Saturday, November 29, 2008

End Times

Last night I was sitting at Lattitude 44 in Sioux Falls sipping a lovely glass of Shiraz and listening to Hank Harris. Through the tall window on the other side of the room the night was cut by the glare of neon from across the street. I leaned a bit on my barstool to see if I could see the source of the light. It was a twenty foot tall neon cross with the words Jesus Saves Sinners right smack in the center. I sat back and waited patiently for the lightening bolt.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful Thoughts

When I think about what I'm thankful for, what comes to mind often feels too obscure for words. Or maybe not profound enough to mention. But I'm mentioning them anyway. When I pick up the newspaper or listen to the news on the radio, I'm grateful to live in a peaceful little midwestern town. When I hear of the plights of the homeless, near or far away, I feel so fortunate to have a comfortable, cozy house to come home to. I'm thankful that even though I'm alone, meaning that I'm not in a relationship with a significant other, I'm not the least bit lonely. I'm happy about as well as grateful for the health and well-being of my two sons, and the mostly wonderful relationships I have with them. I'm thankful that I have a comfortable relationship with their father so their lives can be easier. In this time of economic hardship I'm thankful for my job. It's mostly tolerable, pays the bills and I spend my days with some pretty terrific people. Most days, despite the fact that I'm over fifty, I wake up feeling well and generally happy. With a little time, coffee and minimal grooming effort, I'm fit to be among others for the day. Little things are important. Chocolate. Hearing a favorite song. Hugs. Words via phone or email from loved ones near and far away. Noting that gas is well under two bucks a gallon. Hot bubble baths. Pie! Snuggling with a cat. Smiles from a child. I'm spending a quiet day alone at home. The boys are across town with their father and assorted relatives. I have slept in, assembled and foofed a new holiday tree, done some laundry, taken a leisurely bath, perused the paper for shopping bargains for tomorrow, and will soon head into the kitchen to bake pumpkin pies. Then there is a movie to watch, not sure which one yet, toenails to polish and most likely a glass or two of wine to drink. A thoughtful thanks for this day of contemplation and rest. Let's all pray (or meditate or whatever your chosen method is of tapping into a higher power) for world peace.

Monday, November 24, 2008


It would seem that there is an overabundance of candy corn around here. Last week it was on clearance for a quarter a bag. I joked that by this week, they'd be giving you a free bag of the stuff with any purchase. Today as I drove past the local dollar store, their sign read, Free Bag of Candy Corn With $10 Purchase! I am now able to predict retail trends! Next week, no doubt they will be paying us to take a complimetary bag home with us if all we do is show up to browse the merchandise. If only they would do that with the Dove chocolates...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Week Ahead...

It has been a lovely, relaxing weekend. The 20 yo was around this afternoon for a cooking lesson. He has a brain the size of a planet but seems to just now be figuring out that eating in is much more economical than eating out, and real, homecooked food is vastly preferable to frozen and canned heat-in-the-microwave options. He can now confidently prepare a dish from his childhood, pasta with Italian sausage. If he learns a new dish a couple of times a month, soon he will be culinarily competent. His kitchen facilities are not up to gourmet feast preparations but they'll do nicely for now. Yesterday I shoveled snow all alone, yes, it was only an inch or so, while the 16 yo slept away the day with cold symptoms. He is much better today and didn't whine too much before focusing on his homework. Stuffing him full of buttermilk scones and bacon first was a good idea. Feed that cold! I'm presently storing up energy for what will likely be an eleven hour workday tomorrow. Visions of seed corn may dance through my head whilst I sleep tonight. I must go prepare clothing so all I have to do is sleepwalk toward them in the morning and pack up some snacks to take along to sustain me through the long day tomorrow. And I need to remember to pick up my license tabs at the courthouse before my current ones expire. I am so looking forward to a day off this Thursday and only a half-day of work on Friday. I just need to get through a seriously long Monday first.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Extra Plate

Last Saturday evening the 16yo and I ventured downtown for dinner. Cubby's was our destination, their succulent burgers and sweet potato fries were beckoning. I love going out to eat with the younger son. I no longer allow him to bring along his GameBoy DS for entertainment, he is forced into captive conversation with Mom. What horror of horrors is this? Talk to his mother? For an hour, maybe even more! Plus travel time! This is no problem for my boy. Unlike many other mothers (dads, too) who lament that all they can pry from their teenagers are monosyballic retorts, I sometimes have to ask my sons to hush! too much information! you're speaking too quickly for the language speed my ears are equipped to process! They wish to overwhelm my brain with more information about school, friends, the last thing they ate, video game music, video game trivia, the video game characters they currently have in various stages of development, the gross unidentifiable thing that one of the cats has coughed up (with any luck, on a hard, wipeable surface rather than an upholstered or carpeted one), some other programming thing they are working on, ad infinitum than I can possibly take in. But I digress. When our cheerful waitress brought the basket of boneless buffalo wings, she brought cutlery wrapped in napkins and plates. Three plates for just us two. Which made me think. About who might be there with us in spirit but not physically. I set the extra plate at the end of the table. For some reason I liked how it looked there, an unspoken, open invitation, ready to be claimed and filled. I thought about the Jewish holiday, I can't remember the specific one, where an extra place is set at the table just in case someone should appear at the door and be wanting. A reminder that in the midst of plenty, there is often a less fortunate soul nearby who doesn't have what they need. Eventually our waitress whisked away the extra plate along with the ones that we had used. But I liked the idea of the possibility of an unexpected guest joining us.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Patient vs Stubborn

