Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Christmas in May

What do you say about a person who, when she finally gets someone to move her ficus tree outside for the coming summer, later looks out the window to see a tail of Christmas lights drooping from its spindly limbs? She has spent years of walking with her husband through the neighborhood griping about people who wait a month or more to take down their outdoor lights. So how did this come about? Does it mean that she can't see well enough to notice that the cord with the plug on the end of it is being watered every day along with the tree? Does she not realize that time is quickly passing by, and May flowers have already blossomed from April showers? Or is she a lazy good for nothin' who should be shot?

Somehow, I don't think any of the above apply: I happen to know that she's reached the dreaded season of life when her brain is operating the best it can with non-snapping neurons(no synapse) and a definite lack of serotonin(happy happy happy, we're so happy). You know what I mean, don't you? The shades are moving up and down but nobody's home? It doesn't surprise ME, because I've observed her neurons losing their zip for years now....haven't you noticed that when she attempts a witty comeback, it ends up being a combination of something that doesn't apply and something that might but the beginning belongs to some other ending? SHE knows what she's talking about (she claims) and it makes perfect sense to HER; she reasons that it must be that everyone else has a HEARING problem---probably deaf in one ear so they can't make much sense of ANY conversation that involves more than one person...

So, activated and motivated by the little serotonin her brain has left, she moves on to some other arena of give and take talk and she's feeling great! She fits right in with this younger crowd and it seems to her like she's flowing with the go, so she's ready to be brilliant and surprise all these interesting people who are so well informed. Her mouth opens, her eyes widen as she anticipates sharing her clever comment, but one neuron tries to snap and fails and then another; her serotonin is pouring down the drain, and she is left to dazzle her audience with: "Mardon me, Padam, is this pie occupewed?" Oh no, her recently stored cutting-edge facts about both political and technical fields(acquired, of course from her children and the Internet---did you know she INVENTED the Internet?) has disappeared down the drain along with her serotonin, leaving her with nothing but a file of sayings from her childhood days: "Good thing it wasn't a clean tablecloth," she offers that week to the waiter as he brings her meal. "At least we know you're not two-faced, or you wouldn't be wearing that one!" she whispers to her best friend. "Tomorrow's another day..." is her answer to her husband's query about the current date. She greets the postman with: "Many hands make light work" and her neighbor, who has been laid off hears her call across the street, "See a penny, pick it up and all day you'll have good luck!" "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers," she chirps to the checkout clerk at Kroger's. Her cat is served her Science Diet along with with the admonition: "De gustibus non disputandem est!" And when her husband announces he is going upstairs to change for his bike ride, she has the perfect quip: "What are you going to change into, a fairy godmother?"

So it should be no surprise that this woman who has adapted so well to her synapse impairment, HAS noticed those droopy lights; in fact, she has noticed them every day since Christmas, and each day she tells herself she must take them down. One neuron gives a half-hearted try at retaining this bit of vital info, but instead misses and fizzles. By the time she walks out of the room she doesn't recall ever having that conversation with herself. Until the next day, when she notices those droopy lights....

Merry Christmas, everybody, it's May! "Mayday, Mayday...."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Adventure, Verbally Speaking

Adventure comes in all sizes and packages. An optimist can make an ATTITUDE ADVENTURE out of anything, including what seems like a disaster to us normal people. The optimist can arrive at a reserved(for a week) accommodation that has just lost its power due to wind shears (what ARE wind shears anyway---giant scissors of wind?)and has no water(electric pump) and in a minute, turn the whole thing into an Adventure just by proclaiming it to be so: It'll be an ADVENTURE, guys----just think, we'll actually get to use those FLASHLIGHTS we always bring and instead of formal meals we can have PICNICS with sandwiches and potato chips; no showers? We'll SWIM in the lake! This proclamation exclamation goes viral: instead of the rest of us jumping into our vehicles and driving the 10 hours back home or stomping over to the office to demand a refund, we decide to stay. And so, thanks to our resident optimist, we remember the year of our ATTITUDE ADVENTURE with great fondness...

