Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Thank you to Petula, a wonderful new blog friend who inspires me on a daily basis through her words and thoughts. I'm with you, Petula, on your struggles, changes, and celebrations. I'm glad to be going on this crazy blog ride with you. Thanks for all of the inspiration this year.
Another thank you goes to Jo, who is also a huge blog inspiration. Thanks for the photography encouragement and information. I love visiting your blog each day to see what's going on next. I like that we both have band teens (that play trumpet!) and can connect on many levels. I appreciate your positive comments on my blog that encourage me in whatever craziness I'm in for the moment.
Oh, I think I have to mention 5 things I'm addicted to--I guess that comes with being "fabulous":
1. Blogging (sheesh, would have never thought.....)
2. Mom Blakeman pulled cremes (I have to remember to send her that note about possibly making them with a vodka center)
3. Sweet kitties and yes, even grumpy ol' Grace
4. lemon drop martini's (uh oh, there seems to be a liquor theme going here....)
5. Cumberland Falls for vacation (Hee Haw! I cannot wait until July!)
I'm going to pass this award on to JD because she is another blogger that cracks me up! Completely. Every day.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
The big "hit" was the catnip filled scratching box that the cats are forced to share. Hobbes snagged it orginally, then Grace asserts her Alpha Cat status and whacks him on the head to gain control of the cardboard prize. Notice poor Hobbes, ears folded in submission, cowering from her wicked pounding. Nothing like the Christmas spirit in the Kautz house.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Thanks, Jo, for the Major Award. Geesh, I think I'm up to two now and it's kinda like a Sally Field moment--"You like me. You really like me!" Well, maybe not so much, but it felt good for the moment. It's been almost a year now that I've been doing this blogging thing, and it's good to know that someone is out there reading. And I've met some really great peeps--Jo, included. They make me smile, and often.
I'm going to bestow my award to Cardiogirl, who absolutely is my sister-blogger--even if she doesn't know it. She daily cracks me up and makes me dredge up some really horrendous memories from my youth , especially my awkward teen years. Well, at least she makes me feel like my childhood wasn't all that weird in comparison and that my family wasn't the only psycho-nuts in the universe. When I read her blog, I somehow feel like I'm home--you know, with all the weird relatives and the I'm-afraid-to-admit stuff that we do/did.
Here is just a small sample of weirdness that was my life:
1) I come home from college with one of those little green lizards that roam the wilds of Florida as a pet and my mom goes all psycho. She's actually screaming endlessly about the "waste of electricity" pointing to his 10 watt bulb on his warming light that I have to keep glowing so he doesn't freeze to death in Chicago. Ok, I'll go unplug every alarm clock in the place while I'm at it, Mom.
2) The last time my mom updated the wallpaper in her main bathroom was in 1981. I'm NOT even kidding. "It's fine" she says, justifying the fact that it is taking itself off the walls.
3) I was forced to wear polyester pant suits to school when I was in junior high. Jeans were "for poor people" was the excuse. I don't think we were rich, because if we were, I KNOW I would have had some really, really cool jeans to wear to school like everyone else. Talk about scarred for life! It was all a front, people. I'll bet you were all fooled by all of that double knit polyester I was sporting.
4) My brother and I would rush to the back of the station wagon while mom was filling the tank with good 'ol "regular" gasoline to get a whiff of the fumes. Ummmm, those fumes were delicious! I think it explains a lot, doesn't it?
The list is endless, but thanks to Cardiogirl, I'm embracing my past, no matter how weird it was. It just all makes me wonder what my kids will remember from their youth and blame me for.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Hurricane? Typhoon? Tsuanami? Nah--it's just the group of us gals getting together for a chick weekend! Nobody is safe and there isn't enough liquor when we get together. The last time we did this was last year, New York City for Fleet Week, so we are due. I cannot wait to bond with the Fisher girls and Fain. I hear rumblings that Angie is flying out too, which would make it a hoot times two.
I think I saw on the news that the Governor has declared a warning............
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Instead, we are off to the Donahue Botanical Gardens, which is just as lovely in the snow-covered winter as it is in the summer. Except that it is raining in Chicago today--thunder and all--and the world is a muddy, icky mess. It will be nice to see the cousins that I haven't seen in a long time and going there is a guaranteed hoot. Especially since we are bringing all of the new Wii games that we got for Christmas.
If you are like me in these crazy holiday weeks, I'm stuffed to the brim, cannot possibly drink another cup of coffee, and have the permanent bloat. We are going from one festivity to the next, visiting with family and friends galore, and enjoying every possible minute. It is two weeks of party bliss and we're exhausted--but in a good kind of way.
Reality sets in with a thunk on Monday morning as Joe sets off for his new job and his new commute on the train into the city. I may even wander into the office next week, but that idea is growing more and more dim as I'm getting used to the alarm not going off and Hobbes is actually learning that an 8:00 wake-up time is nice.
I hope you are all having as much fun as we.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Kenwood Liquors is the busiest liquor store in the universe. They have the best prices and therefore, there are non-stop crowds at this very tiny store. And it isn't even just days before Christmas that it is busy--I am not lying when I tell you I have been there as early as 8:00 a.m. on a weekday and there isn't a parking space. (I was planning a party--not boozing it up that early, haters) Parking two blocks down is norm, and you are lucky if you can grab a cart on your way out to haul your bounty through the residential neighborhood in which it sits. It's all class really.
Now, when you get inside Kenwood, it isn't any better. There are 700 employees, all HOT (according to Em) young guys moving cases and cases of beer and assorted liquor from one end of the store to the other. I'm not sure why they are always moving it, but they do and it is very inconvenient to the shoppers. And the shoppers--sheesh, there are millions of folks rushing, grabbing this bottle and that one. Running from one case of beer to the mixers. No matter where I stand in this place I am in the way of someone. It is very stressful. There is no lingering in the vodka section (which is my favorite thing to do at Binny's), or reading a label in the wine department. There is no deciding on which beer to get-- you have to MOVE and move quick in this place. There is a general "time is money" kind of atmosphere here, and you have to know what you want, grab it, and get the heck out of there. It is very stressful. Cheap, but stressful.
So, this is Em's first experience at Kenwood, and Joe prepared her for the event. "Just stand to the side" he warned her, "and don't get in the way of the dude with the dolly." I got the whole story when she got home. Her eyes like saucers, she proceded to replay her story of Kenwood and how long the lines were. I think she was scarred for life and if that doesn't encourage her not to drink, I don't know what else will.
A couple nights later finds the family sitting solemnly at Christmas mass at our church. We got there early to beat the throngs of families that all meet for a quick mass before their holiday parties begin. It is kinda fun to go early as you get to see everyone in their tacky Christmas sweaters, all dolled up for Jesus. There are the pretty young things waiting to get this done and over with, the dads that are dragged to church for the second time this year (Easter being number one), and those grandmas to whom this is the highlight of the week--church in the middle of the week. There was the woman with the big head and the little kid who screamed through the whole mass. It was lovely really, and I think I had enough characters in which to fill a whole book.
