Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Quiet Hero

I’ve always found it peculiar (and somewhat annoying) that I can forget where I sat my keys down 15 seconds ago, yet dates and events permanently hard code in my brain. Sometimes I wish these things were as easily scrambled into the noise of life and living too.

Thanks to this trait, the arrival of April is always tinged with melancholy for me. This Sunday, April 2nd, marks 18 years that my dearest friend from my teens has been gone. I remember Mom calling me at college and giving me the news. He had died in a fire trying to save someone thought to be still inside the building. He wasn’t a fireman or EMT – it was just the kind of person he was. Selfless and inherently heroic without meaning to be. The cruel irony was, no one was inside - he succumbed to smoke inhalation, searching for someone who’d already made it out.

I received the call just before art history class. Finals were approaching and I couldn’t really afford to skip class, as it was difficult to recuperate slide lecture notes. I can’t remember a single thing from that lecture. I do remember being thankful that the lights were off, so I could allow the tears to roll down my face with little notice as I struggled with digesting the shock and making sense of this blindsiding loss of my friend.

We met at youth camp several years before and in the seasons following built a bloodlike bond. Through celebrations, family issues, big breakups and the standard myriad of second decade milestones, we always had each other’s back - laughed and cried together, and confided in each other in total trust. We were family. I think back on those times and the roots of our friendship and smile wryly at the complicated simplicity of our lives. The drama of teen angst is by no means trivial at the time, but hindsight reveals how young and tender we were – still yet untouched by so many of the tragedies of life – and of losing things so valuable.

He was uncommonly kind and compassionate, and I’d never heard him speak ill toward anyone. I wonder if the storms of life would have further honed and refined this natural grace in him, or if he’d sour and scar as I did. So many times I’ve wondered what sort of man he’d have become. He had a gift for music and a heart for God – I could see him in a music ministry of some sort, possibly in the very church his younger brother now pastors, not far from my home. I know he and my husband would be good friends – they’d have enjoyed each other’s company greatly. He’d most certainly be married and have a yard full of kids, no doubt coaching their little league teams and heading up their scout troops and Sunday school classes. Though oblivious to any difference, the lives he would have touched are paler in his absence. Of that I’m sure.

The Lord has His reasons for His timing. I always remember that, even though I don’t understand it sometimes. Each year these memories revisit, and I wonder. It just seems my friend should have lived a long, enriching life – much longer than 20 years.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Don't Make Me Yell at You

Unless you get accosted at a booth set up outside of your local supermarket, the 2006 Girl Scout Cookie Sale is over – so today’s thoughts arrive a little late. Still, Itchy was talking today (amongst other things) about Andy Rooney’s recent whine about Girl Scout Cookies and it got me riled up. So I thank you in advance for indulging me.

Nevermind the artificial colors, flavorings, and preservatives. You're going to find that in any cookie unless you make it yourself, Andy, so hush up about that. Bottom line is, we all love Girl Scout Cookies, right? Maybe you have a few you don’t care for as much as others, but I’m confident in saying that if you don’t like at least one kind of these sweet little confections, there’s something innately wrong with you. I mean, come on. Decadent peanut butter patties. Caramelly-good Samoas. Simplistically perfect Shortbread Trefoils. Cooling thin mints, the quintessential #1 best seller. Just to name a few.

In short … COOKIES!!! What’s not to like?

Yes, they’re pretty pricey for what you get – especially some of them where you only get maybe 15 in a box. And if you’re on a diet, by all means you’re allowed to resist a purchase. But otherwise, listen up. If you want cheap cookies you can go to Wal-Mart and buy 5 times as many for the price, sure - but please don’t gripe about Girl Scout Cookies being a gyp. These girls aren’t trying to rip you off. They’re selling cookies to earn money so their troop can buy supplies for community service projects and so they can take some field trips and go camping.

