Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Practical Problems for Superheroes

Dear Diary,

Those of us alive in the '70s probably know the hit single by Jim Croce, "You Don't Mess Around with Jim."  Here's the chorus. Feel free to sing along:

You don't tug on superman's cape.
You don't spit into the wind.
You don't pull the mask off that old lone ranger.
And you don't mess around with Jim.

Good advice, right? 
By the way, Croce also composed "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," which is probably why I always end up combining the two songs inadvertently into a bad boy mashup:

"You don't pull the mask off that old lone ranger,
and you don't mess around with Jim....
Well its bad, bad, Leroy Brown,
baddest man in the whole darn town ......"

You can thank me later for putting those songs into your head.
I digress.

Here is a classic image of Superman.
Muscles bulging, solid stance, cape billowing majestically behind him....
Our comic and movie screen heroes are so put together: rugged, handsome, and certainly intimidating. Sure, their bumbling alter ego human lives can be a mess.  But once they pull on those leotards, don their belts, boots and capes, they become S-U-P-E-R.  Heroic even. And I certainly wouldn't want to waltz up and tug on their cape.

Yesterday I wore a cape for superhero day at school.  The kids loved it of course, which is the response I was hoping for.  (I love entertaining those impressionable minds.)

But recess was a problem.  It was windy. 
The cape flapped and flipped over my head so I couldn't see. 
It was then I realized that superheroes may be super, but they face some practical problems I had never considered until that moment, such as this little fact:

Windy days and superhero capes don't mix. 

You will never see Batman or Superman in any comic book, graphic novel or movie with his back to the wind; only his front, like a bird who doesn't want to ruffle his feathers.
There is no glamour for our heroes in the wind.  
Here's proof:

Windy day reenactment.
Then my practical mind gave way to some impractical thoughts.
Are there other unseen foes, besides a windy day, with which our heros must contend? I came up with a couple more.

Dirty costumes.  I imagine their outfits/suits/costumes can get pretty dirty scaling buildings, flying around big cities, beating off foes or running from the police. 

Is there a secret superhero dry cleaning lair?  A Super Suds-O-Mat for lycra, latex, and the occassional iron panel? They can't just drop it in the dirty clothes hamper, or better yet, on the floor of their room for mom to find.  Most of them are orphans anyway. How do they get the grime and dried blood off those clothes?  Such a conundrum.

Another problem I see for our good guys is a lack of pockets.  No place to put loose change, Chapstick or stick of gum.  Where do they keep their tissues?  Or most importantly, how can they whip out their cell phone for a selfie with the Joker in a headlock? #lookwhoinabbed #yourenextriddler

Feel free to share other practical snafus our super friends might run into while on the job.

Oh. I do have a suggestion on where they could keep their tissues.
Up their sleeve.
Just don't forget to take it out before washing.
Wet Kleenex and spandex don't mix.

Saving the day the practical way,

Monday, September 29, 2014

My Fall Paranoia

Dear Diary,
Wow. It's been two months since I have posted anything.  It's not for lack of desire, but lack of creativity and time.

Now that fall is official, I look around at the beauty in it.  I am reluctant to let go of summer. 
Really I am still trying to find summer. 
So the fact that October is here is hard to swallow.  But God certainly made the transition to winter easy on the eyes in the form of morphing red, orange and yellow leaves.

Those beautiful leaves, in turn, fall and blow everywhere. 

And thus begins my seasonal paranoia:

The Is-It-A-Leaf-Or-Animal Syndrome.

When I drive I brake for animals when I can.  In the Midwest burbs, the squirrels are the number one jaywalkers and the number one critter dearly departed in the middle of the road. But there are others: possums, coons, daredevil birds, chipmunks and even mice.

Once dusk comes -- and it's coming earlier and earlier in the day now -- any leaf that blows across my driving path automatically becomes suspect. 

Is it a leaf, or a mouse? 
Leaf, or Chippy? 
Leaf, or frog?
Leaf, or ______ ?

I wish I had taken this photo but it is a wallpaper photo from
My heart leaps when I see the brown blur skittering through the glow of my headlights. 
Go fella, go!  I can't slow down for you!
Was that leaf stem a tail, or was that tail a stem? 

So for the next two months, if you are behind someone tapping their brakes every time the breeze blows a leaf or two across the road, you are probably behind me.  Or someone like me.

Surely I'm not the only one with this problem?

Perhaps I should market a new bumper sticker: I Brake for Leaves

Maybe I'll just stick to daytime driving.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Half Full and Half Empty: A Morning Dialogue

Dear Diary,
I've been waking up early lately.  Someone tell my brain it is summer, and I don't need to
wakey wakey at 5:30 a.m.  The problem is not necessarily the waking, it is the tossing and turning afterward, the refusal to relax, turn over, and go back to sleep.

