Sunday, July 31, 2005

Sweet Summer Savorings


It's already the end of July and summer seems to be slipping away through my fingers like so many grains of sand. Partly responsible for feeling like this are all the various things that have been going on in my own little world in recent weeks. Nothing like lots going on to make the time fly. Remember when you were a kid and summer vacation seemed to stretch out before you like an endless sea on the last day of school? What little is left of my inner child still secretly misses those wonderful long summers.

Summer's beginning and end is more rigidly determined by the weather than the others. The summer solstice may come and go but if the temperature doesn't rise above 75 degrees for an extended length of time, it's not really summer. A kid's summer is that magical time of youthful freedom that is wedged between the afternoon of the last day of school and the morning of the first the following September. The calendar may say it's the first day of summer but if school is still in session (as if often was when I was a kid in New Jersey when we had to make up "snow days"), it doesn't count. Classes begin to gear up long before the last official day of summer and we all know that the minute you're back behind a desk, summer is over. Period.

I have always loved summer. I have a summer birthday and I've always been glad to to have it land on a day that's nowhere near any major holiday. It's always been a special midsummer day just for me. I enjoy the warm weather when I can wear less clothing---or none whatsoever in my not-so-secret life. I especially enjoy the freedom from socks and closed shoes on my off time. I love hanging my laundry out on the line to dry in the fragrant sunshine. It's most pleasant to eat dinner outdoors which has been cooked outdoors; something we do almost every night. I like the extra hours of daylight in the evening to linger after dinner in the soft, warm air.

These days, school begins so much earlier. My son will be returning to high school to begin his senior year on August 22nd. Late nights out and late mornings sleeping in will become a thing of the past for him. This date is a full two weeks before I ever had to return to the classroom. "Yes, but they get out so much earlier than we ever did," my husband is always quick to observe. This is true but the way I look at it, as long as there's still a student in the house, summer will suddenly turn into fall on that first day of school. This isn't too much of a problem for me, however. I adore the fall and of all the seasons of the year, it is my absolute favorite. But that's another story.

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Saturday, July 30, 2005

Saturday Six - Episode 68

Picture from Hometown

1. What was your favorite childhood movie?  It's a toss-up between the 1940 version of "The Thief of Bagdad" and "Jason and the Argonauts" from 1963.  Both films never ceased to weave their web of magic over me whenever I watched them.  When was the last time you saw it?  I own a video of "Thief" and I've probably seen both within the last three years.  I enjoy them as much today as I did as a little girl.

2. Who is your worst enemy at the moment?  I don't have a specific personal enemy.  I never did and I don't expect to in the future.  I consider the collective entity of terrorists wreaking havoc all over the world as my enemy.  (First names only, please.)  Why is that person your enemy?  I don't think an explanation is necessary.

3. Which one of the following annoys you most when you encounter a new blog?
    a. Constant grammatical errors.  I've got to go with this one.  We all make mistakes with grammar but it hurts my eyes when I come across a journal with more than a few glaring errors. 
    b. Constant spelling errors.
    c. Contrived "street" language.
    d. Too many "nothing happening today" entries.

4. Take this quiz:   Which alcoholic drink are you?

Ooh, I like this answer.  In fact, I'm having one now as I type these answers.  Such a perceptive quiz!

5. What is the last thing yousaid to a person face to face?  "Hi, I am, home".  Who was that person?  My husband.

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #59 from Debi:  When you shower, do you ever think of the Alfred Hitchcock movie, "Psycho?"  I have never watched this move in its entirety exactly for the reason of not wishing to have the association of showering tied to this film.  I've seen bits and pieces but have never seen "the shower scene".  On the same note, since I'm from the east coast originally and enjoyed many a summer swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, I've never seen "Jaws" either.  Ignorance sometimes is bliss.



Thursday, July 28, 2005


It's so easy to stick with a regular routine, the tried and true daily grind. Everything is so safe, so easy and, if we're really honest with ourselves, it can be boring and stiffling as well. This is the place where I have been for many years. I'm at the age where my body has begun to switch gears into, shall we say, a more mature mode. As I'm deep into the perimenopause phase of my lovely, oh so fascinating feminine cycle, I'm pretty much a constant puddle of very warm, rosy, moist flesh and my memory and powers of concentration have not been as up to par as usual. This all sounds much worse than it really is and I've got a pretty good grip on the situation so far. However, some deeply buried need in my conciousness has bubbled up to the surface and this need is telling me it's time to shake up the synapse in my brain before it's too late and they begin to rust or die or do something equally gruesome. Obviously, this is a major reason why at the age of 52 (almost), I decided to start all over again in a new job. I think I must be out of my mind.

