Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Magic of Santa Claus

I used to get very excited to go see Santa .... until I actually saw Santa! I never really thought the dude in the red suit at the Elk's Lodge (we didn't have a mall back then) was the Santa Claus, but I still became very, very nervous (I mean, they were surely connected somehow, right?)! I suppose things don't really change that much for children, huh? And I suppose that's part of the magic of Christmas ...

My sister and I with "Santa" in the late 1960's.

My sister's grandchildren with "Santa" in 2011.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

It Snowed!

At Christmastime of 2005, I worked at Mount Vernon Estate. Happily, today I found my Christmas letter from that year.

It snowed today! That big, beautiful snow that proves each flake is different. The kind of snow that makes you wonder why some people actually hate it. And if you catch a bit of it on your tongue ... it truly tastes like Christmas.
I was in the atrium at Mount Vernon when it started to snow. Sitting in the round, glass room made me feel as if I were caught inside a charming snow globe on someone's pine covered mantel. The trees and landscaping were absolutely, breathtakingly, incredible.
"No estate in United America is more pleasantly situated than this," is how George Washington described his home in 1793, and as Mother Nature wrapped a light, fluffly blanket of snow around Mount Vernon's shoulders ... I, too, can think of no more beautiful place on earth.
I drove down to Old Town Alexandria after work to shop and bustle as we all do this time of year. The lights through a wet windshield made the old-fashioned street scenes look like a picture postcard. I wish I could paint, because that would be my inspiration. On a night like this, I would like to bundle up, hop in the old convertible, and take a city sleigh ride, letting the snow gently fall into my hair...
Our house looked cozy when I arrived home. A dusting of white on the holly trees outside and a warm golden light peering out through the windows, like loved ones awaiting my arrival. Three dogs curled up by the fire were surprised to see me, as if they had drunk in the snowfall like warm holiday cheer. The house was quiet and peaceful in remembrance of the season.
One last look out into our beautifully picturesque Christmas neighborhood before I went to bed ... and oh yes, it snowed today!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

O Tannenbaum


There is absolutely no rhyme or reason to the way I decorate my Christmas tree. I am not a perfectionist. My tree is not monochromatic, thematic, or even symmetrical. It's just my tree full of memories.
Each and every ornament has a beautiful glint of nostalgia for me. Even the newer ones that I purchased myself at Target, because I bought them the first year I could afford a bigger tree and needed more ornaments!
The only rules are that the angel goes on top, the white dove that was our wedding cake topper gets a prime spot in the front, and anything that makes noise goes on the bottom in hopes of catching a dog's tail from time to time.
Beyond that .... it doesn't matter. I don't care if they overlap and even the "holes" don't bother me too much. I'll hang an ornament that is broken. I still use the bread ties, pipe cleaners and curling ribbon on the oldest ones that we used in the lean years when I was a child. I still hang the ones that are so ugly we were allowed to take them to school to decorate the trees in our classrooms.
The antiques dangle in pleasant camaraderie next to the more modern pieces. My first Christmas out of the Air Force, I was broke. That year my friends, the brothers Wolff (heirs to Wolff Antiques), surprised me with a little tree filled with glorious ornaments circa 1970. I loved that surprise and I love unwrapping those ornaments every year.
No wonder a Christmas tree holds so much magic! It is filled with love and memories and reminders of yesteryear. And it absolutely glows with hopes and dreams!
Now, if I can just get Puzzle to stop being afraid of it and whip one of those low-hanging bells with her pretty little tail ...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

You Better Be Good for Goodness Sake!

I've been listening to Christmas music on Pandora while getting ready for work the last several mornings. I am attempting to induce the Christmas Spirit, and I think it's working! I just heard Santa Claus is Coming to Town and started LOLing with myself.
That song used to scare the bejesus out of me when I was little! Seriously? He sees me when I'm sleeping?! He knows if I've been bad or good?
So, you mean to tell me, all my late night lobbying to Cher and Captain Kirk ... all my well-prepared presentations to God ...
.... all for nothing?!
Santa KNOWS?!?!?!
Ugh.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Really Good Girl

This was last year's Christmas card ....