Here is how a dialogue starts in my brain at 5:30 a.m.  Since a dialogue requires more than one person, I have provided names for better comprehension: Half Full and Half Empty.
Half Empty: What time is it?

Half Full: Don't peek. I don't want to know; it doesn't matter. Just turn over and go back to sleep.

Half Empty: I'm a little cold.

Half Full: Pull up the covers.

Half Empty: But then I have to move.

Half Full: But you'll be warmer.

Half Empty: Maybe I should use the bathroom.

Half Full: Naw, you'll be fine for another hour or so. Besides, that will really wake you up.

Half Empty: But I will lie here thinking about trying not going to the bathroom when I really do.

Half Full: Fine, go. Then you can relax.

[moments later]

Half Full: All better?  Pull up those covers and relax. We've still got time for another dream!

Half Empty: Okay. [pause]    You know that church outreach program in December? I need to find a children's coordinator for that.

Half Full: Fine. Let's think through that when we are awake.

Half Empty: But I've got to figure out who to recruit. I mean, should I ask someone personally or put an ad in the bulletin?  No one ever responds to those ads, but I should try-- that is, if I can't think of someone to ask personally.

Half Full: Fine, yes. We'll talk about this later.

Half Empty: Should I have a theme this year? Would a Western Nativity Festival be a little weird?  Cowboy hats and ropes and horses to go along with the wise men and baby Jesus?

Half Full: Go to sleep.

Half Empty: This position isn't comfortable, maybe I need to inflate my sleep number.

Half Full: Go to sleep!

Half Empty: Is that sunlight coming through the blinds? What time is it, anyway?

Half Full: SLEEP!

Half Empty: Hey this could be a funny blog post.

Half Full: Hilarious. Can it wait until we are up?

Half Empty: It should be a dialogue of what goes through our head when we are tossing and turning in the morning. What shall we call ourselves?

Half Full: Shhhhh!

Half Empty: Yin and Yang? Pessimist and Optimist? Half Full and Half Empty?

Half Full: Fine. Let's get up.

Half Empty: But look at all the time we have to sleep still!

Half Full: Ain't gonna happen. Let's just get up.

Half Empty: Fine!

Half Full: Fine!!

Half Empty: Fine!!!

Have a well-rested, Half Full day!

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Few Words About Nothing in Particular

Dear Diary,

Over the weekend I had a day in which the hardest decision I had to make was what color nail polish to put on my toes.

It was a perfectly unproductive day of rest.

The first part of this day consisted of a short drive to a friend's house with my girls for a little GB&M.

Girls Brunch and Musical. 

I think this is the start of a great tradition:  A little Gene Kelly and bleating lambs frolicking within the borders of mysterious Brigadoon to go along with my egg and spinach frittata and citrus punch!

Second only to popcorn, brunch seems so apropos for musical DVD watching.

Then I headed back home for some creative writing and to sit out on the back deck and sort through all the bottles of nail polish the four household females have acquired.  I even managed to throw away some bottles of nearly empty, or way-too-gooey, polish in the process.

The compulsive in me came out as I pulled out bottle after bottle of color from the bin and grouped them.  No surprise that the pinks and purples were the most popular on the spectrum.
I found colors at the bottom of the bin that haven't seen the light of day for probably ten years.

Now it is Monday, and I am back to job hunting, helping out four-legged friends as well as two-legged ones, cleaning, volunteering, praying for hurting loved ones, laundry, list-making...get the picture?

But I can do it with a light step and rosy attitude because my toenails are sooo Diva Pink!



Time to add "cook dinner" to my list of to-dos.
Ta Ta!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Adult Phrases I Never Understood as a Kid (But Do Now)

Dear Diary,

I've had a list sitting on my desk for more than a year. 

It is a brainstorm of phrases like, "Wait 'till your father gets home," and "This is going to hurt me as much as it will hurt you."  You know, stuff my growing and logical mind didn't understand in childhood. Then one day, after the veil of childhood is removed, full knowledge of the reasons adults say these things is revealed.

Let me share what I have on my list so far.

Oooh, as a young child that answer brought hope: "Mom said, 'Maybe we can go get ice cream later!'" Though it wasn't a yes, it wasn't a no, either.

Then as I got older I realized that maybe really was a no couched in a soft cloud of ain't-gonna-happen-so-get-over-it.  I know. I use it with my own kids.

Get dressed, you might feel better.
After a few feverish days of lying in bed and being fed fried egg cut together with bits of plain toast, I am told to take a shower and get dressed, I might feel better.

Now I am clean, have on jeans and a t-shirt, and I still feel like crud.  (Puh-leease don't send me to school!)

