Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Final Words

I enjoy wandering thru cemeteries reading headstones. There's an abundance of beloved spouse and parent, many I suspect to be a lie. But every once in a while I run across a gem. A favorite - "My death does not mean you get the last word". Ok then; my first reaction was the words gave a fairly accurate picture of the person's nature. Clearly she was a real bitch.
Sometime later that week I got into wondering about the person who chose the engraving. Was it a spouse or child; a sibling or best friend? All we have are the words he or she selected to memorialize the deceased.
I visited the grave again next time I was out that way. The decease's first name is too androgynous to reveal gender. He/she lived well into their eighties. There were no religious symbols on the headstone. A trek around nearby graves suggested he/she wasn't buried with family. I couldn't stop wondering why those words were chosen.
Several more times I ventured out to the cemetery expanding my search section-by-section looking for a clue. I guess I figured somewhere in the rows of aging leaning headstones would be one that read "in heaven the argument continues". Or words to that effect. See, I was still of the frame of mind the deceased was a bitch. I wouldn't have been surprised to find a headstone with "now I'll never hear the end of it".  Or "I hope heaven has earplugs".
Weeks went by, I was busy elsewhere when out of the blue it occurred to me what a large decorative headstone marked the grave. Somebody spent big money on it. And the engraving was done nice and deep so to be legible for a good long time. This didn't seem like the actions of someone laying a nagging spouse to rest. 
My mind began exploring other possibilities. Still assuming the deceased to be female, my perception of her altered from shrew to fun-loving and outgoing. Could be she was laid to rest by her husband of fifty plus years who looked back fondly on their life together and knew the one thing he'd miss most was their recreational bickering. Maybe it was one of her kids that picked those words because he/she knew mom's voice would be in his head guiding away from or reprimanding poor decisions. Quite possibly a lifelong friend ordered the engraving to give the deceased "the last word".
I have been charged with the honor of seeing to the final arrangements of several friends and one nephew. Although we joke about it, I do take the responsibility very seriously.
Given my sense of humor and the fact they won't be around to stop me, perhaps there should be some concern on what I might have engraved on their headstones. I'm good with words. I like things that make people stop and think. Remember - I'm the one who had "there'll be a test later" engraved on my oldest brother's headstone.
The choice for my nephew is easy. Due to terms of our agreement regarding his final resting place I feel it both fitting and necessary to toss a small bronze plaque after his body as it rolls down the mountainside into a ravine. See, it would be my luck that his head will strike a rock and years later when his remains are found some medical examiner will rule his death a homicide. Therefore to save a lot of fuss I'll send him off with a plaque that reads "natural causes; leave me be".
When the time comes and a certain friend's ashes are scattered, I swear I'm posting this sign nearby:
"Wipe your feet! I ain't going home with you".
For all the cemeteries I've wandered through I'm still hoping to come across:
"I have time now, what did you want"
"Double-dog dared 1X too many"
"Last thing I said, men don't read instructions"
"Dude - I'm dead"
"Psst, don't look now. . ."
"Yes; I was feeling lucky"
"Ah, someone else is in here too"
"Died with a smile. Still smiling. Ask me why"

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

As political as I get

When I was little history was yesterday.  Five minutes ago new became obsolete.  I was born in the 60's.  Because we travelled frequently up and down the West Coasts of both America and Canada I gained a unique perspective on the era and the people shaping it.
Never in my wildest imagination did I consider how 40 years later I'd be sharing with my great-nephew and his friends how the 60's was a heck of a lot more than hippies and protestors; sex, drugs and rock and roll. Suddenly I was "the old folk" recounting memories of childhood. More than that I began wondering just what the kids today are being taught. 
Three weeks ago I embarked on a 2,000 miles trip from southeastern North Carolina heading west to New Mexico. Although I had carefully plotted my route at the time it did not occur to me what significant locations lay along my path. Then as I approached the North Carolina - Tennessee border road signs began stirring memories of stories heard in my youth. Ah yes, back in the days when I was either trying to stay awake or covertly flirt with a cute boy during history class. 
Meaning no disrespect to those who lost their lives but battlefields don't interest me. Think about it, in my lifetime we've always been fighting somewhere. So many places in fact I'm not sure I can list them all. And for that matter, many have undergone one if not several name changes.
What did catch my attention was a simple road sign stating the miles to Oakridge Tennessee. 
History.  More precisly, a significant neon marker on the timeline of events that has directly impacted every single person on planet Earth - and still does.
I had to take the exit. I had to pull over and stop and reflect on events that transpired in that place nearly 20 years before my birth. This was bigger than the 60's. Sitting there along side the road it occurred to me, if not for Oakridge we would not have the prosperity of the 40's and 50's. There would not be a generation known as Baby Boomers. Oakridge is directly responsible altering our language and social structure.
When I got to the hotel that night I posted a question on Facebook - and recieved very surprising responses. The question: "the federal government built the town of Oakridge to provide housing and services for workers of what project?"  Bonus question: "name Oakridge's western counterpart where the project was completed and tested".
The following day I posted the same questions on Twitter. Save for a few history buffs, the replies were so embarrassingly wrong I removed the questions and responses. Lordy, if this isn't a sad commentary on what is not getting taught in school. I can't imagine that many kids slept through history class. Come on people, there are several movies about this "project". The key word being - project.
Oakridge along with it's western counterpart Los Alamos developed the atomic bomb. Overnight America and the rest of the world learned new terms. Words are powerful. Saying the words changed our thinking, and thusly our way of life.
Atomic Era. Nuke. Might, as in the Mightiest Nation on Earth. We had the Power!
Cold War. Bay of Pigs. Fallout shelter. Descriptions like "Downwinder" crept into our vocabulary. Schools had bomb drills. Everyone knew about the red telephone and the button. Communists, and Socialists were the enemy.
There was the promise of cheap electrical power. Designers and Advertisers jumped on the bandwagon. Harnessing the atom opened the door to a bright and shining future. Jobs and prosperity; new fields of science, engineering, medicine - if they could dream it, it was within their grasp. Sure there were naysayers even among those responsible for the era but very, very few listened. America was riding high.
For the first time in history a nation's status was determined by it's ability to blast another country "back to the Stone Age."  Those of you old enough will remember that was the most often heard opinion regarding how we should approach Vietnam. Ironically at the same time we feared our enemies would do precisely that to us.
I would now like to point out a few ultra important facts. The American people were not asked if we wished to develop the atomic bomb. No citizen went to the polls and cast a vote for the allocation of funds for the Manhattan Project, building of two cities or amassing of manpower and resources. No citizen was given the opportunity to say "yes we should nuke Japan" or "no, the mere threat to nuke them is enough".  Likewise no citizen was given an opportunity to say "I really don't wish to be a part of nuclear cloud dispersal / distribution testing." (Google - Pacific Northwest radioactive fallout tests 50's and 60's)
Stop. Go back and read the above paragraph again.
Our government made a decision that affected the lives of every person on this planet, not just then but for generations to come. And did so WITHOUT the knowledge and / or approval of American citizens.
Looking back I wonder how people might have voted. Would they have realized the atomic bomb was more than a means of swifly ending World War II?  I doubt anyone back then could have imagined how a few short decades later America would apologize for nuking Japan, and that we would be indebt to Japan and China.
Because of the discussions with my great-nephew (born in 1995), I firmly believe the 1960's was the last time the average American citizen did anything that altered the course of this country. People of every race and religion came together to say "enough is enough; we don't like what's going on". We are the People. This is our country, our home and our lives. We will have a say!
Apparently they did not say enough. Apparently we got complacent. Sometime between Nixon's resignation and Obama's election it seems the American voters became selfish, self-gratification seeking assholes. Is it any wonder ads for mood / performance enhancing drugs run back to back with commercials declaring our entitlement to money, to vacations, to whatever. How is it we have multiple generations asking the same question - what's in it for me?
The DEA and multi-agency task forces cannot fix America's drug problem because the drug(s) are legal. Turn on the television and watch the commercials if you don't believe me. Stay tuned long enough and there will be notice of a class action "bad drug" lawsuit. We are entitled to compensation for failing to take responsibility for our actions or lack thereof.
As you are getting ready to vote next month there is something else I'd like you to consider about Oakridge. Picture yourself moving into a brand new house.  Your spouse is raking in overtime wages at the Lab. You've got a job clerking at the grocery store. Your son is an usher at the movie theater is the envy of his friends. He gets to watch movies for free. Technically you are living the American dream: job, home and money in your pocket. No one within your earshot better say anything derogatory about America or her government. Ok, so there's some stuff going on that doesn't seem right but hey, you've got more than you dreamed.
How did it feel years later when your sons and daughters protested the same government? Were you embarrassed or did you support them? Did you defend their right to speak their mind and challenge authority?
See, I'm guessing in the 60's you were still unaware the the primary construction material used at Oakridge was a mixture of concrete and asbestos. Third Law of Physics applies: every good is measured by an equal portion of bad. Simply put - what's in it for me is also the entitlement to be homeless, unemployed, hoodwinked and dead.
We have made the government our parent. We have charged them with supplying our every need. We have our hands out like children demanding an allowance.
Guess what folks, our govenment is no different than us. It's all about "what's in it for me?"  Just as private citizens overspend themselves into bankrupcy and homelessness, we have given our government the power to do the same thing. Sadly anymore it seems we only wish to hold them accountable for not meeting our whiney demands. Gimme, gimme, gimme. 
I was born in the 60's. I'm a huge fan of the freedom of speech. From time to time I still hum the song Signs - there's something happening here and what it is ain't exactly clear. Personally I don't like the direction America is heading. Equalization reduces everyone to mediocraty. It stiffles dreamers and kills aspirations and denounces achievements.
Personally I feel America needs a bit of revolution about now. Come Election Day - STAY HOME.  DO NOT VOTE. (Oregonians, do not mail in your ballots.)  If you really want your opinion to matter send the message "none of the candidates are suitable!" 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Exhale. Inhale

