Thursday, October 30, 2008

It can only get better from here

I opened one blurry eye this morning and almost had a stroke. The clock read 9:38 and I was supposed to already be at work. I tried to convince myself it was Saturday but I knew better. All I could do was call my boss to tell her what had happened and promise to hustle. She was very nice about it and told me to not rush and have an accident.

I cannot fathom what happened. The alarm was set right (AM vs PM), it was on and the power had not flickered. Evidently the alarm went off and buzzed for its entire cycle but I never heard it and it eventually stopped. This has never happened to me before and I was baffled and more than a little frazzled. Seems I had slept especially hard since one side of my body was a mass of bed wrinkles and my hair had taken on a Halloween-like personality - frightening.

So here I am turning on the lights, the shower, curling iron and clothes iron all at once. Grabbed the bedspread and pulled it up as far as possible and slung the decorator pillows at the headboard. Why did I worry about making the bed?? In and out of the shower in under five minutes. Decided against clothes that required ironing. Attacked my hair with a vengeance and brushed my teeth at the same time, trying to avoid crossing liquid with electricity.

Quickly pulled on my clothes and started turning everything off again. As I approached the front door with keys and purse in hand, something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. I had actually put my blouse on inside out and the built in shoulder pads were flapping in the breeze. Swish off - swish on.

Fortunately there are a few traffic lights on my route where I tried to apply some makeup and fill in the bed wrinkle crevices. Including my travel time I made it into the office in less than an hour from my rude awakening.

I think I better head to bed now and avoid a replay.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Quality Time

My son, Sport, is winding down his two week trip to Texas. He actually drove to my office today and took me to lunch which was a wonderful treat. We have gotten to spend a lot of great time together but, as he tells me, I am geographically inconvenient. I am 45 minutes away from everyone else in the family so I sometimes feel I am getting the short end of the stick. Not this time.

Tomorrow Sport is best man in a wedding and he will then head back to Denver. Tenderheart and I will attend the wedding and then head in the opposite direction to take the baby to see relatives visiting from Georgia. I have a feeling I will be exhausted by Sunday night.

Here are the shots from visiting the pumpkin patch. What fun! Miss L picked an "apple" and carried it with her the rest of the time.

Hands full. Now what??

That sun sure is bright!

Now I need some advice from those of you who are more savvy with adding pictures on Blogger. What application do you use to be able to manipulate your images? I have some great shots on the photo disc but they are in landscape layout and cannot figure out how to rotate them to portrait to add them to the post. In other words, I turned the camera sideways to take the shot and the picture is laying sideways in the thumbnail.
I spend so much time trying to learn what to do that I end up getting very little done but I refuse to give up. Grrrrrrr...
Off to bed. Big day tomorrow.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Feeling Patriotic

I am feeling really good right now because I was able to find the right place to do early voting today and the line went quickly. I took a late lunch and was able to get in and out in under 40 minutes, including travel time. Woo Hoo! What a relief to know I do not have to fight what I expect to be long lines on November 4.
Things are so much easier these days to google voting information and, at least in Texas, you have a two week window to cast your ballot before the actual election.
And, I do not want to hear one word of complaint from anyone in the next four years if they did not do their part now to choose the next leader of our great country!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Apple Patch, Techno Toys and The Promise

Wow! How quickly time gets away from me! I feel like I just sat down a few minutes ago and now it is the middle of the night. This past weekend flew by, too, and I had the best time I had experienced in ages.

Spent time with Miss L. My daughter dressed her up in a little denim jumper with fall flowers on it and we took her to a pumpkin patch, or as Miss L would say, The "Apple" Patch. Too cute! The first thing she did was pick up a tiny pumpkin and carried it around by the stem the entire time. I still have not mastered the art of downloading pictures from my camera to this computer so I must go to Walgreens first and get everything on disk. I know - I am technologically challenged!

Speaking of technology. Sport is still in town and this evening we went out to eat and then he spent some time hooking up better speakers to my computer, adding closed caption to my tv (so I am ready for my dad's next visit) and then hooked up my DVD player to my new television. He refused to hook up the webcam on the computer and told me I just need to upgrade. With the economy the way it is, I will have to stay satisfied with what I have.