As a parent, I have nothing but sympathy for my sick kids...until the second or third day I am missing work or a long-planned lunch date with an old friend. Try a shower and clean clothes, kids! You might feel better!

Are you sure you want to spend your money on that?
As someone who got piddly diddly for an allowance, I didn't have much freedom for spontaneous or random purchases.  My purchases were carefully planned and thought out.  Of course I'm sure I want to buy that lime green, vinyl, inflatable chair. It is sooo groovy and just the right size for watching TV and playing Pong. Never mind that it would last only a week.

As an adult, I spew these words before I can catch myself, usually when my kids are buying their umpteenth big-eyed stuffed animal with their piddly diddly allowance money.  Of course they are sure, or they wouldn't be standing in the check out line counting out their quarters, nickels and dimes.

I need to take a nap.
Really? Aren't naps for babies? 
I remember after the big Christmas meal, with all the cousins and grand- and great grandparents, having to WAIT HOURS (it seemed to me) to open the huge pile of presents surrounding the tree because certain OLD PEOPLE needed a nap before proceeding with their day.

It's CHRISTMAS and I am seven years old. 
Who makes a seven-year-old wait until 3 pm to open presents? 

I wonder how many anonymous phone calls DCFS gets on December 25th?

As an adult -- though not an OLD one -- I understand that a nap really can be a lovely thing. Especially on my green couch in the sun room.  But only on non-gift-giving days.


The couch is calling. 

What are some phrases you remember that just didn't make sense when you were a kid, but do now?


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

When a Phone is Not a Phone

Dear Diary,

Yesterday I had a conversation with someone who was trying to explain where a certain lake was in another state I will be visiting.  As she described the roads and the intersection with the Orange Moose*, she quipped, "You know, just use your phone to look it up."

I kept a straight face, but inside I went, "HA!" like some text bubble above Lucy's head in a Charles Schulz cartoon.

I am a person who counts my blessings. So instead of complaining/admitting that I don't have a fancy smart phone in the palm of my hand, I will brag about what I do have.

In the '90s, my phone would have been Da Bomb!

It makes calls and sends texts. (Though please don't send me a text with an emoticon. It turns the whole message into pretty little squares.)

It tells time.

It has a notepad so I can keep track of all the medications I use and the dates of my kids' last tetanus shot, which I have to write on school forms every year.

It has a stopwatch with the tiniest numbers ever created, making it impossible for me to "go running" without my contacts. ("Go running" is a very, v-e-r-y loose term here.)

It has a rarely used calculator.

It has a QWERTY keyboard, thank goodness!  Imagine typing those long medication names using only keypad numbers.
      5-5-5..L  Oops! Where is the backspace??

It also has a...wait for it.................. camera!
Sure it can only hold about 12 pictures. But it comes in handy when I encounter a five-foot stuffed Olaf displayed in the infant/toddlers dept. at Sears-- which I need to haul off its three-foot pedestal in order to capture its larger than life adorable-ness with my daughter.


It also has a nice WARNING message to tell me my memory is FULL and I CAN'T take a picture of my kid's first moment wearing braces next to the ortho waiting room whiteboard announcing
Congratulations, SARAH, your braces are ON!
--unless I erase Olaf or some other much-needed picture.

Sorry, Sarah.

I do have a pocket camera purchased just for this reason, but did you know that sand and telephoto lenses don't get along?
That's a story for another day.

So, yes, my humble, not-so-Smart phone is a little black box of awesomeness.

Besides, if I had Smart phone GPS capability, I may never even notice the Orange Moose on my way to who-knows-where.  What's the fun in that?

Happy Summer!!!

*Anyone want to guess where the Orange Moose is?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Alcohol, Sports and...Indigestion?

Dear Diary,

In preparation for Father's Day, I was at the store looking for a card to give my husband and my dad.

I tend to go with humor when looking for a card for my dad.

I think the sentimental cards are too schmaltzy for him.  He appreciates sentiment, just not
scrolly-scripty-cursivey stuff.

The opposite is true for my Mom. When shopping for Mother's Day cards, I look for the sentimental not the humorous. I think she'd be disappointed if I didn't get a little flowery in expressing my love for her.

Back to Dad.
Perusing the Father's Day "humor" section I found cards mostly about:
1. Beer
2. Golfing and swearing, and swearing while golfing
3. Flatulance

Yeah no.

Not appropriate for my dad, and I would hope -- unless your dad is still in college or adolescence -- not for most.

So I went home and created my own card that was about, well, how I couldn't find an appropriate card for him...with just a touch of humor and personal sentiment.

So on this special day, I lift my frosty mug to all the dads who aren't of the cookie cutter variety. 
It's your day; go ahead and watch your golf/baseball/fishing channel between elevated feet.

Just don't ask me to pull your finger.

