Monday, January 24, 2005

Computer Woes

This is just a short note to let everyone (who might care) know that I will be away from both my journals for an undetermined length of time.  My faithful companion, old PC, has bitten the dust and due to a few other problems I'm experiencing at the moment, I'm not sure when I'll be getting a replacement.

I'm going to miss reading the entries of my favorite journals and entering same into my own.  Wish me good thoughts and good luck and I hope to be back soon.



Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Saturday Six

Picture from Hometown

1. You achieve a high level of fame in your chosen career.  Calls begin coming in for interviews...if you could only appear on one of the following shows, which would you select?
A) Today
B) Live! with Regis and Kelly
C) The Daily Show
D) Oprah
E) David Letterman
F) Jay Leno
G) Jerry Springer

D) Oprah

2. You have the opportunity to briefly become another person in another body, then spend 48 hours alone with the real you.  Would you do it?

Fascinating.  Sure I would.  It might be very interesting to see and interact with myself and find out if I'm really as charming as some people have told me I am.  LOL!!

3. You have the opportunity to briefly become another person in another body and live a normal life for 48 hours.  Would you dare to spend two days as a member of the opposite gender?

Even more fascinating.  Yes, I'd be willing to do this if such a thing were possible.  I'm mighty partial to men and it would be a kick to view the world from a man's perspective in a man's body. 

4. Compared to previous years, did you spend more or less money on Christmas gifts?  How soon do you think you'll have all of the bills for Christmas paid off?

I spent more money this past Christmas than I have in several years.  Everything is already paid for--we try very hard to stay away from that evil necessity known as the credit card except when absolutely necessary.  Then it's a Godsend.

5. What is the first toy you remember playing with?

I recall a farm set with a barn, ranch house and the requisite farm animals.  The buildings were made of tin and painted with lots of detail.  There were fences to set up and figures of ranch hands and cowboys (I think) to play with as well.  There was this one little man who was in a seated position and he could be set on the fence as if perching there.  My older sisters always referred to him as "Pickle Pete" and I found this wildly amusing.  I haven't thought about these things in a long, long time.

6. Have you ever downloaded a song or theme song for your cell phone?  If so, which one amuses you most?  If you haven't, but had to pick one, what would it be?

I don't have a cell phone and can't think of a song.




Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Red Jacket

Do you own a particular piece of clothing such as a shirt, a hat, a pair of shoes; something that makes you feel special when you put it on? I am not even close to someone who might be thought of as a clotheshorse but I can lay claim to such a possession and a recently acquired one at that.

I have never been a walking fashion statement and my closet is hardly a reflection of what’s hot--it’s mostly full of what’s not. I have clothes hanging in there that are older than my children. aged 26 and 16 respectively. How many people still have their high school jacket from 35 years ago? I grew up in an area where winters were very cold and waits at the bus stop were very long. This was a very warm coat and I found continued use for it as the perfect camping coat during our camping years when my kids were younger.

Probably 98% of my wardrobe is comprised of second-hand clothes. I have no problem and see no shame in buying and wearing second-hand clothes. This practice is at the top of the recycling pyramid to my way of thinking. The key is knowing what to look for. There are thousands of gently-worn clothes out there from which to choose at our disposal and the price is right. There are some articles of clothing still bearing a price tag, obviously never worn, that get thrown into the mix. Time and patience can uncover some wonderful treasures.

During one of my shopping expeditions during this recent Christmas season, I found myself in an Old Navy store. My daughter was kind enough to chauffeur me around on this particular day. Of course we had to stop here because this is one of her favorite stores. I wandered around the store with her, not paying much attention to much of anything. I hadn’t planned on doing any of my shopping there. I was merely killing time, waiting for my daughter.

And then I saw it! Across the crowded room, a bright cardinal red, fitted pea jacket was beckoning to me. I swear to you it was calling my name. "Come over here. Try me on. You know you want to". I was in a playful, holiday mood and had nothing else to do so I succumbed immediately, dashed over to the display where it was hanging and began to get acquainted with this woolen beauty. I felt of its material, I stroked its lapels and before I knew what was happening, darned if it wasn’t off the hanger and on my body. There I was, buttoning it up, tying the sash and grinning at myself in the mirror like a besotted idiot. This was one snazzy jacket and damn! if it didn’t fit me like a glove and look great on me. Oh yes, this was love of the worst kind, the material kind.

My daughter found me before too long and remarked, "nice coat, Ma. Why don’t you buy it?"

"Oh no!" came the automatic reply. "I can’t do that. I’m shopping for Christmas presents, not for myself."

"I’ll go in half with you" says she.

Hmmmm...that was a mighty tempting offer to dangle in front of me like the proverbial carrot. Nevertheless with great reluctance, I took off the beautiful, red jacket and hung it back on its hanger and returned it to where I’d found it.

