Friday, April 30, 2004

The "Weekend Assignment"

Okay, it's weekend assignment time again and I'm not going to be late with this one.  Nothing too deep from this gal:

Worst Advice ever received?  From my best friend in high school.  "Don't go out with him.  He's bad, no good.  He smokes in the boy's room!"  He is my husband of almost 30 years!

Worst Advice given:  Honestly can't think of any, I try hard not to give unsolicited advice.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

A Whole New Education

Flashback to 1971, a very important year for me.  I graduated from high school, got engaged on my 18th birthday and I found myself in business school.  I had neither the desire nor inclination to go to college.  My parents, regardless, were adamant that all of their children have some form of education, be it college or trade school in order to have a skill to fall back on through life.  And so it was that a mere two weeks or so following high school graduation, I embarked upon the next phase of my education at the Nancy Taylor School of Business. 

This school offered three different areas from which to choose--secretarial, airline or fashion merchandising.  I had no flair for fashion, I certainly didn't want to be winging all over creation away from my own true love.  This narrowed the choice down to a secretarial path which was fine with me because I had discovered in high school that I had a hidden talent for shorthand and I typed fairly well.

Nancy Taylor was the kind of school in which the time it took to graduate depended upon the time it took to complete the necessary requirements.  This could take anywhere from nine to eighteen months, or more if needed.  I received my secretarial degree in February the following year.

This was a good school with a good reputation but actually attending it was quite an experience.  Remember now, it was 1971-72, life was becoming more casual, the Vietnam war was slowly winding down, drugs, hippies and the quest for peace and love was everywhere.  The majority of girls who showed up for class the first day had just come from at least four years of wearing skirts and dresses long enough to barely cover their bottoms!  They wore their hair long, straight, parted in the middle, simply hanging down.

Those days were over--during school hours anyway.  I suppose the idea was to simulate a working day in the office.  Our skirts or dresses had to be no shorter than four inches above the knee.  If the Dean suspected otherwise, you would find yourself on your knees with a ruler held against you to prove otherwise.  Stockings were required at all times and you'd better be prepared with a spare in the event of a "run" or home you'd be sent to change them.  Our hair had to be worn "up" at all times.  Now, none of us had ever worn our hair up, save for those"explosions in a mattress factory" hairdos that some of us showed up with at proms for some reason which I have yet to fathom!  Consequently, we all piled our hair unceremoniously on top of our heads; the result being that we resembled a league of Irish washer-women.  The final touch was, and I kid you not, the requirement to wear short white gloves when outdoors.  Essentially, this meant from our cars to the building in the morn and back to the cars in the afternoon.  Talk about archaic!  That was enough!!  This institute clearly had not caught up with the seventies.

Mixed in with classes of shorthand, typing, English, general business skills, etc. was charm class.  This was the icing on the cake!  We learned how to sit, stand, walk, talk, how to go up and down stairs.  It was unreal and, in retrospect, wildly amusing.  I remember the room being circular, lined with mirrors, lots of purple and a runway.  Yes!  A runway; a miniature version of what you see on any beauty pageant program.  Our "charm" teacher would walk around the room as she spoke and she NEVER took her eyes off herself in the mirror.  I guess this was where I was supposed to learn that "mirror talk" that some women do in the ladies' room.  They don't look at you while they're talking; they look and talk to your reflection!  I never perfected that dreadful skill; guess I would've received an "F"!

Monday, April 26, 2004

This and That

And I am frustrated too!  Sometimes I think this whole computer business is getting the upper hand on me and I musn't let that happen.  This is supposed to be for pleasure, right?  I just knew it was a fluke that I managed to get my picture so nicely into the beginning of my 4/18/04 entry.  I have no idea how on earth I did it which is obvious when you look at the miserable rendition of the picture that appears on "House on the Hill". 

Being able to view this house properly was an integral part of the entry.  You can't imagine the anguish and frustration I went through to get that picture in there.  There's got to be a secret to it that I'm just not yet privy to.  If I were I great writer, the time and effort I put into that attempt might have netted me the Pulitzer Prize for the great novel I could've written in the same time frame.  LOL!  Maybe someone can give me some pointers and if so, please remember to spell it out like you're talking to a beginner.  I've noticed that there are a lot of nice people out there in Journal Land who are very willing to help.  That's really wonderful and makes for a terrific resource.

Wish me luck!