The words are strange to my mouth, "I haven't felt like writing". 
The statement is even stranger to my ears.

I've written all my life. Before I knew how to write I scrawled lines of pretend cursive on mom's note pads or any other piece of paper I got my hands on.

I wrote about dreams. I told about places I'd been or something I'd seen that sparked my curiosity. Often I expanded upon interactions with friends and/or animals subconsciously adding plots. Periodically I took inspiration from TV shows and wrote an episode or spin-off. 

As I grew older writing became an emotional outlet. Poetry or prose, it really didn't matter as long as the act of putting pen to paper eased the "too-full, going to burst" sensation in my head. Then when I moved to writing on the computer there came the added bonus of hitting the delete key symbolically eradicating the pain from existence.

Writing has always held a major role in expressing my creative nature. I also: paint, draw, sew, bead and play several musical instruments. While these are great hobbies, they are limited by location, time and space.

This has been a very difficult summer. It has been an extremely sad summer. For the first time in years I've actually wished to be back on OCD meds so my brain was wrapped in layers of cotton. Ok, while that is a true statement, it is not quite the full truth. I have no desire to live in a haze ever again. This has just been one unrelenting summer. I barely had caught my breath and wiped my eyes before the next sad news phone call hit.

Since the end of July I've had to make a conscious effort to breath: inhale, exhale, relax while conducting business. I haven't made it through a day without crying multiple times.

Now here I am days before making [another] major move across country and I should be excited. I can talk a good game. I can pretend there's all sorts of things I'm looking forward to seeing and doing. All the preparations have been made and route west has been mapped. But raw emotions make it difficult to see beyond loss and regrets.

Exhale; blow nose, wipe eyes
Inhale; focus on the horizon

Exhale; accept that I did my best
Inhale; carry the love, leave the regrets

In case you're wondering why I put exhale first it's because when sad things happen one after the other we tend to hold our breaths waiting for the next wave to knock us. You have to exhale in order to inhale. I feel like I've been holding my breath for months. Even though I've been crying everything inside of me is bottled up. So much has happened in secession I'm waiting for another shoe to drop.

Exhale; release what I have no control over
Inhale; grasp opportunity

Exhale; free the emotional log jamb
Inhale; start writing again.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

You called them a what?

This morning I ran down to the grocery store.  As I pulled into the drive lane between two rows of parking spaces I noted a man in a full-size pickup.  There were no vehicles between us.  When I was close enough to actually see him turn his head and look at me - he pulled into the lane, and stopped.  Had I been going a couple of mph faster, I would have struck him dead center.  Remarkably he was still looking at me. 

I have taken to referring to drivers like him as "Dip Squiggles."  Dip is short for Dip Shit.  Squiggles comes from how curse words are portrayed in the comics.  Take a few moments and practice saying Dip Squiggles.  Personally I find it rather hard to say without a smile.  The second my mind focuses on squiggles, I see Calvin and Hobbes, thus putting me in a happy place.

The next term I'd like to share with you comes from how I feel about certain people who won't get off the phone.  The initial phone call begins with "Hey Debi, are you busy?" and me saying yes.  To which the caller says he or she will only keep me for a minute.  I know what you're thinking, and in a manner of speaking you are wrong.  This isn't an issue of the caller droning on and on.  The problem is, he or she persists in calling.  "I know you're working but I forgot to say"  "I have to share this"  "I forgot to ask"  Typically it ends with me not answering the phone. 

My term for this is "diarrhea dialing".  Likewise there is "diarrhea texting."    In other words, I think it's pretty damn shitty of you to keep calling or texting when you know I am working.  These are never crisis calls.  I love talking to my friends but my job is time sensitive.  It also requires a bit of concentration to insure accuracy.  Messing with my livelihood to say you rearranged your plants or to described something your pet did, is not scoring you points.

Staples has an "easy" button.  I want a "give me a break" button.  When activated a message will be sent informing the reciepicant "you are important but I can't deal with you right now."

Originally I used "Clickers" for those people who keep clicking the mouse button without waiting a few seconds for the computer to respond.  You know the type.  You might even be one.  Due to the mindset of a group of people with whom I regularly work, I have expanded upon the definition of a Clicker.

I have spent the better part of this year trying to explain time zones to this group.  To this end I have repeatedly sent them a map of the US with the time zones clearly marked and color coded.  On any given day of the week beginning around 8:30 EDT this group will load orders for the West Coast.  Some time around 10am EDT I begin recieving emails asking how soon the orders will be filled.  Between 11:30 and 1pm EDT the phone call start, followed an hour later by another flurry of emails.   This continues until quitting time, EDT.

Let's back up and look at this situation. 
8:30am EDT is 5:30am PDT   It's safe to say the West Coast crews are still in bed.
10am EDT is 7am PDT   none of the offices are open
11:30am EDT is 8:30am PDT   some of the offices are open, but it still takes time to fill orders

When it dawned on my how often I've been on the phone with this group and heard the words "hold on a second, my computer froze" I realized they are Clickers.  They want, and want it NOW!.  Click. Click. Click.

Oh, almost forgot to mention "Dumb Zippers".  These are people who jump green lights or blatantly run red ones or pull any other stupid stunt while driving that endangers other people's lives.  Obviously "Dumb" is short for Dumb Shit.  "Zipper" is for the final punctuation; the zipping closed of a body bag. 

