Hushing the Hungry Heart



This week, the weekly topic for the GBE 2 Blogging Group is that tree you see right there. The elusive Money Tree—how I wish I could plant one (or a nice little orchard of them!) in my backyard. :O)




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For several months now, I’ve been plagued by an odd sense of urgency. I don’t know if this is my version of a mid-life crisis, but I can tell you that it’s quite disconcerting. Five years ago, I chalked up my hormonal insanity to a mid-life crisis, but I don’t think I can blame everything on my age, can I?

I don’t know. I just know that I’m restless and feeling as though I can’t cram all of the stuff that I want to do—that I need to do—into my days, let alone the more disturbing sense that if I don’t get on with the business of making these things happen, I might run out of time for them altogether. I’ve left so much undone, and I fear that with time speeding up in the way that it does, post-forty, I could blink and be an old lady, tortured by the burning pain of unfulfilled potential and abandoned dreams.

Well, that was cheerful, ‘eh?

My life is good. It’s fabulous, really. I have the heart of kindest man I’ve ever met, a daughter and a son who hold me dear, and beautiful, brilliant grandchildren who are joy, personified. Love abounds in my home and in the homes of my children. My son-in-law and daughter-in-law are gentle people who are generous of heart, and my children and grandchildren are extraordinarily well-loved. Our house is warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and is frequently filled with the people I love most. I am very aware of and grateful for my bountiful blessings, yet this gnawing uneasiness persists.

I have friends who are empty-nesters and are feeling a little lost, not knowing what they are supposed to do now that their days and nights are calmer and quieter. I don’t have that problem. I know what it is that I want—I recognize the desires of my heart—but instead of pursuing them with blissful abandon, I feel them weighing on me, their urgency sometimes suffocating and anxiety-provoking.

If this really is what a mid-life crisis feels like, then I can understand how people sometimes behave in ways that others see as irrational when they hit their late forties and early fifties. The soul demands that its dreams be heard, even if those dreams are poorly timed or inconvenient or nearly impossible.

There isn’t much that lies between me and my heart’s constant craving. Mostly, it’s time.

Years ago, I hoped for a pile of money for the things that it could buy—a bigger house, easier college funding for the kids, longer vacations, those sorts of things. Now, though, I see money in a far different way. I still want that money tree—I might even want it more than I did in my younger days—but should a windfall come my way, I wouldn’t be marching down to the furniture store or the travel agent’s office.

I want less stuff. To be honest, I don’t want half of the crap that I already have. I could eBay most of my material possessions and never miss them. What I do want, what the fruits of a money tree would buy for me, is time. Time that is free from the obligations that currently claim it, time to answer my heart’s call.

Logic tells me that I don’t need to rush. That at not quite 50, it’s okay to hush that urgent voice and assure it that it will be heard and honored, if it is just willing to be patient. But logic is a chicken-shit, and it runs screaming toward the door whenever doubt comes bubbling up to taunt it.

There are steps that I can take—that I am taking—in order to assure my heart that it will get its turn. That unfulfilled potential and abandoned dreams aren’t going to be its legacy, and that the urgency it feels is unfounded. It doesn’t always believe me.

And sometimes, I worry that it may be right.


GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #6 : Picture Prompt





This week, we'll be blogging about that pic!



As always, the guidelines are simple. Interpret the week’s topic any way you want and blog about it in any way you see fit. Once you’ve posted to wherever you normally blog, drop the url to your post below.

REMINDER: use the url to your entry for this week’s specific topic post, NOT to your blog’s home page!

If you haven’t already done so, you are welcome to join GBE 2 at its main headquarters over on Facebook (We currently have 157 active members and we’re growing every day!). Just visit GBE 2’s Facebook page and request to join the group. Everyone is welcome, so tell your friends! :O)

For those of you who use Twitter, the hashtag for the group's posts is #GBE2, and we can increase readership if we all tweet early and tweet often. ;O)

That’s it! Easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy!

You have until Saturday (7-2-11) to post your blog and leave your link…

Again, this week, we'll be blogging about the above picture. :O)

Ready. Set. Blog!

Happy blogging!
Beth




No Walmart for Me

This week’s McBloggery topic is Walmart. Blech. I’ll take a pass—not on the topic, but definitely on the store.

In general, I’m not a fan of big box retailers, preferring to support Mom & Pop stores whenever I can. That’s not to say that I don’t have stuff in my house that came from the zillion-aisle places, but if Mr. and Mrs. Neighbor are selling something comparable, I’d much rather give them my money. If they made it themselves, all the better.

Working retail is no picnic—the hours can be horrific, the pay is typically low, benefits are pitiful or non-existent, and sadly, employees are often treated disrespectfully by their employers. And for all of that, they get to stand on their feet all day long, usually on concrete covered by a thin veneer of cheap tile, and listen to the complaints of stressed out, dissatisfied customers who are themselves worn down from swimming upstream.

Walmart has one of the worst reputations amongst well-known retailers for treating their employees as though they don’t matter. As though they don’t have mortgages and car payments and kids to feed. As if those kids don’t need inoculations and braces and eyeglasses. And as if they, unlike the rest of us, don’t need to know that their efforts add up to something.

Walmart has good prices, but at what cost?