The Second Best of Everything

As is usually the case, I'm a little slow on the uptake but this little "assignment" from John sounds fun.  Hope it's not too late--ah, it's never too late for most things!

My personal list of second favorites:

Movie:  This was very hard.  It's a toss-up between "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir", a beautiful, extremely romantic film with Gene Tierney and Rex Harrision and "Now, Voyager" , a real tear-jerker with the indomitable Bette Davis.

Book:  Another toughie (there are so many) but possibly it's "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith.  Fascinating, well written story of life in the slums of Brooklyn circa 1902 to 1919.  Great story and quite an education.

Album:  I guess it has to be "Private Dancer" by Tina Turner.  I want to be Tina Turner (past the Ike stage, that is).

Teacher:  Allan Irons, my choir director through all four years of high school.  A tough taskmaster who demanded nothing less than the best and usually got it.

Ice Cream Flavor:  There's no bad flavor but how about coffee

Comfort Food:  Easy.  Homemade macaroni and cheese but I can't eat this any more; can't eat cheese now and reduced fat or non-fat versions don't work in this.

Celebrity Crush:  Liam Neeson, great face, great voice

Cartoon Character:  Pepe Le Pew, he's so romantic and such an optimist--reminds me of my husband

Favorite Way to Relax:  Check out Musings of a Naturist!


Saturday, April 24, 2004

The House on the Hill

I love my little house very much.  We've lived in it for 19 happy years, by far the longest I've ever lived in one place.  However, the house pictured above is my most favorite of all the places I've called home.  There have been eight in all.  Unfortunately, this picture did not transfer very well to show its true beauty.

My parents bought this house back in 1964 for less than $20,000.  Can you imagine that?  I was 11 years old and I still remember thinking, wow! I'll be able to buy a house of my own one day with no problem when I grow up.  My, how things changed.  My mother wanted to move to more rural surroundings as the home of my early youth was gradually being hemmed in by developments all around.  We ended up in a rural spot alright, out in the middle of nowhere on top of a hill.  I wasn't too gung-ho about this move because I was not only leaving the only home I had ever known, I was also leaving my best friend of almost six years.

As luck would have it, I happened to be along on a ride with my parents when they went to check out this house with a realtor.  This was a serendipitous event because it turned out that the house my folks had originally decided to buy had already been sold unbeknownst to the realtor.  "Not to worry," said he, "Have something to show you just up the road".  Up the road we went and there was this house situated not too far back from the road which was very common for old houses back east. 

This house was around 200 years old (in l964) and sat on three acres of land which went mostly uphill at the back of the house.  I remember stumbling around the property picking my way over piles of brush, diligently trying to keep up with the realtor and my parents.  Finally, we were shown inside.  It was a two-story house.  In the living room was a fireplace huge enough to roast an ox.  At least that's how it looked to my young eyes.  My mother, a great wood-gatherer and fire builder from way back, took one look at that magnificent fireplace and said, "we'll take it."

The new house and property turned out to be a wonderful place to play.  There were little natural springs all over the area.  My mother went to work outdoors with a great will and cleared away the brush and debris; she was in her element!  She created little connecting paths that ran every which way.  It was so beautiful.

There was even a little spring that ran through the cellar which had mostly a dirt floor.  This sounds strange but I don't remember it being a problem.  The door to the original house which, of course, was now the cellar was still there.  It was a large, thick door with a piece of bubbly, old-fashioned glass at the top and wooden pegs could be seen which had been used instead of nails.  I thought this was really something special.  And it was.

This is the house that witnessed the blossoming of a very young romance into a full-blown relationship which has lasted for almost 34 years.  My husband and I were married in the living room in front of the fireplace of this marvelous house just about ten years after I moved in.

When my dad retired and my paents sold this house in 1976 and moved to California, it was a real heartache to see it disappear from our lives.  I received this picture a little over a year ago from a dear friend who had been in the area and thought I might like to see how it looked now.  The color is different and lots of improvements have been made but it hasn't lost one bit of its charm. 

It's very comforting to me to know that someone bought it and obviously loved it enough to take such good care of it.  It's certainly possible to fall in love with a house.