I could not bring myself to say this previously but when I mentioned in another post that I had "inherited" a newer computer from my brother, I did not say that it was because he had passed away. It happened this summer and was such a shock to my entire family. He was struggling with so many issues and took his own life. Carbon monoxide poisoning. The family had not heard from him for about two years and were not even sure where he was living. Turns out he was living about an hour from me. We had lost touch when I moved to North Carolina and then back to Texas. I found a sticky note with my old email address in his journal and it haunts me that he may have tried to reach me at that address and I only looked at it about twice a year. Over the years he had gone through so many stages of his life and even when he cut off the rest of the family in years past, he and I stayed in touch. I searched for him on the Internet many ways and kept telling my mom, "When R has something positive to share with us, we will hear from him again." It is difficult to realize that door is closed forever.

R was single and I ended up with many of his belongings - all of which were nicer than mine. I guess I feel closer to him now than I had for some time. Everywhere I turn in my home now there is something of his. I have even kept his screen saver on the computer - a beautiful picture of his beloved Bengal cat, Lily. So tonight Sport hooked up all the electronic "toys" that had been R's. I just have to figure out how to use them now.

On a more positive note, I went with several friends this past Saturday night to see "The Promise" which is a outdoor passion play about the life of Christ. I had been to see it with my kids and the church youth group 19 years ago and it was even more impressive now. There was a cast of over 100, live animals (donkeys, horses, a camel, doves, pigeons, sheep, goats, etc), a "river" which I hope for the sake of the actors was heated, wonderful costumes and beautiful sets. This is a limited engagement each year - only on Friday and Saturday evenings for a couple of months in the fall. It was great to get out, enjoy the company of good friends and the weather was perfect. This outdoor amphitheater is up on a hill and when the lights were out at various times, you could enjoy a sky full of stars. For an old city girl, that was a rare treat.

Well, I am finally sleepy - make it a great week!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It finally feels like Fall

I am so happy that the summer heat has passed and we are finally enjoying temperatures in the 70s during the day here. I love Fall and the high school football games and winter rye grass. Since we do not get to enjoy the bright fall foliage in this part of Texas, I enjoy the contrast of scalped yards and newly planted pansies. If the weather stays relatively stable this winter, those pansies will be around well into next year.

Sport has come home for a visit. The volatile stock market has been a roller coaster for him (and everyone one else, I know) but since he has the ability to do his work from any "port in a storm" he is spending time here while still connecting with his clients coast to coast. As I have often said, "Ain't technology grand?!" I believe when times get tough, even the most independent child will seek the familiarity of home. Of course, if he reads this I will never hear the end of it!! His business, while not on Wall Street, is directly tied to the market, stocks, bonds and portfolios so I pray for him daily that he does not have a stroke before "we see where the bottom is."

The State Fair of Texas is in full swing and, except for a little rain yesterday, the weather could not be more perfect. I will probably not make it this year since I still have some trouble walking and do not want to slow others by my pace. But, I have heard all about it from one of my coworkers. She has spent a good bit of time online researching what foods she would eat when she got there. It seems that they will fry anything that will stick to a stick. Fried jelly beans. Chicken fried bacon. (Just close my veins down now!!) Deep fried, batter dipped cookie dough. Ugh. While it may cause some to salivate in appreciation, it just makes my stomach churn. Now, whip me up a big pink paper cone of cotton candy and I'm right there with you. When I was growing up, the State Fair was the one time a year I got cotton candy. These days you can get it almost anywhere including in deflated plastic bags at WalMart. I wonder if it would feel like the fair if I bought a bag, sat on a bench at Wally World and just watched the people? Maybe on a Saturday!
What is your favorite part of a fair? The food, the booths, the new cars, watching the people?

Lots of fun things planned for the weekend. Dinner with the kids and Miss L tomorrow. "Day of Repair" Saturday with a manicure and haircut, and then an evening out with friends going to see the live passion play "The Promise." More about that next week.

Embarrassing Moments Part IV - with my sister

This is a repeat of an entry from my AOL journal. I am trying to get all my Embarrassing Moments in one place so I hope you enjoy the rerun. This is another opportunity for me to share a memory with my sister. Enjoy it, Laurie Green! (my pet name for her).

For most of the last 30 years, I have lived in Texas and my sister has lived in Florida. About 12 years ago, while I was single again, LG came to spend a week with me in Texas. I did not have the funds to travel much but we decided we would enjoy antiquing in a community not far from me, in Jefferson, Texas. It is a beautiful area and has many old homes refurbished into bed and breakfast inns.

LG and I decided to spend the 4th of July weekend in Jefferson and I made reservations for us to stay at the Azalea Inn. I spoke with Jo, the proprietor, about what kind of arrangements they had and how the rooms were styled. LG and I wanted to make sure we were going to be in an appropriate, antique setting and what Jo described sounded perfect. Since the rooms were typically used for romantic getaways I understood that we would be sharing a queen size bed. We would make due and I would try not to kick LG too much in my sleep.

