Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Sunday, December 19, 2010

C: The Warm Glow of Giving

nativity Wow!  Did I ever discover a satisfying last-minute gift giving idea.  One of my facebook friends, Cindy Jackson Knull, posted this link to the New York Times : Gifts of Hope.  It lists several smaller (as opposed to the “biggies” you always hear about) nonprofits with varying angles of charitable giving.
I have people on my list whom I just know will enjoy the fact that gifts have been made in their honor and, especially, in areas about which they are impassioned.  (And I KNOW they’ll enjoy it more than a trinket I might pick for them…).
Check these out.  Myself, I am passionate about women’s issues, especially education.  I was pleased to donate to several of these organizations that promote education of women in Afghanistan and prenatal care in Somalia. 
For the teacher on my list, I found the “First Book” program that Happy_Birthday_Jesusdistributes books to poor children in the United States. 
For my nurse friend, there is Nurse-Family Partnership which sends nurses to work with first-time impoverished mothers here in the states—working to break the cycle of poverty and poor health.
Jesus said “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”  Matthew 25:40. 
As I pushed the “donate” buttons each time, I got a little glow that maybe I might be giving Him a birthday gift He can enjoy….I mean, what are we celebrating at Christmas, after all?
Why don’t you consider  sharing that warmth I got from these giving opportunities!  Love to you all, C

PS - In my early-morning-writing fog, I forgot to add Cindy's blog link.  Go there--amazing photographs and writing!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

C: Scout Gets Sick—For the First Time in Her Life

My faithful lDSCN1075ittle Sheltie, Scout, is  now twelve years old.  The past couple weeks, MIL and I have noticed her having an occasional cough and it seems to take her longer to get from MIL’s to my house each evening.
Scout is a near-perfect dog.  She is smart, attentive and willing.  MIL and I are central to both my dogs’ lives—their routine revolves around us, and we appreciate that.
Scout is hardy.  She has only been to the vet for well-checks her entire life.  We had a Sheltie, “Gus,” at the time we got her and had planned to have puppies, but she never conceived.  She has lived all her years(save the first eight weeks!) here with me in the country.  She is an outside dog in the day (unless she cons MIL into letting her in, which happens frequently) and spends her nights in with me (occasionally staying the night with MIL).
She is a peaceful soul who occasionally goes out on the back porch to visit Kitty Sasha with me—unlike Chili, who gets a predatory gleam in his eye when he sees Sasha through the window.
Yesterday I began to get really concerned.  She would not eat and seemed a bit listless.  I made a mental note to watch her and consider taking her to the vet.450
This morning, about 7:30, she plumb fell over.  Right there in the living room as I wrapped the last few gifts, she just plopped over and could not seem to get up for a minute.  I was still in pajamas and called Son.  By the time he got downstairs, she was up and moving around but when I told him what happened, Son scooped her up and took her to our local vet.
$200+ worth of lab work and prescriptions later, here’s what we found:  She’s lost weight and is anemic.  He does not know why.  The blood work shows no sign of heartworms or other parasites which could be making her ill.  The vet gave her a Vitamin B shot with a steroid.  We have a prescription for the anemia to give her daily until it is gone. 
She actually seems to have perked up this afternoon and ate some canned chicken.  Maybe she’s afraid we’ll take her back to the vet if she doesn’t!
M215IL and I will be off to the store to buy richer dog food and, who knows? We may come back with chicken livers or other iron-rich foods to tempt her into building her blood back up.
The couple hours that Son was gone with her were long for me.   The $200 was hard on the budget this time of year, but I was so glad to see that she got to come home, that I was glad to pay it. 
It is amazing how close we can get to our animals.   I know that Scout is getting older now.  I’m just not real prepared to let her go…will keep you posted.  C

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

C: A Heart of Mercy

cats in woods I just really have to let you in on the kind of heart V has.  Last October we had a wonderful gathering in honor of her grandson’s first birthday.  The party was held at a park under a pavilion near a river and surrounded by woods.  We had a wonderful, beautiful day.

As we ate, we noticed two young cats furtively watching us from the edge of the woods, occasionally inching closer and then disappearing back into the forest line.  (These pictures are not the cats of whom I speak, but I thought since I am on a cat theme, I’d use them anyway…)

V began to take food out toward them and before we left, we saw them eat.cats in woods 2

But those cats, clearly abandoned to their own devices, weighed on V’s heart.  Since that day, most days she drives miles out of her way to feed these cats, usually after a hard day’s work.  She goes out on weekends, too.  Cats have to eat then, too.

She worried about them when we were out of town.

As word has gotten out, five cats have been counted.  Last night she says they were waiting on her.

V cannot catch them because of their skittishness. Who can blame them?  Being dropped off and abandoned to possible starvation is no recommendation for trusting people.

The nights are getting colder now, really cold, and we know that they depend on every scrap they can get.  V has worried even more about them.  She has contacted a local organization about getting live traps and taking them in to a shelter.  The bad news is that these folks have no more room for catcats in woods 3s.  They will provide food but cannot take them in.

No room at the Inn.

V’s plan is to feed them through until Spring and and warm weather, capture them, beginning with the males, and have them neutered.  This organization will pay for the operations.  We will then have to release them back in the park, as neither of us can take them.  V has several cats of her own and I have a Chili dog who would love to get his mouth around their necks—just can’t seem to get that prey drive out of him.