Thursday, April 22, 2004


And so, thirty years later, I realize that I did extremely well achieving my personal desires and goals after all.  I married a man who loves me with passionate intensity.  I live in my own house in one of the most desirable areas of the USA.  I have two wonderful children who, thus far, have caused me no major grief.  (My husband's brother had the twins, thank you very much!)  My husband is gainfully employed in a Monday through Friday job working agreeable hours.  I suppose the only fly in the ointment of my life if that I must still continue to work.  I often wish I didn't have to but then I think that if I didn't, I'd probably spend more time than is good for me on the computer and nothing would get done!

When the time came for me to go back to work, I ran into a dilemma.  My prior working experience had been in the secretarial field.  A lot had changed in that area, not the least being the introduction of computers, word processing andd oh, so many complicated things of which I was completely ignorant.  I was truly out of the loop!  I would've had to go back to school to get an up-to-date education.  This would've cost us money and the idea was to try to bring some money into the household, not spend more.  The business world was all I knew.  I had no special skills.  I wasn't in the least bit artistic and the horrifying idea of starting up a day-care was totally out of the question.  So what to do?  My older sister came to my rescue.  She said, "I know what you can do.  You can come work with me". 

"You've got to be kidding," I replied.  My sister worked as a nursing assistant (the best) in a convalescent hospital.  I dreaded the place so much that if I had a message for her, I'd leave it under a windshield wiper of her car in the parking lot rather than go in there.  I wouldn't be caught dead working in a place like that!  I'm not exactly sure how it happened but not long after this, she convinced me to spend a day at work shadowing her to check it out.  Permission was granted and I did so.  The result of this was that I agreed to try working there for a month.  A person could stand anything for a month, couldn't they?

I worked there for six and a half years.  I had the most wonderful teacher in my sister and got my nursing assistant certification.  Much to my surprise, I found I had an inborn knack for this kind of work.  I was voted Employee of the Year in 1992.  Who'd have thunk it?!  It was the hardest job I've ever had both physically and emotionally and I learned volumes about the senior population and myself. 

Living proof that you never know what you can do until you give it a try.  No one was more surprised than I.


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Mourning the Demise of Donna Reed, Mrs. Cleaver and the like

Speaking of what I'd like to be when I grow up, all I ever wanted was to be a homemaker and raise a family.  I grew up in a close, loving family and my parents were excellent role models.  They made it look so easy.  I liked what I saw and wanted a stab at it.  A few obstacles reared their ugly heads along the way to my heart's desire.

All the time my siblings and I were growing up, my mother was fortunate enough (and her family even more so) to be able to stay home and raise her family.  The economy was such that she didn't need to go off to work to help pay the bills.  We were far from wealthy but I don't remember ever lacking for anything and I always felt very comfortable and well cared for.

This was such a happy environment that I, too, wanted to be a homemaker--never a housewife.  I believe these days this rare breed refers to itself as a domestic engineer!  I wanted at least three children, perhaps twins.  Shall we pause for a moment and say together, ignorance is bliss?  I wanted to have my own little house and yard and marry a man who'd love me and have a secure nine to five, Monday through Friday job.  This is the background in which I grew up and this is the life I sought.

A funny thing happened on the way to my adulthood and life as a newlywed.  Due to a myriad of circumstances, the economy went haywire and many of my rosy dreams crumbled like so much dust.  Women were flowing out into the work force in droves and before too long, it became necessacry for both husband and wife to hold down jobs in order to pay the monthly bills, mortgage, car payment, etc.  This was unless, of course, you happened to marry a person who was already financially secure.

I already had a job when I got married and I continued to work for the next four years until my first child was born.  I well remember being told by my co-workers, "oh, you'll be so bored.  You'll be back to work in no time!"  I listened and smiled pleasantly but I knew this would not be the case for me.  I had the joy and privilege of staying home for the next 12 years.  So I did indeed have the opportunity to realize my dream.  I have never understood the reasoning behind going off to work to make money to pay someone else to take care of your child if you don't have to.  Ah, but I know there are a great many women who love to work and wanted a career and find great fulfillment therein.  I've never been one of these women.  Two years after my second child was born, I had to wrench myself from the pleasant at-home life and go back to work and have had to do so ever since.

In deference to my title of this entry and my mother, while she was a stay-at-home mom, she was nothing remotely  similar to either Donna Reed or June Cleaver!  To have anyone think otherwise would be a huge defamation of her unique and most wonderful character. 

Monday, April 19, 2004

All Grown Up?

Before I write anything else, I simply have to address one little subject.  I am both amused and provoked (and a little bit in awe) of the counter in the little box that accompanies journals in order to record "this journal has been read ___ times since its creation, etc."