I love you Dad!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Dear Diary,

This is probably my fifth year feeding humming birds.  That first year it took most of the summer for my feeder to be discovered.  It tried my patience, but it did pay off.

The following summers continued the trend; I wanted to give up after weeks of no sightings. 
Forget it, they are not coming.

Sugar water will ferment and mold after several days in the hot sun.  So regardless of whether it was being consumed, I would continue to refresh the nectar (made myself).  As I poured the liquid into a freshly cleaned feeder, I had to push down the negative thoughts.

Why go to this trouble?

How will that tiny bird find this tiny feeder on their big migration northward?

Maybe I didn't get the sugar-to-water ratio right. Maybe they will taste it, stick out their tongues in disgust, and somehow spread the word on Yelp that I rate only as good as a Waffle House found anywhere below the Mason-Dixon line.

Yes, those are my thoughts!  For the most part.

The graphic template for this diary is themed around the hummer and has been from the start. 
I think it is because they are so little.
And cute.

Anything in miniature automatically implies cuteness. Even ogres. Have you seen Shrek's babies?

Hummers delight me to no end.
When I spot one through my kitchen window, hovering over the plastic-flower-oasis-of-nectar, my child-like glee can hardly be contained.

"Hummer!" I announce to whomever is in earshot.

I use my "loud" whisper voice, and speak it so quickly that I turn a two-syllable word into one: "Humr!"

Every time: "Humr!"

I'm sure it drives my family crazy.

I don't get tired of it.

I think it's because it provides the satisfaction typical of any symbiotic relationship: they eat food and I get the pleasure of watching them eat the food.

It's also affirmation that persistence pays off.

And that I actually do rate better than a Waffle House.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Porch Time

Dear Diary,

I've been inspired by the green thumbs and artistic skills of friends who have a knack for creating beautiful spaces. In other words, I have seen some back yards that just beg me to sit and rest awhile, maybe even with a special beverage. (I'm talkin' coffee, people!)

I have seen humbler retreats more reminiscent of my own; an aging, worn deck or not-so-perfect patio with a lawn chair and a pot of flowers -- or not.

See the hummer feeder? Hummers delight me!
Last week my mother wrote me an email from her back porch, a lovely screened in lanai with plenty of lively vegetation (and occasional lizard) within and without.  She was watching the nearby deer as she typed. In closing she declared, "Hope you are getting some porch time too."

Porch time.  I am going to adopt that term.

Though we have a deck, not porch, I love to eat there,
      read there,
      nap there,
      bird watch there,
      and talk with my husband over margaritas there.

My mother knows full well that porch time means down time, and maybe even talk-on-the-phone-long-distance time.

Porch time is ME time.

And it's time to get me some!

Hope you find plenty of porch time this summer!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dressing Room Moments II

Dear Diary,
After several weeks and two failed attempts, I am happy to be publishing a post!

There was a moment in a dressing room recently that I just can't keep to myself.
[Link here for my first dressing room moment post written almost one year ago.]

I want to share it because it was such a cliche moment for us parents grappling with our teens' choices....a charming speech given by a quietly desperate mother trying to steer her daughter's choice into another direction. A moment parents are guaranteed to find themselves in sooner or later.

While my oldest daughter was trying on summer clothes, three mothers, moi included, were stuck in the cramped space outside our daughters' dressing room doors. Much like being in an elevator, those close quarters really only allow for staring at the floor or the door behind which your daughter stands. Occasionally the awkwardness would be broken when a mother decided it was time to talk directly through the door, straining to hear the grumbled/mumbled replies, as if making negotiations at a drive through window.

"Do you need another size?"
"Can I see it on you? I am buying it so I need to see it on you."
            "Are you almost done?"
       "Here, I got you a different color."

And so it went.
Doors opening and shutting,
girls and mothers conferring,
hangars of clothes passing from one hand to another.

A dressing room door nearby opened and The Mom stepped forward to look within. Then I heard a one-way conversation by this mother that went like this:

"Are you sure you want to wear that? I mean in public-- you would wear that in public? You will be wearing that in front of your grandfather; you wouldn't be embarrassed wearing that in front of him?"

I could only imagine what she was viewing on her daughter....a swimsuit? Short shorts? A tank top?

I chuckled, but only because it wasn't me trying to cajole my daughter into wearing something more modest or appropriate.

I was not unsympathetic. I was ready to acknowledge this mother's troubles with my oh-what-we-mothers-put-up-with solidarity face.

My daughters have modesty built into them like a V6 in a Mustang GT.  So I haven't had to make those kinds of arguments with them.
I think it helps that their mother models it.
(Modesty, not the Mustang. But I wish I was modeling the Mustang....I digress.)

Our growing children have minds of their own and a desire for making independent choices. Some of their choices are questionable and require the universal parental admonishment, "If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?" 

