Friday, June 29, 2007

Breakfast with Strangers

I love Froot Loops. The name is fake and delicious, just like the cereal. I only occasionally purchase Froot Loops for consumption at home. The premise is that I buy them for the children but then I eat them. Dry by the handful out of the box or in a bowl with milk. Thank you, Mr. Kellogg, FL's are a little bit of heaven on earth, a crunchy rainbow in a box. I have just eaten breakfast with strangers in the Lobby of the Days Inn. There may have been a champion there as well but it was not readily apparent to me. A married couple was arguing over the appropriate method to employ to properly warm up the french toast. He was toasting and she was deriding and ridiculing him for passing on the use of the microwave. Personally, when I heat up leftover french toast at home, I use both methods. A brief stint in the microwave to heat it through, then a light toasting cycle to restore that crispy outside texture reminiscent of freshly cooked. Syrup on the plate for dipping, then the toast, butter on top. She insisted she was right between bites of biscuit and gravy while he tried to enjoy his toasted french toast. Ahh, the joys of married life. I am in Rapid City once again. The LDR with the CPPR is a thing of the past although it's entirely likely I will see him at some point in the next three days. I'm here to see friends play music at the Heritage Fest and do other touristy things. Looking forward to a barbecue adventure in Keystone tonight where the Church of the Open Wallet Revival Band is playing. Until then, it is shopping and some sort of outdoor activity and my sciatic nerve wants a good, long soak in the hot tub.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

On The Brink of Fifty

I'll be fifty soon. In two weeks will be the eve of my fiftieth birthday. So I've been thinking about some things, some big, some small, some fleetingly, some nagging at me. People offer me all sorts of mock condolences and I've been given numerous compliments regarding my relative lack of decrepitness. I've been told fifty is the new forty! Which sort of makes sense to me, but I'd rather be here than forty again. Reliving the decade of my forties is something I don't know I could survive given the upfront knowledge of all that would happen in those ten years. Maybe I'd do some things smarter, maybe not. My ex says that he prefers to think of himself as not fifty plus, but rather forty-nine ninety-five plus shipping and handling. I keep getting junk mail of the electronic and snail variety from the AARP. Somehow I didn't mind flashing the AARP membership card when it was my spouse who was fifty, I liked getting that extra ten percent off a hotel room. But now that it applies to me I'm not sure that I find it so much fun. I can't help but think that my maternal grandmother was my current age when I was born. My own mother was 25, right smack in the middle age-wise. According to family geneology records, we go back three more generations on that particular branch of the family and find that daughters were born to my foremothers at precise 25 year intervals. Makes me feel like I dropped the ball in some cosmic matriarchal plan by not producing a daughter when I was 25. Then I think about who I was dating at the time and I'm reassured that it was probably a good idea that I was on the pill. The point is, my earliest memories of my grandmother are, well, grandmotherly. Flowered dresses and aprons that draped around a soft, rounded body. Swollen ankles that spilled over the top of sturdy, sensible shoes. Busy in the kitchen stirring up a cake or digging in a voluminous handbag for Juicy Fruit gum to share with me. Following her through her vegetable garden and helping pick the bounty and eating sweet cherry tomatoes, carrots and raw peas that tasted like the earth and sunshine. Her hair always white and her glasses with that harsh, horizontal bifocal line that obscured her kind and twinkling brown eyes. She was always old to me. And now I'm her age. I have lived such a very different life in such a very different world than the life and world she experienced. And I think my life has been kinder to my body. I've born two children where she bore five. I still have all my teeth and I don't remember her any other way than with dentures. I'm still fit enough to climb a ladder and hack at tree branches and wash my car in the driveway. I don't know how she felt at fifty but I feel great most of the time. She wasn't all that much older than me when she stopped driving. I just bought a new car and intend to drive it for at least twenty years! Maybe it's fair to say that my grandmother's fifty isn't my fifty. Esther died seven years ago at the age of ninety-two in a nursing home in North Dakota. Sometimes I feel like I channel her spirit when I water the tomato plants in my garden or when I work in the kitchen. But I think I'm more like her mother in some ways, my brunette hair has only a few traces of gray like hers. Kim, who has cut my hair for fifteen years, says she'll let me know when it's time to color it. So far so good, I think I'm high maintenance enough as it is without having to color my hair. Then again, I may just let it go like Esther did and not bother.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Almost Never

