Saturday, May 31, 2008

How Old Are You? No. Really.

The other day I heard an older woman defend a man who’d done something ridiculously stupid by saying, “Well he’s only 25 you know. He’s just a kid.”

My initial reaction was, “Is not!”

Granted, stupid knows no age limit. That‘s easily demonstrated by most politicians who speak in public. But the woman’s logic made me wonder if the fact we‘re living longer is making us cling to “childhood” for too long? Has our society become so focused on refusing to age we’re actively trying to erase ANY line which indicates ADULT? We have creams, lotions and Botox to erase physical lines of aging. We play head games by proclaiming that “40” is the new “30” and “50” is the new “40”. My mother-in-law gave me a birthday card this year which read, “If life begins at 40, then you’re only 10 years old.”

Gee, I was kinda proud to arrive at 50 without any major accidents or murder charges. Hey, don’t judge. You didn’t share a room with my kid sister. :)

Mom was 21 when she married Dad and he was 25 when I showed up. This meant in addition to spousal duties, they now had parental ones. Neither ran home to their parents. No, they raised me to be self sufficient while instilling the belief that the goal of an 18 year old was to graduate from high school…preferably without wrecking the car or calling from jail. Check. Age 21 was a nice time to graduate from college, which I accomplished by putting myself through school. Perhaps using my own money was motivational. At 22 I got married, not because I had to, but because I WANTED to marry this guy. He was [and is] smart, funny and handsome. Self sufficient me was able to figure out I loved him without living with him first. That may sound archaic, but 28 years later, he’s still my one and only. I plan to continue that trend. We understood the concept of adult as explained by our parents, including the part where life won‘t always be fair or kind. Sadly, we have no children to share this tradition with. However, I will explain to my 8 year old nephew that there will come a time when he is expected to fly from the nest and face the world on his own. Using his own brain and his own money. Preferably before he’s 40.

25 is too young? Tell that to Charles Lindbergh who made his fist non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic at that age. How about Scientist Lawrence Bragg, who at the same age became the youngest winner of the Nobel Prize. Or Geneticist James Watson, who helped break the genetic code which lead to the discovery of that double helix known as DNA. 25 year old Norman Mailer wrote “The Naked and the Dead”, which was declared the best novel to come out of WWII while George Gershwin was on Broadway with his work “Lady Be Good.” Even 25 year old Fay Wray managed to fend off King Kong without the help of her parents. What were you doing at 25?

Actually, it amazes me that today’s kid can navigate the conflicting messages telegraphed. Ah, 25 is “so young” some parents are willing to financially support children still living at home, overlooking “mistakes” until said child decides to grow up. And if they decide they never want to grow up? Can you still support them on Social Security? How is it 18 is old enough to die for your country but in order to legally celebrate living to tell about it, you must be 21? Blame it on that sliding scale of age where no one tells the truth and if your body tries to, well just cream it or Botox it into submission.

You know, Laugh Lines have their purpose. They’re physical proof you’ve lived…and lived to tell about it. And you laughed. Any time you can laugh, that’s a good thing. It means you’re old enough to view reality and still see the funny side.

Laugh on people, laugh on.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sign of the Day

Saw this in a catalog I received today. And it made me grin.


LIFE

is not a journey to the grave with
the intention of arriving safely
in a pretty and well preserved body
but rather to skid in broadside
totally worn out and proclaiming
"WOW, what a ride!"

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Howdy Y'all!

Wheat and corn fields. They're everywhere right now. Some folks look at them and see.....

...the labor of a group of workers classified as Farmers. Real farmers. The kind who get dirty and sweaty. Not the type owned by corporations trying to grow grant money.


...cereal before it hits the box.

...money. But this year, seed, fertilizer and diesel fuel will drive up the costs. Why?

...Ethanol being grown to replace gas. Only down side is, it impacts the price of everything else which grain touches. If an animal ate it or it's in a food product, you're going to pay more this year. A lot more by some estimates. One expert suggests we refocus that Ethanol solution on items like Sawgrass...which is easy to grow, practically drought resistant and doesn't take away from our food chain and therefore out wallets.


