Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Concert, A Dog and a Funeral

Today just seemed like a REALLY good blog day. So much to say that I really don't know where to begin. Perhaps I will start with.....I am one of those facebook people that my mother in law and many others "hate"! Why???? Because I actually use fb to it's fullest. Between fb and my blog....there is really very little that people who read me don't know about me. That is not to say there isn't more to know or that I tell all the family secrets....but I am pretty forthcoming with everything from the kind of day I am having, to prayer requests to desperate pleas of "please help me find my dog"! Just to be clear though...I post only about myself and only that which I am comfortable with. I never post gossip and I try very hard to stay out of others business. Other than that though.....fb and blogging are my basis for free expression and you simply never know what I will post. that that is out of the way....and really has little if anything to do with today's blog (except for maybe the dog posting part) let us continue.

Today is the first day of summer. Hmmm....funny as it has felt like various stages of summer around here since March and my electric bill has certainly been reading like summer for several months. Again though...I digress. Today is the first day of summer and what a day it has been. I guess though it started a few days before. This has just been a stressful week. I knew there was a funeral in my future and I don't do funerals well. However...there are just some people in this life that deserve to know you cared enough to attend...not so much for the departed but more for those who have to go on and deal with the days, weeks, months and years that almost seem insurmountable at that particular moment.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum...I also knew there was a concert in my future. It was my first one in about 13 years and was also to be Z's first. There is a little bit of pressure on a parent when you are responsible for your kids first concert and the fact that you are driver and escort too.....means it all better be really good.

Along with this....friends made sure this last weekend that when they came and picked up David's hospital bed that I too would have a bed to return to upstairs (my old one is no longer). The mile stone came and the hospital bed is gone and last night was David's first night since early April that he slept in his own bed and I in mine. The only thing that could have made it any better would have been if I had actually slept!!!!

So as you can see there has been a lot going on. As usual though....things slip in and out of sync (like naughty little dogs running off) causing what I like to call speed bumps throwing things out of whack and throwing everything off track and that leads me to this blog!

Last night was the night! Z and I had tickets to see Ted Nugent, STYX and REO Speedwagon. We even had really great seats and this was to be Z's first concert. His real first concert would have been Avenged Sevenfold but he had to choose between that and theater. He chose theater and has had regret ever since. So I figured some old school rock would be a great way to get him started on his concert going years. And lucky a bonus....he got to go with me! As I said....I felt the pressure of making this a great experience for him and all seemed to be on track. It was actually a great concert and I even felt my heart skip a beat or two as Ted took the stage. It made me realize that this really was a memory that Z and I were making together and no matter how many concerts he sees in his life.....he will always remember his first one and going with his mom. Little did we know that there would be more reasons to remember this night later on.

Ted Nugent rocked like no 60 year old man I have ever seen. While growing up I knew some of Nugents music however I was never a hard core fan but the man can put on a concert. As I looked around at the audience there was a mixture of people my age and a lot of kids Z's age. Obviously there were many parents and kids sharing the concert experience. It was also kind of cool to note that these bands had withstood the test of time and they had a fan base not only in my generation but also in my sons. Just wondering when Z prepares to take his kids to their first concert if bands like Avenged Sevenfold will have weathered the years as well as these guys have?

After Nugent left the stage.....then STYX made their appearance. Okay...I must admit that my heart did the teenage girl flip when Tommy Shaw took the stage. How is it that this man looks just like he did in the 1980's? With only two original members remaining....I have to say that they rocked the house. The replacements were phenomenal and Lawrence Gowan really did not leave me missing Dennis DeYoung at all. During Grand Illusion and Come Sail Away I was transported back to a time when STYX was new and I fell in love with their music all over again. I looked in Z's eyes as they played and I realized that the love of STYX was being carried on to the next generation.

After an encore performance STYX finally left the stage and then it was REO time. I don't know whether my ears were just ringing or what, but I really couldn't hear the music at this point. Perhaps after two high volume bands and being just a few rows from the ears were starting to remind me that I no longer had the hearing of a twenty year old and these middle aged ears could only take so much. At any rate....just a few songs into the REO set we received a text that David's dog Spud had escaped the back yard and was no where to be found. It took Z and I about two seconds to decide that REO would have to wait until another time.....we had to find Spud.

