Sunday, December 30, 2007

Strangers Among Us

My folks finally made it over today after rescheduling visits a half a dozen times due to one thing or another (mostly thanks to colds, flus and ear infections on this end). They brought birthday and Christmas gifts for Incrediboy, and we all had a ball playing with them. We had a nice visit over brownies and coffee, and I've felt fairly warm and fuzzy ever since.

My relationship with my parents has been a great source of angst for most of my adult life. I have never felt unloved - Yet have never felt that I quite lived up to their expectations of me - it seemed that I was always an unsavory blend of irritation and disappointment for them. Looking back I'm not sure how much of this was reflected by them and how much was assumption on my part - I will fully admit I could be a pain in the a$$. But my brother was a pleaser and bordered on being an overachiever - and while not maliciously, there were plenty of times that I was compared and subtly yet blaringly notified that was found wanting.

I don't think my parents meant to hurt me in any way - and I'm not altogether sure they are even aware they did. I don't hold a grudge toward them for any of it. But much of it is hard to overcome. I have often wondered how deeply it all has affected my self-perception, which has always been erratic.

We get along fine, but are not especially close. Many people talk with their parents and/or see them several times a week. I have often gone weeks or even months without talking to my folks, and it's been a good half a year since I saw them last. Rather strange considering they live less than an hour away from us. Granted, they have both been struggling with illnesses this past year, but it has always been this way.

Many times a visit with my folks has been upsetting. I feel it disrespectful to go into details, but suffice it to say I am very sensitive to their judgment, even as a grown woman of otherwise strong fortitude and confidence. Somehow I am always a little girl of terribly fragile emotion in their presence. And while I don't take sh!t from anyone in everyday life, I have a way of allowing the tiniest remark from them destroy me for hours or even days.

But something seems to have changed in this past year. Most likely hinged upon my Dad's battle with cancer, we are all a bit closer, a bit more comfortable and a bit less guarded.

We are still not a close-knit family as most are - it's more the feeling of extended family rather than immediate. My son knows who they are and is excited at the prospect of seeing them when we do - but shies away from them if a hug is suggested.

I think it bothers them a little. It does me, too.

I often long for the closeness that nearly everyone else seems to have in their families. But my family is mine, and I love them. I will take whatever is given.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


I have had the creeps all day.

My neighbor down the road was killed today. He was stabbed in the abdomen, in his home, by some guy who just got released from prison. Apparently he knew the guy because he told the deputy his name before dying from his wounds. The perpetrator was long gone by then, and could've been anywhere. A statewide manhunt was launched.

The whole thing is particularly troublesome to me, because we moved way out here into Sticksville in order to get away from some of the dangers of city living. There's some sort of Mayberry-esque illusion to life that comes with country living - an ungrounded impression that you are somehow safer. Not that we've ever felt comfortable enough to leave our doors unlocked or anything like that - but you just kind of figure the dangers of modern life are a little more distant from you.

In many ways they probably are. But bad stuff happens everywhere.

Earlier this evening the killer was apprehended and taken into custody. But that didn't help ease the creepy feeling that someone was watching me through our windows.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Silent Night

It's been a busy day for Clew. I got up at 7:30 (which, actually, is sleeping in for me) - Hub was working most of the day so it was just Incrediboy, MBDog and me. I tried to get some chores done but it was difficult, as Incrediboy was in the mood for company and MBDog was being a general pain in the butt. I did manage to get a few loads of laundry done and get the kitchen cleaned, but weeding out toys in preparation for the new deluge in a few days has been slow going. And I never did get my morning plan of mopping and sealing the hardwood done until after Incrediboy was asleep tonight.

An immensely busy day considering I really didn't get too much done. But that's how it goes sometimes. And that's okay :).

I have a lot left to do in the next few days. Incrediboy was sick for the latter half of the week so I'm even further behind on chores than I usually am. But I also have a lot done. Presents for Incrediboy's best Christmas ever are wrapped and hiding in our bedroom closet. The infamous tow truck is in the trunk of my car, waiting to become a part of something amazing in a little boy's eyes. These, the important things, are done.

Hub turned in early after his long day and MBDog joined him. I just got out of a desperately needed shower and am sitting with a nice cozy cup of gingerbread spice tea. The TV is down low and the lights of our Christmas tree are sweetly serenading the corner of my eye. An entire corner of our family room displays Christmas cards from the friends with which we are richly blessed. Our stockings drape gracefully from the mantle, waiting patiently to be filled. Visions of sugarplums are dancing in the blue bedroom down the hall.

I should be doing some more chores instead of sitting on the couch in my fuzzy robe, drinking tea and blogging. My folks are visiting in a few days and I pretty much need to clean every room but the kitchen - and that too will surely need cleaned again by Tuesday. But just for tonight, I wanted to slow down. I wanted to pause long enough to savor the company of the holiday's quieter side. It's been a long time since I've done that.

Merry Christmas, friends.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Canine Design - for Coffeypot

Hello, blog buddies! The holiday preparations are keeping me busy and I haven't had much time to post nor to visit around much. In lieu, I am republishing an old post of mine from April 2006, in honor of my newest blogfriend, Coffeypot - an amusingly grumpy and fussy guy on the surface, but with a heart as big as the moon for dogs. I love that in a person.

Hope you're all well! Be back soon ~

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"It had been (my dog)'s job to raise me. All that time we had been having fun, going for walks, getting into trouble, being companions and friends in some great adventure. And I had spent so much time teaching him to sit, stay, lie down, roll over. But all along, he had been teaching me. It is the child that makes the man, and in this case it was a dog. All along it had been the dog doing the teaching, not me. How do you like that? And I love him for it ... and will for the rest of my life."

- Carlo De Vito

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Anyone who knows me, knows I love my dog to a ridiculous degree. He is my 4 footed son. I love dogs in general, and I firmly believe that anyone who doesn’t like dogs has a serious defect in their wiring.

Dog is God spelled backwards. Have you ever noticed? Probably a random coincidence of English language – as I’m sure this wouldn’t apply in all other tongues. But that is a delightful and poignant little thing to me. Dogs are uniquely special creatures, purposefully designed to hold a precious place in the hearts and lives of mankind. And as in all blessed relationships, the rewards outweigh the annoyances so greatly that the aggravations fade into the shadows before they even brand your heart with a grudge.

Having a dog in your life will award you with the world’s sweetest gifts and most understated lessons. As touched upon in the quote above, we have as much to be taught from them as they have from us, if not moreso. Most Beautiful Dog shows us every day that joy is not only simply found but so easily attainable. He is thrilled to see us whether we’ve been gone all day or only for a few moments behind the bathroom door. He is always up for romping and playing, and is never hesitant about showing his emotions honestly. He senses when we are sad, and responds with gentle quiet sympathy. He’s unpretentious and never puts on airs. And most importantly, if we are harsh with him, he doesn’t hold it against us – he immediately apologizes with a sorrowful gaze of his dazzling amber eyes, and then works on making friends again.

I wish I could be half the good person Most Beautiful Dog is. I try to follow his examples in my interactions with others, though I usually fall short.

Our biggest problem with Most Beautiful Dog is getting him to come when we call. We have taught him to sit, lie down, roll over, even “pray” - but can we teach him to come when we call? No-o-o-o-o! He doesn't come when we call. He only comes when he thinks what we’re doing right now is more exciting than what he's doing right now.

I’d love for MBDog to come when I call him. It’s recently occurred to me that maybe he’s teaching me another lesson. I don’t always listen to my Master, either.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Creating Christmas Magic

I finished up my shopping for what I anticipate to be the best Christmas morning ever – and now in my typical, second-thought style, and in the spirit of “your kids will have more fun playing with the empty box”, I’m wondering if I should have saved what could have otherwise been a new HDTV, for example.

Incrediboy’s preschool class has a variety of toys available for the kids to enjoy during free time. Incrediboy has become particularly enamored with a tow truck that is amongst the toys. It’s blue, about a foot long, with a working hook. It’s made by Matchbox and is probably 8 or 10 years old by the looks of it.

I’ve been trying to find him one of his own since he adores it so much, but I haven’t been able to locate one anywhere. I looked in all kinds of stores, on Amazon, even on eBay. Nothing. I can only assume they don’t make them anymore.

