Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Invitation to a Parade with Pride

Have you ever seen the movie, Mr. Holland's Opus? It's awesome and I highly recommend it. One of my favorite parts is when Mr. Holland (the high school music teacher) creates a high school marching band. It's fairly hysterical watching him try to assemble his students into a marching formation, yet in the end it is a wonderful moment watching him lead his marching band down the street in the depiction of a hometown parade.
I love parades. I love the floats and the clowns and the classic cars and the horses. Most of all, I love the bands.

Picture it ... the sun is shining bright ... you arrived early in order to stake out a good curbside seat ... people are milling around, finding places, spreading blankets, laughing, smiling. Policemen have blocked off the ends of the route and all the side access streets, so the path is clear. Childre are running in and out of the middle of the street, straining to get their first glimpse of the parade as it starts to make it's way down the street. Sitting there ... you hear it long before you can see the band ... the beat of the drums, the resonance of the various instruments as they come together in a blend of harmony. Louder and louder they get as they march towards you ... lines even, backs straight, heads up, steps proud ... their formation unbroken as the music moves past.

Yep. Big city or small town ... live or on television ... I love a parade.

This is my eldest girlie's seventh year in band. She's been marching in our hometown parades for seven years now. She began as a 6th grader in middle school and now she is a high school senior.

In the 9th grade, my girlie became a member of The Pride of Broken Arrow Marching Band. This is not a small feat. This band is serious business. We're in Oklahoma ... an area where football reigns everywhere from little league to high school to college to national ... and while we have a great high school football team ... it is our marching band that brings people from all over, that fills the stands, that win the recognition not only locally but also statewide, regionally and ... in 2006 ... nationally when the Pride of Broken Arrow became the 2006 Grand National Champions.

My girlie was a 15 and a sophmore at the time.

This coming year ... 2009 ... as a senior ... my girlie is going to be marching with Pride one more time in a parade. I would like to invite each and every one of you to join me in watching her.

You can, you know, 'cause this parade is going to be televised.
It's a little parade you might have heard about previously. You see, The Pride of Broken Arrow Marching Band will be marching on January 1, 2009 in the 120th Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.

*grins with delight*

I hope you'll join us in watching ... the floats will be breathtaking, the horses will be extraordinary, and the bands will be fantastic ... especially the one with a certain special saxophone player.

She'll be the one in the line behind the cymbals - first one on the left from the middle.

I'll be the one on the couch ... tears in her eyes and pride in her heart.

The Pride of Broken Arrow may be an award winning marching band, but my Pride of Broken Arrow is a certain young lady who has grown from a squeaky beginner to an confident musician.

GO BA!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's Thursday, So It Must Be a Supernatural Christmas!!!

To all my friends and inmates, I wish you all a Blessed and Merry Christmas! This is just a little something that fell out of my brain and into my computer as I listened to Christmas carols and kept my mom company as she created the most wonderful scents in her kitchen. I hope you enjoy.


Still and silent, the inky darkness seemed to envelope the black car speeding down the back road as though it had a memory sense of the twists and curves. The overhanging trees cast their shadows over the pavement as tendrils of fog swirled at the edges. As the night deepened, her driver realized that he would eventually need to slow enough to give a better traction when the visibility became even less clear. There was no moon to shine down and light their path, hidden as it was beneath the thick cover of clouds.

It didn’t matter though. Her driver knew where he was going.

Glancing over to the passenger seat, the driver grinned as he realized his brother had finally given up on his attempt to stay awake, to keep him company as he drove the dark roads. Hunched up against the door and window, long legs stretched as far as possible without encroaching near the driver’s side, it was only the fact that the position was one assumed on a regular basis that would save the young man from any truly strained muscles and neck aches. Oblivious to his brother’s grin, the exhausted young man slept, secure in his safety and calm in the peace still so recently restored to their only true home.

Returning his eyes to the road, in difference to his sleeping passenger, the driver lowered the volume on the pounding music streaming through the car’s speakers enough to soften, but not erase the pulsing rhythm of the bass line that was in tune with his own pulse. Thoughts of the coming day mingled with memories from similar days … some spent with their father, occasionally with their father and a friend or two, and, more times than should have been in their short lives, with simply his little brother for company. He shied away from the memories of the days that were spent alone, either in his favorite girl traveling or holed up in a motel room trying to will the day away with sleep and convenience store snacks.

A slight shift and a muffled snort from the passenger side of the car brought the driver out of his musings briefly to check whether it was an awakening or a deepening of slumber. Satisfied that his brother was still in the sound throes of sleep, he recalled their conversation at the beginning of the drive …

“Stopping for a holiday is a waste of time. If we hustle, we can be there by tomorrow night and maybe be able to stop whatever is going on.”
“It’s not a waste of time. A holiday is a time of being exempt from duty, from work. The work will still be there when the holiday is over. Besides, we celebrated last year.”
“Two things … 1) we were also WORKING last year or do you not remember being sliced and diced by the wicked version of the Kringle family? and 2) … last year was different.”
“Different? Yes … okay … it was different. We thought it would be the last one together. We’ve been given another … I’d say that’s a reason to celebrate, a reason to take a holiday. Besides … seems to me that THIS particular holiday would be one we need to …”
“To what? To go to church at midnight? To commune with angels – who are not too happy with us at the moment. To sing carols – which we suck at, by the way – …”
“No. To remember where we were last year and to be grateful for the divine intervention that did come and gave us … gave YOU … another chance. Come on, man. You know you really want to.”

Then the creep had pulled out the big guns …

“We did it last year when you really wanted to. I really want this this year.”

Darn manipulative sneaky little ...

Though the fact was, he had wanted to and eventually, taking enough time so that his little brother wouldn’t think he’d caved too quickly, especially after that last little nudge, he had given into the idea of going to their friend’s house to spend Christmas with his brother and the man who has become like a father – never replacing the drill sergeant that had loved and raised him but stepping up to offer support and guidance when necessary after the genuine article had gone and sacrificed himself. Not that he was going to slip down into THAT particular memory lane either. He had stipulated this was only to be a side trip and that the next day they had to be back on the road and working. His brother had grinned and agreed, pulling out his cell phone and calling to give the news of his victory.

Shaking his head, the driver took a drink of his cold coffee, grimaced and tightened his hands on the wheel as the night deepened further and the fog gave way to the beginnings of frost and light snow blanketing the passing fields and trees. From here on, there would be a chance of ice patches and snow drifts as they drew nearer to their destination. Not that he minded. Driving gave him a peace, reminding him that all the best of holidays he could remember included two things … his black beauty and his little brother. Despite all that had gone on in the last few years, the three of them were still together, and that meant something … something good … and he could hold onto that, even if it was only for a day.

The pulse of the music stopped as the DJ came on and announced the time with much laughing and ringing of bells.

Going with the impulsive urge, he slapped the back of his hand smartly to his brother’s chest, laughing as the younger man awoke startled, head swiveling around in all directions before his eyes were even really open, he yelled out to his brother…

“MERRY CHRISTMAS, SAMMY! Where’s the eggnog, dude?”

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Laundry, Creatures, Executive Decisions and An Insane Stream of Conciousness

Tonight was laundry night.

I'll be honest, I don't like doing it on Thursdays. I usually do it on Tuesdays, but the week got away from me. Thursdays are rushed because I have an 8pm deadline. (For those who don't know ... and we'll have to have a discussion on why not another time ... Supernatural comes on at 8pm on Thursdays and no, I don't care that we're in a hiatus and it's in re-runs, I'm still going to watch it!!) However, tonight I also did laundry.

I was lucky and, therefore, able to clear my desk ... by taking my arm and sweeping everything into my drawer and locking it up ... shut down the office ... so much faster when you're the only one there and all but one main light are already off ... and head out the door. Traffic was light and Baby was feeling her oats, moving in and around the vehicles going less than the speed limit ... if it says 65, WHY are you only going 50??? ... and taking the faster exit like a pro ... she REALLY does like those highways, little red sweetheart! ... and getting me to the laundromat before I usually am even out of the office. Yay!