On the way to Jefferson, LG and I stopped at an outlet mall and, among other purchases, we bought matching red, white and blue flag shoes and straw hats with patriotic scarves tied to them. Oh, yes, we were stylin'!!

By the time we arrived at the Inn, it was after dark. There was a note on the front door from Jo telling us she and her husband had gone to a Chamber of Commerce meeting in town and to make ourselves at home. Breakfast was to be served at 8:30 AM and we were in Room 1, the Victorian Room.

The room was lovely, with a brass four poster bed, delicate floral prints and lace curtains. LG and I brought in our suitcases and began to settle in. We were looking forward to a good night's sleep and a big day of sight-seeing and shopping the next day.

This was shortly after my sister had been diagnosed with MS and she was taking an experimental medication. That meant she had to receive an injection every five days and it was significantly more trouble than the daily insulin shots she already required. The MS shot had to be administered deep into the muscle and the medication, while painful, also had to go in slowly. This meant these injections were in that muscular part on the backside of her hip, too far back for LG to inject herself. Since her husband was not with us it was Big Sister to the rescue! I knew I could give her the shot and it was really not that big a deal for us. LG and I had been around syringes most of our lives, first with her Juvenile Diabetes and later with allergy shots that my parents gave to us at home. Of course, the syringe with this medicine was significantly larger than an insulin or allergy syringe but that would not stop me.

We got the shot ready and while I sat on the bed, she backed up to me and lowered her shorts. She asked me to find the mark from where her husband had given her the last injection. "Look for the red dot. That's where you need to give it to me. Do you see it?"

I believe she might have been a bit nervous, too. Ya, think??

I had to tell her, as I swabbed her backside with alcohol, "I don't see any red dot, Laurie Green. Just your very white hienie!" And, I patted her butt. I started to give her the shot and heard some noise on the front porch outside our window.

A few seconds later there was a knock on our door. I was still administering the medication, slowly, slowly .... so we called out, "Just a minute."

I finished the shot, LG pulled up her pants and we answered the door. There was sweet little Jo, who introduced herself and then suggested, "You girls need to close your curtains." We turned around and realized that since we had arrived after dark, we thought the lace curtains were the window coverings. But no, there were additional blinds that needed to be pulled down, BEHIND the lace drapes.

LG and I looked at each other and then at Jo and realized what had just happened. She said something about coming back from the Chamber meeting and our bedroom windows are on the front of the house ..... We started to try and tell her that I was giving my sister a shot but she stopped us. "That's okay, you don't have to explain anything."

No, really. This is my sister and I was just giving her a shot!!

I will never forget the pained look on her face. By now LG and I are laughing, thinking back to what had been witnessed through the lace curtains in the seconds before the knock on our door. Jo was really trying to back away but we were laughing so hard and insisting we had to explain.

As it turns out, just as I was patting my sister's rear end, Jo, her husband and the couple that owned the B&B next door were coming up the front walk and onto the porch. The couple next door decided to go on home.

As we got ready for bed we could not stop laughing. For hours, just as we would wind down from our conversations in the dark, one of us would start to giggle and then we could not calm down. The next morning at breakfast we learned that Jo had already shared the story with the other guests. Her husband, she said, was so embarrassed he was hiding out. We never did meet him the whole weekend!

As we shopped at the various stores in town, in our matching shoes and hats, everyone was in a festive holiday mood. They were so friendly and people would talk to us and often ask where we were staying. When we said, The Azalea Inn, they would smile, nod, pause and then say, with a knowing look "Ooohhhhh ... you're at Jo's place."

We're sisters! We did not know the blinds were up!

It turns out Jo had been on the phone to friends in town, sharing the story. She told everyone it was the first time she had ever been mooned by a guest!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Embarrassing Moments Part III - It's funny now.

Sitting in church next to FH (First Husband). The children were spending the weekend with their grandparents so it was just hubby and me. Where we attended church, communion trays are passed down each row, like you may have seen in the movie "Places in the Heart." FH had his arm around my shoulders and when we were passing the wine, from one person to the next, I thought he had a hold of the tray.... and he thought I had a hold of the tray. And, about the time we realized the tray was suspended in mid-air, we both lunged for it.

BLAM! We slammed the tray into the back of the pew in front of us. Little cups of grape juice popped out and flew everywhere! In the hair of the woman in front of me, on the seat, in our laps ... streams of grape juice ran down my leg.