I have frequently described myself as stubborn rather than patient. While from the outside these qualities may appear to be similar, the internal is very different. The following is a list of synonyms for stubborn.

• hardheaded
• willful
• adamant
• adamantine
• headstrong
• inflexible
• intractable
• intransigent
• inveterate
• obdurate
• obstinate
• relentless
• unflagging
• unmoving
• unyielding
• resistant
• renitent
• cantankerous
• recalcitrant
• ornery
• resistive
• hardheaded
• willful
• dogmatic
• headstrong
• inflexible
• intractable
• intransigent
• inveterate
• obdurate
• obstinate
• perverse
• pigheaded (colloquial)

In contrast, these words are synonymous with patience.

• endurance
• forbearance
• fortitude
• imperturbability
• patience of Job
• resignation
• stoicism
• sufferance

Just as I thought. Patience is a virtue. Being stubborn is competitive patience. And I thought I confined my competitive nature to finding a great parking place and backgammon.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Process

I am a process sort of girl. I'm not goal oriented by nature. I love the process of accomplishing a goal whether it's mundane or sublime. Doing housework is right up there for winning the Pulitzer for the mundane, if such a prize exists, but I love the no-mindedness of the process. And I do appreciate a clean house. Road trips. I love road trips! Not just the arrival at the destination part, but all of the miles along the way. Is there an exception to prove this rule, you might be wondering. Oh, yeah, a big fat one. It's a particularly significant exception considering the fact that I am single. Dating!!! I don't enjoy the process! I just want to fast forward through all the dating process and land smack into a comfortable and passionate relationship! For my own amusement, I have been keeping a dating diary for the last three years chronicling this second foray into finding that someone I want to be with. It includes all sorts of juicy stuff like fantasies, crushes, reflections on getting over past loves, poetry inspired by such things, observations and even actual relationships I've pursued. At some point, either when I give up or actually find Mr. NPBPFM*, I'll turn the diary into a fabulous best-seller examining my personal process in the dating world. Unless Sex and the City already did that. At the current rate, publishing this tome looks to be years hence. Maybe long enough for SatC to be long forgotten. Or at least ready for fresh contemplation.

*Not Perfect But Perfect For Me

Friday, November 14, 2008

Being the Mom

This past week has been merely tiring, not exhausting like the previous week. There is finally a new lock on the back door, installed by yours truly. The furnace is working beautifully without all those nagging little clicking sounds. The 16 yo and his parents survived parent/teacher conferences. And I learned where the parent/child boundaries are drawn with the 20 yo son. Which is a good thing. For months I had felt as if he had drifted away from me and I recognized him less and less. I can very happily say now that our relationship is as solid and healthy as it can be. One of the hardest things for a parent to do is stand by and let their nearly adult children learn the lessons of life without interfering. It seems it was only yesterday that he learned the lessons of immediate danger, the hot stove, cars on the street, the basement steps. You want them to learn without being too traumatized. It's just that as they get older that line becomes less easy to identify. The evolution of the parenting process isn't always clear, but showing up when you're needed is key. Whether you're needed or just interfering is a tough call to make. Bringing love, no judgement and a friendly, open ear can solve most anything that used to be cured with a bandaid, a cookie or a kiss.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fill 'er Up!

I have to wait another fifteen minutes til bathtime so I thought I'd spend it with you. Now you must be wondering why I have a countdown. Why, you're thinking, if she wants to take a bath, she should just go on in there and get to it! Unless, there might be someone else in the tub, which would make it awkward. Especially because the only other occupant of the house is a 16yo boy. And I normally don't invite people over for a bath. Just seems a little forward. Or maybe just weird. The fact is I have something of a disparity between the size of my bathtub and how many gallons of hot water are available from my water heater at any given time. Why doesn't she crank up that water heater to maximum output, might be your next question. Because she's cheap! is the resounding reply! It just costs too much to keep that much water hot and ready at all times. Plus, the temperature of the water coming out of the tap is much too hot for human contact. To overcome this hot water quandary, I simply fill the tub about half full with just the hot tap on. Then I wait about half an hour, climb in to the just-right water, and add hot water from the now recovered water heater until it's up to my chin. Add a little white tea & ginger bubble bath, light a few candles and, ahhhh, it's steamy, fragrant bliss until my toes take on an appearance similar to what I imagine bleached prunes might look like. A nice long soak in the tub and flannel pajamas, maybe a big mug of hot chocolate. That's how we survive winter here on the prairie.