Christmas Eve was always my favorite night of the whole year! As we get older, that night changes from time to time – perhaps New Year's Eve or Halloween – but when you're a kid, it's Christmas Eve! I would go to bed all nervous and jittery and wake up excited to find the evidence of my goodness under the tree.
In the evening, I would take a nice long bath, and believe me, I could spend hours upon hours in the bathtub when I was little. They would have to drag me out of there all shriveled and shivering and sutff me into a new pair of pajamas (another favorite thing about Christmas Eve) and when my teeth stopped chattering, we would have a treat before bed. On the evening news, the weather man would announce that radar had spotted Santa's sleigh somewhere over … Canada? “What?!” My eyes would grow into huge orbs as I looked at my grandpa for confirmation. We lived in South Dakota and even I knew how close that is to Canada! “You heard the man! You better get your little self to bed!”, my grandpa warned.
So I would scurry off to bed, unable to sleep for all the nervousness. Who could sleep? I had a year's worth of inventory to take on my Goodness Levels.
Was I good enough for a puppy? I don't think so.
Good enough for one of those wagons with a fence around it (perfect for carting around puppies)? I doubt it, and anyway, since I wasn't really good enough for a puppy, the wagon idea was kind of moot. Was I good enough for the Sunshine Family? You know, I think I actually was that good! Yes, I was!
And that went on and on all night. The visions I had were rarely of sugarplums. No, no! My visions were much grander than that!
And it's still like that for me. I still want an over-the-top Christmas. I want the fantasy … the magic. The Hallmark commercial. I still go to bed nervous and wake up disappointed that Santa and his elves have apparently, once again, put me on the naughty list.
This year, I promise to be different. I won't do that to myself. I won't expect a puppy under the tree, which is okay because I already have a puppy and I couldn't love her any more if jolly ol' Saint Nick had placed her in my arms himself (although, how adorable would Puzzle be bounding out of a brightly wrapped box with a big red bow around her neck on Christmas morning?!)
And since Cher probably never did tell God to tell Santa to tell Jerry that I really have been a good girl this year, the one little thing I want for Christmas – a BMW convertible – probably won't be waiting for me (although how adorable would that look in my driveway with a big red bow around it on Christmas morning?!)
So I will put myself to bed on Christmas Eve in my new pajamas with my three loveable dogs and my charming husband and keep my visions to sugarplums (honestly, though, I am not even sure I know what a sugarplum is …. ) and I will be content on Christmas morning knowing that my home is filled with laughter and wagging tails and warm cookies and good health and amazing friends and a family that remains close in spite of the miles between us and … and … and …
and … maybe Santa will bring me just one little surprise … ?!
I really have been a good girl this year!

Monday, November 28, 2011

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

I wrote this last Christmas but never posted ....

Long before Jim Carrey offered up his version, and even before, believe it or not, it aired on television in 1966 (narrated by Boris Karloff, no less), Dr.Seuss wrote a beautiful little Christmas tale published in 1957 called, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
And I just read it aloud to my three border collies. That is the magic of Dr.Seuss: the rhythm and rhyming is impeccable! My dogs were enthralled. One cannot help reading the tale with a delightful pace and animation in one's voice. It's the way it was meant to be. And I had three little dogs tipping their heads from side to side like Lassie, as I read the story of how the Grinch's heart grew three sizes that day.
I cannot remember a time when I was not deeply in-love with the storytelling genius of Dr.Seuss. In fact, when the singers sang of Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer, "You'll go down in his story", I was absolutely positive they were talking about Dr. Seuss. And I thought, "Wow, Rudolph! That's pretty good! If you go down in HIS story, you really are something special!" Because there was no greater storyteller in all the land than Dr. Seuss, let's give him a hand.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas is the time-honored tale of a very nasty, cave-dwelling, creepy creature who hated Christmas and had the geographic misfortune of living three thousand feet above the happiest place on earth, Who-ville. And every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot. So the Grinch concocted an evil plan to steal Christmas from Who-ville in an attempt to turn their happy singing into sad, sad boo-hooing.
But his plan backfired and the Whos sang much louder ... and ... merrier. He had stolen everything from them and they were still singing and rejoicing. And the Grinch then realized (the most glorious realization any one of us could have),
"It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more!"
I think my own heart grew three sizes today, and perhaps, I believe, I like it better that way.

Merry Christmas!