And goodness, how things have changed in the process of securing a job in the past ten years. There's a bit more running around than I recall that I must accomplish before I'm considered completely hireable. I have to make an appointment to get fingerprinted at one location. I have to make an another for a physical, TB (tuberculosis) and drug test somewhere else and return back in a to-be-determined amount of time to have the results of the TB test read. Add to the mix my upcoming appontment at the DMV for my driver's license renewal.

The one thing that's making these several appointments so overwhelming for me is where they are all situated; namely in what I think of these days as "the big city". I live in a relatively small town. It calls itself a city but to my native east-coast way of thinking, a population of 11,000 plus does not a city make. Almost all my driving is within my home town. I work in the next "city" south of us and my commute is all of about 15 to 18 minutes. In a pinch, I can make it in 10. My work hours have been 6am to 2pm so there's practically no traffic when I leave for work and I generally take the back roads to get there. The brief distance back home is a piece of cake on the highway so I use it to go home. Once again, there's not much traffic around 2pm.

My new job is in a very large city further south. My new hours will be 8am to 4:30pm and on a late, calm Sunday morning it took me 35 minutes on my trial run from home to get to the new job site. I'll be smack-dab in the middle of the commuter traffic both ways, Monday through Friday. They say you get used to anything but I repeat, I must be out of my mind.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Moving On

It appears I put the cart before the horse when I answered one of last week's Saturday Six questions. The question was to list five things we hope to have happen by this year's end. I was thinking my answer about being happy about making the right decision about my new job was somewhat cryptic in nature. I should've known better. I've always worn my heart on my sleeve and am never terribly successful at playing coy. When I wrote that answer, I was still firmly entrenched in my current position.

About a week before I left for vaction, I was offered a job at a different facility. I have been at my current place of employment for almost nine years and have been thinking on and off over the past several months that it was time to move on to something different. I am most definitely the biggest fish in our little pond of caregivers at my current place but for some time now the water has been growing more and more stagnant. Plus, I've been lifting and transferring people from here to there for the past 15 years. My shoulders and back are beginning to protest with twinges, tweaks, aches and pains.

But what to do? Where to go? The mere thought of send out inquiries and setting up interview appointments to do much the same thing in another facility held all the appeal of leftover dinner from two nights ago. Happily, before I got around to doing anything as drastic as this, I received a phone call from a former employer, offering me a position, telling me that she thought I'd fit in quite nicely. This has never happened to me before and I must say I found it extremely flattering and mighty good for the old ego. While still involved with seniors, this job will be in a completely different capacity. There'll be no more lifting, transferring, direct resident care; no more being at the beck and call of a two-story facility full of needful old folks.

I told my former employer I would think about taking this job over my vacation and get back to her upon my return. She said she would wait to hear from me and hold the position open until that time. Nice. Very nice. Which I did and what, really, was there to think about? I have seniority. I am very well established in my position (read, in a rut) and the thought of changing jobs after almost a decade is a terrifying one. This new position was being handed to me on a silver platter--all I had to do was reach out and accept it.

On the day of my return from our trip, I contacted her, made an appointment to see her and so it was that on my final day of vacation I was being shown around a different place, listening to the job description, being introduced to several people and I really liked what I saw and heard. When opportunity knocks you've got to be wise enough to recognize it clearly for what it is and this time the door was practically being beaten down. This happened last Thursday. I was given until the following Monday to make my decision. It's extremely hard to leave a place where you've been working for so long but it's time for me to start looking after myself. On Monday morning I graciously accepted the job and submitted my letter of resignation to my current supervisor the next morning. Now wasn't that easy?

Oh, and the reason for my inclusion of this new job as if I already had it in my Saturday Six answer? I thought perhaps if I wrote it down and saw it in print it would help me to make this difficult decision and do you know what? It did!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Minor Mishap

Regarding my recent vacation reflections, there's something I wish to add about our experience. Think of this as a "footnote" to my last entry if you will. No major trip anywhere is ever without some sort of mishap and ours occurred on our way home from the "Texas in California" resort. Over the years it's been our experience that we generally get to our destination with little or no trouble but we always seem to get into some sort of fix on the way home.

