Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bad Jokes Never Change

I've been trying to get some work done in my office while one of my seniors works a jigsaw puzzle across the room, talking out loud to himself.  Non-stop.  He comes each week for lunch: 3 hours early to work on the puzzle and today he decided to stay two hours after lunch.  I wouldn't mind if my air conditioner wasn't malfunctioning (again) and blowing hot air instead of cool. (It was 70 degrees when I left the room to serve lunch, now it's almost 80).   

As my office begins resembling a steamy jungle with a mumbling, jigsaw puzzle working mosquito in the background, Hubby calls with construction related questions.  (Yeah, the construction that was suppose to happen LAST week while I was on vacation).  Hubby doesn't like the computer.  He thinks sending an e-mail means dictating to me as I sit in front of the screen.  Today, sweat dripping from my brow as my internal temperature began overtaking my sense of humor, I talked him through printing a document from e-mail and faxing it.  However, every time I answered one of Hubby's questions, my senior would call out, "What?  Are you talking to me?" from across the room.

So here I am.  Working to answer Hubby's texts (a method he prefers because he can dictate to the phone), re-booting the air conditioner (it's a long story...but it saves on repair calls), and cursing the work computer (making my senior yell, ""What?  Are you talking to me?")  when my cell phone rings.  I don't recognize the number.  Lately a slew of telemarketers have discovered my cell number.  And yet, for some reason, (impending heat stroke?)  I answer it any way.  A child's voice says,

"Is your refrigerator running?"


I decide the best thing to do is just hang up, without comment.  I block the number because this kid calls frequently, thinking it's her Grandma, no matter how many times I tell her she has the wrong number.  Although the day she left a message demanding, "Grandma bring me jewelry.  Not the junk stuff.  REAL jewelry!"  I was tempted to call back and discuss her manners.  I didn't.  Because I might have been rude.

So as I sit here melting, wondering if my office will ever be cool and quiet again at the same time, I glance at my cell phone.  And a funny thing happens.

I burst our laughing.

How long, I wonder, have bored little kids randomly dialed a number to ask, "Is your refrigerator running?"

Tell you the truth....I was a little tempted to reply, "Do you have Prince Albert in a can?"   But, in my overheated and agitated state, I might've merely lectured that it was her responsibility to catch the fridge and let Prince Albert out.  

Some things in childhood you just have to learn on your own. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Literally In The Shadow of the Greats

My first official act of vacation today 
(and my annual salute to Summer) 
was to make a fresh peach cobbler which is baking as I type.
I only wish this post could include the aroma!
 The recipe is my Grandmother's.  
I know you're not suppose to have a favorite, but Memaw was mine.  
Standing at my kitchen sink peeling peaches, 
this print is just over my left shoulder, behind me in the dining room.
It belonged to Memaw's mother: my Great Grandmother Lizzie.
An Irish lass whose mother's father I've yet to determine is Irish or Scottish.

According to Mom, 
she recalled that very peach print hanging 
in her Grandmother Lizzie's own Dining Room...
a fact I didn't know until Mom asked me where I got it.
Upon hearing the story I laughed and asked, "That grandmother?" 
as I pointed to a framed photo of Lizzie 
which hangs across from the peach print in my Dining Room.

Somehow standing in the kitchen of our 135 year old farm house
making that cobbler makes me feel as if I have
two generations of great farm women cheering me on.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Stay-cation Starts at 5 p.m.!


Because Hubby is adding on to his Shop 
and I wanted to be there to help put it all back together again.  
Which was a great plan...
except the Contractor decided he'd start during my vacation, 
so I guess I'll be more of a spectator.  
That's okay... I'll be away from that other desk.  
Happy Weekend Y'all!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Dear World....

I think maybe we need to have a chat.  What has happened to you?  I know we all have our ups and downs, good days and bad.  But lately, it’s like you’ve lost your mind and don’t want help finding it. 

I’m really worried about you.

When I was a kid, you made me feel safe.  We had a simple agreement: I take care of you by respecting my parents and Mother Nature and you’d keep providing me with air, water and food.  I understood we had a partnership: when you provided, I was to take only what I needed, (not wanted)  and share the rest with the other humans in your space.   In return I was to be a good neighbor and watch out for you.  When I grew up, I was to set an example for the next generation on how this stewardship/partnership worked.

Well, I’m trying.  But the DNA for listening skills seem to be slipping. 

I so admire the best of you: a vast array of fascinating animals, sunny days, rainstorms followed by rainbows, natural spaces that can take my breath away, star speckled night skies and trees.  Especially the trees.  I’ve been enamored of them since childhood…even if you did have a meltdown one afternoon and strike the pine tree I was sitting in front of with a bolt of lightning.  I know.   I was in the car and perfectly safe.  But I can still hear the power of that hit, still smell the hot pitch combined with rain.  I got the point.  I’m only slightly bigger than an ant and you could squash me at any time.  Yet the fear of that moment was replaced by the sheer awe of what you had to offer.

Now I’m scared that you’re sick and on the endangered species list yourself.