The class talked about their wish list to Santa the other day and Miss S, their teacher, helped them write it on a list and hang up on the classroom door. Most lists had 7 or 8 items of typical fare … Spiderman stuff, Transformers, Hannah Montana, Barbie, a football, a new bike, etc. Every other page is full, though.

What was Incrediboy’s list, of only two items?

Number two item: A new box of crayons. (Easy enough)
Number one item: A tow truck just like the one in Miss S’s classroom.

Miss S informed me that she asked Incrediboy, “That’s all you want?”, to which he replied, “Yep. If I get a tow truck like that I’ll be the happiest boy in the whole world!”


I repeat, I can’t find that truck anywhere. And while I always swore I’d never fall into this kind of game, it really upsets me that I can’t get him the one thing he really wants. We’ve gotten him a lot of nice things, and I know he’ll be thrilled with life on Christmas morning. But oh how I wish I could indulge my little boy’s belief and faith in Santa Claus by giving him the one thing he wants most!

Miss S is aware of my difficulties in finding said tow truck. And God love her, she spoke to Miss M, the preschool director about it. They decided, without me even asking, that if I wanted to bring in a replacement truck - not even a fancy one! – that we could have the old tow truck for Incrediboy.


So here’s what I was thinking. I won’t wrap it, as it’s not new. But I’ll leave it by the empty cookie plate, with a note to this effect:

Dear Incrediboy,

I saw your Christmas list you wrote at school. I do not make this same tow truck in my toy shop anymore, but I talked to Miss S and we agreed that I would leave another truck for your classroom so that you can have this one for your own. Merry Christmas!

Love, Santa

I can’t wait to see his face.

I’d have loved to get him a new one. But the simple fact is, I know he won’t care. He loves that tow truck. I just hope he’ll be interested in some tiny way, in his other sparkly new Christmas gifts. :)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Moments of Holiday Angst & Pride

I still haven’t put the icicles on the tree and am considering just skipping it altogether. We haven’t put it up for several years now, and while Hub and I both agree it really adds to the tree’s personality, we have been worried that MBDog will snack on it while we’re not watching, which in turn will be a mess as it exits him – IF it exits him.

Speaking of, our gigundous tree all but blocks the front window, but there’s enough room for MBDog to squeeze in between and check out what’s happening in the front yard. Being a sporting breed, he loses his fool mind if he even thinks he might see a deer, rabbit, bird or chipmunk – springboarding off the windowsill with a coronary-inducing BOO ROO ROO, nails clattering on the hardwood and dining room chairs slamming into the table as he tears to other windows.

The other night, some bird had the audacity to sachet through our front yard, and MBDog threw his standard nervous breakdown at the window. This time, however, the tree was there and he’d worked his way underneath and into it in order to assume his patrolling position. His BOO ROO ROO was accompanied by a quick and violent twisting of my tree and a harsh tinkling and crunching of ornaments. I kneejerk-reacted with a yelp at him as I shot off the couch, and he practically took the tree down trying to scoot out of the room.

I examined my poor tree. Many of the ornaments had swung around to lay on top of their respective branches rather than hang down from them, but miraculously nothing seemed broken. Not that I've found yet, anyway. I could have sworn I heard something fragile go "crunch", though.

I did notice, however, that the internal light strand (the one that twinkles) is no longer lit.

After going through 15 light strands to find only 6 that still work, I’m this close to throwing the whole tree right out the front door.

In brighter news (pardon the pun), Incrediboy’s Christmas Concert was Friday evening. His preschool class did a play in which he and his best friend were two of the wise men. They did exceptionally well – I thought for sure some tomfoolery would be going on.

Well, maybe there was a little bit - but not too bad ;).

After their play, his class sat on the stage and prepared to sing a song as a group. "Away in a Manger". As soon as they started, my son - never one to draw attention to himself – grabbed the microphone from the hand of his teacher who sat next to him and belted out a strong rendition without the slightest bit of self-consciousness. He received an enthusiastic round of applause, and he beamed – with that look in his eye. That look that says, “Ahhh, me public!”

He may look a lot like me, but he’s Daddy through and through.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

"I've got the wholllle bed - to myself..."

I’ve been indulging myself the past few evenings. The hub is out of town on a guys’ trip, which leaves me alone with the children (human and canine) in our big ole house. Upon putting Incrediboy to bed and wrapping up my evening activities around the abode, Most Beautiful Dog and I turn in for the night.

Now while we have a strict rule that Incrediboy sleeps in his OWN room, not ours – MBDog has always shared our bed. It was much more convenient and manageable when he weighed 7 pounds rather than his current 70, but the benefits outweigh the hassles. He’s a sweet, affectionate boy that is the perfect shape to spoon yourself around when he’s curled up in a ball next to you. Now if he decides to stretch out, and make room for himself by forcefully pushing on you with his giant paws, that’s another story … But usually it’s all good.

We watch a little TV together before dozing off … I have FULL control of the remote, and MBDog doesn’t complain about what I stop on. LOL. The best part though, is that I get to sleep sideways in the bed.

I have no idea why, but I love to sleep sideways in our bed. I just LOVE it. We have a California King, so there’s plenty of room in all directions. There’s really no reason why I would even need to do such a thing. But anytime Hub’s gone overnight somewhere, I bask in the frivolity of sleeping east to west rather than north to south. So I guess I just do it because I can.

It’s awesome.

Don’t get me wrong, I love having Hub there and I miss him when he’s gone. But I just LOVE sleeping this way. It’s kind of like the time on Seinfeld, when Kramer painted out the middle line on the highway, and Elaine was gushing about how wonderful the extra-wide lane was. It’s not necessary, but it sure feels luxurious!

The bad part is getting up the next day, though. Particularly on a morning like today - where snow blankets the countryside and the temperature is in the teens – where I and my dog have achieved a perfectly comfortable snugglepile and I can feel the convection-oven-like warmth circulating under the blankets – the kind where you let your alarm clock ring way longer than you normally would because you hate to let the warm coziness escape by pulling the covers back because it’s so perfect. I’d have given just about anything to stay in bed today. All day.


Hub will be back tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to it. I miss him! But for tonight, I look forward to one last luxurious sideways snooze in a huge nest of blankets all to myself – just me and my Most Beautiful Dog.

I can’t wait.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

O Tannenbaum

Yes, I'm cheating again ... I'm reposting a piece from a few years ago. But I was thinking of it while I decorated our tree the other night, and just wanted to share these thoughts again.

Hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season!

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I am an eclectic decorator. While I think trees done in department-store-perfect themes and color schemes are lovely, I prefer a homey feel for my own personal tree. We deeply weave hundreds of lights from trunk to branch tips, followed by draping several strands of faceted silver beads halfway in, to catch the light and make our tree even more shimmery. And then, the ritual of the ornaments. I have several boxes of the usual colored glass globes and the satin snowball ornaments. Our tree is large and these make nice fillers. But most items are individuals, very different from one another.

I started to collect bells for my tree several years ago. Not jingle bells, but the classic belfry-bell shape. I have two cloisonné bells, one with snowflakes, the other with holly. I have several character bells – angels, Santas, snowmen – their feet serving as clappers in a hollow skirt or overcoat. Bells with verses of poetry or scripture on them. Bells that tinkle merrily as I hang them. I love to get lost in my own little carol of the bells as I decorate my tree. In later years I’ve had a hard time finding working bell ornaments. I hope they come back into fashion soon.

I have commemorative ornaments with events and calendar years on them. Ornaments displaying favorite sports teams, hobbies, and collectibles. The little racecar from Toy Story that came in a Happy Meal and we turned into a tree decoration. Ornaments from vacation spots, and as souvenirs brought back by friends. A spider made of red and green beads, sitting on a silver thread web woven god’s eye-style, because I love spiders. Miniature power tool ornaments the Hub found at Sears. The resin pet ornament I found on line that looks just like Most Beautiful Dog. A crystal Star of the East. A fancy gold cross. The fuzzy bunny sitting in the crook of a candy cane – the ornament my Mom gave me for my first tree when I went away for college. Countless others, each unique and each meaningful.

