Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Gifts We Give…Ourselves

In the end the best gifts we give ourselves are the family and friends we embrace and hold dear. The memories we treasure of moments gone past. A wise man, eons gone by, once said, “You can’t take it with you.” I’m pretty certain he was talking wealth, fame, and toys, because love you take with you.

For a year I’d planned a trip in April for my friend’s birthday. You know when you meet a person and they answer something in your heart; like you’ve come home? He is that kind of a person. While I’d never met him face to face, from our contact online I knew he was one of those special people who just fit perfectly into my life and my heart. I had wanted Ducky to take the trip with me, but in the long run I went alone…and had a great time. I spent the next four days in gleeful anticipation of the next event, next person I’d met, the next great adventure. Despite missing Ducky it was worth every moment and I collected a new friend or three a long they way.

Friends are worth their weight in silver and gold.

With the expansion of information on the Internet no one can really hide, unless they began covering their trails long before. In the year past I’ve reconnect with several long lost friends and miss placed relatives – a gift to myself. My father’s passing last December made me try a little bit more to reconnect; he’d successfully done so with several cousins/friends in the short years prior to his passing. I admired that he could chat with his cousins, on the other side of the country, phone for hours. In the earliest years they would meet up at the Furby family reunions in West Virginia. He made the effort to reconnect and then held them dear.

From the time I was two, until age 17 I lived on the same street, in the same house, with the same friends. I loved my neighborhood, my childhood friends remain dear to my memory even though we’ve grown and moved on to become other people. I moved to Oregon three quarters through my junior year. Few friends remained in touch. Okay really one, but through her I have been able to reach out to others. This year, hopefully, we will meet in Las Vegas for an “Old Neighborhood Reunion” I am excited and can’t wait. Yes, they will be different, yes they will have different likes/dislikes, passions and focus, but there is one thing we all have that is similar and that is our beginnings. We share many of the same childhood stories. Michael and I got caught at the age of five playing doctor. Sadly, in a fit of childish anger I broke one of the controls for his race car track (this still bothers me.) My mother taught him and his siblings to swim. And they would sleep over in our back yard on hot summer nights. My mother was his den mother, his father drove me to the emergency room when I split my chin on the edge of the bathtub. Childhoods intertwined.

Just a few months ago I reconnected with Pam. Oh the trouble Pam I could have gotten into…but we were pretty sneaky, well that and as we got older we ran in different crowds. She is excited about a reunion. And I am happy to rekindle a childhood friendship. Do I think that we’ll become BBF’s? No, but her renewed friendship I am enjoying. When I emailed her she wrote me back with wonder and joy and that was enough for me.

Over the years since Classmates and Reunion went on line I’ve searched for a friend or three, each escaped me. Until this year. Finally I saw one name I’d been searching for, we’d been somewhat inseparable in high school. I sent her an email and she replied fairly fast. We up dated each other on our lives and activities. And then she quit writing. I am happy to know she is well and thriving in Orange, but I am sad that we are too different to connect further. I wish her Godspeed and a full life.

As I look ahead to 2009 it is with joy that I looked behind me during 2008. My friends are a true gift to me, whether they be childhood buddies, long lost cousins, or new found family they are my gifts the things I can take somehow from this plane to the next; they are the wealth I embrace to my soul.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Here is 99 Things To Do Meme

I’ve not done a Meme in a while, and this is one I saw first Pomp, then at Wry, and now it is here for me. BTW Pomp’s blog is never, ever lame – despite what she says.

Here is 99 Things To Do (some I wonder why someone would want to do, and several I hope to do someday)…