At least the neutered cats won’t be able to add to the population.

And I just can’t help but scowl right now as I am writing this at the thought of heartless people who do the despicable and drop these animals off like this. 

But I did want to praise V’s heart of mercy.  C

Saturday, December 11, 2010

C: The Diminishing Returns of the Holidays

 christmasfireplace When we think of holidays, we think of bustle, I know.  In my own life this is largely because I just haven’t gotten things done ahead of time, like I always plan.  But Christmas holiday preparations have their quiet serenity, too.  This morning is one of those times.

The bustle this week was at my work.  This morning, as I wrap gifts, son is snoozing on the couch, after having coffee and conversation with his Mom.  The hard rain I awoke to has softened to a drizzle with occasional patter, and inside my home is warm, snug and comfy, although it is not cold enough here for a fire in the fireplace.  I am, I know, drinking too much coffee this morning, but it is so good as I linger in pajamas and as I Scotch tape beautiful paper around these gifts.

As I wrapped, I realized that for years my gift list grew and grew with each year.  My sister and my youngest sister-in-law were prolific in their progeny (each with 4!) as compared to the other siblings and sibling-in-law and each year for a while it seemed that the gift list grew with a new niece or nephew.

Now I believe the procreation of my generation of the family is over (or there will be mental breakdowns, I assure).  And both my father and father-in-law are gone.  My stepmother is no longer in our circle.  Some of our “near-family” gift recipients have died.  And, of course, my husbandchristmas list has his own Christmas circle now and is certainly a major strike off my purchase list.  So I find that, after all those years of steady growth, my gift-buying list is declining, rather than growing.

Turning point reached.

There are other changes.  Since MIL has graced me with nearness, youngest SIL and her brood are quickly becoming a part of our Christmas tradition.   This year will be the second in a row in that they will fill our home for Christmas.  In years past we have always spent Christmases apart from them, making do with mailing gifts and telephoned Christmas Day greetings.  Son and I are thrilled.

I chuckled at myself in thinking how quickly we have adapted them to our own Christmas tradition—after one year and looking forward to a second.  I find myself thinking things like:  “E always wants a ‘real’ tree…we’ll leave that artificial one in the attic and choose one when she’s here to help…”  What’s this “always wants” after one year with us?  I think it means her wishes have been absorbed into our traditions—voila

Orchristmas gifts thinking: “Second Nephew of the Bunch cannot have chocolate, remember.  Must be sure to have plenty of cookies he can eat and eat and eat…”  Feasting is a hallmark of holiday, you know.

These four kids (some no longer really “kids,” but will always be so to me, are an absolute delight and added such exuberance to our holiday last year.  We await the same this time.

So, yes, my Gift-Person list has grown shorter.  But the pile remains impressive. 

Don’t panic—I don’t spend that much on gifts, but I adore seeing my Christmas morning attendees have multiple gifts to open.  I find that a small gift, a few Dollars’ worth and brightly wrapped, is a delight on Christmas morning.  So the pile is high, if not costly.

So, I’m happily at the Christmas business this morning in relaxed mode.  Seeing the seasons of my life marked by the length of my Christmas buy-for list.  And seeing the diminishment of that list juxtaposed against the adaption of new traditions as a reminder that loss is often exchanged for another kind of blessing.

And I am, this morning anyway, feeling the sentiment of this clipart.  Hope you  are, too.xmas

Merry Christmas!  C

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

C: Butterflies in an Airport Coffee Shop

ponytail Appearances deceive sometimes.  Our minds can fill in what we want to see but isn’t there; our assumptions can lead us astray.

Sometimes this is merely interesting.  Sometimes it can lead to peril.

I was in an airport awaiting a flight to Florida some time ago.  Walking ahead of me was a woman in a brown leather jacket with a long, beautiful ponytail swishing attractively in high contrast to the dark leather.  I just could not help noticing and admiring these beautiful locks.  Imagine my surprise when she turned to expose an equally-impressive beard, a grizzled, worn face that I would never have put with that ponytail!  This was, in fact, a man!

It happened again, to a lesser degree, on the same trip.   I was deplaning in Houston to make my connection, standing in the aisle.  I was behind a young African American woman.  I “knew” this because she had attractive braids streaming down her back, a cute figure dressed in jeans, and a stylish purse to die for hung over her shoulder. 

Then she turned impatiently and said to me, “And I thought I was being smart getting right up from my seat…it seems we are going no where!”

Well, she wasn’t young.  She was maybe a little younger than me.  And her face told me life had not been a walk in the park.

I  had a layover and headed for some breakfast.  As I sat at my tablbutterfly greene for two, back against the wall, in she walked, looking around for a place to sit.  There were plenty of seats, but I thought “Why not?” and motioned her over.  She came.

We ordered our food and exchanged pleasantries, my tablemate bowing her head to say “thanks” when our food arrived.  Another lone woman sat down on my right, well-dressed and in her fifties.  It wasn’t long before another nearly-thirty-type woman took her place on my left.  We were all within easy spitting distance and each started out trying to respect the space of the others.