Another kind of Adventure creeps up on us, beginning with a startling realization, then an adjustment of perspective, and gradually our eyes and head end up so clouded we can't see or think right. And finally, we have to accept that our usual calm voice of sanity has been attacked by fear and morphed into a mental scream of UN-sanity! Melodramatic, you say? You don't believe it could happen to you? Then join me in a little walk through YOUR TWILIGHT ADVENTURE: you get off the metro at dusk(twilight) only to find that the car you left there earlier in the day has disappeared ( startling realization). You walk around all the buildings, looking for a place it could be hidden, then the perimeter of the lot; everything looks familiar, and yet not(adjustment of perspective). You KNOW you parked your car right there and yet it ISN'T there (clouded thought process)! Are you crazy? Maybe so! Aaaaaaaaaah! (un-sanity). By now the only one way to make it through your TWILIGHT ADVENTURE and back to the world of sanity is to use your secret weapon: tell yourself the TRUTH: there is a logical explanation for what you are experiencing. Your car did not fly away by itself. It could have been stolen, but one car, surrounded by so many others? What you need to do is find someone to help, but you're the only one here! Truth: prayer can link you up with Someone else. You pray. A lone runner appears in the distance, jogging toward you on the trail right outside the lot. You jog, too, up to the fence and the runner recognizes desperation when she sees it pressed up against the wire and fear, when she hears the voice of un-sanity... She COULD run away, thinking SHE is having a TWILIGHT ADVENTURE, but thankfully she stops, and listens to your story. She asks a question or two, and then, oh frabjous joy, she tells you the truth: you need to get back on the train and go one more stop. You get back on and debark 10 minutes later to the sight of an identical parking lot---and there in front of you is your car, right where you left it!
Note: TWILIGHT ADVENTURES are only pleasurable in the re-telling, not the re-living...

What kind of Adventure experience have you had lately? I'm hoping for more ATTITUDE ADVENTURES and no more TWILIGHT ones....

Monday, April 27, 2009

Meeting of Minds

There are a myriad of ways one can have a meeting of minds. The first that comes to my mind (sorry) is something I cannot explain. My sister and I are separated in age by 9 years and for most of our lives have lived apart, although the time sprinkled with visiting and long-distance communication. Several years ago, she and her husband came to live in Columbus. During that time, she and I worked together in caring for our parents and were in daily contact with each other, either in person or by phone. I cannot tell you HOW many times we would start to speak at the same time, saying the exact same words, with the same inflection and hand gestures. This is something you expect to happen when you've lived together for 20 plus years and can finish the others' sentences, give the punchline to the same old jokes, and sing the songs you've sung together forever. Not the case here. Since a lot of our time was spent in a nursing home, where many of the folks' minds were diminished or changed or uncomprehending, ours was the only illuminated shared laughter that resulted at these moments. But the others would often laugh along with us, thinking we fit right in with everyone there. So here's the question: was this meeting of minds with my sister, or with THEM?

Processing issues can also lead to a meeting of minds. For instance, suppose I think we need a new car. My husband may not agree, so we start processing. Me: Are you kidding? I got stuck in traffic last month when the car overheated, don't you remember? It could have caused an accident and on top of that you had to come rescue me. Don't you want to keep me safe? Him: Of course I do...so I will give you clear and concise directions for keeping the car from overheating again. Before you start it, you must open the hood, find the radiator cap---no, not the oil stick---and use this special measure stick that I have spent countless man hours crafting for you, my love. You insert it into the opening of the radiator--after removing the cap, of course (handing me a set of pliers). Pull the stick back out and match the level of water with the labels I have placed on it: 1. OK (you can go ahead and drive 2. WAIT ( 3 minutes and measure again) 3. ADD 1 pint (not 2, just 1) 4. ADD 4 pints 5. ADD 1 gallon 6. CALL (your husband) Me: And exactly how does this help me when I'm running late, as usual? Him: Well, I'm glad you asked that; I've just made up a schedule for you, which, if you follow daily and use the appointment calendar included, you will never again have that problem. Me: What about all the other things that don't work on the car? I feel like I am cranking open a giant water valve to Hoover Dam when I am turning the steering wheel!! Him: Didn't you say that you were needing some strengthening exercises for your arms? Me: (Trying another tactic) Honestly now, wouldn't we save money by upgrading to a vehicle that uses less gas and works more efficiently? Him: (patiently) Yes, this is true, but the BEST thing you can do for us financially right now is to drive less and walk more. Me: (exasperated) And just WHAT will happen to all the money I'll be saving us? Him: Maybe we'll go on a cruise.... Mirabile dictu...a meeting of minds!