1. Started your own blog (you're reading this right?)
2. Slept under the stars (who can sleep when you’re watching stars?)
3. Played in a band (you have to play an instrument, I sing back up)
4. Visited Hawaii (what’s all the hoopla?)
5. Watched a meteor shower (watching stars is one of my favorite things to do, preferrably from my hot tub – but meteor showers totally rock.)
6. Given more than you can afford to charity (it is the only thing toodo)
7. Been to Disneyland/world (several times it’s lost it’s allure)
8. Climbed a mountain (but riding the ski lift to the top of Bachelor during the summer was pretty damn kewl too.)
9. Held a praying mantis (I’ve never even seen one, does African Walking Stick count?)
10. Sang a solo (oh God, horrors from my childhood)
11. Bungee jumped (I would love to do this, but maybe reverse bungee)
12. Visited Paris (no, but I’ve been to Munchen, London, Copenhagen, Edinbrugh, Stuttgart, York, Frankfurt, Amsterdamn, and Salsbury.)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (amazing and terrifying all in one moment, but in truth flying through a lightning storm was the scariest.)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (yes – stain glass)
15. Adopted a child (does an angel tree or big sister count on this one?)
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables (I use to have a vegetable garden every year, but a flower garden is much nicer and you can eat nastiuriums)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight (yeah, duh)
22. Hitch hiked (maybe I shouldn’t have said yes, because after the car stopped for me I refused to get in and walked anyway…oh but my girlfriends (akhem) got in and rode away.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (I’ve not called in sick to work in over 28 years.)
24. Built a snow fort (I’m lucky enough to live where you can build an emanciated snowman about once every five years.)
25. Held a lamb (yes, and my very first photo I took was of a lamb)
26. Gone skinny dipping (yes, wow, what a feeling.)
27. Run a Marathon (run, ha ha)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (does a gondola at Disneyland come close?)
29. Seen a total eclipse (did the whole layers of film negatives, hole in the box thingie, and watched it in reflecting water too.)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (two of God’s many gifts - not to be missed)
31. Hit a home run (I played league softball, but I don’t think I’ve every hit a home run, that’s something you’d remember right? I do have specific painful memories of softball, see below)
32. Been on a cruise (someday)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person (I know people who have, okay I know that doesn’t count.)
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (definitely, can I go again?)
35. Seen an Amish community (I’m Quaker…okay I know that doesn’t’ count.)
36. Taught yourself a new language (I’m assuming that failing Spanish seven years in arow doesn’t count, right?)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (it is the place to be, it is a place in your heart and I am definitely there)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing (it’s too athletic for me these days, but I use to love rock climbing. Not the pick ax - piton type, but still several hundred feet up, standing on the top of the earth over looking the desert, wow that’s kewl kind of rock climbing.)
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David (it doesn’t say in person, so beautiful photos – yes)
41. Sung karaoke (several times, did I mention I’m a back up singer?)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt (yes, and it was beautiful, stinky, and not on time)
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant (no, but I’m going to rectify this)
44. Visited Africa (I hope to someday)
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (definitely not over rated, never done enough times)
46. Been transported in an ambulance (I am very lucky that way)
47. Had your portrait painted (ha ha, thank God no.)
48. Gone deep sea fishing (several times, barfed the first half of the ride, and saved great memories for the second half)
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person (that would be kewl)
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (nope, but I doubt it has anything over great big rocks in the desert)
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (someday – okay this would be why people go to Hawaii right?)
52. Kissed in the rain (you haven’t lived until you’ve kissed in the rain while skinny dipping.)
53. Played in the mud (yes, and lived to play in the mud another day)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater (many times, while hiding others in the trunk of the car. Sadly in Oregon I think only one drive in remains.)
55. Been in a movie (no, but I have been on television many times)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China (some day, I’m looking forward to great Chinese)
57. Started a business (yes, a Tidy Car franchise, what a waste of good time and money - why would a person who believes that if a car needs to be washed, it needs to belong to someone else would buy a car detailing business? Oh, right, exhusband.)
58. Taken a martial arts class (I always wanted to try kick boxing)
59. Visited Russia (no and I can’t see it from my front porch)
60. Served at a soup kitchen (yes, did I mention I was a Girl Scout for nine years?)61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (see above)
62. Gone whale watching (ha ha yes, many times, and it is Whale Watching week, so come see me I will take you to watch whales. California Gray and Humpbacks are making their annual migration right now)
63. Gotten flowers for no reason (I send myself flowers every month, my treat to me)
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (I am not allowed to, but I gave blood a few times before the cut me off because of bruising.)
65. Gone sky diving (I so want to do this)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp (yes, heart rending)
67. Bounced a check (some banks won’t let me in the door – but I have changed my ways and am fiduciari-ly responsible now.)
68. Flown in a helicopter (yes, in Germany to see the Chec border)
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (I have my Barbie doll)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial (I am waiting for my personal tour by Tewkes)
71. Eaten Caviar (people do that willingly?)
72. Pieced a quilt (yes I have pieced a quilt, no I have not built a quilt. Does anyone want my squares?)
73. Stood in Times Square (no, sadly)
74. Toured the Everglades (no, sadly – wait, snakes. No, gladly.)
75. Been fired from a job (Yeah! no. Laid off, yes.)
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London (yes, way kewl.)
77. Broken a bone (yes, playing softball (catcher) I slid on the wet grass, sat on the ball and broke my coxxic - note, still got the runner out. Broke my right foot parasailing. Note do not parasail on the beach when there is less than 5mph wind, or your brother in law is driving the tow vehicle.)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (yes, gladly)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (truly one of the greatest sites and experiences of the the world, a must do for anyone in the area.)
80. Published a book (I’ve worked on several books that are published…and my name is in them, does that count? Kind of? Like riding the coat tails of others?)
81. Visited the Vatican (really, don’t want to.)
82. Bought a brand new car (over rated experience…twice.)
83. Walked in Jerusalem (this I would like to do)
84. Had your picture in the newspaper (yes, and it wasn’t a wanted posted)
85. Read the entire Bible (yes, but I like to reread the gospels the most)
86. Visited the White House (again, I’m waiting for a personal tour)
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (killed no, prepared yes)
88. Had chickenpox (ha ha yes, of course)
89. Saved someone’s life (yes, I heimliched an elderly woman who was choking on a piece of candy – hey it was at work – in a nursing home. Her daughter still says something kind to me when I see her – that was thirty years ago.)
90. Sat on a jury (several times – you come do despies drunk drivers even more than normal after you hear them say “Excuse me/pardon me/could you repeat that? Fifty times on their arrest tape)
91. Met someone famous (several times, did you know they put their pants on the same way you do, they just do it in a spot light.) My one boast is that George Winston seranaded me on my 50th birthday (no he didn’t know it was my birthday – which made it sweeter)
92. Joined a book club (they never chose books I would have chosen.)
93. Lost a loved one (my father one year ago tomorrow – but he’s not the only one)
94. Had a baby (yes, she is beautiful)
95. Seen the Alamo in person (no, but I’m going)
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (why would people do that?)
97. Been involved in a lawsuit (no)
98. Owned a cell phone (I don’t own a cellphone, my boss owns my cellphone)
99. Been stung by a bee (ouch, yes)
There you go. Now, wasn’t that fun?
See? Blog. Lame.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Days After