We prayed, sang, and reflected. Then it was time for communion and we all got up in orderly fashion. The lines were long and it was mass confusion because there were so many people giving out communion and wine. Our line was sort of taken over by the line for the wine, so there was a lot of manuevering to get in, out, or around that crazy wine line. Which leads to this:
This whole everybody-drinks-out-of-one-glass-at-church thing always amazes me anyway. WHAT IS THE DEAL?! I'm am completely baffled at the thought of being full throttle into the cold and flu season and these people willingly drink out of the same glass with 100 other complete strangers! Do they really think that little cotton handkerchief that they wipe the edge with is really going to sterilize it? What about backwash? What about cold sores? Ick! And my typical Sunday question: If they had a glass in K-Mart full of wine, would you drink it after 100 other people put their lips on it?! Do these darned Catholics really believe that because the wine is "holy" that it would somehow not carry disgusting germs? I firmly believe that if you banish this drinking out of one glass thing at church there would be no need for flu shots anymore. Yuck, yuck, yuck!
Back to the story:
Whew. Anyway. We get back to our seats with our lives after that craziness called "communion" and Em leans over to me. "It was just like Kenwood!" she whispers. "The wine line was as crazy as Kenwood!" To which we both bust up. Nice. We're supposed to be praying and Em is cracking jokes about the "wine line". She dodged it like I did, so I guess my Kenwood-discourages-drinking theory worked . That's my daughter. Well, at least we'll be going to hell together.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Every year from then on, I would take extreme care to unwrap the tissue paper, making sure nobody fell out unexpectantly and god forbid, shatter on the floor. Yes, I could probably replace it with a store bought Lladro, but it wouldn't be the same. This set is irreplaceable to me because someone did a really, really beautiful job in making these figures. It's sort of priceless and irreplaceable in a sense.
When the kids were little and all full of the I-wanna-touch-everything, I would carefully bring my nativity box out and call the children. I think I even called in Joe too, this was a very special moment each year and we all needed to be there.
I would make sure they were all sitting and watching carefully. I would slowly unwrap the pieces, holding each up, one at a time for each family member to see--not touch. And then I would tell them my version of the Christmas story.
I would explain who each person was and why they were part of the nativity. "Here is Mary, the mother of god" I would say, "and this is Joseph, his father." Oh, those kids (including Joe) were so in awe of the figures gleaming in the Christmas lights. "And this is the cow and the donkey that were present when Jesus was born" I would go on, "these are the three wise men who came to see the newborn king." And after each piece was held out for family display and up-close view, I would gently place them in the wooden manger that was set in our cabinet in the living room. That's when the best part comes in....
"This is Mommy's very favorite thing in the whole world, " I would start wrapping up my annual holiday story, "and if you touch this, you die. If you want to see it, you know, like touch it, you have to ask for Mommy to help you. If you dare to touch it when I'm not around, just be prepared to die." To which I think I saw Joe dab his eye with a kleenex--I think it just touched him to hear my ending to the Christmas story each year. It was either that or just plain fear. But you know what? I still have that nativity set and nobody has dared to break it. It is whole and perfect today as the day I bought it.
On that happy note and warm holiday Kautz Family story, I'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I have been blessed by your friendship, inspired by your photos and writings, and am so very lucky to have this strange and wonderful blog experience with you. I treasure each day and Christmas just seems to be the best time to stop and appreciate what I have--just like my nativity pieces.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
So, I've found a fun one by Joanna who's got a great blog. She's posted a "favorite thing" meme the other day and I decided to join in. Here's how it goes: You are assigned a letter and you have to list 10 tens starting with that letter that you like. If you want to participate, I will assign you the first letter of your first name, 'cuz I'm waaayyy to busy to be assigning letters to the masses of readers that I'm posting to (yeah, right). Well, good luck.
My given letter was "T". Crap. I'm scrambling big time now.
10) Toothpaste. Lame, I know. But really, it is one mediocre thing in life that I truly appreciate. Do you know those days when your family is driving you nuts? You know, when their meer existance is like nails on a chalkboard. Imagine you've been in the same 5 rooms together for days because there is a blizzard outside and you can't go anywhere. Imagine the Ingalls family on the prairie for months. Now imagine this with no toothpaste--oh god, kill me now. Not only will they annoy you, but they will have stinky breath too. Ugh.
9) Typing class in high school. The one true class that has really helped me in adulthood. Now they call it "keyboarding", like it is cool or something. All I know is that I never once use those stupid "proofs" from geometry in everyday life, but I'm typing like a demon DAILY.
8) Tide laundry detergent. OMG if I don't do at least a load of laundry every single day of my life! I'm absolutely lost on vacation without my washing machine, dryer and Tide. Not that I'm particularly fond of any one soap, it's just what I use and it's good. I'm totally in panic mode if I have less than a third left in the bottle. If you are a mom, you know the feeling.
7) Time with my kids. Sappy, I know. But really, I was sooo fortunate to be a stay-at-home-mom for all of those lego-ridden, Barbie-laden years of my children's youth. I never missed a game, dance recital, school party, concert, sick day, etc. because Joe had a really good job. There were days I questioned this existance, but it is now that I'm really glad I did it. Even if I had to be "Miss Lin" of Miss Lin's Doll Hair Beauty Emporium.
6) Tinfoil. This is a shout out for Joe, the master of tinfoil in our home. The man is downright artistic in his origami creations with the stuff. He wraps everything and anything in it. It is scary, really. I threaten to buy him a roll for Christmas every year. And you know, I think he would love it.
5) Trumpet. Oooh, without Col playing the trumpet, there would be no marching band in my life. I cannot imagine what I missed out on, but I'll tell you, it is a HUGE part of our high school life. I love the band parents, Mr. P, and all of those crazy, talented kids that make fall so much fun. I actually play the CD from our fall show in the car these days.
4) The Police. Yes, it was this past year that we went to see them in concert. Yes, they were great. And yes, Sting has still got it on! I was going to list his warm-up act, Elvis Costello, too, but he doesn't begin with "T" and I think if I called him The Elvis Costello it would be considered cheating. Same goes with The Walmart, The Oreck, etc. --but I thought about it.
3) Technology. Geesh, I love my computer, the internet, the Wii, and the new laptop that we should be getting any minute (hey, is that the Fed Ex guy?) . Where would we be without all of this neat stuff? Ok, so I don't understand half of it and am slightly not interested in most of it, but I'm glad that it is here if I want it AND I have a teenage son who knows what all of this stuff is and how it works.
