Saturday, June 29, 2013

Boringly Normal Gets A Surprise

Yep.  That's me.  If anyone asked me to sum up myself in two words, I'd pick, "Boringly Normal".   Which is not a bad thing.  It's more like shorthand for the fact I'm dependable, considerate and polite.  The "Golden Rule" is in my DNA.  True, my co-workers see that as "Sucker!", but living with my actions is better than stooping to their level.  In fact, I told Hubby the other night that the reason I was so incensed at the action, more like inaction, of someone was that I was tired of dealing with people who thought mediocre was good enough.  For a kid who was raised by parents who instilled "you can be anything you want if you put in the effort",  good enough just isn't me.

Rather ironic for someone who works in local government and often hears the phrase, "Good enough for government".

This week, it was as if Life was testing to see the limits of my patience.   At work I got more wrong numbers in one day than I've gotten since we moved back to our Center 4 months ago.  And yet rather than bark, "Wrong number!" and slam down the phone, I just can't do it.  No, normal for me is to ask who they're trying to reach.  Why?  Am I that curious?  No, it's because 9 times out of 10 they've dialed the wrong government extension.  Sometimes even the wrong part of government.  But I look at it this way.  If I'm the only "government person" they ever deal with, I hope the conversation ends with them believing I'm doing my job and serving the public.  Maybe they'll tell their neighbor I am worth that 2% cost of living raise being debated. 

Even though the man who cut me off in the parking lot AND let the store door slam in my face didn't give me any warm fuzzy feelings, it didn't stop me from holding the door for the lady behind me.  Why?  I just can't help it.  I'm ingrained with a deep sense of right and wrong...even though I am capable of seeing shades of gray.

Hubby asked me to pick up a bottle for him at the liquor store.  It's the family joke:as the only one who doesn't drink, I'm the one always sent to the store. I suspect it's because they know the bottle will come back full.  As I walked up to make my purchase, the young woman talking on her cell phone never broke stride.  She never acknowledged the older gentleman who rang up her purchase and I was an obstacle between her and the front door.  I kinda feared for the person on the other end of the phone if she was headed his/her way.  The man seemed surprised that I spoke to him at all and grinned when I was polite.  As I went to leave, I saw a shiny quarter on the floor.  Yep, before I could stop myself I bent to pick it up and hand it back, thinking he'd dropped it earlier.  

Imagine my surprise to find it was glued to the floor. I laughed, muttering, "Cute" under my breath. I guess cheap entertainment is better than none. 

I sometimes wonder if the world is so self absorbed that they don't recognize boringly normal or they simply expect the world to wait on them.  I do the things I do because I want to.  Sometimes  it's out of sympathy; as the Director of my Center, I'm also the entire staff.  That puts me in charge of ordering myself once a week to take out the trash and clean the restrooms.  So I tend to put things back where they belong.  I can't help it.  I don't have OCD, I just had a Mom who told us to put things back where we found it.  Simple system that works.

Which is how I received my surprise.  In the parking lot of a store, I watched several people simply abandon their carts by inching them away from their vehicle toward another car.  You know, as if THAT guy had abandoned the cart, not them.  As I pushed my cart toward the outdoor cart corral, I was thinking how much easier life would be if people just thought about someone other than themselves.  Yes, I will be an optimist until I die.  I was walking away from the cart when I heard an odd, rhythmic sound.  I took a couple of steps forward before curiosity got the best of me and I looked over my shoulder.

There, about 10 feet on the opposite side of the carts was a young man.  Applauding.

We locked eyes, he nodded and kept on clapping until I got to my car.  I had to drive past him to exit the parking lot.  He smiled and gave me a salute. I smiled back, noticing he was wearing a name tag from the store.

I guess sometimes, boringly normal is neither boring or normal.  It's just nice.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Southern Summers



Note: every month I do a newsletter for my senior citizens.  They like "remember when" stories, so here's the latest one.
 

Tis the season of fresh veggies, vacations and visits with people you like ...and maybe that relative you can’t avoid.  Winter coats give way to shorts, clothing gets colorful and boots are replaced by flip flops or bare feet.  Most folks look forward to summer.  Not me.  Why?  Seems much of my attitude about summer is rooted in childhood.  All the best of summer lives in those memories...where it’s not so hot and humid.

I remember playing outside from daylight to dawn.  We ran through sprinklers.  Rode bikes.  Drank out of the hose. Suntan lotion was used once a year on beach vacations...probably because it was a sand magnet.  Chirping crickets signaled day was done and streetlights were a reminder you’d lost track of time and better get home before your parents yelled out the backdoor and the whole neighborhood knew you were late.  It got hot, but our “whole house” fan kept us cool.  We didn’t have home A/C until I was eight. When Granddaddy had air conditioning installed in his CAR it should’ve been declared a national holiday!  There were bites from pesky mosquitos and chiggers (redbugs), but the promise of a small glass bottle of icy cold Coca-Cola with Grandma’s boiled peanuts or, better yet, her homemade ice cream with fresh peaches, evened the score.  Besides, everyone’s Dad was deadly accurate with the ol’ flyswatter.  Well except my next door neighbor’s dad, the CPA.  Most flyswatters were offered as a bonus for purchases like charcoal for the grill and served as possibly the most useful cheap advertising of my youth….if you don’t count Funeral Home hand fans for church. 