“Yolanda” and I continued our exploration of each other, and she was quite interesting.  She lived in California and was unemployed.  She made her small living selling her hand-crafted bags.  She had two daughbutterfly yellowters, twins who were recently out of high school and were working.  The talk turned to the men in her life, and it wasn’t good.

Her first husband, father of her children, had abandoned them all.  Child support had been sporadic over the years, and he was in and out of their lives.  Second husband had been more helpful for a while but this, too, turned sour with alcohol and other women.  She was now separated from him with no formal separation action and no help from him whatsoever except when he waltzed back in occasionally, apparently at will.  She knew that she should not allow this, but she had no money for a lawyer.  She felt powerless; he sometimes helped financially during his “visits” home.  Her mother had paid for this trip to visit family just to give her respite.

This revved me up, and I began to lecture, I’m afraid.  What I most wanted her to do was to encourage her daughters to get into school and prepare themselves for a different life than their mother now faced.  I wanted her to help them avoid a life of dependence on men.

We began to talk about the divorce situation in general, and my profession as a divorce attorney came out.  That’s when the facade of “not eavesdropping” by Ms. Fifty-Something on my right and Ms Not-Quite-Thirty fell like a ton of bricks.  The elder was first to make a move.

I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I overheard your conversation. Did you say that you are a divorce lawyer?”  She scooted her chair around to the side of our table.  She revealed she was from Florida, flying to close a deal onbutterfly blue their second home.

At that, Nearly-Thirty turned her chair toward us saying, “Can I join in?  My roommate is in a terrible situation…”  She was from D.C.

So, there we were, a cluster of butterflies in an airport coffee shop, from the four winds, in a huddle of grievances against men.  Sounds dreary,  doesn’t it?  Yes, I agree, but it is necessary.  A metamorphosis was required in all these lives we were discussing.

Ms. Florida’s concern was a friend, a woman who had been married 25 years and had two children still at home.  Husband was “in love” with another woman and was openly cavorting.  He was still officially living at home but was doling money out to wife, and she had no real idea about what they had or where it is located.  Wife had been a devoted stay-at-home Mom. 

Ms. Florida was afraid that this man can’t be trusted not to cheat his wife financially (duh!), but her friend was like a deer in the headlights; immobilized by fear.  She held hope that if she did not rock the boat he would return to the marriage.  Ms. Florida was afraid that he was only solidifying his financial advantage.

Ms. DC’s roommate was a co-worker, a little older than DC, who had moved in with her when she discovered her husband’s infidelity.  They had all three gone to church together, and he had been leader of DC’s small group at that church.  His betrayal had been a shock to all.  He had promised to straighten up but wife had found evidence to the contrary.  She had no butterfly monarch children and had wisely decided on a divorce on the theory that he can’t be trusted.  Smart Girl.

DC, however, was concerned about roomie.  She was depressed and emotionally exhausted.  She searched ad infinitum for ways she could have prevented his straying, shouldering blame.  DC said she felt it might be damaging her.

I began to quote statistics on divorce rate and about how many men commit adultery and the studies that show that even a wonderful wife and relationship can be victim to betrayal.  A wife taking blame for husband’s infidelity is something I have to fight with my clients about all the time.

The women were keenly interested, voicing that they had no idea how widespread this was.  Ms. F spoke up saying her friend needed to hear that statistically her straying husband was never likely to again put his wife and their children first.  He has gone into “me” mode, entirely, and is not likely to pull out of it.  Friend needed to spring into action before money slips away, if it isn’t already too late.

DC’s friend needs to know she must not blame herself for her husband’s moral failure. DC says that she, herself, had learned from this that she was going to be darned sure to be on firm ground herself and not rebutterflies bunchly on a “Mr. Right” to take care of her because statistics show that it is ill-advised.

And Yolanda, well, her situation was hard.  She has no money and, truthfully, neither does her no-good husband.  There is nothing to save or get from him.  I just want a new psyche for Yolanda, one of independence that will impart to her girls the urgent message that they need to grow  their own wings.

Because things (even marriages) aren’t always what they seem—they aren’t always what our rosy imaginations make them out to be.  It just may be that the ponytail is just a cover up for a grizzled life.  C.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

C: In the Darkness of the Night…Early!

I’m not one to gripe about daylight savings time, but when I got home tonight at 6:30, it was pitch black outside.  I live in the woods, so the darkness is deep (I keep meaning to get a night light installed).  Tonight it seemed especially so.

It’s not just the blackness, it’s that it feels late, too.  I was amazed that it was only 6:30, and not two or two-and-a-half hours later. 

I remember when I used to show horses and wanted to inhibit the growth of their winter coats to keep them show-sleek.  We’d keep lights on in the stable longer at night  in the winter (not all night, but longer) to “fool” their bodies into not growing long hair.   I think the presence or absence of light is interpreted by our bodies as cues. 

Well, this early nighttime seems a cue to mine to hit the hFOFAIR01ay early!

But, not to worry.  I got home to a wonderful meatloaf by MIL!  She knows  it is my favorite, and I never make it.  For some reason Son, who loves meatballs, will not touch meatloaf.  Go figure.  So, naturally, I don’t make it for myself.  MIL’s meatloaf is always a treat for me.

