Monday, April 30, 2012

My Relationship with my Kitchen

My husband will tell you that the only reason you will find me in the kitchen is because I have to pass through it to enter or exit the house.  NOT TRUE.  Well, not always.
It is very true that I do not enjoy cooking/baking.  Not at all.  Except for the eating part that comes at the end.
I dislike (hate might be too strong) thinking about what to cook, I really dislike shopping for ingredients and I've already told you how I feel about preparing the chow.
I can cook.  Heck, anyone can cook if they can read and have some semblance of reasoning.  In all the years I've been married (almost 44!!!), I can only recall a few semi-disasters.  Again - follow the recipe.  I rarely "get creative" with instructions like my mother does.  She put raisins in tomato soup once when she was taking care of my son when he was home sick from school.  He remembers that lunch like it was yesterday.  Not in a good way.
I can bake too - when the spirit moves me and here's the proof.
Ladies and gentlemen - let me introduce you to Key Lime cake.  Is your mouth watering?  It was DEE-LISH.
The fact that I do not enjoy spending time in the kitchen and the fact that my husband and I have been members of a "dinner group" is amazing to me - even after all these years.  Thankfully each couple only hosts once a year.  Contrary to my reputation, I have made some "ballsy" decisions with regard to dinner club.  Untested dishes!!!  Whether it's my turn to make the entree or submitting a side dish, most of the time I'll look for a recipe and whip it up.  No trial run.  Confidence?  No, remember I dislike cooking so why would I make the same dish twice?
Now, don't get nervous if I invite you over for something to eat, I'll serve up a nice dish.  Really, I will.  Just don't hold your breath for the invite.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

For the Birds

I was raised in a bird lover's home.  My dad loved them.  Mostly song birds and he instilled that same love of the feather in all three of his children.

This little dude is a Nuthatch.  One of my favorites.  I love the sound they make as they go about their business.  Not a song, by any means - more like a tiny grunting noise.  Unmistakable.  Watching them scoot down a tree head first always makes me chuckle.

 Nothing better looking than the male Cardinal although I am a huge fan of the female's colors as well.  She never gets the credit she deserves.  Her beauty is subtle.  No picture of her - see?  She's under appreciated.

One of my favorite memories of dad and his love of birds is the time he decided to feed the birds from his hands.  He was convinced it would work and was bound and determined = bull headed.
So out he went to stand at the top of the river bank with bird seed in each hand.  We, of course, watched from inside the warm house.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention - it was in the dead of winter and as I recall the
 snow was butt-deep.

Dad stood there confidently with his arms outstretched offering up lunch.  Time went by . . . no takers.  The arms sagged a bit.  More time passed . . . still no takers.  Arms fell a few more inches.

I can only imagine us watching through the picture window taking bets on how long "the show" would go on until dad threw in the towel.

It was cold.  Butt-deep snow.  Arms were sagging.  We were giggling.  I'm sure dad was swearing - and shivering.  Nobody showed up for lunch.  Gotta give the guy credit for trying, tho', eh?

Last weekend I was treated to one of the thrills of my life.  I got to see a Bald Eagle on her nest with babies.  Mr.Eagle brought lunch but I missed that part which was disappointing but I had only ever seen an eagle once before so this up-close-and-personal (via a high powered telescope) was extremely exciting.  I squealed like a girl.

If you're not into the bird thing, I encourage you to stop, look and appreciate them.  They're Mother Nature's gift to us.  Thanks, mom.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

One Year Ago

You know how time can sometimes fly by and other times it moves along like a sloth on Librium?  One year ago today my sister-in-law, Patrina (Patty) Altamore Kichline, died.  I can't believe that a whole year has gone by already.
All those silly "in-law" jokes have never applied to mine.  Patty was my sister.  She was the most generous, soft hearted and kind person I've ever known.  I think the "shirt off her back" sentiment came from her.
Patty was very fun-loving, too.  She loved to laugh and put up with a lot of teasing from her brother.  They had a sibling bond like no other.
Patty loved her family and the light in her eyes came from the joy her grandchildren gave her.  She was absolutely devoted to them.  She always put everyone else first without a second thought.
Peter hasn't decided how he wants to spend this day yet.  We talked about going to Red Lobster; Patty loved those biscuits they serve.  Actually, we don't have to specify a place to go to in order to honor her memory - we think about her every day.  We only need to glance around our home to see her touches - she was a great gift giver.
Patty's death has left a huge void in our family. It wasn't supposed to be like this - we were all supposed to grow very old together.  We were supposed to get at least one phone call per day - two if one of us wasn't feeling well.  We were supposed to spend time together laughing, eating and talking, talking, talking.  Since my mother-in-law's death, Patty was the family historian.  I loved hearing her stories.  I miss her.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Sticks and Stones"