Adult me doesn’t embrace summer because honestly, I hate the heat.  Okay, so I’m not 10 anymore and we’re all addicted to our A/C.  But a recent scientific study illustrated of the 10 hottest years recorded in the last 100, eight of them have been in the last ten years. Nowadays, people fear  being in the sun without 4 layers of SP3000 lotion on their skin and a dermatologist on speed dial. Hard to hug that long lost aunt when everyone’s so slippery.

Part of my “anti-seasonal” feeling is due to the fun being regulated out of summer. If today’s water bottle swilling kid even thought about drinking out of a hose, DSS would get a call about child abuse. Of course, first they’d have to get the kid away from their computer game and OUT of the house. Parents of my childhood had a harder time getting us back IN the house.  I’m convinced the reason we have to fear bug bites and West Nile Virus, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease is because kids quit going outside and their immune systems shriveled up.  Maybe the stench of electric bug zappers has scarred these pampered parental pets. Our gene pool is drying up because public pools are touted as “Germ Soup”.  As for big kids, between homemade ice cream’s cholesterol count and the sodium associated with boiled peanuts, eating  either probably  puts you on a Medical Alert hit list.  Cooking over charcoal’s chemical fumes would’ve gotten you almost arrested a few years ago.  But like the return of backyard gardens, considered “harvesting organic produce”, charcoal is cool again. 

There was one casualty of my childhood summer: going barefoot.  It lost all appeal when I witnessed barefoot Mom step on a bee in the clover under the clothesline.  A parent yelling and/or crying while telling you he/she is okay, means something is terribly wrong.  From then on I wore my red PF Flyers and the only time I was barefoot was in the bathtub or while sleeping.  

So how do I “tolerate” summer?  Fireflies make me smile.  When I was about four,  my Granddaddy in North Carolina helped us catch lightning bugs in a jar.  We’d ooh and aah over our living flashlights, then let them go.  So excuse me while I go grab a Coke, sit on the front steps and watch the fireflies dance at dusk.  Since there’s no clover near the steps, I might even kick off my shoes

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Officially Summer

No, not according to the calendar.  According to our garden. 
I always know it's really summer when the kitchen windowsill looks like this:

This year we mixed it up a bit and planted Beefsteak, Better Boy 
and Roma tomatoes.


The largest one  is as big as a softball!  
It's sitting next to an "average" size tomato.

And I must admit that last night's BLT sandwich,
featuring the "Big Guy" was the best one I've ever eaten!
Thank you, oh giant tomato.

Now if only the bell peppers and cucumbers would catch up!
Have a wonderful first weekend of Summer!


Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday 55

Finally had 5 minutes to myself to write a creative ditty for the G-Man.  If you did too, make sure you share it with him...it's so easy to make him happy for the weekend.  :)



He has a list.
Don’t know if he checks it twice.

Why are you mumbling about Santa?

Just thinking out loud.
Not about Santa.
The G-Man.

HE has a list?

Yep.
A @$!# list.
Is it too early in the week to add Kanye?
Again.
Cause anyone who’d name a kid “North West”
shouldn’t reproduce.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

If A Bear is Minding his Own Business in the Woods....

...what can happen when archers take aim?
 Having fun at the Charity Archery shoot on Saturday. 

 But I do wonder what it is about this bear 
that brings out the "creative" in our archers.  :)





 

Friday, June 14, 2013

We Interrupt This Friday 55....

...because someone is charging her camera in order to capture all the action in the woods tomorrow during the Swamp Fox Archers Charity Shoot.  
The proceeds benefit our charity for soldiers.
(Just because you can't be there, doesn't mean you can't help.
So if you feel charitable, visit our website at www.cwwaf.com and Donate).

Either way, have a good weekend!
See you next week.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Spotlight On....

...Mapstew!

Happy Birthday, my friend!  
(Okay, so it's still June 9th here, it'll soon be June 10th there!)

I will spare you the singing on my part and wish you the very best birthday you've had yet.  The only Irish birthday toast I know is, "May the tree we plant on your birthday today be used to carry you off 100 years from now."  :)


Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday 55

Time to share those 55 word stories.  Don't forget to waltz over and share it with the G-man.


“Wow!” he sighed softly.

“What?”

“This video of a bride and her Dad dancing.   
Traditional waltz that breaks into a disco number.   
Remarkable.”

“You’re just shocked because the Dad is your age.”

“That was disturbing.   
I don’t feel that old.
However I’m more amazed that someone from the Age of Disco   
knows how to waltz.”