It seems to represent a degree of popularity but it's such a bogus number.  How can it possibly be an accurate count when it records each time the author of the journal brings it up onscreen to check, add or edit an entry, whatever in addition to people who click on to check it out?  This makes no sense to me!

And yes, I'm well aware I have the option to delete said counter from my journal but I guess I'm a sucker for punishment and I'm hoping to see some numbers accumulate on mine as well.

You know how lots of people say, "when I grow up, I'm going to be such and such"?  These are grown people and it makes me wonder when do we really feel grown up, if ever?  I know that I'm still waiting for that day.  A really big clue is the day when the bills waiting to be picked up in the mailbox are addressed to you!  This still doesn't mean that you feel grown up, however.  I'm still waiting for that lightening bolt to hit me.

I'm still waiting to look grown up too.  I'm patiently awaiting that magical transformation from the little girl face into the glamorous, ravishing beauty.  When I look in the mirror, I still see the little girl face except she has a few lines on her face, especially around the corners of the eyes.  It's not that I dislike my face.  Not at all.  I just thought a more dramatic change would take place.  You know, something like the difference between Natalie Wood in "Miracle on 34th Street" and Natalie Wood in "Splendor in the Grass".  Is this little girl and grown woman really the same person?!

Could be I was sprinkled with a little pixie dust unbeknownst to me and should take up residence in Neverland.  That wouldn't be so bad!

Sunday, April 18, 2004

A Major Victory

I am so thrilled!!  I just figured out how to do two things with this computer that have had me baffled for ages.  It doesn't take much to make this little camper happy!  The process of creating a link has been eluding me for such a long time.  I was clueless and just recently I clicked onto a journal with "helpful hints, etc." (and boy, do I need them.)  Like so many things, it was ridiculously easy once I read how to do it.  I've been wanting to include a link to my journal(s) on my profile page and now, at last, I have done it.

Figuring out how to insert a picture has been a challenge as well.  I just seemed to fall into the process of how to do this as soon as I conquered the link battle.  Minor problem here is that I'm not quite sure exactly how I got this picture in here but I'm confident that if I did it once, I can do it again.

All of you out there who are completely competent with all the options a computer has to offer are either shaking your heads with disbelief or have dissolved into fits of laughter from which you may never recover.  That's okay.  You were all novices once, right?

As to the picture, it's a recent one I had my daughter take in case I ever figured out the "insert picture" mystery.  I just wanted to have one ready to use!

Less Sleep = Greater Existence

I'm up bright and early before the crackodawn (another great dinosaur that once roamed the Earth) after a night spent alternating between freezing to death one minute and feeling as if I were going to melt into a puddle of heated humanity the next.  Ah, the mystique of menopause!  So far, it's not so bad but that hot flash/cold chill thing does a bang-up job of disrupting what was once a good night's sleep.

Actually, early awakening is not completely foreign to me.  For years, I've had to wake up early to go to work.  My inner clock is primed and set to go off very early every day.  It used to be that on my days off, I would be happy to stay in bed for as long as possible.  It didn't matter if I were sleeping or not; just to snuggle down in the warmth and comfort of the blankets, drifting in and out of sleep was a favorite pastime.  Something strange happened to me once I turned 50, however.  I found I didn't need the nine or so hours of sleep which I steadfastly maintained for years was crucial to my well-being.

Turning 50 was a wake-up call for me.  I saw myself in the glass of life and that glass was most definitely no longer half full!  I discovered I didn't want to loll in bed and waste time from a day off from work lest, of course, there was good reason to tarry a bit longer (wink!).  I realize these may seem like ponderous thoughts at the mere age of 50 but I'm already feeling the weeks, months and years zipping by with terrifying speed. 

Time has become a most precious commodity and I have a compelling desire to make the most of what's left for me.

Note to entry:  When I began typing this, it really was bright and early.  4:30 AM to be exact.  Before I could finish this entry, I was bumped off the page twice and had to start all over.  Good thing for me my short-term memory's still intact! LOL

Saturday, April 17, 2004

A New Beginning

Now that I've followed steps A through Z to create this plaything, I'm exausted.  The beginning of any journey (read journal) starts with one step.  I've worked a long hard day, I'm tired and now it's time to sit back and enjoy a bite of dinner.  Stay tuned, folks.