Needless to say, a Dip Squiggle who is diarrhea dialing or texting stands good odds of becoming a Dumb Zipper. 

Feel free to use and expand upon any of these terms.  If you'd like to suggest a few CLEAN ones, make use of the comment feature. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Yes, I am fat

This morning I'm looking at my clothes and then to my suitcase thinking "it would be easier to pack if I wore a smaller size." 

My weight is the first thing people notice.  My weight lends to criticism and snap judgments.  I try to remain polite when people refer to me as lazy or make a point of staring at my plate and then at me with a disdainful expression.  I do not thank them for making me feel bad about the first meal I've had in a day or two, or three.  These people do not know me.  Their remarks and actions are strictly to make them feel superior. 

Once I learned to quit being a sponge and sucking up other people's negative emotions I realized I can be happy with me at any weight. 

You might not think it looking at me now but I've been thru every eating disorder.  Some where along the line I went from starving to be skinny to starving to be fat.  A few years back I enlisted a dietitian and naturopath to assist in learning healthy habits.  Technically my body has been in starvation mode for so long it doesn't know any better.  The result packs on the weight because my body is storing everything it can for fear of when the next meal might be.

Despite everything I know that I should be doing a little voice in my head has been putting up a damn good argument for me not to lose weight.  "You'll be naked!"

My economic situation for the past three years has been challenging.  Money, particularly the lack thereof, is a very strong motivator.  If I gained or lost weight I would not be able to replace articles of clothing. 

Thankfully my economic situation is improving.  Hopefully this move will provide a major income boost.  Meanwhile I will be thankful I was taught to take care of my belongings or I'd be looking like some of those people featured in Walmart photos.  Let's see if you'll admit knowing me then! 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Freudian Slit?

Every time I get on the Internet there's a blurb about a female entertainer wearing a "daring" outfit.  For a moment let's overlook the fact said outfit was chosen purposefully to attract attention.  That said, does anyone really care? 

Seriously, the impression I get is that the event was so boring the only thing the correspondents could report on was some celebrity's exposed skin.  For heaven's sake, if the reporters gasp and stutter over Miley Cyrus' clothes they best not visit my neighborhood.  I wouldn't want them to die of heart failure when they get an eyeful of what teenage, and pre-teen girls really wear. 

Why is it always a "daring" outfit?  Is "daring" the only word they know?  Would someone please buy them and their editors a thesaurus.  Get them a calendar too.   Underscore the fact the Victorian Era ended well over one hundred years ago.  I don't know; maybe they are trying to bring it back. 

Once upon a time pants on a woman was daring.  The mini skirt was daring.  Cleavage is not daring.  Women have been displaying their ta-tas since Adam and Eve first played "you show me yours and I'll show you mine."  Even in the Victorian Era it was all about the ta-tas. 

A backless gown - oh dear; oh my!  I am so embarrassed.  Apparently these reporters have never seen a woman in a swimsuit.  Who are they trying to kid? 

"Actress flaunted a dress with daring slit".  The garment in question is always a full-length dress.  So, what's the big deal about a bare leg?  The titillating manner in which the headline and accompanying photo captions are written makes me wonder if the reporter was hoping for a glimpse of the actress' unmentionables.  Did they crouch down and peer at the top of the slit from all angles? 

Seriously, every time I see one of these headlines I picture a gang of reporters crawling around the fringe of the red carpet, some with mirrors in their hands, hoping to see some gal's nipple or underwear.  Voyeurism with a paycheck and public forum. 

I wish an actress would flash her ta-tas or hike up her skirt and say "thong, blue, made by Hanes".  Now that would be daring.  That would cause a sensation.  Paramedics would have to be standing by with plenty of oxygen for all the pre-pubescent minded correspondents who will also need a change of underwear.

Then after all the hoopla is said and done these reporters and their editors can be sent back to high school where they might learn what the average American gal wears - and that there are other words in our language than "daring". 

Oh, while we're on the subject allow me to invite all the red carpet and event reporters out to the South, to Walmart where they will get more than an eyeful of skin they never wished to see.  And they'll have an entirely new perspective to the word "daring". 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Believe what you will

Yesterday I received an email that made me sigh and shake my head.  Apparently my weight is not limited to the physical, I weigh heavy on some people's minds too.  Whoever said "out of sight; out of mind" must have led a boring reclusive life.  Obviously he or she did not have my family. 

It used to be that I could be baited into protest of my innocence as to whatever it was thought I had / had not done, or of the label slapped upon me. 

Then I wised up and stopped reacting to frantic people. 

I am comfortable being me.  While basic common courtesy is appreciated, I have no need for other people's acceptance or permission.  I am me. 

Sad to say my initial response to yesterday's email was "here we go again" and I geared up to set the record straight.  However, doing so would be regrettable.  For me it would be a huge step backwards.  I perfer to keep my feet moving forward.

When I prepared to embark upon my sojourn I realized mental baggage had to go.  I had to let go of the codependant doctrine and accept me for who I am.  Applying Feng Shui to my mental house was not that easy.  There were many shadows and echos of fears and resentments.  Odd how comfortable these once had felt even though they were killing me.  I guess it's sort of like hoarding.  I had collected fears and resentments because negative emotion / actions was all that was being offered.

I have been working deligently for several years now to open my mental house to sunlight and fresh air.  The last thing I desire is to fall back into old habits. 

So in response to the email - thank you for thinking of me.  As for the question you raised - please feel free to go with whatever conclusion(s) make you comfortable.  Opinions are subjective.  In actuality judgments reflect the judge.  I will not revisit the past or answer for someone else's point of view.  Been there, done that; I've moved on.

I am comfortable being me. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

About Holly

The other night I was watching a show on Animal Planet that showcased the antics of two Boxers.  Between bouts of laughter I would reach over and poke Holly.  "Wow does that look familiar!"  Each time Holly responded with "the look".  Due to her being part Great Dane, Holly has mastered the art of looking down her nose.  Believe me when I say the rest of her personality is all Boxer.

Holly was around 6 months old when we found each other.  She was scared of the dark which made it real interesting to take her out to go potty when we lived in the country where there were no streetlights.  Come evening if Holly and I were at opposite ends of the house with the lights off in between us, Holly refused to cross the dark barrier.  Lucky for Holly, I had spent so many years working night, sleeping days that I have problems sleeping in a dark room.  We sleep with the TV on, sound turned down and have nightlights through the rest of the house.  The latter is for Holly.

I had researched Boxers before deciding to get one.  I understood that they are high energy, very intelligent dogs who are prone to mischief.  Despite all information from breeders and trainers nothing truly prepared me for the "human" antics. 

You know that sound you make when you're exasperated?  The first time Holly puffed out her cheeks and let loose a short, quick exhale I thought I imagined it.  Then she got into practicing it on other people when they weren't paying her attention.  Oh yes, talk about positive reinforcement training.  And it encouraged Holly to mimic other human  actions / reactions. 

Holly was about a year old when she discovered she could dial my cell phone.  At the time I was on a limited minute plan.  Can you say OVERAGES!  I was stumped as to how this was happening.  Of course none of the wonderful people Holly was calling bothered to mention it to me until much later. 

