So, did everyone get all they wished for...and maybe more...this holiday season? I know I did and the most fun was surprising Hubby with a gift he'd thought about but didn't think was realistic. As some of you may recall, he once traded a customer some archery work for an old golf cart that had a BMW emblem on it. We're not the types to drive a real Beemer, but living on 5 acres with a mailbox a fair distance away and a Hubby with a bum knee, it comes in handy. Recently, however, the old Beemer was crawling so slow short little me could travel farther, faster.
So for Christmas I got Hubby a new one. Well, "newer" one as in 2008 vs. the 1980 model of the Beemer. Which meant we had to go pick it up 2 days before Christmas because they don't deliver and were leaving town at 5 p.m. that day. I guess when you have to pick up something you want, it's okay to mess with tradition a little.
Now about this title. Santa brought me a new toy too: a digital piano with a full size keyboard. This is where I learned that sometimes when I least expect it, Hubby is paying attention to every word I say.
I inherited the piano I learned to play on....the same, second hand piano that my Dad had learned on. I ended up with it, not because I was first born but because out of the 3 of us, I'm the only kid who learned the old fashion way: by reading music. Dad, Sis and Bro all played by ear, which, during childhood, I found annoying at best and frustrating when trying to learn a tough piece. She's a beautiful old upright, "honky tonk" style piano and once I stopped taking lessons, I played her even more. Over the years she moved in with Hubby and me and for a while, I played her on a consistent basis.
Yeah, you guessed it. Life threw more and more into my schedule until she began to become neglected. To tell you the truth, she'd become a little too out of tune and made hitting the correct notes sound like stumbling into a piano in the dark. To spare her feelings, I dusted her more than I played.
And yet after owning the latest Hugh Laurie CD, I felt that itch to play resurface. Oh sure, I knew I'd be out of practice but I could do it again. Just like before...practice. I'd mentioned having the old gal tuned in the past but Hubby gave me one of those parental looks that meant, "And you'll play with your new toy for a month, then find a new toy."
This year, however, unbeknownst to me (until Christmas morning, when all the good, spy worthy tales of shopping for each other get told) I found out he'd actually had a piano tuner come check her out. Granted, she's probably close to 100 years old but I loved her, in spite of the fact my 4 year old brother once took a wooden hammer to her ivory keys one day and chipped away more than a couple. He thought the sound was "pretty". I considered them battle scars that never kept her from singing.
After checking her over, evidently the piano tuner offered Hubby $25 for her...to use as parts!
I married a smart man. Our house is filled with antiques lovingly collected over the years. He told the piano tuner, "Thanks, but no thanks". Which is why on Christmas morning I unwrapped a digital piano with a full keyboard. I'd already thanked Hubby when he told me about the piano tuner and I threw my arms back around him when he'd turned down the "big money" offer. Because he knew the sentimental value of that piano was, to me, priceless.
And so while I practice on the new keyboard (and boy am I rusty!) in the shadow of the old gal who trained me to love the sound, we are both comforted in knowing she's not going anywhere. She's a part of my childhood, of memories forged from playing while Mom cooked Sunday dinners, to singing "Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey" at her side while Dad played...by ear.
She might be a glorified display shelf for my collection of kerosene lamps which rest on top of her, but she's still keeping me company, just out of the corner of my eye.
So although my computer keyboard may get a little jealous during my 2 week vacation (yeah...no work!), the new one will make a piano player out of me again. Soon or later.
Don't worry...I won't totally desert you. After all, you can only practice so much before it becomes work.
...instead of the normal 40-50 degree temps (4-10 C) common this time of year, today it's sunny and currently 73. (23 C)
No, I'm not complaining. But it does seem a little odd to walk out the front door and discover that the one little azalea branch leaning it's head on the warm brick steps thought it was time to put on it's finery BEFORE spring.
Ho,Ho,Ho, time for a new 55 word story. Personally, I find staying home to write one easier than facing panicked, last minute shoppers. Make sure you share with the g-man.
“IPYPIASM?" John repeated skeptically.
"Never heard of that condition before."
“Seasonal thing,” Luke answered.
“Like an allergy?” John inquired as Luke shook his head.
“Sounds like a spasm.
Is it painful?”