I love the old adages.  I think they've been around so long because, for the most part, they're true.
"Beauty is only skin deep."  I'm sure you've all known people who, at first glance, were drop-dead beautiful/handsome.  You were drawn to them like a moth to a flame. And then . . . not so much.  The best example I can come up with without hurting anyone's feelings is - Charlie Sheen.
"You get what you pay for."  That was one I heard from my mother quite often.  She believed that it was worth paying for a good piece of clothing (like our winter coats which we got every other year) so that it would last.
"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."  I'll be honest - that one took me a long time to appreciate. For years I thought it had something to do with hunting.  Well, I guess that's where it came from but evolved over the decades to apply to the non-hunting person. I can't think of a good example at the moment, though.
"Cold hands - warm heart."  Um - not sure about this one.  Sounds like someone with chronically clammy hands made that one up.
Not all adages have merit.  Like "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me."  That one's a load of crap. Think back.  I'm sure you can remember something that was said to you that made you feel small or sad or betrayed.  You remember exactly where you were and who said it.  And it's stayed with you all these years.  Right?  Load of crap.
"Good things come to those who wait."  Really?  How long must one wait??????????????
"What goes around, comes around."  Sometimes but not always.  I've been watching a certain person for a number of years now; waiting for the "comeuppance."  So far - nothing.  I'm getting tired of waiting.
"The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree."  When I look at my family I understand that one - clearly - and it's a good one.  I'm a proud apple.
Do you have a favorite adage?  I'd love to hear it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sniff, sniff. What's That Smell????????????

Mother Nature does a pretty good job in the smell department.  I really don't think she needs any help.  Well, except for decomposing squirrel and skunk farts - those and a few other odors could be eliminated but, for the most part, the freshly mowed grass smell is a good one, honeysuckle on a warm evening is a winner, etc.  I could go on and on and I'm sure you all have favorites too.
The point of this blog entry, though, is not what the Mother cooks up for us but what the fragrance industry is spraying into the air.
I was chatting with a business man the other day - late in the afternoon - and from 3 feet away his after shave/cologne was still strong enough to burn my nose hairs!  Can you imagine having to share an elevator with him at 9a?????????????
Another time I was greeted by a woman friend I hadn't seen for quite a while and we hugged.  I was very happy to see her but not happy about smelling her - on my clothes - for several hours afterward.  Wow, talk about "fragrance transfer." 
Years ago I worked in a school with a woman who wore a very heavy, flowery perfume.  Just passing her in the hallway made my stomach turn over resulting, often times, in a verp.  You know what a verp is, right?  The burp/vomit combo?  All I could think of was what would I do if I ever had to work in the same room with her?  I mean, how do you tell someone their fragrance is making you sick?
 A male friend told me about having a nurse tend to him in the hospital who was wearing one of the cloying, musky scents.  He was counting the minutes until discharge. 
There should be "fragrance free zone" signs posted!  Or do you think it's too Nazi-ish to have it written into the employee handbook?
I was at a workshop not long ago and had to move to a different seating area because the woman behind me must have taken a shower in Patchouli.  And I'm not allergic - I don't get migraines like some poor people do but the overpowering smells that some people douse themselves with leave me reeling.
I know as a teenager I did the whole "spray in the air and then walk through the cloud" thing with who knows what scent.  I'm sorry.  If I sat next to you in the movies and made you suffer.  I'm sorry.
I think the number one puke-inducing smell is the "I'm a smoker so I'll spray this perfume all over my body to cover up the really icky smell of my cancer sticks."  Yeah, that works.  Not!
Ok, I've been sitting here too long staring at the screen trying to think of a closing sentence.  I got nuthin'.
See ya.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I Learned a New Term Yesterday