We repositioned what was left of the communion cups and passed the sticky tray on to the next person. Was there any left? Not likely. The usher carried the tray on out.

FH and I were frozen. Maybe if we sat rrrrreal still, no one would notice. A few minutes later an usher came back to our row and passed over a handful of paper towels.

Just so you know, Folks. Yes, in case you missed it. The mess is over here. Right in the middle of the auditorium. Remain calm. Everything is under control.

I remember two things very clearly. The woman sitting next to us was the most immaculate woman at church and she was the one who handed me the paper towels.

And, I remember feeling that I would burst into giggles like Mary Tyler Moore in that classic funeral scene, if I moved a muscle.

Too bad the kids were not with us. We could have blamed them!

Embarrassing Moments Part II - in my twenties

When our children were young, FH (First Husband) and I lived on a very tight budget. FH took a second job as the cashier, one night a week, at a large, local auction. This auction house specialized in costly antiques, primarily shipped from England. FH would tell me, week after week, of all the interesting and beautiful pieces that passed through the doors and the high prices people were willing to pay for quality items. He encouraged me to come by some evening and see what it was like.

So one night, I arranged with a friend to watch the little ones and I headed to the auction. I was thrilled at the prospect of being around other adults for a bit and, even though I knew I would not buy anything, it was going to be fun to watch.

When I arrived, FH was seated at the cashier's station in the foyer. There was already a line of people paying for the items they had just purchased so I just waved and went into the main auction area. I sat close to the back and observed for a few minutes. I longingly eyed the large pieces of furniture that lined the walls.

About three items after my arrival, the auctioneer began to describe a lovely leaded-glass window composed of 9 panes and a weathered frame. I thought of how it might look decorating my country-styled home. $3... $3.50 .... $4 ... The auctioneer was talking so fast, describing the worth. I perked up. $5 .... now that was an item I could afford!! The bidding slowed down at $6.50.... my hand shot up - $7

SOLD! It was mine!

"What's your number?" asked the auctioneer.

Number? I didn't have a number -

"Your paddle number."
"Go to the back of the room and register. They will give you a number to claim your purchase."
What was that other thing he just said to me? Something about 7 and 9 panes ... I headed to the registration table. Funny I had not seen it in my haste when I arrived.
The gentleman carrying the window followed me and so did the owner of the auction. The big man himself. The guy the auction was named after ... my husband's boss. He and I had never met and as he approached me, I did not feel this was the appropriate time for introductions.
"What's going on here?" he asked. (It seemed more like a bellow to me.)
"She's not registered, Sir. It is not a problem. We are getting her registered right now."
Okay. I had my number and was then directed to the table where I could claim my recent purchase. The Big Boss followed me.
"Alright. That will be $7 times nine panes ... $63.00." GULP!
I felt my stomach doing somersaults. The clerk might as well have said, $63,000. I could not afford an old window for $63 no matter what cute decorating ideas had filled my head. My husband was sitting out there working a second job! I had gone out on a limb with even the $7 purchase. I mumbled something to the effect that I thought the total purchase price was $7. I could not afford it. I did not have $63. By now I was whispering and could feel my face turning scarlet.
Big Boss exploded. "Then why were you bidding? ... People come in here and don't know what they are doing ... now we will have to put it back up again!"
All I could do was apologize over and over. As he escorted me toward the foyer, he made himself clear.
"I want you to leave!"
Yes, Sir.
"I do not want you to come back here. You've got no business being here."
No, Sir ... I won't. I promise.
We were now in the lobby and FH looked up to see me, red-faced, being guided toward the door.
He started to get up but I motioned to him in a short-hand as if to say, "Don't. You don't know me." He froze. I'm pretty sure I also saw a look of relief.
I apologized again and headed to the parking lot. About a minute later FH joined me, standing next to the car. I explained what had happened. Big Boss did not know who I was.
"Please don't tell him I'm your wife."
"Don't worry. I won't."
FH then assured me that his boss had a reputation for his outbursts. He consoled me as the floodgates opened and the tears came.

I lived through that night but for over 10 years, my hands would sweat and my heart would race if I even saw an auction on television. When I finally did attend another auction, as a fund raiser for a civic event, I literally sat on my hands. Who knew what I might buy otherwise??

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Exhausted from the move

I have spent so much time trying to move my AOL journals over to Blogger that I had just stopped posting altogether. It seems I moved the journals over to one gmail account while this journal is on Blogger under an AOL email account. Now what?? For now I give up. The journals are not lost, just a bit confusing. And, I have Comment alerts coming at me from all directions to more than one email account. LOL Too much of a good thing.