When I think Walmart, I think imported crap that will be the subject of next year’s recalls for lead-based paint. I think of my Facebook friend who posted that her developmentally disabled son who works at Walmart doesn’t get paid for his day off if he wakes up with a fever. Sure, they offer paid sick time, but only if the employee brings in a doctor’s note—and since medical insurance isn’t part of his pay package, he’d have to fork over the cost of the office visit, which is more than his day’s wages. I think of Sam Walton and how he’d likely pitch a fit if he could see what has become of his dream.

I need stuff and I don’t have a lot of money, but I’d rather have less stuff than contribute even a little teeny bit to the jackwagons at the helm at Walmart. For them, I have nothing.


To All the Boys I've Loved Before

This week’s GBE topic, thanks to Claudia, is First Love. This one conjures images of prom nights and starry-eyed young romance; sweet, sweet puppy love. Or as I tend to think of it, hormones gone wild. ;O)

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I was never one of those little girls who thought boys were icky; no cootie-shots needed for me if a boy brushed my arm as he passed my desk. No, I was far more likely to write his name all over pink and purple sheets of notebook paper, using big, puffy hearts to dot the i’s. Then I’d try out my first name with his last name, using my fanciest, swirliest penmanship.

Early on—maybe first or second grade—it was sweet Dougie Brown who had my heart. Bright red hair and more freckles than I could count, Dougie was a charmer. He was kind and funny and had a grin that stretched wide across his face. I was utterly smitten. Word Nerd Brown. Yeah, it had a nice ring to it. ;O)

By third grade, Brian Williams caught my eye. Where Dougie had been a sweet boy, Brian was a manly man. Dougie was slight of build, but Brian had a wide, sturdy look about him, and he always seemed to be just a little bit sweaty, which absolutely fascinated me. I can picture him still, seated next to me in Mrs. Mazur’s class, beads of dewy perspiration on his suntanned nose. Again, smitten. Word Nerd Williams? Not bad.

Right around the time that my hormones started brewing wildly, I traded my adoration of sweet boys for an appreciation of the ones with a bit of adolescent edginess. What girl doesn’t love a bad boy, at least once in her life?

In retrospect, the first ‘bad boy’ to get me all aflutter wasn’t really all that bad, but compared to my goodie-two-shoes self, he was practically prison material. Steve Galasso was handsome in that wonderfully Italian way that appeals to me still. Thick dark hair with just a bit of curl to it, full eyebrows that frame gorgeous brown eyes. Smitten doesn’t begin to describe how I felt about that boy.

Like all bad boys, Steve wasn’t all that nice to me—at least not consistently. He’d tease and flirt, then back away and act like I was something he couldn’t wipe off of his shoe. I adored him. He drove me crazy.

For my thirteenth birthday, my parents allowed me to take five guests to an indoor amusement park called Old Chicago. Being thirteen, I chose my two best friends and the three boys that we liked. My brother and his wife were to drive us, but when we stopped by Steve’s house to pick him up, his mother told me that he wasn’t home—and she didn’t seem to know anything about the day trip that had been planned for weeks. She said that he was over at the park, ice-skating.

A glutton for humiliation, I guess, I made my brother drive to the park, where my ‘date’ was chasing after a puck with a stick. I got out of the car and talked to him, only to find out that he had no intention of riding the Ferris wheel with me that day. Word Nerd Galasso? Absolutely not.

High school brought new boys, nice ones and not-so-nice ones. The ones I liked the most were the ones who liked me the least. I attracted nice boys, but I kinda had a thing for the ones who had the glint of the devil in their smile. My mother warned me off of them, but what did she know?

I had a few teacher crushes, of course. That I learned anything in sophomore geography is a miracle, because I spent most of my class time focused on either the eyes or the hiney of our young, George Clooneyish instructor. Maybe that’s why my spatial intelligence is still a little below par. Blame it on the hot math teacher. Word Nerd I-Can’t-Remember-His-Name-Just-His-Cute-Fanny? Nah, too long of a signature.

Another teacher held more appeal than just good looks, though he was quite handsome. Picture Jason Stratham, now sit him up on the desk at the front of the classroom—not in his chair, but on the desk itself—he’s casual yet completely in charge, and is absolutely passionate about the subject matter. Now imagine that you are a fifteen-year-old girl. He looks pretty good, right?

I was in love with his mind—a first for me, at that tender age. When he spoke, I listened. And I learned. I grew a great deal under his tutelage, both academically and as a person. I was smitten—hugely smitten—and even years later, the thought of him makes me smile. Word Nerd Moonier? Nope, he was happily married with a couple of kids, and had the moral fortitude not to entertain silly young girls with designs on him.

When I was a junior in high school, not yet seventeen, my mom died. I quickly went from being an obedient goody-two-shoes to a reckless wild-child, and a string of boys not worth remembering claimed most of my free time. Word Nerd JerkGuy? Um, no.

Then there was the guy that all of my friends thought I would marry. Thought I should marry. The first serious guy. He was nice looking, stable, educated, and came from a good bit of money. If I was a checklist sort of girl, he’d have scored very well. The thing was, I didn’t love him. I thought I did—for about a minute and a half—but it was more lust than love, and that’s not the stuff that will carry you through lost jobs and kids with chicken pox and flooded basements and old-age arthritis. For that stuff, you need love, the real stuff. Word Nerd FriendsChoiceGuy? Uh-uh.

The first time I was in love—genuine love—was with my husband. I knew almost immediately and he did too, but had either of us kept checklists, it would have never happened. My dad did not approve, and though his dad loved me immediately, his mom was less enamored. My friends thought that I had lost my everlovin’ mind and they weren’t shy about telling me so. We were young and broke and sorely undereducated. Together, we were destined to struggle financially.