My most recent experience of a spontaneous meeting of minds occurred this weekend. A friend and I were walking in the Arena District of Columbus. There were lots of people walking by us in the opposite direction and we were enjoying people-watching. One group had within it a young woman, smiling, talking and holding onto the arm of a good-looking guy. Nothing special, until the young woman took a little skip instead of a step, and her face lit up with joy and excitement about who-knows-what.... My friend and I looked at each other and what fell out of my mouth turned out to be EXACTLY what she was thinking, too: Remember those days when WE were young and full of fun and energy and excitement, out on the town with our hubbies? Ahhh, yes a true meeting of minds...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What Your Vanity Plate ACTUALLY Says.......

I drive around town a lot, and that means I sit for a bit at plenty of lights, which gives great opportunity to notice people's Vanity plates. I guess they are called that because you get to pay money for them, which makes them more valuable and thus feel more important than the kind that are randomly allotted. More likely,the Vanity is embedded in the message you have crafted for all the world to see. Seems to me the majority of V-plates radar something about character, passions, beliefs, character, and of course, names (people, places, things). What I wonder is this: is the message I receive about you the one you actually want me to get?

I try to remember the funny, clever or cute V-plates I see, but I never do. So I decided to keep an eye out for two weeks, making a list (yes, sometimes while I was driving) and now I'm going to share it with you. You can either read the plates and do your own interpretation, conjecture or puzzle-solving or you can read on and perhaps be enlightened by my musings about what the rest of us actually "get" about who's driving.

Let's start with a relatively easy read, one I spotted at the Worthington Public Library parking lot: I LV ASPEN. My first response: well, isn't that nice...this driver spends every vacation in Colorado, skiing. Then I thought, couldn't it also mean that the driver LIVES in Aspen, but then, why would the v-plate be from Ohio? Maybe he/she is the owner of two homes, one here and one in Aspen... As I neared the vehicle, the puzzle solved itself: above and to the right of the V-plate was the SUV model---yup, you guessed it, it was an Aspen.

OK, let's try again: ASL USER. This time I wasn't stopped in traffic and I had to speed up and slow down to read it again, because the only message I got was USER. Wonder why someone would advertise THAT? Of course, once I added the first three letters I had it---this person has that awful syndrome called ASL! No, I think that's ALS.... It took only a millisecond more to get to the root of this one: American Sign Language USER. Good for me and good for you!

Sometimes the size, shape and color of a car is a pretty blatant hint. This one was attached to a small, sporty red car, music blaring and head bobbing: YOBAYBE. No explanation necessary. And then there was one my passenger noted: MY KIWI---on a lime green SuperBug.

This next V-plate had me using my vocal as well as mental skills: MA CAR. It could mean that the vehicle that is NOT owned and driven by PA...but the most likely story is that the driver is someone of the Southern persuasion that wants you to know that YOU are not the owner/driver---- HE/SHE is. Got that?

Sometimes a V-plate can be deliciously mysterious: WKD WCH. This conjured up visions of some middle-aged female whose friends decided to celebrate her 50th by giving her her very own v-plate! (Hey, it's just a joke...who cares what the other drivers think?? ) Or maybe an actor/singer whose favorite role was in the musical "Wicked." Probably not. I guess it could also be a literal label: someone belonging to Wikken... I would never have known for sure, except that in the middle of my musings, the driver and passenger came out of a store, hopped in and drove away: a middle-aged woman (yes!!) and her teen-aged son(oh...).

Not to beat a dead horse (or a horse to death?) but again, the car can be the clue. In this instance I sort of "get it" but not completely (and maybe I don't really need that closure). Here goes: SPNKEE. Yes, I think the driver likes to be called "Spanky" and also likes the karma of the car--small, modern, "green(isn't today earth day?)" and oh so cute.... You put it together. I'm just going to respond by quoting this unique V-plate message: WOO YAY! Then I'm going to get a good night's sleep, and in the morning take the advice of this car owner: RYZNDYNE.

How do you feel about V-plates?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mind Control

I read an article today about a study of the effect of today's fast-paced communication media on the development of a moral conscience. If I read it correctly, the premise was that in conversations that take place in short spurts and require some sort of immediate comment or reply, the mind does not have the time to properly register a complete response: one that combines the intellectual understanding of the words with an emotional and moral conscience. According to the study, it takes time for that emotional response to kick in and the moral conscience to awaken. Therefore, the quick intellectual-only response may completely miss the underlying need for connection and understanding and not only mess up the rest of the day's twits and tweeters, but result in side effects that have bigger consequences than ever imagined.