One day I was doing laundry and Mom was at the other end of the house frying chicken.  Holly had been napping in the living room.  I looked up to see her trotting towards me carrying something.  Now her carrying things is not normal so curiosity lead me to ask "what do you have?"  Happily Holly brought me a piece of chicken.  Even though it was a boneless, skinless breast I couldn't imagine Mom giving one to Holly.  In response to "where did you get this?" Holly trotted back to the living room, waited for Mom's back to be turned and slipped into the kitchen to ease another piece from the plate on the counter.  To Holly's way of thinking, she had brought me a piece, she had a piece and we were good.  (I put both pieces in a Ziploc labeled for Holly only and stuck them in the freezer for two weeks.  She does not get rewarded for stealing.)

I know people say we assign human characteristics and qualities to our pets like it's a bad thing. All I have to say in response to that is, if it weren't for these human attributes there would be no guide dogs, no service dogs of any kind.  Holly is my constant companion.  She takes care of me and I take care of her.  It seems only natural we would learn from each other.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Meeting Opportunity

Where are you going?

I don't know; maybe Texas, or New Mexico or straight on to Nevada.  Holly (my dog) and I haven't decided yet.  We may not pick a destination until we're on the road.

What are you going to do when you get there?

The same thing I'm doing here.  The beauty of my job is I can do it anywhere as long as I've got Internet connection.  Plus I'm going to work on getting a novel or two published. 

Why are you doing this?

The simple answer is - because I can, see answer above.  The real reason has more to do with opportunity.  North Carolina has been good to us but it's time to move on.  Sometimes your ship makes it to the dock; sometimes you have to go meet it. 

I hate the planning stage.  Making checklists and ironing out details puts my stomach in knots.  Vacations are different, mainly because those have beginnings and ends.  But then, vacations are also a heck of a lot more stressful as you're trying to cram maximum enjoyment into a set amount of days.  Holly and I have the luxury of "when we get there, we get there". 

A lot of my decisions of late are based upon what I don't wish to regret.  I am actually more afraid of spending my last few years on Earth lamenting what I should have done while I had the health to do them, than I am of setting a course without destination or money. 

It is true; life is a mystery. We don't know what will happen five minutes, six months or a year from now.   As long as I remain open to possibilities, opportunity will happen. 

Prime example: while writing this blog I received a phone call from a potential new client.  We chatted; she emailed a contract and now I have to go fill it out.  There is no guarantee how this will translate into dollars.  It might be a little.  It might prove to be a lot. 


Friday, July 6, 2012

Heaven is

Dad was a Christian.  He believed upon his death he was going to Heaven where he'd spend eternity with God.  On a side note: Dad was also pretty positive he got to the Pearly Gates and St. Peter would hand over the leash of a Basset Hound.  In Dad's Heaven he'd have a woodworking shop.  There'd be a comfortable recliner in a library.  And his Basset would be welcome everywhere.  Perhaps because Mom refused to let Dad have a dog when he retired he figured God provide one.  Dad's Heaven also included trains and rivers like the Columbia on which he could watch boats and ships. 

If you asked me Dad's version of Heaven sounded a lot like Southwest Washington.  But hey, it worked for him.  Who am I to say if he was right or wrong? 

A few years later when Mom died I arranged her funeral.  Those attending were commanded to wear their most colorful outfits, think Hawaiian print, and to dress casual.  When the officiating pastor remarked he'd feel more comfortable in a suit, I strongly suggested he be wearing new/clean underwear.  Absolutely no one attending the service was to wear somber colors, black or white.  We didn't care if he was a pastor; the suit would have to go.

Mother was an artist.  Traditionally one wears black and white to gallery openings so not to compete with the paintings.  Mourners then don all the color they can for the funeral to celebrate the artist's life.  During her latter years Mom lost the ability to distinguish color.  Her world was reduced to shades of gray.  This was another good reason for the colorful send off.  Mom knew when she got to Heaven there'd be a fully stocked art studio waiting for her.

I buried my brother in a brand new pair of bib overalls and a t-shirt emblazoned with a smart-mouth comment symbolic to his sense of humor.  We made sure there were certain things in his pockets.  Blame Led Zeppelin and the song Stairway to Heaven.  Allow me to misquote "when he gets there he knows the stores will be closed."  My brother had often said that would be his luck.  Therefore we sent him off with everything but the rum to go with the Coke.  I sort of figure if rum is available in his Heaven it's far better quality than what we've got here.

This morning a very dear friend passed away.  Larry once told me his version of Heaven was pretty simplistic.  Heaven is where all animals are safe, happy and well tended.  Years ago some preacher tried telling him Heaven didn't have animals.  Larry said if that was the case, then he didn't want to go there.  How can it be a "better place" without dogs and cats?  Larry knew when he got to Heaven all his pets that preceded him would be waiting.

If Heaven is what we make of it, then Larry went to the same Heaven as my dad.  They're probably out walking their dogs along the riverbank.  In a bit they'll kick back in the library with cookies and milk, their dogs sleeping alongside their chairs.  

For all his years of service in animal rescue, delivering pet food to outlying communities through all kinds of weather so no animal would go hungry, and taking in "just one more" I am certain God came through for Larry. 

Welcome to Heaven,  my friend.  All critters are safe and well-loved.  Enjoy eternity.  Just don't forget the squeaky toy.

Larry 1937 to 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Four years ago I was in the middle of writing a sci-fi when my brain went blank.  Three days into watching the cursor blink on the screen, I kicked back in my office, stared out the window and cranked up volume on the speakers.  My Rhapsody play list included a bit of everything but opera and spirituals.  Douglas Spotted Eagle, Tom Petty and Buffalo Springfield; then came the opening strains of Alan Parson's "Turn of a Friendly Card". 

I love this song.  So naturally I'm singing along and suddenly the question popped into my head.  Anyone with a creative mind be you writer, chef or chainsaw artist knows this question.  For most of us it begins "what if". 

A few hours later I had written the first chapter of DESERT.  Then I figuratively put it on the shelf and went back to writing the sci-fi.  Problem solved; I was a happy camper.  The words were flowing faster than I could type.  People around me breathed a huge sigh of relief.  Life was normal once again. 

Months later with the sci-fi completed I returned to this lonely chapter to inquire of female lead "how did you get yourself into that predicament?"  Remembering the song that sparked the idea I set the playback to loop and started writing. 

Now after all the rewrites and head-banging-on-keyboard editing DESERT is being shopped to literary agents.  I find this a very frustrating process.  Allow me to clarify that statement.  I realize this is my debut novel and I've a lot to learn about the industry.  However, there is one question that has popped up that, to borrow a Southern term, is killing me. 

"What makes me uniquely qualified to write this novel?" 

 IF I had written a non-fiction, I would thoroughly understand the question. DESERT is fiction. 

My mother was an artist. She has sold paintings in all of the Americas, Europe and Japan. Believe me, Mom would have gone ballistic had someone asked what qualified her to paint a picture. Even back when she was first forging a name, pity the person who voiced that question. Easily it would have taken the police riot squad, National Guard and a dozen sanitation trucks to deal with Mom going nuclear. And even though she's been dead nine years we'd still be hearing about it.

To be asked how I'm qualified to write makes me feel like instead of the synopsis I should send: high school and college report cards; Mensa test scores showing eligibility and affidavits from my proofreaders. 

What qualifies a person to write fiction?  The obvious answer is imagination. 

Help me out here.  How would you, or did you, answer this question? 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Zombies on the Roof

I fixed a bite to eat, grilled swiss cheese and ham sandwich, steamed asparagus and a lovely salad.  D*O*G of course was shadowing my every move around the kitchen and then into the living room.  The human has food.  No sooner than I got settled and the television on than Tommy, the cat, leapt to the right arm of my chair.  This action prompted Holly, my dog, to close in on my right knee allegedly to keep an eye on the cat.  In reality she was scoping out the plate to see if there was anything she wanted.  