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Adios Maestra…Y Gracias


             It’s true what they say: if you don’t use it, you lose it.  Okay.  Get that mind out of the gutter.  I need to thank someone.
While all my other young friends took French, I waited.  With all due respect to said country, I never found the sound of that language romantic.  Sadly, whenever someone spoke French, all I could envision was the cartoon character Pepe Lepew.  (If you’re not familiar, he’s a romantic skunk who has mistaken a black and white cat for his Juliet).  The only other choice was Latin, taught by the oldest teacher in school, a sweet lady who acquired the nickname “Boring Borry”, which denoted her teaching speed.  Given the choices, I decided to wait.  Sure, my friends chided me for failure to jump in the foreign language pool.  My reply was both declaration and answer to the question trembling on their lips, “I’m going to take Spanish.  Because one day, Spanish will be the second most spoken language in our country.”
My friends rolled their eyes.  It was the 1970s.  Grocery shopping today means products featuring English/Spanish labels.  I was ahead of my time…or seeing farther ahead than the average 9th grader.  But I digress.
I was 15 when it came time for my first Spanish class and I was so excited.  The class, however, was awful.  The teacher had a perpetual frown of what I hoped was concentration and zero personality.  If only she’d taught class with the same zeal she embraced her “Ms.” title, something she constantly pointed out.  She talked.  We repeated.  End of class.  Years later I discovered we were her first class, so we’d probably all been equally nervous.  The only lesson which stuck was, “the two most important phrases a Spanish student could possess”:  1. Do you speak English? 2.  Where is the bathroom?
Heading into Spanish 2, a language I was still convinced sounded like music, I hoped for the best on the theory that La Maestra was someone different.
Boy, was she!
Miss D. was probably in her early 30s, with a Dolly Parton figure, bordering on chubby, stacked atop the tiniest pair of legs I’d ever seen with an exclamation point of fancy high heels.  Always.  She wasn’t beautiful, but she possessed a playful Betty Boop face, topped by unruly, unnatural blonde curls threatening to go frizzy in the humidity.  As we stared at each other for that introductory nanosecond, my classmates and I were on the verge of a collective nervous shudder.  What if this was like last year?  Like deer caught in headlights we sat mutely.  She took one look, then asked calmly,"?Donde esta Susanna?”
Like well trained circus monkeys we replied,"Ella esta en la cocina.”  And then we laughed.  All of us.
Miss D. had found the ultimate ice breaker.  Our very first Spanish lesson was one we’d denounced as stupid.  “Where is Susanna?  She is in the kitchen.  Talking on the telephone.”  But now, it was like code among spies. Only those who had suffered Spanish One knew Susanna’s whereabouts.  So from literally Day One, we knew Miss D. was in our corner.  She came.  She saw.  She understood.  AND she made us laugh.
It was the beginning of the best two years any kid could ever have in a foreign language class.  We didn’t just read and repeat like parrots, we LIVED our lessons.  On Spanish holidays we ate Spanish food that she prepared.  We watched a bullfighting film, trying to figure out how the musically sounding “Picador” could have such a lousy job.  I can still sing “Jingle Bells” in Spanish because on Fridays, we SANG in class.  (Which is how I discovered that “La Cucaracha” had nothing to do with roaches scurrying away from Raid bug spray).   And often,  between songs, this woman who was raised in Charleston, S.C. could be cajoled into speaking an old native dialect: Gullah.  Everything was a lesson.  For everything she told us in Gullah, we would have to try and find the Spanish equivalent. Learning was never so much fun!
Although a stickler for learning things properly, Miss D. embraced many methods.  By Spanish Three, once you crossed the threshold of her classroom, English no longer existed.  If you needed to borrow a pencil, fine, but you had to ask in Spanish.  She gave each of us a Spanish name, which we had to use the entire year in every aspect of class. I’d known the boy sitting next to me since third grade.  He was middle-of-the road scholastically but the nicest, funniest guy you’d ever meet. She declared his name of William was Guillermo, and pronounced it for him.  He couldn’t wrap his tongue around it.  She tried again.  He kept pronouncing it, “Gorilla Mo”.  She looked him in the eye and replied strictly, “Fine Gorilla Mo.  But at least spell it right on your papers.”  And she called him that for the rest of the year.
She only shocked us once.   Well, if you don’t count the Friday afternoon revelation that she and the Art Teacher were taking Belly Dancing lessons.  Oh yeah, we coaxed her into a short demo.  Miss D. nurtured us like the children she never had.  We naively asked how someone so good with kids was still single and childless. 
“Well,” she drawled, something she never did during Spanish lessons, “I did tell y’all about the time I was a Nun, right?”
         You could’ve heard a pin drop.  Our fun loving, boldly singing and belly dancing teacher with the infectious laugh?  A nun?
“Yep,” replied Gorilla Mo sagely.  “I can see why you had to change careers.”
Unlike most teachers, she didn’t just scribble her name with a grunt in our Yearbooks.  No, she personalized each message, in Spanish.  I still have mine.  Remarkably, for all the Spanish which has fallen out of my brain, what she wrote, I still understand.  Best wishes for a bright future.
Today I found out her future had come to an end.  She was only 68.  I thought she’d live forever.  Or at least until 100. But she’d been ill over the last few years.  I hope she truly knew how much we loved her.  Because we did.
So here’s wishing that Susanna finally got off the phone and out of the kitchen… and that Miss D. found her wings on the other side. 
I just can’t help but think she’s trying to get St. Peter to bellydance while singing Christmas carols in Spanish.