Love at First Bark by Julie Klam

Exactly 19 days ago, I boarded a plane for New Orleans with my friend, Julie Klam's, new book under my arm. (She is my friend! I can prove it on Facebook!) I read Julie's first book, You had Me at Woof! last year and reviewed it for a little online newspaper. (You can find it under Dog-Eared or type the title in the handy "search" feature in the upper left corner.) I was excited to read Love at First Bark.
It's an easy read, even for the slowest of readers such as myself, and I was able to get to get about 100 pages in before I started the waterworks! I was sitting next to a, we'll politely say portly, gentleman who was sharing my armrest and a good portion of my seat and feeling irritated, but I quickly lost myself in Julie's adventures in dog rescue and began the tears for her dogs ... the dogs she rescued, the dogs she tried to rescue, the dogs she loved and lost and the dogs who are still there pooping and peeing on her rugs. I cried for the whole lot of them!
I enjoyed a lovely mini vacation in the Big Easy! I laughed and laughed and bought a few masks and laughed and laughed and drank a few hurricanes and laughed .... I resisted the temptation to buy the I Got Bourbon Faced on Shit Street t-shirt, but came home with one of Willie Nelson flipping off the world! Ha! (I just ruined my dad's Christmas present.)
I was treated to Julie's wonderful chapter on New Orleans on my plane ride home! It was amazing reading Julie's adventures in the city I was just leaving.
And I cried some more.
I don't honestly mind public weeping if it's for a good cause.
This time I cried for the Pickle Jar Puppy and wanted to kindly ask the pilot to turn around so I could go back and get her. (I wish I would have done that.)
Julie Klam tells a wonderful story and possesses one of my favorite qualities in people: the ability to laugh at oneself! Once again, after reading her tales, I wanted to rescue another dog. Although I already had three mixed up rescue pooches, I could make room for another, right? She has such a delightful way of expressing how so many of us feel about dogs. They need us and we need them. Period. And I thoroughly enjoy reading the lengths so many fine folks will go to to help our friends in need.
I went directly to work upon landing and missing my dogs was the only thing that kept me awake for a very long shift. Three happy pups met me at the door and I slept a baby's slumber with my companions by my side.
The very next day, however, my sweet Allie's little body finally gave out on her and we lost her the following day. While crying for Julie's dogs and the rescue dogs and all the little souls out there who need our help .... I had no idea I would soon be crying for my own little angel.
We are devastated and depressed at our house. Wednesday, Allie's biological half sister, is mopey and lethargic. Puzzle, the puppy, is confused and tender. Our house is dark and different.
But I will say again: the sadness and grief we are feeling are worth it. I would not trade this for anything because Allie brought us so much pleasure and love and laughter. She made our home warm. I miss her with all my heart, but I am so incredibly thankful for each and every minute of our nearly eleven years together.
Adopt a dog. Read Julie Klam's books. Hug your furry friends! And weep if you need to ...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rest in Peace, Allie Precious






Allie
December 2, 2000 - November 17, 2011
A beautiful angel who loved to run and play ....
you will be forever missed ...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I am the Son and Heir

Remember that song?
The one that forced your barstool to eject you upon hearing the very first note?
The one that flung you toward the dance floor like your ass was on fire and your smooth dance moves were the only extinguisher?
That song was written and recorded just for you. That song made you feel alive. That song was yours! You owned it! And no other interpretive dance could truly depict the emotion of that song like your interpretive dance.
And you could dance the whole song without spilling a single drop of your beer …. or stopping to catch your breath …. or grabbing your thigh in agony ….
No wonder we were so skinny back then! We had five hours of aerobic exercise six nights a week!
But that song! Ahhhh, that was a great song!
Remember that song?
Yeah, well I heard it on the easy listening station in my car last night.

P.S.
No, I wasn't listening to the easy listening station! I was scanning the dial, heard the first note of that song and wanted to pull over, get out, and dance! Imagine my horror when I heard the Delilah-esque dj telling me I was listening to Soft Hits 104.7!

P.P.S.
Soft Hits. Now that's funny!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Best




There is a church in Old Town that I pass on my way to work. On Sunday mornings, I see distinguished gentlemen in tailored suits laughing and waving and clapping each other on the back. Military men in full dress uniforms, medals gleaming in the morning sun. And shining women with smiles as big as their hats.

I want to join them! I want to be them.

And I know without knowing that if the light would only wait thirty minutes or so before turning green, I would hear the most glorious songs of angels spilling out of that little church ...