You know it's like to eat with three sets of eyes intent on the movement of the fork?  Each of them practicing mental telepathy to convince me to share least they waste away in hunger. 

The dogs are worried the cat will help himself to something off the plate for he is closer.  D*O*G who had been sitting on my left foot runs out of tolerance for the cat and launches an attack.  Now I have the cat on the back of the chair trying to reach around to snag a bite before I get it.  My dog temporarily has retreated to the other side of the ottoman.  However, as she has decided she WILL get part of my sandwich she is doing her best to maintain eye contact.

And then the aliens arrived.  Brilliant flashes of light followed by rolling booms announced their descent into Earth's atmosphere.  Window panes rattled.  The whole house shook.  D*O*G ran in circles barking.  Holly stood up, looked around and took up position in front of but not facing me.  Meanwhile Tommy dropped back down onto the arm of the chair and tried to act like he was not pressing up against me for protection.

More aliens arrived.  One of their ships hit something. The crackling of the impact made all four of us wince.  D*O*G took off racing around the house barking shrilly.  Despite not having claws, Tommy had a death gripe on the arm of the chair.  Curious of what got hit, I set my plate on the breakfast bar and went to look out the windows.  About this time D*O*G determined he needed to go outside to fight the invaders.

I tried telling D*O*G it was lightning and thunder, right over head.  I told him he didn't want any part of what was going on outside.  But he's too short to see out the windows so he wasn't convinced.  He was positive we were under attack. 

Huge raindrops began to fall.  What looked like a solid wall of water marched through the development.  In no time we were encased in hazy gray darkness.  A thousand mini hammers pounded on the roof.  D*O*G tried enlisting Holly to go out with him to repel the aliens.  Her attitude was "mom has ham and swiss cheese; the aliens will have to wait". 

Most often storms like this are accompanied by strong wind.  This one was different.  There was hardly any wind thus making it very slow moving.  My gosh can it rain in North Carolina!  Hey, I'm from Oregon.  I know about rain.  But out here it rains hard and fast sort of like Oregon's coastal squalls.  My cell phone began chirping with National Weather Service alerts for flash floods.  Apparently D*O*G believed the alerts were a call to arms.  Since Holly, who is tall enough to see out the windows declined his recruiting efforts, D*O*G turned his attention to Tommy.

Lightning flashed.  Thunder boomed.  The house shook.  Windows and pictures rattled.  D*O*G and Tommy ran back and forth between the entrance hall and dining room, one barking and the other making clicking noises.  Holly and I just watched them.

A bit later I stretched out on the bed to read with Holly at my feet.  Having worn himself out, Tommy curled up next to me for a nap.  Finally D*O*G came into the bedroom and flopped on the floor.  For a few minutes, inside at least, it was quiet. 

I do not know what Tommy said to D*O*G but suddenly they were off racing around the house again.  A new sound caught my attention.  Figuring I'd best see what those two were getting into I stepped into the hall.  Two black bodies came rushing by.  Tommy missed the turn the slammed into the leg of an occasional table.  As I bent to see if he was ok my eyes caught a glimpse out the window.

Oh dear; the aliens have unleashed zombie hordes.  They marched acrossed the lawn and onto the roof.  The din of their assault was incredible.  Holly poked her head out of the bedroom to say "this doesn't sound good.  Maybe I should help D*O*G mount a counter attack."

First I took Holly to a window and said "do you see what that is?  You don't want any part of it."  Then I opened the blinds in D*O*G's room and put him up on the bed so he could see.  I swear I saw that dog's eyes grow wide.  "That is hail.  It will hurt you.  There are no zombies on the roof."  Tommy didn't believe me.  He hid under a quilt.  D*O*G remained standing on the bed growling under his breath.  I'm pretty sure he didn't believe me either.

I am pleased to report we suffered no damge during the alien attack.  The zombies failed to make it through the roof. 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Change the Channel

Back when I was working as a nurse I used to have dreams about driving.  To an extent these dreams made sense as I was young, had a steady paycheck, a nice car and was always heading some place seeking adventure.  Most often in these dreams I'd be cruising down the freeway with a destination in mind.  However, as I approached the exit the ramp would be closed.  Figuring I could take the next exit and circle back, this wasn't a problem.  But the next exit ramp was blocked with large orange and white barrels too.  Continuing on down the freeway I'd start fretting time or the uncertainity of what surface streets to take to get to my destination.  Exit after exit would be closed.  Or I'd be stuck in an inside lane unable to change lanes due to traffic.

I had variations of this dream for years.  Sometimes the setting was rural.  Other times I'd be driving a loop around a city like Seattle or Los Angeles.  I never reached my destination.  The real pisser was, often I could see where I wanted to go from the freeway.

One day my dentist pointed out none of these dreams take place in Portland, Oregon which was where I lived at the time.  He found that interesting.  He theorized Portland was exempt because of how well I knew it.  Portland is an easy city to get around in, there's always another road.  Dr. Jerry suggested the next time I have a driving dream, instead of getting stressed I should alter the setting to Portland or tell me to drive on to Portland.

It took a bit of practise but gosh darn, it worked!  I ceased clenching my teeth and waking up in pain.

My dad used to dream he was falling.  Night after night he'd plunge off a bridge, building or viewing ledge.  Sometimes he'd be falling towards a busy street, or waves breaking on rocks, or the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  Dad would jerk awake before impact.  In complete panic mode he'd first assess he was still alive and then he'd lay awake for hours.

A friend suggested Dad imagine he was flying instead of falling.  Dad tried but once he was falling and terror set in he found it difficult to break into the dream.  Then, courtesy of a cartoon, Dad discovered the trick.

While his method did not halt Dad from having the dreams it did put an end to the panic.  And it drove Mom nuts for the next thirty years.  What did he do?  At the point in the dream as he is plunging over the edge Dad first used his hands to turn his body so that he was falling feet first.  Then he flapped his feet like he was swimming until he returned to the ledge or bridge or rooftop. 

I know a lot of people, myself included, who use the "change the freaking channel!" method to break out of bad or stressful dreams.  With television being a major part of our lives, this is amazingly easy.  You don't like what you're watching - change the channel.   

Our brains are wonderful things. They will latch onto the absurd.  My friend Shirely yells "ollie, ollie, oxen free" to get out of scary dreams.  A big Star Trek fan, Josh orders the holodeck computer to end program.  Another friend discovered merely saying "this is dumb" works for her.  Rosemary gets a bit more creative.  She evokes the power of the word "Calgon".  Remember the commercials "calgon, take me away"?  I like it.  It doesn't work for me but I still like it.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Down With Gravity

A friend and I was talking the other night about things we did as kids.  Personally, I never got up on the roof with a bath towel, blanket or sheet convinced I could fly.  Honestly I can say my reluctance came from seeing other kids do this and the end result was usually painful. 

One year, back when I was 7 or 8, we had a real wet winter.  There was major flooding along all the rivers.  Creeks and ponds took over pastures and roads.  Before things got too bad, my dad moved all animal feed stored at ground level in the barn into the garage.  Feed is expensive.  Trying to replace it during the winter is even more expensive.  Next we moved the animals to the back porch.  People thought we had a huge covered back porch for entertaining.  Think again.  There was a creek between the house and barns.  As the water rose the animals would have been stranded on the other side.

When the rain finally slacked off me and a few friends got a brilliant idea.  We got a rope out of the garage.  Leaving shoes / boots behind we headed barefoot into the over-saturated west pasture.  There we played eenie-meenie to decide who would go first.  The first participant climbed as high as he could go in a sapling pine tree carrying one end of the rope.  He then formed a loop and tossed it over the top of the tree.  Those of us on the ground pulled back on the rope bending the tree.  And then we let go.

