Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bonus Day

I know, I know, tomorrow really isn't an extra day. It's just this anomaly that occurs once every four years because our method of chronicling time doesn't quite jibe with the way our planet circumnavigates our central star. But I'm going to treat it like a bonus day anyway. Not sure what I'll do besides the usual get up and go to work. I don't have anything out of the ordinary planned. Maybe just approach it with a greater awareness than usual that all we really have is today. Sometimes a day peaks early, like yesterday. The best thing that I remember about yesterday is that waking up was easy, not the groggy, foggy transition I usually experience. And the coffee, for whatever reason, smelled and tasted so much more wonderful than usual. I stood leaning up against the counter by the sink with my hands wrapped around the cup. Not yet sipping, just holding the cup right up under my nose and taking in that rich and pungent fragrance. Letting my brain savor the scent before I sip. Because it never smells quite the same after you begin to drink it. The taste bud sensations overtake the olfactory input and that moment is over. Drinking the coffee is good, but I almost always do the nose ritual before I consume. Nothing like a little foreplay with the Folgers.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Case of The Calcified Cupcake

My younger son accuses me of planning this enormous coincidence of dates. Even I am not that good. But if he chooses to believe such, it is out of my hands. This coincidence took place nearly two years ago, when his 14th birthday fell on his older brother's high school graduation day. Rather than split up the parties so they could each have their own unique celebration, I decided, why not combine them? They were both open to the idea. I was happy about this, one major house cleaning before, one major clean-up after, one rounding up and inviting of the friends and relatives. And two cakes. Actually, I happened upon the inspiration to do about fifty cakes. Cupcakes! Before it was a trend. Half were decorated with the year 2006 and other graduation motifs. Half were tricked up with tiny, shiny pinwheels and were baked in birthday paper liners. But just like that last, forlorn piece of cake sitting on the platter, that final cupcake simply refused to be consumed. Throughout the course of the festivities, various cupcake toppers were strewn about here and there. The final cupcake at some point became a pincushion for this multitude of displaced decorations By the time it had hung around for a week or so it was well past its prime as far as edibility was concerned. Certainly no one was going to eat it when it got to be a month old. After that it became a joke, when was mom going to throw it away? Just to defy my reputation among my offspring for being an anal neatnick I felt the need to keep it hanging around. Yes, at one point it did attract ants. It finally came to rest on the top left corner of the china cabinet, and there it remains going on two years later. I can't throw it away now! It's perfectly preserved and when you blow at it, the pinwheels spin! If only I had pressed it when it still contained a little moisture. Then I could have placed it in a scrapbook.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Matrimonial Malingering

Twenty-two years ago tonight I was on my honeymoon. In one way or another , sometimes more forward in my brain, usually further back in the recesses, this fact has been lingering around for several days. Monday would have been our twenty-second wedding anniversary. Technically, it still was the anniversary of the day we married, I just stopped counting at twenty. I don't feel sad, I'm well past the stage of mourning over the end of my marriage. This has instead become a set of curious facts, photos and memories that are a part of my history. We went to the Black Hills on our honeymoon. We spent one night in Hot Springs, one night in Spearfish, and one night in Rapid City. We swam at Evan's Plunge. The weather was temperate and sunny. There are snapshots of us at Mt. Rushmore in our shirtsleeves, smiling and squinting at the sun. I was sick the entire time. You can't tell from the pictures, I'm beaming. I was also running a fever, had a stuffy head, and was achy all over. How romantic. I took cold medicine that made me feel groggy most of the day and by the time it wore off I was ready for an evening of wining and dining. I had either a very bad cold or a mild case of the flu, but either way I felt crappy. On my honeymoon. If I had been paying closer attention, I would have realized that I was getting sick more than a week earlier. But the days leading up to my wedding involved having a few glasses of wine or a beer or two. I was busy celebrating! So when I felt crappy, I thought all it could be was mild hangover symptoms. Then when I woke up feeling really crappy the morning we were to leave for the hills, all I really wanted to do was take major drugs and go back to sleep. But we had both taken time off work and had planned this trip that was supposed to be fun and all about starting off our life as a married couple. I swear I offered to stay home and let him go and have fun on his own. I don't like being doted on and fussed over when I'm sick. I like to slip into a Nyquil induced oblivion and sleep until the nasty thing passes. So I went on my honeymoon and did my best to not be a party pooper. It seems ever so odd to look at the pictures from that trip. Remembering that I felt like crap but I look so radiant and happy. As it turned out, the marriage was to be an analogy of those photos. Something that looked nearly perfect from the outside but on the inside there was suffering. Pondering over this twenty-two years later it feels like I'm relating a story about someone else's life. But, alas, it's a chapter in mine. A chapter that I have come not to regret, but rather feel grateful for having experienced.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