This almost never happens. I say almost never because it actually did. Happen. I caution my children to refrain from the use of absolutes because they rarely are accurate. To state that something always is this way or never is that way is most likely incorrect. But not never or always. Are you still with me? Last week I renewed my drivers' license. And the photo is flattering and fabulous. I'll keep you posted on the other six signs of the Apocolypse. Should they appear. At least according to my observation. Now if someone could explain why dresses in my closet that fit me quite nicely range in size from 8 to 14. I think in this one case I may be safe in saying that women's clothing sizes are something that shall never make sense or be the least bit consistent. That's why we find it necessary to haul such an armload of clothing into the fitting room. It may be one pair of pants, but we grab the size we normally wear and just to be safe, also grab one size larger and one smaller to eliminate the need to make that humiliating, partially dressed run back to the rack to get another size that might work. This may explain why I have so many pairs of earrings. Earrings fit, without the agony of the try-on, every single time. Always.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Today is the twentieth day of June. A day that marks some notable beginnings and endings in my life. It is my elder son's birthday today. Nineteen years ago was the beginning of motherhood for me and the end of a full night's sleep for the duration. June twentieth is often when the Summer Solstice takes place. The end of spring and the beginning of summer. I've always liked making the connection between this day having the most hours of sunlight and my firstborn's arrival, my own little personal ray of sunshine. I'll bake a cake this afternoon just like I have since his first birthday and wrap a few presents and place them on the coffee table in the living room. He's still responsible for inflicting a sleepless night or two on me, but for vastly different reasons than when he was an infant. As a mother, one set of worries replaces another as they grow and assert their independence. An endless circle of endings and beginnings. One year ago today the divorce papers I had signed went before the judge. He signed off making today the one year anniversary of me being a single woman once again. I didn't know until a couple of weeks later when the fat envelope arrived in my mailbox that the end of my twenty year marriage took place on our son's birthday. When one window closes, another opens. In theory, anyway. Often the openings and closings happen outside your realm of awareness, only to be discovered and recognized later. Sometimes that distance gives some perspective on the fluid nature of our lives. How changes morph and weave their way through our existence only to be appreciated when we make the connection. Today I will mail a letter that ends a relationship. I labored for some time over the content of this letter. I struggled to be fair and honest and clear about my intentions. I don't know when or how I will receive any feedback on this letter. I do know that it closes a window for me that feels as though it scarcely was opened. So I wonder what window will open for me today. And when I'll first breathe the new, cool breeze that comes through it.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Amazing Accomplishments

I am an unabashed girly girl. I paint my toenails during sandal season, March to November. I feel naked if I leave the house without earrings. I love pink. I'm sure at some point in my life I've worn pink nail polish and worn pink earrings at the same time. And in seeming contradiction I also enjoy doing mechanical type things, particularly if a power tool is involved. I know this isn't on par with rebuilding an engine, but in the last two weeks I have assembled a garden bench, an Adirondack chair, and an entertainment center. Anna and I accomplished assembling the third item as a team. We even had to leave partway through to purchase a tool to finish the job. Ooohh, a mid-project break for a trip to Lowe's for a ridiculously large pair of pliers. The thing I'm most proud of is that I finally have a gas grill. I considered buying one already assembled. The guy in the grill department didn't seem to understand why I would want to buy one in a box. I replied because the assembled grill would not fit in my car. He said that if I live locally they would be more than happy to deliver an assembled grill for a mere $45.00. I laughed and instructed him to fetch me one in a box. It was a big box. A big, heavy box. The really funny part was in the instructions. The instructions themselves were clear and easy to understand with lots of little visual aid pictures for each step. The funny part was where it said from start to finish it would take approximately 35-45 minutes. Ha!! Over the course of two evenings it took me over four hours to get the damn thing together! It was correct, however, in stating that the only tool required was a Phillips screwdriver. It really should have specified that two Phillips screwdrivers of different sizes would be required, but I'll let that one slide. When the grill was at last completely assembled I wheeled it from the garage out onto the deck and positioned it in all its gleaming metallic beauty just outside the patio door. I summoned my sons from their basement dwelling place and forced them to admire it. They were sort of impressed. They were even more impressed when I fired it up and informed them that tonight was finally the night we would have Cajun grilled pork chops for dinner. The truly amazing thing is that three weeks ago I placed four tomato plants from the greenhouse in my little garden spot. They are still alive! Two of them are a little bent over from the wind but appear to still be thriving. Assembled not by me, merely cared for by me, the tomato plants are here via the magic of mother nature. I just need to remember to water them.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Spam and Shopping With Guys

