Saturday, November 25, 2006


My dear friend T is truly one of the most beautiful and gracious women on earth, and for the life of me I don't know why she likes to hang out with me. T and I were brought together by fate in the late 80's, when we were placed together as dorm roommates. We were great friends all through college, and though there have sometimes been long stretches of silence between our communications at the hands of busy lives, we have always remained in touch and have maintained a great affection for each other.

She was in the general area for the holidays and we made a date to do lunch on Friday. I haven't seen her since we graduated so I was very excited. We had a wonderful lunch while we laughed over my old college photo album, and then we went to a coffee shop and chatted the day away. Years were bridged as if they were only moments, and I relished the time with one of my most blessed gifts - a lifelong friendship - one that had been from the time we met, and I know will always be.

T brought me this beautiful box of chocolates. They are hand created by a local artist in her city. Each box, each chocolate, is a unique piece of edible art in exotic flavors. She said she knew if anyone would appreciate them, it would be me.

They're beautiful, aren't they? They practically look like jewels, and I almost don't want to eat them. But I am :). They taste as wonderful as they look.

Here's to the sweet treasures of friendship.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

As my time on line has been scarce lately, I thought I'd repost my reflections of this holiday from last year. Enjoy your time with family and friends, and be safe.

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Original Post Date November 2, 2005 - Edited Appropriately
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Between the dazzling sensory-overload seasons of Halloween and Christmas lies the warm, comfortable hominess of Thanksgiving. As this time of year once again commences, I’m looking forward to time spent with family – and am also looking back.

My grandparents lived an hour away from us, and while visits were frequent they were always a special and highly anticipated occasion. Even our beloved border collie would spring to the windowsill with excited whimpers at the query, “Where’s Grandma?”, looking in the direction from which their immaculate Skylark would arrive.

By tradition, Thanksgivings were spent at my grandparents’ house when I was little, and in my heart the memories of those times are what define Thanksgiving for me. My Grandma was a tiny lady with sparkling blue eyes. She was the kind of lady who always wore necklaces that looked like some sort of hard candy, and sundresses with a fuzzy white cardigan sweater, be it January or July. She wore thinly applied pink nail polish and usually had a rubber band or two around her wrist, just in case she might need them. She used words like davenport and pocketbook and billfold, and found complete and joyful fulfillment in her life’s role as a housewife.

My Grandfather (we always called him “Gramps”) was strong and soft and full of warm hugs and deep laughter. He smelled like shaving cream, and always had a twinkle in his eye behind his horn rimmed glasses, as if enjoying a private joke. He’d let us beat him at checkers, and would save pennies for us, rolling them in brick-red paper tubes. He was kind and generous, and everyone who knew him loved him.

By the time we’d burst into their house with all of our noise, Grandma would have already been up for hours, happily cooking and whistling. The house would be full of the delicious smells of roasting turkey and homemade gravy and stuffing (never store bought, always from scratch). Oatmeal-date cookies and a bowl full of mixed nuts in the shell would always be at the ready, and a candy dish full of chalky pink peppermints on the coffee table. Gramps would have the football game on, though no one would really pay much attention to it for being busy visiting.

Grandma would need Gramps to help her lift the big roaster (with the chip in the enamel from when Dad shot at it with a beebee gun when he was little) several times throughout the day. She’d meticulously baste and fuss over a much-too-big bird, and supervise as it would be tucked back into the oven for a while. Mom would help with whatever Grandma would need help with, and somehow everything always managed to be ready at the same time. We’d laugh and share and reminisce while eating too much because we couldn’t help ourselves with Grandma’s good cooking. After dinner, Mom and Grandma would rattle away in the kitchen with cleanup chores and Dad and Gramps would doze in the living room. My brother, long and lanky, would stretch across the floor and watch football as I went to my special drawer in Grandma’s writing desk and got out the Silly Putty and comic books. In a few hours, we’d all stuff down a slice of pie and a turkey sandwich with Miracle Whip before returning home.

Gramps passed away in early 1981, and we’d bring Grandma to our house for Thanksgiving after that. In time, as my brother and I grew up and got busy with our own lives, Thanksgiving became downscaled at my parents' house - they would make a small turkey breast and a few trimmings, and take a care package to Grandma at the assisted living center. But for all intents and purposes, we kids were released (too easily?) to create our own holiday traditions with our new respective families.