The laundromat was empty ... another awesome plus ... and I was able to lug in my four bags of clothes ... is it wrong that I have one bag of white, one bag of red, and two bags of black clothing? ... dumped in, detergent added, quarters inserted and washers started without a hitch.

Yes ... I do have to use the laundromat still. Yes ... I did have the money to purchase one the first of the year after mine died a slow and agonizing death ... the spinner thing in the middle that agitates the clothes, which I find hysterical, I mean, seriously -AGITATES the clothes? Like the clothes are gonna smack it back for it's agitation? Who THINKS of this stuff?? - anyway, the agitator died, or was killed by a shirt that simply couldn't take the agitation any longer ... *snickers* ... where was I? ... oh yeah ... dead washer, money to purchase a new one. Got it.

Yeah ... I did have the money but ... well, the Supernatural convention ticket was just too enticing and so I succumbed and I'm SOOOO not sorry ... but that is another blog that is still being written. So! Anyhow, yes, I am using the laundromat. And this is actually NOT a bad thing. Actually ... the laundromat part of doing my laundry is the good part.

When you use the laundromat, you are guaranteed 23 minutes of peace to sit and just be quiet, to read, to be alone with your thoughts. Machines are humming, people are talking quietly, it's warm in the winter, cool in the summer, it's actually kinda nice. My little neighborhood laundromat is run by a kind older man who is very nice but not intrusive. The regular people are friendly. It's not a bad thing. In 23 minutes I can have 4 ... regularly ... or 6 ... when I've stretched it as far as possible or feel the time is necessary to do sheets ... loads completely washed at one time. Nope, the laundromat is my friend.

It's getting home that makes me crabby.

'Cause ... once I get home there's the hanging ... I hang alot, actually mostly all, of my clothes up to dry - shirts and pants ... because the dryer not only does the shrinkage thing, there's also the fading of the colors due to the heat and it's really not good when you have all this black and still don't match, and then there's the electricity usage which, if I can save a penny by hanging clothes, I'm gonna ... so, I'm hanging the clothes. This takes time and needs to be done as soon as possible when I get home in order to avoid wrinkles ... which leads to ironing ... which leads to shuddering and shaking at the horror of the thought ... you get the picture.

Then, for those clothes that don't get hung up, there's the drying and the remembering to finish one load and put in the other load and then remembering to remove THAT load. Then there's the folding and the putting away and then the putting away of the hanging things once they've dried which isn't until the next day.

So, yeah ... laundry ... not my favorite thing. Which has led to my making an executive decision.

See, I have this friend who refuses to let me become a nudist ... I'm not certain of all of her reasons, however my manager and co-worker have thanked her repeatedly for talking me out of becoming a nudist ... and since she is also the same one who sagely advises me to remember to lay down plastic before committing hari kari mayhem upon some of the moronic people in my life ... it's easier to clean up the mess afterwards ... I'm going to have to bow to her wisdom. However, since I'm not allowed to become a nudist, and since the laundry fairies have been on strike in this household for so long that I can't even get them to come to the negotiatng table any longer, I've decided that it's time to put these mice, who seem to want to live in my house, to work.


You heard me ... the mice.

I've given this thought. They're here. It's been 11 years and they won't go away. Every spring and every fall they make their presence known, looking for handouts, setting up their little rooms underneath the entertainment center or in the walls of my cabinets or behind my bookcase by the door, planning their families, refusing to pay rent. I've tried the "humane removal" of capturing and releasing them in a nearby field. (Okay ... not me, but a friend who came and took the captured creature in the trap I caught it in by the use of bribery with peanut butter.) They literally came running back. Would have made it if it wasn't for the street curb. Seriously!! So, I'm thinking it's time for them to get off their furry little butts and help out around here!! The mice in Disney's Cinderella did. They even sang about it. Heck! I'll make them little clothes. I'll sing back to them. I'll even feed them food that doesn't have those special little blue pellets in it if they'll simply take the clothes and hang them up, put them in the dryer, fold them, and then put them all away.

Is that asking too much? I don't think so. It's not even an every day chore. Laundry day is just once a week. I'll even do the washing part. Just get them out of the car, dried via hanging or dryer, and then into the dresser drawers and closet. That's all they have to do.


Unfortunately, that's not going to happen, is it? Yeah. I know. I'm stuck with life as it is and I'll have to continue this chore all on my own. The mice won't help.

They've already unionized.

They won't even eat the special blue pellets I put out unless I lace them with Hershey's syrup.

Such is life.

Now ... if you'll excuse me ... I have to go do the dishes. Stupid ants can lift 20 bajillion more pounds than their own body weight and they can't even help by doing the dishes in exchange for tramping through my kitchen and mooching my food!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Chocolate Sorrow

Monday morning's aren't so bad.

Not after having a lovely four day weekend spending quality time with family.

Not after having a relaxing Sunday evening at home because no evening church services means no nursery obligations.

Not after having a chance to get an extra half hour of sleep because the girlies are out of school.

Yep, although the day began with gray clouds and the drive to work included equal parts of rainy mist and spitting snowflakes, I was having a good morning.

The hair ... the make up ... the wardrobe ... everything seemed to come together this morning.

I had time for my tea and for my breakfast before heading (not rushing) out the door. Traffic flowed well and the music playing was good.

I was ready to face the day.

I knew it would be busy. It always is when we have had the office closed for more than a weekend. I was ready.

I was ready for 96 questions about how was my weekend, my Thanksgiving, etc.

I was ready for 96 exclamations over the new onslaught of cold and was I responsible questions. (For those who may not remember, I am evidently responsible for the weather that afflicts our residents.)

I was ready to find out that our boiler system had been out for two days, with no hot water available to over half our residents and the subsequent calls asking if we knew and the stories of frigid showers and baths and "during the war we would go six weeks without bathing".

I was ready to deal with the fact that it is first of the month and therefore, of course the accounting system must take itself offline with an error posting.

I was ready for the need to multitask several situations at one time - between phone, window and simply regular office tasks.

I was, however, NOT ready to find out that a particular resident had passed away during the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning.

Now, I've been doing this job for ten years and it's not the first resident death I've experienced, nor will it be the last. When you work with seniors, death is simply a part of life. There is always a tinge of sadness and, normally, I take a moment, say a prayer and then move on.

While I am not close to all my residents, there are some few who have wound themselves a bit tighter in my heart than others. Some that, I confess, I enjoy seeing, greeting and sharing an occasional moment with more than others. All my residents receive my courtesy and respect for their person, but there are some residents who, by their very nature, win my trust and care.

Ms. M was one of these.

Already a resident when I began working, Ms. M made an impression on me from the very start. She was one of those ladies that rolled with the punches life dealt and relied on her faith to keep her going. A strong woman in a fragile body, she would ride her scooter down to the lobby each day to enjoy a view other than that out her patio, to enjoy the sun. During the winter she particularly enjoyed sitting by the the fireplace in the living room, a change of scenery for a few minutes or a couple of hours.

Fiercely independent, Ms. M took care of all her affairs on her own. She would travel the city either for doctor appointments or shopping or simply going to see a movie via the Lift Bus through the city bus transportation.

Intensely private, her life - her comings and goings - were her own. Often found in the midst of group conversations, Ms. M would be the one to listen quietly and comment infrequently, rarely sharing personal experience, feelings, or thoughts.

Strong in her convictions, Ms. M was never one to "let it slide". She expected to be treated fairly and she treated others the same way. She didn't ask for extra favors, simply expected what was due - whether work by a housekeeper, or public transportation, etc.

Ms. M was on of those people whom I would on occasion make the comment more than once that I wanted "to be just like when I grew up."

Through the years Ms. M and I forged a friendship. Brief moments shared between us - a smiled greeting as she would pass my window, a pat on her back as I moved through the hallways - she was respectful of my time ... knowing I was busy ... simply enjoying the times when I could sit in the lobby for a moment and chat, yet never asking me to do so. She wouldn't ask, but she always appreciated. Ms. M trusted that I would keep her privacy and I trusted she would keep mine. Over the years Ms. M and I shared a few stories, light or serious, enjoying a few occasional moments in each other's company talking about family, health, and life in general.

