Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Midweek Confessions

I am not sure how I feel about bearing my soul in public, but I've seen so many other bloggers do this, and I am at a loss for writing material this evening.  I am sure this loss has nothing to do with the THREE, count them, THREE days in a row that I have been awake by 3:30 a.m. Not sure why, but I'd rather not make it an even fourth, if you know what I mean!

So, here it goes ... my midweek confessions.

  1. I rewash more loads of laundry than I care to count.  What a waste in the area of my water and sewer bill.  For some reason, I just can't seem to remember that I have run laundry.  What is wrong with me?  Wait! Don't answer that.
  2. I don't wash out my travel coffee mug every night.  I know.  Considering I am surrounded on a daily basis by coughing, snotty, sneezing wonders, you would think I'd scour the thing in Clorox or something.  I don't.  Sometimes, I just rinse it out and go.  I'm disgusting.  I know this.
  3. I can't remember the last time I actually scrubbed my personal bathroom sink out.  Again, I know.  I am disgusting.
  4. My corner lot is the depository for every one's crap that they throw out their windows.  I let it blow into other people's yards.  It will eventually do so.
  5. I never iron ... it's against my religion.  I will wear wrinkled clothing rather than drag out the iron and ironing board. In fact, I've had the same ironing board cover on my board since ... ummm ... 1996?  It's the ugliest thing ever ... so not hip and happening.  But seriously.  Why replace it?  It's hardly been used!
  6. I can't remember the last time I mopped my kitchen floor.  I know. I am disgusting.
So, now that I've established myself as a complete pig and have discouraged anyone from ever visiting my house again, I will take my leave.

I think I need to read a few blogs about organization and cleaning!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Manners Nazis

I was raised by the Manners Nazis. 

You think I am joking. 

I am not.

From the time we could both carry plates without dropping and shattering them on the floor, my sister and I were taught where to put the silverware and how to fold napkins and which side to put the bowls and water glasses on and which is the dessert fork versus the salad fork.  We weren't born into a family of means.  On the contrary, we had a very simple, small town upbringing.  However, my parents both felt it absolutely necessary that Ann and I were going to be raised to understand how to function in polite society.

To this day, I can tell you the difference between a salad fork, a fork for the entree and a shrimp.  About the only thing I still get confused on is which glass is meant for red wine and which is for white.  We were not really versed in such things as children, and let's be honest here, when it comes to wine, who really cares what kind of glass it goes in, as long as it can be enjoyed and consumed in a company of great people and in some sort of vessel that allows me to sip liberally?

A lot of my friends, friends who are raising children today, think it's ludicrous what my parents did, making a child know where the salad fork should go and the butter knife and so on and so forth.  I mean, isn't it serving you well just to know that a fork is used for stabbing the food as well as a means of transport from the plate to the mouth?

Uh, negative.  Not my parents.

If I had a dime for every time my mother or father rolled out the "your actions are a direct reflection of us as parents and no children of ours are going to be eating in front of people looking like they were raised in a barn" lecture, well, let's just say I could have a brand new, fancy schmancy bathroom right now.

"There will be a time," my dad would say, as he grandly unfurled his cloth napkin before setting it genteelly in his lap, "when you could be at a lunch or dinner meeting with a boss ... or a client.  You need to put your best foot forward.  That foot does not include being completely clueless about what utensil to use."

And then there was the necessity for polite table manners, lest we forget! 

Oh dear me, if my elbows landed on the table!  If I dared to slouch down in my chair.  "So help me, if you can just drop your lip on your plate and shove the food in, you are too close, and I will snatch you up so fast, your head will spin!  Who wants to see that at a fancy dinner meeting?"

I tried valiantly to reason with them.  "Dad ... Mom, I am going to be a semi truck driver (this was during my short-lived BJ AND THE BEAR-inspired years)!  Who cares how a truck driver eats?"

"I care!  And your mother cares.  Your behavior is a direct reflection of our parenting, and no child of mine will eat like they were raised in a barn."

To make their point more visual, they would often point out various table manner infractions while we were out to eat ... in public.  One famous instance was when we were vacationing in Mackinaw City, and we'd gone, after church, to one of our favorite spots, Teysen's Restaurant and Gift Shop. 