It seems that I have a secret admirer. Or perhaps an enormous practical joke is being perpetrated upon me. Either way, I have in my possession a lovely handmade Valentine card. Customized with a sticker of Daffy Duck. This card appeared in my work mail box sometime last Thursday afternoon. And I am completely perplexed as to who placed it there. I work with a couple of crafty women who make cards, but neither of them will own up to having done it. I've been snooping around at various desks and work stations to get a look at handwriting. No obvious matches. I have taken to randomly thanking people for the beautiful card they gave me. Mostly I get blank stares or a puzzled "you're so welcome!" in reply. I have pretty much given up trying to figure out who my admirer is, it would be fun to know, but there aren't any single guys around my age where I work. Which mostly rules out the possibility of a real relationship blossoming from this sweet and much appreciated gesture. I don't have many rules, but based on the bad experiences of those close to me, I have a firm rule about dating anyone I work with. And that rule is, it's a bad idea, don't do it!! I must admit I'm enjoying being admired. I recommend it. Everyone should have the chance to bask in admiration sometime. Even if they never discover the source.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Not a Phan

I am not a normal woman. Yesterday I made a quick trip to Omaha with Anna and her two daughters and one of the girl's friends. We took in a touring Broadway performance of Phantom of the Opera. It was a stunning production. The sets were amazing, the singing was extraordinary, the costumes lush and gorgeous. Notes in the program referred to "phans", repeat attendees to the show who just can't get enough. They're addicted to the darned thing! The four women I was with were moved to tears at the end when the Phantom releases Christine from his bondage, laments over his loss, and disappears from under his voluminous black cape. I applauded, stood during the curtain call, and felt monumentally excluded from the magic that seemed to have been cast over the rest of the audience. I remained unmoved, and I can't figure out why. I am a bona fide sucker for romance. I tear up over the opening notes of songs that have significant associations with events in my life. I am a crier! For crying out louder than necessary, I choke up over pivotal scenes in The Sound of Music!! But the twisted triangle between the Phantom, Christine, and Raoul against the backdrop of Paris in the fog did not get to me. Maybe I should just cut myself some slack, Phantom may very simply not be my cup of tea. I didn't like Gone With the Wind, either. Or Moulin Rouge. Sometimes I feel like a traitor to my sex, like I said earlier, in some respects I'm just not a normal woman. Something I did love about yesterday was dinner. We found a lovely Italian restaurant where the bread was warm and fragrant, the entrees absolutely fabulous, and the desserts the perfect, sinful finish. Oh, and one more thing was wonderful yesterday. I love a road trip with the girls, I couldn't have been in better company.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy VeeDee

What could possibly express love more clearly and more eloquently than a beautiful song? I would have to answer nothing, you may answer how you please. And I happen to feel that a song that is more than a mere mushy perfect plea of a paean is even better. A song that speaks to the complexities of a relationship, one that gets to the heart of the matter. I like a little substance is all I'm saying, I like a nice, meaty center with my ear candy. Maybe this is a sign of aging but generally I've always been a bit demanding of the music I truly enjoy. I love frosting but you've got to have a cake first! Someone who clearly understands that the gritty goes along with the good is Shawn Michael Bitz, one of my personal favorites among songwriters. I feel fortunate to count him as a friend, I think he's brilliant, and his music deserves to have a much, much wider audience than it currently enjoys. And, no, he is not paying me to say this. He is a poet who knows a few guitar chords. In honor of Valentine's Day, the lyrics to his song, Diamond, follow. Read them, relish them, then go to, click on Music, then bootlegs, and listen to him sing it. You'll thank me.