But we had magic. And we were smart enough to grab it up and build our lives on it. In no time at all, I stood and signed the marriage certificate: Word Nerd Grace. I used my fanciest, swirliest penmanship.

And it was just right.




GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #5 Topic: FIRST LOVE














As always, the guidelines are simple. Interpret the week’s topic any way you want and blog about it in any way you see fit. Once you’ve posted to wherever you normally blog, drop the url to your post into the linky tool below.

REMINDER: use the url to your entry for this week’s specific topic post, NOT to your blog’s home page!

If you haven’t already done so, you are welcome to join GBE 2 at its main headquarters over on Facebook (We currently have 156 active members and we’re growing every day!). Just visit GBE 2’s Facebook page and request to join the group. Everyone is welcome, so tell your friends! :O)

For those of you who use Twitter, the hashtag for the group's posts is #GBE2, and we can increase readership if we all tweet early and tweet often. ;O)

That’s it! Easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy!

You have until Saturday (6-25-11) to post your blog and leave your link…

Again, this week’s topic is FIRST LOVE.

Ready. Set. Blog!

Happy blogging!
Beth

*** Thank you Claudia for suggesting this week’s topic! ***





A Fortune Cookie and a Smart Cookie

Years and years ago, when our kids were still losing baby teeth, I cracked opened a fortune cookie at a neighborhood Chinese restaurant. I read the words and my hubby smiled and said, “That’s exactly right.”

The message read: “You are the star that guides his existence.”

Instead of tossing the little slip of paper onto the pile of napkins and drinking-straw wrappers, I tucked it into my wallet and we left the restaurant hand-in-hand. For years afterward, and still to this day, the hubs has referred to me that way. He’ll wink and say, “You are the star that guides my existence.” A few years back, he got me an iPod for a gift and had that inscribed on the back of it.

Nice, right?

Well yes, it is, but there’s more. I don’t remember the moment that the phrase got extended, but it did, ages ago—not all that long after the fortune cookie lunch. My complete title became The Star that Guides His Existence and The Decider of All Things.

Yeah, it’s a mouthful and a little amusing, but for the most part, it’s as true as true can be. ;O)

When I first met my husband’s grandmother, she was about 80. Petite and somewhat fragile looking, hers was not a commanding presence. She welcomed me warmly when her favorite grandson introduced us, but as the day wore on, I got the distinct feeling that I was being studied. I could see her taking mental notes on my every comment and I wondered—not uncomfortably—what my score card looked like.

As I got to know her better, I grew to appreciate the tough and tender woman beneath the deceptively delicate veneer. Not a single thing got past her and I was amused to find out that when she was out of earshot, my soon-to-be father-in-law referred to her as ‘The Inspector General.’ Though she was often quiet and kept her opinions to herself, when Grandma Rose chose to speak up, she made it clear that she was to be heard.

My husband's grandmother was a tough cookie. She’d weathered a lot, yet took the hardships in stride, her faith and solid common sense all that she needed to see her through. And though she didn’t have the benefit of an advanced education, she had a sharp innate sense and could pass out sound advice on most any subject.

When we announced our engagement, Grandma Rose seemed genuinely pleased and gave us both big hugs. She also invited me to lunch—just the two of us. The next Saturday, I headed up her flower-lined walkway where she greeted me, coffee cup in hand, and welcomed me inside. She had some advice for me, she said, about how to make a marriage happy and how to make it last forever. “I know a lot more than people give me credit for,” she said, pouring a cup of coffee for me. That much I had already figured out, so I sat and listened as Grandma Rose went over the key points.

She said that you must marry a man who truly loves you—not one who just thinks that you’re beautiful or a lot of fun. He must be gentle-natured and thoughtful, traits that she was pleased to say that her grandson possessed. Remember, she counseled, that although difficult times would surely come our way, nothing—nothing—should ever be given a higher priority than tending to the love in a marriage.

Grandma Rose leaned in closer, took my hand, and looked me square in the eye before offering her last piece of advice. “You must always let him believe that he is the boss,” she said, “while knowing that behind the scenes, you are really running the show.”

I laughed out loud when she gave that tidbit of wisdom, but she insisted that she was completely serious and that if I heeded her advice, I would be happy and so would my husband.

She advised me never to raise my voice—that doing so was both unnecessary and counterproductive. She preferred a gentler approach—she said that it had always worked for her and that it would work for me, too. Run things past him, she advised, and ask for his opinion. If his ideas differ from yours, gently guide him toward your way of thinking and then compliment him on his wisdom and agree to do it ‘his’ way. She said that a man who truly loves you wants you to be happy, and by calmly expressing what you want and need, you will pretty much always get it.

When I left her that afternoon, I was certain that although the advice she had offered was certainly outdated, it was nonetheless true. A fortune cookie might get the credit for the first part of my official title, but I can thank my husband’s sweet grandmother for the last half of it. ;O)


My Fan Club

Day 13: NaBloPOMo. I love the number 13. No creepy-weepies for me when that number pops up. So let’s see what topic is up for discussion today. Who is your greatest fan?

Oh, this one is easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy. Yay for effortless topics! Yay for 13!

I’m very lucky in that I’m well-loved. Not widely-loved, because my fan club has a very short mailing list, but amongst that little group, I am utterly and thoroughly adored. I am talking, of course, about my grandkids. They dig me. :O)

My husband loves me, as do (67% of) my children. And my son-in-law and daughter-in-law love me, largely because I absolutely adore them and also because I know what is and what is not my business. But as adults, those people see the many sides of me, not all of which are all that delightful. I am sometimes grumbly, over-anxious, and impatient. I pretty much never call people back when I say I will, even though I always have good intentions, and I am a wee bit stubborn. So while my husband and children’s love is genuine, it is not blind adoration.

For that, I have the grands.

My grandkids are still young—the oldest is not yet six—so they view the world in rather simple and charming ways. Fortunately for me, they view me in a rather simple and charming way, too.

They think I’m brilliant and funny and oodles of fun. They scramble to climb up on me and call dibs on sitting in the chair next to mine at both my dining room table and theirs. They even happily eat things at my table that they’d turn their noses up at their houses, simply because I eat it.

My hubby is the demonstrative type, which I love. He shows his love freely and is open about his feelings, so he’s said some awfully sweet things to me through the years—the stuff of great movie scenes. But some of the most heartwarming things have come from the mouths of my grandbabies. When she was little (littler), my granddaughter and I were filling buckets in her sandbox and she said, “My other Grammy is my fancy Grammy and you are my dirty Grammy.” I wasn’t sure how to take that at first, but then she continued. “Grammy C likes to be fancy all the time, but you like to play with me.”

I about squeezed the stuffin’ out of her. :O)

My four-year-old grandson runs up my walkway and yells my name, his face lit up brightly, every time he visits, which is several times a week. When my husband and I head to the field to watch his tee-ball games, he scans the bleachers and when he sees me, he grins and waves like crazy. A few weeks ago, I walked up to the dugout fence to say hi to him. When he saw me, he told all of his friends, “That’s MY Grammy!”

He made my day.

Not long ago, I noticed my granddaughter watching me, and she kept it up long enough for me to ask her why. She said, “I love how you love me. You love me from your inside and your outside.”

I smiled, but I wasn’t quite sure what she meant, so I asked her to explain. “Some people love just from their outsides,” she said, “You know, like when someone smiles but they don’t really feel happy inside? But you don’t love me like that. You love my family from your inside and your outside.”

That one made me cry.

The littlest guy, almost two, isn’t yet as verbal as his big sister and older cousin, but he has no trouble expressing himself. He’s the lovey-dovey sort and he’s definitely my little sugarplum. Just today, when he was snuggled on my shoulder, getting ready to go down for his nap, little mister nuzzled into my neck and then just before he drifted off to sleep, he looked up at me, smiled, and said, “love.”

Exactly.


GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #4 Topic: CONTROL














As always, the guidelines are simple. Interpret the week’s topic any way you want and blog about it in any way you see fit. Once you’ve posted to wherever you normally blog, drop the url to your post into the linky tool below.

REMINDER: use the url to your entry for this week’s specific topic post, NOT to your blog’s home page!

If you haven’t already done so, you are welcome to join GBE 2 at its main headquarters over on Facebook. Just visit GBE 2’s Facebook page and request to join the group. Everyone is welcome, so tell your friends! :O)

For those of you who use Twitter, the hashtag for the group's posts is #GBE2, and we can increase readership if we all tweet early and tweet often. ;O)

That’s it! Easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy!

You have until Saturday (6-18-11) to post this week’s blog and leave your link…

This week’s topic is CONTROL.

Ready. Set. Blog!

Happy blogging!
Beth

*** Thank you Jenn for suggesting this week’s topic! ***





No Poo for this Curly Girl

I haven’t shampooed my hair in a month and I don’t plan on ever doing it again. Now before you unfriend, unfollow, and thank your lucky stars that you are reading this rather than sitting next to my greasy, stinky head, let me assure you that my noggin is neither greasy nor stinky.

For most of my life, I’ve objected to my corkscrew curly hair and I’ve tried everything I could think of to transform it into the silky-straight stuff that was popular when I was growing up. My childhood best friend had stick-straight hair that glistened in the sun. I know all about its glistening qualities because I was mesmerized by the stuff and spent way too much time suffering from a huge case of hair-envy.

I’ve tried every brand of product that promised to tame my wild mane. Specialty shampoos, deluxe conditioning treatments, serums, gels, mousse—you name it, I bought it. I’ve blow-dried and flat-ironed and hot-combed my curls in an ongoing attempt to make them lie down and behave. I’ve spent time and money and once, when I was a kid, got in a boatload of trouble when my mom came home to find me with my head on the ironing board and my silky-haired friend hovering over me with a clothing iron.

For the record, none of it worked. Not even the iron.

I’ve sometimes worn my hair curly, but its unpredictable nature meant that I could never know what I was going to get. Sometimes, if the stars were all aligned perfectly, the hair gods would smile on me and I’d have a head of perfect, shiny, springy, ringlets. But just as frequently, I’d rock the mad-scientist thing. So of course, on days when it mattered that I not look electrified, I dried and ironed and gelled my hair into submission.

Then something amazing happened. I saw a woman with absolutely fabulous curls. Pure hair perfection. I commented on her gorgeous hair. “Thank you,” she said, “it took me a long time and a little magic to learn to like my curls.”

I shared my story of curl angst and she smiled the smile of a knowing curly sister. “Stop shampooing your hair,” she said, and though she didn't seem to be joking, I laughed. “I’m serious,” she continued. “Stop shampooing your hair and your curls will be amazing, too.”