I hope your holidays were everything you wanted and more. Despite the fates mine was pretty damn good, filled with love, joy, and most of my kids were able to come home the weekend before for a family gathering. Psam and Burp made it. Miseray and the Brit made it. Poor Seithfrye and the Bo-sox were snowed in Portland.

An early blog (not posted) that I’d written was depressing, negative, and really quiet morose. I don’t’ want to be down I want to be up, positive, and whole. Sometimes the plans we make go awry. Sometimes the plans we make are too intricate. Too involved. Too much. This year I’d really scaled back my plans and regardless they went awry.

Every year I make Kahlua for my family, friends, and even some of my clientele. I made no cookies, no candy, just Kahlua. Four batches in and the deadline for giving the first bottle, I’d realized I had not designed my label. In years past I’d just pulled up a former label and reworked it. This year I designed one in about ten minutes. The blues were pleasing, but it wasn’t until after I’d printed up 24 of them that I saw my flaw. The grey shadow of the Christmas tree is all wrong.

But they work. And really the blues are pleasing.

I put in long days leading up to Christmas day, my plans were falling far behind, and my stress level was mind boggling. Christmas eve day I could feel a meltdown coming on. I was emotional, fully stressed, and heeping more on myself. The answer. Chinese food. I got home from work at 5:30 and Ducky took me out for Chinese. The elixir of life. Okay that and some good love and Kahlua. I came home, baked my pies, and made the vegies for the stuffing and went to bed.

Ducky and I agreed years ago, we travel to his family on Thanksgiving, we stay home for Christmas – the door is open to all. Christmas morning was snowy, but not showy. Psam had to work Christmas night so I am glad it didn’t stick. My mother and Grandmother came for Christmas dinner. My big thing is doing stockings. Everyone contributes; your stocking is fair game anytime after midnight. As we opened presents Christmas afternoon with my mom and grandma I remembered their stockings (this was the first time I’d done one for each of them.)

Side bar: Psam and I adopted Henry on Christmas day, probably twenty years or so ago. She lives in the trailer park my parents use to own, had bought her trailer from them, and became best friends with my mom when her husband passed. Having no children of her own, and step and step grandchildren that want her money but not her, Psam and I wrote out adoption papers and the deed was done. Now she is apart of our family, our ups and downs, our holidays.