She is hard, like a diamond
but diamonds they linger, they sit there and shine
She keeps moving just like the water
I've been thirsty and dry since I looked in her eye

I don't wanna wait for the sun to see what I might see
She's all of the light I need tonight
If it was easy everybody'd be hangin' out with love
It might seem simple but I gotta admit I've messed it up enough
I feel like hiding away and I could really use a shove
I've been cut before

Here she comes, there I go again
Bumping heads with my pride, 'cause I want her inside
I'm so hard just like a diamond
But diamonds don't suffer and they don't try
She ain't shy, but she's careful what she'll take
Got her foot on the gas, while she's tapping on the brake
And we are special just like a diamond

Diamonds don't follow, diamonds don't lead
I've been cut before

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tooth Music

Last week my 15 year old son announced that he had auditioned for the high school talent show. I was surprised. Then he said that he made the cut and was going to appear in the show. Playing songs on his teeth. I was so proud. This remarkable musical ability of his would soon be showcased in a public forum. Yes, my most talented son can play songs on his teeth. He flicks his fingers at the underside of his upper teeth and moves his cheeks around to change notes. The weird thing is, he's really good at it. The songs aren't just recognizable, they are rather artfully rendered. So, earlier this evening, in the auditorium at the high school, nestled between acts of more mainstream talents, he played the Mario theme and The William Tell overture. On his teeth. It was a big hit. One of the student MC's called him back to center stage and requested the Zelda theme. He was a good sport and gave it a shot even though he hadn't practiced that tune. I was laughing so hard I couldn't hold the camera still enough to take a picture. He was dressed all in black from head to toe. He was cute and handsome at the same time. It's still curious to me that he is nearly six feet tall. I blinked at some point and he turned from a fat baby with three chins and biscuit-like dimpled fists into a tall, handsome, goofy young man who has the confidence to get up in front of a couple hundred people and proudly display this unique talent of his. And all I have to say about that is, that's my boy!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


What a relief. You don't realize how heavily and constantly something can weigh on your brain until it goes away. For any of you who are squeamish about the discussion of gynecological issues, this serves as a warning that such is about to be discussed. Okay, now that we have the room to ourselves, ever heard the term dysplasia? It means the abnormal development of tissues, organs or cells. Mine was on the cellular level and showed up last summer on a routine pap test. I have never, never, never given a second thought or lost a moment's sleep over a pap test. I have sweated bullets over a mammogram and lost nearly a full night's sleep over the anticipation of an ultrasound. But worry over a pap test? Out of sight, out of mind! I assumed the inner recesses of my feminine organs were just fine, never gave me a bit of trouble. But then this dysplasia thing shows up. I had a second procedure called a colposcopy to investigate further. Everything looked healthy and normal. Whatever was going on in there, my gynecologist assured me, was of a pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-cancerous nature. But it made me think. Think about the state of my life. What if I really was sick? Were there things I had overlooked and not tended to that I ought to tend to? During this thinking mode, I made a few phone calls. Sent a couple of emails. Made a resolution nowhere near the new year to be better about taking care of things in the moment. Don't leave things hanging. Be clear and kind. Remember how to apologize. Generally good habits to adopt which I'm happy to say I'm still making a genuine effort on. And then I started doing something else. When I meditate, I light a white candle. The candle is symbolic of white light, which holds within it the powers of protection, courage, and healing. During meditation I send white light to those that I love, particularly to those who are having a difficult time. So last August, I turned that white light toward myself, specifically toward my aforementioned inner feminine recesses. I focused on engaging my immune system to protect and defend my cervix and uterine lining. All I know is, yesterday I held a letter in my hand from the clinic. I held it for a while before finally opening it. The news was good. My dysplasia was gone, retest in six months just to be sure. I blinked back a few tears as I read and stuck the letter up on the bulletin board over the phone in the kitchen. I was relieved. I was happy. I was better.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Superbowl Sunday