Friday, November 7, 2008

These Eyes & Mind Reading

Sometimes a song says it the way you would if only you were a brilliant and talented songwriter. And the oldies station we listen to in my department at work dredges up some songs that echo in a much different way in my head now than they did when I heard them their first time around. Before I had lived the experiences that give them a whole new connotation. There are two songs in my head in the last week or so that resonate for me emotionally not because I associate a particular live event with them. But because they now express precisely how I felt when my marriage was falling apart. Maybe because I have enough emotional and chronological distance from that painful time to understand what was going on. For both of us. Thanks to Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman of the Guess Who and Mr. Gordon Lightfoot for shining some light into one of the darkest periods of my life. Excerpts from These Eyes and If You Could Read My Mind follow.

These eyes watched you bring my world to an end

This heart could not accept and pretend
The hurtin's on me yeah
That I will never be free no no no
You took a vow with me yeah
You spoke it you spoke it babe

If you could read my mind love, what a tale my thoughts could tell
Just like an old time movie, 'bout a ghost from a wishing well
In a castle dark or a fortress strong with chains upon my feet
But stories always end
And if you read between the lines you'll know that I'm just trying to understand
The feelings that you lack
I never thought I could feel this way and I've got to say that I just don't get it
I don't know where we went wrong but the feeling's gone and I just can't get it back

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Burger King, Gordon Lightfoot & Dilbert

The furnace is working again. Well, sort of. It is creating heat but with an assortment of odd clunking and clicking noises. I have left yet another message for Brian the Furnace Guy and hope he can silence the clanking while preserving the heat. So far this week I have survived parent/teacher conferences with the 16yo, snow, slush, paying the second half of my property taxes, being seriously annoyed with a co-worker, and finally, consuming a Burger King hamburger for the first time in twenty years. A Whopper Jr. Which, if memory serves me correctly, was the same burger I ate last time. Not the same, burger, but, you know, the same kind of burger. Is it okay to use four commas in a sentence? Oh, yeah, and Barack Obama is going to be our next president!!! Why did I just think of Gordon Lightfoot? I remember years ago buying a Gordon Lightfoot album for my boyfriend for Christmas. A vinyl album! One of those big, round, flat discs that you spin on a turntable and apply a needle to in order to reproduce the music. That you have to turn over and dust off and be careful not to scratch or warp or it won't play correctly any more. Oh, and these items were very difficult to wrap in a way that would properly disguise what was inside. So I found a box, a pretty big box in which to wrap the record. It was a box that a pair of boots had originally been packaged in. And the boyfriend's brother-in-law got the biggest hoot out of a Gordon Lightfoot record being all wrapped up in a boot box. That was a long way to go for a not particularly amusing pun. This is an excellent example of the random stuff that rattles about in my brain. The 16yo and I have taken to referring to the funnies in the newspaper, which often actually aren't all that funny, as the mildly amusings. Although Dilbert was truly laugh-out-loudable today, so I will leave you with Catbert, Evil Director of Human Resources.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Must be Monday

I ate cookies for breakfast. Not because there wasn't better breakfast fare, and they weren't even cookies I'm particularly fond of. The furnace isn't working. Not that it's an enormous problem when we're experiencing temps in the upper sixties. But the furnace guy hasn't called back and it's bound to get colder sooner than later. The 16yo called me at work this afternoon to inform me that his key broke off in the lock when he got home. So he was calling me from Zack's house. Upon arrival home the remote did not work to open the garage door. I knew it wouldn't work. It hasn't worked since last Thursday. But I keep forgetting to bring it into the house and put new batteries in it. I examined the aformentioned lock. With a screwdriver, vice grips, and a section of the broken blade of a coping saw I extricated the key from the lock and got the door open with my key. Moments later the 16yo arrived from his walk around the block and was overjoyed that Mom had triumphed over the broken off key. He was walking around the block because his crabby Mom suggested that if all he was going to do was pace about and sigh deeply, he should go for a walk while Mom was busy swearing. He fetched the mail from across the street and the newspaper from the front deck, too. He really is a very wonderful boy. Could it be possible that I packed a week's worth of aggravation into just one day and the rest of this week will be smooth sailing? One could only hope.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Who'da Thunk It?

To start off November on a seriously weird note, here is a link to ponder. From my seriously weird and very dear friend Erik, take or leave this decorating tip. For some of us, Halloween isn't just one day a year, it's more of a lifestyle.