2) Tammy! A girl's besty! Where would I be without my pally?! She is the sweetest thing ever from the best family ever. I treasure our times together and truly miss her when we are apart. I missed her family coming at Thanksgiving and cannot wait for July when The Fisher Girls plus Fain and Me are together drinking lemon drop martinis together in a cabin. She's a great "T"!
1) Tiger-stiped kitten, Hobbes. He is the giant band-aid for my heart after the loss of my dear sweet Hen. He is the sweetest thing, the purrmeister, the cuddle-button extraordinaire and troublemaker big-time in a 7 pound casing. I swear he has even won over/wore down Grace too, as there isn't as much hissing and spitting going on anymore. He makes me smile, even if I'm sleeping and he's got to march on my throat.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I won/stole this major award from Petula today. I think she gave it to me. Anyway, I'm honored and all, but I don't know what the heck it says and Colin, who has Spanish 3 is still sleeping, so we won't really know if it is anything good until....oh......somewhere around 11:30 a.m., which is lunchtime as far as I'm concerned. I'm thinking it's something good or Cartoon Gal wouldn't be smiling, unless she is evil like some people I know that smile in your face and then are all evil-like behind your back or kinda in your face. No names mentioned--but you know who you are evil people. But stick that major award in your drawer of other reasons I drive you crazy! Boo Hoo Ha ha! (That's my evil laugh)
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Anywho, Hobbes and I are camped out at the kitchen table doing, of all things, a puzzle. And you know what I realized? A) It takes some stomach muscles to lean over to look for pieces and B) Hobbes is not a good help when it comes to puzzles. Magically pieces seem to find the floor more than their companions. I've got some funky Christmas tunes going, I'm singing along, and the wreath is pounding on the window from the wind. Or it's wanting to come in and I'm not sure I blame it.
The cold is wicked today and even Hobbes isn't daring his ususal dash out the door. Lately that is his new trick. One slight opening in the door and he's out, like a bullet, with his anti-grab-me shield set on high, and heads for the open yard. "Go, pal, " I'm yelling for the neighborhood to hear, "go as far as your warm paws will carry you. And Godspeed, knucklehead". To which he turns around just as fast and heads into the house. If that is any indicator on how cold it is in Chicago right now.......it is COLD!!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
You know what I love at the end of a year? I love and look forward to all of those "Year in review" kinda shows--the ones where they show you all the things that went on this year that you've forgotten about already. We sit and watch them go through all of the important news stories that came and went, all the while giving my brain a nasty reminder that I can't remember too much anymore.
The absolute best part of those shows though, are the part where they go through the list of all the people in the media that have died this year. They have lovely portraits of them from days gone by, or from when they were in their heyday, or if they aren't too well known--from the time when you'd remember them most, like a movie scene or something. It's kinda sad to see all that passing, but it's a nice way to remember them. I love when I see someone up there on the screen and I go "Oh, I thought they died years ago" or "Oh--they died this year?". Admit it, we all do it.
In today's paper, which I read online, I was flipping through the current end-of-the-year-dead-list. We still have a week or so left to the year, so I viewed this as a precursor to the "real" list, because anyone can go between now and then--you never know. I think there was something like 110 peeps on there already, so it took a few minutes to drill through them. So as I'm flipping, I start to read about the pictured deceased, 'cuz I really wasn't sure who some of these folks were. As I was reading, I started to notice some themes running through the obituaries, that I thought was interesting.
1) Cancer. Ok, so a dear friend was diagnosed this week, and perhaps I'm a little sensitive to the issue, but sheesh, there is a lot of cancer out there. Maybe there always was, and due to the normalcy of autopsies nowadays, people don't die of "old age" like they used to--it seems to fall under the category of cancer--a lot.
2) Complications of surgery--Eek! Now I'm freaking out about the upcoming lump-be-gone hernia surgery I'm going to have in January. I'm secretly wondering if anyone has ever coded while having their hernia repaired. I doubt it, but it just gives me one more thing to worry unnecessarily about.
3) Dementia/Altzheimer's--Lotta this going on too. I think Estelle Getty from "Golden Girls" was one--I don't remember.
4) Suicide--Lots (too many, really) of writer's/artists in this category. Talk about suffering for your art, sheesh. And my mother says I'm dramatic.
5) Death by Hotel Room--This was my favorite category. Do you ever stop to think about how many people are found dead in their hotel rooms?! OMG! And do they like totally refurbish those rooms when someone dies in there? Do they change out the mattress and the box spring? It's got me thinking. Really. What about the pillows? I think you could really scrub the bathroom down and such, but what about the rest of the place? And I'm not even talking about something gruesome like murder or anything--I'm just thinking drug overdose or heart-attack. I've always disliked hotel rooms because I think they are hiding all kinds of weird germs, but this one has completely freaked me out. Great, add another worry to the "unnecessary" list.
As I'm reading these things and seeing on how all of these folks went out, I'm thinking about my own demise. Well, doesn't everyone?! I think we all hope it is sudden--in our sleep, where you just close your eyes one moment and drift off to the white light the next. Maybe it would be nice to say one last goodbye to your loved ones, but most would prefer it as a surprise attack.
Me--I'm thinking I want to go out like a hydrangea. I want to go out catching snowflakes on my tongue.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Look how cute my baby was! I was flipping through photos and realized that Hobbes is growing into a young man/cat--look how much he has changed! (Look at the next photo) I think we are in the rebellious teenage years if we do the counting in cat years. Geesh, I hope he doesn't want to drive......
It's funny how one saying from my mom is one that seems most appropriate now--well, for my life actually. "If you are going to stand up for something, be prepared to stand alone" seems to be my theme, you know, if people had themes to their lives. (Which I think we do, but that's another whole blog or two. ) I'm the rebel. The troublemaker. The questioner. The reformer. The changer. I'm the one the parents from school call to fire up and ask for change. I'm the one who questions the Superintendent about his latest hairbrain scheme. I'm the person they look to when everyone else is too scared to speak up. I am not afraid to give my opinion (okay--quit head nodding--I see you) and I'm not afraid to say what I strongly believe.
I have this invisible dividing line in my life--stand to the right if you like me, stand to the left if you don't. It might just be easier to be on the right, because god knows, the line on the left is long. Very long. But that's okay. I like me and believe it or not, there are one, perhaps two of you out there who like me too. There are a couple who find me entertaining and I like you--you get it, you see--don't take me too seriously. There are even a few who see through the armadilloesque armor to see that I'm actually kind, very perceptive, and extremely sensitive. I'm even insecure, but I don't let that show too often. I am me--complicated and confused, passionate, tender, and tough as nails.