“No. Makes you laugh.”
“You have a laughing disease?” John mused while Luke smiled.
“If it’s done right.
It’s Christmas spirit for shoppers.”
IPYPIASM is the brainchild of Niamh B. and stands for “International Put Your Poem In A Shop Month”. Short poems are left for shoppers to find, in hopes of brightening their day. The challenge is not so much creating the poem as leaving it without getting caught. Plus you have to take a photo of where you leave it and post on your blog as proof. Mine's a couple of posts back.
So far, “the score being tracked purely for 'fun' stands at;”
Visit Titus here for an explanation of how this stealth poetry left in a shop during December works.
This was my attempt for 2011. Unfortunately the cell phone shot isn't that great, so I've listed the words beneath it. And for the record, I DO NOT condone violent shoppers. I'm just saying being a short woman in holiday crowds has left me a little less than jolly on occasion. :)
To plan your adventure to Oregon, visit Travel Oregon at
Finding Oregon is the compilation of six months of timelapse photography across the state of Oregon, punctuated by a 1600 mile road trip in September. We've filmed the Columbia River Gorge, Mt Hood, Mt Jefferson, the Southwestern Coast, the Alvord Desert, Leslie Gulch, Blue Mountains, Crater Lake, Eagle Cap Wilderness, Deschutes River, and more. We're proud to have touched all four corners of the state; however Oregon is the kind of place that the more you see, the more places there are to still discover.
I use to hate the Christmas song, "Santa Baby" because that Betty Boop voice quality drove me nuts!
This version, however does not.
I'm sharing with you the Christmas gift I bought for ME a month ago...and made myself WAIT to listen to today, on Dec. 1st.So thank you Canada for sharing the gift of Michael Buble. And be sure you listen extra careful to what he'd like Santa to bring him.
Well, it's been 2 months of sitting in my "broom closet" temporary office, as my British senior calls it. They haven't even started working on our Center. My request yesterday for a tentative start date was met with, "I don't know."
This morning I realized that on days I'm not feeling real cheerful as I head to work, I keep hitting "Play" on my Hugh Laurie blues CD, "Let Them Talk".
Yes, THAT Hugh Laurie. Actor. Comedy partner of Stephen Fry. Dr. House.
Forget the "Song and Dance Man" label once attached to actors like Laurie who weren't just content to repeat the words in a script. Inside that very British gent beats the heart of an old black man from New Orleans...one who understands the heartbeat of the Blues.
I LOVE this CD! (And yes, I almost said album, but most of you would've merely nodded). I realized why this morning.
I was singing along with a song which has a repeating lyric of, "Baby you don't know, you don't know my mind.When you see me laughing, I'm laughing just to keep from crying."
Sounds sad? Well, it IS the Blues. But then I found myself gleefully singing along, "Sometimes I think my baby's too good to die.Sometimes I think she should be buried alive."
I laughed so hard I forgot to be cranky.
Below is a musical clip of my favorite song, "St. James Infirmary." There were some live versions of this, but the audience can get so rowdy you lose the reason I find this selection so wonderful. The first 3 minutes are basically a piano solo by Laurie...then he swings into singing. His style is a little unique, but that's part of the charm. Truthfully, I've just about worn the first 3 minutes out! Enjoy!
Update: if you'd like to see more, try here, which was a PBS documentary on the making of the album (there, I said it!) with performances....and one of the guest stars is Tom Jones!
According to the polls, 91% of Americans are ticked off with Congress and their "Super Committee"'s failure thus far to do more than agree to disagree. Okay, so it's Monday and I know better but I sent one of my Congressman a little e-mail this morning. Why? Because HE is on the Super-Duper-Need-a-Pooper-Scooper Committee. I tried to catch his Aides attention with the subject title: "I still believe you CAN fix our economy!"
I know. Subtle as a hammer. Then I added:
"I appreciate and understand how difficult the task given to the "Super Committee". What I don't understand is why COMPROMISE never appears to be part of the vocabulary during these discussions. For once, will all of you kindly forget which "team" you're on and and pull for ALL of us...the American people? That's what Americans are truly angry about at this stage: the needs of individual parties being put above doing the right thing, for the right reason, for the American people. It's simple: you don't spend money you don't have. No, really. It's just that simple. Attempting to reach into taxpayer pockets for more in light of a perceived unwillingness to cut what's not necessary from the Budget will only raise the ire of the public. As you work toward a conclusion, I think you need to know that most of us are rooting for you. All you need to do is focus outside Washington, D.C., to see that we're here. Good luck and Godspeed."