We chatted and she let me in on all the secrets of having great curls every single day. She recommended a few products, but said that I could just as easily make my own and save a lot of money. She recommended a book, Curly Girl, the Handbook by Lorraine Massey, which I bought immediately.

After I read it, I stopped shampooing my hair. I purged my cabinets of every single bottle (except for the stuff my hubby uses because I’m pretty sure he’s added ‘she doesn’t shampoo her hair’ to the long list of proof that I’m not quite right), along with the round brushes, paddle brushes, John Frieda hair serum, and even my beloved Aveda stuff. Gone. All of it.

I dedicated a Saturday afternoon to creating a few curl-friendly products using really simple ingredients. With the exception of lavender essential oil, I already had everything I needed right in my kitchen.

On the very first shampoo-free day, my curls were happier, and after a few weeks, they reached the downright joyful point. They’re soft and springy and shiny. Every. Single. Day. No mad scientist, no frizz, no problems at all.

I haven’t stopped cleansing my hair, but I have absolutely discontinued using shampoos with sulfates, as well as anything with alcohol or silicone or parabens. Basically, that means almost everything pre-bottled.

So after almost five decades together, my curls and I have become friends. Great friends. And it’s about time.

Next, I learn to love my gray. :O)


Sneaking In Under the Wire

Well, here I am at almost eleven o’clock on Day 10 of NaBloPoMo and I just realized that I haven’t posted anything yet today. Not a blogging word.

Damn. How quickly the day goes by when you’re busy working and eating and watching really funny YouTube videos. Who knew?

Alright, tick-tock, tick-tock, time to write something. At this point, anything.

Today’s suggested topic is: Have you ever drastically changed your opinion of an author as you read their book? Become a fan? Lost your fan status?

My answers? Yes. Definitely yes. And yes.

I’m too lazy and it’s too late in the game to come up with a bunch of examples, but I can assure you that I’m not BSing you. Those answers are the truth—honest to blog. You can trust me on this. I have an honest face.


Would you buy a used car from this woman?














A few authors have surprised me with the quality of their storytelling. A year or two ago, I picked up a novel (initially because of the cover, so while “you can’t judge a book by its cover” might be true, it sure helps to have a nice one if you plan on actually selling some books) and settled myself into my reading chair. I glanced at the photo of the author, as I always do, before starting in on Chapter One and noticed that she was an extremely gentle-looking, doe-eyed woman. I expected her story to be gentle, too.

It was anything but. It was a tale of unspeakable terrors suffered by a child, and was written with wonderfully emotional and gut-wrenching details. On a number of occasions during the read, I flipped back to look into the eyes of the author, each time wondering how that woman was capable of creating such a deeply moving and at times terrifying story. I had a hard time picturing her conjuring the gritty reality of the little girl’s life. And when I reached the end of the story, moved by both its journey and its conclusion, I closed the book and sat quietly for a few minutes. Then I opened it one last time and turned again to the gentle-faced woman who had poured her guts onto the pages, and I sighed.

Impressed. Utterly and completely impressed.


Lovin' My Drunk Kitchen

I peeked at today's NaBloPoMo topic: Are you a fan of a certain actor or actress? Would you watch anything they're in? and thought, um, not really. I mean, I like lots of actors and actresses (aren’t they all called ‘actors’ now, in these days of gender-non-specific terminology?), but none so much that I don’t expect some of their stuff to rank high on the suckology meter.

Some favorites? Johnny Depp, Natalie Portman, Hilary Swank, John Cusack, Diane Lane, Gerard Butler, George Clooney (I’m happy just watch him smile), Ellen Page, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Drew Barrymore, Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, blah, blah, blah.

But follow blindly? Nah.

Well, maybe George Clooney, and okay, maybe Gerard Butler, but that’s it. Alright, Johnny Depp, too.

My interest in actors tends to be based more on the movies that they’re in, rather than dictating which movies I think I’ll like. Did that sentence make sense to you, ‘cause I just reread it and it barely made sense to me. Oh well, moving on…

So I guess I could make this one short & sweet and just answer the daily questions.
  1. Yes, several.
  2. Nope.

Let’s face it though, I like to babble a bit (‘ya think?), so that just won’t do. So I’ll tell you what I really like, this week, anyway. Not a movie star, but a really funny chick doing YouTube videos from her kitchen: My Drunk Kitchen. I could go on and on (me? really?), but I’ll let her videos speak for themselves.


Lookie, lookie!


This was the first one I watched, and I laughed myself stupid:





They're like eating Chinese food--have a taste and you're hungry for more. So here's, you know, more:





Alrighy, one more:





Still want more? Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy (when I heard her say that, I immediately went from like to love...I didn't know that anyone beyond me was dorkalicious enough to talk so cool). Follow My Drunk Kitchen on Twitter.


Oh, and don't forget to tweet me, too!

The Long, Long (Grumpopotamus) List

Okie-dokie, NaBloPoMo, Day 8: What are you not a fan of?

Does this mean I can ramble and rant about all of the stuff that I don’t like? Yes?! Well, alrighty then! This is my kind of topic!

There’s probably a lot of stuff, so I’ll just make a list. A while back, I listed 100 things that I love , so this time around, I’ll do the opposite version. I doubt that I’ll get to 100 because I’m pretty much rushing through most of these NaBloPoMo posts just to get something posted every day, but we’ll see.