My two children live in very close proximity to each other and are, I suspect, very good friends. Little birds from the same nest tend to communicate with each other on the side. Imagine then my surprise and the utter delight on my face when I opened a gift presented to me from my son on Christmas morning and found that very coat nestled within a nest of tissue. I was so pleased. This was a gift I never knew I wanted so much until I saw it. It fits me as if it were made for me. It provides the perfect degree of warmth on these very cold mornings we’ve been having. It’s stylish, gorgeous and new. It makes me feel happy, upbeat, colorful and very loved when I wear it. The warmth I receive from this coat transcends its material makeup. It’s a very special coat indeed and I’m sure I’ll treasure it for years to come. 

I recently said I don’t wish to look to the future and see where I’ll be but can’t you picture me, years from now, as a willing candidate as a member of the Red Hat Society?  All I need is a hat to match my coat.  This is a group of women whose inspiration is derived from the words of a poem entitled, "Warning" by Jenny Joseph.  Sounds like great fun to me!

Monday, January 10, 2005

A Day of Simple Pleasures Within A Winter Weekend

"Soup" Print

The rain fell off and on in a sporadic manner and dished up such assorted offerings as drizzle, grey skies, glimpses of blue sky, sunshine, ominous clouds and rainbows. Celestial wonders to behold!

I had been given the gift of a rare Saturday off from work which in addition to my regular days off, gave me an unexpected three-day break. This was a grand day--a day wide open to do whatever we want to do, whenever. In this hurry, scurry so-much-to-do in the so- little-time world in which we live, this kind of day was a rare treat. What better thing to do on such a cold, stormy day than to make a big pot of soup together? Along with other delightful conjugal activities, this is what my beloved and I chose to do. My husband has developed the art of creating fantastic soups over the years. We can never decide upon which one is his best but the one we collaborated on today just might win the prize. It’s something like a cross between minestrone and cioppino, made with chicken. Good Lord, it’s fantastic. He concocts and I prep cook. It’s a well choreographed waltz we perform in the kitchen, neatly sidestepping each other as needed. We work well in the kitchen together which I believe, like a happy, long lasting union, is a rare thing.

This was a simple pleasure, easily achieved, but full of the stuff from which memories are made. Once the soup was done, dinner was easily pulled together. We made our standard olive oil dip into which to dip a slice of crusty bread. We opened a bottle of red wine which my daughter and son-in-law gave to my husband for his birthday (in addition to the kitty). Our son went to work for the evening and my beloved and I enjoyed this soup of his creation, the bread and the wine beside a cozy fire burning warmly and comfortingly in the fireplace. A movie tonight? No. Instead, we listened to themusic of decades past; music we listened to as we fell in love. I’ve often read that smells carry a person back to a time and a place within their memory. For me, it is music; a song, an album. I hear the song and I am right back there reliving how I felt and what I was doing when first I heard the music. Truly, this works like magic for me. It refreshes and revives my memories about how I felt when I was 16, 21, 25 and so on up to the present. I think it’s important to keep these memories alive and well. I don’t want to ever forget how I felt when I was first swept away by that initial gigantic wave in the sea of love; water in which I’m still happily treading. When I hear the songs from my blossoming adolescence, I fall in love just a little more deeply. Evidently, there’s no end to this madness...and that’s very, very wonderful!

Sunday, January 9, 2005

Saturday Six

Time once again to play a rousing game of Patrick's Saturday Six!

Picture from Hometown

1. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #38:  If you could live in a foreign country(or city) for one year, which would you choose and why?

I think I might like to live in Australia for a year, somewhere along the coastline.  This would be far enough away to be quite an adventure and english is spoken so I wouldn't have to deal with learning a new language (I have no talent for this).  Maybe, just maybe I'd get my fill of that wonderful Australian accent!

2. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #39:  Did you have a security blanket, stuffed animal or toy that you were attached to as a child?  Do you still have it?

One Easter morning I awoke to the sight of a beautiful, fluffy blue bunny sitting next to my Easter Basket.  I was very young and it was love at first sight.  He (of course it was a he, no doubt about it) went everywhere with me--into the woods, up trees, in the car, to bed.  I was so original back then and gave him the coy name of "Rabbi".  He moved with me into my new home when I married.  He journeyed with me to California and a couple of subsequent moves thereafter.  We finally parted company when I was around 28.  He was falling apart and a sorry-looking sight by then. 

3. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #40:  Favorite alcoholic beverage?

It's interesting how time has changed this answer for me.  Less than three years ago I would've said a Jameson Irish Whiskey Manhattan.  As I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate good wine, especially since we live in an area famous for it.  It's good for the heart, you know.  I still appreciate a glass of very good Single Malt Scotch, neat.

4. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #41:  What was your favorite cartoon as a child?

This is a toughie!  There are so many.  It's a draw between "TheDover Boys" from Old PU and a cartoon in which Daffy and Bugs are alternately trying to convince Elmer that it's Rabbit Season/Duck Season.  A classic--and it's still very funny.

5. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #42:  Is there a chore you enjoy doing?

Yes, believe it or not there is.  I love to hang clothes out on the line to dry in the warm weather.  Few things beat the fragrance of sun-dried clothing and linen.

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #43:  A time machine will let you travel 10 years into either the past of future.  Which would you choose and why?

I would opt to choose neither.  Going ten years back in time would bring me right back to the year of my mother's death.  I don't think I could bear to relive that grief-filled part of my life again.

I would never choose to go into the future.  I don't want to know what lies ahead for me and mine.  I'm confident there's a good reason why we're denied this information and must wait patiently until tomorrow becomes today.




Friday, January 7, 2005

The Infamous Bowl of Punch

Mr. Scalzi's first assignment of the year was quite enjoyable.  He asked us to Share your favorite story of Winter cold -- preferably (but not necessarily) involving something freezing inconveniently and humorously.

This made me think of a funny story and here it is:

One Christmas my mother decided to add a little more sparkle than usual to our holiday feast and made an enormous punchbowl full of a beverage which bore the unfortunate name of Fish House Punch. Believe me, there was nothing fishy tasting about this punch. It was refreshing, delicious and had a pleasing citrusy flavor and it went down so easily. We were soon to discover that this seemingly innocuous drink packed quite a wallop. Most of the guests had already arrived and were ejoying a punch cup or two or three of this new concoction Mother had set out in the afternoon as an accompaniment to the hors d'oeuvres.

Quite a bit of snow had fallen and my sister and brother-in-law hadn’t arrived yet. My brother who was visiting for a week or so decided to arm himself with a snow shovel and ventured out to make a space available for their car. He had, of course, been sampling the punch along with the rest of us. Not long after my brother went outdoors, my uncle excused himself to retrieve some gifts from the back of his car. Quite some time went by and neither of them returned. My beau, who was also at our house for the afternoon and evening, decided to tear himself away from my side long enough to go look for them. Some more time passed and finally he returned with both of them, laughing quite heartily.  Apparently, he spied my uncle first who never made it out of the car. He was stretched out across the back seat, arms clutched around the gifts, feet sticking out the car door, fast asleep. My brother had evidently abandoned his shoveling and taken himself off down the road several feet, dug himself a little tunnel and crawled in, shovel and all. He wasn’t exactly frozen but very cold indeed and was led back to the house to warm up. The alcoholic content in this punch snuck up on both of them and hit without warning. Its potency became legend in our family.

All’s well that ends well and many’s the laugh we’ve shared over the "Fish House Punch Incident". It continued to show up at subsequent Christmas gatherings but always in a weaker form that didn’t carry such a one-two punch!

Extra credit: Name a song that reminds you of winter that's not Christmas-themed.

My choice is "California Dreaming" by The Mamas and The Papas. It does a good job of conveying the chill in the air on a grey winter day.

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

From Fir to Fur

The halls are undecked and startlingly bare, the Christmas tree is gone for another year and this is the earliest I’ve put things away that I can remember. We have always left everything up at least through January 6th. The tree was undecorated and taken outside for recycling on December 27th. As I played Santa on Christmas Day, I noticed the needles raining down onto the gifts as I withdrew them from under the tree. Not a good sign. This tree had arrived at the crispy stage and I was loathe to turn the lights on for fear of instant combustion.

There was another reason for the expedient removal of the tree--our new kitten. Within hours of coming into our house, he appropriated the space beneath the tree as an excellent hiding place. I found myself holding my breath just waiting for the moment he would take it into his head to charge up the center of the tree, causing ornaments to crash to the ground. Our first kitten did just this very thing at approximately the same age. As luck would have it, this did not happen. Good kitty! I decided not to push that luck and put my treasured ornaments away.

It’s so very nice to have a little animal in the house once more. I’d forgotten what fun kittens are and this little cat is developing a most pleasing personality. He’s social, vocal and seems to be quite a lover with occasional little furry pats as if to confirm ownership, his.  I forgot how soft a kitten’s fur is and how comforting it is to have one curled up in your lap, purring away contentedly. And the daily fits! I forgot about those too. This phenomenon known to all cats seems to occur mostly in the very early a.m. and just before bedtime with our guy. I wonder what is the real purpose of this mad tearing around the house? I’m sure there’s some good reason for it; anyway, it’s amusing.