"Gangster lean." Thanks, Jan Melvin.  Never heard it before but now I know what to call it when I see it ALL  THE  TIME!!!
The other day I was driving to Kalamazoo for a job.  I was in the passing lane and some ass came flying up behind me and sat on my bumper for 7 seconds.  When I checked "him" out in my rear view mirror, much to my surprise (not!), he was on his cell phone.  The phone was in his right hand and he was leaning - way to his right.  It looked like he was propped up by his elbow - that's how far he was leaning.  His left hand was on the wheel but not gripping it; resting comfortably on top so he could easily gesture with it - which he was doing constantly.  I took my time getting back into the left lane (not that he noticed) and he went cruising on by.  He was in a suit - didn't look like a gangster to me.
Don't think I'm letting women off the hook.  They're out there gabbing like crazy too but no leaning has been observed.  Plenty o' drifting, though.  They drift back and forth in their lane like they're drunk.
Don't get me wrong - I think cell phones have a real purpose in our lives and, yes, I have one but rarely use it.  I turn it on when I leave the house on my way to a job so the agency can contact me if there is a problem; like the job has been cancelled.
What I'm seeing in my travels, tho', tells me that cell phone usage (while driving) has become a pandemic. I see people driving, talking and gesturing with a certain look in their eyes - they are not paying attention to the road and the world around them.  It scares me.
Laws can be passed but I honestly don't think they will be enforced - like the new "no helmet" law here in MI.  The police have enough to do; I don't see them pulling people over for cell phone usage while driving.  They're certainly not going to be checking all the helmet-less bikers out there to see if they have the appropriate insurance coverage, etc.
It's scary out there, folks.  Be careful.  And please, please, please - save the cell phone for when you come to a stop.  Please.
I know that cell phones are here to stay but I think Miss Manners needs to get busy and publish some rules.  I could go on and on about sitting at a table with someone when their phone rings and they don't get up and move off into a corner to chat but stay at the table so the rest of us get to be part of their conversation.  Or listening to someone go on (in a loud voice - why is that?) while standing in line at the grocery store.  Thankfully I'm not hearing that horrid "beep" from the two-way phones as much anymore.  That one made me see spots in front of my eyes.  I swear you could hear it 3 aisles away.
I was having a real conversation with someone the other day and a woman walked up to us while she was talking on her cell - and stood there - and we felt like we should stop talking.  Really?
Miss Manners - where are you??????????????????

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Do You Have a Role Model? I Do.

                                                                       Here she is!

This is my mom, Nan Brachman.  This picture was taken when she was around 75 years old and pretty much says it all.  A friend came by her house to visit and noticed how she was looking at his bike.  He asked her if she'd like to go for a ride and, of course, she said, "Oh, yes!"  His partner's leathers fit perfectly and off they went.
Mom is my role model for many reasons.  If I had to name just one I'd say I admire her thirst for knowledge.  She, at almost 90, is still reading voraciously anything and everything.  She took to the internet like a duck takes to water and is constantly looking for information.  She's interested and interesting.
Mom enjoys people and they love her.  I'm pretty sure the reason my friend, Joy, and I have stayed so close over the past 45+ years is because she adores my mom.  People are constantly asking me, "How's your mom?"
Here's an example of what a free spirit my mom is:  she decided to sponge paint her bathroom a number of years ago.  She only applied the paint up as far as she could reach.  Didn't use a ladder (why bother, eh?) so the paint didn't go all the way up to the ceiling.  She also decided to do the floor.  Why not?  There was still paint left over.  Using what was left sparingly she painted around the throw rugs.  Yes, that's right, she didn't bother to remove the rugs.  Why would you?  Who's going to notice you didn't paint under the rugs?
Mom has "volunteer" in her blood.  She volunteered for the hospital, for the Girl Scouts, for hospice, for the schools and is still at it volunteering for a group out of Western Michigan University.
Here's mom with her brother, my Uncle Ray, who is 13 months her junior.  He's a stitch and one of my favorite people on the planet.
                                                I come from good stock.  I'm a lucky gal.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Camp in a Wheelchair