Or my new favorite, "Would your grandfather approve?"

Yes, I chuckled at that scene.

And I am oh-so-grateful I haven't had to pull out the "grandfather approval" card.

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The BEST Gal Pal Reunion

Dear Diary,
I spent the last two nights of my spring break away with The Gals.
Not my own girls, but with the most genuine girlfriends a gal could ask for.

College is a time of stress and growth and fun. 
In those circumstances, bonding with those you share it with is only natural.  I am blessed that those bonds remain strong to this day -- though time and distance try their best to weaken it.

So before I begin overindulging in Oreos while I cry over the topics of love, bonding, and the difficulties of long-distance friendships, I'm going to change the emotional direction of this post and reflect on some superficial guidelines that made my weekend the BEST gal pal reunion....
  • Jumping up and down, squealing, and hugging are acceptable when reuniting with old friends, even in a public place such as, say, a hotel parking lot. I know we are 45. But that's the thing about being 45 -- we don't care what others think!
  • Bring sleep aids to share: earplugs for the light sleepers and nasal strips for the snorers. No, I don't mean the pore cleaning ones, though someone could provide those too.  It will help keep the peace if everyone is offered one, especially the ones who deny being a snorer! I seriously wondered how my sound-sensitive bed mate didn't suffocate under the two pillows she buried her head under.  Hmmm.  Must have been the others in the room, I was quiet all night!
  • Snacks and drinks must be brought by all.  There will be too much of both, but you may get a couple tasty new dip recipes out of it. (Bonus tip: Five women cannot eat two large pizzas for dinner. One will suffice. Especially after all that good dip.)
  • Individual checks at meal times are required if you want the peace of mind that comes with knowing you aren't going to be paying extra for the lush at the table. Unless of course you are the lush at the table.
  • Husbands need not worry when we call the 20-something bartender "Hon." He looks at us as if we are his mom, not a hot cougar. With a drink.
  • Have an escape line at the ready when talk about politics or religion gets too un-comfy.  These examples worked for us: "Soooo, what's your favorite candy bar?" and "I like what you did with your hair."
  • Keep health talk to three minutes a person.  This includes mental and physical health.  Seriously, pull out the cell phone stopwatch and go around the table.  Then be done.  We are at the age when talking about our health problems is comparable to events worth medals of honor.  But no one wants to hear about your medals. We want to talk about ours.  As we get older we may need to increase the time allotted for this activity.
It's remarkable how we all reconnected in older, saggier, double-chinned versions of ourselves. 

The camaraderie of old times came back in a wink. The trust we established in our young adulthood allowed us to waste no time opening our hearts to each other from the get-go.

So, thank you, gal pals, for continuing to be each other's cheerleaders, advisors and counselors.

That will come in handy when, let's say, one of us ends up in jail for jumping a turnstile at the El.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Lottery Lady

Dear Diary,

I don't play the Lotto.  Unless the jackpot is record-breaking-ly HUGE, and my chances of winning are infinitesimally smaller than they would be on a normal night; then I open my wallet and throw my money at a little piece of paper containing some randomly picked numbers and a dream.

I do watch the drawings when I catch the nighly news, especially when they are modeled by my BFF, Linda Kollmeyer -- also known as The Lotto Lady.

Yes. I said BFF.

Though she doesn't know it.

When it comes to sliding panels open to reveal the next numbered ping pong ball, Linda is all that!

She is spunky, yet down to earth.
Awkwardly wise, yet unpresumptuous.
I can critique her outfits without putting her on the defense.
The sparkle in her eyes and spring in her step speak to me through the television.
And her hair is never the same two days in a row.  She's so versatile!

Though the relationship is one-way, I'm sure she would agree that we could be besties, go out for a health shake together (she is a personal trainer), spill our hearts out, and encourage each other in every aspect of womanly life.

Before you start jumping to conclusions about my mental health, let me tell you a little story:
Recently I skimmed through an Ann Landers column about a person who is an avid obit reader and who admitted to being "disappointed to not find a familiar name" on the obit page.  Although Ann was critical of this person at first, she was inundated by readers who were sympathetic to her, calling her "lonely" and wanting to help her get a life.

Before writing this post I was concerned that upon revealing my one-way friendship, my dear readers would perceive me as being a lonely, pathetic, delusional person. But the Landers column encouraged me to open up.

There is also the possiblity that maybe, just maybe, I am ahead of my time; that this is the friendship of the future -- since much of our lives are spent in front a screen (TV, computer, tablet, phone). Soon we'll all be having heart-to-hearts with pictures of pixeled people with text bubbles above their heads, or falling in love with our GPS' voice.  Hmm. They should make a movie about that.

Aren't virtual, one-way relationships easier?
But I digress.