This time it was as we were flying along with the traffic just trying to keep up, watching for the exit to take us to Route 80 West. As I mentioned, we had never been to this place before so this was all new territory to us. In California, there are signs all over the place but there's never enough warning if you're unfamiliar with the route and if you're stuck behind a fleet of huge trucks or even one truck, it's very easy to be swept right past the exit you've been looking for without any chance of seeing it. In the nick of time, my husband saw our exit, put on his right turn signal and looked back into lane to the right in preparation to quickly move over. Bang! Out of seemingly nowhere came this car which slammed right into the passenger side of our car where of course I was seated. My heart stopped momentarily and then began beating like a trip hammer. I'd already been holding onto the handle above the window in the inside of the car for dear life; my grip intensified to the point where I could feel my fingernails making contact with the palm of my hand. As my life flashed before me (yes, I think it really did but so fast that it was a beautiful blur), I was thinking, hmm, will probably have to have this hand surgically removed from the handle. The impact felt just like playing in bumper cars at 75 mph. I've never much liked bumper cars, come to think of it.

My husband pulled over onto the shoulder and the other vehicle pulled up behind us. After it was established that we were very much alive and kicking and none the worse for wear other than my suffering from a mild case of the shakes and trying valiantly hard not to hyperventilate and pass out, my husband got out and looked at our car and the other fellow's car. Amazingly enough, no real damage was done to either. The side of ours has a small dent and several splashes of paint from the other car which appear to be permanently etched in. The other guy's car was a wreck to begin with, a true beater and all he lost was the side mirror on the driver's side. This guy was in a real hurry to get going and we suspect he may have not had insurance and/or a license. We made a small financial settlement, got in our cars, drove off and that was that.

In his lifetime my husband has been in a couple of car accidents and only he has been in the vehicle. This was my first experience of one, riding along at a pretty good clip. The minor bumper tap fore or aft most of us have had pales in comparison to something such as this. I have always felt that we've been an extremely lucky couple and this incident was a perfect example. Things could have been so very much worse. Lady Luck was certainly riding along with us that day and there's nothing like a brief flirtation with fatality to help sharpen one's focus on what's really important in life.

Monday, July 25, 2005


I'm back home after a marvelous vacation.  For those of you who read me and perhaps even missed me a little, you'll find my entry about it in my other journal by clicking here:

The subject matter of this particular vacation is more appropriately placed in my "Musings" journal.  Please stop by and visit me there.

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Saturday Six Episode 67

Picture from Hometown

1. Who was your first best friend?  Carol Cline  How old were you when you two met?  We met in kindergarten and were the very best of friends until I moved away in the early part of 6th grade.  Are you still in regular contact with each other?  No but we touched base once or twice in our adult years to catch up on each other's lives.  I've had several great girl friends since but I never had another female "best" friend the ensuing 41 years.

2. Other than the "Saturday Six," what weekly or daily memes do you play most often?  (Please give a link to that journal.)

It goes without saying I'm a die-hard Saturday Six fan.  If I don't participate, I'm either deathly sick, dead or....on vacation.  I participate in John Scalzi's Weekly Assignment as often as I can (and truthfully, when the assignment appeals to me). 

And while I don't consider Judi's monthly Artsy Contest as anything close to a "game", I recently discovered this wonderful opportunity which she graciously offers us once a month to expand our writing skills and imagination via a different frame of reference each time.  This contest was the only thing I truly missed from being away from the internet during my recent vacation.  This is something I look forward to participating in, when possible, for the rest of the year.

3. Which of the following likely has the bigger mess underneath it:  your stove, your refrigerator, your couch or your bed?  The refrigerator, I'm sure.  However, I do know enough to vacuum the grill at the bottom (and what lies behind that grill) once in awhile.

4. Take this quiz:  How long does MSN think you'll live?  90, God help me...hope I'll have a few marbles left.  Then take this one:  How long does Blogthings think you'll live?  I will die at 79...this "quiz" is mighty blunt, isn't it?  Sheesh....I could be hit by a truck tomorrow!