Teysen's was a kid's smorgasbord, mainly, because it was sorta like smorgasbord.  For years and years, Mr. Teysen employed native Mackinaw City residents, ladies with family recipes that would knock your summer flip flops right off.  Mr. Teysen set his restaurant up as a cafeteria-style.  You walked in and lined up right near the big ole stuffed Michigan Black bear, and Teysen's employees greeted you with a smile as they helped you grab baked beans in a pot or shave that luscious, melt in your mouth roast beef or the buttery, flaky HORRIBLY FAMOUS Teysen's chicken pot pies.  The recipe is said to have died with its originator, a long-time cook at the restaurant, and I have never since eaten anything so flaky and heavenly in all of my almost 41 years.

We loaded our cafeteria trays up, always making sure we smiled and thanked our servers, per our parents' teaching, and made our way to our table.  As I was settling into my seat, this particular Sunday, getting ready to dive into my chicken pot pie, my dad gently grabbed my arm and pulled me toward him -- a sure sign that he was about to point out yet another "disgusting eater."   I used to HATE when he would do this, but I couldn't help but agreeing with him, after all those formative years of visuals, that yes, in fact, the guy in question, was a "disgusting eater."

"I don't want to point, because pointing is rude, but see that man over there, with the jeans and red t-shirt?  What is wrong with what he's doing?"

I rolled my eyes and tried to pull my arm away.

Yeah, Manners Nazi Grande Poo-ba wasn't having any of it.  He pulled me closer, and slightly more tightly, "What's wrong with what he's doing?"  he asked again, this time a bit more insistently.

With a sigh, I whispered back, "He's not sitting up straight."

"Exactly, if he were any lower to the plate, he could just drop his jaw and push the food from his plate to his lower lip.  A disgusting eater. He is not going to impress anyone with those sorts of table manners."

"Yep." I said, half-heartedly as I thought about the fudge and junk shop trinkets that we ALWAYS got to look at after we were done with dinner.

"One day, you will find yourself in the company of people that will judge you on your table manners.  You don't want to look like that guy, do you?"

And while I kind of felt badly for the poor guy, I had to admit, my dad was right. He did look like he ate his food from a trough.  Perhaps he mistakenly thought that the casual dining extended to how he put the food in his mouth?  My mother insisted that wasn't the case.

Another time, at another family favorite, Kenvilles, we witnessed a woman wipe up the remains of mashed potatoes and gravy with her finger and then lick it off.  "UCK!"  My dad said, with this look, that to this day, makes me giggle with the glee of a small child.  "That is a disgusting eater.  Look at that.  Would you do that in front of your boss on a job interview?"

"Dad.  Really?  Who goes on job interviews at restaurants?" 

"Plenty.  Listen, it could happen, and do you want to be the one that cleans her plate off with her fingers and then licks them in front of a CEO?"

He did have a point.

As we got older, I started pointing out the "disgusting eaters" to my parents, which I think they secretly enjoyed.  Like, "finally, something we've talked about until we were both blue in the face has stuck!"

So, you can imagine their absolute glee, when, as the associate director of my alumni department,  I was moved to a head table (a privilege only those senior members of our department were normally allowed to do) at one of our fanciest alumni dinners, and I dined with three very important CEOs -- I told them that they all complimented me on my "charming dinner conversation and how well I handled myself."  I didn't really see myself as charming.  I chatted with them, something I seem well-equipped to do, and as far as the courses of dinner, well, I didn't mention to each of the men and their wives that I was raised by the Manners Nazis for just such a moment as the one I found myself in!

Oh the joy and jubilation on those two faces when I informed them of who I dined with.

I hate to admit it.  It means they were right.  And who wants to admit that their parents were right?  Yet in my adult lifetime, I have had the privilege of numerous lunches and dinners with some rather important individuals, and those manners lessons have served me well.

And so I publicly thank my parents, the Manners Nazis, for giving me the ability to hold my own during various dinner parties and luncheons.  There are a lot of things I am not, but one thing I will never be is a reflection of poor manners and the lack of "foctching up" in the area of table manners as it relates to those two!

Bravo, Mom and Dad.  Bravo!

It Was Random, Really

The sun is coming up bright and beautiful, and don't get me wrong, I am eternally grateful.  My outlook on life is so much cheerier when the sun is shining.  For those of you that think the cloudy sky disorder, or whatever they call it, is just a bunch of poppycock, well, then you are full of the same sort of poppycock!  Endless days of gray and dreary really wear on a body.  It's true.

Today, I woke up BEFORE the sun rose, which is a cruel punishment on a Sunday, when one has to spend five out of the seven days rising before the sun.  It was random, really.  I was awakened from a lovely slumber by, of all things, a sore toe!  I know, right!?  A crazy toenail woke me up at 4:30 a.m.

All I have to say is thank goodness for coffee!  In fact, after I poured my first cup and took a long slurp, I uttered out loud, "Praise Jesus for coffee!"  And I was being sincere.  Really.  Praise Jesus for the man or woman that thought through the growing, harvesting, roasting, grinding, and brewing of coffee.  That dark liquid miracle in a cup has gotten me through a myriad of foggy mornings, and I, for one, am eternally grateful.

Now, if we're talking about an evening beverage, allow me to introduce you to my newest favorite bottle of booze! 
Pardon the funky fridge photo. That is all healthy stuff you see in there.

Moscato is my latest wine de jour.  It is just sweet enough but not too sweet, like those cough medicine sweet wines that make me gag.  And a Moscato isn't too dry.  Dry wine gives me a stomach ache ... oh sure.  I would probably grow to enjoy a Chardonnay, but why bother when you have Moscato? 

Some brilliant sommelier, or wine maker or whatever you call the person that has been sooooo brilliant, has come up with an ingenious invention, so to speak.  That of a bubbly Moscato; I mean, it truly is bubbly heaven in your mouth.  Those bubbles can be dangerous, however, because it is just a happy dessert in your mouth sort of experience. 

Which is why I am super careful about how much of it I drink, well, that and the fact that it contains soooo many Weight Watchers points, and I am getting ever closer to reaching my 10% goal (almost a year after "joining up" again), and man!  It feels so good grabbing stuff off the rack at Goodwill, as I did last night, and donning it, only to discover that my biggest issue is to make sure it isn't TOO big or the worst color ever for my skin tone.  Oh I have a long way to go before I am at the end of this bumpy ride, but it feels soooooo very good.  I am so very thankful to the faithful few that have encouraged me as I attempt to drop what equates to a small child from my body -- they have cheered me on, not allowed me to rationalize my bad behavior, and have been nothing but happy for me.

Isn't it amazing when you have cheerleaders on your team?  I use to think that cheerleaders were not necessary to the vital role of a team, but I am beginning to see that they, in fact, have a very vital role to play.  They keep morale up.  They keep the crowd roaring.  They provide the entertainment factor necessary to get through the rough patches in the road to victory (or possible the train wreck of defeat).  I can't say that I have tons of cheerleaders on my team, but those I do have, cheer hard and cheer loud.

I thought for a while that I wanted to be a cheerleader in middle school.  Then I found out that I would have to create my own routine, and, well, that ended that thought.  There are a lot of things from my youth that seemed so important at the time that really isn't that much anymore.  I suppose that's the way it should be.  We mature.  Our tastes grow -- hopefully, for the better, and we, in some cases, gain some taste!  Case in point, below.

I used to dab, okay, maybe drown would be a better word choice, the perfume contained in this adorable little bottle.  The bottle is much cuter than the perfume smelled.  Thank goodness my perfume tastes have grown to something that smells slightly better than wallpaper paste!  Still, to be able to see that old Avon perfume bottle, a collector's bargain, at $8.00 (only $3.00 or $4.00 more than what the original cost, I am relatively sure) did my heart good.  A bit of my childhood right there in front of me.  And then I remembered where I was ... an antique/peddler's mall. The full understanding of my age began to sink in as I stood marveling at that little bottle.
It was random, really ...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ever Have One of Those Weeks?

A sinus infection knocked me off my life.

Okay, it didn't literally knock me off my life, but man!  I feel like I missed a ton of stuff. 

Ever had one of those weeks?

I feel sort of behind, even though my laundry is almost caught up, my house is picked up, and bills have all been paid.  Still I feel as though something is off kilter?  Ever had one of those weeks?

I have the best friends ever!  They have checked in with me through out the week ... offered to bring me meals and do Kroger runs ... and just sent words of encouragement while I was whiny and battling my sinus infection.  They were much better friends to me than I am to them. And still I feel as though I am out of touch with them all this week ... like I missed important details of their lives.  Ever have one of those weeks?

I have been having this ongoing discussion with a friend all week, and now, all of a sudden, nothing. I couldn't help but wonder if I said something in my snot-induced stupor over the course of the week that, well, you know, might have been off-putting!  Ever had one of those weeks?

I read a book this past summer by Ed Welch, When People are Big and God is Small.  What a freeing book as it really spoke to how we allow what we think people are feeling about us to invade our minds, and then, by proxy, assume that is exactly how they are feeling.  Most of the time, it's not!  We give a lot of power to our selfish selves, thinking that other people are that focused on us, when, in reality, they are more centered on stuff going on in their own lives ... implosions of family dynamics ... marriage issues ... financial strife ... every day life ... it all churns to a boiling point, and that, most likely, is what others are wrestling with ... not anything we THINK we might have said ... or not said. 

Ever have one those weeks?

Repeating that question in my mind once again this morning, as I puzzled over what I could have said ... or not said, I was reminded of Ed Welch's words, "We spend too much time wondering what others may have thought about our outfit or the comment we made in the small group meeting. We see opportunities to testify about Christ, but we avoid them. We are more concerned about looking stupid (a fear of people) than we are about acting sinfully (fear of the Lord)."



It took some time spent with my sister and her roommate, laughing and talking and junkin' to remind me that I can't help what someone may or may not have read into my snot-induced coma this week.  I try my best to be an even-keeled individual, but I am human.  Mistakes are made.  And most of the time, it really isn't about me ... or my sinus infection ... or the fact that I am having one of those weeks? 

Sometimes, it's really about someone else's hang ups ... someone else's worries or frustrations or struggles or denials ... and I can't own it.  It's someone else's just-one-of-those-weeks.

We ALL have one of those weeks, and that's okay .... that's normal ... that's expected. 

It's just one of those weeks ...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hoarding: Buried Alive?

There is the distinct possibility that I could be a closet hoarder ... just a wee bit. Not a full-fledged hoarder, mind you. Perhaps I could be classified as a Stage 1 Hoarder.  A semi-hoarder, if you will.

It's just that, while cleaning out closets and, well, whole rooms, I run across stuff.  Lots of stuff.  Old stuff.  Very old stuff.  Twenty-year old stuff.  Twenty-year old stuff that has moved six houses ... and across two state lines ... maybe ... okay, for sure, it did move across two state lines.

But it's not because I can't part with the junk.  It's that I am overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of stuff in a given location, and rather than deal with it, I shove it in things.  Like boxes ... like old, broken down envelope boxes ... for instance ... maybe ... okay, yes!  I found a crap load of stuff in an old broken down envelope box.  I admit it!

I'm pretty sure that, back in the 70s, when I was a small tyke, and I had that bright, banana-yellow plastic purse, I shoved all sorts of crap in that!  I know I did, cuz I can remember grabbing the papers that my mother piled by her feet while she was paying bills ... the papers that she was going to recycle or throw away ... and I'd stuff them in stuff before she could squeal that I needed to keep my hands off.  I am relatively sure she squealed those words because she found countless wads of papers in various vessels, if you will, while cleaning my room, which, now that we're on the subject, was something that I just absolutely abhorred doing.  And by abhorred, I mean, i would have rather hung upside down by my toenails than actually clean my bedroom.

As I mature, I find I am getting better at getting a handle on that stuffing of papers and what-not, and I am more willing to throw it away.  However, I have to get to that point....and that is the majority of my current problem.

My office.

When I bought this house, I was so excited to once again have a location where I could write and pay bills and do all sorts of officey stuff in ... but then the task of unpacking began and all the STUFF that I couldn't find a home for, went into the office and the office's closet. 

Two years of accumulation has culminated in me screeching, "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!" 

Tonight, I tackled one corner of the room.  Yes, that's right.  One corner of the room.  I know.  It's sad.  However, it's such an accomplishment!  One corner of this room is almost completely cleaned.  And I've recycled stuff!  And thrown stuff away!  And filed important stuff!

Tomorrow, I will tackle another corner, and then, maybe, just maybe, that dreaded closet! 

Oh it's the baby steps that get us to the BIG PICTURE ...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Evolution of Hair

I've been looking at old photos.

Oh my!

My hair!

Ummm ... some of those styles seemed like a good idea at the time.  


Shall we take a moment to reflect?

Hmmm ... there also seems to be an evolution of make up use and application as well...


I got up and made myself an amazing breakfast this morning before I headed out to run errands, which is not the point of my story, but when one needs to toot one's horn, one finds very creative ways of doing so.  I mean, look at how amazing this breakfast was!

Oh, how I digress!  Where was I?

Yes!  The truck.  A cranked up radio.

It was while I was out in my truck, radio cranked up, singing tunes and running errands that I started thinking about the girls in my life that I consider my closest confidants ... those chicks that I would totally do a road trip with ... who would sing at the top of their lungs with me to that cranked up radio ... bumping along back country roads looking for an adventure.  I was just thinking about these girls today.  These girls call me on my crap.  These girls are my biggest cheerleaders.  They give me the greatest advice -- and maybe some slightly off kilter advice as well -- after all, they are my friends!  They laugh with me, cry with me, shout with me, get angry with me, feel passionate about the issues with me ... they are my true friends.

People use the term blessed with such a flippant air, it also seems to have cheapened the meaning of the word.  But I can think of no other way to describe how I feel when I think about the women in my life that choose to do life with me.  They are creative, passionate, diligent, hardworking, mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, aunts.  They are strong-willed, exceedingly forgiving, beautiful, committed, constant, tireless, and I am beyond blessed to call them friends.

Raising a glass to the Besties in my life today!  Cheers, girls!  You inspire me in ways I couldn't possibly explain.  To our sisterhood!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Baby Steps

My mother contends that, as a child, I would always rather whine about tackling an overwhelming job than I would just digging in and getting the job done.  I could, supposedly, spend an entire day on the task of cleaning my room, wasting precious organizational hours crying about the fact that I was being made to clean my room in the first place.  Had I just buckled down and GOT R DONE, the whole undertaking might have taken me less than a few hours.   

Some things never change.

I get seriously overwhelmed by the tasks at hand, most days.  Overwhelmed is sometimes an understatement.  Perhaps a better phrasing might be PARALYZED, FROZEN IN ONE SPOT, or INCAPABLE OF FIGURING OUT WHICH STEP TO CARRY OUT FIRST.

I know.  It seems so ridiculous.  I mean, I am a college graduate.  For heavens sake, I hold a graduate degree now!  I know this because it's hanging on my hallway wall!  And yet, I am incapable of figuring out how to tackle a large project. 

Oh don't get me wrong.  I eventually get it.  It comes to me in the flurry of "last minuteness."  But I sometimes envy those that think ahead and see the smaller pieces that fit together perfectly to create the larger picture.

I have no ability to see the smaller pieces because I am too busy trying to figure out how to take a large bite out of the big picture.

This weekend, I had a revelation.  The grand epiphany, if you will, is thus:
It's less about the BIG picture and more about the baby steps that get me to the BIG picture.

Oh my goodness!  How did this epiphany elude me until now?  It hardly seems possibly that I have gone this long without this golden nugget of knowledge, and yet here I am, an almost 41 year old woman, just now learning that it is okay to focus on the baby steps, and by focusing on the baby steps, I eventually get to the BIG picture. 

One baby step at a time ...

I might just whip this life into organizational shape yet!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Review of 2012 ... in Pictures!

I am a few weeks behind ... This surprises ANYONE why?  It's been a lot of fun going through all these photos.  I had a lot more fun in 2012 than I thought.  Who's up for some fun in 2013???