Regarding Linda, I am validated.  I have discovered that I am not the only person who feels this way about The Lotto Lady.  She has a fan base.
You can check her out at this WGN interview, and view her fan page on Facebook. 

But keep in mind she was my friend first!

Lucky me!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

In the Heart of the Moment

Dear Diary,
Today I saw my heart.
I don't mean in a poetic way, within some act of kindness or secret evil tendency.

I mean in a literal, physical kind of way.

I took a stress test, and, along with it, an ultrasound of my pumper.

It didn't dawn on me that I would be able to see the pictures while I lay in my breezy, gray hospital gown on the white papered table.

But when the light did dawn, I thought,
Cool! Very-very cool! I will get to see my own heart!

As I made out the black and white video images on the screen, my throat tightened and my tear ducts filled. My thoughts changed from Cool! to
Oh my word!  I am seeing my own heart!

When I revealed my emotional state to the ultrasound tech, she responded by giving me a narrative of the things she was seeing on the screen, pointing out such foreign things as my "mitral valve" (what I saw: a floppy flap opening and closing) and my "beautiful left atrium" (what I saw: a chamber wall hiccuping in and out.)

I was surprised at my rush of emotion to those pictures on the screen. 

I have seen precious life on a monitor before, in the ultrasounds of my preborn babies.  The tiny hearts beating so quickly, the body parts perfectly formed as God planned.  Now that elicits emotion for good reason!

In the heat heart of the moment, I let my romantic side emerge as I watched the heart do what God designed it to do.  It is a hard working muscle, but it's also a vessel --
containing my spirit,
my life,
my love,

Many people will never get to see what I saw.
The cool thing about the heart is that you don't have to see it to know what it contains.
The way you live your life will reveal that.

As I stared at the wonders on the screen, the Sunday School student in me was hoping to spy a miniature Jesus smiling and waving at the "camera" from one of my heart chambers. 

'Cuz I know I have Jesus down in there too!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tale of A Fish Tile

Dear Diary,
See this fish tile?
This brightly painted piece of Spanish clay holds a lot of meaning for me and my husband.

It's a reminder,
a memory,
a souvenir,
a promise,
a hope.

I keep it in my bathroom where I see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night (right next to Psalm 118:24: This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it).

A few years ago we had the privilege of traveling to St. John, Virgin Islands, for our wedding anniversary.  It was a wild adventure, one that we wouldn't have been able to handle well as newlyweds (our plane was filled with them); but as seasoned partners, we could giddily absorb the highs and maturely roll with the lows.

As part of our weekend package at the guest house Treetops, we were supposed to take a boat tour of the islands with our hosts, Hank & Karen Slodden. But, of course, the islands had just experienced the worst storm of the season the day before we showed up, and the marina was unable to prep their boat and get it into the water.  One of many disappointments on the trip. Can I help it we were married during hurricane season?

Yes, I am getting to the tile.

Hank and Karen are innovative and artsy. They had collected this authentic Spanish tile from an island Rockefeller resort undergoing renovations (Caneel Bay, popular with celebrities).  The tiles were discarded and abandoned in the undergrowth. So they gathered what they could and started incorporating them into their landscape.
My legs and some creatively placed fish tiles.
~Souvenir and Promise~
Upon our departure, Hank handed us a tile, with the promise that if we bring it back, he would accept it as our ticket to the boat ride we never had. And the best snorkeling, to boot.

I really would like to go back.
Some day.
(When I need a break from seeing other parts of the world I haven't been to yet.) 
I envision us driving down the steep stone-and-cement drive and producing the tile with a triumphant smile that says, "We remembered. We came all this way. We dare you to renege!"

But it won't be during hurricane season, to be sure.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Obscure Olympic Observations

Dear Diary,
It is Olympic season, the biggest international athletic event televised, and I have become the biggest couch potato in order to watch them.  While it isn't on 24/7 in my home, it is on every evening and weekends. Yes, I am even sacrificing my Downton Abby time slot to watch men and women hurtle themselves down mountains and over patches of ice.

Spending so much time as a couch blob worthy of a gold medal has stimulated a handful of obscure observations.

  • Despite the cold season, most winter Olympic sports are performed in skin tight body suits or barely-there sequined costumes. My gut tells me Olympians don't have the same psychological hurdles to overcome that I have when it's time to go swimsuit shopping.
  • Is it a prerequisite for female Olympic snowboarders and skiers to be radiantly beautiful and have great teeth? (I haven't noticed the men so much. Honest hubby!)
  • Shaun White cleans up real nice. (OK, so I noticed one man.)