If the premise of the study is indeed fact, then many people are daily experiencing something like the following: It's a typical workday and you tweet me (in x characters or less) that your spouse deeply wounded your sense of self that morning by not making you coffee. Without adding the words that would take you over the x number of characters, I am supposed to get the unstated meaning(.. and he KNOWS how important it is to the start of your day and how there is just not TIME for you to make coffee and get out of the house ready for work, and it's HIS job, just like it says on the chart of equally divided chores and besides, you KNOW it's really his way of saying, I love you, babe....) Really? All that in a nano-second? It would be so easy to just squawk out a response like: Get a grip! Stop whining and get yourself a Starbuck's!

A second or so later, the tiniest bit of Moral Conscience may seep into my response mechanism, especially when YOUR reply to MY reply features the word "friend," in reference to me, but definitely NOT in a friendly way. A little more MC begins to flow into my emotional arena and they travel together down my intelligence highway sending me a MESSAGE: I have NOT listened to the underlying implication in your obvious hysterical and illogical response to your spouse's apparent lack of respect and love toward you by leaving java out of your morning equation. Thus, my immediate and, I admit it, unempathetic, response to you, most likely added another gouge in your already damaged self-worth and caused you to assume I valued you as little as your spouse apparently did this am. Without taking the time to allow YOUR MC to kick in, you fired back an angry statement about my inability to BE a friend and who needs me anyway?

Because my MC was now really firing up, I did not stomp on that keyboard, but took time to evaluate and allow my inner being to be fully engaged in your emotional crisis. In doing so, I believe that I disproved that scientific premise that seems to precludes our ability to control our minds when we receive an x amount of characters that DEMAND we give immediate evidence of our presence and engaged intellect. We CAN control our minds with an override that tells our fingers to disregard the beeping message board. We can then take time to look within, to meditate instead on the messages our MC is sending us. THEN, and only then, can we get back with the Appropriate Response: "Girl, I'm running out RIGHT NOW to pick you up a latte...."

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Is The Circle of Life Just ....Too Round?

Recently I had a facebook conversation (if you call commenting on someone's comment a conversation) about how convenient it would be if what dogs deposit on the lawn would just turn into lawn fertilizer instead of having to be pooper-scooped and re-deposited in a garbage can. That got me started thinking---why does horse or cow manure make great fertilizer? All the farmers I know( my Dad and his Dad) clean it out of the barn, put it in a spreader and hit the fields. Then the grassy grains grow, the cows/horses eat them again, and....you get it. Why does this not work with dogs, cats, parrots or snakes? We of the recycling mind could put the "green lawn" chemical companies out of business and never have to pooper- scoop again!

Well folks, read on, the answer has arrived. Maybe our favorite pets are out of the running for naturally producing fertilizer, but WE aren't! No joke. "Columbus uses sewage-treatment leftovers and yard waste to create a nutritious mulch, on sale to gardeners." pg. 16 of this week's The Booster. Would you like to know what makes up this "nutritious mulch"? Biosolids (what do you think THAT could be) from waste water treatment plants, along with yard waste and wood chips are combined to make a final product called Com-Til, on sale now at your friendly sewage treatment plant!

The article goes on to say that after these two "nutritious" ingredients are aerated, cured and screened, they become "a product that does not belie its origin." Does that mean that although we tell ourselves it is "nutritious" fertilizer, it still looks like sewage, smells like sewage, and, in fact, IS sewage? Hmmm.....I can smell an opportunity for investment in little white nose covers with rubber bands attached---we canl join the Chinese outdoor use of them by donning them every time we step out our front door. But hey, we will be part of the recycling cutting edge. And isn't that every good citizen's dream?

Ok, I am getting the picture that there IS a difference in using cow manure, which I contend, has an unpleasant odor (my husband, who did NOT grow up on a farm, disagrees), but that smell is pleasantly associated with a four-footed creature that gives us milk, butter and cheese; THAT I can live with. Just what do you think the odor ofCom-Til will conjure up in your mind? No, thanks!

So, folks,I may lose my status as recycler of the month (we DO have a compost pile, after all), but I draw the line here: sometimes the circle of life is just...too round.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

How to Choose the Right Pet for YOU

You know, it really doesn't matter what species of pet you are after; you can be a dog or horse or cat or fish or bird person. But you must know that there is a non-negotiable method to choosing your pet: the most important factor in this process is choosing the pet that matches your temperament and emotional makeup. In other words, your issues must match those of your pet companion.