The object of the game was to launch the kid in the tree into the pond.  Never mind that it was winter and the air temperature was around 40 degrees.  Did it occur to us we might miss the pond?  Sure it did.  That was the beauty of picking then to play the game.  We all had experience in falling hard onto sun baked red clay and decomposed granite soil.  Trust me, it's like hitting concrete.

Not a one of us landed in the pond that day.  Several face planted and skidded.  There were full body flops.  We were literally in knee-deep mud.  No one got hurt save for a few scraps from tree bark.

We had so much fun the next day we opted to launch from taller trees.  One of the neighbors called my dad at work and squealed on us.  Allow me to point out it took Dad nearly a half hour to drive home.  He pulled in the driveway undetected by us.  We were having too much fun.  But we still hadn't achieved splashdown in the pond. 

To Dad's credit he did not yell at us to stop what we were doing before we broke our fool necks.  He stood on the back porch talking to the horses and laughed.  Only when he realized a tree we'd selected might put the launchee in danger did he shout for us to halt.  Dad was an engineer.  He knew all about vectors, magnitude and trajectory.  He gathered us on the porch, drew a quick sketch of the pasture and cautioned us to stay out of particular trees. 

Days later with the water level receding Dad donned his boots and took us out in the pasture.  Standing on the high ground above the pond he pointed first to the tree he stopped us from using and then to concrete blocks the tops of which were barely visible below the surface of the water.  The blocks were there to allow the pond to be drained onto the fire break protecting the house in the event of forest fire.  Dad realized certain trees would have launched us into harm's way. 

Remarkably I don't recall Dad ever saying "Stop that. Are you idiots? You're going to break something."  Maybe he was just thankful we all made use of the garden hose, washed off the mud and stripped to our underwear before going in the house.  I don't recall any of the other parents going ape shit and ordering their kid(s) to stay out of our pasture.  I do recall a supply of old clothes and towels in our servant's porch right next to instructions on how to use the washer and dryer.

A few of years later Dad put a stop to our winter time game citing we were damaging the trees.  We were heavier and older.  We were beginning to understand gravity.  Dad knew it was just a matter of time before a launchee panicked, tensed up before impact and got hurt. 

Now that I am older I believe I know why Dad let us play the game as long as he did.  I think that very first day he stood there on the porch telling the horses "look at how much fun they're having.  What I'd give to join them."  He was about the age I am now.  I imagine when he was a kid in Southeastern Washington, Dad and his brothers played similar games.  There for a moment while he watched us, Dad remembered being 7 and defying the laws of gravity.   

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Can bugs see?

What's the deal with every bug in North Carolina, and a few that purposefully migrated up from South Carolina, flying into me? 

I'm sitting outside trying to enjoy the evening.  The temperature is comfortable.  There's a mild breeze.  It's dark so no one is wandering around with a leaf blower.  Basically I'm minding my own business just being mellow and - whack!  Some frigging bug flies right into me. 

Excuse me for being in your flight plan.  Is rudder control not working? 

It's not like these bugs are trying to land on me.  Apparently they either think I'm going to move or they fail to recognize me as a solid object.  Observation points towards the latter.  Early evenings I can watch bugs fly into the side of the house.  There's some kind of beetle that will repeatedly knock it's self out of the air to lie stunned on the ground.  Sometimes in the morning there's a half dozen or so dead bodies on the back porch.

Bugs aren't like birds.  They aren't flying into windows.  I'd get it if they were whacking themselves senseless against glass.  These guys have a thing for SOLID: house siding, humans and dogs.  Oh yeah, and parked vehicles.

One of my little friends, short, blond, approximately 7 years old offered the following theory.  He said bugs used to be magical people.  When they misused their magic for punishment they were turned into bugs.  It's because they can still fly and they remember being able to pass through walls that they run into things.

Just so you know, he did qualify the theory by saying not all bugs used to be magical people.  I was relieved.  Given the amount of bugs in the world I was afraid for a bit that there had been a whole heaping mess of magical people breaking the law.  It sorted of made me wonder if there were any good magical people left.  He assured me there still are good ones because his mom says so.

Friday, June 15, 2012

You. Who.

She  pedals the bicycle slowly down the middle of the street weaving between imaginary dotted lines.  Sharp eyes peer vigilantly from under a faded green visor searching yards, porches and open doorways for anyone to whom she can call "You. Who".  The sound of her voice causes me to hunch my shoulders and wince.  She can be heard a block away, two blocks if the wind is right. 

I can never remember her name though she's undoubtedly told me a hundred times.  My brain goes into panic mode whenever I hear her distinctive "You. Who."  Given enough warning I immediately grab the dog and run for cover. Sometimes, thankfully not often, there will be no neighbors outside in the block preceding mine allowing her to make it to my house in stealth.  One minute I'm enjoying a perfect evening and the next I getting blasted with "You. Who."

Not Hello, hi or hey; she's never says good evening or calls anyone by name.  It is always "You. Who."  Just like that. You.  Who.  And delivered in a yodel-like trill.  Perhaps the yodel is why it carries so well.

"You. Who." and the bicycle is guided into a figure-8 for she never actually stops to talk.  Remarks are flung my direction.  If I'm lucky I get to respond.  See, that's what drives me nuts.  I do not like being talked at.  She may prove to be an interesting person if she'd just stop for a minute.  But it's "You. Who" a few comments and then she's gone.

I want to know how she got into the "You. Who" habit.  Who told her this is a cool way to greet your neighbors?  The last person I heard repeated use "you who", I was 16 and working in a nursing home.  If you're counting that was 1976 and the patient was 70-80 years old.  This gal isn't much older than me.  Maybe it's typical to wherever she grew up in the South.  I'd ask but I can barely understand her for her thick accent. 

So what we have here is a 50-60 year old Southern woman who yodels "You. Who."   Maybe if I laid out spiked strips, poured up a glass of sweet tea and had a Southern-to-West Coast interpreter on hand, I could learn her story. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Ponderings

My collection of people is fluid like a kaleidoscope constantly in motion as they go about living day to day.  A remark here, a gesture there or glimpse into their thought process fuels my creativity. 

It's how people respond to changes, good or bad, that captures my attention and has me waiting poised with fingers over the keyboard for the next installment or final outcome.  Presently there are two people I'd love to shake the living daylights out of, or hold them with one hand while repeatedly slapping them with the other. I want to get right in their face and scream "What is with you? Snap out of it already!"  Good thing for them there is an entire continent between us.  Yeah, it's a good thing for me too.  I refuse to go to jail for assault on an idiot.

The irony is I could write about them here.  I could tell their entire story, provided I don't divulge their full names and they would respond with "See, I'm not the only one going through this." 

Ok, I'll give them that.  I'm sure currently in the US alone there are a few tens of thousands people in the same situation.  Seriously, I'm not being sarcastic.  Everyday people lose their jobs, their homes or their marriages.  Often the loss is a combination of all three.  While this is a sad statistic it really has no bearing on why I want to slap two people.

Person #1 has gone out of her way to bring about catastrophic events.  When the water is rising most people pray it will stop raining.  Apparently she went shopping for dynamite to blow the dam.  I've never seen anyone so determined not to accept and act on sound advice.  In fact, the measures she has taken pretty much ensures her drowning. 