When I first started this blog, I was tentative and unsure. It was scary to put myself out on that rickety limb of doom, like Grace on the fence. Initially I only posted well-thought out essays, things that were safe and easy to read. They didn't strike feelings or opinions in my readers, they were pure entertainment and feel-good stories. I have grown in my year of blogging, and that includes my boundaries that I had set initially. How could I express myself to the world if I constricted myself or contained my thoughts and feelings? Over time, the blog began to grow and I became more brave and my postings less safe.
It is hard to open yourself and allow your thoughts and feelings to show. Too many of us hide behind the safety net, and no one really knows who the real you is. But, it's safe that way--easy. It is hard to put yourself out there, opening yourself for criticism and condemnation. I have done both here, and I have taken some heat for it, which I expect and accept. But, that is me, my life, and therefore, my blog.
I am human and so there will be days when I'm cracking myself up with something silly the cat has done or tell you some nutty thing Joe is saying. I will share when I am sad or mad, when I am disappointed, or when I am just plain fuming. I wish I could be witty and funny every single day that you stop by, but that's not me. When I have something to say, like my posting the other day about Katz, I will share. So, I cannot be entertaining that day--that's the pot luck of being me.
I appreciate your comments and welcome them--positive or negative. I hope to make you smile, laugh, think, or perhaps disagree with me. If you hate what I wrote, say why--I like opinions, really. I don't intentially mean to offend, but when you have a big yapper, things don't always come out like I mean them to--I'll just apologize now. I appreciate that you stop by to read the next chapter and even bookmark this wacky page to read. I'm relieved to know that someone is out there--even if you think I'm goofy.
My favorite housecleaning/quilting/project-doing CD is the soundtrack from "Rent". It is loaded with great songs in which to sing with, and solos galore for belting out while vacuuming and nobodys around to have their eardrums pierced. One favorite is "Take Me or Leave Me" and I think, if Grace could sing, she'd be doing this number with me......
"Take me for what I am
Who I was meant to be
And if you give a damn
Take me, Baby, or leave me"
I think it's my favorite because it's sort of an anthem. When I'm feeling low and hated, there is comfort in those words. And when you are feeling confident and good about yourself, it is just fun to sing......loud.
You know what's funny--Katz wrote almost the identical thing on his blog yesterday after receiving cabillions of hate emails regarding his choice to slaughter his animals. Hmmm........
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Here's a little shout out to laala, my newest follower. She isn't so fond of holiday songs, and really, I'm not either. I like the new, refurbished, or just plain weird ones. I like to toss them in with the holiday mix to keep it from being just background noise.
This is a great one when you are completely fried--from battling overcrowded hot stores, too many places to be at once, one too many cards to send, or maybe just too many parties that you don't want to go to but have to anyway. Imagine me pantomiming a graceful skating routine in my kitchen to Joni Mitchell. It's lovely, really. Cracks the family up every time.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
This is how Hobbes prefers to sleep each night--except he trades off between me and Em. Homeboy is a player, switching all night long between the two girls of the house--never the boys. Go figure. He just cannot get close enough and insists on sleeping on your neck or as close to your face as possible. A little much as you try to turn over or adjust the pillow. Wouldn't be so bad except he has to turn the motor on high while he does this. Arrghh.
I never thought I'd feel disdain for you. Really. I have been a reader/fan for awhile now, ever since the mountain cabin and the subsequent move to the farm. I've tolerated the dogs--smelly and barfing. I've patiently stayed with you through your soul searching and temporary (?) bout with depression. I've bought your books and emailed you support. I've even taken a ride with you on every endeavor--from Anthony ( your "friend" who has mysteriously disappeared), to the lady who makes ugly quilts, to hospice, to the creative writing class at the high school. I've been there, pally, and I thought it all good fun.
Things have changed recently, and I believe the true colors are showing. What I see bothers me and I don't think I want to ride along anymore. There are some huge cracks in that there armor you wear, and although I always knew you were human, I didn't think you were heartless--until yesterday.
I can fully understand that you needed to downsize the farm, I completely get that in this economy. I can understand your shipping the goats off to a good home, they are a lot of work and are destructive little guys. I can see why you needed to re-home two donkeys, because four are just too many. But slaughtering your steer and two cows?! Slaughtering?!?! I am heartsick.
I am not a naive city girl--I completely understand farm mentality. I understand that cows and chickens, sheep and pigs are not pets. They are raised for food and hides. I understand that farmers do not raise "pets" but breed animals for meat and to earn a living. But you, Jon, are not a farmer--not in the smallest sense of the word. You did not take in those three animals under the pretext of breeding or raising them for market. No--you took them in to "save" them from slaughter (your words, not mine). You fed them chocolate covered donuts and read them poetry. You took their photos and wrote about them to sell books. You had cute nicknames like "the Honeymooners" and "Stinkyface" for the three. You refered to them as "pets" numerous times, although you did question yourself constantly about that. I don't think you ever truly knew yourself why you had them, but I guess that's where the problem comes in for me.
There are too many animal shelters in this country, absolutely loaded with unwanted animals. There are far too many breeds that are bought without thought because they are "cute" without regard to their needs or demands. There are bunnies bought at Easter because they are "adorable". There are ferrets left at the shelter because they "stink". There are big dogs, little dogs, and middle-sized dogs dropped off because "we can't handle him". Cats are left homeless because "we had a baby" or "Susie has allergies". There are millions of homeless, neglected animals killed each day because of a human's poor choice and planning. And you, Jon, are doing the same. You should not have taken these three animals in, thinking, foolishly, that you could keep them as pets.
I kept thinking how Elvis felt, separated from his "girlfriend", Luna, to be slaughtered. I imagine his huge beautiful brown eyes seeing his killer approaching and the fear he must have felt in his last moments. I cannot imagine sending him off with a donut and knowing he would be killed--I just don't get that part. I only wish that you were made to witness the horrendous act, and not sit, protected from such ugliness on your comfy chair, thinking you did right by your "friends". You can ease your guilt by saying you would donate the meat to a homeless shelter, but that doesn't work for me. Your true colors of friendship, pet ownership and responsibility to the creatures of this lovely green Earth have been tarnished in my mind.
So, I'll have to move on, my friend. I will still read some postings, but know that the writing isn't as lovely, the photos not so brilliant, and the thoughts not so profound anymore.
P.S. I don't love dogs
Sunday, December 14, 2008
As we are putting up the real tree in the family room today, I can only imagine what wackiness will transpire. We are not even taking the train village that usually sits under the tree out from the attic this year--no use setting the little guy up for failure. There will be the nicer ornaments way up high, hopefully out of kitten reach, with the non-destructive and/or plastic ornaments nearest to the bottom. We've been through 3 kittens in the last 5 years and we are nearly experts at kitten-proofing the thing.