Do they get a whole lot of the proceeds? No, not really. But it’s more than that. They’re also learning responsibility, communication and follow-through skills by participating in the cookie drive. They’d appreciate it if you kept your bellyaching to yourself and show a little encouragement for what they’re doing.
No, this is not a picture of me.
Somewhere along the line, Scouting became thought of as nerdy, which is a damn shame. Scouting teaches kids about friendship and loyalty and honor. It helps develop them into good people and keeps them out of trouble. They gain skills in teamwork and community service and putting others’ needs before their own. Buying cookies is investing in these girls’ futures. Next time you want to open your mouth to complain about the Girl Scout “cookie racket”, just remember that.

Stop at that booth. Answer the door when they knock.
Buy some cookies.

(And if any of you smartypantses out there say anything
about eating a Brownie I’ll kick your butt ;D.)

Monday, March 27, 2006


At church yesterday (yes, I finally went), a special speaker referred to 2 Corinthians and the jars of clay reference – how believers are to be as vessels into which Christ would pour His blessings and gifts. This is an oft-referenced scripture, and one that becomes very routine to the ear. But they went on to muse on how we aren’t meant to be just storage containers, but more so like the vials of a spice rack – receiving, and in turn, distributing back out, enriching the world and the lives around us by seasoning them with our gifts.

I thought this was a great analogy. This can be applied in so many circumstances. A gift isn't truly a gift until it is given. That's great stuff there, isn't it?

I gleaned more thoughts and reflections from yesterday’s words, but will get to those at another time. This one, though, I thought deemed sharing right away.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Flashback Friday - Champagne & Brine

We were nestled in a wreath of storms, but in the center the sun shone and the sky was clear. The first leg of our sail was smooth and gentle, and we stretched leisurely out on the nets above the clear bright water. Rum punch and mimosas went down smooth and quick as the sails billowed overhead.

The ride back was a different story. The wind had picked up and the sea was stirred awake by the storms. Were we standing in the cabin, we could have felt our feet practically lift off the floor as the boat rose and dove.

But we weren’t in the cabin. That day we had more guts than brains, and more adrenaline than preservation instinct. We scurried our way up to the front. We wanted to ride the nets.

Mimosas in hand didn’t last long – they were soon all over us. No matter, as we needed both hands to hang on. Face to face with the raw power of Nature, we shot and lunged through 12 foot swells, our line of vision offering alternating frames of solid sky and churning turquoise sea. We clung to the nets, knuckles white, tendons aching. Hearts racing with wide smiles. The warm water sprayed forcefully over the bow and through the nets with brute force. Sharp, stinging liquid needles that would then melt and caress over us. Salt burned my eyes and my hair rudely lashed my face. Ocean and wind tag teamed us, and we laughed in the face of danger. At times we were lifted clear off the nets, hooked only by our fingers. Exhausting – and exhilarating.

I was inches from the side and only one slip from going over into the currents. I remember being keenly aware that my thrillseeking could cost me my life that day. But it was worth the risk. Dancing so close to fatality can show you what it truly means to be alive. To FEEL life, thundering through you.

Were I asked, I would say - St. Maarten tastes like champagne and brine.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Quarterly Review

It’s going to be April in just a little over a week. Crikey! A fourth of the year gone already!

I was thinking that I should perform a review of my progress with my New Year’s Resolutions (ahem) Adherences. Some of you may remember that I posted my list in an attempt of accountability. In hindsight, not one of my brighter moves. LOL. I say this because I am slightly displeased with my review - but will be brutally honest in disclosing my conclusions. Might as well go for broke with the accountability thing - and besides, it's no big secret what a loser I am anyway. ;)

So, if you care, here’s the ugly truth:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

CLEW'S 2006 ADHERENCES: A Self-Inflicted Quarterly Review

  • Now that the holidays are over, I'm going to return to healthy eating… I've been feeling like total crap for the last few months with all the heavy foods and dessert breads and chocolates and way too much social eating.

Okay, I’m good here. Sort of. I’m being much more conscious of what I’m eating. I still eat plenty of things I shouldn’t, but have made great strides. All in all I’m feeling better due to this alteration in my lifestyle though, so I’ll give myself a 7 out of 10 stars here.

  • I'm going to get back to my workouts. … I'll probably never look as good as I used to after having my puppy but I'm sure as heck done with feeling jiggly.