I have a whole mess of cheesy cheap junky ornaments that I think I got for 5 for $1. A white plastic reindeer with an iridescent coating on it. Fake peppermint candies made of striped plastic wrap over chunks of Styrofoam. A shiny gold painted Santa Claus boot filled with toys. A sleigh with a half busted runner. A weird looking guy – maybe a soldier, maybe a jester, I’m not sure - made of colorful wooden beads. Things like that. I bought those our first Christmas together. We were both starting over – we’d just bought a house and we were so poor!

They’re really quite ugly, this certain collection (chuckle). But I hang them each year. Why? Because they are a part of our Christmas past. Pieces of the memories we have made and traditions we have established. When I look at my tree, the decorations take me back to past seasons, and I find myself reflecting fondly on where we’ve been, how far we’ve come, and how blessed we are in so many ways.

Each year we add a few more items to the collection. I just bought a new train ornament, as Incrediboy is really into trains right now. He half murdered the little flag on top of it as we made our way to the checkout, but in typical Mom fashion, I see this as part if its charm now. I want to hang it each year forevermore in its gimpy, imperfect state, a victim of busy little hands. By next year I’m thinking we’ll be making things together to hang on the tree. Awkward, chunky, messy toddler decorations. Exquisitely beautiful in their own way.

I hope that someday every square inch of our tree will be donned with symbols of love and kindredship. Old and new, silver and gold. Plastic, resin, glass, paper, Popsicle sticks, glitter. These say home to me. These say, Merry Christmas with love.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Random Fact du Jour

Bearcats, a member of the civet family, have a scent that smells exactly like popcorn.

Remember that just in case it ever comes up the next time you're on Jeopardy.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Post-Thanksgiving, Pre-Christmas Updates

I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving! We went to my brother-in-law's as usual - this year they prepared the absolute biggest turkey I've ever seen in my life. It was 34 pounds, I kid you not. My nephew raised it for 4H or whatever farming club he's involved in. I am kind of weird about eating things that I've met in person ... But I *am* a meat-eater, so I guess that's silly. He sure was delicious, though. Probably the best tasting turkey I've ever had!

Incrediboy was under the weather on Thanksgiving Day (he did all right but had a sporadic lowgrade fever and didnt eat much) - Hub took him to the doctor on Friday and he has a sinus infection too :(. They say sinus infections arent contageous, but I wonder! He's on these new antibiotics that are nasty and he hates. Lovely getting that in him. Needless to say, with my dad's health being a little delicate, we canceled plans with my folks. Dang it.

I made a trial run of ice cream cupcakes y'day, and not only are they adorable but they're really good! And WAY less messy to eat than a normal cupcake. The only drawback is the cones lose a little bit of crispiness the next day (yes, I know this because had one for breakfast - shut up) - but I'm sure as heck not getting up at 4am to make flippin' cupcakes tomorrow just so the cones are perfectly crispy. Preschoolers wont care all that much about that I'm sure. ;)

Oh, and I have two more gifts bought. YES!

Have a great week, everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

This is an altered version of a post from a few years ago - I was reading it this morning and decided it was really all I wanted to say this year as well - more to myself than anyone, but hopefully it will bless you as well. Enjoy your holiday, friends!

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A THANKFUL HEART - Originally posted Nov. 23, 2005

I used to work for a company that was owned and about 85% staffed by Jehovah’s Witnesses. JW’s do not celebrate any holidays or birthdays, considering it to be a form of idolatry. We of “other ways” were permitted to take the day off without getting any grief about it, but we weren’t paid for the holidays we took. As an inquisitive casual Christian, I once asked one of my coworkers why they didn’t observe Thanksgiving, being that it was a day of prayer and thankfulness. He told me, “Because WE are thankful EVERY day.”

Frankly, I found that response very annoying in its condescension.

It’s been probably 14 years since I had this brief conversation, but I think back on it every year. As time goes by, regardless of the fact that it generated from the teachings of a doctrine with which I personally do not agree, its simple stand-alone truth has come into a better understood light. With so much to be thankful for, it is indeed a shame that most people are only thankful for what we have in flitting afterthoughts, if at all - and only pause to more deeply reflect and appreciate during holidays set aside for such.

This year has been a challenge for me. Indeed every year brings its bounty of highs and lows – found treasures and losses. Sometimes the lows get to me, and seem to stick with me longer than the highs. I often catch myself getting into modes of being sad, stressed and/or cross. For what reason? What burdens are so heavy that I can’t find joy in the many blessings in my life? I have a wonderful and loving husband who makes me smile every day. We have the most marvelously incredible little boy who teaches us daily new joys of life. We have a sweet and gentle dog that is a model of unconditional love for us. We are all healthy and sound and to top it off were fortunate enough to have been born in the United States, land of Liberty. Though my family is scattered, they are good and strong people who have shown me what it means to lead by example. I have friends that are true treasures. I have a “dream home” on some beautiful country land and my husband and I have jobs that we not only love but allow us to provide for our family while also enjoying some finer things. Yes, I’m constantly scrambling, perpetually fretting, often stressing, and always chasing after someone or something. But this means my life is full of others with which I share love and happiness. And that truly is the biggest blessing.

It’s easy to get caught up in feeling sorry for ourselves or allowing our hearts to harden, proclaiming we have no one to thank for our life and accomplishments but ourselves. But as I grow older, watch the world grow and evolve around me, I begin to understand what my coworker was saying at the heart of it. It’s a fulfilling thing to gather with friends and family on marked holidays of Thanks, but true thankfulness carries on and flows freely every day of the year. This Thanksgiving, as we hurry around the state and visit with relatives, cope with screeching herds of kids, and I hug my husband and pick birthday cake out of Incrediboy’s hair, I’ll be opening myself to the Lord to teach me how to have a more gracious and thankful heart on a daily basis – for ALL my blessings - because I am so very blessed, it should be no other way.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Love Sucks - But in a Good Way

I’ve been called many things, but “domestic goddess” is probably not on the list. Generally, my motto is, “Keep your home clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy.” I’m a lame housekeeper, I’ll be the first to admit it. There are a lot more things I’d rather be doing than cleaning house. I do it, occasionally. But not like I should.

One reason is that when I get done, it looks like I never did anything. Particularly the floors, and let’s face it – a dirty floor makes the whole room look dirty. Hardwood is one thing; sweep and you’re done – a vast improvement. But our big throw rugs? They’ve got almost as much dog hair on them as our most beautiful dog himself, and our tired old vacuum cleaner just didn’t get it up. Vacuuming and nothing were nearly the same thing, which was discouraging.

That is until Hub bought me my new vacuum cleaner.

Now to most modern women, the gift of a vacuum cleaner would hold an insulting reference to 1950’s socio-sexist politics. But only until they’d meet my new baby, I bet.

If it’s possible to be in love with a vacuum cleaner, I am. Sleek, with 3 filters (one of them HEPA), 24 - count 'em, 24! - cyclonic chambers, a never lose suction guarantee, pull-out telescoping tube handle, 4 attachments including special pet hair ones, and dressed in my favorite color. It sucks everything but the color out of the carpet. And I love it. I love it so much I bet I even vacuum more than once every month or two now.

Thank you, Hubby – I love you even more than my new vacuum cleaner. I mean it!

BTW, after many hours of pain and suffering, I'm finally overcoming my sinus infection. Thanks to everyone for the get well wishes!

And may God bless the SAINT who invented Zithromax. :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Roadkill Head

I think that a very large utility truck ran over my head while I was sleeping last night.

Either that, or I've developed a sinus infection.

I've been battling feeling crummy for several weeks now, and yesterday started producing thick gunky brown snot out of the right side of my nose (sorry, TMI.) I woke up this morning with nearly the entire right side of my face, from above my eyebrow to the roots of my top teeth, absolutely throbbing. I'm plugged up, but the added pressure of trying to blow my nose makes me quite certain the whole right side of my head will blow apart if I push too hard.

Sucks to be me.

BUT! I don't care. Because one of my bestest friends, Chesneygirl, will just so happen to be in my area tonight for a work training thing tomorrow. We've been planning to meet for a late dinner and for her to meet my boys - and we only get to see each other a couple times a year, so as long as I can get up and move, I'll be chillin' with my coolie in a matter of hours now. YESSS!

