Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tally Ho! (or, These things FLY, TOO!?!)

I spent the winter working in Florida.  Yes, I know, it was a terrible sacrifice.  I had to leave my family in the Frozen North and come here for a job.  I arrived in October of last year.  My family would text me pictures of their backyards buried under foot after foot of ice and snow, saying, "It's snowing today."  And I would go outside and snap a picture of the gorgeous lake outside my window, with the sparkling sunshine and the green grass and trees, and send it to them, saying, "No, it's not."

They only did that a couple of times; don't know why they stopped.

The people here in Tallahassee (Tally, to some), are the friendliest people I have ever met.  Anywhere.  Friendly and helpful and kind.  Constantly.  I am adoring this place and these people.
But the other day I met another denizen of Florida.  One that I'm not so happy about.

I walked into the break room at work and saw two gigantic Bug-zillas, lying there on their backs, waving their legs and their incredibly long antennae.  "What ARE these things?", I squeeked to the co-worker already there.  "Florida roaches, also known as palmetto bugs," he replied rather smugly.  "We grow'em big in Florida."

I scurried (ugh, too bug-like), I fled in panic (much better) back to my cubicle to google said bug-zilla.  And what, to my wondering eyes, did appear?  "Don't step on them, that only makes a nasty mess. Don't try to vacuum them up, unless you immediately remove the bag and seal it closed, because they will just crawl back out again.   Don't try roach motels because they are too large to fit in through the entrance.  Don't try the roach sticky traps; they won't hold these bugs.  Try the mice sticky traps; they might be strong enough."

Notice that was "might by", not "will be". 

And the final piece of advice:  "Your best bet is to stun them with a broom, then sweep them outside."

STUN them.  With a BROOM.  I live in an extended stay hotel.  With Housekeeping services.  I don't HAVE a broom! 

This was followed by advice for discouraging their presence, such as wrapping your toaster in cling wrap, don't eat anywhere except over the sink, so you can immediately rinse your crumbs down the drain.  And then seal the drain. With duct tape. At least, I think that's what it said.  By the time I got to this point my eyes were glazed over in terror and I wasn't comprehending the text too well.

I email the article to my daughter, who frequently visits Florida with her in-laws.  She sweetly replied that they are also sometimes known as "flying cows".   Holy in-coming, Batman!  Forget the broom!  Where can I buy me a Taser????


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Watermelon and Pizza

I thoroughly enjoy a blog by The Sassy Curmudgeon and recently she posted that she hates watermelon. I have to say that I don’t agree with her on watermelon; I happen to love it, but she has given me the courage to say…I HATE PIZZA!!!

There. I said it. Now please stop reading this and call 911 for those who just had a heart attack reading that sentence.“I hate pizza”. Try saying that - to anyone. It is a guaranteed conversation stopper. People stare. Some start to quiver. Others turn bright red. They all start to Back. Away. Slowly.  And if I say it to a group of people, the pitchforks and torches come out and then I am the one trying to Back. Away. Slowly.

I hate pizza. I hate everything about it. I hate the pools of grease large enough to hide the Loch Ness monster. I hate the crust which tastes like cardboard. Dry cardboard, soggy cardboard, or chewy cardboard depending on if it starts its life as thin crust, thick crust, or deep dish crust. And mozzarella cheese! Who invented this Silly Putty of cheeses? You can’t bite it, tear it, or cut it. It will stretch from your mouth to the moon. Thieves, forget zip lines! Just have a friend hold a slice of pizza on the roof while you take a bite, and float down to the museum floor safely and quietly on the never-ending string of cheese. As a bonus your fingers will be so greasy you won’t have to worry about leaving fingerprints; they will all smear into an unrecognizable mess.

My husband drags me to every pizza joint in town, determined to find one I will like. Since I am a veggie person he has started ordering variations of veggie pizzas for me to try. I can honestly say that it doesn’t matter what the vegetable is – green pepper, mushroom, olives, whatever – after putting it on a pizza and baking it for, apparently, 49 HOURS, it all looks like those washers the plumber puts on facets to make them stop leaking, and tastes like...well...the Loch Ness monster.