Person #2 is pissed off.  Reluctantly I will admit there initially was grounds for her anger.  And then I learned the rest of the story and went "huh?"  Now she wants her pound of flesh, or ton if she can get it.  The part she's failing to comprehend is how extracting revenge will affect her.  Like Person #1, she's running around shopping for dynamite.  Luckily to date she's only found cherry bombs.  I wish I had a way to prove to Person #2 how her mindset and actions are going to bite her in the butt big time and with long term consequences. 

Will I write about these two?  Maybe.  If I do, they will be very minor characters given a few lines in passing.  "I saw your neighbor's house listed under foreclosures.  What happened there?"  Reply, "Oh she got religion and decided God was going to supply her needs so she quit working." 

We all go through ups and downs. We all have times we need a shoulder to cry on, a different perspective or just someone to let us rant. Sometimes our inner house requires a good airing. Think of it as Spring cleaning. Open up the windows, pull everything out of closets and drawers. Out with the old, slap on a coat of fresh paint and you're ready for new experiences. 

It's when you turn your inner house into a hoarder's nest that you become flat one-note personalities and that acts as a repellant to good, positive things entering your life. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Packing Light

For years you have criticized me saying I'm too emotional when I get frustrated and cry.  You tell people I'm difficult when I fail to respond fast enough to suit you.  It feels like a lifetime in which you've made a point of treating me like I have an "off / on" switch like a vacuum cleaner that can be stored in the closet. 

Sadly for years I have taken your contempt.  I've acted as if your ruthless words were falling upon deaf ears.  I have acted upon every demand to the best of my ability despite knowing you will find fault.  There was never a compliment without a slap down. 

When you said "I love you" the words were actually a declaration of your love for you. 

I have often wondered what you see when you look at me.  Thankfully I cannot see me through your eyes.  You have done your best to behave your worst. 

But my universe does not revolve around you.  My future is a wide open road.  The most important question is, what will I pack for the journey?  Pain and anger are as useful as painting the windshield black.  Regrets are like trying to drive with flat tires.  Still, there is in one tiny box a little bit of you I take with me.  The keepsake is a reminder of how not to be.

I want to drive with the windows down and my sunglasses on.  Yet care-free is not interchangeable with "could care less".  There are those I care about and for them I will make detours along my journey.  At times they will join me and then veer off to follow their own path. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I Played with Barbie

I had to behave like an adult again recently.  It gave me a rash.  The trauma was so severe I spent the afternoon playing games on Pogo. 

Growing older is a good thing if only because I can now group experiences together and refer to them as eras. 

Early on there was the Lego Era, which overlapped with the Sending Barbie into Space Strapped to a Bottle Rocket Era.  Poor Mother; she tried her best to turn me into a girlie-girl.  I had the whole tea party set complete with table and chairs.  Mom would rush to the store to purchase the latest Barbie.  She even made additional outfits. I played with Barbie.  Barbie made a great crash test dummy, or bomb disposal tech, or astronaut.  The latter being my personal favorite.  Hey, it was the late 60's - early 70's and NASA was putting men on the moon.  I did my best to launch Barbie into history as the first woman in space. 

This was not Mother's idea of how to play with dolls.  The Barbie Era came to an end the day I mouthed off and said "they are my dolls I can do with them what I please.  If you don't like it, then keep Barbie for yourself."  As punishment I was "forced" to relinquish my dolls.  Alas, Barbie never made it into space.

Looking back I will credit the Barbie Era for introducing very valuable life lessons.  First the difference in parenting between my folks.  Father's version was summarized by "Barbie is yours.  If you destroy her then fine but that doesn't mean I have to replace her."  For the record Dad never purchased a Barbie.  Now ask where I got the explosives. 

Second life lesson: thinking outside the box and improvising are good things.  Basically the lesson is not to accept anything as set in stone just because it's tradition, or the socially dictated norm or just simply because.

I played with Barbie.  My Barbie had no social, religious or economic restrictions.  If she failed her mission I collected the pieces, placed her in a box and got out another.  Third life lesson: set a good example, blaze a trail so that others will want to follow in your footsteps. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

thoughts on me and The Mommy

Hi all, I have a guest blogger - Holly.  She has a few words she'd like to share.

I have heard adults say if they are reincarnated they want to come back as Debi's dog.  Well, that's all fine and dandy but the pickup is still mine.  The Mommy bought it for me; I look wonderful in Atlantic Blue.  It is my mobile doghouse. And it may take you a life or two to get all the hair out of it. 
For all those people who refuse to ride with us because of my hair all over the truck, despite The Mommy spending hours vacuuming - just take yourself off in your sterile bubble.  Easy to see you are not a dog person.

And yes, those are my nose and tongue prints on the windows, mirrors and dashboard.  It's my truck.
Oh yeah, and that's my drool too.

People say I am spoiled.  Maybe it's a reaction to the word "spoiled" that prompts children to announce they want to come live with The Mommy and me.  I'll wait while those of you who know The Mommy well to stop laughing. 

Actually you know, I can see The Mommy snapping a leash on a human child and taking him or her to obedience class. 

Now as I think about it, really what is the difference between doggie daycare and childcare facilities?  Both have playtime, snacks and [usually a chainlink] fence.

Today I got very angry with The Mommy.  She got out the dreaded Dremel signaling it was time for my toenails to be trimmed.  I tried to run.  The doors were shut.  I tried to hide.  When The Mommy reached for one paw I whacked her with another.  Or spun around in hopes of crawling away.  I did my best "woe is me" expressions.  Looking up at The Mommy I pleaded with big brown, sad eyes.  None of this worked.  It never does.  We'd have a real fight on our hands if she even entertained the notion of clipping my nails. 

Now I'm sprawled across the clean laundry, half asleep and wondering what kind of fit a human child would pitch if someone took a Dremel to his or her nails? 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The FarmVille Police

When I first signed up for Facebook several friends convinced me to be their neighbor in FarmVille.  My impression of the game back then was 'a somewhat boring FarmTown knock off'.  After I acquired a few more FB friends and FV neighbors it got a little more interesting.

Around this time FV introduced "Co-ops".  It seemed like I couldn't get near the computer without someone wanting me to join their co-op.  I got IM's and direct messages: "Help me get my co-op badges and I'll help you get yours."  Right off the bat there were two major problems.  One, it seems more than a few people figured out if they joined a co-op and didn't plant/harvest they'd still collect the reward provided the goal was met.  Two, all those people I helped - I'm still waiting.  I don't have my badges, thank you.

Obviously it didn't take very long for me to begin ignoring 'join my co-op' pleas.  However, truth be told the biggest turn off came when the self-appointed FV police got involved.  You know who you are; I don't have to list names.

A small group of players separated into a splinter sect and began making threats.  "I found your name on such-and-such web site.  Remove your name and block the site or I will de-neighbor you on FV".

Seriously?  You've got time to search obscure web sites for FV neighbors names?  I think the clearest message is "you don't have a life".  Names got on these web sites via email, offers in other games or because a FB friend got hacked.  Thank you for telling me I'm on your list. 

Incredibly I got direct messages and emails regarding friends of mine, not necessarily FV neighbors whose names were found on a list.  Talk about gall - unbelievably I was informed if my friend's name wasn't removed from the site I would be blocked.   The FV police actually went through my personal FB friend's list!  At first it pissed me off.  Then I found it funny. 

My stock response was "calm down and walk away from the computer; it's just a game".  Good grief, it these people are getting all bent out of shape over a free game, can you imagine how they behave in a casino where there's real money on the line?

Heaven help the unsuspecting soul who posts a non-police sanctioned FV message or freebie.  Several times I toyed with the idea of sharing the post just to get the police in an uproar.  Alas, sanity got the better of me.  Those of you who know me personally or have been following my blogs know I have a blatant disregard for authority.  Perhaps because they are friends I've behaved, until now.