I know what you're thinking. I'm extremely selfish and inconsiderate to expose my dear friend to my germs. But she told me she didn't care. And who am I to go against her wishes?


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Speaking of Madness ...

Incrediboy's got a birthday coming up this month, and now that he's in preschool it's become a nice little tradition for all the kids to have a little something special for the class (provided by their parents) in honor of their birthdays. This has varied from simple little gift bags to hats and noisemakers to a party at Chuck E. Cheese. The latter from which I'm still recovering.

I had the idea of providing a pinata for his class, but after asking his teachers if this would be okay, they decided to have a pinata for the kids at Halloween. Thanks for stealing my idea. >:[

So last week I just so happened to run across the greatest idea in a magazine. ICE CREAM CONE CUPCAKES. Have you seen these? You take flat bottomed ice cream cones and fill them as you would a cupcake tin. Place the batter filled cones on a cookie sheet and bake according to the box directions. When the cupcakes cool, ice them and add decorative sprinkles. Then you eat them like an ice cream cone! Kids love them because they're fun, and they are (supposedly) much neater and easier for little ones than the traditional paper cup peeling action of regular cupcakes.

And honestly ... how CUTE are THESE!?

Apparently this is not a new idea, as I've since found many people who are familiar with this technique. But I'm pretty excited. I think they're adorable and fun and I can't wait to make them for Incrediboy's class.

I'm pondering the possibility of making up a little party favor bag for all the kids too, but frankly, I already have an inordinate amount of stress going on in my life right now. The ice cream cone cupcakes may be it for preschool this year. And trust me, while I consider myself a pretty fun Mom, Suzy Homemaker -slash- Party Coordinator is a role I find challenging to play. I'll consider myself doing pretty good if I can pull these off and get them to class without destroying them in the process.

Maybe I should make a test batch. You know, just to practice.


Monday, November 12, 2007

The Madness is Underway.

I bought my first Christmas gift this weekend. I ran across a book on a subject in which my brother-in-law has a strong interest. It’s a very nice, very thick, sleek paged hardback book – and I got it on sale for what I’d estimate to be a fourth of its retail price.

I’m quite pleased with my find.

Truth be told, I’m beginning to really detest the holiday season in these later years. Not Christmas itself – I love Christmas. But the whole big production it’s become. I used to enjoy gift shopping, I really did. But it's just too much of a hassle now. Ya know? It's is an absolute crapshoot – everyone has everything, and getting suggestions (other than HDTV’s and things like that) is like getting blood from a turnip. I rarely see my nieces and nephews and really don’t know what they already have, so toy shopping is a grope in the dark. Then there’s always the gnawing feeling that we haven’t gotten enough. Then there's the increasingly impossible task of finding something for everyone else that reflects a remote air of thoughtfulness on your part (I've never cared for taking the route of generic gifts - I always try to find something special. A huge contributor to my stress level, but it's all part of my OCD. I can't help it.)

My family discontinued gift exchanging amongst adults many years ago. We still buy for the youngsters, but not having to deal with everyone else made the holidays much more enjoyable. We could let go of the stress of trying to find so many gifts and simply enjoy the season as meant to be. Gathering together, seeing the children’s joy with their gifts, enjoying a meal and sharing the special warmth and love of family is where the true magic of Christmas lies. Hub and I have tried to suggest this system to his family, but it’s never been accepted. So each year, we are still struggling to find gifts for those that have no suggestions for us and already have everything they want and need.

All I can say is, “UGH!”.

I know I sound totally selfish, not to mention very un-American, and believe me I know what a huge impact non-gifting would have on our economy. I don’t want stores to finish in the red, and I don’t want people to lose their jobs. But just think about how much nicer the holiday season would be, if we got back to focusing on what it’s all about and didn’t place such a huge emphasis on what to buy. We could return to teaching our children ~ BY EXAMPLE ~ the true meanings of Christmas. Love. Family. And the birth of a Savior. Not materialism, greed, and keeping up with Johnny and Jenny’s parents.

Incrediboy is coming to an age where he’s putting the whole “gimme” aspect of Christmas together. Every toy commercial prompts “I want that”. Now comes the skillful challenge for us as parents to balance Christmas of the heart and Christmas of the wallet. Having Incrediboy has also set us back a few steps in the sense that I do buy some little things for my Hub and myself after all, because it’s nice to have all of us open a stocking on Christmas morning. Not happy about re-adding us to the shopping list, but it’s all about creating memories for the boy.

So, for now, at this time each year, I join in the race. Struggling blindly to find something for everyone in the midst of a cluster of horrible, creeping traffic and grumpy, rude fellow shoppers (the REAL reason I hate Christmas shopping). Likewise, I don’t know what to tell people to get me, and I feel bad about that. Thus, if you haven't caught on - this whole aspect of the holidays is not only unenjoyable for me, but downright stressful.

Have you ever seen “Best Friends”, where Goldie Hawn took about 5 Valiums before going shopping with her mother- and sister-n-law, and ended up passing out in her chicken salad?

I’m in touch with how she got to that point. Just sayin’.

One gift down, a squillion to go. Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

T-Bone - 4/8/1960-10/28/2002

A few years ago I wrote about my sweet friend T-Bone, the laughs we had, and how her illness caused her to withdraw from the world. Her mother told me they were just making her comfortable during her time she had left, the last time I called T-Bone's home. But I never even knew when she died.

It's always bothered me. Immensely.

I've periodically tried to do searches on her name on line to learn more, but have never really had any luck - Until the other day, when I ran across a very interesting site. Find A Grave is a huge database of millions of gravesites all over the United States and internationally. A collective project of both founder and thousands of contributors, visitors to the site can look up information on those who have passed. Of course the success of finding anyone depends on whether someone had taken the time and effort to enter them prior to your search, but with so many already banked there, your chances are fair.

I found T-Bone. She had been entered by a family friend, who had been gracious enough to also include her obituary and a photograph of her headstone. As I would have expected, her stone is adorned with a lovely angel - she loved angels. More importantly, I finally knew when she'd left us. I left a note in the guestbook, telling her I missed her. Silly sounding, I know, but somehow I felt much better after doing so.

I've never cosidered myself one for "closure" in the matters of death. When someone I love dies, the last thing I want to do is go to a funeral. I do NOT want my last memory of my loved one to be of them gray and cold and laid out in a box. But I do have a way of remembering the friends I've lost on their birthdays and the days they have died. It's my way of paying them tribute, if only in my heart. Not knowing when T-Bone passed away has always troubled me. My experience with finding her in that grave database and in finally knowing the date she passed, made me realize that perhaps I do have the need for "closure". Just in a different way than someone else would.

It's good to finally know. Rest in peace, my dear friend.

(BTW, if you're a perpetual browser like me, Find A Grave also has thousands of famous people's graves and biographies in its database. Have fun!)

Monday, November 05, 2007

A New Bright Star

I learned this weekend that a good friend had died.

I met him about 12 years ago, and if there's one thing that could be said about him it's that he never met a stranger. From minute one he treated you like he'd known you forever. He was popular - everyone seemed to know him - yet he had a way of making you feel like you were very special to him. There was nothing at all phony about his warm nature - it was just the way he was. Genuinely kind, unpretentiously intelligent. He lit up a room, wherever he was. And he had such an infectious laugh ... :)

The Hub I are blessed to have many memories with him and his wife. Great days and nights on the lake. New Years Eve parties. Friends' weddings. A wonderful visit and generous gifts when our son was born. Movies. Dinners. Lots of laughs.

We'd spoken with him on the phone, what doesn't seem like too long ago. We'd discussed getting together for dinner again but didn't make any solid plans. When his wife called us this weekend and told us the news, we could barely believe it. We missed the funeral, we didn't know - but there were many people to contact during a time when good concentration was hardly possible. It's understandable.

It's still sinking in that he's not here anymore. And already the world is a dimmer place now.

Shine brightly in your new home, my friend. We'll miss you, more than words can say.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I *SO* Love This.

I wish I could take credit for this, but I can't - I got it by email. I wish I could credit whoever put it together, but I don't know who they are. So, whoever you are - Kudos. This killed me. Hope y'all enjoy it as much as I did! (Also that you appreciate that it took me like two hours to upload all these goofy pics into Blogger. Just for you.) I know the spacing's a little screwy here and there, but Blogger's being a butthole and I did the best I could and am getting a headache, so forget it. Enjoy!