Of course, even though I hate pizza myself, I still know how to order pizzas to please any crowd. This is both a fine art and a necessary skill. Surprisingly enough, liking pizza oneself doesn’t mean that one can order just the right pizzas, sizes and combinations, to satisfy the hungry lions, er, pizza aficionados. This lesson was brought home to me one day many years ago when a man who was trying to date me offered to come over and bring pizza. I genteelly refrained from screaming into the phone “I hate pizza, you twit” and reflected upon the fact that, at that very moment, I had two Hulks (otherwise known as two 17 year old boys) and one Hulkette (my 17 year old daughter who, let’s be honest, could eat them under the table. Okay, that didn’t sound quite the way I wanted it to…) at any rate, these three teenagers were in my home and they would soon be expecting fooooooood. Which in teenage lexicon, of course, means either pizza or pizza. Or maybe pizza. With a side of pizza. Oh, and with a liter of coke, of course. For each.

So I told him “Sure, come on over – but I have three teenagers here.” He replied “No Problem! I’ll bring enough for everyone!”

He brought one large pepperoni pizza and one medium ham and pineapple pizza.

That was ONE large pepperoni and one MEDIUM…well, you get the picture.

My daughter swooped down on him at the door and divested him of the boxes and disappeared into the kitchen. From whence she promptly re-appeared and forced me to attempt to remain sober and straight-faced as she stood behind him holding her fingers in an L on her forehead.

And who knew that Hulks could whip up pitchforks and torches so quickly?


Friday, June 25, 2010

First Kiss

Yesterday our grandson came to visit. He is 17 months’ worth of adorable in his little denim overalls. I was sitting on the love seat with my back braced against one arm and my feet against the other, safely blocking him in while he stood on the seat looking over the back of the couch out the window. He was laughing and pointing and waving his hands and chattering incomprehensibly about whatever he was seeing out there, and Lionheart and I were laughing at his exuberance.

Suddenly he stopped and turned toward me and began climbing up over my body. I thought he was trying to get down from the couch. Instead, he carefully leaned in and gave me a kiss on my cheek. He then climbed back to his place and resumed his ‘talking’ and waving.

It was the best first kiss I’ve ever had.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Fashion Plate

Fashion Plate

a person who consistently wears the latest style in dress.

Fashion has been on my mind lately because, thanks to a new doctor, I am now taking a medicine to replace what my under active thyroid is not producing, and, as a result, have lost 15 pounds and counting.

I would jump up and down for joy except that my pants would fall down around my ankles.

I have dropped two clothing sizes and one clothing department. What I mean is that I no longer have to shop in the “hopelessly devoid of anything resembling fashion” WOMEN’S DEPARTMENT. I can go back to shopping in the Misses Department.

Now please understand, I am not and never have been, as defined above, a fashion plate. I go for classic styles, dressier rather than casual. What that means in my suburban world is that I prefer suits for work and wrap tops (silk) and heels (kitten) with my (straight leg, dark denim wash) jeans, while others are wearing some kind of non-jean pants with some kind of top for work, and faded jeans with athletic shoes everywhere else. So yes, I am somewhat more fashion-y than those around me. That doesn’t make me a fashion plate. Maybe a fashion fork? Or a fashion goblet? But definitely not a plate.

But I would like to have had clothing more stylish than I found in the WOMEN’S DEPARTMENTS of the stores in my suburban mall. It was pure torture to walk past the Misses Department and see all the nice fabrics and prints and styles, only to reach the WOMEN’S DEPARTMENTS and see nothing even faintly resembling attractive clothing. Who decided that a size 16 WOMAN couldn’t wear the same luscious print that a size 16 Missy could? Only a few pounds separate the two sizes. Who decided that all WOMEN could or would want to wear prints so large that they resemble a map of the world – life size? Who decided that WOMEN don’t deserve to have a waist, so all tops are made to hang straight down in front from the tips of our boobs, changing our shapes to something resembling the box my clothes dryer came packaged in? Or even worse, have gathered bust lines so that we all look fourteen months pregnant.