This is going to be a fun weekend. Sport decided to drive in from Colorado yesterday and will probably be staying with me for a few days. His business is such that as long as he has access to his phone and computer, he can work from anywhere. He is also going to be in his friends wedding next week so we will get to spend some time together before he has to go back to Denver. I just wish I could convince him to move back to Big D.

Tonight I am babysitting Miss L while TenderHeart and her husband have a night on the town celebrating her birthday. Miss L had tubes put in her ears again this past week and this time they also removed her adenoids. She was given some pain meds and had a horrible reaction over the next two days. In spite of the Benadryl the pediatrician had recommended she had red, hot, itchy welts all over her body which just got worse. When her knees swelled and were hot they ended up in the emergency room. Miss L was treated with steroids and seems to be fine now. I will try to get the pictures transferred from TenderHeart's account to mine. You would not believe what she looked like!

I am trying not to be too reactionary but the economy scares me. The only thing that seems to be going well right now is that gas prices are dropping. There was even a gas war here between a couple of stations and it got as low as $1.85 a gallon. I missed it but saw it on television. Wouldn't you know?! I guess I will be content with $3.15.

So, how are things going with you??

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Monday, October 06, 2008

Me? Idiosyncrasies? Nah!

- id·i·o·syn·cra·sy – a personal peculiarity, mannerism; structural or behavioral characteristic peculiar to an individual or group

This is a meme I did on 9/21/05. Not sure who all is reading my journal these days or who enjoys memes so I hope you will play along.

Write down five of your own personal idiosyncrasies and then, if you wish, tag five people. Include your list in the comments here or, if you have a journal, come back and add a link in the comments section, so we can check out your personal quirks. It’s only fair!!

1. I do not talk when I first wake up. I am so not a morning person and for at least thirty minutes my Greta Garbo attitude, "I vant to be alone!" is in full swing. I don't smoke or drink coffee so I just have to wait for something to kick-start my day. Any suggestions?

2. I have a thing about soup broth with anything floating in it. I can eat a thick beef stew but I just cannot stomach a vegetable soup. If it is a thin liquid with floaty things, I'm outta there.

3. Don't ask me to work up a sweat! I do not care if it is an activity I love or not, I do not ever want to feel drops of moisture forming on my body, much less rolling off of me.

4. I cannot sleep unless a fan is blowing directly on me. Ceiling fans are not enough - they are too far away.

5. I may not always remember a name but I NEVER seem to forget a face. Best example of this: I saw a distinguished man at church and realized he was the son of friends of my parents, in another city, when I was in Junior High and he was in college. And, it had been 25 years since I had last seen him or his family. I just had to approach him and verify that he was the guy I remembered. Yes, it was and he was married and a father of three teenagers by then. Freaky!

Okay. That is enough about me. Now about you.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Embarrassing Moments Part I - the college years

Something triggered my memory this week of an embarrassing moment and even though it happened over 30 years ago, it still made me laugh. Unfortunately, I have now been mentally rehashing ALL of my most embarrassing moments.

When I was a freshman in college, I was invited to go to a fraternity banquet with someone I did not know very well. He was a member of the university’s award winning track team and many of the other members of his club were as well. I knew some of the upperclassmen and their dates and was very excited to be included in this group’s inner circle, even if it was just for one night.
This was in the late 70s and I chose to wear a long dress with a gathered white bodice with a scooped neck, a tightly fitted waist and a flowing black skirt. I was grateful for the gathers through the bust line since I felt woefully inadequate in that area. From the looks of the upper-class girls, I just knew the next couple of years were going to be times of significant physical change for me. A girl could dream, right?

On this evening I decided to give nature a little help so I took a couple of handfuls of cotton balls and stuffed them into the bottom of each side of my bra to give me the extra oomph I so desired. Perfecto! (Keep in mind this was decades before the water-filled Wonder Bra so I thought I had been rather ingenious.) With a big smile I was off to the ball.

Imagine my horror, when half way through the evening I went to the restroom and saw myself in the mirror under the unforgiving florescent lights. Beneath the white gathers, were numerous round lumps creating a subtle polka dot effect next to my skin. The cotton balls had worked their way out of my bra and were headed north. Why not? There was nothing holding them back!!