Once home Z and I and some really awesome friends....took turns driving the streets and calling for him. Of course my mind went to the worst possible place as we live just a couple of blocks from the railroad tracks. We did find someone who had seen him running about 5:30 p.m. so he obviously made his escape just minutes after we took off for the concert. Finally at 2 a.m. we gave up the foot/car search and I took to fb posting pictures and asking anyone who might have seen him to contact me. I then tried to sleep in my new bed. David slept quite comfortably in his bed but sleep was not about to come to me. Each time I closed my eyes I was sure I heard Spuds collar or felt him nuzzle up against my leg. This would bring me straight out of bed and I would head for the front porch and call for my wayward four legged child. Then I would head for the backyard hoping that maybe he had found his way back in. Only the wind greeted my calls and still no Spud! Finally about 4 or 4:30 exhaustion over rode worry and my eyes shut, but not without dreams of waking to find Spud waiting on the front porch. At 7 a.m. my eyes bolted open and I rushed for the porch. No Spud. So this was what this day was going to be like. Great!

I tried not to think about Spud while I dressed for the funeral but that was difficult as David kept looking for him, his counter parts Izzy and Shane kept crying at the gate where he had made his escape and Z looked like he had lost his best friend. Yeah...I was having an awesome morning.

I left and picked up Berty and then we headed to the funeral. It dawned me as we were ushered in and sat down that this was the first non-Catholic funeral I had ever been to. I was pretty sure though that aesthetically.....most funerals were basically the same. I was right. The wife had picked out wonderful music and it played as pictures of his life appeared on two large screens. I had not really known him and had only talked to him a few times but through the pictures you saw a life well loved and well spent even when cancer came, stayed and often tried to take center stage. After the family filed in and the minister began....he assured us that this was not about sadness but about celebrating a life and that this man was celebrating in heaven. I liked what was said and was sure that the wife had helped to form many of the ministers words as I knew these were many of her sentiments about his life and his death. I did well during the funeral....partly because I liked hearing that this was a celebration and partly because Spud was heavily on my mind. It got dicey for me though when the song "What a Difference You Made in My Life" by Ronnie Milsap began to play. The room was silent except for the song and you had no choice but to hear the words. I could feel the tears trying to surface as I heard others sniffling around me. I don't know whether it was because I kept having flashes of Spud, or whether it was because thoughts of my own husband were hitting me or because I truly knew the loss this young woman was facing and I knew the mark this man had left on her life. Whatever the case....I didn't dare look at Berty because I knew if I saw one tear....I was done for. Luckily the funeral ended soon after and other than a single rogue tear....I survived without the dam breaking. I later learned Berty was not looking at me for the very same reasons.

As much as I hate funerals...I dreaded going home worse. Walking back through that door meant I had to face that a family member was missing and honestly....he might not ever return. I also had to see the faces of my children and deal once again with the "what ifs" of finding him or not finding him. I drove home feeling the double whammy of funeral and lost dog. It is not a pretty combination. As I walked in the door....I was greeted by.......Spud! Someone had found him the night before, taken him home, cared for him and then called the vet this morning to find his owner. On seeing that silly puppy face and knowing he was safe at was then that I cried. All the firsts, the mile stones, the lost family member and the funeral finally hit me like a brick......and I cried like a baby.

So today it starts. Z has moved onto the older teen portion of our program...where concerts will be a part of his world. He was started out well thanks to Uncle Teddy, STYX and REO. Spud is home safe and hopefully his roaming days will be halted as my trusty hammer and nails will be fixing any bad fence boards. The funeral/celebration is over and now a new and different life await my young friend whose husband now walks on golden streets among the mansions of heaven. What a day! And so this is what you get when you have a concert, a dog and funeral all in a 24 hour period! The End.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

And Once Again.....Pot and Kettle Meet

I think I may soon be winning a Nobel Prize or something as I have just come up with a ground breaking piece of information for all creative types. If you feel as if you have a creative block....just start thinking about all the "chores" you have to do and should be doing and suddenly the cobwebs disperse and the ideas start to fly. Or maybe that is just me and just one of the thousands of ways I find to procrastinate. Yeah....that is probably it.

Anyway.....after having a lengthy discussion with a little blonde friend of mine this morning we were disconnected by my cell phone dying and then further disrupted by a neighbors visit. All of this while I was attempting some self hair color in hopes of saving a few dollars (am quite sure I will be heading back to a professional before all is said and done). Yes...I am gray (really gray) and I don't care if I am 90 my hair will still be some version of auburn/blackish/purplish/redish...anything but grayish!!!! Anyway after talking to my friend I thought about our conversation...alot.