And I, too, would raise my hands to heaven.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Boys on 7th Ave


It truly is amazing how I know all the words to sooooooo many songs. I can't remember whether or not I ate breakfast this morning, but I can sing full albums in their entirety even if I haven't heard them in 30+ years.
So I really cracked myself up tonight while I was singing along with Simon & Garfunkel at the top of my lungs in my car on the way home! My WHOLE life, I thought the boxer took some comfort from the BOYS on Seventh Avenue.
And I remember thinking, even as a little kid, "Wow. That's so honest, man."

Asking only workman's wages
I come looking for a job
But I get no offers,
Just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue
I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome
I took some comfort there
... la la la


Well, I still like Simon & Garfunkel. I'm probably gonna continue to sing it my way, though. Like how the Rocket Man keeps burnin' all the shoes off everyone, even after I found out he was burnin' out his fuse up here alone. I mean, it just works better my way!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

We the Animals by Justin Torres

Some people believe in destiny. Fate. That our lives are predestined and we have few choices in the matter.
I don't know if I do.
I believe we are all faced with a series of choices and then faced with a series of consequences based on those choices. And each choice we choose presents a new set of choices and we go through life making choices and living with consequences.
I believe each of our choices stems from the choices of others.
And so on and so on.
I think that's life.
Maybe not.
I believe there are people who believe they have too few choices and I believe there are people who believe they have too many.
And sometimes I get caught up in these circles of thought and I make myself dizzy. Sticky with the webs I spin.
Some people settle into the life presented to them and some choose to make changes.
And this book made me think about these things more than ever.
“We the Animals” is an amazingly raw, heartfelt debut novel by Justin Torres.
It was edgy and deep.
This brutally honest book was so moving, I almost literally could not put it down. I completely enjoyed his writing style which was somehow revealing and emotional and vague all at the same time. I loved that this small book could absolutely cut me to the bone without ever being overly descriptive or gratuitous. The author compelled me to relate to a life that did not parallel mine in any way whatsoever. (Perhaps a little!)
I am actually slightly jealous of Mr. Torres and strangely proud of him, as well.
I loved this book unashamedly and positively cannot wait for his next novel.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Once

Once I thought
I had too much to give
and no one understood
and no one should receive
my heart
Once I thought
the world was much too cramped
would hold me in
and no one could believe
in my heart
I thought it would get better
I thought it would exceed
my expectations would outshine me
my apprehensions would concede
Once I thought
my life was so disordered
and no one understood
and no one could believe
my heart

Thursday, October 6, 2011

An Afternoon Nap

My dreams can be vicious. Really, they are very frightening and surreal. They often scare me to the point where I have learned how to wake myself up when they become too brutal. I am somewhat convinced that my insomnia stems from nightmares.
Thirty years of insomnia as a defense mechanism.
The human psyche is a strange and baffling thing.
I walk around like a zombie due to lack of sleep most of the time simply to avoid dreaming dreams that I find far too horrifying.
Today, I am feeling under the weather. I have been working long hours and feeling an added burden of stress for the last four or five weeks. I am feeling defeated. I am feeling frazzled and exhausted mentally and physically.
So I have a day off and, as luck would have it, I am sick.
Seems about right.
I just took some cold medicine and turned on some bad television in hopes of inducing a long-overdue healing sleep.
I'm hoping for dreams of chocolate cake and apple pie ... of puppies and angels ... of green, green grass and weeping willow trees …

Friday, August 26, 2011

Trembling

As a child, I remember hearing stories of my grandmother's late night visits with ghosts. One such story takes place while she and my grandfather were living on a farmhouse in rural Wisconsin (or was it Minnesota?). I don't know why they lived on a farmhouse when neither of them farmed, but I'm not writing the story – I'm only repeating it.
My grandfather worked for the power company and would be called away many a winter night due to weather induced power outages, leaving my grandmother home alone. She would go to sleep at night and in the morning, she would go downstairs to the kitchen only to find all the cupboards and drawers wide open and all the coffee cups, saucers, silverware, etc. strewn all over the room.
As the story goes, my grandmother would spend all day cleaning up after her otherworldly friends, flop into bed exhausted, only to wake up and do it all over again.
Now, I don't know why my grandfather never came home to help her clean and I don't know why it took all day (it's not like the dishes were dirtied), but in my family you learn at an early age not to question the details.
When I saw the movie “The Sixth Sense”, I really had a mini freak out when the little boy's mom entered her kitchen to find it in complete disarray! It made me a believer after all the years of silently questioning the holes in the story! I was frightened and pleased.
Coming home after the earthquake last Tuesday night was very much the same. The artwork on the walls was hanging lopsided, framed photos had fallen off the bookshelves, lamps tipped over. It was like a pack of drunken Wisconsin ghosts had hosted a party at my house! If ghosts wore clothing, I would have expected to see a bra hanging from the ceiling fan. (I think only the old school ghosts wear clothes and their underwear is completely different.)
So, while I was at work assessing a situation utterly foreign to me, and while three little dogs (I'm assuming) watched in sheer amazement, apparently there was an earth-shaking supernatural shindig going on at my house!
And that's my story.





Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fly Girls!

The first of my two flights today was harrowing. And by harrowing, I mean unpleasant. And really, by unpleasant, I mean typical. Since the noxious gas I smelled was seeping seemingly from my upright and locked tray table, I stopped blaming my husband and began blaming the delicate flower seated in front of me.
And, believe it or not, one of the 8 peanuts they gave me really was rotten (so I gave it to my husband without even wondering why he's the first to be blamed for any and all disgusting fumes).
But other than that, the flight was essentially adequate, I suppose.
The two sky waitresses were amazingly friendly, albeit ridiculous caricatures of actual women. One was a buxom, Southern Belle, with hips as wide as the horizon that hypnotically shifted down the aisle, gently tapping each seat as she passed. Her skin was tanned to leathery perfection with moles strategically placed to draw the eye up, up, up to her bleach blonde, stacked hairdo. Her eyes twinkled a bit under their neon blue lids ….
… perhaps she was simply tickled to be distributing faulty snack food.
Her sister was as skinny as a stick with the palest of pale skin tones. The kind of skin that just barely hides one's spider veins from public view. Her hair was spiked all the way to 1984 and dog dick red. Too much? Okay, let's just say her hair was obscenely red in bizarre contrast to her bluish white skin. She didn't twinkle as much as the first one, but she was nice.
The second flight was just average for me. I got in trouble for using my laptop.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Signs of Life by Natalie Taylor



On March 12, 2011 my fourteen year old nephew, Brody, was killed in an accident. While I've dealt with death in the past, this hit me in a way I could have never imagined. Brody's mom is a dear friend of mine. Brody's dad is my husband's closest brother. They are more than family - they are our friends, our hearts. I've been at a complete loss for words for Brody, and I feel so devastated by that. I want nothing more than to honor him in a way he deserves, but I have been a failure. My heart is broken. My spirit is deflated.
I saw Natalie Taylor on an afternoon talk show one day and I was taken with her charm and demeanor. While in her early twenties, Natalie lost her husband tragically after only 18 months of marriage. She was 5 months pregnant. I immediately ordered her book, Signs of Life, for my sister-in-law.
Of course, I wanted to read the book before I gave it to Brody's mom. The last thing I would ever want to do is give her a gift that would hurt her even more. It took me a long time to read it. I would pick it up and put it down.
Finally I read it.
The author used her journal entries to write the memoir. I loved this. It was real. There were times when she was bitter and mean. Times when she simply could not allow herself pleasure or happiness. Times when she lashed out at her friends and family not even understanding why. It was honest.
Natalie teaches advanced English, so I enjoyed her references to classic literature and poetry. I, too, place myself into books as an escape or reference point to my life. I think of my favorite characters at various times as I travel, often blindly, through this world. I enjoyed Natalie's humor and honesty in dealing with her pain.
Each day, she pushed herself a little harder .... a little more. And each day .... each hour .... got a little bit better. Even when Natalie could not see it.
Everyone grieves differently. No two people feel alike. No one can imagine the depth of another person's pain. My heart aches each and every day for my family, my friends, for the loss of an amazing young life. But each day we get up and we try to be the people our lost loved ones knew us to be ... the people they were proud of.
Each time I see my sister-in-law's beautiful smile, my brother-in-law's kind eyes ... every time I feel a little snap in the air or a white feather floating softly by me ... I, too, see signs of life.