So back to stockings. I love stockings, and woah to my surprise at her exclamation and near tears that she’d never, ever had a stocking in her entire life. I mean really, I was floored. How can you go through life and never have been given a stocking? Stockings are for everyone, and then I thought back, my parents didn’t hang stockings, it was all for us kids. Well not in my house. Stockings are for everyone. Christmas is for everyone. So in the after Christmas sale I bought a stocking for next Christmas. Armed with my mom’s key to Henry’s house I will hang the stocking late one night while she is sleeping in her living room. I think that makes a pretty nice gift to myself, don’t you?

Now I need to go package up, and ship my Kahlua Kali.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Victoria’s Secret …The Business of New Math

I am one of those people your accountant told you about: I do not balance my checkbook. Sad, but very true. While in the past this has caused me much woe, I’ve learned to compensate.

During my second marriage I always buffered my balance by rounding every thing up to either…
1) the nearest dollar… or
2) five dollars

The latter was actually the best method when you consider at the time I always paid more bill than I should have, which meant that something would bounce somewhere, some time. My mother, I am sure hangs her head in woe and angst.

In my third marriage (yes I get better with age and repetition) I have learned to just make sure I have a bumper in my accounts. I still over pay my bills. Which is the point of this whole blog.

America is in a financial crisis. Yeah, I know you had no clue until I told you.

While the bra industry is not sagging (pun intended) to my knowledge, I have to question how some companies remain in business. I was a diehard Victoria Secret customer. Their Emma line was smart, sexy, and affordable. Sadly I can no longer be an Emma Line diehard, the brand just doesn’t make their bras big enough, and yes woe is me, no one else makes affordable, sexy bras for women with large breastesesss. I’m sure Ducky would offer to walk around supporting me, but it would get in the way of my typing. And really, manly hands holding up my ponderously, obnoxious bosom is just a fashion faux pas (or wardrobe malfunction) waiting to happen, plus it’s not like I need to add rear cargo. You try typing when you’re being fondled, I have a hard enough time staying on task without diversions.

Yes, and no I was off task. I paid off my last Victoria Secret bill with sadness and began looking for a new brassiere. Last Friday in the mail I receive a check because I over paid my bill. Now I maybe wrong in my calculations, big companies do buy in bulk and therefore trim the pork off the edges of their bills, but really this is ridiculous.

Now keep in mind I am mathematically challenged being the product of the 1970’s “New Math” Fiasco. Ergo my calculations could be flawed…but not by much. Here is my estimates for Victoria’s Secret to refund my over paid bill (which I paid electronically) are as follows…

1) Envelope - .09 cents
2) Check - .12 cents
3) Office time – this is already a wash so let’s say 1 minute @ $10 an hour is .166 cents
4) Bulk postage .26 cents

Therefore Victoria’s Secret spent approximately .63 cents refunding my over payment of six cents. And I can’t even shop there anymore. If they kept my six cents maybe they could invest in someone to figure out the dimensions of a size “too big, old woman ponderous boobs” so they could keep my business. Maybe I should send them a plaster cast of Ducky’s hands.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Talk Thursday: Colourful Celebration

This is all about me. I love COLOUR which doesn’t explain why most of my walls are white. I love Christmas lights, Christmas trees, Christmas ornaments, and Christmas cookies with lots of cream cheese frosting (hint, hint Pam.)

Saturday my mom, Pinecone, and I met in Eugene for lunch and a wee bit of Christmas shopping (which translates in to a two hour lunch and two hours of wandering around World Market in lust.) Lunch was an incredibly indulgent affair that included three glasses of non-ice tea (just for me,) two huge plates of nachos (one for me and one for mom) and lots of girl talk. The two hours in World Market included oohing and aahing over teapots, boxes of tea, assorted napkins, Cadbury chocolate, and a new entry table for my mom.

All this whiling about was to burn enough time to be able to see all the Christmas lights lit up on the 60 plus mile drive home. There is one gentleman at the eastern base of Badger Mountain (the state calls it Cougar Pass, but everyone else knows it as Badger Mountain – just saying) this man goes all out. It began with a few candy cane striped trees, now it’s a colourful Christmas wonderland. The lights go up beginning on Thanksgiving (I know this because three trees were lit that Thursday night.) Saturday night the lights were Fabulous with an incredible capital F. Walton had gone all out with five or six houses in the middle of nowhere lit bright enough to be noticed from the International Space Station.