This I’ve done pretty well with fulfilling. With the exception of a few pauses due to illnesses, I have worked out at least once and usually several times a week almost every week. My strength, tone and balance have been returning and the jigglies have greatly diminished. Yay for me! I give myself 8 out of 10 stars here.

  • I'm going to get back to my scrapbooking regularly.

I have sucked here. Except for my big weekend with Naïve, I haven’t gotten anything done. I need to get back into this, not only for fun and therapy but for preservation of our lives. With each day, details fade. I need to capture them before they leave for good. Meanwhile, I flog myself with 2 out of 10 stars on this one.

  • I'm going to watch less TV. I watch way too much TV during my me-time for all this other stuff I want to be doing.

I’m still watching too much TV. But I have been able to pull myself away from a bit of it. I’ll submit 6 out of 10 stars for myself on the TV thing.

  • I'm going to write more frequently in Incrediboy's Journal... There are too many things to capture for him to be writing so infrequently.

By far the worst one. I literally haven’t written in Incrediboy’s Journal since New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve! Could I be more opposite of a Resolution (ahem) Adherence than I am with this one? I’m not only ashamed of myself here, but pretty angry as well. It’s been a very exciting year of leaps and bounds in Incrediboy’s blossoming personality and discovery of the world, and I’m letting it go uncaptured in his books. 0 out of 10 stars.

  • I'm going to take the boy (and myself) back to church... We are a Christian home but now that he's older we owe it to him to raise him with a church family too.

Correction: THIS is the worst one. We STILL haven’t been to church and I seriously feel horrible for that. I’m glad the Lord is merciful and forgiving. I’m going to go kick the crap out of my own self when I finish this post. 0 out of 10 stars.

  • Some other nunya-stuff that I'm not going to list here.

So-so on the nunya items. And they're still nunya so stop asking. 5 out of 10 stars.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Looks like all in all I am averaging 4 out of 10 stars. ABYSMAL! I’m thoroughly disgusted with myself right now. But, I’m glad I’ve walked through this – as I know now what I need to focus on to continue with my self-demanded improvements for the year.

I better get to work – As you can see, I have a lot of catching up to do.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

With All Due Respect to Sam IV

My cousin-in-law has a fourth generation named cat. “Sam IV”. As we talked about Sam IV recently, my cousin-in-law said, “Haven’t you ever had a pet that was so cool, that every pet after him had to be named after him?”

I just smiled at this question – a polite non-answer. But inside I was thinking, “No. NO! What are you, a freak?”

There have been several pets in my family, but three dogs have really truly had my heart. Shamsky was two when I was born, and adopted me as his own. Copper came into our family in Shamsky’s twilight years, and lived until I was just out of college. And then of course, there’s Most Beautiful Dog, the furry peg of my heart.

Shamsky was an angel dressed in harlequin fur – never a mean bone in his body, nor a scoldable thought in his head. If any pet were the epitome, it would be he. Legend has it that even as a pup, there was just nothing “bad dog” about Shamsky. He lived to be 17 years old. He died the day after I returned from summer youth camp. I’ve often wondered if he waited for me to come home, to say goodbye before he left us.

Copper couldn’t have been more opposite. A wired, destructive, neurotic pain in the butt. But adorable, affectionate, and sweet. We loved him, and it was lucky for him. If any dog were destined for the pound, it was Copper! But he knew a bunch of suckers when he saw them. My parents gritted their teeth and never gave up on him – and in time he became a wonderful pet.

Around the age of 3, Copper developed an illness for which he had to take medication for his entire life. The meds which offered him a better quality of life would also shorten it, and he died at the age of 9. I’d been on my own for several years, but I still bawled like a baby with his passing.

Most Beautiful Dog came around many years later. He was heart wrenchingly darling and we adored him beyond reason, but man did he test us. He was so much like Copper – run through different spray booths, but same frame and body style. Not to mention just as rowdy, high-strung, and inherently evil as a puppy. We could NOT take our eyes off of him for a moment. There were times we cried in frustration as we raised him and he tested us to the brink of our wits end. But eventually we got him trained, he grew out of his puppymania, and he is an absolutely wonderful family member now. Anyone who’s spent any time on my blog will know how much MBDog is loved in our home.