Yes, I expect ornaments to be swatted at, knocked off the tree and found under the entertainment center, and a kitten with Christmas tree water breath--I'm just hoping the darned thing is standing for Christmas morning!
It's going to be a long day.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
There is nothing sacred when you share a home with a kitten. Oh yeah, I know puppies have their faults too--mainly chewing everything--but kittens sorta win out when it comes to overall destruction. Kittens have those horrible razor-sharp kitten teeth that bite you everywhere--including your nose if you are not careful. They have 18 really, really sharp claws that go directly into your clothing, past the many layers of flesh, directly into the bone of his victim/loved one--mostly in the name of fun. It's hard to get used to, really.
Kittens also jump, high, and onto things and places you don't want them to. Hobbes is the master of jumping, beating out the high marks of both Ruth and Henry, but I suspect their invisible heart defects played a roll in that. He appears everywhere and anywhere, scaring the crap out of unsuspecting humans and cats alike. Poor Grace is terrified to leave the safety of her chair in the bedroom for the numerous attacks from high that she has suffered. It isn't uncommon to find him balanced precariously on the edge of the fishtank just to sneak a glance at his favorite fish, Sharkbait. He pops up to see what's in your breakfast bowl, on the windowsill, on the counters (yuck), and into the shower--yes, while it is running. You never know where that stripey face is going to appear next.
The worst is the sneak attacks. Em is terrified to enter the family room if it is dark. No, not monsters--just Hobbes. He still fits under the entertainment center, although I think he is outgrowing that quickly. Like "Saw" or any of those "Freddy" horror movies of the 80's, walking past the couch is deadly--you can almost hear the scary music playing in the background. Innocently, you may just be setting your coffee down, fluffing the pillows, and grabbing a blanket to relax for the evening, when out of the blue, a stripey paw reaches out from under the couch and GRABS your ankles! It surprises the heck out of everyone and there are numerous screams from the direction of the family room routinely. We live a horror flick daily, it wrecks havoc on your sense of calm.
Hobbes lost 2 teeth today, which means we are a third of the way there before we get back to whole rolls of toilet paper. Their teeth are really a ridge of teeth that are one piece along side either side of their mouths, on the top and bottom. There are also the two incisors in the front, that will fall out too--just like humans, and yes, you do find them around the house. It's a big deal for kitten owners, as it means the days of using of your arms for chew toys are soon about to end. Can't come soon enough for me.
Friday, December 12, 2008
I'm called into Brie's office (get it? Big Cheese?) and she says that she wants to talk with me. I look at the clock and see that it is not the end of the day--the time that most people get fired. I'm okay there. I didn't do anything to get into trouble--see the whole above paragraph. There's nobody to get in trouble with. I'm okay there too. But what scares me is the silly grin she wears on her face. Her eyes are all wide with excitement and I am almost cringing deep inside for fear of what I am about to be met with. It's usually not a good sign when she's all this excited. But, I sit down anyway and put my sack lunch on my lap very professionally--I mean, if professionals brought their lunches to work in brown paper bags.
"Can you take over the company newsletter?" she asks. Ok, so I was kinda asked this in the beginning stages of my being hired initially, but it never came up again, so I thought it was just an idea that got lost somewhere. I was pretty much in shock. It was like a huge bomb was just dropped in the office.
"I'll try" I answer tentatively. This is pretty big, you see. It is an actual sent-out-to-be-printed-in-three-languages-and-then-passed-out-to-2700-employees-all-over-the-country kinda thing, so I'm a little shaken. I'm excited, but then again...........
"No! No!" she's all excited again. "I want you to say YES! YES, I can!" she's jumping in her seat.
"Okay. Yes. Yes, I can" I say, but not quite as excited as she. I couldn't get my eyes to be that buggy with excitement at work--maybe at the Police concert, but not work.
So we start to discuss how we are going to go about taking this out of the hands of some old dude who does it now. He is crabby and nasty and writes about the weirdest stuff. He yells at everyone about missing deadlines and then procedes to ignore what they send and "makes shit up" (as someone once told me). I guess I can't do worse than that. We go on to plan on whether this should be bi-monthly or quarterly, who I should contact and how for stories, and what kind of pictures I should include, etc.--I think I must have looked like a complete fool sitting there with my mouth open.
I am very excited to say the least. I'm very honored to have been given such a huge undertaking so early in my career as 1) an employee at the company and 2) as a writer. I'm counting it as "writing" work because A) it will be published bi-monthly and B) technically, I am getting paid for writing it. I'm counting it --big time!
It will be a curious challenge for me. To write what others will want to read, make it applicable to a relative topic, and I have to be nice. It's the last part that concerns me. I don't think I can swear or put in silly comments here or there. I cannot give my opinion or make fun of the office goofy guy or the wacky janitor who vacuums under my feet while I work. This will mean I will no longer have a quiet phone or that nobody knows me. I'll be Lin-you-know-she-does-the-newsletter. That will be my official title I think.
Wish me luck. Send me ideas, thoughts, or suggestions, 'cuz God knows I'll be needing them. I promise--no articles on Poprah, Katz, or Hobbes. No cute photos of the kitten flushing the toilet or Col rolling his eyes. I'll be downright boring and corporate, and...........published.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
You know things are in the crapper when your governor is in the clink. Interesting how all of that played out yesterday, but alas, are any of us surprised? I told the bell-ringer guy outside of Michael's yesterday and he actually rang his bell extra loud and yelled "Praise the Lord!". It was kinda funny.
Ok, so Poprah is fat. Why does she need to tell us that? And why is that news that the media seems to think we care about? Tell me why that could possibly be a story on the 10:00 news. Criminy--I could have saved her the time and told her myself. It's okay--we all go up and down with our weight. It's just not normal to tell the media. We don't all care, Oprah, really.
So, I've got me a "Lovely Lady Lump" as Fergie would sing. (Isn't that the weirdest song?!) Ohhh, TMI you say. Hey, while Oprah is being open about things, I figured I can too. Not that anyone cares, but I'm back in for surgery in the next few weeks--got a hernia. God knows where that came from, but I nearly kissed the doctor when she said "take it easy" and "no sit-ups". Hooray! Gosh, now I'll have to bail on Jo who is doing 31 days of push-ups and sit-ups to make a change. Sorry, pally--you'll have to have all that fun on your own. I'm gonna stock up on good books and pulled cremes because I think you get something like 30 hours of peace and quiet on the couch for recovery before the family starts requesting things from me again. Can't wait.
Off to work today--just me and my lump. I'm thinking good thoughts thanks to a dear friend who stopped by yesterday with a Mother's necklace for me--out of the blue! She's one of those people I don't see often enough, but is always a source of peace in my life. Also talked to Chris yesterday morning--he's one of the Cumberland crowd. There was a vibe in the Chicagoland area as he was here for business and wanted to check in, despite the horrendous business schedule that prohibits us from actually getting together. Just hearing a CF voice on the other end of the line is enough to put a smile on my face.