Brody and his cousin, Drew, chatting before a race. My favorite picture!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Becca Home Ecca

Whatever that gene is that most women have, the one that makes you want to clean the house - even enjoy cleaning the house - whatever that thing is .... I didn't get it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Bird House by Kelly Simmons


"Beneath the surface of any problem, if you scrabble a bit, you'll find a secret.
It may take a while -decades perhaps- not for your excavation, mind you, but for your desire to appear; for that childlike curiosity to float up again. Indeed, you may need an actual child to summon it, as I did.
But this is what drives us--the historians, the trash pickers, the gossips, the shrinks. And yes, the readers of books. We're all rooting around, teasing out other people's hidden reasons." [p.1]

Growing up in South Dakota, I was no stranger to waiting out a storm in the dank shelter of our basement. Dark, damp, cold .... it was a curious relief to the blistering heat of summer. I remember my mother going through old boxes of memories while we hid from the twisting summer sky. I remember seeing pictures of her in her senior sweater or smiling with a long lost dog. She told us stories of old boyfriends (one named Earl and one who spelled her name "Rocksy"), her best friend, Audrey Lindbloom (my spelling) and a girl named Twyla Caper affectionately (?) nicknamed Toilet Paper. And I remember thinking .... No way! There's no way she remembers all that!
Ha ha! And now 35+ years later I still remember the names of her old friends and stories told in the cellar some stormy night when I was just a kid. I think what has amazed me most about growing older is exactly how much we don't change! How much we actually do remember and how much we still feel .... very deeply.
The Bird House by Kelly Simmons stirred up these emotions for me in the most delightful way. I loved the contrast of stories told by the same woman forty years apart. How much she did not change and how much she still felt. It made me feel better about my own inevitable aging. Our main character, Ann, told a great story, for sure, while she struggled with her own fading memories, mysteries, feelings of guilt and love .... her blossoming relationship with her precocious granddaughter.
The book is full of mystery and humor .... pain and pleasure .... love and anguish. I couldn't put it down. Due to my own life getting in the way, I haven't been able to lose myself in a good book for a long time and I dearly missed it. This was the perfect read for the steamy hot nights of early summer. I was tempted to take a blanket, pillow, three dogs and this book down to the basement just for the sake of nostalgia, but I resisted!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Puzzle!

Finding Time

I used to take the train every day. Although I couldn't say I loved riding the train, I certainly didn't hate it. It was a long commute, but it gave me a lot of time to read! And I did love that!! I was reading two or three books a month and that was an amazing escape from the hustle and bustle of the real world around me.
I have switched jobs. I have a great new job that pays for parking, so I no longer ride the train. Now I spend that time in traffic .... listening to morning zoo radio or singing aloud, depending on the time. I work a lot of hours and usually work through my lunch break, or visit through my lunch break, or run errands on my lunch break .... rarely do I read on my lunch break any more.
I am sad.
For a brief time I was writing reviews for an on-line paper and I was thrilled for that opportunity, however, I found myself speed-reading through books I wasn't even loving and ended up not enjoying the experience at all.
Finally, after struggling through a new translation of Madame Bovary, I gave up.
Then it took me nearly a month to read a little commercial break of a book titled, "Postcards from a Dead Girl", that I found on the shelves at my office. It was an interesting, humorous little piece about a man slowly (or rather quickly, in fact) going crazy after the death of his girlfriend. Miraculously, he simply cured himself in the end, which I found a little bizarre, but at least I finished a book!
Whew!
So, after noticing that no one has even opened my blog in over two weeks, I've decided I need to make time to read again! I have so many beautiful books to read and enjoy and I miss that time ... that escape.
So, as soon as American Idol is over and the tv shows turn into reruns ... I'm definitely going to read more! (Tee Hee!)
(And more photography, too!)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

When There Are No Words

I have had writer's block for a long time and I am embarrassed. I have not been able to find the words to say good-bye to a little boy who left us long before his time. I have always felt like I have but one talent - writing - and it is failing me now. When I want absolutely nothing more than to give my nephew, Brody, an honorable, fitting tribute .... words escape me. Words are all I have, and they seem to be gone.





Friday, March 11, 2011

Senior Moments .... Already?