5. Do either or both of these motivate you to make any changes in your lifestyle?  No, I've made more changes to my lifestyle to improve my well being and health in recent years than most I know, thank you very much and if I'm about to put any importance to these nutsy tests, it's already too late!  (But we love to take them, don't we?)

6. Name five things you would like to do by December 31, 2005.

1.  Remove our back deck and successfully replace it with either a new one, a cement patio or new lawn.

2.  Be happy that the new job I decided to take after working in the same place for almost nine years was the right decision.

3.  Once again, pay my property taxes all at once rather than splitting them into two annoying payments.

4.  Be satisfied with the new photo my driver's license will bear after renewing in August.  It's been so long since I've had to actually appear in person that I can't remember what year it was my last photo was taken.  Here's a clue; I've lived in California for almost 29 years and this will be the third DMV photo for me.

5.  I don't send many Christmas cards any more but I'd really like to get them out by the second week of December at the very latest...not a chance, not a prayer.




Saturday, July 9, 2005

Saturday Six - Episode 65

Picture from Hometown

1. How many mirrors are there in your home?  8  If you could go for the rest of your life without ever looking in a mirror (but still know that you hadn't missed a button or that your hair was disarrayed, etc.) would you?  No

2. What online abbreviation annoys you the most and why?  I can't think of one in particular; I dislike abbreviations in general online or off.  It's just as easy for me to type or write the complete word and I prefer to communicate with real words.

3. What do you hate the most in this world?  Mankind's intolerance and incapacity to get along with his fellow man, worldwide.

4. You decide to go to your next high school reunion.  What do you anticipate would be the thing most people said about you behind your back?  "That's so cool that she and ___ are still together and happily married.  Guess those high school romances can work out."

5. You learn that because of some galactic mixup in fate itself, you must restart your life tomorrow in a new place.  You will emerge as a person with a unique past and won't seem out of the ordinary to those in the new place.  You will retain the experiences and memories of your past, but the people you are closest to will believe that you are dead and gone and you would be prohibited from contacting them.  Where would you go and why?  This is an impossible scenario to even try to imagine.  Nothing would work for me if I still retained memories of family and friends and all the memories of experiences of my life with them.

6. What are you most passionate about in this moment of your life and why?  We all think we know what "passionate" means but I had to look it up anyway to answer this question.  I don't think I'm truly passionate about anything in my life at the moment (excluding the intense love and devotion I feel towards my husband and family).  I want to answer to a different kind of passion and as I am typing my answer here, I realize I don't really have one.  I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad just is.  Thank you, Patrick, for providing me with some food for thought.

Friday, July 8, 2005


We all had fun recently creating haikus to celebrate the Fourth of July.  Here are a couple more to tell you what I'll be doing for the next week or so.

Warm weather beckons

I'm crispy 'round the edges

Time to take a trip



Three long years it's been

Since we've had a vacation

I will be back soon

Monday, July 4, 2005

"Another Country" Reflects upon Her Own

I'm definitely middle-aged; there's no long any doubt about it. Good thing, too, that I've finally come to this conclusion. It was only a few years ago that I realized, much to my amazement and chagrin, that I was. If not for that, I would've found myself propelled right up into senior citizen status having missed the "middle-aged" boat entirely, only to be left wondering, "wot hoppened?"

Today's a holiday, Independence Day, and America is 229 years old. I'm spending the day doing what I do best; i.e. as little as possible and I'm liking it, big time. The day isn't full of traveling, barbecues, parties and mental overload from great crowds of people milling about. Nope, my husband and I are home alone today, leisurely smoking a turkey outdoors which takes about ten to twelve hours and doing whatever we please. The older I get, the more I like to spend the majority of the years' holidays in just this fashion. We spent last's year's Fourth like this and I'm appreciating the pattern that seems to be developing.

After last year's break of attending a barbecue at my daughter and son-in-law's on July 3rd which served as the official holiday feast (and was wonderful, by the way), we're hosting dinner and a place to view the fireworks once again. Dinner is planned for later in the evening and I'm not expecting anyone until around 5pm at the earliest. Everything's pretty much ready and the most work I have left to do for dinner is make a huge salad and boil a big pot of water for corn. I think I can handle it! Since it is a holiday, I don't feel compelled to do several loads of laundry, rush around the house straightening up and vacuuming madly. My company is my family and they know I'm no domestic goddess. I am another kind of goddess entirely! Besides, this is an outdoor, backyard, on the deck affair and I concentrated my tidying efforts there.