Last weekend I put an exhaust fan in the ceiling for my grandfather. While my brother and I were fitting the fan in between the joists, we found something under the insulation. What we found was this:

A JC Penney catalog from 1977. It's not often blog fodder just falls in my lap, but holy moley this was two solid inches of it, right there for the taking.

I thumbed through it quickly and found my next dining room set, which is apparently made by adding upholstery to old barrels:

Also, I am totally getting this for my bathroom:

There's plenty more home furnishings where those came from, however I'm not going to bore you with that. Instead, I'm going to bore you with something else. The clothes. The clothes are fantastic.

Here's how to get your a$s kicked in elementary school:

Just look at that belt. It's like a boob-job for your pants. He probably needed help just to lift it into place. The belt loops have to be three inches long. And way to pull them up to your armpits, grandpa.

Here's how to get your a$s kicked in high school:

This kid looks like he's pretending to be David Soul, who is pretending to be a cop who is pretending to be a pimp that everyone knows is really an undercover cop. Who is pretending to be 15.

Here's how to get your a$s kicked on the golf course:

This "all purpose jumpsuit" is, according to the description, equally appropriate for playing golf or simply relaxing around the house. Personally, I can't see wearing this unless you happen to be relaxing around your cell in D-block. Even then, the only reason you should put this thing on is because the warden made you.

Here's how to get your a$s kicked pretty much anywhere:

If you look at that picture quickly, it looks like Mr. Bob "No-pants" Saget has his hand in the other guy's pocket. In this case, he doesn't, although you can tell just by looking at them that it's happened - or if it hasn't happened it will. Oh yes. It will. As soon as he puts down his matching coffee cup.

Here's how to get your a$s kicked at the beach:

He looks like he's reaching for a gun, but you know it's probably just a bottle of suntan lotion in a holster.

Here's how to get your a$s kicked in a meeting:

If you wear this suit and don't sell used cars for a living, I believe you can be fined and face serious repercussions, up to and including termination. Or imprisonment, in which case you'd be forced to wear that orange jumpsuit.

Here's how to get your a$s kicked on every day up to and including St. Patrick's Day:

Dear heavens, I don't believe that color exists in nature. There is NO excuse for wearing either of these ensembles unless you're working as a body guard for the Lucky Charms leprechaun.

In this next one, you'll be relieved to learn: Your Search For VALUE Ends at Penneys. As does your search for chest hair.

And this -- Seriously. No words.

Oh wait, it turns out that there are words after all. Those words are What. The. Heck. I'm guessing the snap front gives you quick access to the chest hair. The little tie must be the pull tab.

Also, judging by the sheer amount of matching his/hers outfits, I'm guessing that in 1977 it was considered pretty stylish for couples to dress alike.

This couple looks happy, don't they?

I am especially fond of this one, which I have entitled "Cowboy Chachi Loves You Best."

And nothing showcases your everlasting love more than the commitment of matching bathing suits. That, and a blonde girl with a look on her face that says "I love the way your junk fights against that fabric."

Then, after the lovin', you can relax in your one-piece matching terry cloth jumpsuits:

I could go on, but I'm tired, and my eyes hurt from this trip back in time. I think it's the colors.

That said, I will leave you with these tasteful little numbers:

Man, that's sexy.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Happy Haunting, y'all!

Sports Yap - Deal With It ;)

So, I know nobody cares about this but me, but you'll just have to suffer. :) I'll return to my regularly scheduled irregularity next post.

I love boxing and I'm a HUGE fan of the boxing reality show, "The Contender". Season 1 was the best, as it focused more on the guys' as people and you got to know them. Also, Season 1 involved physical challenges in addition to the fights, which made for interesting twists and rewards. But what was, was - and I still love the show, regardless of ESPN's streamlining once they acquired airing rights from NBC.

But I digress.

In any case, Season 3 is in its final tiers. Codrington defeated Johnsen with one fail clock to the temple last week, about 10 seconds into round 1. Not surprising, but kind of a deflation just the same. I was so in the mood for a big long exciting match. Last night was the big night for me, though. Since week 1, I've had my eye on two fighters - Sam Soliman and Sakio Bika. Both are amazing, AMAZING fighters. Wouldn't you know these two drew each other in their semi-final match? I was DYING!

Soliman and Bika have met in the ring before, and Soliman won that fight. But Bika now has more experience. He's tough - but so is Soliman. I had my gut feeling about how the fight would be called before it even began, and 95% of the time, I'm right. Sam has really been my pet fighter this year - but I couldn't help but draw to Bika. He's got about 1% body fat, looks like he's carved out of marble, and has a jab faster than lightning. As one of his opponents earlier in the season said, "he's got muscles in his eyebrows." :D LOL.

Soliman, too, is unbelievable in different ways. He has the craziest fighting style. Correction, he HAS no style. He's all over the place - there's just no premeditating what he's going to do or where he's going to throw. This makes it near impossible for his opponent to use Sam's habits to their advantage. I love that. Sakio, on the other hand, is very deliberate, very calculating. An incredibly solid fighter in every way. An interesting match for a fight for sure.

For 8 rounds last night, I felt like I was going to have a stroke. It was a GREAT fight.

In the end, Sakio Bika won by fairly close but unanimous decision. I was excited and sad at the same time. That's the drawback with your two favorites being matched up.

Next Tuesday, Sakio Bika meets Jaidon Codrington in the finale, for a $750,000 purse (sheesh!). Again, I find myself liking both fighters. Codrington, while starting the season out as a trash talker (a characteristic I really hate), ended up endearing me with his drive and the difficult loss of his father mid-season. Sakio Bika's my pick, but if Codrington wins, that's okay with me too.

As for Sam Soliman, he will be fine - he has a sparkling positive attitude, and at 33 I'm sure will continue to have a successful boxing career. Good luck, King! Wish you were here!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Shopaholics Anonymous

Yes! I'm still alive! And I've decided that since not only have my creative muses left the building but have left no forwarding address, I'm going to give up on waiting for great writing inspiration and return to boring the masses at large with random pointless blabber. Welcome to Clew's Rubber Room.

Now ....

Have you ever discovered, to your horror, that you actually are something that you have always proudly proclaimed you are not?

I have always hated shopping. Back in junior high and high school, girls characteristically bopped off to the mall at every chance, to buy clothes and shoes and baubles and bows. I would sometimes go, but only for the social aspect. I loved hanging out with my friends – but it has never been a great interest of mine to wander through stores and flip through racks and try stuff on just for fun. Frankly, it was an annoying way to spend time for me.

I never did acquire that taste for shopping. I will wear clothes and shoes till they fall apart at the seams, simply because I hate to go shopping. And those women who salve a broken heart or a flash of anger or a bout of depression by going on a shop-a-thon? What in the world is that all about? There’s not much that’s LESS relaxing than shopping to me.

I’ve always proudly worn the anti-shopper badge. Shopping, to me, has always been bourgeoisie, not to mention immensely boring and highly irritating.

I must confess something though, as I cannot bear the weight any longer. I've recently realized ... that I am a hypocrite. I actually DO love to shop. In fact, I could see becoming addicted to it very easily. Thank God I have good self-control.

Clothes? Shoes? Handbags? No. Still no appeal for me. I’m such a non-girl in that department. But media? Media is my downfall.

I can’t tell you how much I love bookstores. I love the atmosphere, I love the smell of paper and ink and binding glue and coffee in the new bookstores and that of must and dust in the used. I love to wander aimlessly into the different sections and discover arbitrary topics of interest. I love buying and collecting books, and it’s difficult for me to get out of a bookstore for less than $50 - $100. Oh my heavens, I love bookstores.

Probably the only thing that could trump a bookstore is a scrapbook store. Sweet, sweet utopia. Paper, paper stacks, embellishments, pens, stickers, fibers, countless new things to buy and try. Idea overload as I stuff my basket full of things, and then go to get a cart because the basket is full and I’m not even out of the second aisle. I know I’ll probably never use most of the things I buy, but it doesn’t matter. I must have them.