Let me just say that I do not follow football. Of any kind. Not pro, not college, not high school. Well, I did follow the local high school games twenty-five years ago when my brother was a Brookings Bobcat. And I do watch Friday Night Lights in which football is a primary plot focus. But I digress. Just a few moments ago I was informed that the Superbowl has been won by the New York Giants. In an upset over the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter of the game. What do football fans do now, in the off season? Switch to another sport? Watch videos of great games of the past? Cry? Drink beer anyway? I know people who watch the Superbowl just to see the new commercials that advertisers pay an obscene number of dollars per second to pitch their product. I know people who attend Superbowl parties just for the super food. Enough about football. This would have been a superb weekend to be in Rapid City. AbbySomeOne was playing at Dublin Square. Hank Harris was playing at Paddy O'Neil's just a block or so away. I would have run myself ragged back and forth to catch just as much music as possible. Actually, I probably would have spent more time in the smoke-free, very breathable atmosphere at Dublin Square. I love Hank, but Paddy's is thick with smoke and makes my eyes twitch after about half an hour. Instead, I was here at home making some redecorating decisions, catching up on sleep and cleaning my bedroom. I also e-filed my income tax and am happy to report I can afford the pending new carpeting for my living room with a portion of my refund. Maybe even a chair. And I have already ordered a slipcover for the loveseat from There. Football, live music, tax refunds and redecorating. Four completely disparate subjects covered in five hundred words or less. I know that's why all of you drop by. For fascinating stuff like this.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Till You Get it Right

I have just accomplished one of my primary goals in life. I have watched the movie Ground Hog Day on Ground Hog Day! Scoff if you must at such a lackluster goal, but I have to say that it felt right in a cosmic and deep sort of way. I also watched it with my fifteen year old son. Which puts a particular spin on anything he participates in with Mom, usually interesting. Funny but from a much different perspective than mine. I can't even begin to imagine how the world appears to a fifteen year old Y-chromosomatic person. So I enjoy his company, even if sometimes it is offered a little less than enthusiastically. Although this evening, when asked if he would care to watch a movie with me, the answer was a resounding Why Not!! We found ourselves unfortunately without popcorn, the only snag in the evening. While on the surface GHD passes as a friendly comedy, I find myself appreciating it on a deeper level. Atonement comes to mind, as does the concept you reap what you sow. Watching the transformation of a man who merely goes through the motions to get what he wants into a man who finally believes he truly deserves to have what it is that he desires is a process that is funny and uplifting. Sometimes dark, yet hopeful. Bill Murray begins the movie at his snarky, cynical best and by the end we are rooting for him. He goes from being a prisoner in his own special little hell to being the master of his own little universe. Shallow and self-serving becomes accepting and gracious. How better a way could there be to learn about your flaws and shortcomings than to have to repeat the same day over and over and over again. Then find redemption in that very same repetition. Sometimes I feel like my days are cookie-cutter facsimiles of each other. The alarm goes off. I make coffee, eat breakfast, pack my lunch, send my son off to school. There's a certain comfort to a routine, and that routine can be jostled about by surprises. I have a preference for the surprises that bring joy and wonder as opposed to those that leave you stunned and saddened. I certainly have had days where I'd like to start over again, have that opportunity to right a wrong or be a better person. Some days I'm just glad are finally over. Once is definitely enough for some experiences. Living a great day over and over seems like it might be good, but isn't part of a great day the anticipation of an event almost as much as the event itself? And after a few repetitions, wouldn't you feel a little worn out? And how could a surprise continue to be a surprise if you know precisely when it's coming? Kind of like seeing a really great movie for the first time. Relish it and remember it and be in the moment with it. Because it will never be quite the same for you again.