Sunday was spent decorating the tree. It used to be our ornaments were mostly handmade and treasures from my childhood. Today I have developed a love of red and crystal. When we built our new room (Ducky calls it the Christmas room) we bought a prelit Christmas tree, the lights are all clear and frosted to which I add a string of twinkling coloured lights (for Ducky – he would like more twinkle.) My sister several years ago gave me a collection of spun glass hearts, then I bought some blown glass angels, to which my mom added three more. And what is this pre occupation with red beads? I am not partial to the colour red, but red beads on my tree – in love. Red beads in my garland – in love. Deep red or burgundy Christmas balls – frosted or satin in texture – in love. And when did this pre-occupation with garland begin? I have no clue but I spend hours putting up garland and red beads. Garland and red and beige ornaments. Garland and Christmas lights. It’s become un-proportional and I totally love it.

Over the last few holiday seasons Ducky’s aunt and uncle, Turg and Veggie (you had to be there,) have gifted us a house for a village scene. This is the first year I have put it all together (not successfully), plugged it in to watch the festive Victorian scene on my table.

The pointsettias are red, and pink, and white (and a little bruised.) The bowl of ornaments on my table are gold and green, and gorgeous reds – with yes, red beads. But the outside of my boring. No lights. No garland. And the only red beads are on the door swag. Maybe this weekend the colourful lights and cedar boughs will go up. We’ll see.

I wish you a happy, colour filled holiday season.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Talk Thursday: The Gift

Love maybe the greatest gift a parent can give their child. It is the greatest gift we can give of ourselves to the ones that are close to us, those we share all aspects of our lives. It is love that makes the world go round, or so I have heard it said many times before.

But I believe the second greatest gift my parents ever gave me was my independence. All the while they were giving me the best of themselves they were teaching me to stand on my own two feet. To not wait for someone else to do it for me, but to jump in and do it for myself. To dare to be capable, dependable, independent not hamstrung by my gender, halted by my momentary circumstances, or stopped cold by someone else’s reality. My parents did not chain us to them through family traditions, but said to us, “You have a family now make your own traditions, rejoice in your family, and love with your whole hearts.”

Or maybe that gift was curiosity? It drives my husband crazy when he ask me a question and I run to my almanac, dictionary, or computer to find out the answer because I didn’t know when he asked. I have to know. Not to be a know it all, but because what good is this intelligence God gave me, this thirst for knowledge and understanding if I have no curiosity to learn more? I want to learn, I want to know more, I want to understand the whys and wherefores, and the what to’s. I want to know that Venus is never more than 48 degrees from the Sun. Or that Northern ocean currents runs clockwise (for the most part) and yet southern ocean currents run counter clockwise. I want to know that the group T’Pau was named after a Vulcan Princess on Star Trek, that Peter Noone named his group Herman’s Hermits, because all the good band names were taken. That David Bowie is considered the Chameleon of Rock, Jim Morrison was nicknamed the Iguana, or Marc Bolan the lead singer of T-Rex.

Could that second special gift have been the compassion for others that I feel? I remember once my father stopping to give money to a vet standing on the side of Highway 101 in Northern California, back when a homeless vet was really a homeless Vet. Today I always wonder; I maybe compassionate but I am also cautious. Or the time he stopped to pick up a hitch hiking Sailor and got mugged for the effort. He never gave up believing in people, he always seemed to put himself in their shoes. I remember my mother helping a woman down the street leave her abusive husband; I also remember not turning her back on her when she went back (she didn’t help her again, but she didn’t give up on her either.)

How do you measure the value of one gift over that of another? I’m not sure you can. What I do know is that the greatest gifts are not the ones you can hold in your hands (well unless it’s a grandchild.) They are not material in substance, nor limited in quantity, just by their quality and intent. They are not given with strings; they are given with a whole and pure heart. They are not gifts that are given with an expectant return, but are given with a thought of paying it forward. Those of us who receive these gifts incredibly blessed; those who can give those gifts of themselves are blessed even more.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Playing for Change

This evening as I gathered music news for tomorrow's airshift, I made my usual stop at Rolling Stone's Rock Daily and found this great clip.

Ben E. King never intended to record Stand By Me the world would be a less soulful place had he not. The song paid him back by becoming his biggest hit. Stand by Me hit number one in 1961 and has long since gone gold. It reappeared in the top ten again, this time in 1986 when it was featured in the film of the same name. I think the Playing for Change version does it heart warming, toe tapping, sing a long justice. And it's a partner of RedWire. I hope you enjoy.

Sith, and toe tapping