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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

The New Enforcer

I spotted him last night. He was lurking behind the overgrown weeds that come up between the cracks in the sidewalk. I said hello. He remained silent. I moved to the left. His beady, black eyes followed my movement. I moved to the right. His gaze followed. He wasn’t talkative and that was okay. He was there to do his job and I left him to it.

Early this afternoon I returned from an errand and found him again. This time he sat on the bottom step. I greeted him with a smile and said hello as I walked around him and went into the house.

This silent creature with the black beady eyes makes me smile. He most certainly is a great, great, great grandchild of the legendary Algae. (Algae was one of the best guard toads that ever took on the invading hoards of ants.) I’ve yet to learn the name of the new enforcer of the steps but once he becomes comfortable in his new position, and with me, I’m certain he will share it.

He grudgingly allowed me to take his photo but soon became impatient with his new celebrity and started to hop away. But here he is, my new guard toad.

The new enforcer.

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Pipe Dream

If you can dream it, you can do it.

Walt Disney

A month ago I lost my job.  The phrase, “laid off due to reorganization” was used.

With this lay off the company arranged for me the opportunity to meet with a “human resources” organization. These are folks who were, at one time, members of the human resources department of their respective employers. Their goal, to help the recently laid off find a job by spiffing up their resumes and teaching them to answer those ever so difficult questions like “tell me about yourself” and “do you like to work alone or as a member of a team”. All of which can be found for free on the internet or your local department of Workforce Development (or whatever your state calls it). Since my former employer is paying for these talking heads I agreed to meet with the one selected for me: a soul without a dream.

That’s a hard phrase: “A soul without a dream” but it bears repeating. A soul without a dream.

During my first session, probably when I was asked “tell me about yourself”, I told this advisor that in high school I had dreamed of becoming an animator for Disney but that through the course of my life, and accepting some limitations, I adjusted my dreams. The response from this soul without a dream was, “I never had a pipe dream like that”.

A pipe dream. That statement has stuck in my craw since the moment it was spoken. No one should ever be told that their dream (no matter how old) is a pipe dream. It leaves a sick taste in the mouth and soul. It pushes the heart down and resentment up. How dare you. But as I have thought on it I began to feel sorry for the person who made the statement. How can you have never had a dream? Didn’t you want to fly in space? Be a cowboy, a doctor, a Broadway star? Didn’t you ever stand in front of an imaginary crowd singing your heart out wondering what it would be like to be a rock star? Did you really want to be an accountant when you grew up, a manager of the human services department? Why didn’t you have a dream? How could you not have a dream?

I’ll never work for Disney. That time has passed. But maybe, if one of my children stories ever gets published…maybe Disney will purchase the rights to animate it. So, there’s still a dream…and if you don’t have a dream….what do you have?Laughter is timeless dreams are forever quote Disney

A Winter Dream

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Warm sunlight.

Open windows.

A summer breeze.

The smell of freshly mowed grass.

The smell and colors of flowers in bloom.

Riding bicycles.

A robin.

Crickets.

Butterflies.

Empty

On the eve of any given holiday coworkers, friends, and strangers proffer holiday wishes.  The nameless person answers with an “and to you as well” with a wisp of a sad smile.  Nameless knows the holiday reality.  Not invited to family gatherings Nameless roasts a small turkey then eats before the eternal light of television.  Nameless’ nightly companion.  And so it goes, and so it will be.

August 1, 1864

One hundred and forty-eight years ago today, my great-grandfather shamelessly took 2-3 inches of column space in his newspaper, the Fort Scott Daily Monitor, and publicly announced surprise that there had yet to be (at 10 a.m.) a great hoopla over his birthday.

On August 1, 1864 Dave turned 28.

Today, on the 176th anniversary of his birth (holy cats!) I dedicate this blog to him and share with you his 1864 “plea” for birthday wishes.

Though it be more than a century humor me, and give him a hearty birthday “Hurrah”.  I’m sure he’d be tickled that the world could, and maybe would, serenade him.  Happpy birthday DB.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Today I baked my first batch of peanut butter cookies.

The few followers I have will say, “What?  You never made peanut butter cookies before?”

No, I have not.

“Why not?”

Because I hate peanut butter cookies.  If peanut butter cookies are the only option on the table I will not eat them.  I dislike peanut butter.  Peanut butter is only used as a last resort when there’s nothing in the house but bread and jam….or a banana.  I will eat peanut butter and banana sandwiches, but I don’t enjoy it.

“If you hate peanut butter cookies then why did you bake some?”

Ah, well, there it is.  A fine young man fixed my fizzled computer.  I suggested that I would pay him in bread or some sweet treat.  He laughed.  I asked what his favorite cookie was.  Peanut butter, he answered.   I grimaced and wondered if there was any peanut butter left in the dusty jar on the counter.  Was there a recipe in the Betty Crocker Cookbook?.

Betty Crocker pulled through and the dusty Skippy jar had enough of the creamy gunk for the recipe.

The first and last batch of peanut butter cookies I will ever make.

You must agree that a batch of peanut butter cookies is a better deal than paying the Geek Squad at Best Buy more money then they’re worth.  (The worth of the Geek Squad, that is, not the cookies.)

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Dylan Thomas wrote: “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”.  It is this poem that I think of when loved ones and dear friends pass from this life.

“Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

A neighbor died Sunday.  I’ve known her since I was at least 4, perhaps younger.  All I know is that she’s always been there in the neighborhood.  I played with her children.  I ate at her table.  Her husband would take me along to the beach with their kids. I sat in on adult conversations she had with my mother on the porch.  Iced tea and coffee cake.

 “Do not go gentle into that good night”.

There are those who will say she’s at peace now and in heaven with God and her husband.  Yes. Perhaps, some find comfort in that.  I do not. The finality of death frightens me.  It always has.

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light”.

She died in her sleep so she did not rage against the dying of the light.  I pray she had a pleasant dream as she passed on to eternal life.

God rest and God bless.

Smelly Cat

The title song to Phoebe’s song (from the TV show “Friends”) takes on a new meaning when it’s a dead cat outside the open basement window and the smell permeates the house.   It happened Tuesday night, last week and wasn’t discovered until early Wednesday morning.

A feral cat had taken up residence in my yard about 3 weeks ago.  It, and its partner, wandered the neighborhood for years but belonged to no one.  The cats had a tendency to kill song birds but now and again I would see them nab a mouse or some small rodent out of the bushes.  I never mourned the loss of the rodents.  The loss of the birds ticked me off.

Anyway, I don’t know why the cat decided to move into the bushes and hang out in the vines.  Good small animal buffet?  I’ll never know.  But it was only the orange tabby with the black tip tail that moved in.  I only saw its black and white buddy once.

The cat appeared to be pregnant as it looked like she had a big belly and seemed to “slink” along the ground.  So I named her Slinky.  The cat wasn’t exactly friendly to humans.  It rarely let me get within a few feet of it and I felt no obligation to feed it.  It’s a wild cat.  Like a farm cat it should tend to its own needs.

It had a tendency to lie on the steps of the porch but whenever I came home the cat would dash away.   It meowed at me once, at the beginning of its stay when I told it to stop killing the birds.  (There were four deaths that I blamed on the cat.)

The cat would move itself around the house to stay in the shady cool areas.  But it’s been a hot summer.   Hot with next to no rain.  In the end, I think she succumbed to the heat.  It took me a while to find her (my initial thought that the smell was a dead mouse or bat since the smell came from the basement).  She was laid out in the vines right next to my open basement window.   She was the smell.

That was the first time I could touch her.  In the early morning hours on Wednesday I pulled her out by her black-tipped tail and put her on some newspaper.  The maggots had started on her but they weren’t overwhelming.   I wrapped her up, put her in a bag, then called the Humane Society and asked, “What do I do with a dead feral cat?”  They said they would pick her up and see if she had belonged to anybody.   I am certain that Slinky belonged to no human.  But for 3 short weeks she was kind of mine, my bird stalking cat hiding in the bushes and vines.   Oddly enough, I kind of miss her.

And Then It Roared

Today was the day.

The weather gurus warned that it would be a hot day but I didn’t care.  I baked cookies on a warm Saturday morning.

Today was the day.

Today was the test.

Today was the day I plugged in my brand new portable air conditioner and pressed the “on” button.

And, like an alien ship opening its weapons portals, the unit slowly opened its vents.  Air blew quietly for a moment.  Then it roared.  It roared like a jet engine coming to life.  It roared like an Alberta clipper blasting across the plains.  And the temperature in the house retreated.  78F…76F…74F…ah, sweet comfort.  (But where are the ear plugs?)

Heat

In my post about “Cage Free Eggs” I wrote the line “one can survive in a house without air-conditioning if you know how to play the weather”.  I was wrong.

Mother Nature seems to have read that line and chose to test me.  Starting on July 1st and lasting through July 6th my fair town had temperatures ranging between 94 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperatures mostly hovered around that 100 mark.   (Note: I do not have air-conditioning.) 

I managed just fine through July 3rd.  My trusty fans fought a valiant battle of pushing warm air around the house.  My spritzer bottle sprayed tepid water on my face and body to keep me “cool”.

And then it was the Fourth of July; Independence Day.  On that day we hit 103 degrees.  Our family had a cousin reunion in the park.  We gathered, we ate, we gave “air hugs” (too hot to touch), we talked.  A few little ones had water rockets and had joyous water fights. When I briefly got in the line of fire I wished they would have drenched me a little more.  After a few hours some of us retreated to our homes.  Mother Nature showed her power.

Temp In Garage July 4 2012

I was home by mid-afternoon and entered a house that was at 86 degrees.  I turned the fans on, stripped down to the “bare” necessities, and watched television.  The heat was unbearable.  I filled the tub with cool water and took a cold bath.  That cooled me for a short time.  By early evening, after eating a bowl of cereal for supper, I phoned my sister who has air-conditioning and told her I was coming over.  That’s where I spent my night.

Temp Eight blocks away, July 4 2012

On the 5th I thought I would be able to survive staying home and told my sister that was my intention.  I did okay, until I woke up at 1:30 a.m. and felt miserable.  Gratefully my sis didn’t mind the 2 a.m. call asking her to unlock her house so I could come over and crash for a few hours before I had to go to work. 

 

On the 6th, last night, when it was 103 degrees, I didn’t even pretend that I would stay home.  The weather gods had mentioned there would be a break in the weather but by 9:00 p.m. my house was still at 87 degrees so I went back to my sister’s.

This morning, thinking it would never cool down, I stepped outside to 75 degree temperature.  Oh, miracle of miracle!  There was blessed cool air, and north-westerly winds.  Thank you Mother Nature for sending relief.