It's all good in spite of Katz getting rid of his goats and Oprah admitting she's fat.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
As she was talking to her dad, Em starts screaming "There's the opossum!". This is big news at our house. Most people hate the wildlife that inhabits our suburban lives with us, but not us. Any raccoon, opossum, pigeon, owl, and yes, even the hawk, is cause for a shout-out in our place. We all rush to the window to sneak a peek to see who's come for a visit and perhaps, a snack or fresh water drink. Em had the gruesome sight of catching the hawk swoop down and grab a sparrow on Sunday morning, and she let out a scream--but not a good one. He is beastly this year, making daily swoops on our feeder, scaring everything from the birds and squirrels to Em. It's a love/hate thing with this guy--I know he is doing that whole survival-of-the-fittest thing, but really, do you have to strip it's feathers right in front of the kids?
Anyway, we, unlike most of the world, love the opossum. It is a gentle guy, quietly sneaking into the yard after dark, to grab whatever morsels are left on the ground under the birdfeeder. He makes a little path across the patio, over the waterfall, and onto the ice to catch a drink of water from where the heater has left an opening in the pond. He then creeps along the side of the yard, close to the house, where he proceeds to crap on my plants. Yep, that's the part I don't like. He poops on everything that sticks up--I think it is nature's toilet paper for my little friend. Not so bad now, but come spring, it is like I own a small dog for the clean-up I have. Oh well, he's little and sorta cute, so I tolerate that part of him.
I know where he goes because I look for his little paw prints in the snow--he has tiny pink hands on the ends of those gray/white stubby-furred arms, which make different prints than the four-pad marks of the cats. He was stepping precariously last night under the feeder, and kept shaking the cold snow from his pink flesh as we watched from the window. "He needs mittens," Em was saying, worrying about his little hands, "look how cold he is getting." I was curious to see where he is going, so I went out after he left, and after Em hung up with Joe. So, I see the four-fingered paw prints spread out in his path that he makes nightly. Talk about routine, this guy doesn't stray far from the path that he took last night or the night before, or the night before that. It was funny to see his tracks doing miniature loop-de-loops around the cold snow before he finds some food or fresh water--he's like a child out in the snow, making paths and trails all about the yard.
It doesn't take much for us to get excited, but that's okay. If you wait for the big stuff, you may have to wait for a long time--that's my motto for those who snicker at me. It was nice that Em spotted the opossum while she was talking to Joe--I think he needed that just then. A simple joy in a very difficult day. It was a good distraction from being far from home and doing dirty deeds that someone else should have done a long time ago. It was a good reminder about what is important and to take a moment to enjoy a little of the Earth's beauty and to spend a few moments with your daughter to enjoy it. Isn't it funny how something so simple can bring a smile into your day?
I love "A Charlie Brown Christmas" for the gentle story of what Christmas is about. I love that they haven't removed the religious meaning or Linus quoting the story of Jesus being born. I love that our politically-correct world hasn't made us change this too. I love Lucy and her bossy ways (guess why?) and I love Sally making her list for Santa. I love Linus and his sweet voice while he quotes scripture and I love Snoopy antagonizing Lucy. I love the kids dancing to Schroder's piano music and the ice skating in the beginning. I even love the part where Charlie Brown is peering into his empty mailbox. There isn't a part that I don't love, I guess.
There are just some things about the season that I wait for. Tonight is the Shepard band and chorus concert where they play and sing together. They always do the Hallelujah Chorus at the end and it is a hoot to see everyone chime in. I wait eagerly for the events that you get to just sit and enjoy, nestled in between Marketday pick-up and Girl Scout cookie meetings. If you have kids, you know how crazy these three weeks are before Christmas. There are way too many obligations and have-tos these days and I really appreciate the ones that make us pause and remember what this craziness is all about.
Monday, December 8, 2008
I remember my Grandma Lottie, who was a old Polish busha. Busha means grandma in Polish, although we never called her that--it was a term used for the older generation of grandmas, not mine, although I don't know why. Anyway, my grandma and her sister never learned to drive and they never wore pants--always a dress. They were old school, those two, and it was always interesting to see them cooking and talking Polish together. They made the holidays full of tradition, remembering how things were done in the "old country".
Every Christmas, my grandma would take my brother and I downtown on the bus. Being that she didn't drive, the three of us would march down to the corner from her house to catch the bus. We didn't have city busses in the suburbs, so this was a huge adventure for us. I'm not sure why my Grandpa didn't go, maybe he just needed a couple hours of peace to himself. It was incredible to hop on the bus and choose just the right seat for the long ride downtown, this was the beginning to an adventurous day.
We headed down to State Street where we would walk slowly by all of the decorated store windows. Back then, it seemed everyone decorated their windows--it wasn't just Marshall Field's/Macy's. You could walk up and down State Street for hours, just staring at the loveliness. The light poles were decorated with giant candy canes and everything seemed to glisten with Christmas. I remember it was always cold and ususally very snowy, but maybe that's just the embellishment of my mind that makes things sweeter than they actually were.
Our final stop of the day was at Marshall Field's for lunch under the tree, a visit to Santa, and then to the toy department. Back then, Marshall Field's had a kick-ass toy department, but now it no longer exists. Our hearts pounding, we would approach the lights and music and Grandma would announce that we would be allowed to pick out one toy--any toy! Oh, the possibilities! There were dolls and trucks. There were robots and airplanes, games, and erector sets. There were building blocks and Barbies. It all seemed overwhelming to a child--but in a good kinda way. I can remember how I would take my time--aisle after aisle, sorting out just the right toy to get for Christmas. I'll bet my grandma wanted to kill me for taking so darned long, but she never did, never said "hurry up" or "c'mon, let's make a decision". She would patiently walk with my brother and I, helping us look at each and every object, like it was the perfect diamond we were shopping for.
I can remember picking out a doll usually. I loved that smell of a new doll--was it plastic or rubber? I don't remember, but it smelled good, and I don't think dolls smell like that anymore. I can remember unwrapping my new dolly from her packaging, her hair held in perfect "do" place by a band of cellophane around her forehead. I remember lifting that cellophane ever so gently, releasing her soft head of hair to the wilds of being outside the box. Glorious! A new doll!
I distinctly remember getting a little doll in a box with a couple of sets of clothes. She really stands out in my memory--although I don't know why. Maybe it was that "extra" of having a couple of things to wear. We didn't have the luxury of a thousand outfits for our Barbie's back then. Their clothes were expensive and frivolous, so usually your dolls had to wear the same thing over and over again. Today's kids are absolutely spoiled with the number of clothes that their dollies wear, and I admit to overbuying for Em's as well. I guess I was filling the void in my Barbie's closet mentally. Weird what you remember from being a kid, isn't it?