Me? I see my neighborhood.
Montana does not have the only claim on country big skies.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Life on the High Road

Last night Mom e-mailed me that she thought I was putting up with too much garbage at work and should find another job. Easier said than done. Plus, I like the seniors. I explained the latest strategy and her reply was to do what was best for me. I had to laugh.

Part of the reason I'm in this mess is because of Mom and "The Childhood Curse".

You know how it goes. Moms recite the childhood wisdom of their mothers, passing down little cliches that are suppose to help you in life. She taught it to all 3 of her children. My problem is I have too good a memory and took this one a little too literally. The other 2 don't remember it.


If a job is first begun
never leave it 'til it's done.
Be the labor great or small
do it well or not at all.


It was so ingrained in me that all Mom had to do was recite the first line and I'd trudge off, muttering the rest under my breath as I went to complete whatever it was I'd started. For my entire life I've been guided, or cursed, by that little ditty. It's become so much a part of my thought process it's like breathing. I just do it. I subconsciously contemplate if I even wanted to start something, knowing my conscious will make me complete it. Like it or not. I suppose taking a second look at things isn't a bad idea. It's probably saved me from a harebrained idea or two.


So in spite of the drama currently facing me at work, I'm saddling up to stay on the high road a little longer. Because the job's not done. Yet.


Wonder if I should find a better way to tie my shoes?




Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tom Gets a Standing Ovation

Today marks my 21st year with my Employer.

I'm the only one who remembered.

No Supervisor or Boss patted me on the back... or head or shoulder to tell me what a good girl I am. Oh no. They expect me to show up and perform miracles because they give me money. Considering the compensation, I'd say my miracles are going cheap. I am currently between a rock and a hard place through no fault of my own. Well, maybe that's not entirely true. The problem is the truth. I'm pretty particular about telling it. So much easier than keeping up with lies. Unfortunately telling the truth at work gets you punished. Because the truth scares them. I think it's the part where I point out, politely, that just because "we've always done it that way" doesn't make it right. Or legal. Let us say that Affirmative Action and the phrase, "We should just all be so THANKFUL to have our jobs!" is their rallying cry. The only thing it accomplishes is giving them a false sense of importance.

I cried today but it didn't rally anything. Then I got over it. Mostly because I refuse to stoop to their level. And okay, because I decided to turn their game on them.

I've been told if there's something I can't do, then "let your senior citizens go out and make those contacts for you." Really. We need something big....the chance to stay in our Center all day instead of half a day. Five and a half years ago I was sent to "help" a co-worker learn to be a Director. She learned that she'd rather sit and watch me work. I learned to ignore her ignorance and focus on the kids at her site. And then gasoline started to climb. Given how much I am compensated for miracles, which does not include the purchase of gas, I am now on the verge of paying to COME to work. I need to get away from that 2nd site, where I spend 2 whole hours a day interacting with 5 children while the other woman...watches. Today we had one child who left after 15 minutes. I wanted to go with her.

Today I made a declaration to my seniors: there needs to be a Revolution. I can't throw the tea into the harbor personally, but I can draw them a map. In our PC world, that means I've given them the mailing addresses and telephone numbers for every politician who keeps telling me "just get those numbers up" even when I say, "If you'd untie my hands, I could." I'm good, but I'm no Houdini.

As I stood in the kitchen, wondering if anyone was even listening to me, one of the men, Tom, came in and said, "You always do such nice things for us. I did this for you." He's a retired professor who use to teach photography. Tom had taken a picture of my favorite flower, a yellow daisy, and brought me a beautiful print. It was better than a bouquet of the real thing on a day where I felt like I've been spinning my wheels for way too long.

What you don't know about Tom is how full of life he is...ready to try anything. He's in his early 70s now but a couple of years ago, he jumped out of an airplane with his son..just cause he thought it would be fun. Tom lights up a room because, even on his darkest days [which included Divorce #3] he can find that ray of sunshine hiding behind the clouds. Last year he cut his foot and lost a toe to gangrene. The surgeon didn't do such a good job. Two months later he lost his foot...halfway up his leg. But rather than mourn the loss, he found the challenge and rallied. He has a great sense of humor. Ever the professor, when his new "leg" arrived, I went in the Dining Room one week and found it on the table. A group of women sat around him in a circle as he raved about the titanium and quality workmanship. Walking by I said, "Tom, get your foot off the table." He shot back, "It's not my foot, it's my leg." He winked. They missed it. I caught hell. The point is, we both knew to laugh.

So today, on a day that should've been a personal milestone [or sign of insanity, I'm not sure which] Tom brought me a daisy which will never die. And he brought a second photo for the friends who've stood by him when the going got tough. It says "Thanks" on it. And it made me laugh so hard I forgot what I was suppose to be angry about.

How can you stay angry at the unfairness of it all when a guy who's lost so much can take his "old" foot and turn it into art? :)

Tom, this Standing Ovation is for you. And I expect you to lead the way when the seniors begin educating the politicians.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Glass Half Full. Yeah...if I fill it

It's Monday. Somehow that's bad enough.

I didn't just wake up on the wrong side of the bed, I was NAGGED out of it. By two lovesick dogs who just HAVE to go see their girlfriend or their souls will shrivel up and die.

Um...no. It's 5:00 a.m.. For utilizing human logic, I get hit in the head with one cold nose and jabbed in the ribcage by another. There was some grumbling involved. I'm not sure which of the three of us was most displeased.

After such an imposing start I decided that if I was to survive Monday without doing jail time, I'd have to balance that which annoys me with, "Well hey, at least I have..."

The Bad News: my newly acquired acute bronchitis [which, I might note, isn’t cute at all]. As much as I hate up close and personal contact with the medical world, it was a relief to have a doctor verify I’m merely wheezing and not evolving into a tea kettle on high boil.
The Upside: This means I can be fixed. Reassured that I am not allergic to anything medical [pollen doesn’t count], he wrote me prescriptions. Four to be exact.

The Bad News: There are requirements for prescriptions. Nope, the first isn’t money and/or health insurance, but it helps. I had to navigate the slippery slope of a breathing treatment, a steroid shot in the butt and chest x-rays. Pain and humiliation put to the tune of wheezing and a cash register ringing in my ears every time someone entered the room to "help" me.
The Upside:
I take really good lung pictures. That might actually be my best side. The breathing treatment slowed the wheezing. That’s good. I’ve missed sleep.

The Bad News: Once you start on steroids, you can’t stop cold turkey. No, you must taper off. From 6 pills a day down to one. On Day One I discover this modern miracle comes with a railroad-spike-in-the-brain headache for an hour.
The Upside:
The spike alternates points in your gray matter, thus you are not forced to pull hair out of the same spot. And it wears off. Just in time for the next dose.

The Bad News: Add to acute bronchitis the acute misery of 2 Lovesick dogs howling sorrowfully at their most unfair, indoor captivity. Since Hubby went fishing and our yard is not fenced in, it’s “Take the Kids to Work Day”. No, I don't trust them alone in the house for 8 hours in their current condition.
The Upside: Well, I haven’t been lonely. Having a tennis ball shoved at you is one way to be reminded that everyone could use a break. Plus my "Kids" have made the seniors happy.

The Bad News: Gas prices that…don’t even get me started.
The Upside: Um. I’m sure there is one. Like not having to saddle a horse and ride it for 25 miles.

The Bad News: Watching too much of my paycheck go into said gas tank because I’m being asked to do 2 jobs for the price of one. Travel money not allowed. Travel mandatory. Using polite language and logic to point out to the Boss that after 5 years, the co-worker I was sent to rescue still believes Computer Solitaire is a job skill. After all, if I’m there with the kids, why does she need to watch them?
The Upside: Having a kid hand me a note that says, “You’re a nice lady. I like hanging with you.” No, it would be wrong to hit her up for gas money.

The Bad News: Mondays are not always fun. Or profitable.
The Upside: At least there’s only one a week.

The Bad News: Time for another steroid pill.
The Upside: I’m going to back away from the computer now. Oh look, one of the dogs just THREW the tennis ball at me. Guess it's time to play.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Country Courtesy

This morning I was reminded of why I don't mind my commute...it's mostly on back country roads. In town you have folks who tail gate, honk, show you their I.Q. utilizing one finger and drive like lunatics. If they're not ignoring traffic lights while gossiping on cell phones, they're impatiently squealing tires towards heightened road rage and/or coronary arrest. Gas prices are high enough without my fellow drivers making me more miserable.

This morning I zipped around the corner only to come face to face with a combine. A huge John Deere yellow and green number, it's tank was loaded and ready to spray the young corn fields. These machines appear enormous on the road, taking up their lane and yours... and sometimes a strip of grass along the highway. This is not a machine to play chicken with, even if you own a Hummer. Not that I'd even consider such a thing. Owning a Hummer or trying to run a Combine off the road. Color me chicken.

Best thing is, I didn't have to even think about it.

As soon as the farmer saw my car, he courteously pulled over to allow me to pass. He was going to work, same as I was, but he kindly gave up hogging his right of way and mine. I smiled up at him as I waved in thanks. He grinned ear to ear and waved back. This is the third time in the last week I've had one of these encounters. Different farmers, same response.

If someone is going to shoot me hand signals while I'm driving, I prefer the hand belong to a farmer.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Take a Tour...Without Leaving Your Computer Chair

This week my husband and I watched a movie called "Water Horse", a sweet film about the legend of Loch Ness and the infamous Nessie. I learned two legendary things. The first is there's only one "Nessie" at a time, a creature who's both male and female which lays an egg before dying. At least in the film's legend. The second thing was how beautiful the Scottish countryside is to someone sitting in the middle of pollen season with a box of Kleenex.

Since I am on vacation, I was playing with the computer and came upon a site of Web cams in Scotland. Of course, the first one I visited was the one at Loch Ness. Not to see if Nessie was there, but to take a vicarious vacation from the cheap comfort of my computer chair. Web cams, it appears, can almost be addictive. The Loch Ness cam features two lovely sheep named Mavis and Sheba, who graze overlooking the loch where supposedly Nessie has been sited in the past. The owner has quite the sense of humor. There a side box labeled, "Nessie spotted on our camera!". It's a picture of Godzilla coming out of the loch. Want to visit? Go to http://www.lochness.co.uk/livecam/

I once read an article on the Isle of Skye, so that was my next destination. It doesn't update but once an hour and today's weather was overcast. That led me to the most interesting of sociology experiments: the live web cam. There's one at the intersection at The Cross, Kilmarnock in East Ayrshire. I've hit it a varying times, from crowded with pedestrians to a couple of happy-go-lucky guys walking in a serpentine manner from door to door, possibly looking for more libations. At the Gretna Green site I caught the tail end of a lovely wedding. But the most interesting experiment can be found at Belushi's Bar in Edinburgh. There you can not only see what's happening, but hear conversations as well...that is if the music isn't up too loud. Early today there were two chaps discussing a football game, one becoming irate when the bartender turned the channel momentarily to apparently check the news. They calmed down when he switched it back. A few moments ago the bar sounds were so loud my dog stuck his head around the corner to see how the heck I'd gotten so many people past him. You can visit the bar at http://www.camvista.com/scotland/edinburgh/belushisbar_streaming

Bored? Wonder how the rest of the world lives or at least looks this time of year? Start here with the Scottish web cam site and it can send you off to various other parts of the world. I watched sharks swim in a London exhibit and laughed at a man who groused he'd visited a certain site over a 100 times and never once saw a trout on the under water cam. Here, take a look for yourself. http://www.scottishwebcamslive.com/webcams.htm

And if you don't find Nessie, please say hello to Mavis and Sheba for me.

Friday, May 9, 2008

A 1,000 Words

Sometimes, simple is better.

I ran across this today while searching for something else and was struck by... well, the eye catching simplicity of this portrait.

So if a picture's worth a 1,000 words,
how many do you need to describe your reaction to this one?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Yep. I Still Believe

Most people would agree that “Peter Pan” is a great children’s story. Easily one of the Top Ten of all time. Some might know the back story of Scottish author J.M. Barrie and his love for a family of children not his own. Sadly I know too many kids today who think Peter Pan is just a peanut butter and Capt. Hook had something to do with Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams.

Sigh.

Fortunately I grew up in an age where books came first, the televised version later. At that time, little boys viewed Never Never Land as a wonderful place where you NEVER had to clean your room. So many kids today have someone named Mom to clean for them that such a thrill is lost. Little girls my age tended to be split into two camps: those enthralled with the “bad boy” image of Peter the Playful, a carefree Maker of Merriment who didn’t worry about tomorrow when today was so much fun. The second camp was comprised of those who‘d cherish the role of Caretaker of the Carefree. Adults probably thought the plot was silly. Boys who never grew up. How ridiculous. Unless, of course, they’d had the misfortune of being married to one. The only ridiculous moment most kids experienced was later discovering the T.V. version of Peter Pan had been played by a woman. Sacrilege!

