Friday, September 30, 2011

I Was Framed, I Tell Ya!

My local MDA did a lock up fundraiser and one of my clients volunteered me. I've never done anything like this before, so in the spirit of goodwill, I agreed.

I thought it would be easy. Overall, it was, but due to a postal snafu, I didn't receive my info packet until about 3 weeks before the event and then began raising bail in earnest. Imagine my amazement when I raised about $537.00! I definitely hate raising money and kind of "softballed" it by sending out occasional emails and posting link info for online donations on FB. When I remembered, I mentioned it to clients. I might consider doing it again, if for no other reason, because I feel I'd go into it with a better plan of action next time.

When I arrived at "lock up" they took my photo. Thought I'd share for kicks and giggles...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Liz Owen's My (not so) Storybook Life

My fellow blogger (am I considered a fellow blogger if I haven't blogged in a month? Ahem.), Liz, over at Mabel's House has done something that I am, thus far, only dreaming of doing.

She has written AND published a book!

I read the excerpt on her blog today and I kept scrolling down and suddenly, it  stopped. I mean, how rude! I wasn't finished reading! In fact, I was just getting started!


Once one has breathed in the deep pungent aroma of sewage, you never again forget the nose-hair singeing, eye clawing, throat gagging experience. It comes over you slowly. You begin to feel like a character in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as your muscles involuntarily jerk and you run screaming and blowing raspberries. Anything to get away from the mind-numbing stench.

But let me explain.

It was 6:30 a.m. I was standing in my retro pink tiled bathroom trying to open my bleary eyes and ready myself for work. As I stood there, peering into the mirror and wondering what demented nighttime fairy had planted four new wrinkles on my face, I paused and sniffed.
“Matt… what’s that smell?”
Matt staggered from the bedroom in his underwear, eyes half shut. “I don’t smell anything.”
I pointed my nose into the air like a hunting dog. “Seriously? You can’t smell that? Did you go to the bathroom in here earlier? I told you to use the room spray when you do things like that.”
Matt puffed out his bare chest and gathered his pride as best a man can with sleep in his eyes and a small hole in the side of his underwear. “I just woke up!”
I frowned, catching a glimpse of my makeup-less hot-rollers-in-hair state and tried not to think about the fact that I looked fifty instead of twenty-nine. “Well, help me figure this out. Because something smells ripe.”
We sniffed the sink drain and ruled it out as a suspect.
“Is it coming from the toilet?” Matt asked, examining it from top to bottom.
“No, that’s not it,” I snapped. I’m not known for my milk of human kindness in a disaster. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a survivor. I plan on eating my radish like Scarlet and clawing my way out of the nuclear dust while dragging my loved ones with me. But I won’t be doing it with positive phrases and a smile.
“Hon, I just don’t know. We’ll call a plumber after work, maybe it’s coming from under the house.” Matt staggered a little, trying to get past me and out of our tiny bathroom.
“Well, that’s just great,” I moved aside and pulled the shower curtain back so I could perch on the side of the tub and give Matt room to move out the door.
That’s when the full brunt of nastiness filled the air around us, a swirling mix of excrement and acrid stench that would have brought the sewer dwelling Ninja Turtles to their knees. Where the normally slightly-clean-with-a-hint-of-soap-scum bottom of the tub should have been, there sloshed gallons and gallons of brown sewage.
I clutched the front of my sweatshirt and held my breath. Matt began to dry heave.
“Get out and shut the door!” I screamed as we bumbled into the hallway.
“I’ll deal with this,” Matt grabbed my shoulders, trying to talk and hold his breath at the same time.
I could feel my eyes glaze over, the horrors of typhoid and hepatitis in our bathtub filling my mind. But more importantly, I could envision our evaporated savings account. In my mind’s eye I could see the long, gray hallway at the bank. A worker shrouded in a black suit pulled a set of keys from his pocket and unlatched a small locker labeled “Owen Bank Account.” Inside were two small stacks of quarters and a few crumpled dollar bills. It was bleak, not only because the banker with an unimaginative wardrobe gazed at me with an expression that could only be interpreted as “You’re a Big Fat Loser,” but also there was a very definite possibility we wouldn’t be able to pay for a plumber.
I wasn’t necessarily a spend thrift. In fact, I was downright frugal when it came to decorating with thrift store furniture and rewired vintage lamps. But the fact was, we were poor. We were starting out at starter jobs with starter salaries. We were starter adults with a starter bank account.
“Okay,” I nodded numbly, thankful that Matt was taking the lead on such a disastrous biohazard. “But make sure the plumber is super cheap. We don’t have much money!”
I left for work like a wino stumbling through a fog, not really remembering my commute, not really doing any work as I sipped my coffee and stared blankly at the computer screen. A disaster of such gargantuan proportions had previously been unthinkable in my life, and now I found myself attempting to push the image of a vast sea of bathtub poop from my mind. But I was sure of one thing: Anne Shirley never had to get ready for work while breathing raw sewage.