I am a person who has definite issues, some emotional, some health related(I take a lot of pills). So where, you may ask, will I find a pet that HAS issues, and more specifically, issues that would be compatible with mine? Cat Welfare fits the bill.

Just walking into the place tells a story; cats of various shapes, sizes and fur types are everywhere; some are sleeping in cozy beds on the floor, some on top of other felines, some are caged off from the others because they fight, some are in baskets on a wooden "tree" with several levels. I look at them all. My previous cat was not a great"issue match" for me but I loved him, and in the late hours of the night, when he and I were the only ones awake, he would jump into my lap and stretch out contentedly, staying just as long as my leg didn't twitch or I didn't attempt to pet him. So I did look at the black fluffy cats like Alfie and tried to hold each one; then I looked at the short-haired ones, and then the kittens---they were so cute! My son and his wife were with me and they encouraged me to rescue one of the cats that no one else wanted. So I looked some more, and as I was passing by one of the baskets higher up on the "tree" levels, a long front leg stretched out toward me, a paw flexed, daintily beckoning me over. She was a small, medium long-haired cat, with tortoise-shell coloring . I was drawn by that flirtatious move and immediately thought, "If she were a woman, she'd have a name like Daphne." I picked her up and she curled into my arms, and looked up at me with wide yellow eyes, inspecting but also coquettish, with their frame of furry eyelashes---I kid you not! Her fur was pretty scruffy and she had some sore spots on her, and I just knew she was the one for me.

Daphne wasn't in her new home longer than an hour or two when one of her "issues" became an issue. She decided to use the computer room, where I am typing this post, as her bathroom. (I thought they said she was litter trained!!!) So I brought the litter box up from the basement into the kitchen (yuck) so it would be available at all times. Then I spent an hour or so cleaning up and deodorizing the computer room. (This had NEVER happened with Alfie.)

She also seemed to have a separation anxiety issue, and didn't want to stay alone at all; so wherever I was she was also, yes, including bathroom and shower(she still sits on the rim of the tub, and jumps in after I jump out---ok, another issue). And although I spent a lot of time, especially at first, sitting down with her so she could be close to me, she would get on my lap, turning and trying to settle, then was up again, turning the OTHER direction and repeating this several times, keeping her claws anchored in my thighs to keep those turns going. OUCH. So is this anxiety issue surfacing because she's just nervous and will be less squirmy when she settles in? The answer seems to be: no. De-clawing comes to mind...

In a week or so Daphne was litter trained and the box returned to the basement. Then she began to have spasms of coughing. It sounded pretty bad, but when I picked her up, it would go away. I put her down and she coughed again, and snuffled and wheezed as if she were dying. I picked her up; no coughing OR wheezing. Hmmm... Eventually this seemed to go away but the issue of de-clawing still loomed large. I wanted to get that dispatched quickly. I took her to the vet to discuss the surgery---since she was more than a kitten, she would need anesthesia for the removal of her claws. After Daphne's examination, there seemed to be much ado about what could be nothing. She "might" have a heart worm---did I want to pay a thousand or so dollars for tests and x-rays to find out for sure? No, I didn't. Well, it means that she could fall down dead any day for seemingly no reason. OK, will that possibility lessen with tests and x-rays? No? Then let's move on to the de-clawing. I'm also hearing some wheezing which is probably due to something she picked up at Cat Welfare. Let's give her an antibiotic and when her breathing is clear ( I didn't mention the coughing spells), we'll do the de-clawing surgery. To review, the anesthesia could be deadly if she is sick; it could also be deadly if she is NOT sick, because of her presumed, but not confirmed, heart worm. Then again, she could have none of these conditions and still not make it through the anesthesia. OR...ok, I get it; covering all the bases.....leaving no room for lawsuits.

After a 5 day dose of penicillin (did you know pet medicine costs the same as human medicine?) I heard no wheezing or coughing and gave Daphne a clean bill of health. Off we go to the vet again, and all is ready to "do the surgery." I leave her there, expecting to pick her up the next morning. A half hour later, the phone rings and a sad male voice asks,"Is this Daphne's mother?" Well, not really, but I play along. "Yes...? " "I have some bad news." Daphne must be dead. What else could it be? Why didn't I leave well enough alone? Furniture ruined, legs full of scars, what does it matter now? The voice continues, "We had Daphne all prepped for surgery and ready to go under, when I thought I heard some wheezing.... I think it would be best if we send her home with another round of antibiotics to take care of this infection once and for all." Great.