Today has been a difficult Monday. But then ... the day of the week doesn't matter in this case. Although I rejoice that Ms. M is no longer in pain, no longer suffering, that she is happy and at peace in Heaven, my earthly heart is mourning the loss of the quiet presence of a kind woman.

Two quick stories I'd like to share about my Ms. M:

1) When I returned from my vacation, that first day, Ms. M. came past my window and greeted me with a true, heartfelt delight. She is the only resident with whom I shared some of my journey, and it was Ms. M. who, when I showed her my pictures of myself with Jensen & Jared, exclaimed that she knew them, that she watched Supernatural ... it was one of her favorite shows! She was happy that I had had the opportunity to go and to meet them, and happy that I had safely returned.

2) I cannot remember the first time, it's been years ago that she started stopping briefly at my window and quietly handing me a Hershey bar. She knew I love chocolate and seemed to have fun sporadically popping by and gifting me with the sweet treat. There was no regularity involved, yet she seemed to know when I could use that chocolatey sweetness the most. I would perhaps get a couple a week, sometimes a couple of weeks would pass without one. Nothing obvious ... just a simple clearing of the throat and a tap tap at my counter to get my attention, and then she would lay it down and head on down the hall or across the lobby. No conversation was needed. Of course, she knew by my lightning smile the pleasure it brought. She probably also caught on when I would dash out my door and wrap her in a hug that she had made me very happy.

I am going to miss my friend, Ms. M. Probably more than I can imagine at this time.

I'll miss her smile, her strength, her perserverence.

I'll miss her chocolate.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

It's Thursday ... It Must Be Thanksgiving

Despite the fact that holiday lights are twinkling in the shopping center parking lot and our neighborhood holiday junkie has filled their yard with snowmen, santas, and all manner of festive decorations, it is not yet Christmas time!

I've said it before and I'll say it again ... after we eat the trick or treat candy and before we break out the stockings and the red and green M&Ms, there's a little holiday that needs some recognition.

In the scheme of things, it's not a big holiday. It's not a world wide presence It's a simple American holiday that is about more than football and eating ourselves into turkey oblivion. It's a day set aside to give thanks ... as did those pilgrims years ago for the blessings received.

All those years ago, the English settlers gave thanks for the natives that befriended them and the harvest of crops after a disasterous winter.

While I don't have a harvest of crops, I do have some awesome friends and a harvest of blessings for which I would like to take this day, before the parades begin, the cooking commences, and the football gets kicked, or thrown, or tackled or something like that.

Blessing of Family -
I give thanks each day for the family I was lucky enough to be born into. The saying goes that you can't pick your family and this is true. Therefore it is a blessing to have parents who unconditionally love me, listen to me, giving guidance yet allowing me to make my final decisions for good or for ill. It is a blessing to have a brother who may be far away in distance but is close in time of need, to care and challenge and remind me always I am not alone in this world. It is a blessing to have nieces who are growing beautiful and independent, reminders of our youth of yesterday and our hope for tomorrow. Family is truly important, and I am so incredibly grateful for mine. This year we cannot all be together physically, and while this is a momentary sorrow, I know that there are many who have lost family members over this year. Therefore I take my blessing that we shall celebrate this holiday together in our hearts and look forward to the time we may be together physically again.

Blessings of Girlies -
I give thanks each day for the three girlies who daily bring joy and love to my heart and light to my life. Each one unique and each one so special that words simply fail.

Blessings of Friends -
I give thanks each day for the friends in my life, both new and old ... both far and near. The remainder of the family saying states that you can pick your friends. I'm not always sure who has picked who, however I can state wholeheartedly that I have been truly blessed with an abundance of friends that are supportive, comforting, crazy, and joyous. I give thanks for each and every individual one.

Blessing of Freedom -
I give thanks each day for the freedom I enjoy in this grand country of ours. From the President who leads us to the troops who defend us to local law enforcement officials who protect us, I am blessed to live in this country where opportunity has been and is still available for those who seek it, where I am afforded the right to worship as I choose and voice my opinions in agreement or disagreement without fear of retaliation. It's not perfect but it's mine and I am thankful for the freedom to live in it.

Blessing of Health & Home -
I give thanks each day for the roof over my head. I give thanks for an employer that provides the opportunity earn the living that pays for the roof, as well as the amenities that go with it - such as electricity, water ... internet connection. *grins* I give thanks for the health I have and the doctor that is there when I'm not feeling quite right.

Blessing of Being Me -
I give thanks each day for the opportunity to place my feet upon the floor, look into the mirror, greet the day and simply be me. For the opportunity to enjoy my tea in the morning, to cuddle my nursery babies, to be able to sit and write seriously or nonsensical, to relax and read, to travel or stay home, to simply be me - whether laughing or crying.

And ... since it's Thursday ...
I give thanks for the television show that is unique in that through it I have found friends and with them created an imaginary Sanitarium that brings discussion and laughter, sparking a passion for writing, and learned that though the world may be huge, when given something in common it doesn't matter whether you live in the same city or on separate continents to be able to strike up a conversation that leads to more than just television. I give thanks for the creative team of writers, directors, actors, and crew that bring us the show Supernatural.

Blessings come. They are there whenever and where ever we need or want them - big or small - if we simply take the time to see them. On this day that is set aside, between the candy and the glitter, to give thanks ... I challenge you to look around and see the blessings in your life.

And give thanks for them.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Just A Guy and A Guitar

Concert ... musical performance ... can be vocal or instrumental or both.

Over the years I have attended numerous concerts, walking away from them carrying the music I had heard in my head and my heart. Most of them were vocal/instrumental, many of them were church related, some of them more memorable than others.

It's weird, but, when asked the question,"who have you seen in concert?", my mind tends to respond immediately with concerts I have seen in a large forum - such as the Reunion Arena in Dallas. There was a period of time where I seemed to constantly be a part of the vast crowd - listening, watching and dancing as the music of various groups and individuals seemed to pump it's way into my bloodstream, as the rhythm seemed to take over the beat of my heart and the words would wrap around my mind and have me singing along.

The groups varied - everything from Neil Diamond & Barry Manilow to Tears for Fears t0 Journey & Foreigner. Each performance was spectacular with the lighting and the orchestration. There were laser light shows and back up singers, big screens for close ups of the band and, in the case of Journey, one spectacularly beautiful dark cherry red grand piano that I can still picture in my mind with crystal clarity. Everything was huge and, even today, hearing one of the songs can bring back to my mind the feeling of sitting/standing in the dark listening to it live and in person.

Still ... although the concerts of John Cougar Mellencamp or Powerstation may first come to mind when asked the question ... I have to say they are not my favorites.

Nope. As much as I love the back up musicians and singers, the lightshows, the dancers, and all the extras that make these concerts so huge, it is the intimate settings of listening ... simply listening to the musician and his instrument ... that are the "favorite" concert moments I look back on.

Listening live and in person seems to allow the music to take such a greater hold than if it is simply heard over the radio. There's something much more personal when music is heard live, when you are able to sit and watch the musician play - fingers rippling across the piano or strumming through the chords on a guitar. Watching the face of the singer as the song they are giving voice seems to come from somewhere deep inside them.

I grew up with a musician. Some of my favorite memories of my little brother is sitting in the den, listening to him play the piano and sing. The music would float through our house, filling the silent corners, accompanying us in our daily tasks. Sometimes he would be alone and other times he would be joined by a couple of friends, but always would his voice flow over and through me, even as I pretended to be the cool, uninvolved older sister just reading a book on the couch.

Although I really don't care for country music, per se, I have seen some really good concerts by country artists, both small and large, yet none of them truly captured me quite the same as the music of a young man who I loved for a time *mumblemumble* years ago. During our time together, I had the opportunity to see him perform on stage many times, yet the music was always best when it was played during the dark of the night ... when it was just us two and we would sit, knee to knee on the floor and he would play the guitar and sing. The music would light his face and come from his soul and fill my heart.