See? Don't you want to keep reading?

But. Liz, in all her graciousness is holding a drawing for her book and I aim to enter it.

But you know what? If I don't win a copy, I'm going to my local or semi-local bookstore and hunt down my very own copy.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Edge of Light

I find myself at the edge of the light on either side of the day.
they were but moments,
passed in between.

I teeter on this edge
before falling into the abyss of sleep.
Swimming across
to reach an identical edge in the obverse.

This half light
half drapes objects
in a murky, milky mist
before dropping a
complete cover of darkness
erasing all lines.

Light unzips the night
like a movie running backwards
I watch
as dark reverses to light.

When I stop looking--
I can see.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Half a Day Mayhem


Thinking I have to be at work later.

Finding out I have to be there earlier.

Discovering a deluge of rain has begun.

Remembering the umbrella is at work.

Thankful for rain boots as I RUN two blocks through the rain.

Saying an unexpected hello to the State Board Inspector.

Ditto to the expired license. (Whoops.)

Telling a client they can't have the appointment they want because it's in my lunch hour.

Realizing lunch hour can be shifted.

Making a client very happy once brain kicks into gear.

What a crazy morning!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Next Adventure

I survived another school year.

Which is a good thing, because I had run out of school lunch combinations. (Would you like crackers or cheese with that PB&J?)

Our daughter has attended a small Christian school the last 2 years. We have loved it. Fantastic teachers, fun & educational field tri
ps, an overall well-rounded education.... What's not to love?

Well, tuition comes to mind.

Actually, we felt it was money well spent. We received an excellent return on our investment. But it became a bit of a stretch for us financially.

So a germ of an idea began to grow.....

The more we thought about it (and we REALLY thought about it, because we were really looking forward to the 2nd grade teacher.), the more excited we became with the possibilities. We found that it became less about the lack of finances and more about customizing our girl's education.

As I considered it, here are the conclusions I came to:
  1. Ultimately, the responsibility to educate our child is up to us, the parents. As Christians, we feel this strongly and find instruction for this in the Bible. (Deuteronomy 6:6,7; Deuteronomy 11:19; Proverbs 22:6 and Ephesians 6:4) I do not feel that others cannot teach my child, but the main responsibility lies with us.
  2. By homeschooling, we will be able to customize our daughter's education. In a traditional classroom, students are "contained" at their grade level. I've found that students tend to be at different places in their learning journey and by homeschooling, I can meet my daughter where she is in any subject and nurture any specific interest that grows along the way.
  3. It will help to nurture our family as a whole. Our extended families are about 8 hours in either direction. When in school, we are locked into traveling only when school is out for holidays (if the holiday is long enough and coincides with a weekend.) This greatly limits visits with family and opportunities to travel together on personal family trips.
  4. We just love our girl and enjoy being with her! I realize daily that she is growing up soooo quickly and want to take advantage of every moment we can spend with her.
I realize that not everyone can homeschool or even wants to. It is not my intent to become a crusader and evangelize everyone to the homeschooling method.

But that day may come.... :-D

Saturday, April 16, 2011

When the Motivation and a Weekend Get Married

Spring seems to bring out my inner motivation.

Well, for a couple of days, at least.

And if I can line up my motivation with my weekend and a few spare minutes, sometimes a little creative magic happens.