I have warm thoughts when I remember those trips downtown at Christmas. Our relationship with that side of the family grew strained after my dad died, it was hard to give them the amount of time and attention as we grew older. We never could make anyone happy it seemed, and we sort of drifted apart. My grandparents were good to us, and that Christmas memory is my very favorite, I hope they knew that in the end.
So, add to this my memories of company coming over, handing over their nice coats to us kids, who proceded to stack them on our parents bed to which we would hop on, dive into, and pretty much manhandle for the evening. Add the excitement of spending the whole day at Grandma Zackers house with the cousins and being sent to the basement while the "babies" were sleeping. Add the dixie cup of wine with dinner that Aunt Terry would let us have. Or the traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner at Cioci's house, singing Christmas carols with my cousin, Karen, at the top of our lungs.
None of these memories are really all that grand or exciting--they are just snippets really, silly things that I remember from long ago. Most of them are just plain stupid, but all the same, they are my memories of the holidays. All of these and more make me wonder what things my kids will remember when they get older.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
There is respite in these harried days before Christmas break, when I am absolutely forced to sit for an hour or so, enjoying whatever is going on for the moment. I actually like these events--the Lady Panthers basketball games, the Shepard band and chorus Winter Program on Tuesday, the financial aid presentation on Thursday, the middle school Winter Program next week, and so on. I love that in the middle of seasonal madness, you have to take a moment, sit, breathe, and just enjoy what is in front of you. Some parents find this maddening, thinking of all the places they have to go, the things that have to be done, but not me--I like to take the hour to just relax and cheer on number four.
We take the week day by day, not anticipating what is on Wednesday or Thursday, but by merely looking at what today brings. I don't know what time I am leaving for the concert on Saturday, don't even ask me--I am focused on today and today only. Maybe I'll sneak in a plan for tomorrow, but that is as far as I dare go. I will go crazy if I think of all the places I have to be this week.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
My favorite blog of all time is Jon Katz's Bedlam Farm Blog. If you know me, I am a huge follower, but I was also a big follower of his books before the blog began. He writes about everyday life as a writer and as an animal owner and he started writing about these things when he decided to buy a cabin on a mountain many years ago. Now he has ditched the cabin and moved onto a farm and writes about the many animals that he has acquired over the time that he has been there. He sends like a million blogs a day if you are on his email list, which I love, but Frank hates. I admire his ability to blog so many times a day, every day, when I struggle to post one--it is a daunting task to say the least.
So, these days Katz is blogging about the changes in his life. He is re-thinking the animal load and the amount of work that the farm is requiring. He writes openly, and so, typical of him, he is writing of his thought process in making changes. He has already re-homed a couple of donkeys, and is evaluating on which animals that remain that he can handle physically and financially. He is kind of writing out loud, per se, and he is making people angry in the process.
Many of his readers love the farm and the idea of living a farmers life--it all seems so romantic and idyllic from very far away. I love to receive those adorable farm animal photos and cute stories every day, but I also enjoy the fact that I am either sitting in air-conditioned or heated comfort while I muse over his latest writings. I don't have to haul the hay through muck or save a sheep's life in the middle of the night. I don't have to shoot a suffering animal or figure out how I am going to feed a herd of sheep this winter. My biggest concern is whether or not Hobbes is teething yet, but the torn up toilet paper roll suggests that perhaps he is. Quite a difference in responsibilies and physical labor, I'd say. I completely understand what Katz is going through, he has to downsize a bit to live some sort of life.
Change is difficult for all of us, and living through or witnessing someone else's change is difficult too. Did you ever find people getting mad at you for changes that you make? I experience that a lot, and I know that I am guilty of criticizing others for their changes too. What a fool I am--thinking that someone else's changes somehow impact me. Even if they do--does it really matter? I have a lot of changing to do in that department, I guess. I think some of it is just starting to dawn on me now that I'm getting older, more mature. Ok, so it took me 45 years to get to this place. I'm working on it people--I've at least admitted I do it, now I just have to stop doing it. Be patient with me, please. I just have to learn that I can shut up about what you are doing and that you don't need my input or judgement on your life. I'll just apologize now for all of my past consternations.
Katz writes of the hate mail he is receiving over his blogs lately. People are calling him names, criticizing his decisions and accusing him of outrageous things. His readers are turning on him and why? Because he dare change. So maybe his posts aren't of the adorable goats. Maybe we won't read about our favorite farm animals anymore and his blog may be more about his work in hospice. Maybe his blog won't be about the things we love, but maybe more about what he is doing these days. It is a blog, and that is the point--to write about what personal stuff we are into--not what you want to read necessarily. I know, personally, I hope you just join in for the ride, making comments to tell me I am okay or nuts in whatever I am doing or thinking. But, I cannot begin to know what you want me to write about for that day, nor could I. I guess that's the beauty of it--change. And lots of it.
As I wrote in my tradition piece a few days ago, I think change is good. As much as we fight it, sometimes we are just needing it. Joe is ready for change in his job. Okay, the new place may turn out to be just a goofy, but at least the names and faces have changed. I love that I have a new job this year and I am not working retail during the holiday season like I did for the last 5 years--that's a great change. Em is in her last year at middle school and is really ready for the change of high school. Colin is taking his ACT in a week and is anticipating the change to college.
Imagine how boring life would be if we don't change--ick. In this crazy season, I encourage you to embrace change and to support those in your life that are making changes too. If your change is major, like a job change, I wish you luck. I'm with you if you need to downsize a couple of animals or move to a smaller house. Even if your change is something more simple, like not sending out Christmas cards or perhaps not putting up every single light on your house--it's okay. It's time to make a change whether or not everyone approves.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I think that claymation classic is as old as me, but it never ceases to appeal. Yeah, we all know the lines, know the songs and what is going to happen next, but it just isn't Christmas until I've seen it. It's kinda stupid and unbelievable in parts--yeah, like Clarice sings like that--NOT buying it. Or that those goofy toys are singing on some island somewhere--naw. But I'll go along with the pretend parts just because I love how Burl Ives sings "Silver and Gold". Hey--he actually was from Western Illinois and when I was in college, he sang with the guitar group at the Newman Center for a mass that I went to. How weird was that--trying to concentrate on communion when you've got Burl Ives cranking out tunes in the corner?!!
Well, anyway, there are some actual parts of the story that are lifelike. Like Rudolph who gets picked on and feels bad. Yep, been there. Or Donder (not "Donner", people--they were settlers who died in the mountains and ate the corpses of family members) who tries to cover up Rudolph's nose so he fits in. Yep, I've been accused of "helping" my kids too. But the most real is Hermey. Who doesn't totally connect with the little Elf who is very unhappy with his job?