You’ve become so unhappy.  Half the time you try to drown yourself, while the rest of you suffers from drought.   The line between the Haves and the Have Not’s isn’t a line anymore…it’s a gap like the Grand Canyon.  Is war your equivalent of teenage acne?  Or are you in the throes of menopause from hell: hot flashes that boil over in human rage while the rest watches in cold indifference?

You use to be so even keel.  Able to balance glaciers with the equator.  Now it feels like the balance is gone.  Lost.   

I wonder if it’s the company you keep.  Your BFF, the media, is doing its level best to bring you down.  No longer do they highlight your accomplishments, they’ve buried them in the old, “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality.  Honestly most of us hate that.   And after telling us what to think, your buddy Media then tries to set us at each other’s throats, telling a part of the story to bring anger, not education.  Nobody’s perfect.  And those who do wrong should be punished.  But the trial comes, not with a jury in a court of law, but in the court of public opinion fueled with cell phone video evidence of one moment in time.  That can be helpful, but it’s not always the whole story.  And yet the rush to judgment begins and those kind humans who held each other together after 9/11 forget that tearing one another apart accomplishes nothing.  It’s reminiscent of an old cartoon that stated, “I have seen the enemy and they is us.”  (Don’t even get me started on cartoons.  They use to be funny.  Now they’re part of premeditated murder.)

World, I fear that you’re giving up on us, turning your back and leaving us to fight it out.   I can’t blame you.  After all, everything I learned growing up is being treated like a plague: respect, religion, the Golden Rule, helping strangers rather than automatically fearing them.  Listening.  I miss the art of Listening.  It makes me sad that for a place that has so much, too many people are yelling all the time and no one sees the beauty of anything.

World, I’ll make you a deal.  I will count to 10 (as many times as it takes) and remember that the guy who just cut me off in traffic might have lost a loved one.  That the mother with the screaming kid at the grocery store may be trying to figure out exactly how much she has left for the month and probably would like to lie on the floor and cry a little herself.  I will try to be more compassionate, less judgmental and not let someone bait me into a conversation just because the media says we have to take sides.  I choose to listen…to both sides carefully, and not jump to conclusions.

World, you have a lot to offer.  I’d like to share that with you. Let me first thank you for the coming sunset.  That’s some of your best work.  A multitude of colors to signal day’s end, with the promise that sunrise signaling a new day, a new start, will be just as spectacular.  I’ll do my best to make you proud.  Maybe if you’re proud of us, you can become a peaceful World.  And that’s something we could all agree on.  Peace.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Thank You Thursday

Thank You Thursday salutes: Michael Kacer, for his quiet ability to yank me from being guest of honor at a pity party.  I had a lousy day at work recently…what we refer to at home as a, “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”  Yet Michael, a decorated wounded vet, (which he won’t tell you) has described his injuries as “a bad day at work.” Okay self…reality check. Maybe you feel unappreciated by your employer, but the job hasn’t caused you to sacrifice a limb.
 A friend first brought Michael to my attention when we were discussing the Warrior Games; think Olympics for wounded soldiers.  How can a photo like this not grab your attention?

And no, it wasn’t the missing limb.  It was the eyes.  What the heck was up with those eyes?  I would later find out that since high school, Michael has been a big fan of wearing wild contact lenses during sporting events.  I imagine he freaked out more than one competitor…especially the ones which sport the colors of his beloved American football team, the Pittsburg Steelers.  Just harmless fun. And yet not everyone gets it.  Which is why there’s a video on YouTube of an Australian man ranting that those eyes mean Michael is an alien from outer space.  Michael laughed harder than the rest of us about the man’s ravings.

After that first photo, curiosity made me read more and soon I discovered Michael’s the kind of guy who takes life’s challenges and turns them into goals to conquer.  Literally.  

From the Wounded Warrior Games and the Invictus Games (Britian’s version) he has participated in track, swimming and indoor rowing, winning a few medals along the way.  Last year he summited Mt. Kilimanjaro (yes, you read that right) and took us along on his journey by posting photos every day.  He inspires me to look past the bad moment toward the future I choose. Thanks Michael, for reminding me I have a CHOICE. No one said choices had to be easy, but they are there for the taking.    

Michael is approaching one of those anniversaries that most of us will never know personally: his “Alive Day”.  The day he ducked the Grim Reaper and kept on living, in spite of what the enemy threw his way.   I’ve been learning a lot about him this week as he shares his back story leading up to that event.  As a civilian, the closest I ever came to that kind of comradery was working with my State Troopers: the law enforcement community has that same, “we’re in this together, hold on tight” mentality.  And yes, I miss it.   Michael is sharing some of that with us: from the silly pranks on each other to saluting those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  It has to be hard, revisiting that time.  I hope he knows those of us reading are a quiet shoulder he can lean on if need be.   
I recently told him  the next time I had a bad day at work, I’d kick my own butt and think of his better attitude.  What I admire most is the honesty of his reply, which included the fact that the reality is not being labeled a “hero”.  “It’s not about the fame or the fortune.  (It’s) About the story being told”.  He has a helluva story and he tells it well.  I’m looking forward to the next chapter.  How could I not admire a guy who portrays such joy in something as simple as a high five?