I recently was priviledged to attend two concerts by two very unique musicians in one weekend.

They weren't held in huge arenas with thousands of fans.

There wasn't any lightshow or back-up bands or singers.

There was simply a stage with a mike for a singer and his guitar placed in front of an appreciative audience.

Each man gave a performance which was filled with energy and heart. Each song told a story - whether in the lyrics on their own, or by the face and voice of the individual artist singing. The guitars were extensions of their bodies, their fingers at times caressing and other times beating the strings but always making the notes blend together with an artistry that was intriguing and enticing to watch.

Captivated, I sat on the edge of my seat. The lyrics and medleys singing inside my soul. Each concert so unique and different from the other and yet the same in that they were simply a musician ... playing his guitar and singing.

When the talent is real and the music is good ... lightshows and back-up may be awesome - but they are soooo incredibly not necessary. Just ask anyone who have attended concerts by either Steve Carlson or Jason Manns.

A concert with just a guy and his guitar, doing what they love to do ... sing the music they love.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

It's Thursday, Therefore It Must Be Supernatural!

You know that you have achieved a certain level of obsession when you are innocently asked the question, “Which season is your favorite?” and your reply is...

It’s hard to narrow it down between Season One and Season Two because they each had such merit – Season One for it’s introductory value and Season Two for it’s emotional impact. I really liked what we had of Season Three, however, as of right now, even though we’ve only had 3 episodes, I’d have to say that Season Four is giving them all a run for their money in being my favorite.”

The true level of obsession is brought to light when the questioning individual looks at you with a puzzled expression and replies, “I was thinking more of the calendar seasons. You know … spring, summer, winter, and fall?”



Of course, this is strictly a hypothetical conversation.

You know that … right?

It is definitely not a conversation that might have taken place a few days ago with a friend I had not seen for a while, as we were chatting after running into each other at a social engagement. Nope, definitely not. (Please don’t stand so close. I understand that a lightning strike can be fairly intense.)

Actually, I am one of those individuals who enjoys all four of the different seasons throughout the course of a year. Each one contains a beauty and a reason to be appreciated.

So, I reconsidered the hypothetical question and decided to rephrase my hypothetical response with my own little "Ode To The Seasons", so to speak.

Here goes:

I love the winter season!

The nights are long and dark, with cold winds blowing as I enjoy the warmth of a fireplace, the soft light of flickering candles, and the comfort of flannel jammies and wooly sweaters.

The leafless trees stand as twisting, shadowy shapes against the cloudy gray skies, sparking my imagination with haunting images.

The occasional snow falls softly, blanketing the landscape, blinding my eyes with glistening sparkles as the sun shines on it from a distance.

The sounds of the holidays spent joyously with family and friends, cause me to pause and give thanks for the blessing that I have received throughout the year.

The weeks pass by with a mingling of heartrending angst and breathtaking anticipation, as I endure and enjoy the winter season which brings dreaded weeks of hiatus, briefly broken by individual episodes designed to capture my attention and remind me that while I might have thought I knew what direction The Kripke was pointing me in, anything is possible and nothing is as it seems in the journey of the Winchesters.

I love the spring season!

The lengthening days filled with blustery winds as I enjoy opening the house, blowing out the stale air and replacing it with freshness throughout each room.
The slender leaves and buds on the ground and in the tree begin to grow, as I renew my love of gentle blossoms and soft leaves, their pastels blending and blurring like an impressionistic painting.

The rain that is alternately fierce and gentle, always followed by the sparkle crystal colors arching, alternately beats upon my roof and mists upon my face, but always ends up refreshing my soul with promises of renewal and growth and fantasy.

The sounds of children laughing and playing outside become the rhythm and musical background, serenading my lengthening evenings and weekends.

The weeks pass by with joy and hopefulness as each one brings a new episode continuing the saga of weaving the threads of storylines ever tighter, raising expectations and fears as the finale draws closer until it is released, leaving me to gasp in a mixture of delight and horror at the Winchester Boy’s situation and the knowledge that it will be months before the solution will even begin to commence.

I love the summer season!

The days are long and filled with blue skies and hot sun as my girlies revel in their freedom from the classroom and open themselves to the possibilities of learning from alternate and less traditional forms of teaching.

The bushes and grass deepen to a lush green and we begin our annual cycle of competition on how tall they can grow before I am able to trim and mow, taming them into submission for (hopefully) the coming week.

The heat and humidity continues to rise, causing me to pause and give continuing thanks for ceiling fans, light cotton tops, lemonade, barbeque grills, and icemakers as I attempt to remain cool as I go through the business of my daily routines.

The sounds of glittering fireworks bursting, hot classic music driving, laughing screams of children splashing in pools and sprinklers fill the air and bring a smile to my heart.

The weeks pass by both swiftly and slowly as free time is increasingly filled with diversions, tactics designed to distract and keep active a mind ever attempting to speculate on the plight of the Winchester Boys, knowing with dreaded expectancy that whatever ideas I could formulate will not come remotely close to the weaving of threads both old and new as The Kripke and his company begin writing and filming.

I love the fall season!

The autumn nights that begin to lengthen and the crisp feeling that is introduced into the air as I take pleasure in returning to routines of work and school, throwing a precautionary jacket in the car as I shuttle from activity to activity.

The bushes and trees turn shades of muted hues golden and bronze, of vivid shades crimson and scarlet, as I find my wardrobe turning from whites and pastels to the bolder jewels of greens and reds and blacks.

The shifting of lazy southern breezes to brisk northern winds begin to penetrate, bring frost to the harvest of corn and apples and pumpkins and the scent of soups and chili cooking in the crock pot and pies baking in the oven.

The sounds of music pervade the air as marching bands take the field, filling the stadium with the distinct harmonization of brass and woodwind instruments stepping in time to the beat of the drums, or, as choir members take their places on tiers of risers, filling the auditorium with a blending of voices high and low in a harmony seamless, as both band and choir fill my heart with pride for my girlies as they participate in the creation of the unique sounds that pervade my ears.

The weeks pass by as each Thursday becomes a beacon, lighting the way to another new episode, as each episode further entangles both my heart and my mind in the deftly woven storyline that intrigues and delights my imagination with a family saga of warmth, of love, of fierce desperation, and hope filled terror set in a back drop of suspense and horror brought to life by the talents of all involved – creator, writers, directors, producers, actors, and the multitude of crew members – creating a television program that is unlike any I have ever had the pleasure of viewing and making each season of the year something to which I look forward to with anticipation.

So, there you have it ... my "Ode to the Seasons". I suppose I should have added the disclaimer tag ... "Supernatural Style". That's what a good obsessive would have done, don't you think? :-)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What Kind of Rose?

My sweet friend Whimsy put out this quiz on her LJ blog ... "What type of rose are you?".

Yeah ... cause with a name like mine I'm going to totally not take THAT one!

Figured I would share the results. :-)

Neskaya Quiz: What Type of Rose are You? [Red]
You are passionate and romantic. Your have such passion when it comes to love that you find it to be one of life's sweetest things. You believe in love at first sight and wish that there were more love in the world. You are a caring sweetheart.

Neskaya.Net Quiz: What Type of Rose are You?

Neskaya.Net Quizzes: The Rose Quiz

Needless to say ... I'm feeling very good about myself at the moment. (I'm also wondering how this would have gone if I were feeling a bit cynical tonight. Hmmmm.)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Life As I Know It Is Over

Did you feel the shift in the balance today?

I certainly did.

Life changed today.

It will never be the same.

Today two girlies turned thirteen.

Today I officially have three teenagers in my life.

Today, The Bickersons have joined their older sister in that transition period of life from child to young adult.

Today, instead of one package of raging adolescent hormones, I have three.

Three girlies that stand tall and beautiful, with intelligence and talent, that will - with the flip of an inner switch that no one can see, no one can control - without warning, mutate before my very eyes into a raging, weeping, screeching, foot stomping, chest heaving creature of warped defiance.