This is a day for actually relaxing and enoying the backyard that time and effort are spent on to make it comfortable and welcoming. This is a day to lie back and reflect upon how lucky we all are to be citizens of and living in The United States of America. I'm not so naive and arrogant to think there aren't many other great countries to live in. Despite the problems we've been having--and there are many big problems--I'm glad that this is where I was born and this is where I live. As I sit back in my lounge chair, comfortable and relatively safe in my own little backyard, I fully realize how lucky I am not to be living in some war-torn, povertry-stricken, drought-ridden nation where life as I once knew it (or worse yet, never knew anything but) has become a distant memory perhaps never to be realized ever again.

Happy Birthday, America.    


Sunday, July 3, 2005

Saturday Six - Episode 64

It's the July 4th episode of The Saturday Six.

1. A stray dog wonders into your yard, obviously weak, hungry and thirsty.  He is a very friendly dog, but if you feed it or give it water, you know that the dog won't leave your yard and you'll end up keeping him.  If you don't help the animal, he might die.  What do you do?

I'd give it some water and something to eat.  I'd check to see if it was wearing a collar with a license or some kind of tag denoting ownership.  If it did, I'd call the owner.  If nothing like this was to be found I'd call our local animal shelter to come pick up the dog.

2. You must lose one of the following:  a foot, a hand, an eye or an ear.  Which would you get rid of and why?

I'd get rid of an ear; I think this would be the least debilitating.

3. Scalzi of "By the Way" recently posted about the top unanswered questions in science today.  Click here and scroll down to the list of the top 25 biggest mysteries:  which one would you MOST like to have answered?

How Are Memories Stored and Retrieved?

4. Joe, our AOL Journals Editor, says blogs are boring:  either everyone talks about pretty much the same topics, or regular people lead dull lives, he suggests.  So what keeps you reading other people's blogs?

I click around a lot and read segments of lots of different journals.  There are only a few I follow on a regular basis and if they were boring, I wouldn't read them, would I? 

Let's face it.  Most of us lead fairly unremarkable lives on a day-to-day basis.  I don't know anyone whose daytime high jinks parallel that of someone such as...Indiana Jones, for instance.  I enjoy reading the journals I do because I believe I'd like the person who writes in them.  Occasionally I learn something new as well.

Lots of journals may well indeed be "boring" but they're not boring to their creators.  I think they serve their intended purpose very well; a place to vent, dream, share and create.  It's not very comforting to know that the journals editor has such a low opinion of them.  I think Joe needs to find another job within the infrastructure of AOL. 

5. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #57 from Lisa:  You are writing a bestseller book.  What kind of book is it (romance, mystery, science fiction, action adventure, historical, gothic, classic, fiction, non fiction, biography, other) ?   What is your main character's first name and the setting in which it will take place?  And give us a one sentence tidbit about the plot ...   

My pending bestseller is fiction inspired by true life experiences.  Susannah has recently moved into an assisted living facility only to discover that at 65, she is about a quarter of a century younger than most of the residents living there.

"A collective hush fell over the communal dining room halfway through the morning meal when Harriet entered and walked to her table; seems she mistook her pretty white slip as a summer dress--again!"

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #58 from Mary:  Jim Elliot once said, "When it comes time to die...make sure all you got to do is die."  What do you have to do or would like to do before you die? Make a list of at least 6 things.  And since you made the list.. will  you actually try to accomplish those things?

These are a few things I would like to do or see happen before I die:

1.  Have the opportunity to retire from work completely while I still have reasonably good health to enjoy it.

2.  Find a place we can afford to live after we retire that's not dreadfully far from my children.

3.  Live in a world where war is a thing of the past.  It would no longer be accepted or tolerated as a way to resolve major conflict.

4.  See my son graduate from college or trade school.

5.  See this very same son happily and gainfully employed in a career that will provide stability and success.

6.  See my daughter realize her goal of returning to school and ultimately enjoying a career that is better suited to her potential.

7.  Die peacefully when my time comes, preferably in my sleep.  However, my 15-year plus experience in caring for seniors has shown me that this seems to be a rare thing.  One can always hope!

Want to play Saturday Six?  Click here: