Monday, November 19, 2012

Attack Cat

I love holiday socks.  Through the years, I have collected a startling amount of holiday socks, and it seems that Christmas is my most popular type of holiday sock.  This goes without saying, no?

A few weeks back, I found myself at Target and immediately at the bargain bin of socks.  $1 for holiday socks is irresistible in my mind's eye, and so I grabbed a handful!  One pair of the socks was earmarked for my secret pal at work -- an adorable pair of blue socks with snowmen and snowflakes dotting the socks.  Something that can carry right into January!  Brilliant on my part, I was pretty certain.

Oftentimes, when I get home from stores, I have a bad habit of leaving my purchases, junk mail, keys, purses, and assorted other items on my counter.  I am looking for someone to blame this on, but so far, I have not found a suitable blamee.  And so it was that the pair of socks found their way to the pile of other assorted items on the counter, for quite a few days, I guess.  Sadly, I've lost count of how long, exactly, they sat there with the rest of the mess.

The other morning, I stumbled out into my kitchen to make my coffee, and I found those socks on the floor.  I really didn't think much about the find at the time ... perhaps they fell off the top of the heaping pile rapidly growing and spreading?  Not too concerned, I picked them up and again placed them on the top of the pile. 

Fast-forward to this morning, when I grabbed those socks, hell-bent on delivering them to my secret pal. 

Thankfully, I was distracted when I got to school, because when I picked them up later on, I realized two very important things:
  1. They were COVERED in cat hair. And I don't just mean a little cat hair.  We're talking, these things could be their own species!
  2. They were also covered in tiny teeth holes and nail picks.
It would seem that Emmy the Cat hopped up on the forbidden counter whilst I slept and set about killing the socks.  And she did a valiant job at it too.  They are limp ... they are war torn, and they are definitely NOT suitable for my secret pal any more. 

So begins the merry holiday season at the Murray household, wherein the cat will do her level best to tear every ounce of cheer out of the holiday decorations.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Childlike

I am a big girl. 

I get it. 

I have big girl pants, and I need to pull them on.

Sometimes, I forget that, though. There is still a ten year old kid, buried deep inside, that tends to shine through at times, eagerly awaiting the next exciting thing.

I am ... good grief ... sneaking up toward 41 years of age, and I still get giddy at holiday time.  I still look forward to fun plans with friends or family.  I still get so excited I can't sleep at the mere thought of a fun get-away with my favorite people.

So, I tend to get really bummed when plans fall through.  Again with the ten year old girl! 

I don't know how to explain it.  In my head, I understand the flexibility that one needs when dealing with the ever-dynamic, always-changing thing we call life.  I get the phrase "Life is what happens when we're busy planning."  Really, I do, but the ten year old girl inside me still mourns when the excitement is extinguished. 

I suppose I could beat myself up about it.  That I am somehow selfish ... I am immature ... I can't handle change ... I am somehow not normal ... but here's the thing.  I LIKE that I can still manage to find the childlike wonder in things around me.  If that makes me weird or immature or not quite in the head, so be it.  I never intend to be selfish ... that's never my intention.  I just get so excited that it's a bit of blow when the little things fall through in the end ...

Perhaps the ten year old girl inside just needs a good dose of reality ... a good stare at the mortgage payment book ... or the student loan papers ... or the myriad of other things that tend to suck the ten year old out of all of us.  But then, what sort of fun would that be?

This weekend, with a change of plans, I will be out raking leaves ...  maybe the ten year old girl will come to visit, and before it's all said and done, she'll jump in a BIG ole pile of those leaves ... just to experience the wonder of childhood one more time.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Vintage

This past weekend, I started my holiday season early ... well, probably right on time, according to the money-grubbing, overly-materialistic Corporate America; the same Corporate American that is now brushing over Thanksgiving, in an effort to get the best bang for their hopeful buck. 

Oops ... hmmm ... let me crawl off of my soap box for a moment before this rant becomes the blog, which was not my intention at all.  Rather, this blog is a my way of traveling down memory lane, culling the recesses of my memory banks for those Christmases of my past.

If I sit really quietly, close my eyes, and concentrate, I can grab glimpses of those memories ... the smells ... the sounds ...

If I sit very quietly, I can almost hear those scratchy records I use to beg my mom and dad to play over and over on the record player ... the standards from Bing Crosby, Burl Ives, Doris Day, and the rest.

If I sit very quietly, I can almost hear my mom reading those precious Christmas books, her inflections still playing a movie in my mind.

If I sit very quietly, I can almost smell Christmas dinner mingled with vintage Christmas decorations in my Grandmother's house. 

If I sit very quietly, I can almost feel the excitement I felt the night before Christmas, munching on green corn flake Christmas wreath cookies, just bursting with anticipation over what Santa might leave under the tree. 

I think that is why I love VINTAGE so much ... it takes me back ... back to treasured memories of a simpler time ...

Walking through the antique stores this past weekend, while milling about with others in Shelbyville, Kentucky, I was once again transported to that little house on Bennett Street, to an idyllic childhood where anything was possible, and Christmas was filled with wonder and joy. 

Don't get me wrong.  Christmas is still filled with wonder and joy for me.  It's just also surrounded by money woes and worldly ugliness and corporate greed ... and sometimes it's just hard to see past that to the importance of the season. 

The entire reason we celebrate the season isn't for the sights or the smells or the gifts or the good cheer.  Rather, it's a time to celebrate a small child, born in a cave meant for livestock, to a world awaiting his regal arrival.  A pretty sparse arrival for some one so deserving of the royal treatment. 

This year, I strive for a Vintage Christmas ... the one of my childhood ... the one that was filled with delight and wonder and anticipation, but completely centered around the Christ-child and His completely miraculous arrival on this Earth.

So, I begin with Thanksgiving ... feeling so grateful that He chose to come to Earth, in human form, for me ... and feeling so very grateful that I was born into a family that cherishes that ultimate gift. 

And If I sit very quietly, I can still hear my Grandmother read from her worn Bible that most favorite of all Christmas stories ... the one, true Christmas story ... the story of Jesus' birth. 

Monday, November 05, 2012

They Just Plain Aren't Right

My family's track record with animals just isn't all that grand.  Don't get me wrong.  We don't kill them or mistreat them or anything.  We just don't have the best luck with finding "normal" animals.  What at first was thought as a family-pet complex is now an accepted understanding.  The Murray's always end up with "special" animals.

Take, for example, our Siamese cat Ty-Lee.  She suffered from such bad sinuses that she sneezed incessantly, and she left cat snot and boogers everywhere, especially in her favorite spot in the hallway.  There were cat boogers covering that one section of wall that I'm pretty sure my dad just gave up and painted over years after she left us.

Then there was Greta, our German-short hair pointer, who, because of some sick neighbor boys who taunted her with firecrackers, was DEATHLY afraid of storms.  And by deathly, I mean, as soon as the barometric pressure changed at all, she'd work herself into an outright-out of her mind-tizzy to the point that one of us, usually my mother, had to wrestle tranquilizers into her mouth and down her throat so that the rest of the neighborhood could sleep through the night.

Molly, the pretty gray cat we adopted from the litter of kittens my aunt and uncle's cat had, was an interesting feline.  She wanted nothing to do with any guest unless they were overnight guests.  Then she would slip between the sheets with them and sleep the entire night cuddled up against them.  We started calling her Blanche because she slept with EVERYONE.

Cricket was Mom's dog, and while she was hours of fun herself, she had her little quirks.  Like an addict with a bad habit for crack, Cricket was obsessed with popcorn, and if I had a dollar for every time someone in our house made popcorn because the crazy dog was begging for it, well, let's just say I wouldn't have to worry about paying back any student loans.  She also had one of the most disgusting habits I've ever witnessed.  She LOVED my dad's morning breath.  Not even kidding!

Which brings me to Moses.  Moses jumped out of the weeds while my parents were walking down the road, and chased them all the way to their house.  My mother valiantly tried to rid herself of this orange and white beauty, but he quickly weaseled his way into their home and our hearts. Mosey was a pretty boy.  He was like that male model that had all the beauty and no brains.  He audibly gagged when he smelled something he thought was stinky (stink bugs were a great gag-inducing scent for him!), and he would become motion sick and puke whenever you moved a stringed object above him, back and forth.  I mean, what cat does that?  Mosey did.

This past Saturday, my parents lost Moses.  He was 13 years old; he lived a charmed life there at the house on Albion Road.  I'm pretty sure that's why he chased them down the road that fateful morning, thirteen years ago.  He'd gotten word that if he could get into their good graces, he would be allowed to flourish and grow within his "specialness." And that he did.

Rest in peace, Pretty Boy.  Rest in peace.

Emily Post Might Disagree

What?!  Two blogs in one day? 

Listen.  Don't judge.  I have been silent for a while.  It was a given that when I let loose, the words would flow like verbal vomit.

I'm sorry.  Too vivid a word picture for you?

Deal with it.

So, I was reading a DEAR ABBY recently ... can I just stop here and say that I don't really like to read DEAR ABBY.  I mean, the people that write to ask her questions ... do they realize that ABBY is dead?  So that little tidbit begs the question, who is writing the answers to these crazy people's questions?  And furthermore, why not just call them by their given name?  Like DEAR MATILDA ... or DEAR RHONDA ... or DEAR SHAQUAWAYA ... or DEAR SALLY ... or ... listen I could go on and on with this one.  I have the staying power for it.  Trust me.