Then, just as suddenly, the mutation resolves and the transformation back into the sweet and lovely girlies that have been the light of my life and delight of my soul.

Yep ... It's happened. Life has marched on and now I am living in the danger zone. I have increased my whiplash insurance and purchased stock in my favorite haircolor . I have purchased mass quantities of migraine relief and stocked up the first aid kit with antiseptic and gauze, not to mention bandaids. I have also stocked up on various assortments of chocolates, including various types of brownies and ice cream, and made the aquaintace of a friendly bail bondsman.

Other than continual praying for an increase in my patience level, I don't know of anything else I can actually add to my survival kit.

I'd like to believe that weathering the coming years will be a breeze, however I have this fear that niggles in the back of my mind.

I keep hearing my mother's voice.

"I hope you have a teenage girl JUST LIKE YOU!"

The voice vibrates in triplicate.

Could someone please pass the paper bag? I feel the need to hyperventilate.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Condiment Craziness

Sometimes you simply have to shake your head and move on.
Sometimes you have to give in to the desire and rant.

Today I will be ranting. I've shaken my head, I've moved on time and again, but this morning I couldn't do it any longer.

Today I will be writing another of my sternly worded letters. Once again, I state up front that I realize I am a "lone voice in the wilderness". Perhaps some things get to me a bit more than they do others. That's okay. Sometimes I just have to speak my mind and this is the forum that I choose to do it in - my writing.

Because after you do something insane and drastic (and make people look at you like you've lost your everlovin' mind) ... it's nice to share it with friends ... right?

See ... once a week I treat myself to a fast food breakfast. I'm counting pennies alot lately and eating out is expensive when, for the cost of one dinner at my favorite little restaurant I can buy groceries that will fix atleast three, if not four meals. However, buying a couple of breakfast sandwiches or taquitos is relatively inexpensive and so I indulge myself.

Myself likes it. :-)

This morning's treat was two sausage, egg, and cheese taquitos from one of my favorite local fast food chains - Whataburger. These taquitos always come with a cheerful memory of living in Austin and being a Nanny. My girl and I would have them every other Friday morning. She loved them. So did I.

Now, I'm not a regular, but I have been doing this for the last few months and the same girl has been there running the window each time. She recognizes me, my car, and my order. Each time I place my order over the lovely box, I am asked if I want picante sauce with my order. Each time I reply "no thank you". I pull to the window and pass the girl my money along with my "Good morning". She replied, we smiled and she asked me again ... did I want picante sauce. Now, I would just like to say for the record that over the last few months I have replied to the negative each and every time. Nothing has changed. So, once again I shake my head to the negative and replied "No, thank you." She closed the window and I waited. She comes back to the window and asks AGAIN ... would I like picante sauce. I really tried to keep the look of total disbelief out of my face but I'm thinking I failed as the words "NO! THANK YOU." came from my lips. She hands me my bag and I proceed to pull out of the lane and towards the street. I set the bag to the side and something rattled. Now ... taquitos? They're fairly soft. Not so much with the rattling. So I opened the bag and looked and there sat two taquitos ... topped with four containers of picante sauce!

I could have just gone on.

I probably should have just gone on.

But I didn't.

I turned around and got back in the order lane. When the girl's voice came over the box I replied that I wasn't ordering, I was returning. Yeah ... that got her attention. I pulled up to the window and found, not just the order girl, but - surprise! - also her manager. I opened my bag. I pulled out the four containers. I handed them to the girl and told her that I would be really grateful if she would actually LISTEN to her customers. The I told the manager that his profit margin might increase if he would take a bit of time in training his people to first listen and then follow through. Over the last couple months I could have filled two jars of picante sauce from the packages I have refused and yet they still give me.

I'd like to point out here that I wasn't snippy and nasty, just frustrated at the waste because it just gets thrown away.

That was my morning and that is what has prompted my need to write a sternly worded letter ... in case anyone actually reads this blog, but more to just get it off my chest.


To the Presidents and CEOs of Drive Thru Food America -

Dear Sirs,

As one of the millions of people who have frequented your various establishments over the years I would simply like to say "Thank You".

Originally, I was only able to stock my refrigerator by filling my bottles of ketchup and mustard and mayonaise from the handfuls of condiments my bags would contain, whether I asked for them or not.

Over the years, I've been able to scratch butter and sour cream, picante sauce and cocktail sauce off of my grocery list, not to mention the barbeque sauce and the ranch dressing. Now, with the advent of offerings of items such as honey mustard, croutons, garlic butter, various hot sauces, etc. I am able to bypass the condiment aisle of my grocery store altogether! Awesome.

Plus, I cannot forget to give thanks to the pizza chains. Not only do I have an endless supply of grated parmesan cheese, but I also have more than enough red pepper flakes to give flaming heartburn to each pot of chili I prepare for the next 10 years.

Let us not forget the salt and pepper, those basic of condiments. I now have enough salt to protect my house from the most evil host of demons. (My apologies if you are not current on your demon lore. Might I suggest you turn to the CW show Supernatural on Thursday nights and find out how salt is more than just a seasoning?) As for pepper, well, let's just say that sneezing is never a problem around my household.

I would simply like to end this letter by saying thank you. Thank you for hiring people who do not listen. Thank you for training your employees that the customer gets it, whether they want it or not.

Oh! And thank you for raising the price of your menu items to cover your overhead losses caused by the handfuls of ketchup, of picante sauce, of ranch dressing, etc. over the years.

Sincerely yours,
A Condiment Customer

Now ... if you'll excuse me ... I'm heading out to get a hot dog for lunch. My relish jar was looking a bit low this morning.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Making Everything Better

On the way to work the other morning, I passed a semi-truck that was pulling out of the parking lot of the local Braums. For those that don't know, Braums is a chain of small ice cream and dairy stores that began in Oklahoma and now have locations in Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, and Texas. According to my mom, it's one of the best ice creams ever. I tend to agree. Anyhow, as I passed this truck that had obviously been making a product delivery, I was caught by the slogan on the side panel.

"Braums Ice Cream Makes Everything Better"

Now, for those who aren't familiar with Braums, you aren't hearing the jingle in your head, but trust me ... it's one of those catchy, once it's there it's never leaving your head type of jingles. To simply read the slogan sets the jingle singing in my mind ... over and over and over and over.

So it was, after passing the truck and having the jingle solidly planted in my head, that I began to try and distract myself with other thoughts in order to push it out. No such luck ... not even the radio helped - it was time for the news. Unwillingly, at first, I gave into the thoughts and let my mind wander. Does Braums make everything better? Is it really Braums, or is it the ice cream that is creating the feelings of everything being better? Cause, over the years, I've eaten alot of different ice creams, in alot of different places.

There was the ice cream at our birthday parties growing up. Usually the Krogers store brand that was always kept handy in the gallon buckets in our deep freezer when we were young. Sweet and creamy, it would melt into the cake and make it soggy but it was always so good - especially with chocolate syrup and candy sprinkles and frosting from a birthday cake. The sugar high was a blast and probably the reason why cake and ice cream was the last thing on the agenda, so that friends were sent home with their parents before the frenzy truly began.

There was the ice cream at Swensons in Minnesota where my church youth group would congregate after church on Sunday nights. Amidst laughter and fun, shakes and mountains of flavored ice creams were shared as the weekend fun was rehashed and the coming week was anticpated. The garish red wall paper and the gleaming wood and brass of the tables and fixtures remain firmly in my mind, along with the gigantic bowl of flavors that was sat in front of me the last time I was there ... the night of my 17th birthday ... the night before I left Minnesota to move to Texas. Although the night of laughter and fun was bittersweet, the sharing of ice cream and memories was sweet and lasting.