So after two rounds of antibiotics---did I tell you they cost the same as ours?--- I decide to try again. I'd already paid for her surgery and I was ready for a life without claws! The truth was that I wanted DAPHNE to have a life without claws, for my benefit. Anyway, I approached Daphne as she crouched on the top of her (very own) cat "tree" and something in me telegraphed to her what I intended: take her to the vet! Suddenly, out of nowhere, comes the unmistakable sound of wheezing. Give me a break!! She doesn't have any infection, she is doing this on purpose! But what if I take her in and she starts up again in front of the vet? All I'll get is another set of antibiotics and another postponed surgery.

Now, I know what you're thinking: are you sure it isn't YOU that has the issues? Do you REALLY think that this sweet little cat would have the wherewithal to use such a ploy to keep you taking extra special care of her so she would never again have to "visit" the vet? ( See how our issues were matching up?) I was experiencing an empty nest---kids all married, husband busy busy and no cat. Along comes Daphne, who has enough needs and issues to last a lifetime. And SO grateful for my care and extra special attention, that she chirps and leaps up into my lap to turn and settle a hundred times while leaving scratches and scars on my thighs that are a constant reminder of her beloved presence in my life: her very LARGE presence. .

Daphne now has the life of a queen---she gains access to the outside world by racing past me to the door and if I am too slow to get the message, she will race back past me to the back door until and repeat the process if necessary until I leave what I am doing and let her out. Sometimes she helps by showing me how to open it, the same way she opens the kitchen cupboard where her food is kept: she stretches out her front leg, flexes her paw, and uses those extended claws to get under the edge of the cupboard door and flip it open. Voila!

By the way, the vet refunded the amount I prepaid for de-clawing.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What You Don't Know...Can It Hurt You??

The other day I was cruising along High Street and out of the corner of my eye saw a Channel 10 truck parked next to Tee Jay's---you know, the restaurant at Morse and High Street with the giant red arrow that lights up at night? I didn't think much about it, or of the live report going on, since both are common occurrences in Columbus. If I were still in the little farming town in Connecticut where I grew up, however, a news camera filming live would be HUGE and everyone would stop to see what was happening! I just kept cruising.

If I HAD stopped to investigate, I would have heard about an undercover policeman who saw two guys committing a robbery early that morning at a Starbucks south on High; he went after them, chasing them North. To clarify, this was not a foot chase---I think that only happens on tv--this was a genuine police car chase. Who knows how it all would have ended if the getaway car hadn't driven to the Morse Road intersection? The sight of that giant red arrow must have triggered something in the driver's psyche, because he yanked the wheel to the right, squealed (I added this for affect) into the parking lot, lost control of his right foot (the message to hit the brake did not get through) and smashed right into the side of the restaurant!!

Now, what was he thinking? If I turn in here I can hide behind that giant arrow? My conclusion is that his conscience finally kicked in---all right already, enough crime is enough! So when he saw that giant arrow waving him into Tee Jay's parking lot, he saw his chance to set things right--- to submit to The Message beaming from the giant red arrow: TURN IN HERE! SIGNED, THE LAW. Later on he might have remembered what he didn't know at that moment: for any driver, following an arrow sign, albeit a giant red lighted one, into a parking lot is purely optional. Driving right by it would NOT have been breaking the law...

Post Script: The two men were apprehended, arrested and are currently being investigated for several business robberies that have taken place across Columbus.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Held Captive in a Parking Lot....

One never knows what a Sunday morning will present for personal reflection and application. For me, most Sundays mean a rich time of good music and singing that makes my heart soar up to God....discussions and interactions with people I care about ...and a challenge to or an encouragement for my spiritual journey. Maybe even having my spiritual journey connect with someone else's...