I got stupid excited over this little ensemble. It's a clay pot that I set on top of a column of pots that are glued together. It was meant to be a birth bath that my father-in-law created, but the saucer that made the "bath" fell off, so I was left with the column. It is sitting on top of a concrete paver that has cut outs and wasn't too steady, so I scrounged up a random floor tile (being junky has *some* advantages, I guess!) and it fit perfectly to add stability. I had planted several perennials and this vertical placement added some interest. I just l-o-v-e it!
Here's a closer look at how they are glued together:
My husband did me a "favor" and planted some honeysuckle in the front yard....
I'm not complaining toooo much. It smells deeee-vine!!
My rose bush was my biggest surprise. (This is my favorite photo of my roses.)
I counted over a dozen blooms on one bush! (My husband's sure fire way to make sure I get a dozen roses every now and again, I guess!)
Close your eyes and breathe deeply.

Can't you just smell it?

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Gift of Friendship...No Matter How Brief

We call that person who has lost his father, an orphan; and a widower that man who has lost his wife. But that man who has known the immense unhappiness of losing a friend, by what name do we call him? Here every language is silent and holds its peace in impotence.
Joseph Roux

I knew her 3 weeks and 4 days and then she was gone. Taken by a rare form of thyroid cancer. Although I physically only spent time with her twice, I feel as devastated by her death as if she'd been a lifetime friend.

I met Mary Ann in NYC March 5th. She was at Hope Lodge for cancer treatment. I was traveling with someone who knew her and worked with her. Although she is from my town, I didn't know her so I went along to visit her as a nice gesture.

She appeared, looking the very picture of NY chic in her knee high riding boots and flowing coral cardigan. She gave us a tour of the Hope House, (that is, the areas where visitors are allowed) which gave the sense of a home-like hotel. An institution that offers many lovely home-like touches, but is still way to perfect to be home.

We then took a walk to get water at the corner store, which led to an amble through the streets. We visited a vintage shop, Saks, she lit a candle at St. Patrick's Cathedral, we watched the skaters glide across the ice at Rockefeller Center, and shared a hot dog from a street vendor.

Nothing remarkable, but it changed everything.

It was one of two life changing meetings that happened to me that weekend.

About a week after returning home, I received news that she was returning home for terminal care. The cancer had taken over and there was nothing to be done. I was anxious to see her and prayed that I might. My friend called me and said that she was given 3-10 days to live...and that she wanted a haircut.

For pity's sake...a haircut?

This I could do.

We arranged the time for Saturday after I finished a wedding and went to Mary Ann's house. She was considerably weaker in that short 3 weeks; tan from jaundice and a bit wobbly on her feet. The cancer, which had now spread to the brain, left her momentarily foggy when searching for words, but I could still see the woman who captured my heart.

We spent a wonderful 2 hours visiting, hugging, crying and laughing. It was wonderful, but I was achingly aware that I had most likely given her her last haircut. (And she rocked it!)

The following Tuesday, I received a call at work telling me that she was in Hospice. As soon as I finished work, I went over. I doubt she knew I was there, but I met her sister and visited with her husband (of 30+ years) who touched my heart as he tenderly attended to Mary Ann's needs.

The call came the next day that she had died at 2:45 am Wednesday morning.

I've been amazed at how deeply her death has affected me since I've knew her for such a short time. I feel I almost don't have a right to grieve her as deeply as I do.

But in spite of the pain, I am grateful for the gift of her life which touched mine, no matter how briefly.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Life Changing Meet-Ups (Take II)

I had no idea that this trip to NYC would prove to be so unforgettable.

For the first time, I hadn't planned everywhere I wanted to go. I didn't have a list a mile long of stores and museums to visit. I had no agenda.

Unheard of, for me. Especially, in NYC.

I mean, this is a mecca for someone like me! Craft, hobby, art stores, book and magazine shops, museums, libraries, gardens.... I can easily find more to do than I have time for.

But this trip, I saved room for a little "Que Sera Sera".

I traveled with my business partner, to attend a hair show and her sister and her daughter tagged along to see NYC. Sis is in education and was telling us that her school nurse was in NYC for specialized treatment for a rare form of cancer and that she really wanted to visit her, did we want to come along? D and I looked at each other. Well....that could be awkward, but it would be a nice gesture, since she was so far from home.

So we went.

Have you ever met someone for the first time and found that, before you knew it, they had completely captured your heart?

I felt a connection to her right away. As we chatted, I found her so approachable.
We visited a vintage clothing store where we gasped at the price tags and the clothes of yesteryear. We tried on hats and held up ridiculous purple dresses (trimmed in fur!) and mused about their former life.