For the record, I’m not a fan of:
  1. Sushi. Plain old ick.
  2. Liars. Don’t lie to me, don’t coddle me. Just give it to me straight.
  3. Neon colors.
  4. Big cities. I live right by one and rarely ever actually go into the city. My hubby dislikes them even more than I do, if that’s possible.
  5. The Green Bay Packers. This is the understatement of the year. If I ever win one of those really obscene lottery jackpots, I’m gonna buy the Packers and then change their colors to pink and purple, hire the worst players I can find, and run the organization right into the ground.
  6. Zoos. Instead of creating ‘natural habitats,’ here’s an idea: How about we put those poor animals into their actual natural habitats? Plus, it really isn’t that amazing to watch the animals eat and sleep and play and poop. Isn’t that the same shit they were doing the last 400 times we were there?
  7. Spicy foods, starting with simple table pepper. Blech.
  8. Okra. Who eats that slimy crap?
  9. Marshmallows, or even worse, marshmallow fluff. N.A.S.T.Y.
  10. Movies where a whole bunch of people die violently, but since the hot, half-naked waif is saved, it’s considered to have a victorious and a happy ending.
  11. Mondays.
  12. Tuesdays through Fridays. ;O)
  13. Chuck Norris.
  14. Donald Trump.
  15. Tyne Daly.
  16. Most politicians.
  17. Hot weather, unless I am indoors with my nose in a book or outside in a swimming pool.
  18. Sensible shoes.
  19. Subdivisions that pop up seemingly overnight with rows and rows of almost-identical houses.
  20. Veggie burgers. I’d rather have the real thing occasionally (read: every single day) than one of those god-awful things as often as I wanted.
  21. Searching for stuff that’s free of high fructose corn syrup and realizing that the crap is everywhere.
  22. Searching for stuff made in the US and realizing that industry is all but extinct here.
  23. With a few notable exceptions, television.
  24. Puppies. Yeah, whatever. Sure, they’re cute, but they chew stuff and take months and months to figure out where their bathroom is.
  25. Haughtiness. I take my daily dose in the name of getting a paycheck, so I’m all full up, thanks. ;O)
  26. Key lime pie. Lots of folks love the stuff, I’ve just never understood why.
  27. Escalators. I get all oogy on them.
  28. Roses. To me, they say, “So sorry for your loss.” Plus, they smell kind of icky.
  29. Bloody steaks. Well, all steaks, really, along with most meats still on a bone. They kind of give me the creeps—except for BBQ ribs—barbaric or not, I dig me some good BBQ.
  30. Badminton. C’mon, is that really even a sport?
  31. Big tobacco. They should be shut down and their CEOs jailed.
  32. Rice.
  33. Alarm clocks.
  34. Celebrity gossip rags.
  35. The chlorination of classic books in order to make them palatable to the residents of Namby-Pamby Land.
  36. Political correctness.
  37. Digital clocks. Do kids even know how to tell time on real clocks anymore?
  38. Shopping, of the any-kind variety.
  39. The growing trend of using really stupid sounding words/terms in everyday written exchanges and the insertion of a z where an s belongs, especially if the writer is over 16 years of age. “Hugz,” “guyz," and holy crap, I see this all the time and hate it more than I can say—“I haz the sadz.” Not cute, not even a teeny-tiny little bit.
  40. Pop spirituality.
  41. Man-bashing. You might have met a jackass man. You might have even married him, divorced him, and then married an even bigger jackass man. None of that means that all men are lazy, stupid, selfish cheaters who strive to rob you of your self-worth and leave you with a couple of kids and a pile of bills.
  42. Taxation without representation.
  43. Air Supply (don’t believe Trish, she makes shit up).
  44. Fat and sugar and calories. Who am I kidding? I love fat and sugar and calories, I’m just not crazy about carrying them around with me everywhere I go.
  45. The practice of clearing perfectly nice wooded acreage in order to build strip malls and subdivisions with rows and rows of almost-identical houses.
  46. Deadbeat parents.
  47. Retirees. No, wait—wrong list. That one belongs on my long, long list of 100 things that make me jealous.
  48. Walmart.
  49. The lighting in Walgreens. Is it just me or is that store really frickin’ bright?
  50. Roller coasters. Yeah, I know that they’re safe, but they sure as hell don’t feel like it.
  51. Shelling out fifty bucks to fill the gas tank of car with a really small gas tank.
  52. People who sue fast food restaurants because after only nineteen years of eating a steady diet of foods that would be best considered occasional indulgences, they find that they are overweight, hypertensive, and diabetic.
  53. Those same people who expect another payday because their children are overweight, hypertensive, and diabetic, too.
  54. Spending time with anyone who recently quit smoking, gave up drinking, lost a crapload of weight, or found Jesus. After a few months, they’ll probably be decent company again, but not just yet.
  55. Whining. And no, this list has not been one big whine-fest. ;O)

Okay, bring it. What are you not a fan of?


Branded

I’m still chugging away at daily blogging via NaBloPoMo--and I’m on Day 7. How many days are there in June again? Please tell me it’s not 31. Let’s see (doing that knuckle month-calculating thing). Phew! Just 30.

Today’s topic is Are you the fan of a certain brand?

I’m not particularly brand-conscious. Often, my favorite brand is whatever’s cheap. There are a few things I really like, though, price tags be damned.

Jeans and shoes are two things that I want name-brand, mostly because I’ve tried buying cheapies of both and have always regretted it. I don’t need fancy jeans—in fact, the thought of spending two hundred bucks for a glorified pair of Levi’s makes me queasy, so mostly, I just stick with Levi’s. I like 501’s, the ones cut specifically for women, but the brainiacs at Levi Strauss & Co. have discontinued them, so the ones I own are just going to get rattier and rattier. That’s okay, faded old Levi’s, especially ones with holey knees, make me smile.