Poor Joe was off with Col last night, cramming in a local college jazz band concert because Somebody (no names, of course) waits until the last minute to do his live concert reviews for his Honors Band class. High school band class. You know, with Mr. P. At Shepard. And he's a junior. And his poor dad has to go with him, for moral support and to make sure he goes and stays through the whole thing. So, Joe has to miss Rudolph and I think he actually felt bad about it. He stood there looking at the screen, mournfully, as he put his coat on slowly.
I wish he could have seen it last night as I think he would have rooted for Hermey and perhaps belted out in song with the little guy. Who hasn't thought of Hermey while driving into work on a crappy day, with dreaded chores at the workplace awaiting? Who hasn't sung along with Hermey as he sings "You can't fire me. I quit! Seems I don't fit in." Go Hermey. It's your birthday. Claymation dude has got it going on! We feel your pain!
Joe was offered and accepted a new job yesterday. Yes, it is a better opportunity for him. Yes, it was for MORE money, believe it or not! Yes, he is very excited. And yes, he cannot wait to give his notice at CNA.
He is meeting with his jackass boss today to discuss his performance over the last 60 days--the threat he has been living with since Hen died in October. He has been tromped on and demeaned in emails, conversations, and in meetings in front of co-workers. His self-esteem was mangled and his exemplary work history for 17 years destroyed. He was told how bad he is, how he overspends company dollars (checking his bag for an overnight trip rather than carrying it on an overcrowded puddle-jumper), and how he needs to work more than the 6 days he is already working. Today was doomsday, but instead it is Liberation Day. Go ahead, fire him--HE QUITS! (Seems he doesn't fit in....)
I imagine Joe walking silently into that 3:00 meeting, head down, giddy inside. On some level he hopes that he'll be let go--he'll have two weeks to himself before the next adventure begins. But then again, it would be sweeter to hear that he has really stepped it up (which he has) and how lucky he is to be keeping his cruddy job. He has a scheduled flight to his remote office on Monday, so I don't think they would have approved that if they were planning to fire him, but you never know--this guy is an idiot. Either way, Joe is beside himself today. His self-esteem restored by a company who created a senior position for him and went to Corporate to raise the salary in order to lure him to work for them. They gave promises of things to come--possible places to grow and improve himself, all with the confidence in him that CNA was lacking lately. I swear he is glowing. If it was all just for that, I'll take it. It's good to see old Joe back again.
Joe wouldn't say it if it was his last words, but I will. "Stick it, Bob. You are a mean-spirited, evil, insecure, nasty boss. You need to get a life and quit belittling your employees in order to motivate them. Enjoy straightening out Minnesota, you ass. Have fun traveling around trying to figure out all of the offices that Joe managed and working 7 days a week. You are a loser."
Like Hermey, Joe will be polite, soft-spoken, and professional in his two-week notice and accept the failings of a job that he started to hate. Deep inside, he is singing and dancing like a claymation elf.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Below the bridge are some train tracks and I like to see the trains as it reminds me of a former job where I did the billing for and recorded the contents of rail cars. So, I know the difference between hopper cars and box cars and such, which maybe people know in everyday life, but I don't think they usually do. I peered down to see what was going by and I saw a little flutter out of the corner of my eye. I actually did a double-take because I saw that the flutter was actually the blankets of a homeless man moving about. My heart stopped. Homeless guy? Here?
I guess you expect homeless people in the city, you know, downtown. The place is loaded with them. You can't walk around downtown and not see a homeless guy all curled up in a doorway, spread out on a bench, or mostly begging for change on some corner. You don't have to look far to find somebody down on their luck, especially now that the economy is in the crapper. But here?! On my way to work?! By the Spanish Walmart?! This was way too close to home.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I was. I didn't expect to see one guy, more or less a couple of them, all curled up for warmth in blankets. Where did they eat? Where did they.... you know? Where did they wash up or warm up on really really cold nights? I actually thought these and probably a hundred more thoughts in that 30 or 45 seconds that I sat there waiting for the light to change. I even thought about tossing him my lunch, but I then I remembered that I have a cruddy throwing arm and I would probably bean him in the head with my yogurt or maybe hit the moving train. I also didn't want to lose my good spoon that was inside my lunch bag. I always count after a party to make sure I have them all, so this would really throw me off. I know that was a stupid self-absorbed thought--but at least I admitted to having it--that's more than most people would do. I had lots of thoughts, but I didn't act--didn't have time, the line-up was moving again.
It's bothered me all day, that man and his buddies. How do you get there? How easy is it to fall down that slope of bad luck or whatever it takes to lose everything? Why do they chose to live under that bridge? Are there shelters somewhere around here? What about his family? There are so many questions and probably too many homeless people in the same position as he. It bothered me all day, and it still does. How far away from that is any of us? It is a scary proposition in these really scary times.
As the cars in front of me started to creep along, I gave them another glance, keeping one eye on the brake lights in front of me--one accident in 30 years was enough, thank you. I saw him flip his covers over, lean over the ledge of the cement wall he was perched on, and spit on the moving train. It made me laugh for a second--homeless guy fun--spitting on trains. I guess if I was in his situation, I'd be spitting at everything too.
We took Hobbes out into the snow because as a new little guy, he's never seen the stuff. We popped on the new collar and set him out into the flakes. I made Joe stand out there with him because it is good for him--Joe, I mean. He loved it until the paws got wet--not so fun anymore. He seemed relieved when I turned on the fireplace and he hopped into his basket to toast his buns. He doesn't seem so interested in going out into it anymore.
I looked out and was singing one of my favorite Christmas tunes--The Carpenters "First Snowfall"--I think that is the name. I was belting it out when Em pops in...
"What song is that?!" Em asks sarcastically.
"It's the Carpenters" I reply.
"Who's The Carpenters?" she's all 8th grade miffy-like and disgusted with my uncoolness.
Sigh. Who's the loser here?
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
For years, literally years, I did not go to the bathroom by myself. Someone was in there or wanting in by pounding on the door just as I sat to have, oh, 46 seconds to myself. There was something magical about that door closing that made that teeny room so attractive. And when I finally would sneak away, there always seemed to be a little scratch at the door, and I would crack it open to find Grace trying to escape the madness with me. Sigh. Even the cat thought it to be the place to be.
Those days are long gone as the kids are gone most of the time now, and I find I have lots of alone time. Maybe too much so. AND I can have the bathroom to myself--for hours if I want. It's funny how you forget those kinds of things when your kids grow up. It takes another baby in the house to remind you of those little quirks in day-to-day life that you slowly lose over time.
Now, when I shut the door for a little privacy, a little ginger paw reaches under to remind me of what life used to be--and how absolutely glorious going to the bathroom alone can be. It doesn't take much to make me happy.