I can still see my shocked reflection in the mirror and feel my cheeks getting hot. A couple of the upper-class girls were in the restroom and were so sweet, reassuring me that probably no one had even noticed between the dimmed lighting in the banquet, my shawl wrap and the gathers. God bless them!

To be honest, I cannot remember another thing about that evening. My brain has protected me. I daresay, I was so traumatized I probably split personalities at that moment and “Penelope” enjoyed the rest of the night!

originally posted on AOL 9/17/05

Friday, October 03, 2008

Seven Things

Originally posted on AOL 9/6/05 Updated today to be relevant

7 Things I Plan To Do Before I Die :
1. Be a grandmother. HEY, I HAVE DONE THIS. NEW ITEM > See my son marry.
2. Take an Alaskan cruise.
3. Take a photography class.
4. Ride in a hot air balloon.
5. Be in Vermont in the fall when the leaves turn.
6. Get my passport stamped at least one more time.
7. Find true love.

7 Things I Can Do:
1. Speak in front of a large crowd.
2. Carry a tune.
3. Make people laugh.
4. Be diplomatic in the most difficult situations.
5. Spot a typo or grammatical error even when I am not looking or listening for it. It is a curse and drives me crazy, especially if I cannot do anything about it.
6. Be creative (not artsy but craftsy/creative).
7. Cook.

7 Things I Can't Do:
1. Converse in a language other than English.
2. Sing well enough that people want to hear more.
3. Ride on a roller coaster.
4. Get into a size 10.
5. Keep from getting lost.
6. Eat with chopsticks.
7. Keep from crying when I am really mad.

7 Things That Attract Me to the Opposite Sex:
1. Sense of humor.
2. Intelligence.
3. Muscular legs.
4. Hairy chest but not hairy shoulders.
5. Eyes like Kurt Russell or Patrick Swayze (before his plastic surgery).
6. Tough but tender.
7. Spiritual depth.

7 Things I Say Most Often:
1. Oh, my word!!
2. Anyway ...
3. I'm lost.
4. Help me understand why you .... (believe that, say that, want that, think that, etc.)
5. Please/thank you
6. Excellent!
7. Awwwww...

7 Celebrity Crushes:
1. John Travolta (no matter what he weighs)
2. Kurt Russell
3. Shemar Moore (the gorgeous guy with the cornrows in "Diary of an Angry Black Woman")
4. George Clooney
5. David Keith (An Officer and a Gentleman)
6. John Denver (He will always hold a special place in my heart.)

7. Craig Ferguson (Late Night with ...)

7 People I Want to Do This:

Any seven people that followed me to Blogspot! Last time this list included the following
1. Jodi
2. Anna
3. Suzy
4. Sonya
5. Betty
6. Robin
7. Meg

Sneaking out of the house

originally posted on AOL 8/27/05

A question was posed to me recently, asking if I had ever snuck out of the house as a teenager. While I was in the minority, I truthfully answered that I had not. What I failed to admit (but am choosing to disclose here in all its glory) is that I did sneak out of the house as a grown woman – married and the mother of two children.

What possessed me?? My close friend at the time, whom I shall fictitiously call Pam, was in a very unhappy marriage. We were both in our early thirties and she frequently confided in me about the concerns she had regarding her husband’s behavior. For someone on the outside looking in, it seemed obvious to me that her husband was running around on her. I knew, too, that he had already had one affair and had even made a pass at me one time. She would describe his unusual schedule and ask me if it sounded reasonable to me. An auditor (fictitious but similar occupation) that had to leave the house at 2 AM to “go to the office”?! Yeah, right!! But, on the occasions she had called his office to check on him, he either answered or called back later with a semi-acceptable explanation (he had gone to use the copier and did not see his message light on the phone, etc.) Keep in mind that this was in the days before carrying a cell phone was the norm. Cell phones at this time were expensive and the size and weight of a cheap brick.

After many weeks of conversations about her unhappiness and fears, I could not stand it any more. I offered to follow him and try to get to the bottom of the truth. The Best Friend Private Eye Company at your service, ma’am. After we went back and forth about it for a couple more weeks, we finally decided that the next time he said he was going into the office in the middle of the night, she would let me know and I was going to follow him. One evening the call came. Perfect timing! My husband’s car was in the shop and he was driving a rental. I could drive that car and Mr. Scummy Husband would never recognize it!