Twas raining cats and dogs yesterday. The kind of rain that sends vehicles hydroplaning into each other and off the road. The kind of rain that makes for extremely muddy puppies. And the kind of rain that keeps folks from shopping in full force. And so began my day ....
We were not terribly busy yesterday. I was working the closing shift and cut my staff down to the minimum required to function. We were able to close at the proper time (usually we end up closing much later) and I was happy thinking I would be home snug in my bed by 10:30pm. I am a creature of routine and quickly went through my procedures in a timely fashion. We were all walking out the door by 9:55pm.
I punched in my alarm code as I was walking out per usual but this time I received an error message.
Huh?
(I once interviewed a gent who said, "I don't mean to throw a monkey in your wrench.")
I was not familiar with the error message or what to do when I see an error message, so that really threw a monkey into my wrench, for sure! A series of checks and balances and trouble-shooting on the phone and 9:55pm turned into 10:38pm and I finally left the store secured for the night.
Right?
I was driving home through the rain. At that time of night with no traffic, the drive takes between 30 and 35 minutes. That is just about enough time for my brain to second guess itself six or seven dozen times.
While I vividly remembered checking and rechecking the locks, by the time I reached home at 11:15pm there was .01% of me that wasn't entirely positive the upstairs door was locked.
Drat!
I KNEW it was locked. But my stupid old brain questioned me.
Oh my God! Did I lock the door? I swear I locked the door! Oh no! I left the door unlocked!
So I grabbed my puppy, Puzzle, and drove back to work just to check. I won't even tell you what my brain put me through on the way back to work! It was quite nearly a full fledged panic attack, to say the least.
I pulled into the garage and took a very curious Puzzle with me to check the locks. THEY WERE ALL LOCKED, OF COURSE! The entire premises was extremely secure as it should be and always is ...
I loaded Puzzle back into the car and began driving back home again (it was now midnight). It was still raining and windshield wipers freak her out a bit so Puzzle was in my lap. I was in the far right lane when I stopped for a red light and two police vehicles stopped in the other two lanes next to me. I got Puzzle squared away in the back seat (off my lap) and waited for the green light. When the light changed, I proceeded with caution .... not too fast, not too slow. Don't want to get pulled over for any reason. I pulled forward at a normal speed and looked into my rear view mirror only to see both police cars still sitting at the stoplight!
Oh my God! Did it turn green? I swear the light turned green! Oh no! I just ran a red light in front of two police officers ....

.... it was green. I think they were just messing with me because I am an old lady!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Knowing Us (The B-52's Story)


My husband's birthday is at the end of October and mine is 2 weeks later at the beginning of November. We were married shortly after Christmas (January of 1993). Needless to say, after 21 years of back-to-back gift-giving, well, it becomes increasingly difficult to be creative!
I usually do well with the birthday, okay for Christmas, and by the time it is our anniversary .... I'm out of ideas!
This year I saw that The B-52's were playing at our favorite venue, 9:30 Club in DC! Yay! I was thrilled! I booked two tickets and had a hell of a time keeping my secret!
A week later (the day before our anniversary), my husband asked me if I had the weekend of January 22nd off. "No", I said. "Really?", he said.
Really.
I do not get many weekends off so I was surprised that he was so confused about my schedule.
Finally, I asked why he was asking!
He said, "Well, it was going to be your anniversary gift. Is there any way you can get it off?"
Sadly, I said no.
Curiosity got the best of me, so I said, "You might as well tell me what it was because you're going to have to think of something else anyway!"
He said, "I was going to take you to see The B-52's in Atlantic City!"
Awwwwwwwwwww! How cute is that?! We got each other the same gift, albeit different cities. He was planning to buy the same thing I had already purchased!

Wednesday, January 19th, was the show in DC. I love 9:30 Club. It's my favorite venue for any show. It's like going to a regular bar, except all the bands are really, really good!!
The B-52's did not disappoint!
We like to stand on the balcony. You can see the stage perfectly from that vantage point and it's great for people watching. Plus, it's close to the cleanest restrooms.
I felt a bit cliche' as I stood on the balcony with my aching back nearly bringing tears to my eyes, looking out over a crowd of people that were probably pretty cool at one time. We were once a generation defined by our hairstyles and I found it extremely amusing to see a crowd of bald heads and baseball caps. We were once a well-choreographed wave in a sea of androgeny and now we're just a bunch of decent folks who still like a good show. Our dance moves may be a tad rusty (not me, them, ha ha), but we've still got it! Wish I could be as creative with my hairdos as I once was ....
The B-52's look a little older, but they sound fantastic! They are still having fun. Although Fred's shirt kept creeping up over his man spanx, and the girls look a bit thick through the middle .... they are still pretty damn hip and put on a good show!
.... now ..... what am I going to get Handsome for Valentine's Day?!?!?!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Puzzled