I ended up doing most of my clothes shopping on QVC, one of the shopping networks. Almost every article of clothing that they offer comes in sizes from XS to 3X. So thank you, QVC, for providing fashionable styles that WOMEN are not ashamed to be seen in.

In the mean time, I bought three pairs of straight leg, dark denim wash jeans in my new size, and those will have to do as I (hopefully) continue to lose weight. Thank goodness my new job allows wearing jeans to work.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

When life gives you lemons

In light of my last post I thought I should introduce you to my best friend in the whole world. In this blog I will call her Teddi Bear. And this is her sign: When life gives you lemons, smile politely and throw them away when life isn’t looking.

I have known Teddi for twenty plus years. She is the biggest reason I don’t run screaming up and down the aisles. She is always available for comfort, for advice, and for a smack upside the head when I need it.

Since we haven’t lived in the same town for most of those twenty years we stayed in touch by phone and, the last few years, by email. Don’t think she can’t deliver that well-deserved smack by email because, trust me, she can. And we send each other Zen Hugs, a concept stolen from a Brain Ship book we both love.

She knows my secrets. And I know hers, which I will never share here. She says she doesn’t care if I am {called} strange {by other people}; that my “strangeness” suits her more than their “normalness”. She is the only person other than my husband and daughter to whom I say, ‘I love you.”

She saw me through the slow death of my first marriage, the pain of divorce, the struggle to extricate myself completely from my clinging ex-husband, and the joy of discovering the person I really am when I am by myself. She shared with me the roller coaster ride called parenting. She introduced me to homeopathy and I introduced her to energy work. And when I met LionHeart, she agreed with me when I said “You gotta love a man who can use the word ‘commiserate’ correctly in a sentence”, and she read the invocation at our wedding.

When I whine about never being able to retire she reminds me that I will always have a place in her home and that we can become old cat ladies together. When I whine about vacations, we plan a fantasy trip to a far off spa for a week. When I whine about my daughter, Teddi reminds me, with that smack upside the head, that I’m not the only one who raised her and that I’m not responsible for the mistakes she makes, nor am I necessarily responsible for rescuing her. And when I whine about sex she suggests a little on-line shopping – and plenty of batteries.

Sometimes she tells me to suck it up. Sometimes she tells me to let it go. Sometimes she sends me eCards that make me laugh until I snort. Sometimes she sends me packages in the mail – the last one had another little sign that said, “When all else fails, hug the cat.”

So, thanks, Teddi Bear. I hugged my cat. And I Zen Hug the stuffing out of you.

A misty, moisty morning

I borrowed that line from Tolkien. It describes this morning perfectly. The only variation from other mornings lately is that it is only misting rain instead of pouring rain. And since I am solar powered, my charge is getting quite low. And when I’m already low, things hit me much harder.

For example, last night LionHeart told me a story about his day. It ended with him saying to the other person, “You have to have hope.”

That hit me hard. Because it made me think about the part where I have no hope.

Or maybe it would be more accurate to say I have only small hopes.

For example, I have no hope that I can ever retire. Instead, I hope that I can keep my fibromyalgia under control so that I can go to work every morning for as long as, well, forever.

I have no hope of having anything resembling a real vacation, especially now that I have no PTO. Even when I had PTO I always had to save it for sick-daughter-days and service-people-coming-to-the-house days and my-fibro-prevents-me from-working-today days. So I continue to hope for early Fridays and sunny Saturdays where I can do the occasional activity to relieve stress and feed my soul.

I have no hope that I will actually get to have intercourse again in my lifetime. So I hope that I can survive with toys and the occasional helping hand from LionHeart.

(He has the heart of a lion, but a high level of constant unremitting pain takes its toll in many ways. He has, however, promised me a “free pass” if I ever get the chance to, um, nail my favorite actor. Which is a safe bet since there is no hope that I would ever get to do that.)

I have no hope that I will ever have a relaxed, loving relationship with my daughter. So I just hope to make it through each conversation without disappointing her expectations of me too badly.

