX. The flight attendants gave us instructions on fighting off attackers. Use anything you have they told us. Purses, pillows, wallets. The whole experience was surreal.

When I made it to Amarillo and to my car I sat and cried in the parking lot for a long time. I still had a four hour drive in front of me, and I remember very little of it. When I pulled into my driveway in a Dodge City, Kansas, Studly came out to hold me. Home never felt so good.

Peace, Please People!

Karma Rides Again

I learned a valuable lesson this past weekend. Studly Doright invited a couple to spend the weekend with us. A couple neither of us particularly care for. The husband is odd and the wife even odder. Now, Studly didn’t want to invite them, but the husband pretty much backed Studly into a corner using the age old principle of guilt. I don’t fall for guilt. Studly does.

Poor Studly. When he texted me with the news that Odd and Odder were going to be our guests for the weekend I texted back, “I’d rather eat goat sh*t.” He asked what kind of wine paired best with that. So, he brought home a nice Cabernet Sauvingnon.

Of course I turned to my Facebook friends to gripe, and they responded with wonderful suggestions: “turn off the lights and pretend you aren’t home,” “fake an illness,” “tell them you’re needed in Illinois,” etc. I honestly considered each of these as viable options. But then one friend said that I should look at this as an opportunity to gather good karma. That I should be welcoming and hospitable to this couple.

The more I thought about it the more I knew he was right. I drank that bottle of wine and opened my arms wide to Odd and Odder. I made sure I was a smiling, happy, slightly drunk hostess.

And I enjoyed Odder. Once her husband and mine left to play golf she became more normal and I realized that her oddness is, in large part, a reflection of her husband’s oddness. I’ll have to rename her. Less Odd? Slightly Odd?

Will I seek out her company in the future? Maybe. After they’d left I visited with my daughter and told her that I’d racked up some good karma this weekend. Her response: maybe Odd and Odder were payback for some bad karma I’d accumulated in the past. Damn. She’s probably right! So does my good karma cancel out any bad karma? I think I need more wine.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award Nomination

Many, many thanks to Marilyn Hannan for nominating me for the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award.” Her blog is amazing, and can be found at http://hannamar.wordpress.com. Please check her out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Here are the guidelines for the award:

Thank and link the amazing person who nominated you.
List the rules and display the award.
Share seven facts about yourself.
Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they’ve been nominated.
Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

Seven facts about this blog

1. I promised myself I’d post once a day for the first 30 days. That makes the quality a little uneven, but it sure makes me at least write something.

2. I started writing the blog, in part, because a friend’s blog inspired me (thanks Hunny!)

3. My favorite posts so far have been those about my family.

4. I do all of my work on my iPad and my iPhone. Do I get some kind of award for that?

5. I usually write the title first and see what develops. Often, I’m surprised!

6. I haven’t quite figured out all of the technical stuff yet. Instructions? We don’t read no stinkin’ instructions.

7. My top blog posts thus far:

Not Just Any Man
Dancing with my Grandaddy
What’s a Gingy?
Finding Love at the Piggly Wiggly
38 Reasons Why
Rower’s Remorse
Snake Eyes
Just for Gaffes

Now, I get to nominate inspiring 15 bloggers!

Janie Christie Heniford at hunnyshabitat.com
Hope Nwoso (StoriesWithoutBorder.wordpress.com)
Tiffany Hall at http://Liberalchristianconfessions.blogspot.com
Trudy’s Treasures
A Holistic Journey
Christian Mihai
Love Happy Notes
Stephanie’s Blog
Clare Flourish

Take a moment and look these for these bloggers. Maybe you’ll find some inspiration, as well.

Again, thanks to the very inspiring Marilyn Hannan. Please check her out, as well.

Peace (and Inspiration), People!