When I was living in Austin, the nanny of a precocious infant/toddler/preschooler, of all the places one could go for ice cream, it was the Dairy Queen that was the best. During those years, nothing fancy was necessary. Simply a sunny afternoon, a child next to me in her car seat, (this was over twenty years ago folks), a trip to the park and a swirled cone of soft serve creamy goodness. Or a gloomy rainy day brightened by a child's laughter when the soft serve swirl was dipped in chocolate to give it a crunchy sweet crust. Who needed fancy dishes and gourmet toppings when they had moments like that to cherish?

Through the years ice cream seems to be a common thread for me, which is kinda funny considering when asked what I want especially for a dessert, it is usually the last thing I think of eating. Yet it fills those moments ... those memories ...

... the pink divinity ice cream that was from Byerlys in Minnesota only at Christmas time ...

... the mini ice cream sandwiches that are passed out at Broken Arrow's Rooster Days parade byt the employees of our local Blue Bell creamery ...

... the Ben & Jerry's that keeps me company during new episodes of Supernatural on Thursday nights (Season Four premieres September 18th on the CW - Woot!) ...

... the rich and creamy dish of Schwann's ice cream as I enjoy a quiet evening at my parents house, watching television and talkng ...

... and tells me that it doesn't really matter what brand of ice cream is being eaten. It's the company, the memory, the moment that is really the most important, the most wonderful part.

The ice cream just makes everything better.

Monday, August 25, 2008

They Can Turn Me Off, But They Can't Shut Me Up!

You know it’s definitely a Monday when you wake up two hours early only to fall back to sleep just before the alarm actually goes off, causing you to hit the snooze button more times than you technically should and the only thing that keeps you from blithely sleeping away the morning is not the sense of duty to get up and go to work but the nagging knowledge that there is a child who needs to go to school (not WANTS, just NEEDS – there is a difference).

You know it’s definitely a Monday when you arrive to work after having a been off the previous Thursday and Friday and your residents decide to not recognize the fact that you were not here and expect you to be completely omniscient to their situations (and immediately have the solutions) the exact minute that you rush through the front door of the office six minutes late because of the previous waking up early/hitting the snooze button situation.

(It should be noted here that while YOUR arrival to work was late – the child was early getting to school. Go figure.)

You know it’s definitely a Monday when your computer advises you that it is unable to display your connected webpage – the webpage that includes all the work that you need access to for the current day, as well as to get caught up from the vacation days that you are now wondering why you felt the need to take them.

You know it’s definitely a Monday when you are forced to speak to a machine when calling your internet provider – a machine which does not seem to catch the snarkastic way you reply to it’s automatic questions, nor catches the snide comments made under your breath and which reaffirms to your soul that while these businesses may claim to be customer friendly but they are in fact not, for if they were customer friendly they would spend the minimum wage necessary to allow you to speak to an actual person who actually may know something.

Then again.

You know it’s definitely a Monday when you are finally allowed to speak directly to an actual person at the number you dial for your internet provider and you find that the person to whom you are speaking is in a different country altogether and you try desperately to remain polite, because you really need assistance getting back online, as you turn up your volume and listen as intently as possible and still have to have everything repeated at least three times in order to understand through the accent what is being said, all the while trying to figure out whether the other person is just a genius at understanding your accent or are they just getting lucky at their attempts in interpreting what you are trying to get assistance with or are they simply helping you with a problem which is not actually your problem.
(At this point, the vote could go in any direction, however the odds were heavy in favor of selection number three.)

You definitely know it’s a Monday when the physical person on the other end of your phone call to your internet service provider finally advises you that your number is a part of a “group outage” that began at approximately 9:47am causing you to snort with the insane laughter of one who is beginning to feel the slide over into the land of Insane Monday because you have been attempting to get onto the internet since 8:30am and it is now 10:12am and you were on hold and talking to animated voice machines from other countries for the last 36 minutes of your morning before you even had the opportunity to attempt to decipher the accent from the other end of the planet.

You definitely know it’s a Monday when the physical person on the other end of your phone call to your internet service provider advises you that the “group outage” is expected to be corrected by 2pm and, if it is not connected back up at the time that your day is two-thirds over and you've yet to accomplish anything remotely resembling catching up from last week's vacation days, to please give them a call back and allow them the opportunity to help you further which finally snaps the small modicum of control that you still had in your grasp as you snidely question aloud to the individual around the earth in another country who may or may not be understanding a bit of what you are trying to say the fact that that means that you will not be able to complete any work on your internet based programming, thus causing a standstill in your work production for another four hours and the physical person’s response becomes suspiciously similar to that of the animated voice machine you originally spoke with at the beginning of your phone call when they reply “that is correct however please call us back if your service is not connected after 2pm and thank you so much for calling AT&T and we look forward to continuing to help you in the future.”

Yeah. Right.

You definitely know it’s a Monday when you decide that they may take away your internet for a time but that doesn’t stop the words from coming. You just have to be more creative in getting them down and saving them until they can be posted.

And with the posting of the words, the frustration can be released.

And with the release of the frustration, harmony can be restored.

And with harmony restored, the rest of Monday can be faced.

And you know it’s definitely a Monday when you decide to relax and “go with the flow”, attempting to get other work done that is not internet based but your first post insane conversation with internet provider phone call is from an individual wishing to come visit your building, to see about an apartment for their elderly parent, that is hopelessly lost and needing assistance and they don’t seem to understand the straightforward, simple directions that you have given out for the last 9-1/2 years to everyone else that has been able to follow them without trouble and you finally try to assist by looking up where they think they are located in relation to where you are at that exact moment in order to perhaps give even more specific directions, only to find that they are sitting in the parking lot on the west side of the same church you share a parking lot with on the east side.

You know it’s definitely a Monday when all you can do is lay your head on your desk and laugh.

And laugh.

And laugh.
Oh ... btw ... the internet came back online at 1:22pm, signifying that I should continue to laugh and accept the small blessings. I'm going to need them.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Night at the Opera

This blog entry is dedicated to my eldest girlie.

Band geek that she is, it's no surprise how much my girlie loves music. Our earliest Saturday mornings (and any other time) were spent in repetitious viewings of various Disney "Sing-a-Long" videos. Then came the Disney animated movie Lion King. She and I saw it in the theater atleast 3 times ... I'm thinking it might have been more. From the first moment the sun began to rise on the screen with the opening strains of music, until the very last note was sounded at the end of the credits (seriously - we would watch them to the final end), she would sit in her seat, face rapt, eyes glued to the giant screen, her whole body attuned to everything she saw. Her only movement was when the music would begin for the various songs, as though she were keeping time with the music with her little body.

Did I mention she was 3 years old when Lion King hit the theaters?

The purchase of the video when it later came out became a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it was a guaranteed 90 minutes that she would sit ... motionless ... in one spot ... allowing me the opportunity to accomplish something (cleaning, cooking, dressing, etc.) without a small child in my face "what 'cha doin'?" or "can I do that?" or "I wanna try!". The curse was that in a small apartment there was no place to evade the sound coming from the television and so, no only was every lyric of every song burned into my brain, but for years I could actually recite whole passages of dialogue when given a one word cue.

However, she loved it then ... and 14 years later, she loves it still.

As the years have passed, she has broadened past the Disney genre of musicals. Broadway musicals have since captured her attention. Being a catlover, the musical Cats was one of the first to catch her attention. Others have also struck a chord with her, such as Oklahoma! (naturally).

Recently, I was watching a repeat of Hello Dolly! (the Barbra Streisand movie) on PBS when my girl walked in. Catching the music, you could see it was almost like I had hooked a fish ... she was simply drawn ... eyes and focus totally on the television, she sat and watched ... visually taking in the sight of the costumes and the dancing ... her whole body reacting to the music.

One musical that has totally captured her is Phantom of the Opera. My dvd of the movie version was captured and lost to the realm of her bedroom and dvd player. My CD of the musical highlights was stolen and it's music was ripped and copied to computer and MP3 player. To say that she loved this musical would have been an understatement. So, when the Broadway Company brought the Phantom to our own Tulsa Performing Arts Center this summer, you can imagine the conversations that took place.

"I want to go."

"I know that sweetie."

"No, seriously ... I NEED to see it."