Even more dangerous are the online stores carrying books, CD’s and scrapping supplies. Man, I can ring up bills equivalent to the national debt before I even realize I’ve put a thing in my cybercart. But there’s no feasible way I can do without these newfound items. I can never even figure out how I’ve made it this far without them. And now that you can order Creative Memories stuff right on line and have them delivered to your door? Fugedaboudit! I’m toast. And so is my checkbook.

When I look back, there was one shop in the mall that my friends had to drag me out of with a towtruck, and one store to which I’d scramble off any time I got a little extra scratch in my pocket: the record store.

I am a shopaholic after all. I can’t believe it.

*hanging head in shame*

Friday, October 05, 2007

Good Times 'Round the Bend!

I know, I really don't blog anymore and no one even assumes I'm still alive, but it only seemed right to mention that this weekend is BLOGARITA II and I'm so excited I could just pee.

In a mere few hours, Chesneygirl, Nelly and I are descending on Naive-no-More's house like a plague of locusts for a weekend of girltime. Each of us will come bearing gifts, food and adult cordials - and only heaven knows what will develop from there, but you can bet we'll all be wrapping our ribcages on Monday from laughing so hard. Each of us, in our own ways, really needs that, too.

I can't wait to see my girls again!!!

(Now, I'm ready for my martini!)

Click here for Blogarita I memories.
You know you want to.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Bad flashback.

Another sleepless night I can't explain
Somebody said they heard me call your name
The radio won't let you leave my mind
I know it's over but I don't know why

It's been 20 years now. I don't hear this song too often anymore - but when I do - like this morning - I go right back to those days. Right back to forcing myself through that pain.

My college gym-credit aerobics class.

I went to a small fine arts college. Sports were not an emphasis, but in order to earn a bachelor's degree, studies other than art subjects were required - including a gym credit. My college offered four gym classes: volleyball, soccer, judo, and aerobics. All we did in high school gym was volleyball, so I was done with that. Soccer involved league play, and I wasn't interested in maintaining a game schedule. I wanted a nice, same time every time, predictable class. Judo was appealing, but required a robe which cost $40 I didn't have. That left aerobics.

Seemed easy enough. I was active and in good cardiovascular shape. What I hadn't counted on was the timing.

Freshman year was grueling. Studying and practicing art seems like a cakewalk to the outsider ("So you draw all day, how hard can that be?") - but class, study, and project hours at my college were equivalent to those of medical and law students. And the worst day of the week was Monday. The typical freshman Monday schedule contained 3 - 4 of the year's toughest courses. It was not uncommon, and could even be considered standard, for nearly all of us to be up all night on Sundays working on our studies. By mid-afternoon the next day you were praying for death, and gladly skipped dinner for the sweet pleasure of at long last pouring yourself into bed.

Not so for me and my brilliant plan to take aerobics.

At 6:30 pm on Mondays.

I considered suicide more than once as I stumbled into the auditorium after being up for 40 straight hours, having no shower and nothing on my stomach but a dozen cups of muddy cafeteria coffee.

The instructor was insufferably energetic. Not in a Beverly Hills, spandex and headband kind of way, but more of a drill sergeant kind of way. She'd take attendance as we all tried to sneak a cat nap - and then would bark us awake with a shrill command as she turned on her boombox, calling Richard Marx to pop-rock us from the bowels of hell.

"C'mon guys, let's move it! 1 - 2 - 3 - 4!" Our drill sergeant sprung into action as I blinked at her, my exhausted brain making up new swear words. "Let's go! It's your grade!"

Inevitably, my body had already commenced shutdown mode by this time, and protested vehemently as I forced myself up. My joints ached under the weight of my own body as I pushed them into following orders. I struggled through the class as if moving through a room full of polenta, barely keeping up if at all.

"Let's go! 1 - 2 - 3 - 4!", she'd yell, kicking her feet high in the air. I'd have loved to kick my foot high up her butt.

By cooldown time I'd be shaking like the elderly, practically on the verge of tears. Sometimes I wouldn't remember how I got back to my dorm room when I woke up in my workout clothes at 3 am ... remembering that I still had 10 hours worth of projects to get done in the next 4 hours, and wondering why I didn't just go sell my plasma to pay for those judo robes. At least judo was on a different night.

About a third of the way through the semester, a friend of mine figured out that if you hung in the back of the auditorium, you could duck out the back door when Sargeant Sweat turned to start the boombox and she wouldn't even notice you were gone. I followed suit from there on out.

Somehow, I got an A in aerobics. It was one of the hardest A's I ever earned, despite the fact that I cut the entire last two thirds of the semester.

I actually love being physically fit, and since college I've taken many workout classes. Tae Bo, kickboxing, Jazzercise, Turbo Jam. But never a class titled "aerobics". It's 6 of one, half a dozen of the other - pure semantics, and all synonymous. But I don't care. The very word makes me want to run away screaming.

Just hearing Richard Marx brings it all back. I can still hear her counting over the lyrics. "1 - 2 - 3 - 4!"

Should have known better indeed!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

July 28, 1997

I'm going to be busy these next few days, so I'm posting this a little bit early. Happy weekend, everyone ~

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You're my peace of mind
In this crazy world
You're everything

I've tried to find
Your love is a pearl
You're my Mona Lisa
You're my rainbow skies
And my only prayer

Is that you realize
You'll always be beautiful

n my eyes

10 years ago today, this song was playing on a houseboat in a quiet cove. The day before was 105 degrees. This day, it was raining.

Our families weren't there. Only a handful of friends and a local minister. We had a handwritten marriage license from a small nearby town, over which we had to swear we weren't first cousins or closer.

We were barefoot. He wore a red vest, bowtie, and black swim trunks. I had a thin lace dress on over my yellow swimsuit. He hadn't grown the goatee yet that he's now had for many years. I'd quit smoking about 18 months before, and was a little on the chunky side because of it.

We weren't babes in the woods - we'd both been casualties of previous wars of the heart. But we were ready and passionate to try again, together.

The world will turn and the seasons will change
And all the lessons we will learn
will be beautiful and strange
We'll have our fill of tears
Our share of sighs
My only prayer is that you realize
You'll always be beautiful in my eyes

10 years of moments have passed. Some happy, some heartbreaking. And we are still here - The weathering of time and trial polishing and honing us into gems. We're not the same people we were then, but we are under the same union. We grow and change, laugh and cry, process and forgive. For better or for worse.

There are lines upon my face from a lifetime of smiles
And when the time comes to embrace
For one long last while
We can laugh about how time really flies
We won't say goodbye
Because true love never dies
You'll always be beautiful in my eyes

There's a fashionable trend of "renewing" wedding vows on milestone anniversaries. I don't see the point. My vows will never expire.

You will always be beautiful in my eyes
And the passing years will show
That you will always grow
Ever more beautiful in my eyes.

Happy 10th anniversary Hub. I love you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Inventions and Epiphanies

I've been watching a show off and on lately called American Inventor. Contestants present an idea they have for an invention to a panel of judges. Some have rudimentary protoypes while others have only ideas and drawings. But the judges evaluate the ideas and a lucky few move on to the next round. Design teams and marketing firms assist the inventors in further developing their ideas, and the inventors must re-present their product against a much more rigid criteria.

It's an interesting show to me - watching these neat ideas come to fruition. The one thing that bothers me is a lot of great ideas, with potential to drastically change lives, are rejected in the name of mass marketing. Take for example, the hand-held translator which could aid the deaf community in conversing with the hearing without the use of an interpreter. It lost out to an under-the-kitchen-cabinet plasticwrap and tinfoil dispenser. And there was also the lightweight wheelchair design which could be collapsed, assembled and lifted with only one hand (a very appreciated feature to the disabled person I'm sure) that lost out to a computer program that helps you design your own working paper model cars and airplanes.

Don't get me wrong, all these inventions are fantastic and I'm not saying the wrap dispenser or the paper model designer didn't deserve a shot (actually, I really love the model program and will probably buy one for myself if it ever becomes available!). But it's a shame that ideas that could really make a difference in someone's quality of life were pushed aside in interest of sales numbers. But I guess that's the name of the game. And just because one effort doesn't revolutionize the world as much as another might, it doesn't mean it won't be of great benefit in its own way.