Months ago I bailed out of FV,  (see blog: Zynga and the afterlife).  Though I eagarly took the option to block all requests, postings and notices from FV, somehow I'm still getting those posted by the FV police.  Curious how theirs are getting through. 

Attention FV police: I grew tired of saying "it's just a game, chill out".  Several times I'd remarked on the irony of your bullying and whining as you have proven time and again to be the biggest offenders in the game.  (read that as meaning all Zynga games.)  It's nice to know you have the time and money to spend on something non-productive.  Imagine the impact you could make if you did volunteer work or visited with real living breathing neighbors.

This is an issue I can no longer ignore.  Quite frankly I'm tired of you.  Mostly I'm embarrassed you're still on my friend's list.


this is not a threat

Monday, February 13, 2012

My Protectors

The other day we were having some pretty good wind, as in gusts over 20 mph.  Holly is not a fan of wind storms and I can't say I blame her much.  She and I grew up in tall tree country where a good blow means flying debris, falling limbs and downed power lines not to mention whole trees toppling over wrecking havoc on anything and everything on the way down.

Now we're in the southeast corner of North Carolina, flat land - and wow does the wind blow!  A while back a shutter tore off the next door neighbor's house and came visiting.  It didn't ring the doorbell.  It tried coming through the side of the house.  Holly looked at me and said "heck of a place you brought us to Mom." 

The stove in my niece's kitchen is in the island.  Instead of having a hood, exhaust fans pull fumes down and then push them out through an opening in the foundation.  Keep this in mind.

Most the time the wind broadsides the house hitting either porch but every now and then it shifts around to hit one of the ends.  Such as was the case when the shutter got us.  Ok, regarding pertinent details of the stove exhaust system, you need to know it terminates on the north side of the house, aka, an "end".

So the other day the sustained wind had Holly and D*O*G periodically running around [inside] the house convinced aliens were dispatching zombies to steal toys, treats and pillows.  Tommy really didn't care what was going on outside, he was dozing atop the dryer. 

Around evening time I kicked back in the living room to watch television.  Holly took position between me and the French Doors to keep an eye out for alien / zombie invaders.  D*O*G gave up patrolling the front of the house and went to search his mommy's room for buried treasures. 

Suddenly the wind shifted swinging around to blast the north end of the house.  It vibrated the garage doors.  Large gardenia bushes rustled and slapped against the house.  And the wind, being wind, found an opening.  Banging and clattering it rushed up the exhaust tube.  Holly leaped to her feet prepared to challenge the enemy.  D*O*G charged out of the bedroom barking.  Not spotting any aliens / zombies, the little fellow stalked around the house growling until he was convinced all was good. 

I told the three it was just the wind.  I could tell they didn't believe me.  Tommy hopped down from the dryer and came into the living room where he promptly settled onto the ottoman.  Holly's attention was focused out the French Doors.  D*O*G was scanning the front door with x-ray vision.  Nothing and no one was going to get into the house with my three protectors on the job.

A strong gust of wind rattled the windows on the north side of the house.  The garage doors shuddered.  Bangs, clangs and a burst of fresh cold air signaled that our defences had been breached. 

Tommy jumped straight up in a manner only cats can do.  If D*O*G had a tail it would have been tucked between his legs as he ran for his bed and dove under his blankie.   Holly stood her ground, or more accurately sat on my feet.

Less than five minutes later another strong gust loudly found its way inside.  I have a brief recollection of D*O*G's toenails on the hardwood floor.  The next thing I knew he was burrowing between me and the side of the chair.  Tommy was plastered to my left arm, all four paws holding on tight.  And my beautiful blonde was tried crawling in my lap but the black small ones refused to share. 

A hoard of zombies, an army of aliens or the entire 81st Airborne Div housed down the street at Ft. Bragg would not have been able to pry us out of that chair.  Twenty minutes, a half hour; it wasn't until the family came that D*O*G raised his head out of my jacket and Tommy let go of my arm.  Holly would like you to think she was protecting her mommy from the "other two".  I think we all know otherwise.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

51 going on 6

Today I had to behave like an adult.  It was difficult.  It requires a different mindset, a somewhat alien one.  In a manner of speaking I sort of liked it, but I don't plan on making a regular habit out of being an adult.

Until recently my life has been geared around taking care of others.  Now I'm learning to focus on taking care of me.  First I had to progress beyond the feeling that I was being selfish.  Believe me, this wasn't easy after years of being told I'm of less importance. 

I think what happened was, when I ran out of demanding people part of my brain shut down.  Basically I went into shock and it took a while to find the reset button.

Chronologically I may be fifty-one yet I feel like I'm five and facing the world for the first time.  There's so much to learn and see and do.  It's bright and exciting and wondrous.  And though everything is so new and fresh I have years of experience to fall back on as a guide for what to do, or not to do. 

I'm learning it's okay to be ambitious and dream big. 

I'm learning it's okay to say this is what I want, and I'm going to get it.

My daily mantra: "The day is what I make of it.  Today is gonna be a great day." 
Pour a cup of coffee and put on a smile.  Most of all remember situations, events, and emotions ebb and flow like the tides.  My plans for the day may not materialize but that doesn't mean failure or lack of progress. 

Questions that do not apply to me: where do you see yourself in five years?  What are your retirement goals?  What are you going to do when you grow up?  The latter assumes everyone must grow up to the questioner's standards. 

I'm smart enough to know goals change.  I'll get bored and move on to something else.  Or a new opportunity will present itself.  Maybe I just have an issue with labels and being pigeon-holed.

Today the interviewer asked what I'm into; I asked how much time she had.  The world is my Disneyland.  The hardest part is having to wait to take the next adventure.  Translate "you must be this tall to go on this ride" into, "you must lay the groundwork, do research and gain experience".  Even hobbies and games require learning. 

So it won't kill me to every once in a while pretend to be an adult.  While the course maybe "second star to the right and straight on till morning" there are plenty of opportunities to visit uncharted realms.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Blonding the World

Holly's motto is "everyone and everything looks better in blonde."  She sheds.  That statement alone barely encompasses the scope of how much she sheds 24/7/365.  I use a grooming mitt on her, outside.  On a typical day out here in NC the wind disperses tufts of blonde hair over several blocks, snagging in shrubs and piling in drifts against houses and car tires.  Unsuspecting people walk or jog through airborne layers of blonde. 

I figure it's only a matter of time before I'm linked to a major crime in Ottawa, or Singapore, or Perth because forensics found blonde dog hair.  Interpol's version of Horatio Cane will be waiting on the back porch when I step out for a cigarette.  Over his shoulder he'll explain how they followed the evidence.  Or maybe it will be Down Under's Mac Taylor strongly suggesting I confess.  With great delight I'll have to ask "you aren't from here, are you?"

Meanwhile Holly will be conducting an investigation of her own.  Amused I'll watch my gorgeous blonde share her hair onto the officer.  Hair that he will pass on to others via innocent causal contact.

Courtesy of the wind Holly's blonding the world.  Years from now, long after this life, forensics will still be recovering strands of her blonde hair.  At some point the scientists will get together to discuss the phenomena.  How extraordinary this one dog has been everywhere, to the furthest corners of the planet.  Birds on Galapagos are using blonde hair in construction of their nests.  Holly hair will be found in core samples of ice from Antartica. 

Right now someone in Mongola is trying to wipe a blonde hair from his or her eye.  A diner at a Paris cafe is complaining to the waiter "there's hair in my food!" 

And my beautiful Holly just gives me that look and says "everyone looks better in blonde."