At my house no one knew my plans. Everyone went to bed as usual but I lay there, wide-awake, knowing I had a mission to perform. Mr. SH had told his wife he was leaving at 2 AM. So, I slid out of bed, dressed and headed to my friend’s neighborhood. I drove to their street around 1:30AM and parked my car, facing their house. Sitting there, with the car lights turned off, I could hear the pounding of my heart in the darkness. Sure enough, at 2 AM he opened the garage door and I swear I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest. He rolled the trash containers down to the curb. (Okay. He had a redeeming quality.) I scrunched down below the steering wheel, fearful that I would be seen. Holding my breath. After a few minutes, he backed his car out of the driveway and headed out of the neighborhood.

There was no other activity on their street at that time of the morning and, not wanting to raise suspicion, I waited until he turned out of the neighborhood before I turned on my lights and followed. I knew the path he would have to take – one that led to the highway which then connected to any other direction he would need to go.

As I pulled on to the main road that led to the highway I saw his taillights in the distance. Pace yourself. Pace yourself. Breathe. Don’t let him see you. Stay back. As we approached the entrance to the highway, the lights overhead illuminated his car. But it wasn’t his car!!! Where was he?? I panicked. How had I lost him that easily? Had he seen me? Was he aware of my presence and now he was following me?? Yes!! There he was! A few cars back on the interstate – in the next lane over. I knew I was busted!

What would he tell my husband?? What would he say to his wife? What if we were wrong in our suspicions?? Oh, why was I doing this?? I picked up my “for emergency use only” cell/brick and called my friend. Oh, no! She could not believe I had actually done it. But then, she was the one who gave me the heads up on his schedule that evening, right? She suddenly felt that it was not a good idea to begin with! Duh! Little late for hindsight now.

At this point I am driving down the highway, scrunched down behind the wheel, talking on the cell phone at 2:15 AM and feeling like I am going to be sick. I told Pam I would keep her posted. Heck! My cover was already blown. I sat up straight and took a deep breath. Mr. SH was coming up on my right side. He passed me without so much as a glance toward my car. Yipee! He had not recognized the car. He did not know it was me! PTL

I quickly called Pam back and told her of our good fortune. Now what? She left it up to me. Safer that way. She could later claim ignorance. Of course, if caught, that was going to be my defense. I was ignorant! Stupid! Crazy! Who would challenge that?

I realized that the way I had missed him earlier had to have been because he pulled into the gas station we passed. Maybe he had been suspicious. Perhaps he thought he might be followed. Regardless. I was in full-blown Mission Impossible mode. “Your mission, should you decide to accept it …” Of course, I was going for it now! Mr. SH was picking up speed as he headed toward town. I had to quickly catch up and yet stay far enough behind to not be caught.

On through the night we drove. Where was he headed? To his office downtown? No… we exited off the highway. Best Friend following Scummy Husband. It was tougher to keep up now. I saw where we were headed. The part of town where the nightlife never slept. The hookers, the drug deals, the street lights shot out. I lost him on a back street, with my friend on the line. Where he was going or what he was doing was merely speculation at that point. I had failed in my mission. And, now I was lost at 2:45 in the morning!! Pam tried to help guide me out of my mess but neither of us was that familiar with the downtown area. Finally, I told her to go on to bed. I would figure it out.

Thirty minutes later, in tears and still lost, I had to admit defeat once again. Only one thing left to do. I called my husband. Woken from a dead sleep he could not figure out why I was calling him from the other side of our bed. But when I explained where I was and confirmed the time of day/night, he was suddenly wide-awake. I told him I would explain my behavior when I got home. (If I had told him at that moment he might not have led me back home!!) The tears started to flow. Once I was safely home there was never a more contrite spouse than me. I promised to never again play detective. I promised to stay out of our friend’s problems no matter how helpful I thought I could be.

And, whatever became of Mr. Scummy Husband and Pam? A few months later he left her for another woman in his office building. Evidently he was having to work those crazy hours so he could "take care of business" during regular hours.

Mr. Picassohead

originally posted on AOL 8/21/2005

I have not felt this artsy since I learned how to use an Etch-A-Sketch. If you have never been to this website you must check it out. The intent is to enable you to create your very own Picasso-like portrait. I got carried away and created three works of art (using that term verrry loosely) in the last two days and learned something about myself in the process. My desire for perfection is in conflict with my inner-Picasso. Each time I would start off great ... adding misshapen forms and oversized features but I could not stop. I wanted my art to resemble reality so I painstakenly reworked each feature. Not that the end result was reminiscent of Michanagelo or DaVinci but I felt better. My palms weren't sweaty, my heart was back to a normal rhythm, my facial tic had subsided but then, we all suffer for our art, right?