I wish I could come up with a cool idea.

I've been thinking about the task of changing my own life lately. I've been recently thinking a lot about the adage of serving the Lord and this leading to a happy heart, but I often struggle with this. I converse with God quite often throughout the day - little impromptu chats in my head. But I am not always dwelling on scriptures. I'm not always humming praise choruses or compiling a list of what to thank Him for during my evening prayers. I'm never on alert for someone to convert. I rarely wake up in the morning with the first thought of, "Okay, how can I glorify Christ today?". And as I've said frequently lately, I'm often of mood most foul, laden with worry about one thing or another. In fact, don't tell anybody, but I think I might even like having my panties in a bunch about something sometimes. You may find this hard to believe but I can be a little dramatic now and then.

But an epiphany so simple came over me today, and it's going to relieve my stress and pressure I tend to place on myself so much. "Serving the Lord" doesn't always have to be explosive evangelism or gushing hymns of praise in the streets. Serving the Lord can be accomplished by simply going about what I need to do on a daily basis - Doing what I am supposed to be doing in my routines, with a joyful heart. Performing my job. Caring for my family. Doing my part in maintaining a harmonious living space for us. Spending time teaching and playing with my son. Loving my husband. Listening to and comforting a burdened friend. Treating strangers with courtesy. Helping someone who needs help.

All of these things serve the Lord. All of these things make Him happy because they reflect His compassion for all of us. It's all so simple. I love it when I finally get something.

You'd think after being a Christian for 30 years, even a half-butted one, I'd know a little more than I do about living right.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I'm Still Here!

People do not live in the present always, at one with it. They live at all kinds of and manners of distance from it, as difficult to measure as the course of the planets. Fears and traumas make their journeys slanted, peripheral, uneven, evasive.
-- Anais Nin

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to know God's will for you.
-- Romans 12:2

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You know, I haven't just been goofing off the whole time I've been away. I've actually been doing some pretty serious self-evaluation. It's been kind of ugly too, and I've spared you thus far. You should thank me, seriously. But your luck's run out.

Anyone who's visited Clew's Blues even a few times will know that although I do not make it a focal point of my blog (this is mainly my creative writing playground), I am a Christian and seek my refuge in the Lord. Well, theoretically anyway. I say it that way - because additionally, I struggle fairly regularly with depression. Why, I can't really tell you. I've lived through some rough experiences, but collectively no rougher than most other people I wouldn't say. Still, I've somehow allowed these experiences to skew my general attitude way too easily. The slightest arbitrary trigger has the power to send me reeling into the blues. Remembering some long past derailment will often haunt me for days or weeks. Any given comment or event may bounce off me one day and completely infuriate me the next. I sometimes take things way too personally, and have my feelings shredded as if they were made of tissue paper.

This is NOT fertile soil for the Lord's garden.

I'm a poster child for what Anais Nin referred in my first quote tonight. My arms length relationship with my folks, my unhappy adolescence, my trainwreck past relationships, and a lovely crabgrass bouquet of trust betrayals and backstabs have cultivated a dense thicket around my heart. My past skews my present and robs my future. I now tend to keep most all people at a comfortable distance from ever really knowing me (even under the guise of anonymity in blogland), and I retreat into a defense mode shell very quickly. In the course of slamming the shutters on all my windows and bolting my doors, I also do a good job of blocking out any light which would otherwise luminate my path. I sabotage my own joy. Because I am too busy glaring at my feet and cursing my own name under the weight of self-inflicted yokes, I miss so much of the beautiful walk I am on.

I'll be honest with you all. I also haven't written much in the last several months because I have felt nothing worthy of writing about. In this beautiful and blessed life, rich with friends and love and experiences, I have been blind to my own prosperity. My heart has been bound by and has retreated in the shadow of phantoms manifesting from long past heartaches. I've allowed these ghosts of my past to completely reshape my present.

I'm pretty sick of myself, to be honest. I'm disgusted that despite the fact that I am a child of God, I constantly allow the Devil to steal my peace by distracting me with things I should have let go of many years ago. I'm being attacked through my heart's most vulnerable areas. Sooo typical - and sooo effective.

But that's also what lets me know I'm on the right track. The right track sends the Devil into panic mode, and he throws massive poopstorms at me. Sometimes it works, and I careen back to square one, far from God. But other times - despite the static, I am more happy and at peace than at any other time. And when I have the guts to let go of my scars and allow my mind and heart to be transformed, the Lord's voice invariably separates from the din of all else that's rattling in my head.

I really need that clarity right now.

I was discussing Christianity with one of my best friends this weekend. We've known each other for 20 years but have rarely if ever talked about religion (we have both always been live and let live - it's the artists in us) ... She's been struggling with some things and has recently developed an interest in seeking the help of a Higher Power. As I was telling her how I personally believe that all we need to know to live a happy life can be found in the scripture of the Bible and the triune God has the power to heal her heart and lift the weight of her burdens if she allowed herself to be open to His gifts, I was internally convicted that I need to listen to my own words. She unknowingly pointed out many things to me as well, simply by wanting to talk.

We've always been there for each other. Seems this was no exception :) LOL

I've been tested a lot over the years. But trials and tests are a refining tool, not a sign of being foresaken. I have the power to release the anchors which drag me down. Somehow I've forgotten to let go. I'm trying hard to relearn how to allow Him to direct me, and to trust Him even when I can't track Him - because clearly I have NO idea how to navigate these waters on my own.

Many thanks for reading thus far. For now I have reverted to the original intention of this blog, which was self therapy and self exploration. In time I do plan to get back to my fanciful storytelling and cockeyed observances of the world around me. But for now until an undetermined date, I am studying myself. Try not to look so bored ;).

Friday, July 20, 2007

Old Pictures

I'm working on a new post, honest. Till I can get it down, I thought I'd share my latest diversion and the newest member of my blogroll.

Everyone knows I love old pictures. Whispers of lives long past, lingering like ghostly fingerprints. Famous subjects or ordinary people, identities lost to the winds of time - it doesn't matter. They're all fascinating.

I recently stumbled across this absolute gem of a blog,

Blogger Paul McWhorter posts interesting old finds daily - I've gotten so I look forward to each one. Give him a visit!

Be back soon ~

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Latest Batch of Nothing

I was hoping to brew up a deep, meaningful, reflective post that would make up for my absence of late. But it's not coming. Yes though, I'm still around. I'm really testing the loyalty of my blog friends, I know. But we all need a vacation now and then to refresh and regroup, right? I've just needed a long one I guess. I hope you're all well!

I cut my hair last week. I went from waist-length hair to shoulder-length hair, and I'm still getting used to it. It's shorter than I'd normally go ... okay, to be honest my hair hasn't been this short since high school. And it's kind of freaking me out.

But I suffer this strange follicular amputation for reasons other than near-middle-age identity crisis. I donated my hair to a foundation that makes wigs for children battling cancer, who have lost their hair during chemo treatments. I didn't do it to be a hero - I did it to be nice. I prefer my hair to be longer than it is now. But it seemed ridiculous to leave 6 or 7 inches of hair on the floor when only a few more inches can help rebuild a little life. My hair will grow back. And hopefully what was becoming a nuisance to me can now be a blessing to someone else.

I spent the better part of my afternoon at an exhibit today. The exhibit displays the intricate inner structure of the human body through dissected human specimens preserved with acetone and polymer. Individual body parts and systems were on display, but also complete bodies, many posed in actions such as playing basketball, sitting with a drawing pad, and conducting an orchestra.

If you thought about it too much it was a little creepy - but I'm way too fascinated by science and forensics to let it get to me.

The exhibit was fabulous. I went during what is normally a work day for me and most of the population, so the exhibit was not crowded. In fact there were times I was completely alone in the rooms with these displays. I had lots of nice, quiet, unrushed time to spend reading and studying. Learning and wondering.

There are several similar exhibits touring around the country and the world. If you ever have a chance to see an exhibit like this, GO. It was amazing.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Lesson

This little fellow came home from childrens church with us last sunday.

I was distracted with a list of groceries in my head that needed picked up for the picnic'o'many-in-laws that afternoon, when Incrediboy came out of his class clutching the teeny beany lizard. He held it up to me with shining eyes and said, "Look, Mommy!" I emphatically (though absentmindedly) said, "Wow, he's neat!", as I herded him out the door and into the car.