Later, all of us strolled through Saks and when she spotted a dog (in. the. store.), she walked over to give it a pat while the rest of us were numbing our olfactory organ by sniffing perfume.

We came across St. Patrick's Cathedral and walked in to the breathtaking interior.

Then, I got the best souvenir of the entire trip:
I don't know why it never occurred to me to have a photo of the two of us taken together. Maybe because I didn't feel I had a right. Me, a virtual stranger...

So instead, I sneaked one.

I showed her the photo and told her how special it was to me.
We continued our walk for a bit and then she had to catch the bus back.

It was a tearful "so long" for all of us.

But now, I look forward to the day she's back home, where she belongs.

And until then, I'll be praying.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Serendipity, Soakings and Starbucks

So, it's taken a week to slow down my cosmopolitan lifestyle long enough to stop and blog about it.

At this time last Sunday, I was at the International Beauty Show in New York City on a rainy day that would last The. Entire. Day.

Despite the Day of Deluge, it was the best trip to NYC I think I've ever had.

I love NYC. There's an energy there that you will find no other place on earth. When I arrive, I seem to find a piece of myself there...waiting.

After visiting several times now, I feel pretty comfortable traversing the city and I felt no pressure to "see" everything.

That left plenty of room for serendipity which I enjoyed in full measure. I just never fully grasped how this trip would change my life forever.

My virtual, online life and my "real" life collided.

Tanya Dennis
@ Do I count as a "must-see"? ;) My NYC faves are the MET, people-watching in any park, and, if you see a show: "The Lion King."

...and so it began...

I didn't see the MET, the park OR Lion King, but I DID see this sweet face:

Tanya was/is SUCH a gift. She drove into the city from the 'burbs in the POURING rain, JUST to see ME!

You know how there's that awkward moment when you first meet someone as you wonder where do we go from here?

None of that happened. We hugged as if we'd been reunited instead of meeting for the first time.

We went for a "modestly priced" (the concierge needs to be educated on the meaning of the word "modest"--ACK) Italian dinner around the corner, chosen mostly for it's location because of the rain. Fortunately, it was delicious, and because we both LOVE food, well, that was a WIN.

Discovering we both love coffee, (WIN WIN) we decided it wasn't a big deal to walk in the pouring rain to find a good cup o' joe over which to chat. We figured there would be a Starbucks on a nearby corner and when we saw a man walking down the sidewalk hunched over a Starbucks cup, we simultaneously accosted him.

Poor guy.

After he pointed to the building right in front of us, he scurried off. ( I swear, he looked over his shoulder to make sure we didn't have designs on HIS Starbucks score.)

Although we succeeded in capturing our own cups of coffee, the chat would have to adjourn to the hotel lobby as Starbucks was closing. (RUDE.)

We talked of everything friends talk about. And I'm sure we could have talked all.night.long. because we had only got started it seemed, when she ruefully looked at her watch and had to start home.

Another hug, and she was off.

I went smiling up to my room and looked at my phone when it hit me...

After all that and WE DIDN'T TAKE A SINGLE PHOTO.

(What kind of bloggers meet and don't take photos? The kind who forget their cameras. *sheepish grin*)

So I called her and found she had just arrived at her car. She drove around the block, parked in front of the hotel, jumped out and we shot our pic in 5 seconds flat.

As I've smiled at the memories we made that night, I've marveled that such a feeling of closeness could be cultivated in such a short time.

Like I said,

A gift.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New York and All That Jazz

I"m going to NYC this weekend for a the IBS hairshow.

But let's be real.

We all know that I'm going for the gastronomic delights that NYC has to offer.

So far, on the must eat list:

Norma's for breakfast.

Grand Central Oyster Bar for lunch (?) snack(?) dinner(?)

And quite possibly, The Central Park Boathouse.

The airline will probably charge extra to fly me home.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Butterfly Project

My husband has a part in a local stage production of "The Diary of Anne Frank". The cast and crew have asked the community to participate in The Butterfly Project. (Click the link and you will find out how you too can participate!)

This was a wonderful (and easy!) opportunity for me to express myself creatively and be a part of a bigger picture.

Here is some information about the project and the two butterflies I am submitting for the exhibit.