My puppy, Puzzle, is about 7 or 8 months old. She was a rescue dog, so we don't know her exact age. Rescue dogs are fun! Sure, they may have a few issues. We don't know exactly what they have been through ... we don't know their lives before they enter ours, but they are a blessing none the less! Add to her unknown beginnings the fact that she is a border collie and you've got a recipe for some serious entertainment!!!
Puzzle came to live with us on August 11, 2010, and was approximately 2 or 3 months old at that time. She was shy and frightened and, honestly, had such a sad, sad look in her eyes all the time. We were worried about her.
She has two older "sisters" who, frankly, were not terribly thrilled to welcome her into our home. Wednesday came around and has become Puzzle's mentor and playmate, but Allie still scolds the pup simply for entering her air space.
Watching Puzzle grow and learn and come out of her shell day by day has been one of my greatest pleasures! She's a sweet and funny little thing and nearly as charming as Wednesday, which is quite charming indeed!
Recently, Puzzle has discovered her reflection. All puppies go through this and it is nothing short of hilarious when they do, but Puzzle had been particularly funny about it. She doesn't have an agressive bone in her body and her shyness has given way to curiosty over the last few months. So she plays peek-a-boo with her reflection in the fireplace doors. She peeks around the couch to see if the Fireplace Puppy is looking and then takes off quick as a cat into other areas of the house! Or shoots through the doggy door like she was fired from a cannon! It's hysterical!
Yesterday, she came up to my room to watch me get ready for work. All dogs enjoy this for some reason, at least all of my dogs have. There is a full-length mirror on the back of the door and Miss Puzzle caught sight of her new playmate. The best thing to do with a gal like Puzzle is to observe her silently. Fast moves still send her running, but if you sit quietly, you can catch some very entertaining antics!
Puzzle looked into the mirror. Backed up. Moved forward. Turned her head from left to right. Sat down. Stood up.
It was like she was trying to catch the Mirror Puppy making a mistake. Like she was testing it. Maybe she was even figuring out that Mirror Puppy was actually Puzzle!
Picture the scene from I Love Lucy with Harpo Marx. It was absolutely the funniest thing I have observed a puppy do in a long, long time!!!
I must say: rescue a puppy!! You will not regret it! Your life will be filled with entertainment and discovery and love and laughter. These are things every home could use a little more of, in my opinion!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Day Off Diaries

Dear Reb Un,
Today I woke up knowing I had to write a book review for a book I finished on Tuesday and did not, frankly, love. I liked the book. I liked the premise. I simply had reservations. I sat down to write believing completely that I would have to tell my editor that I had nothing to give him.
And then - and believe me I absolutely know how conceited this is going to sound - I wrote a fantastic review! I didn't even have to go back and edit much! I didn't have to count my words and add. I had no idea how I would come up with 450-500 words for a story with absolutely no climax whatsoever, but I did it! And it's good!
Whew!
What a super fantastic way to start a great day!
I feel good!
This afternoon, I am meeting one of my besties, Sophia, for Happy Hour. I am so excited! It will be nice to get out of the house for a reason other than work and to LAUGH! Sophia and I always laugh ourselves silly when we are together and I am really, really looking forward to it!
Today's gonna be a good-good day!
Puzzle is tossing her bouncy ball around the room and it's making me giggle. I must go and play with her! I am freakishly in-love with my puppy!!
See you soon,
Becca

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year ~ Same Ol' Me


Dear Reb Un,
I am sitting here with my newly acquired addiction: coffee. And watching my 22nd episode of Lie to Me in a week. I don't feel like I have been writing enough lately, so I am starting The Day Off Diaries. I am forcing myself to write something on each day off I have. Even if it is lame and boring. I just need to write!
I used to write letters all the time. I would write letters on cocktail napkins, book margins, rolls of toilet paper. Just ramblings and musings and off-the-wall comments. I wish I had mailed them to myself. I am still friends or reacquainted friends with many of the recipients, but I hate to ask about the letters.
So, this is it. Letters to myself, Rebecca Unpublished. It may go nowhere and I'll stop, or I may continue and have a few laughs. Hopefully I won't unearth some long buried memories .... or more hopefully, I will!
So I am beginning this year the same way I begin every year, with self-loathing and sluggishness. I count calories, make lists and promises, try new products .... all in futile attempts to better myself. Perhaps this year I will try something additional (because I am still counting calories, making lists and promises and plan to go to Target today to pick up some magic eye cream): A Postive Attitude!
I am optimistic!
Well, if not before then, I will see you next Wednesday!
Love,
Becca
Pee.S. - If all goes well, there might even be a mixed tape in it for you! (They often accompanied my letters!)