As we drove home from the store and I watched him in my visor mirror, happily grasping the blue critter, I got to thinking about where it came from. It wasn't with us this morning. Maybe it shouldn't be with us now. In fact I was sure of it.

I sat him down when we got home and asked, "Honey, where did you get this lizard?"

"They gave it to me in sunday school," he said, gushing with love for his little friend.

"Did someone give it to you, or did you take it?"

He looked at me quizzically. "They gave it to me," he repeated.

"Are you sure? Did someone really give it to you, or do you think maybe you took this from someone?"

His eyes grew big and puppy doggish. He stroked the lizard's tail with his free hand and thought about things. "Do you think you might have taken it?", I asked again, leading the suspect. He looked down at the lizard. "I might have took it," he said in a quiet and shameful tone.

Ugh, that feeling of a rock in your stomach. I maintained a gentle approach.

"Honey, you can't take things that don't belong to you. Someone's probably really sad right now that they don't have their lizard. We need to take him back next week."

"But I want him," he explained in a sweet pleading voice.

"I know, honey. He's really neat. But what if someone took your Elmo and you didn't have him anymore? Wouldn't you be sad?"

His eyes grew misty. "Yes. I'd be really sad." He seemed on the verge of tears.

We talked a while about taking things, and how that would make someone feel. We talked about how it's not nice to treat someone and their things with disrespect that way. We talked about lying, even little lies. This was hard, breaking your little one's heart in the name of teaching morals and empathy.

I gently took the little lizard out of his hands and put it on a shelf, and he threw his arms around me sadly. "I'm sorry, Mommy," he said, in that pathetic tone that almost kills me every time. I hugged him and said, "Don't be upset, honey. We'll just take him back next week and find out who he belongs to, okay?" He agreed dejectedly.

In little time he seemed to forget about the lizard. But I thought about it all week. I thought about how to return the toy in such a fashion so as to make an impression without being too harsh on a tender, still-learning pre-schooler.

This morning I brought the lizard to church with us, and when Incrediboy saw it, he said nothing, but I could tell he remembered. I held Incrediboy close to me with one hand, making sure he was listening, and pulled the lizard out of my purse with the other as I explained to his teacher the whole incident. Incrediboy's big sad azure eyes didn't leave the lizard for a second.

"Oh, no, it's fine!", his teacher said. "We gave that to him last week to present to you for a Mother's Day gift. All the kids got one."

Oy vey. Relieved (though slightly humiliated on the inside), I said thank you for clearing it up, and we just wanted to make sure no one lost a friend due to the incident. His teacher smiled and said it was all right - they tried to explain the gift to all the mothers last week as they picked up the kids, but it was so busy they must have missed me.

After church I placed the lizard back in Incrediboy's gleeful hands. I told him I was sorry for making him admit something he didn't do, but I just wanted to make sure it was all right for him to have it. He looked at me with a big loving smile and said, "That's okay, Mommy." He gave me a big hug and kiss, and I did my best not to cry.

Lessons learned for both of us.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Dumb Question du Jour

Imponderable of the day: What's the origin of the phrase,
"I have to pi$$ like a Russian racehorse"? Are Soviet Secretariats seriously not allowed to pee, or what?

I was just wondering is all ...
It's just kind of a weird thing to say.

I swear on my bloomers that I have full intentions of posting something worthwhile SOON! Things have just been very out of whack here. But they're returning to normalcy. Or something like normalcy.

I miss you all - we'll catch up soon. Until then, if you haven't seen this, you should. I stole this from Ches a few months ago and it's STILL one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket I am *SO* in touch with this emotion.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Flip Flop Summer Tour

While I'm generally a rocker chick, I always liked Kenny Chesney. He's got a fun, kick your shoes off and have a beer sound. But I'm an official fan now. Chesneygirl and Naive and V and I went to see Kenny Chesney's Flip Flop Summer Tour friday night and we had the bestest time. We scored sandbar seats ... enough said.

Here are just a couple of the pics I took.

We were so close that Chesney held her shirt up and he took it from her and signed it for her.

What a great time! I miss those girls so much.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Restless - The Scheherazade Project

Hello friends and visitors! Again, my apologies for being a sparse blogger. Life has me extremely busy and is keeping me away from my computer ... I apologize and thank you for understanding. Rest assured I'm not far away in heart, though. Hope everyone is well and I appreciate your faithful checking in. I really do plan on being back more regularly eventually! Don't give up on me!

To keep my creative juices flowing, I try to at least participate in my monthly writers' group. Death seems to be a recurring theme in my Scheherazade Project pieces, but this one isn't my fault - Faith picked the picture ;). May's assignment is simply to write on this untitled photo. Comments and criticisms welcome.

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Death and dying can be other than literal, and sadder.

Here we see a gravesite in humanity's collective soul. No bodies lie beneath the markers here, but pieces of confused energy. Unrequited possibilities.

Here the angels have erected a cross for children returned to God almost as soon as they were given. Some by choice, others with searing protest. Some mothers sacrificed their children out of fear, selfishness, or ignorance. Others released their children before they knew what was happening, wailing as their dreams ran through their fingers like sand. Each cross stands in quiet, anonymous testimony to a life unknown to anyone it would have touched. Anyone but God.

And here, behind each little cross, another cross with their mother's name. Though she still lives, breathes, and loves, a piece of her being uneasily writhes here. For you see, part of a mother's heart is used in the creation of her child, regardless of want or timing or even the power of denial, and she never gets it back. And subsequently, here lies that part of her heart, enveloping her little one forever.

No one tends to this graveyard but the angels, and no one sees this graveyard but God. But God does see, and waits to comfort. Their names are written upon His heart.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Return to Earth - The Scheherazade Project

The latest topic for The Scheherazade Project challenges its participants to select a poem and turn it into prose. My selected poem of inspiration is included at the bottom of my submittal. It is long, but as with any Whitman poem, in my opinion well worth the read. Comments and criticisms welcome.

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Return to Earth

I visit this place to enjoy the peace. Walking among the stones that stand in requiem of lives and deaths. I read their names and imagine to whom they belonged - calculate their ages and strain to picture their face - struggle to remember something - anything - about them. Men and women, perhaps much like myself, remembered by no one anymore but me. Resting deep below in the cool darkness, leeching into the rich black earth to feed the new sprouts in the spring.

Tender blades of grass shoot up into the light and reach down to draw food from the dead. I run my hands over their tender tips - cool fingertips of life standing in tribute to the still fingers below. Perhaps one in the same - reaching up to touch whomever is there to remember.

A fascinating circle, a perpetually renewing cycle designed by God. Even with the finality of death, life will continue, and even begin long afterwards. New growth will cover over old loss, and in time all will appear as if it were that way all along. No seams in the blanket of green from one resting place to the next. Likewise, just as all men are equal in death despite what was done in their lives. Eventually no one remembers but the grass.

How funny for humble grass to make such a profound statement on the humility of mortality.

I will not visit the graves of those I know, partly for this very reason. Like the grass, the universe itself regards them with the same disregard - merely one with the Earth again. I hate that I alone remember that they were different. They were special.

And perhaps, I am a little jealous that they have slipped free from the chains binding them to the narrow perception of this existence. Perhaps, it makes me feel unlucky to still be here. Me and the grass, touching fingertips, and the grass touching the ones that are all but forgotten.

Do they miss me too?

Eventually I leave this place of fading remembrance. Life continues, with or without any of us. Best to get back to living while I can - I'll be back here for good soon enough.

I pluck a blade of grass and take it with me.

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A child said, What is the grass?
fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child?. . . .
I do not know what it is any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition,
out of hopeful green stuff woven.
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners,
that we may see and remark, and say Whose?
Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .
the produced babe of the vegetation.
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means,
Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff,
I give them the same, I receive them the same.
And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people and from women, and
from offspring taken soon out of their mother's laps,
And here you are the mother's laps.
This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.
O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths
for nothing.
I wish I could translate the hints about
the dead young men and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers,
and the offspring taken soon out of their laps.
What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and children?
They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life,
and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.
All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed,
and luckier.

Walt Whitman

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