Not too long after the "bloody eye incident" I had foot surgery - on both my feet at the same time!  Had to have been my dad's idea.  He's the guy that had both cataracts removed at the same time.
I had rather pronounced bunions.  Severe enough to make fitting into shoes an issue and, I'm guessing, would only get worse as I aged so the decision was made to go under the knife.
If you know anyone who has had bunion surgery you'd know that it's an out-patient adventure now - going home with one of those coolio boots on.  Well, not "back in the day."  I was an in-patient in the "childrens' ward" for several days.  I think it was 9 but, again, could easily be wrong on that one.  Maybe it was 2 but felt like 9.
I do remember lying flat in bed with a board at the end of it to prevent me from moving my feet - no pointing allowed!
The boots hadn't been invented yet - I had tongue depressors strapped to the sides of both feet where the bunions used to be.  Fancy eh?
On to camp.  Stuff like foot surgery and fractured legs (just ask my sister, Stacey) didn't keep the Brachmans (my maiden name) down.  I was already registered so off I went - IN A WHEELCHAIR.
Now, it wasn't a camp with tents and cots.  It was a music "camp" and we stayed in a large house in Caseville, MI with a lot of bedrooms.  We stayed for 6 weeks and rehearsed for a big musical production at the end.
My first year we did Carousel.  My second year, the wheelchair year, we performed The Kind and I.  Naturally, I wasn't in the chorus belting out You'll Never Walk Alone from my wheelchair.  I was assistant to the director that summer. 
The up side of being in the chair was all the attention.  For those of you who know me, you know that I don't shy away from attention. hehe  Kids pushed me around - even to the beach!  It was all fun and games until one smart-ass pushed me into the center of the road, tipped my chair backwards and left me there.
So when all was said and done, I'd say it was a pretty good summer.  The attention thing again. 
I can't help myself.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Bead Making Process

I make glass beads.  I started way back in March of '98.  How did this whole thing begin you ask?  You asked yourself that, right?  It would have gone something like this:  "I wonder just how the heck it is that Ellen got started in this whole bead thing?"  How close was I?
So, since you've been nagging me I'll answer.  It was my mom's fault.  She saw someone making beads and thought it looked like something she'd like to try.  She must have mentioned it to my dad who, in turn, called me and told me to look into it and order whatever she needed.  I did.
Once everything was in place mom was a bit nervous about lighting up the torch by herself so my husband went to her rescue.  He, too, was soon making glass beads and bugged me to come take a look.  I stood behind him and watched.  The second he finished and turned off the flame I gently shoved him from the chair and took over.  Ok, maybe not so gently.
Here is a picture of some of my glass.  It comes in 13" long rods from Italy.
And here's a picture of my torch and some tools.  The torch is called a Hothead.  It's thought of as a "beginner" torch but it suits my needs.  I'm very happy with it.
One of the coolest things about working with hot glass is you can poke it, squish it, add things to it, etc.
As a glass rod is introduced (technical glassy term, hehe) to the flame it begins to melt.  As it melts it is wound around a stainless steel rod coated in a clay based substance which keeps the hot glass from sticking to the steel rod.
Adding surface decoration is one of my favorite things to do.  I use "stringers" which are also glass.  The tip of another glass rod is heated and then pulled with my fingers - Not! just checking to see if you're still reading - with a tweezers into a thin long piece of glass; looks like a string, hence the name.  Get it?
The stringer cools quickly and you can then go back to your base bead and add it to the surface.
Once the bead is finished it is slow cooled to prevent cracking, it's removed from the steel rod and the hole is cleaned out - remember that clay based substance?  It's still in the hole - we in the bead world call it "bead poop."  Hey, we get our laughs where we can.
Have I burned myself?  Plenty of times but only once in the flame.  The other times were when I  accidentally picked up a hot glass rod  before I got more organized on my work bench.  Kowabunga, baby, that smarts!
I love melting glass.  It came along at a perfect time in my life.  I needed it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Bloody Eye