V and will be on a road trip soon.  We are planning a trip to see V’s sister (our sometime commenter Kathy Sue) and their mother.  Sadly, they are losing their mother to Alzheimer’s disease.  V has an idea what she will find there because of her talks with KS, who lives near their mother.  I know, firsthand from my father-in-law, that Alzheimer’s is a dread disease.

Still, we are very much looking forward to the 7 hour road trip together (Road Trip!!!) and visiting with KS and, of course, seeing V’s mom.  We’ll road-trip keep you posted on our adventures en route…you know, I have to say: Chick trips just have a wonderful character of their own.  I love ‘em! 

Hope you are all recovered from too much turkey and have moved into get-ready-for-Christmas mode.  C

PS – I am a bit obsessive about horse care, so I can’t resist saying: If you start blanketing a horse in the winter or doing something to inhibit the growth of winter coat, then you have to continue the practice and give extra warmth (blankets, etc.) through that winter.  You can’t start and then stop or your horse will get cold!  For this reason we never blanketed our horses except when we were showing in earnest—left alone, they do just fine in cold weather with their shaggy winter coats!

Sorry to preach…but if it keeps just one horse warmer…C

Sunday, November 28, 2010

C: Christmas Cheer!

I just had to preempt my post from earlier today with this YouTube clip sent by a friend.  I loved it—wish I had been there:

My web browsing indicates this was at Welland Seaway Mall, Welland, Canada.

It got me in the real Christmas Spirit!  Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!  C

Saturday, November 27, 2010

C: Do You Like to be Challenged?

overthink I just finished a book recommended to me by my son called Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.  Son gave it to me for two reasons: 1) He liked it; and 2) He knows I like the challenge of examining my own position on things and examining my beliefs. 

I am just wondering:  Am I unusual in this preference?  Or are most of you out there like this?

I ask because I have friends who distinctly do not like—even avoid—having their cherished beliefs challenged.  I actually relish it.  And I think it sometimes makes me look like a troublemaker.

You need to know this about me:

Just because I voice a proposition does not necessarily mean I subscribe to it.  If you ask me, I’ll tell you whether I am mulling over something that I’m just exploring or if I’m laying something on the table that I believe is a truth (getting rarer all the time, I’ll say, having learned in my old age that there are far fewer absolutes than I once thought).

I just forget to distinguish that sometimes.  Combine that with my love of discussion, and I think I come across as a heretic or a loony bin candidate when folks don’t know this about me.  When their voices start to rise in answer to me and their eyebrows knit together in consternation (and, sometimes, anger), I  realize that I have failed to put out a disclaimer and I am quick to explain that I’m just wondering…

Sometimes that doesn’t work.  Sometimes folks find the simple act of questioning offensive.  And that is something that escapes me altogether.  Is it fear?  If one’s beliefs don’t hold up to examination, then what does that mean?  For me, it’s not a good sign.  Doesn’t “truth” hold up to investigation?  If it doesn’t, don’t you want to know?

I go to a fairly flexible (don’t necessarily read “liberal” intoCain this) church.  And still there I get into trouble.  I’ll never forget the Sunday School class where the person leading the discussion of Cain and Able referred to these as “Adam’s and Eve’s first children.”  Of course, my hand shot up. 

How do you know they were the first children?” I asked, sincerely  examining the passages about them.  “It doesn’t say that here—am I missing it?  For all we know from this passage, Adam and Eve had 54 children before Cain and Abel…” 

Am I nitpicking?  Probably.  It wasn’t rabblerousing, I promise.  I don’t really care if Cain and Abel were the first, I just did not think we know that for sure and I was curious.  It was an honest “have-I-missed-something-here?” question.  But the effect was somewhat the same as if I had meant to stir up trouble.

Some in the class had “always” been taught that Cain and Abel were the first and, therefore, they were discombobulated at the thought that their “always” teaching might be askew.

seek truth Me?  I just want to be intellectually honest.  Sorry, folks, I just don’t see in the text that Cain and Abel were the first…in hot water again.

To me, the class members’ reaction to challenge of this detail was far and away more interesting than whether Cain and Abel were the first sons…

I love examination of ideas—yours and mine.  I love it when someone disagrees with me, intelligently, and is willing to talk about it.  I have learned so much this way.

And when someone shows me something that changes my mind, I have an inward-gasp-“Aha!” kind of reaction that is really akin to wonder.

So, being the kind of mental gymnast that I am, I thoroughly enjoyed Ishmael.  It dovetails nicely with the Cain and Abel story I just told on myself as it considers the story of the Garden of Eden and the trouble these two sons of Adam and Eve got into, right off the bat in the story of our beginning as we are given it.

Ishmael will make you consider that story in new light.  It will make you think of our society and some of our cherished beliefs about what is “good” and what is “evil” and who is wise enough to know the difference. 

Most of all, it will make you think about whether you ought toishmael be doing something different.  Really, however folks land on the specific topic of Quinn’s books, I long for as many people as possible to read this book and  consider the questions it raises.  They are important questions that need to be considered by all responsible members of our society. 

I’m not sure where I stand on all of what Quinn has to say in this book, but I surely am thinking a lot about it, and I will be moving on to the next of his books, The Story of B.  I am so looking forward to it.