  • I have an appreciation for medal winners who are thrilled to get Bronze.
  • Despite the hours of watching, I haven't seen NBC show one medal ceremony. 
  • The biggest winners are also the biggest risk takers.  Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it/s disastrous, but at least they give it their all.
  • Winning isn't all about skill; it is also about the mistakes of your opponent. (I learned this long ago in my high school tennis "career"-- except I wasn't on the winning side.)
  • I don't care what part of the world you live in, you gotta feel a little bad this happened...and hope that the guy in charge of snowflake #3 isn't making his bed in the gulag now.
  • I heard the Russians spliced the successful five-ring moment in dress rehearsal into the broadcast for their own country. Can't say that I blame them.
I know there are oodles more Olympic observations that can be made.
Anyone want to add their own?


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

For the Birds

Dear Diary,
Take a look at this winter scene outside my window.

Do you see anything wrong with this picture?  Like the fact that there are no birds at the feeder? And the fact that the feeder is (still) full?

I was too late.
I didn't remember to put the feeder out this fall. 
Being the compassionate tightwad that I am, I only feed the birds in winter when food is more scarce.

Usually I put the feeder out before December and bravely wade through the frigid air and cold white fluff to refill it every few days.  I love to watch the Nuthatches, Chickadees, Cardinals, and other birds daily.

But I was too late.
I put it out in January.
I don't have to spell out the kind of winter we are having. Apparently the birds don't want to go check out the new neighborhood rest stop in the dead of tough winters.  I don't blame them.

But I miss them.

The feeder has been out for more than a month now.  It's frustrating that all that good seed is sitting unnoticed and blowing in the wind. I have seen birds briefly hang out in the tree, little feathery puff-balls roosting on a branch. And one or two have investigated the feeder. But they did not return or go tell their birdie friends about it. 

Who knew word of mouth had such power, even among the birds?
(Perhaps the inventor of the Tweet actually knew what he/she was doing?)

So, the feeder forlornly hangs, a bleak reminder of my ineptness, my forgetfulness. 
But it's also an anticipated source of joy for me and a patient beacon for my little beaked friends to find when they are ready to look.

Keep warm and well fed!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Colorful Hearts

Dear Diary,
I sat next to her, a sugary sweet kindergartner.  We were coloring. 
She showed me her picture: two brightly dressed scribble people. I could tell they were girls from the long hair--one blonde, one brown. 
Colorful hearts surrounded them; green, purple, red. 

"Guess who this is," she smiled at me.
"Hmmm, who?" I asked, not wanting to assume.
"That's me and you!" she replied.
"Oh, I love the colorful hearts you made!"
"Yes!" she said, then added, "My daddy got 'trans'-ported to Mexico."

That was an eyebrow raiser. 
And a colorful heart breaker.
Just what does one say to that?

"Ooh, I am so sorry to hear that," I sympathetically replied.
"I am never, ever going to see him again," she continued, frowning.
Oh Lord, what do I say to this girl? I prayed.
"I bet you can write to him or talk to him on the phone," I replied feebly.
"Yes, I could!" she replied with a glimmer in her eyes.  "I could give my letter to mommy to mail."

Heavy stuff for a sweet little girl to bear.
The weight she carries will leave an impression on me for a long time.

But her green, purple, and red hearts will always be part of her story, too.

<3  <3  <3LJ

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Very Big Girl Day

Dear Diary,
My oldest girl is growing up. 
She had a Very Big Girl Day today. 

Filling some big shoes 13 years ago.
She had the day off of school --the second day off to be precise, thanks to another polar bear vortex --and, being the tough Midwesterners we are, we decided it was an opportunity to head out the frosty door and take care of some Big Girl business.

First, she dropped off her first job application.  I sat on a hard bench in the elevator lobby and watched her head up to floor #3 of the office complex with application in hand.
Without me.
I knew if I went with I'd just meddle; I Really Wanted To Go Orchestrate Her Success Myself.

Next, with Certificate of Completion in hand, we went to the DMV for a new DL.  Yup.  Her first driver's license.
Trying hard to suppress flashbacks of my own failed first road test, I sat in a blue plastic chair nervously waiting for her return. 

I had given her permission to Fail.  Does that make me a bad mother? 
I prayed for her.  Any question about bad mothering was now redeemed.

She passed, of course.  The chain of road test failure going back one generation had been broken!
We admired her shiny plastic ticket-to-freedom.  Nice picture, too.

Next we hit the road again, this time to the local drug store for a valid passport photo.  My Big Girl is going to Europe this summer.  Without her mommy.  Who has never been overseas.

Add the 23 letters from colleges and universities that she received within one week of her published PSAT scores, and have I painted a clear picture of my girl getting Soooo Big?

Yet somehow I get the feeling she wasn't the only one who put on her Big Girl Pants today.

Feelin' small and humble,

Friday, January 17, 2014

Are You Mexican?