This is a story of trauma and blood.  Are you up to it?  Ok, then.
I was in either 8th or 9th grade; can't exactly remember which one although I know for sure it wasn't 7th.  I'll explain that later.
Here's the scene:  outdoor gym class - soccer.  A player on the opposing team (husky gal that put all her weight into a kick) put the ball into a beeline toward my head.  I'm sure she wasn't aiming at me (I don't think so, anyway) and I'll never understand why I was bending over but I was and she wasn't very far from me so that sucker packed a wallop.
Right into my eye. 
I'm sure I squealed like a girl and clamped a hand over my eye while I ran up the the teacher.That part is a little hazy; traumatic ya know.   She told me to go to the locker room (not sure what the purpose of that directive was; probably to get me out of her face) so I ran all the way there and down the stairs into the basement locker room.
There was a big-ass mirror in the room and I remember thinking, "I'm definitely going to have a black eye.  How cool will that be?"  So I walked up real close to the mirror and opened my eyes.  I couldn't see out of one of them (guess which one) because . . . .  IT WAS COVERED IN BLOOD! 
Commence screaming and running.  Back outside to report the injury (in a high pitched voice) to the teacher.  I don't remember a lot after that except mom came to pick me up and take me to dad's office.  He was a doctor.
Dad put me on the exam table, turned out the lights and looked into my eye with his little light thingy.  He got nose to nose with me and stayed there for what felt like 39 minutes and then . . . . said, "Oh, shit."
Nice, huh.  Apparently my retina was hanging by a thread and any movement could cause it to completely detach. 
Remember how I did all that running and screaming?  Yeah.
My biggest concern and my only question to dad was, "Does this mean I can't cheer at the game tonight?"  The whole cheering thing is how I know it was either 8th or 9th grade because those losers didn't pick me for the 7th grade squad.  I showed them - I went on to an illustrious career as a cheerleader right until I graduated from high school.  So there!
Back to the eye.  I walked on eggshells with mom's assistance out to the car from dad's office and did the same thing as we got home.  Into bed I went and had to lie there for what seemed like 39 days (what's with the number 39?) and when I needed to sit up, mom would come in and pull me slowly by the arms into a sitting position.
How's that for trauma and blood?  Stay tuned, there may be more of the same.  I've been through a lot.
Oh, I almost forgot.  I recovered nicely.  No eye issues.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Our Animal Shelter and a lot of Good People

If you live in this area you have seen the tragic story of the 350 puppies and dogs rescued from idiots.  350!   That's not even a puppy mill - what the hell is that?  Were these people "puppy hoarders?"
They were all small dogs - filthy and unhealthy in many cases but oddly, not starving.
After reading an article in our little paper yesterday asking for donated items, I went out with a few things. 
I'd never been to the shelter before - no reason to go.  As I drove down the road I saw cars.  Cars lined the driveway leading up to the shelter - on both sides of the driveway!!!  I had to stand in line to donate the collars and leashes I brought with me. 
I heard the volunteer coordinator tell someone to take a volunteer from the food truck (a huge truck filled with bags and cans of donated dog food that had to be transferred into a storage unit) to help do something else of a more immediate nature.  Before I knew it, I was in the truck taking that person's place.
When I got home I saw pictures on Facebook of my friend, Jane's daughter, Jennifer, who owns a doggie "salon" in South Haven.  She had taken in 30 of the dogs for bathing and grooming.  The before and after pictures brought tears to my eyes.
People are good.  People have big hearts. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What Do You Say When Someone Dies?

We have two funerals to attend on Saturday.  I've grown accustomed to giving my condolences and no longer feel awkward, stumbling over my words while addressing the family but it wasn't always that way.
The first funeral I went to, when I was 19 years old, was for my best friend Sue's brother, Marty, who died tragically in a go-kart accident.
Like I said, it was my first, and I had no idea what I was supposed to do or say so I'm pretty sure I said nothing - just cried.
Since that time many friends, relatives and acquaintances have died.  I've heard it all from "he/she is in a better place" to "God had a plan", etc.  I know people feel at a loss for words so they, often times, blurt out something they're embarrassed about later.
A simple, "I'm sorry" doesn't feel quite good enough but, really, it is.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How Are You Doing with the Whole PC thing?

I thought I had made the adjustment quite well; being cognizant of what is correct and what is not correct. But when we were talking about a suspicious fire the other day the phrase "Jewish lightning" popped into my brain.  Yikes!  I think most of us have made the transition from "Colored" to "Black."  Although, it wasn't very long ago I heard someone refer to a Black person as "colored."  I always want to ask, "what color was he/she?"
I was confused when "African-American" came into play, though.  Seemed like a mouthful.  I asked a few friends what they preferred and the answer was usually "Black."
Same deal with "Native-American."  I don't have many friends that fall into that category but I have asked and one of my friends said, "Indian.  I'm an Indian.  If you really feel weird using that one, go with Native but Native-American?  Too much."
Now, let's move away from the ethnic groups and onto other, less obvious ones. 
Deaf mute.  Yeah, that one hasn't been used since Hector was a pup.  As time went on, someone probably working on their PhD thought we should start using "Hearing Impaired."  Naturally, they didn't ask the Deaf community - just gave them a new name.  This is a group I know quite a bit about - I work with them.  I have never met a Deaf person who prefers "Hearing Impaired."
Sign Language has evolved in the ethnic area, too.  The stereotypical signs we used to use for countries:  Japan, China, Africa, etc. have changed to more appropriate signs - their signs for their own countries.
A side note here:  this really doesn't fall into the PC category but I really don't like to hear someone (usually a man) calling an older/elderly lady "young."  Like in, "Well, hello there young lady."  Sounds condescending to me.  Or referring to a group of women as "you girls."  Annoying.
Your responses, always welcome, could address either your thoughts regarding PC terms or the annoying ones - maybe like "the wife."  Doncha just love that one?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Are You Saying "Two Thousand or Twenty?"