I didn’t feel quite so melancholy this time as I was taking down the Christmas decorations. From the beginning of the holiday celebrations to the last, this was a wonderful Christmas. They’re always nice but this one seemed especially so. Life is good at present and I think bringing a little cat into our home at this time of year has given a real lift to our day-to-day existence in what is usually a long, dreary month subject to boredom and a severe case of the doldrums. There’s a lot to be said about having a little creature about that grows toloveus in a fairly unconditional manner (remember, I’m talking about a cat here). I’m so grateful to my daughter and son-in-law for giving this gift of furry love to my husband and ultimately, to all of us.


Monday, January 3, 2005

A Solitary Resolution

A beautiful sight filled the sky early Saturday morning as I was clearing off the tables in the dining room where I work. It was an enormous, complete rainbow, brilliant in the full spectrum of its colors and awesome in its span. I chose to regard this as a positive omen for the new year. One must always remain hopeful. A new year--a clean slate upon which to mark our dreams, wishes, goals and accomplishments. I don’t create a list of resolutions at the beginning of each year. Through past experience, I’ve found that doing so does little more than set oneself up for failure. We all know what we need to do, what areas of our lives could use some improvement.

It hadn’t occurred to me before but I see from the majority of my journal entries over the past year, I seem to look backward on what my life has been rather than forward to what it could or will be. I don’t think it’s a case of living in the past. I’m very much alive and well and extremely happy in the present. My memories of my life thus far are wonderful for the most part and I enjoy writing about them in this medium which I discovered about a year ago. Much to my distress, I have already reached the age where it seems that time is flying by. Long ago, my parents would occasionally comment that this was a red flag signaling that the years were creeping up on you. I don’t want to be crept up on and, therefore, the closest I’ve decided to come to making a resolution for this year is to try to enjoy and live each day to its fullest, one day at a time.

This sounds ridiculously simple and somewhat inane, I know, but I don’t think it’s as easy a task as it appears. We are all so caught up in the whirlwind of what’s happening next week, next month, next season, next holiday, etc. that the here and now gets lost. John Lennon wrote a love song to his second son many years ago entitled, "Beautiful Boy". It contains a line that has long stood out to me as a wake-up call as to how one should approach life:

                "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans"

I would like to start paying closer attention to what’s going on around me in the present rather than focusing on the usual, endless chant of "I can’t wait until this day’s over", "Will the weekend ever get here?", "I can’t wait until this month, season, whatever is over". I’m not referring to the joy of anticipation here, a feeling which enhances special times and events. It’s the brow-beating of one day into the next and to what exactly is it that we’re all so madly rushing? I’ve begun to view it as nothing more than a mad dash to our final destination on the earth--death. We’re constantly bombarded with reminders of what will be going on in the future; the present has disappeared. This is my take on what seems to be happening, in my life at least, and I’m going to try very hard to enjoy and savor each day as it unfolds. Yes, it’s true; yet another manifestation of maturity because it seems that this has all turned out to be nothing more than my personal version of "Take time to stop and smell the roses". And that’s not a bad idea either!


First Saturday Six of 2005

Picture from Hometown

1. Where were you when the clock struck midnight?  With whom did you ring in the new year?

Safe and sound and fast asleep in my own little bed with my beloved husband and our new little kitty.

2. Do you have any foods you always eat on New Year's Day, and if so, what do the foods signify for your family?

Not particularly.  This year my husband made a huge pot of lentil soup--it's yummy--and we ended up sharing it with some visiting family members and an impromptu party was born.

3. Do you believe that these "superstitious foods" work?

We don't have serve anything that carries any superstitious significance  but I have heard of the tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Eve to ensure good luck for the year.  Methinks the entire population of the planet should've had a spoonful of these last Friday night!

4. Did you make any New Year's Resolutions this year, and if so, which of them do you honestly expect to have kept by December 31, 2005?

No lengthy lists of resolutions but I'm currently working on a journal entry regarding my one resolution for 2005.

5. What is the most enjoyable DVD you purchased in 2004?  What's the most enjoyable DVD boxed set you purchased in 2004?

We are just beginning to build our DVD library; already have some great ones given as gifts but none were purchased in 2004.  We're off to a good start for this year, however, and were given several the previous year.

6. What would you most like to see change in AOL Journal-land in 2005?

I would like to see some changes with the journal format.  I wish the fonts wouldn't suddenly switch within the same entry (such as what happened with this one.  How did it go from small to big when I didn't initiate any change?). 

I wish an icon exisited that I could click on to condense a journal entry that was written on a wider monitor than mine to fit my monitor.  It's so annoying to have to slide back and forth, using the bottom bar to read these super-wide entries.  Alas, I have a 13-inch screen; the rest of the world seems to have a 17-inch one or larger. 

P.S.  I just hit "save" and then had to re-edit this entry a bit only to find that once it got into the journal, the font was uniform.  As I was typing it in the entry box, it wasn't.  Strange!