I now have spent Thanksgiving with the Hub’s family for many seasons. We have compounded a whole new collection of holiday memories and traditions and dishes (wouldn't Gramps marvel at the concept of a deep fried turkey!), have watched our families grow, and now celebrate Incrediboy’s birthday at the same time of year. Though dynamics have changed vastly (for me in particular), Thanksgiving still holds its special blessings each time it rolls around and the happy memories of my past intermingle with tomorrow's memories being made now.

This time of year is always bittersweet for me, though. Grandma died a few years ago, and while I have not spent the holiday with her in many years, it is still strange to know she’s no longer with us.

All the more reason to strive at making these wonderful moments ones which will be looked back on fondly by Incrediboy, Hub and myself, and the rest of our ever-evolving family. In future years, I will give extra thought to the work and the joy going into and coming out of these times. May our own chatter and clatter echo those of my Grandparents’ home on those Thanksgivings of many years ago, and do so with justice.

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My DearBlog Friends ~
May your tummies be full, May your relatives be tolerable, and may your hearts be free from want this Thanksgiving!
XOXO ~ Clew

Monday, November 13, 2006

One Cool Bird of Prey

I took MBDog out tonight and enjoyed the crisp evening air for a few moments despite the fact that I've been deathly sick for a month. As I stood on the deck and gazed absentmindedly at the cold raking November clouds, I heard a chilling voice above me and to the left. Alarmingly close.

"Who-who - wh-wh-WHO".

MBDog stopped mid-stream and went on point. I looked up at the roof of our outbuilding and there I saw it. The biggest horned owl I'd ever seen. Black silhouette, backlit by our neighbor's porchlight. It was something out of a classic chiller movie, I tell ya.

I love owls. They're probably my favorite bird ever. Being a city girl born and raised, I've rarely seen them in the wild. And there he was. Every bit of two feet tall, maybe more - strong and powerful and spooky. I'd heard him around recently - faint hoots in the night across the country acres and bouncing through the whispering fall leaves. It was neat to think of an owl hanging around our property. And there he was, right there!

I blinked in awe for a few seconds, and then rushed MBDog up on the deck, in a hurry to get back in the house to grab the hub and the camera - and then the dog lead caught in between two of the deck boards. The catch made a hell of a racket, with MBDog and I both stumbling on ourselves like a couple of oafs, and when I looked back up at the barn roof, the owl was gone.

I was disappointed, and more than a little irritated at my own clumsy bafoonery startling him off. But it sure was exciting to see him, even for a few seconds. It's a good thing I didn't see him take off, or I might have had a heart attack from the coolness of it all.

(This owl here is nothing like what I saw tonight. But I found this picture while looking for the other one and had to share it. Look how cute he is. Couldn't you just die?)

Owls are so cool.

Happy hunting, My owl friend. Help yourself to the moles tearing up our property. And thanks for the visit tonight.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Happy Veteran's Day

I received this is an email and thought it worthy of sharing. Remember all Veterans this weekend, and thank them for your freedom.

The average age of the U.S. military man is 19 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy - Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country. He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father's; but he has never collected unemployment either.

He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing, and a 155 mm howitzer.

He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk. He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark. He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must. He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional. He can march until he is told to stop or stop until he is told to march. He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity.

He is self-sufficient - He has two sets of fatigues: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry. He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts. If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low. He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands. He can save your life - or take it, because that is his job. He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay and still find ironic humor in it all. He has seen more suffering and death than he should have in his short lifetime.

He has stood atop mountains of dead bodies, and helped to create them. He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat - and is unashamed. He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to 'square-away' those around him who haven't bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking. In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful. Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom.

Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years. He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding. Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood. As you go to bed tonight, remember him - Resting briefly, in a short lull, a little shade and a picture of loved ones in his helmet.

Lord , hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. Amen.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Spin and Swing

Most of you know I avoid political gab on Clew’s Blues because I’ve already been there done that as a blog format, and I may very well delete this entry later. But for now it’s all I have on my mind.

Yesterday was rough. And today is the dawn of a new government. The Democratic party has gained power in all directions pretty much by exploitative default, with no solutions even offered. Conservatives lost due to the Republican party too often letting its supporters down.