On this particular Sunday the service had ended, and I was expecting company for Sunday dinner (notice how "lunch" on any other day becomes "dinner" on Sunday?) so I was intent on ending my conversation, gathering up my stuff and getting home before the others arrived. Since we were having take-out Chinese, all I had to do was heat up the rice, set the table and wait... but hey, those are important tasks, and I was going to get a head start by leaving earlier than usual. I jumped in my Honda minivan and started forward, glancing up just in time to see a large Canadian goose blocking my path. He was flapping his beak open and closed, so I assume he was making goose noises but I couldn't hear them from inside my motorized army tank. A look to the left confirmed that I was dealing with a male who was in protection mode; his wife was nesting on the small island in the middle of the parking lot. A goose nested there every year, but I had never met up with her husband before, and believe me, he was formidable. He just stood there, flapping his beak at me, refusing to move an inch. I decided to edge forward, hoping eventually he would choose to flap his wings and fly-step grumpily out of the way rather than be run over. No problem, right? Wrong. I inched forward until I could no longer see his head, but no fly-step sideways occurred. Oh no, had I trapped his feet under the wheel, so that he couldn't move if he wanted to?! I couldn't stand the suspense, so I reversed slowly until I saw him, still standing in the same spot, flapping his beak at the grill above my bumper.

Where was everybody else from church? Didn't they have company to prepare for? Couldn't they see I was in trouble here? Apparently not. OK, I was on my own, but I was NOT going to let this macho goose situation spoil MY Sunday----I turned around and went out another exit.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Going Out On Your Own

Being on your own, means, among other things, that a fun load of daily activities and decisions get added to your already busy life. Have you ever changed a roll of toilet paper (and I mean removing the cardboard tube, and replacing it with a new roll, not just setting the new roll down somewhere handy ) when there is anyone else in the house that will do it if you don't? Have you accepted that YOU and only you will be the one to decide when you can't stand the smelly garbage in the kitchen one more minute and will have to transport it, yuckiness and all, to the outdoor trash barrel? (Nobody will be there to nag you about THAT chore, no sir!

What about dishes? Do you do the efficient thing and wash them only after every piece of crockery you own has been used, or do you still believe in those good little elves who washed, dried and put everything away while you were out living your non-independent life? Better yet, buy a dishwasher! Doing laundry can instigate an interesting process of decisions including: how long can I get away with re-wearing a shirt or blouse (with intervals of rest periods) before it HAS to be washed? The simple smell test is best employed here: if it's doubtful, it's dirty! NOONE except the rare antiquated housewife irons any more, so you're off the hook there unless you are going to a funeral or a wedding(or an interview). Everybody washes their towels and washcloths with some regularity, but how about sheets? The truth is, this job usually transfers itself to the list of monthly chores when all could be resolved by again applying the smell test---better yet, get someone else to walk into your bedroom. If they start to gag or faint dead away, it's time to do the sheets!

Living on your own brings an automatic need for organization and thinking ahead: do I pay the bills as they come or save them up and pay once a month(hoping I'll remember where they are and what that once a month date is)? And is it REALLY necessary to balance my checkbook? Can't I just put extras on my credit card until it is refused and go from there? Do I need an accountant? (Help!) Do I check gas gauges before they signal the Big E, plan oil changes before the engine seizes, and get new tires before they wear out or go flat? (I feel TIRED just writing this).

Organization applies to garbage duty as well; as you leave in the am or when returning at night, keep an eagle eye out for green barrels lining the street; that's the signal to get yours out there to join them. That way, you never have to remember the actual day of pick-up (which slides back a day every time there's a holiday, but sometimes gets covered by a Saturday pick-up, which may or may not precipitate the day change and that REALLY throws things off). Neighbors who live to track these things are your best bet for success here.

And then, how about all that stuff that accumulates on any normal floor? You know, that mixture of shoes, coats, socks, boxes, junk mail, lint, petrified food, dried mud... How do you decide when enough is enough and what do you do about it? And what tools do you use : a giant broom and dustpan? Do they make vacuum cleaners with wide-open mouths that crunch everything they suck in? The simplest solution is sometimes the best: open up a garbage bag and put it all in there(those flex ones work great with odd-sized or heavier items). Whatever's left will probably blend in with whatever carpet stains are there for life.

Who knows how to cook when they first live on their own? No problem: pop tarts come in many flavors, including chocolate so breakfast is pretty well covered. And surely there is a fast food restaurant near your place of employment---that's lunch. And for supper? There's always pizza---stock your fridge! (Now, a mother would NEVER approve of these choices, but you aren't LIVING with your mother any more, ARE you?)

Everything else can wait til tomorrow---you need your sleep and things always look better in the morning. Besides, Mom and Dad would HAVE to take you in if you went back, wouldn't they?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Why Me?