"I understand that darlin'."

"I'm going to die if I can't see it."

No ... there's no drama queen blood running through her veins. Nope. None at all.

For a month, she and I bounced the possibility back and forth, talking about it, trying to determine if it would be possible, scouting seats online and checking prices. Yet money is tight.

The decision came down to this ... do we spend the money to see Phantom of the Opera or do we save the money and spend it to take a day trip up to Kansas City in October and see the Broadway production of Lion King?

Yeah ... that was a tough one. I did mention, didn't I, that the child has adored Lion King since it's inception when she was THREE YEARS OLD?!

After grumbling and mumbling, and may I say a VERY nice moment of pouting (the child could win awards with the way she tucks that lip when she pouts) ... my girlie was the one to make the decision. We would save our money and try to see Lion King.

Then a local television show ... one of those "what's going on in Tulsa" type programs ... announced they were going to give away two tickets to Phantom of the Opera.

Got any ideas what might have happened next? To say that she was DETERMINED to win these tickets would ... again ... be an understatement. She WAS going to win. She and I were going to see Phantom of the Opera. That was the only thing she would accept. There would be no alternative. Failure was not an option, was not something she was going to even begin to think about.

Do you know that she did it? Yep. With the help of speed dial and some assistance from her mom, my girlie won two tickets to see her first Broadway musical live and in person. Her glee was simply infectious.

We went.

It was a warm Tuesday night, but there was a nice breeze. As Baby made her way on the highway towards downtown Tulsa, my girlie kept up a constant chatter. Excitement seemed to shimmer off of her face and thread it's way through her voice. Even when the conversation actually veered away from the upcoming musical, you could still see and hear her anticipation. It was like a cloak surrounding her and she was holding it close.

We parked. She picked the lot. There were actually a couple closer that cost the same amount but I think that one was picked because it was closest to where we were and she suddenly needed to be out of Baby and heading into the theater. It was her night, so I just laughed and parked and locked up my Baby as my girlie grabbed my hand and began tugging me towards the theater.

She skipped. It was only once but she did. It was as though all of her delight simply could not be contained in a simple walk as we approached the doors amidst the crowd of other theater goers. I swear her face was actually glowing and my only curse on the evening was for the fact that I failed to take a picture of her under the marquee proclaiming it was now showing "PHANTOM OF THE OPERA".

We stopped and I purchased programs for both of us. She clutched hers tight to her chest. It was so evident that she wanted to look at it right then, but knew we needed to get inside.

We made our way to our seats. They were actually really good ones, up on the mezzanine but the stage was clear and easy to view. The nosebleed section was still further above us.

As soon as we sat, the programs were devoured. Having seen the movie, my girlie knew the basic story. Her biggest concern was how they were going to do water on the stage for the scenes under the opera house. (I should point out here that I had actually already seen the Broadway production in Dallas. It was in March of 1993 but I remembered it still like it was yesterday.) I simply smiled at her and told her to watch and see.

As the musicians began to warm up, my young band geek emerged and she began to explain to me the number of musicians in an orchestra for something like this, letting me know it was a flute warming up, giving me tidbits on piccalo players needing earplugs when they practice because of the shrill notes, and so on. I recognized the nervous chatter for what it was - a passing of the time before THE EVENT. I enjoyed it.

After a brief introduction and some announcements by a theater official, the lights dimmed and the play began. From the first note of the Overture, I couldn't help but feel her exuberance. She practically trembled. Sitting forward in her seat, leaning slightly towards the stage, face rapt, eyes glued ... the soon-to-be 17 year old reflected all the intensity of that 3 year old watching Lion King, the movie, so many years ago.

Watching her became as much fun as watching the activity on the stage. When the fog began to flow and the shimmer of candles began their watery effect across the shining stage, it was easy to believe that they had flooded the stage with water for the scenes of the labyrinth under the opera house. The comic moments were enjoyed, the cacophony of the singers during the "Notes/Prima Donna" scene in the managers office was mind-boggling, the crashing of the beautiful chandelier was amazing, the breathtaking beauty of the masquerade ball was entrancing, the heart pounding of the Phantom's own heartbreak during "The Point of No Return" and the subsequent chase back underground was simply incredible. The word "timeless" is so apt for this musical.

It was ... simply put ... beautiful - both visually and musically. Words fail to convey what the eyes and ears witnessed.

My girlie's face said it all though. With shining eyes and glowing smile, she was able to convey what words would fail.

She loved it. It was an experience that will last for a very long time. The fact that I was witness to it was a blessing and a memory I will forever hold close in my heart.

Right next to the one of a 3 year old in a dark theater watching animated animals sing and dance about the Circle of Life.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Questions, Answers, and Bugs Dying Feet

My house is a place were bugs come to die.

It's true.

What's more, it doesn't bother me in the least.

As much as I love my little house, I recognize it's faults. There are many. Yet, it is a rental house and there is only so much that I can do, and so much that I can seem to get my landlord to do. One such fault that I simply can't fix by myself and, evidently, is not deemed to be of great importance to the man who owns the house is the fact that there are multitudes of little cracks and crevices that allow the little many legged creatures access to my living space. It's an older house and it has settled, the windows and doors just aren't as tight as they used to be.

So I compensate as best I can by laying a trail, inside and out of "bug killer". I do it each spring, and generally follow it up in the summer and fall. Bugs don't bother me in their natural habitat. If those grasshoppers want to live in the field across the street, I say "more power to them!". If those ants and beetles and june bugs and spiders and crickets and other creepy crawlies want to live out in my yard or garden, well ... hey! Grass and plants are nature, insects are nature, I say let them live hand in hand.


Inside my house is not where I want to find something more than a creature that stands on two legs. Unless I finally give into the growing temptation and add a small four legged canine creature to my household. I'm the one that pays the rent on this domicile, not them and therefore - since they won't leave when asked - I say, "Die Bug, Die!".

Does this make me a bad person?

Eh! Sorry. Not really caring.

So ... here's what happens ... bugs come in ... they cross, of their own choosing, the barrier that I have invisibly erected around the perimeter of my living room, my kitchen, my hallway, my bedrooms and they believe in their little insect minds that they have it made, that they have survived. But they don't. With the exception of a pesky slug that kept finding ways around my barrier of salt, they all tend to die fairly quickly.

Now there are the occasional crickets and "doodle bugs" that have, over the years, been rescued by some youthful girlies (The same ones who screech and jump up onto the couch, chairs, counters, etc. if a spider looks at them askance from the doorway 10 feet away, but we won't mention that now, will we?) and tossed back to their natural habitat of the outdoors. But these are few, and far between. Generally ... the bugs ... they die.

Nothing could make me happier.

Yet, here's where my mind has wandered this morning (yes, there is actually a reason, a thought behind these words I'm putting to paper - computer - whatever - this morning) and has me writing.

Why do bugs die with their feet in the air?


They're crawling along and their time is up and they somehow manage to flip themselves over onto their backs, sticking their tiny little legs up into the air. Crickets do it. "Doodle bugs" do it. Those little black "I don't know WHAT the heck they are but they annoy the crap out of me" bugs do it. They all do. Why?

I realize that this may seem like a childish question, but can someone tell me why?

Today we have the wonderful internet and we can "Ask Jeeves" these questions, or we can do a "Google Search" and look up these subjects and find the answers to our questions. Children are always asking the "why?" question ... "Why is the sky blue?" ... "Why is fire yellow?" ... "Why do feet smell, even when you've been walking in water puddles?" Yes, they are always looking for answers. It's what keeps them learning, keeps them searching - expanding their horizons. As much as we grownups dread the "why?" questions, children need to ask them and we need to respond with as much truth and information as we deem their youthful minds can accept, given their ages and maturity.

Yet we don't always have the answers. Hence falling back on the wonderful world of "Ask Jeeves", Google, and Wikipedia, et. al. Hopefully answers can be located there. However, we didn't always have the internet. What did parents do before the internet? Lie? Make up answers? Continually go to the library?