Remember the big hoopla for the new millennium?  We said the year was "two thousand."  We, at least I, kept on saying "two thousand one, two thousand two" and so on.  But back in the early 1900s (not that I was there) they said "nineteen oh one, nineteen fifteen."  They didn't say "one thousand, nine hundred twelve."
I'm not saying we should have started out with saying "twenty" - that wouldn't make any sense at all, would it?
Saying "twenty oh one" sounded weird, though, so I felt more comfortable saying "two thousand one."
Now that we're past 2010 I'm getting more comfortable with the whole "twenty" thing but I haven't actually said it out loud yet.  I need to practice a bit more before I go public with it.
The same dilemma exists in Sign Language.  I keep asking my Deaf clients if they're signing "two thousand" or "twenty."  It's running about 50/50 at this point.
So?  What do you say?

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Little OCD

I think a little OCD is a good thing.  I believe I have more obsessive tendencies than compulsive issues.
By obsessive, I mean things like not being able to leave the kitchen if I spot one of the cabinet doors ajar or a drawer left slightly open. 
My toilet paper is always dispensed from the top of the roll.  If I find myself in another bathroom and see the TP  mistakenly set up to roll in the wrong direction, I will change it.  The big commercial rolls are challenging; I can't always wrestle them out of the dispenser.  Frustrating. Although since most of them are sideways, it doesn't seem to bother me as much.
I would really like all the clocks in the house and cars to be exactly the same.  The whole daylight savings time thing makes me a bit jumpy - twice a year!
Interestingly enough, OCD doesn't really get in the way of housekeeping for me.  I can tolerate a fair amount of dust.  I'm ok with waiting until I can write my name in it.  The windows are ignored for years.  The floors are probably the only part of the house that make me a tad twitchy.  They will never fall into the "you can eat of them" category but I do like them to be crumb-free.
Twice a year I host an "arty" open house so things have to be moved around and put away until after we shut down.  It's the "putting things back" that stirs up the OCD - just a little..  Petey and I have a different style when it comes to that so if he helps I may have to re-arrange later in the evening . . . . so I can sleep.
So?  How about you? 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Do You Make Excuses or Fess Up Right Away?

Many years ago when my son was a little boy we hosted a "Santa" party every year - for several years running.  There was a really nice family living around the corner from us, at the time, that had a few kids and we invited them.  They had other plans and couldn't come that year.  I invited them the next year as well but, again, they couldn't attend.  When the next year rolled around the father finally told me that Santa was not part of their Christmas and he would rather not confuse the children by bringing them.  Fine, I understood completely.  No problem.
Remembering that time got me thinking of experiences I've had over the years of being asked to do things, join groups, attend certain functions, etc. and fibbing my way out instead of just saying "no thank you."
I was asked to join a committee a long time ago and I accepted but really, really didn't want any part of it.  My decision drove me crazy until I finally called the chair person (after rehearsing my speech several times) and told her that I was very sorry, I never should have accepted as I knew I wouldn't do a good job; my life just wasn't set up for that type of volunteer work at that time.  Whew.
That was the beginning for me.  I became more comfortable saying "no."  People that know me have finally stopped sending me postcard invites to Tupperware parties and Pampered Chef gatherings.
I've even said no to hospice and you know how much I love them.  I've been volunteering in bereavement support for many years and was asked to lead a group on a regular basis.  I know myself well enough now that if I accepted that position I would grow to resent it. 
Are there times when I tell a little white lie instead of being honest?  Yes, probably, although I can't think of an example right now but I'm sure it's happened and will happen but not near as often as it did when I was younger and unsure of myself.
How about you?