It seems like all of my adult lifeI have been involved in embarrassing moments. I trip, I fall and rip holes in my stockings on my way into a memorial service full of strangers; I drip food on my clothing or spill coffee on my husband(who forgave me) when I'm all dressed up and we both thnk I can safely be taken out; I start coughing in the middle of a wedding ceremony and stand outside the church, unable to get it under control until the wedding is over---oh well, there was still the reception; I have had strangers zip my skirt up from behind, tuck tags in that are hanging down my back; I have sung a song at a wedding that I knew like the back of my hand, yet kept repeating the first verse until the words of the second verse came to me---fortunately, noone except my accompanist noticed; I have spoken to people of status without realizing it, and babbled away as if they were my next door neighbor; I have taken my youngest son to a walk-in clinic and mistakenly given his brother's name instead of his own---and when the Dr. addressed this little guy by the wrong name, I was so embarrassed I didn't correct him and even sent the info into our insurance under his brother's name. What is the matter with me?

I have come to believe, perhaps to convince myself as part of my inability to circumvent these moments of humiliation, that others see them as charming, or funny, or as fodder for entertainment, such as when, one Sunday morning, I asked a young couple where they had spent their honeymoon, and as I watched an expression of horror appear, the sickening realization came that not only were they NOT married, they weren't even engaged!! The young man was the son of dear friends, and his brothers were both married, but he was not. I KNEW this!!! He was incredulous and horrified at what I was asking, as was his mother, who caught the drift as she approached. His female companion, on the other hand, not only looked absolutely delighted with my query, but speaking aside said to me: "Keep it up! He needs all the encouragement in that direction you can give." We all parted in relative good humor after I apologized several times over; I found out later that the family spent the following week using my blunder as material for table conversation, teasing and joking. Glad I was able to oblige.

Somehow I survive these humiliations, partly because my daughter has inherited a bit of my tendency in this area, and we comfort each other with our ever-growing number of stories of fumbles, foibles, faux pas and foot-in-mouth disease. My latest comedy routine took place at a gathering I was really looking forward to at my son and daughter-in-law's home. There was an abundance of yummy breakfast food and an interesting variety of people, some of whom I had heard about but not yet met, some whom I knew but didn't see very often, and others that I ran into pretty regularly, but didn't always have time to engage in significant conversation. Ages ran from a majority of 20 and 30 somethings, to a minority of middle age and beyond. I happen to be in the last category, but I don't consider that a social impediment. I just can't keep myself to myself, so I began working my way around to most everyone and thoroughly enjoyed interacting. I was having a GREAT time!

I eventually decided to settle in the living room and made the fatal error of perching on a papasan chair----one doesn't perch on a "p.c." but must cautiously sink back into it and not move again until one has help getting up again. Nevertheless, I choose to perch, the better to hear the interesting tale being unfolded across the room. I leaned forward so I wouldn't miss a word. And wouldn't you know it, my not-so-petite body teetered sideways, as the top and bottom of the papasan chair began to separate from each other. Uh-oh, this was not good...the law of physics took over and I spilled out of the chair, my chin colliding with a tv tray on its way down. Another law of physics sent two cups of coffee flying into the air, spreading their contents far and wide. Brown slpotches appeared on the pristine papasan cushion; half of my hair was drenched and the rest of the coffee puddled on the wood floor, after splashing the pantlegs of the unfortunate occupant of the chair next to mine. Could it get any worse? Oh, yes.... I continued to roll, in slow motion, toward the floor. There was no wayto make a graceful landing, so I ended up in a miserable heap, looking and feeling like a beached whale. As I lay there, a bamboo wall decoration dislodged from the wall (another law of physics?)and landed like a cherry on top.

Gasps and OH's and Are you all right? sounded in a chorus around me as I got to my knees and groaned my way upright, ready to help clean up the mess I had made. The hosts were gracious and let me spray and dab at the papsan with a cloth, followed by trips to the kitchen sink to rinse it out. On the last of these, weaving through the crowd, I noticed one of the guests wiping off her camera case---spattered with coffee, of course. I apologized for the mess and with my usual panache I added, "I guess my mission in life is to make OTHER people feel good about themselves." No disagreement was voiced.

Post Script: my dear daughter in law(hostess of the event) wrote me a very sweet note about the "misbehaving chair" and she hoped I did not feel bad about what happened; she was glad I had come and been able to meet her co-workers and talk to others there. It was balm for a post-middle aged woman with injured pride (and a sore chin). And life goes on......