Please understand, it’s not my intention to spark any fights or peeing matches with this post. I chose my wording carefully and deliberately in my above statement, because I don’t think all Democrats are bad, and I don’t think all Republicans are wonderful. No MAN, let alone PARTY, is infallible. And a pendulum will counter-swing as far as it will swing – it’s the nature of a democracy – a system in which we are ALL BLESSED to live. But I do hold conservative values, and I see our country’s compass shifting more and more as time goes by. And many forget that once certain policies are in place, others will be gone forever.

I recently heard someone say that this election season wasn’t about left and right, but about right and wrong. I’ll concede that party lines were indeed blurred this election … to everyone but the politicians.

America hangs in a precarious place. I pray that we are led forward with wisdom and not malice, and we will all keep our eyes wide open to every move. May God continue to bless America!

Props to Little Miss Chatterbox's post today, BTW. My old blog wished it was like hers.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Down the Drain

The drive into my office park is lined with maple trees. In the fall their lush deep green leaves turn vibrant gold, and stay in their painted glory until the first hard frost.

Last night was our first hard frost, and as the morning sun warmed the world, the maple leaves loosened from their branches and rained down in a golden veil. By 9 am the trees were all but bare. There was a brisk breeze blowing the newly freed leaves, leading them in a dance.

As I paused from my work, I looked out the window and my eyes fell on one particular leaf. No special reason - it was one in a crowd of leaves and looked like any other leaf out there - but I found myself watching it above all. It separated from the others, swirled, lifted and lowered, and then tumbled from the grass and on to the pavement. I watched it scoot and flit across the asphalt. It floated along gracefully until it reached the storm drain - and there it fell in, like a quarter in a piggy bank. Just like that.

I feel like the same thing happens to me sometimes, little leaf. Is that why I just happened to see you?

General whining ...

I've written a well thought out continuum of thoughts on SawIII and subsequent discussions I've had with people I know, but I haven't had the time or gumption to type it into here - so you are spared for now. I know you're disappointed, but it'll be okay. I'll probably get to it eventually.

Meanwhile, I've still been sick. Naive kept telling me I have walking pneumonia, at which I scoffed - but I couldn't seem to get better and in time 3 other people independantly suggested it as well. So I got worried and went to the doctor. He asked me questions (that I'm not sure he really listened to my responses) and thumped around on my back and listened with his stethoscope. He told me that there are lots of weird lung ailments going around right now and it sounded like I had many symptoms of pneumonia and/or bronchitis, but that my lungs sounded clear, which doesn't fit the MO. Then he told me he thinks I have bronchitis (huh?). He wrote me a scrip for Zithromax and 3 doses later brings me to today. I still feel like crap, but not as crappy as before.

I've always liked my doc. But this visit, I felt kind of ... I don't know ... skimmed over. Then again, maybe it was just me. After all, if I haven't mentioned, I feel like crap. My lungs feel like I've been breathing fiberglas and I'm so tired I can't even believe I'm up right now. MEH!

Doesn't it suck, trying to find a doctor? The doctor I had from the time I was born retired when I was in college. I didn't find another "PCP" until about 5 years ago, because I just can't find anyone I feel any kind of real concern from. Not that your doctor needs to bring flowers into the room with him, but I don't want to be herded in and out and not have them even look at me in the eye the whole time. I want to feel like they give a damn about me, even if they don't.

I felt really happy with my doc when I stumbled across him by accident. I went to him with concerns about chest pains and he went above and beyond in treating me. He also took interest in the emotional causes which brought me to the physical manifestations. He even followed up with me to see how I was doing. To add to all this, he's young - a doctor I could visit for possibly the rest of my life. Awesome.

You can understand my disappointment with his distracted aloofness the other day.

I'd almost wave it off, except that the Hub went to him last time he was sick (having been fed up with his own doc) and said the same thing. I was so enamoured with my doc's service that I thought for sure it was an isolated incident. But maybe not.

The thing is - I'm so rarely sick, I really am not in need of a doctor's care often. So does it really matter? Sometimes I think not. But on the other hand, yes it does. A doctor is your employee - You pay him/her to give you a service. If you're not happy with the service they provide, you shouldn't have qualms about firing them. But then it'll take me 15 more years to find a doctor I can be happy with.

Pffff. I haven't even been able to decide on a new stinking groinacologist after my coolest-OBG-ever retired a year and a half ago. I better stick with one upheaval at a time.

At least I like my dentist. :/