That silly Rodrigo. He always forgets that I can barely burp in Portuguese yet he persists in leaving comments on this blog in his native language. I thought it might be Spanish or Italian and ran his post through Babelfish and came up with gibberish. Then my brilliant 15 yo son commented that Portuguese is kind of in between Spanish and Italian and I should try translating to that. By golly if a nice, clear English paragraph wasn't rendered! From this I took away two things. Rodrigo, thanks, I don't need a personalized t-shirt. And my son was actually paying attention in Spanish class at some point this last school year for at least a few minutes! The season of miracles is upon us!! So I thought I'd take him shopping. Not as a reward for his brilliance but only because he needs shoes. I have an ulterior motive here. His current shoes will get all nasty and green from mowing the lawn this summer so he really needs another pair for wearing out in public. I believe it is part of my duty as a mother to make sure my sons can tolerate a reasonable amount of shopping. He would probably rather remain at home today but I need his feet there to try on the shoes and there seems to be no reasonable way around that one. At some point in life he will likely get involved with a female human and she deserves to have a properly trained guy in all aspects of living. I'm raising my sons to get married (or some equivalent), not adopted. So they need to learn to shop for two reasons. To have a certain comfort level in procuring the stuff they need. And because in our wonderful country shopping is something of a cultural activity that involves bonding, eating lunch and learning patience. Men hunt. Women gather. And so our shopping styles are in direct conflict with each other. My hope is to teach my sons a middle ground of tolerance where shopping is concerned. For me that means no whining, no eye rolling, no weary sighing and above all not asking every five minutes if we're done yet. My hope is that they at the very least be reasonable if not enthusiastic shopping partners. If they can do that, their future girlfriends/wives/significant others will thank me. And if these future girlfriends/wives/significant others are smart, they'll reward my sons by leaving them at home for shopping excursions that guys find particularly painful. Like shoe shopping that doesn't involve their feet.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Pink Sangria

I have taken a day of vacation. But I'm not going to sit around all day in my pajamas and watch movies, eat bon-bons and drink mint juleps. Do bon-bons and juleps go together well? It doesn't matter since I have neither in the house. What I do have are four gallons of Lucite in the Pink Sangria shade which will, in a matter of a few hours, be applied to the walls in my living room, kitchen, dining area, sunporch and hallway. But first there is furniture to move, nail holes to patch, cleaning and taping to be done. And mother nature has seen to it that I won't be distracted by fun activities outdoors as she has arranged for it to be raining. A nice, slow soaking-in rain that could last all day. Guess I'll be doing laundry as well. My elder son has just informed me that he is nearly out of clean underwear after a trip out to his car in the rain. For some unknown to me reason he has been keeping his underwear in his car since he moved back from the dormitory three weeks ago. This necessitates a stroll outside first thing in the morning to fetch a fresh pair before he showers. I was silly enough to ask him the obvious. Why he doesn't bring it all in at once. I was met with an eyeroll to the heavens and an answer I didn't comprehend. I have never pretended to understand the convoluted workings of the male brain. And I'm not about to begin trying on a day when I have greater things to accomplish.