I know. Waste of time probably. Hey, I figure it's better than an ulcer. And yes, I expect a "party line" reply in a couple of days, when this has grown into a new crisis.
In the meantime, I read a CNN column today that made me laugh. If you want to read it in its entirety, go here. Written by comedian Dean Obeidaliah the short version was this snippet:
"If the congressional "super committee" does not reach a deficit reduction deal by Wednesday's legally mandated deadline,
I propose we take a page from the NBA owners and lock Congress out.
We, the taxpayers, are the owners of Congress
and if Congress won't make a deal that helps our nation,
then let's put a big padlock on the doors of the House and Senate --
or at least change the locks and not give them the keys."
I second that motion? Anyone care to vote?
UPDATE: As predicted, the Super Committee gave up. Hmmm, my Momma told me that Winners never quit and Quitters never win. Guess we know which camp those folks are in.
Survived both the Senior Citizens trip, as well as an overly friendly Pirate who MADE me have my picture taken...with him! But since I didn't have to walk the plank, I managed a 55 word story. Be sure to share yours with the g-man.
“Had he been depressed?” Eli asked, staring at the body in the road.
Cousin Rocky told Joe it was a religious experience.”
“Crossing the road?”
Rocky told Joe to go toward the light.
He was joking.
But that’s what Joe did.
“So THAT’S how raccoons get possums to cross first!”
Survived the trip with the senior citizens to the beach and everyone had a great time. Well, except the 2 ladies we left at the hotel because they'd misread when they were suppose to be downstairs to leave. Oh, they were mad but soon realized that (a) the mistake was theirs (b) we'd waited as long as possible (c) we left their tickets with their own Personal Pirate at the front door to usher them in...just as the show started. Although they missed being in the group photo, they didn't miss being strong armed by the Photography Pirate. These folks take their characters VERY seriously and I wonder if pirate garb comes with attitude. For as I tried to slip past Photography Pirate, who was about six foot four and looked like half an American football team's defensive line, he caught me. Literally.
"And where do ye think you're going?" he bellowed at me in fluent pirate speak.
"Um, out of the way," I offered, pointing at one of my couples being photographed for personal pictures. "I'm the Director. My job is to stay out of the way and avoid the camera," I smiled.
"No," he corrected, gazing down at me. WAY down. "We shoot everyone who comes in."
At this point, I'm wondering if he means with a camera or a blunderbuss. Before I could ask, he threw a meaty arm around my shoulders and d-r-u-g me into place before the camera, with a hearty, "You'll have your picture with me!"
You ever try to argue with a human mountain who has you in a shoulder lock?
So I did that fake smile we all use when gritting our teeth.
"Just one more for good measure," the lady pirate at the camera said.
"Oops! Let's try that again!" she called cheerfully.
"Okay, you can let go now," lady pirate advised her co-worker.
To which Photography Pirate, still cradling me in a steel grip, replied, "Ah, I kinda like holding onto the soft ones." And there we stood, in grip lock.
I had two simultaneous thoughts. I am not THAT much overweight (and you could lose a couple of pounds yourself, Dude) and was that sexual harassment or entertainment? He winked and let me go. I smiled a genuine smile (of relief) and walked to join the seniors... who wanted to know who my friend was.
While the 3 day trip was fun, we did have a scary moment on the way home. They didn't want a bus, so we carpooled. Since they ARE adults, some elected to go visit local relatives while others did sight seeing. Four carloads returned home together, with me bringing up the rear to ensure no one made an incorrect turn. Hairy moment came when I saw the blur of gray to my right and I realized a small speeding car was going to either cut in front of the senior driving in front of me, or hit me.
Fortunately, the senior also saw the car and began slowing down: I'd already taken my foot off the gas pedal and was prepared to swing the opposite direction of him in order to avert a 3 car pile up. This fool, and I'm being kind, overshot BOTH lanes of traffic he was trying to enter and proceeded to fishtail for longer than I thought possible. How he didn't flip that car is a miracle. Finally straightening out as we crept past, he went north in the SOUTH bound lane, gained control, then shot BACK across in front of us. He wove in and out of traffic, then shot back off in the direction he'd originally come from.
We stopped a couple of miles down the road as the group wanted a snack and I asked if everyone's pulse rate was back to normal. One senior asked me what I had done when I saw him and I replied, "I was looking in my rear view mirror for blue lights. I can't believe a cop wasn't behind him!" We joked that we would go home and watch the news to see if any area banks had been robbed. Either he had a death wish or was higher than a kite.
So everyone had a good time and they're already talking about going somewhere again in the spring.
In the meantime, my Guardian Angel has requested a vacation...from me.
Five weeks of life in my closet of an office with no windows and STILL no work has begun on my Center. But bottom of the barrel this week was going to the dentist for my 6 month cleaning, only to have him say, "Um, you've got trouble!" Seems my lovely asthma medication (which I've been weaning off of anyway) is doing bad things to my teeth. After they were all shiny clean, he filled one and I left with his words ringing in my ears, "You'll need a root canal and crown on the one beneath it."
Merry Christmas? Happy New Year? Nope...not getting that done until 2012..when I'm suppose to be on vacation?!
For those of you who don't care for hunting, please stick with me long enough to view Mother Nature at her weirdest moment of creativity. I'll preface this with Hubby doesn't hunt for sport, we consume what he harvests. Deer don't get huge around here, but the mature ones usually have antlers with 8 "points". Hubby got one last week that had TWENTY! Take a look...I swear it looks like tree limbs. You should be able to click on the photo to enlarge it...middle photo is from a back angle.
If you tried counting and didn't reach 20, blame it on my photography. Sorry. The little "devil horns" in the front kinda creeped me out.
Come Monday, I'll be outta here until Thursday. Hoping for smooth sailing this week, I'm taking 16 senior citizens on a 3 day jaunt to the beach. Ah the fun of carpooling in a caravan when a bus isn't available! In case you're wondering, this is a group I'll have to keep up WITH, not push around. You know the world has changed when you're giving seniors your cell phone number to put in their cell phones in case of emergency. My Grandmothers would never have been farther than yelling distance on a trip.
However, our first night has us dining here. Can't wait to see how that turns out. They don't give you silverware with dinner, you know. You eat with your fingers and drink out of a glass jar. Argh, me hearties!
So till we meet again, Mateys. Just hope no one asks me to walk the plank. It would break my Dentist's heart.
For the first time since what most of us grew up with as the "Emergency Broadcast System" (This is a test. This is only a test...) a nation wide test of this system will be held on the above date. I'm accustom to this test cropping up on a monthly basis on my weather radio, statewide. To this day, that danged "tone" drives me insane...I have hearing like a dog, evidently.
For approximately 3 minutes the airwaves across America, from t.v. and radio, to satellite, etc. will conduct this test simultaneously. Try here for more information on this test.
Although not overly publicized at the moment, I'm glad to have discovered this now, rather than worry terrorists had taken over the airways. I only hope the EBS gets an A+.
Not so sure picking the date 11/9/11 was such a reassuring influence.
Brad Meltzer has written a new book entitled, "Heroes For My Son". The basic idea was the simple musing of a new parent, "What kind of man do I want my son to be?" I'm sure it's a question all parents wonder at some point. But the "simple idea" took on a life of it's own when Meltzer realized that just naming people like Abraham Lincoln was easy. What about the stories behind what makes a great man? Or woman. Did you know the Wright Brothers brought along extra materials when they tested their airplane...for when it crashed? Not because they believed they were always doomed to fail, but because they were prepared to keep trying in spite of failure.
I like that attitude.
Melzter had a convincing argument for heroes, "History doesn’t just pick people. History picks everyone. Every day. The only question is, do you pay attention…do you put in the hard work…do you hear that calling?"
Although the book is composed of 52 heroic subjects, I wondered if I could name ten...not including friends or family. After all, I was raised by great parents, I have a wonderful Hubby and a friend from college who STILL understands me and yet she loves me in spite of it. Those are my "personal" heroes but because you don't know them, that doesn't seem to count.
So here's a simple challenge: name 5 of your heroes and if you feel like sharing, tell us why. Here's my stab at it:
Mark Twain: despite the "political correctness" now being forced onto his stories, the fact is, the man was a great storyteller. Besides, through him I learned you can tell stories using a pseudonym and not go to jail. (What? Did you really think my name is 'hope'?)
Capt. Kangaroo: So this is a nod to my childhood. For those not familiar, before the days of "Sesame Street" there was this children's show with an emphasis on enjoying the silliness of childhood, combined with reading. To this day, my favorite childhood book is "Stone Soup", followed by "Caps for Sale", both of which the Capt. read to us often. As an adult, I added a copy of both to my bookshelf.
The Mercury Seven: no, not to be confused with some political activist group of the 1960s, these were the first 7 NASA astronauts. I have no idea why I liked Gus Grisham best, but he was one of the astronauts who died in a fire on the launchpad during a test. With these men is a nod to Gene Kranz, Flight Director during that time. These men made me believe we could go anywhere....you just had to work hard and keep trying.
Tom Hanks: yes, the actor. Why? Because he has been able to portray so many faces of America (and one completely made up foreign country if you saw "The Terminal") in a way which illustrates the one trait we all share: we're human..and more alike than we realize. He's my modern day Jimmy Stewart: the "all American Every Man" before movies came from Hollyweird.
Elizabeth Kitchen: okay, you don't know her personally, but if you write, chances are you had an English teacher like her. She was my 7th grade teacher and inspired me to learn as many words as possible. I still remember how she pronounced "Cacophony" with such enthusiasm. With her white hair and plump cheeks, she reminded me of Santa's missus. And I love the fact that her "punishment" once got the best of her. Chewing gum in her class was forbidden; get caught and you had to memorize a poem to recite in front of the class. At that age, reciting, poetry, punishment and public was not a good combination for the ego. My friend Pete got caught and as he rose to face the punishment, there was a twinkle in that 13 year old boy's eye. Rather than select a quick poem to get it over with, he'd memorized a sappy love poem. His delivery was so moving, half the girls in the class swooned. Mrs. Kitchen kept her composure as Boy Romeo finished his recitation, nodded that his punishment was complete and indicated he should return to his seat. As he did, her cheeks flushed the pink of a young girl, totally smitten.
I've got my act together...well, 55 words of it any way. If you write one of these challenging gems, make sure you share with the g-man.
The sudden appearance was so startling,
she hit the brakes.
Was she seeing things?
That really was the symbol of freedom taking flight.
Once it’d been quite…
In today’s world…
As the Bald Eagle soared
she was glad Benjamin Franklin had lost his battle.
She couldn’t imagine feeling patriotic about
True story.We live near a large lake system and our temperate climate makes it a good spot for Bald Eagles to nest.Although I’ve seen them on the lake, and occasionally flying overhead where I live in the country, the sight isn’t an everyday occurrence.Plus, they’re a lot bigger than they look on television.And every time I see one, the little kid in me jumps up and down thinking, “Would you look at that?!”
For those unfamiliar with U.S. history, when America was deciding on a national symbol, Benjamin Franklin’s suggestion was the Wild Turkey, because it was so plentiful. His suggestion lost by one vote.
Last week I was lamenting that the adults of the world I'd grown up admiring are gone. Disappeared like an extinct species. Then I ran across this video, posted by author Brad Meltzer. Don't let the title scare you away...it's worth the time.
There is one universally acknowledged concept and it doesn't matter where you live: senior citizens do not like change.
And they have no problem sharing that fact with you.
It's understandable. My group has been displaced from their little home away from home. No temporary site will even come close. Add the fact that everything I'd told them about the building to comfort them and make it feel familiar backfired....all because the Boss decided to help by setting up a different parking space for them. One in the opposite direction of where I'd insisted they'd be closer. It was kind of her, and to be honest it is closer. But the seniors felt betrayed because it wasn't what they EXPECTED. Hard to sell change when the very first "Trust me, we can do this," looks like a lie. With no phone (still), I couldn't let them know ahead of time of the change. No way to e-mail either. Seems right now my computer only likes to e-mail people it knows...in the County system. It mistrusts anything ending in yahoo, hotmail or gmail.
Old computers don't like change either, it seems.
I've cooked lunch for these folks once a week for 18 years. Today, it felt like I was going into the kitchen for the first time because I had to use a gas stove. It, of course, cooked totally different than my old electric restaurant style stove at the Center. Timing is everything. And I've always had the food out on the buffet table at noon. High noon.
Turns out the stove was the least of my problems.
No, it was the heating/cooling system which did me in. I'd been back and forth through the building so many times, not counting extra trips to the kitchen to ensure I wasn't setting anything on fire, that I didn't realize how cool it was in the room. The seniors did. They began to complain. Loudly. I know how easily they get chilled and I have a couple who are 91 and 95...and refuse to take Flu Shots. I would've gladly adjusted the temperature but ah...County buildings which are rented have actual LOCKS on the thermostat to keep temperatures from being changed. Smart in theory. Not so good today.
I tried four different people for keys to that lock. Either the ones who might have a key had left or the ones still there didn't have one. Nope, none in my new group of keys either. So I wrapped one lady in my sweater and fixed everyone who was cold a cup of hot chocolate.
I knew their joy about the presence of an ice machine had evaporated.
During the final two games of Bingo, after the room had finally warmed up to a comfortable temperature, our new Office Manager came in and announced proudly,"I have the key! How hot do you want it?" Everyone giggled and I had to explain that the group would be leaving in 10 minutes. However we thanked her for the effort.
I see a new key in my future.
During the last game of Bingo, I felt a cool breeze. I glanced around, knowing I'd shut every door which created a draft. Puzzled, I looked at the group and said quietly,"Is it just me or did it suddenly get rather breezy?" As they nodded in agreement, looking around the room, a loud rumble belched overhead.
It was the Air Conditioner turning on to cool off the room.
Ah, the sunny South. Last week you needed the AC every day. This week, you don't need it at all and the mornings are cool enough for a little heat. Especially if you've had more than 70 birthdays.
In spite of the grumbling, we had a nice lunch, meaning I didn't burn anything. Although the crowd wasn't as large as normal, they did promise to come back next week for lunch. Especially now that they have their own parking lot.
As two who had done the most complaining hit the exit I heard this exchange.
"Personally I don't care for the place. Lunch was good though."
"Oh, it wasn't all that bad. Just needs a little heat."
I went back to my little office feeling vindicated. For about two minutes, until one of my British ladies came by with her friend. As they stepped into my new sanctuary, she very primly offered, "Oh my! They've stuck you in a closet!"
Keep tapping friends. Keep tapping. Map, you can hum. Maybe tomorrow I might even be able to hear you. Did I mention my computer doesn't have speakers?
Ah, but I have an extra set at home. Perhaps tomorrow they can join their new friend, the Telephone, on my desktop.
Let's just say everyone in my new "temporary" office was so nice to me today, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Thankfully I'm in the office suite with "The Guys" of the Athletic Dept., which means it will NOT be 99 degrees by the end of the week. We have agreed if they keep it too cool, I have sweaters.
I love my sweaters.
I also now have lots of shiny new keys, the alarm code, a computer updated after 2 years of sitting alone and a file cabinet which smells oddly like stored floor cleaner, but I can fix that. The missing ceiling tile "hole" was covered within hours of me mentioning it. I guess other people just don't have to look up as much as short little me does.
Half the co-workers seem to be in a scavenger hunt to find me a phone that works, I now have a pantry only I can access by key...which means all the stuff stored on my back porch at home can go there to roost. And the Boss knows where there are a pair of matching chairs and a small table to make my closet...um, office...prettier.
The real test is tomorrow, when the Tuesday Lunch group arrives. That will make me or break me. The card players were fine this afternoon...they're in love because they've discovered the ice machine. But it's the Tuesday Regulars that will tell the tale.
So as I sit in my windowless office (I brought a 'window' from home; a multi-section frame filled with photos of OUTSIDE) and wait for the computer to get past "Loading #8 of 88 updates", don't forget to tap on the screen.
No, not to wake me up. To ensure they don't get so attached to me, they won't let me back out.