It seems to take all my energy, thought, and ingenuity just to get through each day reasonably sane, without running up and down the aisles screaming. All the effort that people put into RPGs and other strategy games, I put into surviving my days. And getting through my nights. And getting up the next day to do it all again.

So I hope that my contract-to-hire employer hires me. And I hope that someday my daughter might let me know that I am not a complete failure as a mother. And I hope we get a week of sunny days soon.

So everyone join my pity party and sing the HeeHaw song with me (best sung whilst sittin’ on a porch where yer houn’ dog can howl along):

Gloom, despair, and agony on me
Deep dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all
Gloom, despair, and agony on me


Saturday, May 8, 2010

The single overwhelming value...

... that dominates everything in my life is...

I create beauty.

That beauty may be in many different forms
• A comfortable room glowing with warm woods and colors
• A perfectly arranged vignette on a side table
• A painting (pastels are my medium of choice)
• A computer program that executes accurately and efficiently and whose code makes beautiful patterns on the page (e.g. cascading indentations that make the code more readable and easy to understand)
• A perfectly organized and arranged desk, bookshelf, closet, fill-in-the-blank
• A perfectly balanced checkbook
• A newsletter that is fun, informative, and easy to read
• A perfect outfit complete with accessories
• The perfect touch of makeup
• The colors, fonts, and layouts of this blog

How did I realize that this value is what drives almost everything I do?

A long time ago at a company far far away I was going through a workbook on organizational change that included a section on values. There were pages of neat little squares printed with values and their definitions from numerous categories like family, money, work, and so forth, and they could be cut apart. The exercise was to take these squares (there were around fifty) and arrange them according to certain priorities. I was truly struggling with this process. Every way I looked at it different values seemed to float to the top. Then my manager walked by and said that he had done something similar during an off-site seminar, except they had to come up with only one value as their tip-top most important one of all time.

As soon as he said that, I knew what mine was. There was one card labeled “Aesthetic”, having to do with beauty, with the appreciation and creation of beauty. And I realized that I have a need to instill beauty in everything I do. It is something that I can’t NOT do.

I was able to look back at the items listed above, along with many others, and see how this need to create beauty had expressed itself over and over again.

Now I’m not sure that “the need to create beauty” could technically be considered a “value”, but for me it is certainly the driving force in my life. And discovering that gave me peace in some unexpected ways.

For example, at the time I was completing this workbook I was totally and completely bored at work, questioning my career decisions, and going through books like What Color is my Parachute in an effort to find something else I “should” be doing. When I had the revelation about ‘creating beauty’ I could suddenly see that which particular profession I pursued was a second place consideration. I didn’t have to be an interior designer or an artist or a dancer. I can find ways to ‘create beauty’ no matter where I work or what I do – and I always have. I just didn’t realize it.

And it also gave me the freedom to design and paint and dance without feeling that I had to be good enough at it to make it my profession and earn enough money at it to support my family.

And it gave me more satisfaction because I could – finally – consciously – choose to create beauty anywhere and everywhere. Maybe in something as small as arranging the items on a restaurant table in a pleasing way. They would be rearranged, of course, as soon as the table was cleared, but in the meantime it made my dinner a little more pleasant. Or maybe in something as large as finding something to do in a club for something in which I had no interest.

Okay, three ‘somethings’ in that sentence makes it non-understandable. What I mean is that Bar’s dad had a hobby that I didn’t share, but he wanted me along because, well, a lot of reasons that I won’t go into here. This is a world-wide hobby, BTW. And they, along with every other club in the nation and the world, produced a newsletter. And theirs was absolutely wretched. I volunteered to take it over. After they recovered from their shock they agreed. And I turned that newsletter into a fun, informative, easy to read (see list above) item that drew accolades from clubs across the country. And it was visually appealing; a thing of beauty.

So that is my number one value. What’s yours?


P.S.  Yes, the former post containing the on-line poll was what got me started thinking about 'values' again.  And "If it's not yours, don't touch it." is still important to me.  But 'creating beauty' trumps everything.