A few months back, I bought a few pairs of Elizabeth Grace brand jeans. They are super cute, wear well, and here’s the kicker—they run a full size big, so when I look at the number in the waistband, I feel pretty dandy. :O)

And shoes! Almost every woman I know has a shoe thing, and I’m no exception. Fun shoes, pretty shoes, dressy shoes, funky shoes—I love ‘em all. Just save me from ‘sensible’ shoes, please. I’m not brand-loyal, though (who could limit herself to just one brand of shoes???). If they speak to me, they’re mine.

There’s a little line-list of goodies that I like, but none that I couldn’t live without. Burt’s Bees tinted lip gloss, Starbucks fancy coffees, and Dunkin’ Donuts everyday ones. I do ♥ my Crackberry. And as weird as this sounds, Sensodyne toothpaste.

Damn. I’m getting old.


Lost and Found -- Digging Deep

Some of you have known me for years and some for only weeks, but I think all of you know me as being pretty cheerful. And I am, usually. I’ve never expected that every moment of my life would be all happiness and sunshine and bluebirds, so when tough stuff comes my way, I don’t freak out. Instead, I dig deep. I do what I can, try not to beat myself up about what I can’t, and get on with it.

And that works. Most of the time.

When Chickee sent me a message with her topic suggestion, I sat there and stared at the screen for a minute. Only one thing came to mind, and I couldn’t shake it. I thanked her for her input and then tried to put her mail out of my head. That Sunday came and I almost used her idea—Lost and Found—as the week’s topic, but couldn’t get my fingers to type it into the announcement.

I just couldn’t do it.

My plan was to add the topic and then write something light and airy for it—lost keys, lost cell phones, lost estrogen, or lost virginity—anything except for the one thing that ‘lost and found’ kept bringing to mind. I have a pretty good lost wallet story, and I thought I might tell that. When the time came, though, I just skipped the topic and moved to the next one on the list.

I did that because I knew that the story I have to tell isn’t about a wallet, keys, phone, hormones, or even virginity—though that one might at least be fun. My story is one I’d rather just back away from and ignore. So much for digging deep and getting on with it, ‘eh?

Like everyone, I suppose, I have my faults and weaknesses. Cowardice isn’t usually one of them and to be honest, it’s not something I respect. So this week, I posted the topic. I’m digging deep.

I’ve written about the wonderful relationships I have with my daughter and my son. They are both remarkable people who are making their way in the world in ways that make me proud, and though they are in their late twenties, I look at them with the very same sense of wonder and awe that I did when they were newborns, nestled into the crook of my arm. As much as I love language, I don’t think I have words to adequately describe the sense of fullness that loving them brings to my life.

I don’t have just two children, though. I have three. My other daughter—she is my ‘lost.’ Before you jump to the natural conclusion that ‘lost child’ brings, let me assure you that she is very much alive. She is just not a part of my life anymore. Of any of our lives. Her choice, not ours.

Her thought process is something that I do not understand—will likely never understand—but it is hers and she has a right to it. I don’t think it’s honorable to tell another’s story, so I will not tell you hers. I can only tell you mine.

My daughter—my lost daughter—first announced that something was brewing when she was nearing the landmark birthday that would classify her as an adult. “When I turn 18,” she said, “all hell’s gonna break loose.”

She wasn’t kidding.

Within months of that birthday, she had moved out—abruptly, tearfully, angrily. Both of her siblings reached out to her, but were brushed aside. I reached out and was denied. I cried. I begged. I prayed. And I never gave up. Even when others did, I did not. Even when it seemed the wise thing to do, I could not. There was occasional contact, via phone and email, but her anger was impassable. Hurtful words were spewed and though they cut, my heart simply would not let go. She is my child.

It took well over a year and the intervening of a relative, but we resumed contact. Slowly, at first, but over time, old wounds began to heal and I started to trust her again. We regained the closeness that we’d once had and I believed that we’d moved past it, whatever it was. Teenage angst, I told myself. A severe case, but I assured myself that it had been nothing more than that.

She got married and had two beautiful children. Her daughter carries my name.

Sometimes, I sensed that whatever it was at eighteen was still there, bubbling, simmering, almost, but not quite dormant. It peeked out every now and then—occasionally, at first, but then with increasing frequency and intensity. I measured my words carefully, afraid that she would run again, this time with those babies. Afraid that if she did, it wouldn’t be temporary.

When she lashed out, I shut up. When she accused, I carefully denied. When she began to pull away, I lied to myself and pretended that it wasn’t happening. My husband, clearer than I was, tried to convince me that what I feared could happen if we weren’t super-cautious was already happening. Had already happened. And that no matter how hard I wished it away, no matter how hard I prayed, that she would do it again.

Finally, the inevitable tipping point arrived.

It’s been a few years now. We have no contact with her, her husband, or their children, nor do our son and his family or our oldest daughter and hers. None of us made this decision, but we have learned to live with it.

So, ‘lost’ is covered, but that leaves ‘found.’ And through the pain and the tears and the realization that we have suffered what I finally believe is a permanent loss, there have been found blessings. Hard won blessings, to be sure, but they are precious, nonetheless.