If a casting call had been held in my childhood neighborhood, I’d have been stuck as Wendy. Good old reliable Wendy. Nothing wrong with being dependable. But she was just so…predictable. In the Ice Cream 32 Flavors of Life, Wendy was Vanilla. Truth was, in my heart of hearts, I really wanted to be Tink. And no, not just because we were both tiny. In spite of her size, Tink was all the things I wasn’t. Feisty. Self assured. Fearless. So she had a temper. I did too, although my parents discouraged me from putting it to use. What I most admired about Tink was that even when she grew angry with Peter's demotion of her in favor of Wendy, Tink still risked her life to save his. She was hot tempered, but it was balanced with compassion. She wasn’t Mother Teresa by a long shot, but her self sacrifice illustrated for little girl me the definition of true love. Caring for someone more than you cared for yourself. Even as I clapped my hands to keep Tink going, I knew she didn’t really need me. She was feisty. Self assured. DETERMINED. It didn’t matter that Peter didn’t want to grow up, Tink was never going to give up on him. I could do that. Growing taller was optional.

J.M. Barrie, I have discovered, had his own fairy-like quality. Standing a towering 4’10”, he looked nothing like his movie counterpart, Johnny Depp. Yet despite the many tragedies in his life, Barrie managed to cling to the best part of us which never truly grows up: the belief that anything is possible. When hope feeds motivation to keep dreams alive, you WANT to give back to your fellow man. Barrie’s gift of true love has endured for 100 years, allowing adults to recall the better parts of childhood and kids to believe anything is possible. You just have to believe.

I believe I owe you a Thank You, J.M. Barrie. You encouraged me to grow up without growing old. And to paraphrase your speech from Tink to Peter Pan: “You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That's where I'll always love you. That's where I'll be waiting.”

That's the place where hope dwells.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

On my Way

"Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits."
Satchel Paige.


Today, I'm gonna take Satchel's advice. Sounds like fun.
Hey. Did you hear that?
I think it's my hammock, calling my name. :)
Be right there my little rope friend.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Quick! Save Me from Myself!

The joke at home, and at work, is that when I take my annual week off in May, it's the Home Improvement vacation. Not a May has gone by in several years now that we didn't have a project of some sort, from mere painting to the Big Project two years ago which included attic insulation, vinyl siding and a new roof. For that one I mostly wrote checks...but I did put in some sweat equity when we had to take the old siding off before the new stuff went on. This year I said, "No work! Relax. Play. Heck, DO NOTHING for a change." Saturday my husband had set up for the guy to put an alarm system in our house and his shop. While the Alarm Guy worked in one room, I made 10 copies of a photo slide show for my seniors citizens. Sunday we purchased and installed a new door on his shop. This morning, we re-painted the sign for his shop that belongs at the end of the driveway.

So much for plans.

When I was a kid, there was a program called "Whirlybirds". My Mom swore several years ago I'd simply imagined it as she didn't remember it at all. I was three when it originally aired but about 10 when the reruns hit. And I remember it clear as day. Two guys in a helicopter that were always rescuing people. Luckily for me, someone on the Internet remembered as well, which helped prove my point. So what's that got to do with being a workaholic on vacation?

The only episode I clearly recall of this program can be boiled down to the world's silliest plot point and 2 sentences of dialog. One of our heroes had been captured by bad guys while his partner was at the hanger. When the partner contacted Hero #2 on the radio and asked how things were, the man replied calmly, "Why, it's just like a day in May." The partner scowled, then yelled at the man standing right next to him, "Day in may? It's not May. Wait! He means May Day! He's in trouble!" And based on that highly technical conversation Hero #2 was saved, the bad guys went on to be bad on another t.v. series and all was right with the world.

I'm going to go sit and hide now. And if you hear me mention that it's "Just like a Day in May", I'm not commenting on the calendar. I need you to save me from making a Work Order list for the rest of the week.