Saturday, April 7, 2012


That was the name for a club we had in high school.  A girls' club.  I don't remember exactly how many members we had but it wasn't a big group - maybe 10.
What's with the name?  Oh, yeah. All Boys Are Bastards.  Nice, huh?
I don't recall having a secret handshake like boys do.  We were way too cool for that.  We did, however, have secret names - they were numbers.  Naturally I don't remember mine but I'm pretty sure I have a charm on my old charm bracelet with the number on it - I could go upstairs and dig through the jewelry box if you want me to.  No?  Ok.
I believe we had a song, too.  I'm sure it was filled with derogatory lyrics. Can't remember those either; not even the melody.
I do remember throwing a dance in the basement of the Griswold.  We couldn't charge people to enter but we could ask for a donation at the door.  We even had a band.  I'm sure we paid them with the money we collected but what do you think we did with the remaining money?  Sent it to Africa to feed the hungry?  Buy clothing for the children in India?
Oh, hell, no.  We financed a week in a trailer at Ottawa Beach State Park - mostly the beer that went into the trailer.  Again, I say, nice, huh?
You already know (if you've been following me daily) that I had a good time in school - particularly high school.  My association with the ABABs is definitely one of the highlights of my illustrious educational career.
I'm humming something - it's coming to me - wait for it, wait for it . . . nope.  Lost it.  It was a snappy tune though, take my word for it.
ABABs forever!!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Entertainment Preferences

1.  movies  2. music  3. television  4. books

Movies:  Exciting, adventurous, Indiana Jones-ish.  Nothing sad.  Don't like scary.  Can't sit through fantasy, sci-fi or animation.  I like funny but not stupid-funny = Meet the Parents, ugh!

Music:  if you've been with me for a while you already know I love the Blues.  I'm not particularly keen on old timey Blues, though.  I like it with a strong beat, funky and greasy.  In case you missed my post about the Blues (you can always go back, ya know) you already know that my favorite singer is EG Kight.  Also a big fan of Delbert McClinton and Duke Tumatoe.  I can not deal with rap or the screaming stuff.  Honestly, it stirs up homicidal feelings.  I can't be held responsible for my actions if exposed to it for more than 2 minutes.

Television:  I like all the crime shows, a few reality programs and Good Morning, America.  Don't do sit-coms.

Books:  almost exclusively murder mysteries, set in the US and current.  It's not like I haven't read other genres, I have - plenty.  I like a good story.  I like to be swept away (The Help and The Poisonwood Bible) so I will dabble elsewhere but I like the punch and swiftness of a good murder.  I love snarky cop humor, too.

So you won't see me standing in line for The Hunger Games listening to heavy metal on my iPod while reading a book about ancient Rome and periodically chatting with someone about a recent episode of  How I Met Your Mother.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Ever Been Licked by a Cow?

I haven't but I have been snorted upon by a horse.  That was a disgusting event.  Even worse, I was holding Niko Dutkiewicz at the time.
Years ago I saw a woman who was up close and personal with a camel who hocked a wad of spit all over her.  The poor gal only had one skimpy Kleenex with her to wipe up the mess with - not for the weak of heart.  And it was a stinking hot day too.
This post isn't really about animals and their saliva, though.  It's about the weird thing your hair does if you have a "cow lick."  Wonder who decided that would be an appropriate name for hair going in opposite directions?
I don't know how I got into my 60s before I noticed I had a cowlick.  I guess it's because it's in the back of my head, up towards the crown (I love having a crown) and I never look at the back of my head.  Kind of like the back of my legs - don't shave 'em and don't care if they get tan in the summer or not.  I can't see back there anyway so . . .
Getting back to the cowlick.  I don't remember why I bothered picking up the hand mirror and doing the whole backward thing looking into the mirror above my bathroom sink but I was shocked at what I saw.  Maybe those of you with long hair don't notice cowlicks because they're buried under all that hair but when you're sporting a short "do" it sticks out like a sore thumb.  It actually looks like a huge scar - like I've had serious brain surgery.  Or possibly attacked by someone with a cleaver.
Michelle at Class Act here in Allegan cuts my hair and she's been very good about leaving that area a bit longer so there's something to work with.  For a while I would do the "holding the hand mirror and twisting around dance" when I prettied up in the morning but I've stopped.  I've reverted back to my old ways - it's in the back, who cares? At least it's not a double cowlick like those little twin boys on "Everybody Loves Raymond."  Remember them?  Right in front.  What do you do about that?
So if you're walking behind me and you happen to notice the "post surgical scar" on my head and my white, hairy legs.  Keep it to yourself, please.  It doesn't need to be brought to my attention.
Remember - I don't care.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Are You Gay? I Don't Care!