This little woman drives me crazy. She is beautiful, smart, funny and she knows everyone (or at least everyone knows her) in our hemisphere. This girl has gotten up in the middle of the night to meet me at the ER when David was taken in. She fixed my family an entire Thanksgiving dinner when David had surgery over Thanksgiving and she has been a supporter of me in many cases....some she doesn't even know I know about. That being said....she has never seen herself as the woman that those of us who know and love her.....see her as. A lot of this self doubt...which often times results in self sabotage comes from family.

Isn't it amazing that family is suppose to be our safe place and our comfort zone, but often times it feels more like a war zone? Sometimes it is biological family and sometimes it is extended family....but they all seem to have a hold on many of us that effects how we see and/or feel about ourselves. In her case...for a lot of years....extended families attitude has been a reflection of how she see's herself. If you are torn down, broken down, and told you aren't good enough....enough times, then that starts to be the perception you have of yourself. It can hold you back and effect how you interact with others. I spent almost the entire conversation telling her how the people who love her and truly matter in her life see her and it is a far cry from how she has seen her self over the years. I was amazed that she didn't realize that it is usually the people who put you down the most and make you feel the worst about yourself that actually would give their right arm to have half of what you have going on. I have believed for years that this is what has been going on with her and I am so proud to say that in the last few years she has started coming into her own and seeing herself more as the person she truly is instead of the person that some around her tried to make her believe she was.

As I washed the color out of my hair....I thought about all of this and realized that the kettle had just met the pot. No...I am not some great person, but I do have my attributes and I can do some things that others cannot....not out of choice....but because I had to. For years though....I have lived on a steady diet of hearing what a lousy person and parent I am. I was brought up with the attitude that I was not smart enough or pretty enough to ever make it in the world so whatever I got....I would have to just settle for. I was even told one time that I was such a horrible person that I deserved every loss, every pain and every problem I ever had. Harsh? Yeah, and in one way it makes you feel lousy about yourself but in another it makes you stronger. After awhile you really quit caring what others think....especially if you are busy with a life that has nothing to do with them and they have no real comprehension of. Still though...when they are family or extended can't help from time to time seeing yourself as they claim to see you. It is hard not to take their words personally and not to wonder why they would say those things if there is absolutely no merit to their words. It is also hard not to identify yourself through others words.....but doing so can be a slippery I have fallen down more than once.

I know that my little blonde friend and I are not part of a mutually exclusive group. There are many of my friends and acquaintances that have gone through this too. Some have pulled into themselves totally believing the "family hype" and never once realizing that possibly the attitude behind the words had little to do with what that person or those people really thought of them, but was born out of jealousy or unhappiness. Happy people seldom go out of their way to make others unhappy, but unhappy people will jump through hoops to do so. Jealous people will even go one step further and try to topple anything good in the lives of those they are jealous of just so they get the satisfaction of watching them fall.....even family members. Those that don't pull into themselves often try to find other ways to ease the pain....drugs, alcohol and bad relationships....just to name a few. Finally....there are those of us who fight the good fight when necessary and spend the rest of the time trying to distance ourselves from those that feel the need to make rude and running commentary on our life. We struggle to keep our true identity and the identity that others try to impose on us separate. Does it work???? For the most part...... and a really busy life also helps.

So yes....I listened to my own words today. Hopefully little blonde one heard me too and realized that there was a lot of merit in what I said. I was right/am right and like I try to tell people all the time....if we could just keep the fact that "I am always right...." as a given....then the world would be a much better place!!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I'll Meet You at the Line...(Clothesline that is!) we all know I have a love hate relationship with technology. I love to blog, play on facebook and pintrest and at the same hates me. That being said...I am of the mind that maybe technology has sped this world up to an overdrive speed and because of this, we have lost sight of some of the really good things in life.

This last week I spent time at my mother in laws (MIL). She is an oxymoron if there ever was one (and thank you Ada Jaax for that word). She has a really nice new computer....but she refuses to turn it on. She hates facebook and most things technological...although she loves to text. She has a dishwasher that she is also not fond of using and most importantly (in my book anyway) is the fact that she has a brand new clothes dryer and she seldom uses it. Now I am in no way putting her down for her dislike or maybe more accurately her disinterest in modern convenience. Perhaps she is actually onto something or maybe she just understands certain nuances of the world that us techno-slaves have overlooked.

In my life I am crazy most of the time (shut up Steve). I grab for any convenience that is available and maybe those conveniences make us lazy or maybe they just make us lose track of some really great things in life. I remember the first time I went to my MIL's. At the time I don't believe she had central air, she had never owned a dishwasher and although she had a washer and now, her dryer seldom saw any action. She lives on three beautiful acres and stretching across her backyard is a phenomenal clothes line. Yes...I said....clothesline! I was in awe. Growing up.....we had clothesline posts in our yard but never in our lifetime had they seen a line. I think the reason for this was that my mother grew up with chores like hanging clothes on the line and she did not find the simpler way of life a very Zen when she could afford to not have to hang clothes anymore....she jumped ahead and never looked back. So in my childhood....clotheslines and hanging clothes outdoors were just folklore to me. Stories of a time long ago in a place far away.....and nothing more. It was not until I went to MO that first time that I realized that people actually still practiced the art of clothes hanging.

Yes...I called hanging clothes out on a art. It truly is. There is actually an art to hanging them so that the clothes pins leave no marks and so that the clothes won't rip away from the line if the wind is strong. I was truly enthralled at my first experience and when Tim and I came home, I made him string our currently stringless lines. Once strung I truly loved hanging my clothes out. It was a time of solitude, peace and saved on electricity. At the time...I often had four kids running in out and constantly changing clothes. I could easily have kept a dryer going 6-7 hours per day. Hanging clothes out also cut down on laundry time. It takes about 20-25 minutes for a load of laundry to wash. It takes about 30-45 minutes for that same load to dry, but if hung out on the line with a nice breeze...they are often dry within 20 minutes and no electricity is used. 

When first starting out with the whole hanging clothes thing....I did have a few issues with my clothes drying rather stiff out on the line. I quickly learned that adding a good fabric softener to your laundry helps you to avoid the stiffness and also leaves your laundry smelling fresh. Hanging clothes also keeps them from having extra shrinkage in a hot dryer. The bonuses just go on and on....but my favorite part was/is just that time when I am alone with my thoughts. It is time that I could be alone without feeling like I was shirking my family responsibilities. After all....I was working and doing a vital family chore. And you can't rush hanging laundry on the line (at least I can't). You have to turn each piece right side out and hang it so that the pins don't leave marks. Each load I hung was a new plan, a new idea or just alone time in my head. I could plan birthdays, meals and my next chore. Blogs have been born from laundry time along with short stories, poems and conversations I needed to have and schedules I needed to make.

Sadly...the last couple of years have left me in rush mode. Whatever was quickest and took the least amount of my time and energy was what I opted for. With working, taking care of David, Z and the house....along with making cheesecakes, there simply was no time to practice my art nor air dry my clothes. However....after spending time at my MIL's last week, once again I was introduced back into a simpler life. I used my computer maybe once while I was there, I did many dishes by hand....and yes....I hung clothes. Once again I was lost in the peace of it all and the simple joy of working while letting my mind wander. It was heaven. I couldn't have been happier and because of this bliss.....I resolved!

My family (and especially David) once again keeps my washer and dryer on full tilt most of the time. In fact....I am of the mind that my basement is where clothes go to mate and reproduce as I can have piles of laundry accumulate over night. It is really not natural. At any rate feet barely hit home soil before I was out in my yard tightening my clothes line and wiping it down. I hunted up all my clothes pins threw in a load of laundry and I haven't looked back yet. Each load has been a time of thought and self revelation. I have thought about things I have done, things I shouldn't have done and things I would still like to do. I have mentally planned my backyard overhaul and come up with new ways to help David with his physical therapy. I have reminisced about the past and planned (I know...there is that word again) for the future. It has been like opening the door to an old friend and remembering just how much I missed them.

Does it sound a little corny here in this day and age when we can talk to our phones and they can talk back; when we can not only talk to someone thousands of miles away but also see them while we are doing it; and we can keep track of everyone we ever knew on a single website?! Yeah....maybe it is, but also....maybe some of the old things are what helps to keep us centered. Maybe a trip to the clothesline or doing a sink full of dishes while looking out the window is just what the doctor ordered instead of anxiety pills and depression meds?! who am I kidding? I don't pretend to know all the answers and maybe convenience will always override nostalgia....but I do know that in the here and clothesline and I have reunited and I see us being pinned and not going off line for a long time to come. ;)