So, if your brain and your beliefs need a little post-Thanksgiving-laziness walkabout just for the mental exercise, consider Ishmael and let me know what you think.  C

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

C: On Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving I awoke with a start this morning before 4 a.m.  It is not unusual for me to be awake at this hour, but to be so fully awake and with such purpose right off  is not my norm.  What has got me going is the holiday bustle.  Belatedly.

I’ve mentioned earlier that MIL came up with the bright idea of going out to eat.  It seemed, at first, an affront to long-standing family tradition, but as I thought it through, I came over to the other side.  We’ve found a lavish Thanksgiving buffet to attend and have duly made our reservations.  My family will gather at the restaurant this year, and each one of them seems excited by the change.

Because I am not cooking for the meal, I have not purchased one, single extra item from the store.  Son is away at the beach for a week, so it’s only me here.  My mother is coming tonight.  So I knew I had to get a few things in for while she is here.

And then it happened: the slide back toward busyness.  My sister and I met last night for dinner and decided that later on Thanksgiving Day (after we’ve all lolled on the couch having partaken too much of restaurant fare) she and her brood will come to my house to watch football (them, not me) and to do crafty things with her two youngest girls.

Therefore, it’s off to the store early this morning.  I have a full day of work to do, what with folks fighting over the kids for Thanksgiving Day visitation(horrors!).  There will be no time through the day to go to the store, and I WILL NOT attempt it on Thanksgiving Eve! 

Is there no escaping the holiday bustle?  Apparently not, and thank God!

So, I’m off to Kroger before dawn.  Makes perfect sense to me…

I’ll be gathering in foodstuffs to provision us through this afternoon family time.  No, it won’t be the traditional Thanksgiving leftovers; and no, it won’t be a feast, but it will be enough (haven’t yet decided on enough of what…).gratitude

But it’s a warm feeling—that hurried, insistent holiday preparation feeling.  And, as I get ready for the day, I think about all I have to be thankful for—and it is much. 

I have not yet mastered the ability to “be thankful in all things,” but I’m sure closer, having learned that even through troubles, reasons to give thanks arise. 

I started to make a little gratitude  list, but I cannot do it.  There is  too much for which I am thankful, and to attempt an abbreviation seems wrong, like I’m leaving out some really important thankfulness items.

So, I’ll end with just one thankful: Thanks to you all, bloggers, for being out there waiting on my missives and sharing yours with me.  I hope that each and every one of you has a wonderful holiday!  C

PS – by the way, I have long ago outgrown that Black Friday business.  I’ll leave that pandemonium to others…but I’d love to hear your experiences if you do it!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

C: Holiday Smugness

time  I said before: For me, once Halloween passes, it seems like time hurdles toward Christmas.  MIL made a motion that we go out for Thanksgiving dinner, and that’s what we’re doing.  I had mixed emotions about it, being afraid that I would miss being totally exhausted by the time the meal is here and spending huge amounts of $$$$ on groceries and then having to clean up to boot.  Norman_Rockwell_Thanksgiving_

I’ve decided I can get over that…I’ll miss the leftovers, but I surely don’t need them hanging around here.  And, let’s be real; my Thanksgiving dinners never looked like Norman Rockwell’s depiction, anyway.

I will miss cooking at Thanksgiving, as I love to cook and no longer have any reason to…being single and all.  I have quashed that regret, however, mollifying myself with thoughts of cooking my you-know-what off for Christmas. 

I have spent the morning sipping coffee and wrapping Christmas presents, andchristmas-gifts there is where the “smugness” of the title comes in.  I am a last-minute person on most things, a function of being a lawyer, I think, with too much to do and getting it done just-in-the-nick-of-the-deadline. 

This year, though, I know that Christmas will be an usually-hard strain financially, so I started amassing “good deal” gifts back in the summer.  It just did not feel right to start wrapping until now.  But now that the holiday hurdle is  here, I am really enjoying the wrapping and listing.  It feels like accomplishment.

So, yes, I am smug with satisfaction that I have a financial jump on. St. Nick.  If I can just keep this pace, I’ll finish the holiday race with breath (and cash, a little) to spare at Christmas.  Sounds good, but I bet I end up just as frenetic as usual…just my style.

Now, I cannot close this post without mentioning my very, very favorite Christmas tradition for those of you with kids at home—or grandkids!


While my son was growing up, each year I got a plain ornament and a paint pen.  I put his name and the year at the top.  All over it I wrote the events of the year, such as “Starring role in ‘Peter Pan’” or “Scored winning goal in Soccer tournament,” or “New Cousin born!”  I included the bad, too—“Bobby feel off horse and broke his arm—ouch!”

Now, even as an adult, my son reads over these ornaments each year as we decorate the tree, exclaiming, “I remember that trip, Mom!  It’s the one where you got lost from me and Dad in Macy’s…”

You’ve got plenty of time!  Go to the craft store and start making these memory ornaments for your kids.  They will love you for it in years to come!

Happy Holiday Hurdle!  C

Sunday, November 7, 2010

C: Ah, Name-Dropping…Peter, Paul and Mary

peterpaulandmaryMy blog friend, “Dee from Tennessee” mentioned Mary Travers on her  facebook wall the other day.  This brought memories flooding over my soul, because Peter, Paul and Mary were a huge part of my early-teen-through-adulthood years.  My husband, too, loved this trio’s music dearly.  But there is one, particular, Mary Travers story that stands out in my mind.