Dear Diary,

I work in a bilingual school. 
The minorities are the majority here.
These dark haired children with varying degrees of beautiful, not-so-pale skin dominate the hallways and classrooms.  I am hard pressed to find any child of Anglo/European descent in the building.

Family and friends who are readers of this blog know what I look like. But in case a reader comes across this highly entertaining and thoughtful diary who has never heard of LJ, let me provide a sweeping generalization.

I am of Euro descent. Gazing upon my countenance one might guess I am German, which is partly correct; however, thanks to my maternal grandmother, I have more Bohemian in me than any other single nationality. So it is fair to say I am...well...fair!

This week I had the privilege of participating in this conversation in my kindergarten room. Names have been changed.

Niki (to her friend):  Katy, are you Mexican?  I'm Mexican.
Katy:  I'm Mexican-American.
Niki:  I will make you a bracelet that's Mexican! (Turns to other friend) Claire, are you Mexican?
Claire: No, I'm not from Mexico.
Niki (turning to me): Mrs. LJ, are you Mexican?

The absurdity of her question really made me laugh (inwardly of course) as I straight-faced answered her, "No. No I'm not Mexican."

But the really cool thing about that exchange was that it wasn't an absurd question to her.  At five years old, she has little notion about what being Mexican -- or any minority for that matter -- means. 
Thus she did not hesitate to ask her blond haired, blue eyed teacher, "Are you Mexican?".

We are approaching the birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
As part of his famous I Have A Dream speech, he said:
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
Dr. King, I just met your dream, and her name is Niki.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Keep Calm and ?

Dear Diary,
I am baking cookies today and while I wait for them to cool I decided it was a good time to share my new fridge mantra for the year. 

But before I did that, I needed to do some research on the "Keep Calm and Carry On" slogan that became so popular in the last couple of years.  I wondered about its origin.  I had heard it was from Britain, hence the crown, but other than that, as far as I knew it could have been the name of another boy band Simon Cowell had discovered.
Original poster from 1939.
I learned it was not a boy band but a slogan the British government was prepared to use prior to WWII to keep the public from freaking out about predicted air raids.  It never was publicized properly and so never caught on at the time, unlike the American slogan, "Loose lips sink ships" and Uncle Sam's "I want YOU" declaration.

I did my research because I wanted to share with you the napkin I pilfered from the home of my brother and sister-in-law over Christmas.  Many of my readers know how much I love cookies. And though I didn't know what I was going to do with it at the time, I just couldn't see using it and throwing it away! 

So I hang it on my fridge. 
And take pictures of it for my blog. 

I suppose you, too, can fill in the blank for how you could handle what comes your way in the year ahead:  Keep Calm and ____________
Drink coffee/wine/both?
Hide under the covers?

I think my Snickerdoodles have cooled.  Care to join me?


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Lies for 2014

Dear Diary,

This Christmas I found out I am pretty good at lying.

I had appointed myself Game Director for a gathering with my family.
The Ding-Dong Bell game we attempted didn't go over very well.
I could tell by the blank look on my brother's face. 
Or was that disdain?


We also played a game called Two Truths and a Lie.  A person tells three things about himself (for instance, three of his favorite movies) except a lie needs to be part of the answer, which others try to root out.

"Movies" was just the warm up. 
The Big Question was: What are your goals/What do you plan to accomplish in 2014? 

I made up the question, for Pete's sake, you'd think I could come up with three answers!

As we all paused a moment to ponder this question, here's how it played out in my head:
Okay, my lie will be that I want to run/walk my first 5K. 
That's actually believable since they know I am a walker anyway. 
Plus it is the trend these days--everywhere you turn there is a 5K fundraiser. 
Yeah that's a good one!  Believable, but sooo not gonna happen.

Now for the two truths. 
Hmmmmm.....goals for 2014.....
I know.
I will say I want to take a French cooking class....start a whole LJ & Julia bloggy kind of thing. 
Wait a minute. That's another lie. And it's been done before. I need to think of a truth.

I will tell them I plan to audition for community theater. 
They know how much I enjoyed acting in my school years.

I should change this game to Two Lies and a Truth.

What is something I do want to accomplish this year? 
Wow.  I'm blank.
This is embarrassing.
Maybe they won't notice if I just slip out of the room.
I'm suddenly very thirsty.
Okay maybe not thirsty exactly, but a drink would be really appropriate on so many levels right about now.
While I did enjoy the participation of others in this game, I ended up sitting this one out.

And, yeah, between sweet sips of wine, I did feel a little like a loser.
How could I not have any personal plans or goals for the year? 

Honestly (honestly!) I just want to have a good year --a blessed year-- being a mom/wife, caregiver and friend.

I guess that makes me a good liar (or just a poor game player).

And maybe walking a 5K this year will turn out to be a truth after all.....naaah.

Happy New Year!