To me, each of these boys was/is a great, loving, wonderful pet. More than a pet, really. They’re my brothers, and my son. And just as I wouldn’t name my children after any previous children, it wouldn’t even cross my mind to do that with my pets. None of my pets were replaceable. And while using the same name really wouldn’t be saying they are, it hits a little too close to home for me. They’re all unique – how can I give them identical monikers?

I have prayed from the day we adopted MBDog that he will live a long, healthy life. Hub and I look forward to relishing the special bond Incrediboy and MBDog will share as they grow up together. A boy and his dog is a very special thing to see. And when it’s MBDog’s time to go, I know I will grieve harder than with any other dog before him – because he is truly, fully mine. Because I love him so much. Because he is one of a kind.

In turn, when the time comes - our next dog will be given a new name, fitting for him. Chosen just for him. Like the others, it’s what he deserves. His own title to represent his own personality.

Maybe I’m the freak. But with all due respect to Sam IV and all the way back to The First Sam, I’m not on board with generational pet names. My dogs ~ my sweet boys ~ unique from one another and all loved so deeply ~ deserve their own crowns.

Monday, March 20, 2006

This Stuff is The Best

  • Horn-in-a-can
  • French Toast
  • Campfires
  • Motorcycle rides
  • Gentle rain during the night
  • Puppies, and puppy breath
  • Learning something new
  • A whole day to yourself*
  • Warm blankets right out of the dryer
  • Secret languages with people who really get you
  • Flipping through old photos and remembering good times
  • Getting a nice letter or greeting card for no reason other than you were being thought of
  • Running across a movie from “the list”** by accident while channel surfing
  • A warm day in the dead of winter
  • Lap dog time, no matter how big he is
  • Goodnight kisses from the boy
  • Goodnight kisses from the Hub
  • Peanut butter Hershey Kisses
  • Bottle rockets that whistle
  • Naps***


* This is something you take for granted before children, and rarely experienced after

** “The list” is any list, unique to the list author, under any given topic, favorites under said topic. In this case, a movie you could watch at any given time, regardless of how many times you’ve seen it before.

*** Not just for babies and old people anymore!


I know this is a lame post, but I have a hard time letting things sit while I come up with something better. So ... C'mon and share ... What do you think is The Best?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Curse of Crankenstein

PREFACE: Please note that Incrediboy isn't a complete monster. He's actually a very good boy. The following just cites a few worst case scenario events, relayed here simply for amusement. :) Thank you and enjoy at my expense!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Something disturbing is afoot in my home.

My sweet, adorable baby is being sporadically obsessed by an evil entity. Without warning and with greater and greater frequency, Incrediboy morphs into Captain Tantrum. On a hair trigger, he can go from zero to hellcat in about 1.2 seconds. The Terrible Twos have arrived.

He’s been really accelerating with the talking. One-word exclamations and short phrases are being replaced with long winding sentences. Some sentences are easily understood. Others can’t be deciphered with the Rosetta Stone. If he doesn’t feel like reiterating a thought he’s expressed and you don’t quite catch it the first few times, you’d better look out – a conniption may be in your immediate future.

This one’s kind of understandable, though. I mean, certainly it must be frustrating for him to try and communicate ideas and we just aren’t getting them. But other explosions are not so justifiable.

He loves for us to draw pictures with him on his Magnadoodle or his pad of paper. But if you select the wrong color crayon or don’t draw the moon in the designated area or place the nubbies on the tractor wheels just right, you’re going to have a spinning Tasmanian Devil on your hands.

On our daily commute, there is a stretch of road that has speed bumps. Sometimes he’s cool with the gentle jostling. Other times he blows his stack about the disturbance of the smooth sailing.

“I don’t WANT 'peed bumps!”

“I’m sorry honey, but they’re there. We have to go over them.”

Cue the grousing. I guess we should purchase a jackhammer and an asphalt grinder so as not to disrupt his majesty’s preferences. This is assuming he’s not already furious about having to deal with the shoulder straps in his car seat, another recently overly-magnified inconvenience for him.