Years ago (maybe 16, 17 or so) my husband and I had to make a business trip to Dallas.  At the time there was a restaurant called “Star Canyon” down there that was all the buzz in our hometown because a local businessman was involved in it.  It was beyond our usual eating-out budget, but we were determined to go.  My husband wrangled us a reservation (and it took some wrangling, but that’s another story)…

We showed at Star Canyon in our finest duds just ahead of our reservation time only to find that there was going to be (sigh) a wait.  Nothing to do but sit at the bar, situated so that we could see each person who came through the front door.  We liked it—we’d been told to expect to see celebrities, so we were watchful

As we nursed our drinks, I said to CT, “Look! That woman looks lmary traversike Mary  Travers!”  Realizing that it was, indeed, Mary Travers (with entourage of about six), my never-shy husband hopped up and ran over to her.  I could not hear their conversation, but here he came back, Mary in tow.  She plopped down on the stool next to me, and CT ordered her a drink.

We sat there maybe 20 minutes, and she was a talker!  She was amazingly friendly, easy to talk to and revealed that she had lived a short time in her childhood in Arkansas!  (See how much we had in common?).  By the time she left us to rejoin her group, we felt like old friends.  She was wonderful!!

But the story gets better…

Small world that it is, the next people we recognized coming through the door were friends from back home.  B and his wife S were/are much richer tsnobhan us (much, much) and knew it.  We liked them fine, but there was always a bit of a superior air to them, with all they did and all the places they visited.  (Can you say snob?  But nice-types….still…).

True to form, as they joined us at the bar B said, “What on earth are you doing here?”  (And, yes, his emphasis was just that). 

We replied that we had reservations and were waiting on the table.  He lamented that he had tried to get reservations and finally got on the LATE wait list (as in 10 pm) but they had come early in hopes they could be squeezed in.

Our table was called, and we sashayed off, leaving B and S at the bar.  For a moment…No sooner had I gotten sat down than CT said, “I’ll be right back…”

Let me digress to say this about B:  He is not only rich, he is an accomplished musician and a music-of-all-types aficionado…see where we’re headed, here?

I was not actually there to witness it, but it was recounted to me both by B and S and later (with more detail) by CT.  Here’s what happened:

CT approached B and S again, saying, “B, come with me.  I have someone I’d like you to meet.”  Of course, S trailed along. 

CT tapped Mary Travers on the shoulder, and she turned, smilingly saying, “Hey, CT!  What's up??”  He went on to introduce B and S, and Mary was her gracious (very tolerant) self and chatted them up. 

Apparently B almost prostrated himself on the floor, saprostrateying things like, “Thank you, thank you for your contribution to the world…”  To   which CT smugly said, “Okay, B, that’s enough, let’s let Mary enjoy her dinner.”  (Like he had nothing to do with interrupting it in the first place).

Mary, unwittingly playing her part perfectly, said, “Bye, CT—see you later!”  It left the impression that she and CT were old-time friends.

B and S came over to our table, gushing…we definitely went up a notch in their eyes.  Not only did we dine at the finest places (at prime time, no less) but we had friends in high places, to boot.

Ain’t God good? 

Mary is no longer with us, sadly, gone from leukemia.  For many of you, this clip from 1966 will bring back some memories…

…and it may (as it did with me) bring some tears to the eyes…  Oh, my, what voices.  What Bob Dylan lyrics; my oh my…

And if you did not sing along, well, you’re just an old stuffy pants.  C

Saturday, November 6, 2010

C: Saturday!

saturday It’s Saturday, and I am so glad!!  Of course, here I am at 4 a.m. typing this post, so sleeping in has escaped me, but still I have the weekend ahead with no set responsibility!  I may snuggle back down in the bed for “second sleep” before it’s all over.

Except I need to be doing house cleaning….

But that, too, is a luxury.  MIL has arranged for (and insisted I use) a housekeeper every other week.  I think she’s tired of the dust bunnies in my corners and all.  So, housekeeper comes this Wednesday.  What this means, of course, is that I haSNFve to clean  my house!  If I don’t, she’ll turn on her heels and flee at first glance.

I’ll be picking my mother up this afternoon to spend the rest of the weekend out here.  She’ll clean, too—nothing like extra hands!  Then she, MIL and I will go out on the town—Saturday night, you know!

And, mundane post that this is, let me talk again about the weather:  It is glorious!  Instead of the rain I wrote about last time, now we have gentle, billowy winds.  You know, the kind of autumn breezes that come suddenly, bouncing off the ground and lifting your skirts!  Just puffs of air here and  there—hold on to papers, or they’ll scatter!  Temperatures in the 50-60’s.  Just beautiful!

It feels good to write a relaxing, easy-does-it post.  I hope you all have a relaxing, easy-does-it weekend!  C

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

C: The Comfort of Drizzle

rainflowers I guess it’s all in how you look at things…I woke up this morning hearing the rhythm of rain outside.  I knew it was coming.  I conned MIL into going out for spaghetti last night (enough left for lunch!), and it was beginning to drizzle as we made our way home.
This morning it isn’t the heavy storm type of rain, just a notch up from a drizzle; just enough for me to hear it.  It made me want to snuggle down in the bed, although I feel rested.
But, here I am at my early-morning computer session, listening to the pattering outside.  My on-line thermometer tells me that it is 50 degrees F outside, so it isn’t cold.  But the rain makes it feel cold…and the rain sound makes it feel like cold weather is coming.  It’s almost like it sounds different from sound of summertime rain.  This must be early-morning rain crazy, right?
Anyway, I’ve been sipping hot coffee, got my winter fuzzy houseshoes on, and my big, warm robe.  The dogs are contentedly snoozing rather than asking to go out.  And the sounds of winter coming outside are not bothersome to me but, rather a comfort.   Why?  Winter is easily the hardest season for me out here, what with power outages and muddy driveway, and on and on and on.
Still, there’s comfort. 
I think it is the comfort of rhythm.  Over my more-than-half-a-century-of-life, my life has developed a certain rhythm.  The Good Lord knows that during the last few years of my life, that rhythm has been violently interrupted, but things have calmed now.  I’m regaining that rhythm.  It helps me anticipate what lies ahead, to move ahead with the family holiday traditions I’ve come to love, to know that the challenges and coziness of winter are coming, but that spring is just behind it.    The-Road-Ahead
I know this road.  I’ve traveled it before.
As I thought about the sounds of rain, I remembered a scene from Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (this is in the book, not the movie that I can recall--and the book is better!!):
Karen had discovered that the Kikuyu tribe who lived on her property knew nothing of poetry.  She began to make up poems (nonsensical ones that relied only on rhyme and meter) in their language and recite them. 
The Kikuyu would gather around, silently and solemnly, listening to her.  They did not know of spoken cadence—as opposed to singing.  They were enchanted and would often approach her to ask her to recite. 
And train2he way they would ask just thrills me and seems so apropos to this morning:  “Please,” they would say, “Speak to us in the  language that sounds like rain.”
And so, in a little juxtaposition, I can say that this morning’s rain sounds like poetry to me .  The harbinger of winter is warm and comforting.
Let’s see if I can sustain this attitude as I drive through it to work…C

Monday, November 1, 2010

RANT REDUX. C: So, What are the Things That Matter?

gavel3 I loved the discussion in my last post concerning the judge and his former clerk.  Thank you all for stimulating my brain, and making me examine issues.

While we had lively comments on both sides of whether this judge can (and should be allowed to) separate his personal failings from his performance on the bench, this readership went pretty solidly in the “no” category.  Here are the results:


Yes. 2%

No.  89%

Other 5%


No.  6%

Yes  83%

Other  9%

Some of you feel that this love/sex thing is a “gray area” in the realm of professional misconduct and ethics.  Others see it as black-and-white. 

Now, of course, you must know that this only spurred my overacpondertive mind  to more thinking (my favorite past time which probably explains my tendency toward the porcine).  And these are the questions that I wonder about:

What are the “failings” that, in your opinion, would disqualify one from serving on the bench?  Does it require a technically “criminal” act?  See question in the survey on the right and mark all items you feel would justify a finding of unfitness for office.  I’m looking for those “black and white” issues.

Would it have mattered if the “affair” had begun when the Judge was her employer/superior?  (No evidence that this was the case).

To those of you who felt this was in a “gray area,” let’s look at another famous caclarence_thomasse of alleged unfitness for high judicial office: 

I realize that some of you may not have been as riveted as was I to the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings almost twenty years ago. Let me recap:

In those proceedings (1991), Anita Hill, a lawyer and former co-worker of Thomas’, testified that he had made inappropriate sexual remarks to her.  As I recall, she specifically mentioned his talk of pornography he had viewed and a few other disgusting remarks.  Her assessment: that this did not rise to “sexual harassment” but it did create tension and I recall her saying she had to receive medical treatment at the emergency room (huh??) for the stress it caused.  This was, by the way, while they were both on staff at the EEOC—the agency charged with enforcing federal employment discrimination laws.

For the purposes of this discussion, let’s assume we all believe Anita Hill’s testimony…

Did you feel that the accusations against Clarence Thomas and his actions ANitaHill with respect to Anita Hill were “gray?”   Or should they have disqualified Justice Thomas?

If you believe that Justice Thomas is unfit but the Judge I wrote about who has an affair with his form law clerk is okay, then are we saying that Justice Thomas’ “blue” remarks to Anita Hill were worse than the actual act of adultery?  (Please be honest here, I am probing minds and want to know what you think).

Take a minute and click on that little survey to the right for me…I love probing your brains, and I love discovering this little widget!!

Now, for my feelings on Anita Hill (then and now, they remain the same).  I was embarrassed for her and I felt she was an embarrassment to women attorneys.  Sorry, just the way I feel.  Let me explain:  As a woman attANitaHillorney, I have had to put up with many off-color remarks (more earlier, I can assure you, when I was younger).  Some of them were from judges.  Not one single time did this cause me to seek medical attention.  I considered the source (geezers) and went on about my business.

And it gets worse: Anita Hill was a lawyer for the EEOC!  I am all about getting rid of sexual harassment on the job—and that was exactly what Anita Hill’s job was at the time she was apparently experiencing it.  She was specifically charged with guarding against sexual harassment on the job.  She knew what to do about it, and yet she did nothing but, apparently, suffer angst.  What kind of weenie lawyer was she, anyway?  If she thought it was that bad, she should have wired herself, gathered the evidence and gotten the rat fired.  If we can’t count on an EEOC lawyer to know what to do about this situation, who can we count on?

SEE new poll on the right….c’mon,vote on these and comment.  I love the discussion!  C

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

RANT WARNING. C: Fitness to Serve?

Here’s the scenario:

He’s a fifty-something married judge looking for a new law clerk.  She’s a bright, beautiful 24-year-old graduating lawyer.  She comes to work for him.  He has a policy of a one-year-only term for law clerks.  He breaks policy for her, ostensibly because she is so very competent in her job…She stays on two years.  Only one to do it…

She marries and begins her family.

Flash forward five years to right now.  He’s in his late 50’s and has his eye on the state Supreme Court, the highest judicial office in the state.  She has been in private practice for three years with a big firm in town.  She has two children ulustnder four years of age with a handsome man her own age.

She works on the Judge’s campaign.

You’re already onto this story, I know.  It burst into our papers over the weekend: She and the Judge have been having an affair.  It has broken up her household.  Her husband has actually named the judge in his divorce action.

What the Judge’s wife has to say about it has not been revealed.  I can imagine.

The scuttlebutt in the community is that “This is the ‘real’ thing…they are truly in love,” like that matters to the grieving spouses and the two little children.  Like that makes it okay.

Election is right around the corner.  Judge is not disputing the facts as stated (“No comment…this is a personal matter”), nor is his wife saying anything.  What the Judge says is, “Dirty politics!!”

Really?  Amazing. 

In the meantime, he is sitting on the bench.  He does not hear all that many dirty politics divorce cases, but he does hear some.

Adultery is a stated ground for divorce in our state (which still requires grounds).  It is an issue that is often before a divorce court.

Should I be uneasy taking my adultery cases before him?  Is there going to be a tendency for him to “understand” when a person “strays” from the marriage because of “love,” “lust,” or “we just grew apart?”  Is that okay?

Is he fit for office at the highest legal level?  Or is this purely a “personal” matter, and should we elect him on his merits as a judge, disregarding any personal matters?

To the right you will see a survey of two simple questions, the top two items in the right-hand column.  Please take a moment and click on the responses.  I need your balance here—I need to be checked if I’m wrong.  I’m listening.  C.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

C: We Were So Bad Today…

There was nothing on the slate, particularly, today.  I knew I had to work a trip into the office women-on-phonesometime this weekend, and there is always plenty of work to do around here on the weekend, but no schedule.

So, my phone rang at 8:30 this morning as I was still sipping coffee in my pajamas.  It was V.  She had been on the phone with M, one of our close friends, and was now calling to invite me out with them.  So, see, it is either M’s or V’s fault (I suspect V).

Can you meet M  and me for breakfast at 9:30?”

I was game…I wouldn’t even shower.  I had just enough time. 

Sure!  Where do we meet up?”

You won’t believe what she said…I could hardly believe it when I heard it:

Krispy Kreme.”

What!!  This after I just wrote a post on the dangers of fast food?  Isn’t Krispy Kreme fast food danger squared???  krispy-kreme-logo

V explained:  “Well, it’s cheap, and I’m craving a maple iced doughnut.”

That was enough justification for me.  Naturally, I was the first one there, grabbing a table for the three of us and politely holding back my salivary glands as I waited on my companions, watching the children wolf down orange and brown “fall/halloween” doughnuts.

While I was waiting on them, I pulled out the trusty I-Pad and flipped to the Krispy Kreme site, thinking I’d peruse the choices in flavors.  My eye fell on the “Nutritional Facts” link.  With a fair amount of trepidation, I clicked on it, breathing a sigh of relief that there was absolutely no information on calorie and fat content (they wouldn’t dare).  There was only a statement that the ingredients were really, really good (in what sense, I wondered) and that they were certified Kosher!

mapledoughnut V and M arrived, we noshed on doughnuts (well, technically I had an apple fritter) and great coffee.  V got the maple doughnut she craved.  We spent a good hour and a half catching up with M and telling her our news.  It was great.

One of the high points came when V went to the bathroom (just hang with me a minute…).  She came back grinning from ear-t0-ear, saying, “I want each of you to go back there…I’ve never experienced anything like it.”

Interest aroused, M jumped up saying, “Me first!”  She, too, returned with a Mona Lisa smile, urging me on to my turn.

I entered the restroom with caution, scouting out the lay of the land.  It looked like a typical, spotlessly-clean restaurant bathroom with two stalls.  I chose the first one and peered in. 

The toilet looked normal to me.  Pretty much like the one in this picture.  I Commercial_Toilet_238153139_std could not fathom what, on earth, was the big deal. 

Never one to waste an opportunity, I turned around and sat down.  It was then I realized what the fuss was about—the toilet was heated!  The seat was warm, and there was heat rising from the bowl, like it was filled with hot water.  I must say it was exceedingly comfortable and I can only imagine how wonderful it would be on a winter’s morning.

So, see, you never know what adventure lurks just around your corner!

All-in-all, I’d say it was a great morning!  Great friends, great junk food, and a warm posterior!  C
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