Play the chase game of "Go ask your father", which would, inevitably result in the "Go ask your mother" response?

Books were where the fountain of knowledge lay during those *mumblemumble* years ago. I remember when my parents got our first set of World Book Encyclopedias. This huge selection of green and white books that came filled with all this information. They also got the series of Childcraft books that went along with the encyclopedias - books filled with stories, music, poems, crafts, useful learning tools for children. The standard answer to our "why?" questions in our house for my brother and I became ... "Did you look it up?" Placed on the "easily reachable by childish hands" shelving in our family's den, the encyclopedias took their place with the dictionaries and other reference books that my parents had collected over the years. During the school year, these books would wander from those shelves to the couch or the bedroom or the table ... where ever homework was being done or answers were being seeked.

A couple years after the arrival of the encyclopedias came four books that were truly fun and amazing ... they were the "Tell Me Why" books. These books were great. You could literally look up questions and find answers. At the time, I accepted them for what they were - something fun and interesting to read or to find answers. I was a kid. I didn't realize what a book such as that entailed - the formatting of questions into sections to find easier, the compilation of thousands of childish questions and their answers written for youthful understanding.

For me, and my little brother, they were just really cool books - paper and words bound together. From our earliest days, we both loved to read and these books were not only interesting and entertaining, but also filled with facts and knowledge and information. How wonderfully sneaky were our parents to provide something to teach us while we were entertained, yet be safe and secure in the fact that the information we were receiving was not something damaging, something that was not wholesome, was not bad for us?

Today, children have questions and are sent to the computer, to the internet, to these websites that may contain the information that they need but may also provide further information that youthful minds simply don't need to have. This frightens me in so many ways for our children of today. Make no mistake, I love the world of the internet and I make use of it daily. I love the quick access to the information that I desire. During times of homework, projects (gotta LOVE those science projects, history projects, geography projects), and just plain questions - the internet has provided a source of answers for my girlies when all my brain could come up with is "I don't know". However, it is my responsibility as the adult to make certain that they are accessing sites that provide only the information that they need and not something that young eyes, minds, and hearts do not need to witness or read.

That's a responsibility I don't take lightly. I just wish that more adults would think the same way because it breaks my heart when I hear a five year old discussing topics in graphic fashion. A five year old should not know the complete details of how a baby is made and how it arrives to this world. A seven year old does not need to learn the details of how sex is performed. An eight year old should not have access to information on how to construct a weapon or bomb.

What's my point about this, you ask? Simply this ... even though it is easier to just send a child to the computer when they ask the "why?" question, we can't just allow them to do that. We, as adults, need to know what they are reading is appropriate for the ages and maturity level that they have acheived. We need to allow our children to remain children and not allow them to become tiny grown ups. We need to remember that children should be playing outside with a rubber ball, with an umbrella in the rain - making their feet stinky in the puddles.

Of course, this is just my viewpoint. Children are going to ask questions ... it's just a natural part of childhood. It's up to us to determine the response that they receive, the amount of information that they need to have to satisfy their curiosity. Shouldn't we know where the answers to our children's questions are coming from?

Personally, I'd rather answer the question of "why do bugs die with their feet in the air?" than "why did Timmy shoot our teacher?".

Maybe because there the answers to some questions don't come in a book, or the internet because they are questions that children simply shouldn't have to ask. But then, maybe that's just me.

Oh ... btw ... according to John Meyer, entomolgy professor at North Carolina State University, it is believed that bugs die with their feet in the air is not intended but rather, a result of the fact that the insecticide affects their nervous system and so their coordination declines and they are unable to right themselves if they get turned over due to a breeze, a fall, a bump from another bug, etc. I should probably feel sorry for them that I am affecting their nervous system ... but ... I'm not.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mind Numbing or Something More

We don't have a postage machine in my office.
Normally, it's no big deal. We only average 3 or 4 outgoing letters a day, usually. However there is one week a month that we not only send out an average of 20+ letters a day, but each of those letters is enclosed with a self-addressed stamped envelope. So, technically the 20+ is, actually, 40+.

Why am I telling you this?

So you will understand when every once in awhile I have the job of restocking my supply of self-addressed stamped envelopes. Every few months I spend a mindless hour, labeling and stamping 100+ envelopes. It's not my favorite job ... in fact, it's rather mind numbing. I try to do it when I'm alone in the office and I can either play some music or set my computer to view a Supernatural episode on http://www.cwtv.com/. It's not like I'm not working ... my hands are continually busy ... I simply need something to concentrate on before I fall asleep. Did I mention this is a mind numbing task.

Unfortunately, there are days when my computer speakers decide they don't want to work. Call the Winchester boys and get the holy water and rock salt shotguns, because there's an evil spirit in my speakers which decides at the most inopportune times when it thinks I don't need to listen to something.

Today was just such a day.

No speakers mean no music to while away the dreary. No speakers mean no Supernatural episode dialogue to take away the boredom. *sigh*

Wouldn't you know this would happen on the day when I need to do double the amount of return envelopes because this is the month that I have double the normal amount of letters to send out??

Have I mentioned before that me and Murphy's Law ... we are just THAT tight??

After affixing the address labels to 200 envelopes, my wrist and elbow have begun screaming with the repetitive motion and my mind has wandered from emails that I need to write, to blogs I want to start, to cards I need to send, to lists I need to make. Unfortunately, I can't stop to write these things down as that simply prolongs the amount of time I have to spend sitting here ... at my desk ... peeling a label from the printed sheet ... placing the label on the top envelope on the stack ... taking the top envelope off the stack and moving to another "completed" stack ... going back to the printed sheet ... peeling a label ... well ... you get the idea.

See what I mean about mind-numbing??

Once the labels are attached and I have spent 15 minutes frantically trying to figure out which latin exorcism will remove the evil spirit from my computer speaker system to no avail, I restack my 200 envelopes and begin applying stamps.

I open up my new rolls of .42 cent stamps and begin applying. After the first 25 envelopes, I began to actually look at these new stamps. After the next 25 envelopes, I begin to actually realize what I'm seeing when I look at these new stamps. After the next 25 stamps, I have the pattern of these new stamps going through my mind. After the next 25 stamps I have begun to fully understand the meaning of these new stamps.
Did the postal system truly create these new stamps in the vision that I was seeing them or was it just my numbed mind latching onto something? I can't tell you that, cause I'm not employed by the U.S. Postal System. What I can share with you is what I saw as I repeatedly affixed 200 stamps to 200 envelopes.

I saw a stamp with the flag of our nation flying high in the morning's first light.

I saw a stamp with the flag of our nation flying high in the bright blue of the afternoon sky.

I saw a stamp with the flag of our nation flying high in the glow of the evening's setting sun.

I saw a stamp with the flag of our nation flying high in the shine of the moon overhead during the night.

The flag of our nation ... flying high ... over and over through countless mornings, afternoons, evenings and nights as depicted on these new stamps, just as it does in life.

Each morning that we wake up, free to determine the path of our day, our nation's flag is flying high.

Each afternoon that we go about our business, free to make choices, our nation's flag is flying high.

Each evening that we return to our homes, free to decide how to spend our time, our nation's flag is flying high.

Each night that we tuck our children in their beds, free to plan their futures, our nation's flag is flying high.

Continuously flying day and night, never ceasing, it can be seen leading troops into battle, it can be seen high atop our capital buildings, it can be seen on flagpoles scattered throughout the nation in front of businesses and private homes. It is our nation's flag and it represents the continual freedoms that we, as United States citizens, so often take for granted.

June 14th is Flag Day ... the day we celebrate the flag of the United States of America as adopted by resolution of the Second Continental Congress in 1777.

We see it every day in countless ways ... postage stamps, flying from a flag pole, on bumper stickers, emblems on t-shirts, emblazoned on buildings, and so on ... and sometimes we forget.

June 14th is Flag Day ... the day we need to remember ...

I pledge alligence to the flag
Of the United States of America
And to the Republic, for which it stands,
One Nation,
Under God,
With liberty and justice for all.