Any time a clothing change is in order, there’s usually drama as well. Incrediboy has developed favorite items in his wardrobe. If you try to get them off of him before he’s ready, he’ll clamp into a ball tighter than a clam and wail like a police siren. Nevermind that he’s peed out of his diaper’s capacity overnight and has gotten it all over his pj’s, or has dribbled Spaghettio sauce all over his shirt and pants, or stuck his sleeve in the toilet up to the elbow, or has already worn it for 2 days. He wants to wear that garment till you have to peel it off with a paint scraper. Don’t even think about suggesting otherwise.

Since he was a little guy and first realized how fun splashing around in the water can be, bathtime has been an activity that is looked forward to and enjoyed. But recently, I’ve thanked the Heavens we’ve moved to the country – because otherwise the neighbors might call social services. I put my little angel in the tub and he screeches from start to finish as if I’m boiling him in oil. By the end of it all, he’s red faced and blotchy, Most Beautiful Dog looks as if someone’s been setting off firecrackers next to his head, and I’m ready for a straight shot of Everclear. Make it a double.

I then do my best to dry off the writhing octopus and get his diaper on in some reasonable fashion. I’m sternly instructed that I forgot the powder, and or the diaper cream, whether I have or not, and woe to us all if the proper butt-preparing steps are not fulfilled. PJ’s are struggled on with much protest, as it is realized these are not the same crusty clothes he had on before. Then, just like that, the delightful boy I once knew is back – he flits off, chortling and giggling. MBDog and I look at each other as if to say, what the heck just happened here?

Incrediboy has never been a picky eater. Until recently. Foods once loved – even ham and macaroni & cheese, which have ALWAYS been favorites - are now shunned, and the list of acceptable menu items is very short and ever-shifting. If you place an item on his plate that is not on his mental list of the moment, a fit of apoplexy ensues. And suddenly, when he used to eat happily at the same time as Momma and Daddy, he now vehemently protests any suggestion that he stops for dinner until about an hour after we’re through, and sometimes as late as almost bedtime. We’ve thought fleetingly of coming down on a firm eat-now-or-wait-till-breakfast rule, but feel he’s a little young for that yet. We don’t want to put him to bed hungry at his age.

He’s NOT too young to be consciously testing us though. Obviously. It’s infuriating for all of us.

While I’m an easygoing gal, I’m not an advocate of children calling the shots in a home. Sometimes you do what you can to keep the peace. Other times you have to crack down on the fits and let them work it out within themselves (while putting everyone else through temporary hell). Most of all you have to be consistently consistent. Which is excruciatingly tedious and no fun. At all.

You should have seen the look on Hub’s face when I told him that pretty much everyone I’ve consulted has told me this stage often lasts a couple years or more while they learn to control their id and learn proper manners and patience, even with rank pulling, hand smacking and butt cracking.

Lord deliver us from the Terrible Twos.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Accidental Refuge

I called in sick that day about 12 years ago. I can’t remember now if I was really sick, or if I was just playing hooky. But I was loafing around at home on a work day, watching television when I normally wouldn’t be. That’s when I caught the video by a band I’d never heard of.

I remember I almost changed the channel. But I didn’t. When I heard the voice, I couldn’t.

The song was called “Bury My Lovely”. The lyrics were sad – painfully lonely. Flavored with long-interred burden of the heart. Great suffering from a nonspecific trauma years in the past.

But the lyrics were only part of it. The music – migawd, the MUSIC. It derailed me.

I wrote the band’s name down.

About a week later, I just happened to see their debut album in a used CD bin while not even looking for them. I bought staying refuge that day for $4.95. Each cut is as divine as the last. Cascading piano, smooth percussion and ethereal vocals. Multilayered, haunting, exquisite vocals. Like bolts of warm silk sliding through my soul.

I’d never heard of October Project before that day that I wasn’t even supposed to be home, and have never seen that video since. They never made it big. I don’t know as I’ve met anyone else who’s ever even heard of them. No matter - To this day their debut release is one of my favorites - I can’t imagine my music collection without them. Many times I’ve built a haven for myself with these songs. Just me and the sweet serenade.

All pivotal on a chance channel flip, on a day I shouldn’t even have been home.

I was meant to find them.