I was thrilled when I had company last evening and they commented on the pictures taped on my refrigerator. (wink) I think I'll go to Home Depot today and check on some track lighting for the kitchen.

My three masterpieces are #407466 (My Bad Hair Day), 407485 (Presenting: Successful Surgery), and 407517 (Surprised!)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Directionally challenged - even on Memory Lane

This entry was originally posted on AOL, 8/5/2005. I have moved since that time and no longer have easy access to Josey Lane. More's the pity when gas is $3.50 a gallon and I spend too much time wandering around!

PhotobucketWhy is it, when I have a 50 - 50 chance of getting it right, I consistently turn the wrong way? Was I born with an internal compass chip missing? Before I started to drive I never noticed, but from the first time I sat behind the wheel, I have never been certain - left or right? Don't even try to tell me something is North or South, East or West!

My dad still shakes his head when we talk about how confused I would get backing out of the driveway. During the time I had my learner's permit, I was allowed to drive the family to church. Now, I had been to the same church multiple times a week ever since we had moved to this town, but as I put the car in reverse and slowly backed out the driveway, I had to step on the brake, turn to my dad and ask, "Which way?" For a man who traveled for a living, he was not amused.

Luckily, I did not move often after I started to drive so eventually I paid enough attention to be able to get myself back home after a trip to the store. And, since I have lived in larger communities all of my adult life, I can eventually find anything I want in every direction. Yes, I meant to go this way!!

There is a major street near me and, if I can find my way to Josey Lane, I can survive! I have checked and in addition to the police station, the post office, a fire station, a public library, a hospital, dentists, eyecare and every imaginable type of medical doctor, I have access to multiple pharmacies, banks, gas stations, dry cleaners, department stores, and 17 varieties of drive through fast food all on this very special street. It gives me a peaceful feeling that I will not have to make any turns until I have reached my destination.

Everyone who is directionally challenged should have a Josey Lane nearby! Within a seven mile strip there is also a bakery, tailor, florist, locksmith, travel agent, humidor, and vet. I can get my shoes repaired, shop antiques, put my old clothes on consignment, arrange for insurance, get financial counseling, receive check cashing assistance, or put things in storage.

I can shop for groceries in at least three different languages. I can enjoy multiple buffets or sit down dining. To meet my personal needs, I can have my hair done, get a manicure, pedicure, facial, tan, exercise, or be tattooed. I can be tutored, take karate lessons, learn to dance, indulge my hobbies or find all my party supplies.

Without turning a corner I can hire a maid or temporarily staff my office, get my vacuum cleaner repaired, upgrade my computer, play pool, sing karaoke, rent videos, or receive physical therapy. I can go to rehab or buy discount shoes, cigarettes, tires and beauty supplies. My car will not lack for attention on Josey Lane since there I can purchase it gas, auto parts, have the oil changed, the brakes checked, as well as have it lubed or inspected. If I am ready for a change I can even replace it with a used car.

Yes, I have found nirvana and her name is Josey. But one thing is missing. There is no funeral home on Josey. But then, I do not have to worry about getting lost while trying to find it - someone else will be driving.

Introducing Miss L

This past Friday was a red letter day for me. My granddaughter, Miss L, actually spent the night at my house. This was a first. She is 14 months old and up until now, I have done all my babysitting at her place. I had agreed to watch her while her parents went out and they were planning to pick her up before they headed home. Logistically it was just going to be too many miles going in too many directions so I asked if we could make it a sleep over. I picked her up and then drove her to my place.

What fun we had! I had placed two stuffed animals on one of my chairs and maybe it was because they were at eye-level, or maybe because she is just so smart, Miss L made a beeline for the toys. She recognized the fun stuff right away.

Miss L is getting to the stage where she says a lot of things but mostly jabbers and you listen for any word you can pick out. You can tell she is telling you something because she will say the same "words" over and over and I just wish I could translate. She will repeat most of the words you ask her to say (which has put me on my best behavior when she rides in the car with me!) and gives a good effort to multiple syllables like "butterfly." My son in law is a big Cowboys fan and has taught Miss L to say, "Go, Romo!" I have been working with her on "Trick or Treat" and hope to surprise her mommy and daddy by the end of October. It is like having your own Mina bird that hugs and kisses.

Saturday morning when she finally woke up, I stood around the corner, out of view for a few seconds. Jabber, jabber, jabber, Nana, jabber. When she looked up and saw me she started to grin and melted my heart with a big, "Nana!" Whata sweetie!

I have started the "anything you want" fund. I think it will come in handy.