I do not understand why people are still getting their trousers in a twist over sexual orientation.  What are they afraid of?  Where's the threat?
I know "we've" come a long way and I'm happy about that but I'm sad to say that prejudice must just be the nature of the beast - in many ways.
I'm only going to address the gay thing in this post, though.
Petey calls me a "gay magnet."  True, I have several friends that are gay.  I'm simply drawn to people that I find interesting and enjoy spending time with - I don't ask them who they're sleeping with before we share a cup of coffee.  I think being a "magnet" has something to do with - NOT GIVING A SHIT!
I have been fortunate over the years to meet a person who guided me through the early days of bead making, a friend who helped me in displaying my jewelry in a professional manner, another who encouraged me by selling my jewelry, still another who mentored me when I stepped into the world of Sign Language.
Think what I would have missed had I turned my back on these people because they were (and still are, hehe) gay.  Does that even make sense?
The whole marriage issue throws me for a loop, too.  Gay people marrying someone they love is a threat to the sanctity of marriage?  Really?  What's the divorce rate among heteroes?  Oh, yeah, religion.
I hate that friends I know have to "keep the secret."  That breaks my heart.  I can't imagine the stress.
And forget about the military.  Do they think the gay soldier is going to try and cop a feel in the foxhole?  With bullets flying and bombs dropping?  Good night!  Get a grip!!!
Are people born gay or did they turn gay?  That question is still floating around many closed minds.  They're definitely born gay.  As one of my closest friends said to me, "Why the hell would I chose this?"
I remember seeing a little boy in kindergarten many years ago.  He was a cool little dude and definitely gay.  I watched him grow up into a wonderful young man - gay.
Here's my closing story:  I was interpreting in a middle school classroom years ago and during the last few minutes of class time kids were asking the teacher questions about several topics.  One student asked about gay people and how they "got that way."  I braced myself and, sure enough, a stupid answer came flying out of her mouth.  "I think it's because they didn't have a father in their home."  What?????????  Honestly, my hands froze in the air.  I could not interpret that sentence.  Totally against my Code of Ethics as an interpreter but I simply could not make my hands move.
And there ya have it. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How About a Massage

I get a total body massage every-single-month.  It is pure heaven.  I've been indulging/rewarding myself for 15 years or so.
The whole experience, from the moment I look at the appointment written on my calendar, to driving into my massage therapist's driveway, to walking into the room (soft music playing), to the "laying on of hands" is the best gift I could ever give myself.
What do you do for yourself?  You deserve something, you know.  Something just for you.  Maybe a mani or pedi?  A new hairstyle?  How about a facial?  BTW, these options are also for men.
I got a pedicure just before we went to Florida.  It's not something I do often but, you know, had to get the tootsies perked up.  I left for my month with screamin' red toenails.  Dang it - should have taken a picture.
Honestly, back to the reward/gift thing.  It doesn't have to cost money.  It could be something as simple as going out for coffee with a dear friend and spending uninterrupted time catching up.  A walk in the forest or a stroll on the beach.  Try to do something just for you on a monthly basis.  It really gives you a "treat" to look forward to - it's a gift you give to yourself.

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Month in FL: reflections

I ate too much.  Although, I wasn't shocked into a coma when I stepped onto the scale this morning.  Whew.
I never once used the dishwasher in the condo.  I don't have one at home so never got the hang of using them.
As much as I love my mini-laptop, I'm happy to be back with my "big screen."
I love, love, loved having a bathroom mere steps from my bed.  Back to the stairs. Ugh.
I should have gone to the beach more often.  True, I'm not much of a beach person but, down there, they are spectacular.
I'm so glad I took the opportunity to go into the beautiful gulf water.  So clear and, come to think of it, I don't remember tasting salt.
I loved having everything right out the back door in FL.  Restaurants and grocery stores within moments. 
I'm proud of myself for sticking to 4 times a week Jazzercise.  I can't imagine what a chubette I'd be if I didn't go.
Staying in touch with family and friends via Skype was wonderful but being home is grand.
We'll go back to the same place next year (I'm almost positive) but not for more than one month.  We both agree, at least at this time in our lives, one month is our limit.