Tuesday Show and Tell

Yeah, I know it's really Wednesday now. But I couldn't get Blogger to upload this image last night. So ... Better late than never! Here's my Tuesday Show and Tell Travel Memories layout for this round - showcasing a snorkeling trip to a gorgeous and highly colonized coral reef off the coast of Mexico, on the mainland but down towards Cozumel way. These weren't the best pictures of the trip, but I didn't want to throw them away ... Naturally, since these were the secondary choice photos, the layout came out pretty well ;)

It was a wonderful excursion. If I could, I'd snorkel the reef every day.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Oh Yeah, All Right ...

(For Flashback Friday / Memory Monday)

You're looking kinda lonely girl
Would you like someone new to talk to
Oh yeah, all right
I'm feeling kinda lonely too
If you don't mind
Can I sit down here beside you
Oh yeah, all right
If I seem to come on too strong
I hope that you will understand
I say these things 'cause I'd like to know
If you're as lonely as I am
And if you'd mind...
Sharing the night together, woah.. yeah
Sharing the night together, woah.. yeah
Sharing the night
We could bring in the morning girl
If you want to go that far
And if tomorrow find us together
Right here the way we are
Would you mind...
Sharing the night together, woah.. yeah
Sharing the night together, woah.. yeah
Sharing the night
Would you like to dance with me and hold me
You know I wanna be holding you
Oh yeah, all right
'Cause I like feeling like I do
And I see in your eyes that you're liking it
I'm liking it too
Oh yeah, all right
I'd like to get to know you better
Is there a place where we can go
Where we can be alone together
And turn the lights down low
And start...
Sharing the night together, woah.. yeah
Sharing the night together, woah.. yeah
Sharing the night together ....

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Some music just makes you grin when you hear it.

One of the CDs I took to keep me company on my road trip was Dr. Hook’s Greatest Hits. YES, I love cheesy 70’s music, so what? And this is it at its finest … Sylvia’s Mother, Only 16, When You’re In Love With a Beautiful Woman, Sexy Eyes, Better Love Next Time … Come on! That’s great stuff! But the greatest Greatest Hit has got to be Sharing the Night Together.

I have always liked this song, even when I was too young to understand the sensual reference. But it’s R’s fault that it makes me smile so much to this day. R and I worked at the steak shop together while we were in college, and we were the kind of friends who could know what the other was going to say (usually smart-a$$ed at that) just by looking at each other. He would probably remind the casual passerby of Jon Lovitz’s cousin – or maybe Ron Jeremy’s thinner little brother, but I don’t want to say that out loud because then I am indirectly admitting that I know who Ron Jeremy is, so nevermind.

One time our boss switched provolone cheese companies and the new stuff was gross. After a while he switched back. I told R that it was a good thing, and he said, “I know, that other sh*t’s nasty … Hey, that would make a good advertising slogan …” (he grabbed a log of provolone, held it like a beauty queen holds a bouquet of roses and donned a pompous expression) “… Always use Paul’s Pride Provolone Cheese. That other sh*t’s nasty.” From that time on, all he had to do was gesture to provolone and give me a smarmy face, and I’d bust up.

Another time, we went out to dinner to celebrate our close-proximity birthdays. Our waiter went out of his way to create a romantic setting and suggest romance-inducing menu selections – which, being buddies, amused us to no end. I don’t remember who started it but one of us made some reference to us being siblings, and whenever our waiter was within earshot, a discussion reminiscing about being caught in incestuous encounters during various family gatherings ensued. Our waiter was horrified, and we laughed about it for months.

Okay, so you had to be there, on both counts. My point is, we had a lot of laughs. We “got” each other’s sense of humor so much that we could fall into each others’ BS footsteps without breaking stride. Likewise, a mere glance or crooked smile was all that was needed sometimes to break us up, and we were constantly goofing in our oft-unspoken communiqué.

R and his housemates, a bunch of typical late 80’s slash early 90’s hippies in hemp shirts, shared my love for cheesy music. When we weren’t watching our ball club play a phenomenal season and ultimately win the Series that year, we used to all sit on his porch on the old funky couches - same as a hundred other couches on porches on the campus houses - chill and listen to music like John Denver and The Babys and especially Dr. Hook. R would chime in (in perfectly replicated tone and pronunciation) on the “Oh yeah, all right”, even if he had to interrupt himself to do so. In our collective minds, it became a part of the song.