So, anyway, I was reading a DEAR ABBY recently wherein the author of the letter described being invited to a party, and then, rather abruptly uninvited.  The person asked "ABBY" (and lets put ABBY in air quotes because, let's be real, folks.  If ABBY were writing the answers to these letters, we've got bigger issues than the socially stunted authors of these letters) what she should do. 

And I was all, "Oh my gosh!  Who does that!?"

Then I had to stop and be all, "Wait!  That happened to me!"

Yep.  That is absolutely correct. I was invited to a party once.  I thought it was sort of odd that I had been invited to this particular party, but I decided to go because I didn't know a lot of people, and I thought it might be fun.  As the party date drew near, I started looking forward to it, but mere days before the party, one of the party throwers pulled me aside and said, "You know. This is really funny. There was a mistake.  You were invited because someone thought you were so and so's friend.  You don't have to come.  You can save money on a present this way!"

The un-inviter thought they were being funny -- they thought they were fixing their mistake.  What they were really being was horribly impolite and a hundred different ways of hurtful and just plain tacky.  So, I did what any good girl would do, I marched my stubborn butt into that party and let every one there feel horribly uncomfortable about the whole situation because Megan was invited to the party, but oops!  We really didn't mean to do so.

Rereading the letter, I felt qualified to answer this question, suddenly. I don't know. Emily Post would probably disagree, but I say, hold your head up high and let them kiss your sweet butt as you sashay your way through the throngs of party-goers. Then make a mental note to do two things:
  1. Never invite the un-inviter to anything you are throwing.
  2. Never go back to another party of theirs ... legitimate invite or not. 
This makes me think ... I should start my own column ... I can see it now ... DEAR MEGAN ....

Bloggin'

I have started no less than five blogs, and like the ten plus piles of books dotting the indoor landscape of my home, none of the blogs are finished.

I can blame these half-written missives on a number of very good reasons:
  • Busier than a one-armed paper hanger (not a politically correct description, but oh well ...)
  • Fall Festival
  • After school meetings
  • Sheer exhaustion
  • Sore throat
  • Demanding cat
  • Too many phone calls
But let's be honest here, people.  If push came to shove, and it typically does, the main reason I have not finished any of the blogs is because I have been lazy!

I know.  It's hard to believe.  Me?  Waste time?  Fritter away my days doing endlessly stupid stuff?  You're shocked, aren't you?  But alas, it is true.  In fact, somewhere in Michigan, my mother has just screamed at the top of her lungs, "HALLELUJAH! I've been telling her to stop wasting time for years now!"

I suppose the other reason that I haven't finished any of the blogs is that they have made me MAD writing them.  They are the furthest thing from entertaining, and let's face it.  After you have watched ten bajillion mind-numbing Ben Chandler-is-against-the-coal-miners-but Andy-Barr-loves-the-coal-miners ads, entertainment is not an option, but a must! 

This morning, I found myself hopping out of bed thinking, "Only two more days of political commercials.  Only two more days of political commercials!" This realization is almost as exciting as the dawning of a Christmas morning.

I was going to write a long missive about TESTING in schools, but seriously.  Aren't you all just as sick of hearing about scores and testing and high risk schools and high achieving schools and blah, blah, blah, as I?  Here's a question?  How about just letting us teach?  The reason kids don't really take all these tests seriously is that we are systematically stripping the fun and enjoyment right out of learning, and lest you think I've been smokin' or drinkin' something, yes! YES! Learning is SUPPOSE to be fun.

I know!  Shocking, isn't it?

Then there was the blog I was writing about words, their meanings, and the use of certain words.  But how can you argue with the ignorant out there? I mean, I spend my days trying to teach fourth graders about the results of bullying and how to be a good friend and neighbor -- in between teaching them how to read and write and add and subtract.  Don't you just love that adults, with all these years and years of wisdom, come along behind me and undo all of that by name-calling and then rationalizing the aforementioned name-calling?  I mean, at some point, I just throw up my hands, step back while the ignorant amongst us duke it out, and hope for the survival of the fittest theory to work itself out. It will work itself out, right?

I was going to write about my haggling with the student loan companies, but that subject depresses me just thinking about it.  Actually typing it out in black and white print, might well do me in.

There was the blog about manners in grocery stores or the people that monogram their cars (among other things down here in the South) or the weather or the fact that I must find a Kitchen Clean-up Fairy, stat!

But none of it seems to hold any excitement for me. None of it seems FUN. 

And so I let The Blog just sit ... ruminate ... cogitate ... marinate ... all those -ates.  Perhaps I needed a break. 

At any rate, I have just spent the better part of the last twenty minutes blogging about nothing in particular, which my sister says I do on voice mail all the time. 

Whatever!

My guess is that this political season as sapped all the HAPPY out of my writing.  I'm predicting an up-swing in my blogging productivity post-election, when I will then be inundated with all the MERRIEST of CHRISTMAS commercials, reminding me, once again, of how inadequate my Christmas spending budget is this season.