In typical fashion, R and I lost touch after we graduated. We ran into each other a few years ago and hung out a couple of times with the spouses. The Hub loved R, and I loved R’s wife. We all had a great time and shared a lot of laughs, but ultimately drifted apart again after a few gatherings. Can’t say as I know why, other than maybe you just can’t go home again.

But to this day, “Sharing the Night Together” makes me grin. Thanks for the laughs, R - These many years later, I hope I return the favor!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Yet Another Reason I am a Geek.

While traveling this past weekend I was reminded of something.

I love maps.

I love to study maps, look at the names of towns and counties, and see how many different ways there are to get from Point A to Point B. I love to check the map for the next town while en route somewhere, and to look for each sign. Yep, there it is, just like the map says.

When I was a kid I used to love to play with the family Atlas. I would find the biggest city in each state, and see where each major outbound highway would lead. I would pick random interstates and see just how far they went in either direction. I would look up the cities where friends, pen pals and relatives lived, and I would look up the population of each place in the back, making comparisons to my own town. I would see how many states had cities with a common name. Spring names are very popular. Springdale, Springville, Springfield, Springtown. It must have sounded inviting to the founders. I would turn to the odometer graph in the back and figure out how many places I could go if I drove a specific distance from anywhere (Pittsburgh to Las Vegas and Portland to Little Rock are the exact same distance, did you know that? That's Portland, Oregon - not Portland, Maine. However, you could go from Portland, Maine to San Antonio in almost the same miles as the other two. A little bit less in case you're curious.)

The Hub and I have taken several extensive road trips. He drives, and I play with the map. I say play because we love to sniff out interesting routes and points of interest off the beaten path, a method which is very much like play. We love the road less traveled, and it's really quite fun to have a piece of paper in front of you which gives just enough rudimentary hints about your journey ahead that you don't get distractingly lost. We love to fly by the seat of our pants, choosing our route at the spur of the moment. This method of travel has taken us to very exciting and unexpected destinations. Places that have enriched and even changed our lives, stumbled upon simply by tweaking a route at the last minute via an interesting looking little side road spotted in a good atlas.

Sometimes being a geek really pays off.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Good Times

Well my friends, I’m back from my long weekend with Naïve-No-More. We had a fantastic time, and while it’s nice to be back in the arms of my loving men, I miss her terribly. It seems like we should still be able to laugh, smart off and just idly chat together throughout the day. I’m spoiled now and I miss my friend.

I know you’re all waiting with bated breath for juicy details, and I have many heart-thrilling thoughts and observances to share!

I went bearing wine for their bar … I took some that I found with her name on the label which I thought was fun – and then another kind for sheer laughs … after I was on my way the thought occurred to me that her husband might think I was trying to say something about HIM with this OTHER label - Luckily we’re friends too and he took no offense. ;)

BTW, this wine's pretty good. If you can find it, pick up a bottle.

After I arrived we hung out a bit, jabbering like tweens, jittery from adrenaline – 18 months is a long time for inseparable friends to go without seeing each other – before heading off to our scrapping event. We first went to her local crack dealer (e.g. the scrapbook store) where we bought some new fun tools, and then as Naïve mentioned in her memoirs, we stopped by Target for some items, where we caused all kinds of ruckus. She’ll tell you WE knocked over the display of cups, but I was nowhere near it. Well, I was near it, but I didn’t do it.

The scrapbook gathering wasn’t as productive as it could have been, but that’s okay - We were distracted by each other’s company mostly, which is a good excuse. We made a big mess and the girls all had fun teasing me about my accent (Huh? I don’t have an accent!). We stayed through Saturday and then took it to her place for the rest of the weekend.

Incidentally, on the way home we actually saw a guy in a car PICK his NOSE, examine his find, and then EAT IT! Can you believe that?

Saturday night we ordered our Chinese feast of General Tso Chicken, Moo Goo Beef, and of course, the king of all Chinese food as the main course - Crab Rangoon. Mmm, deep fried cheesy goodness. Back to the diet today, but we really enjoyed ourselves Saturday and refused to feel guilt or remorse about it either!

To compliment the spread I enjoyed some of Naïve and Mr. Naïve’s incredibly incredible chai beer. Look at that lovely amber color! And it tastes as sublime as it looks. Holy crap it was tasty. If I lived anywhere near them I’d be a complete booze hag on their brews. I learned that beer and pop are made pretty much the same way but you simply halt the fermenting process sooner when making pop so that it doesn’t generate alcohol. Additionally, I learned that ginger ale gets its flavor from ginger. I know that’s painfully obvious, but somehow the thought had not occurred to me.

The remainder of the while we spread our scrapping wares all over downstairs (okay, it was mostly me and my stuff taking over the place – she’s a much more tidy scrapper than I) and we continued to create and visit. Naïve turned me on to chalking, for which I’m still mad at her. I love it, it’s much easier and less messy than I thought, but now I have to go buy a bunch more stuff and will forevermore be unhappy with previous layouts. LOL. Thanks a LOT!

Besides eating and scrapping and discussing beverage chemistry, we watched a few movies and played Balderdash with the family. Allow me to add that I kicked their butts. Naive congratulated me with this official salute. How rude!

We were going to get on line and post together just to be exceptionally annoying for all of you, but her internet service was down. Dang. We were thinking of you guys though, honest!

Monday came too quickly. We got up and had breakfast, drank 4 or 5 pots of coffee and blabbed some more, and then made a crank call to Nelly’s work. I was going to call and tell her I was with the Vin Diesel Gratuitous Digital Image Monitoring Bureau and that we were going to have to fine her for excessive image exploitation. The joke was on us though, as Nelly was home with a sick kid! Nelly’s office mate emailed our number to her though and she called us back. It was fun to chat with her for a few minutes! She definitely seems like she's “one of us” (scary thought).

I progressively changed my departure plan from ten to eleven. Then twelve. At one, after playing into several of Naïve’s stall tactics, I finally forced myself to leave. We had a wonderfully relaxing weekend of girl time – it’s a joy to have a friend who you can be a complete manic a$$ with as well as enjoy comfortable sporadic silence while trenched in creative indulgence.

I think I even made it into the double-digit miles on my trip home before I actually cried.

Miss you, sis.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bella Musica

Tomorrow is my big road trip. I’ll be driving for 5 or 6 hours, much of it through countryside that was ground smooth and flat during the ice age. Not much to see … the occasional tree, a clump of cows, a few farms dotting the landscape. The company of music is essential on a trip like this.

I’m a rocker girl, and such selection has always been first choice for long hauls for me. But lately I’ve been more interested in how a song can move me on the inside, deeper than toe tapping and seat dancing and hair flinging. Sometimes I’m in a mood for feeling music, not just listening to it.

Have you ever listened to a song that really grabbed you musically, but something about the words wasn’t right? They fell short, or went down the wrong path, or just simply didn’t work for you. That can really take some sparkle out of the symphony. You may have even thought, this music is incredible, but sheesh, I could have written better lyrics than that mess!

I’m not down on vocals – in fact I love them. The human voice is one of the most beautiful of musical instruments. The problem isn’t voice, but language. The problem with language is that it is too limited. Too basic for all that is yearned to be expressed. The writer often struggles with this same hurdle, wrangling for the right words to capture what they want to say. Why is it so difficult?

Because language, in many ways, is too primitive.

I have a section of CDs in my library that are in foreign languages. Some might find it annoying to listen to music that you cannot understand and sing along. But there’s a special niche this category fills in my heart. Spanish, Italian, Celtic … I am not fluent in any of these tongues, but it doesn’t matter. I listen, and the vocals reach me on a much more sensual level. The meaning of the words does not cloud and distort the haunting beauty of the voice. The tones can sweep around me, soak into my heart as the edge of the sea soaks into the sand - and become a part of my energy. Not by their individual definitions, but simply by being.

Many languages will accompany me on my journey tomorrow. I may not understand, but I will comprehend. Sometimes only words which are not defined in our minds deserve the company of melody and harmony.

It is then we can hear the voices of angels.