I’ve found that my heart will survive even the most agonizing of injuries. I’ve found that though it sounds like utter bullshit when someone says it to you while you are in the depths of pain, time really does heal. And I’ve found that even when someone you love walks purposefully away, happiness and sunshine and bluebirds still make their way to you, that love goes on and life goes on and that it is really very, very good.



GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #3 Topic: LOST AND FOUND















As always, the guidelines are simple. Interpret the week’s topic any way you want and blog about it in any way you see fit. Once you’ve posted to wherever you normally blog, drop the url to your post into the linky tool below.

REMINDER: use the url to your entry for this week’s specific topic post, NOT to your blog’s home page!

If you haven’t already done so, you are welcome to join GBE 2 at its main headquarters over on Facebook. Just visit GBE 2’s Facebook page and request to join the group. Everyone is welcome, so tell your friends! :O)

For those of you who use Twitter, the hashtag for the group's posts is #GBE2, and we can increase readership if we all tweet early and tweet often. ;O)

That’s it! Easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy!

You have until Saturday (6-11-11) to post this week’s blog and leave your link…

This week’s topic is LOST AND FOUND.

Ready. Set. Blog!

Happy blogging!
Beth

*** Thank you Chickee for suggesting this week’s topic! ***





I Dub Thee Overlord

I’ve been called lots of things, but this was a first. ‘Overlord’—yeah, I think I like that. Thanks Nicole, for the snazzy award!

To be inducted into the club of Overlords, one must make a list of three things that he or she would change in the world, pass the award on to ten other bloggers, and then let the recipients know that they have achieved Overlord status.



First things first. Here are the three things that I would change in this world:

  1. Eliminate our two-party system. It’s time to stick a fork in it.
  2. Actually, since I get to decide, let’s just eliminate the whole concept of individual countries. That’ll help lessen the ‘mine, mine, mine’ way that people tend to think and in time, it would lessen the us/them mindset, too.
  3. Publishers would line up at my door with big checks and cake, one-upping each other in order to convince me to sign with them.

    What? These are my chosen changes. It can’t all be about freedom and world peace. ;O)


And now, the next group bloggers to be declared Overlord Award recipients:

Writercize
The Musings of Justin Kogneeto
Just One Voice
From the Mom Cave
Diana’s World
Wine-n-Chat
My Wandering Mind
Bright Blessings
Eeyorn the Space Donkey
Chickee’s Outlet

Okay Overlords, pass it on!


Genetically Predetermined

I’m daily blogging in June with NaBloPoMo, and while using their prompts is optional, so far (all of three days), I’ve checked in there and blogged according to the suggested topics. Today’s question is: Which author made you want to be a writer (or blogger)?

This one is both easy and impossible. Just one? I knew very young that I wanted to write. I was already writing, though my readership all shared my address, or at least some of my DNA. I wrote before I could read or even put pen to paper very well, employing my mom as my personal transcriptionist. I told the stories, she wrote them down, and then I illustrated the final products.

Some of my earliest memories center on storytelling. My mom had an amazing gift with language and could paint magnificent pictures with her words, so we’d journey far and wide while seated in the dining room, nibbling on thick slices of blueberry pie.

Reading was a big deal in my childhood home. We were read to and encouraged to read aloud to others. Freedom of choice in material was standard, so whether our interests ran to cereal boxes or works of genuine literary acclaim, soaking up the written word was sure to elicit a smile and an approving nod.

While I read so much that most of the titles elude me now, there are a few books that absolutely thrilled my young reader’s heart. Charlotte’s Web, Little Women, and Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret come to mind immediately when I look in the rear view mirror. I’ll bet that Blume would be named as influential by a lot of girls of my generation. After her, a number of children’s authors emulated her open, forward, direct-to-real-readers style, but her work was rather groundbreaking.

If I must credit published authors with my desire to write, I’d list Blume, Louisa May Alcott, and E.B. White, but my real storytelling jones came from a writer of far less notoriety. I have her chin and the little space between her two front teeth—and I’d like to think that I inherited just a little dash of her magic, too.


********

Which gifts did you inherit from your parents? What talents do you wish you had gotten from them?



Musically Dorkalicious

It probably won’t come as a surprise to any of you that my taste in music hasn’t always fallen in line with what the cool kids were listening to. Tough, hard-ass rock bands of the 70’s? Um, not so much. When I was twelve, I was madly in love with Donny Osmond. Does that tell you anything?

My iPod has about 1400 songs in it, and the playlist covers everything from Donny (What? It’s just one song!) to classical to Tom T. Hall to Kid Rock to a couple of the songs from the Mamma Mia soundtrack (sorry, Trish). I’ve got meditation tracks, the theme songs from both The Andy Griffith Show and Leave it to Beaver, some Stevie Nicks, Norah Jones, Meatloaf, Rod Stewart, Tom Petty, Miles Davis, Melissa Etheridge, Waylon Jennings, Alanis Morissette, John Denver, and Louis Armstrong. You name it, I probably have a little taste of it.

Despite the broad range of stuff in that little red music miracle (more magic!), there is one artist who is represented far more often than the rest. I’d be willing to bet a bundle (please note that a ‘bundle,’ when you are in my tax bracket, will allow you to buy lunch—and maybe even supersize it) that I know all of the words to all of the songs ever recorded by Don Williams.

Damn, am I cool or what?

On one of our very first dates, my hubby and I went to a county fair, and playing in the midway was Don Williams. I was already a fan and after that evening, the hubs (who actually did/does like the music popular amongst normal people our age) was a quick convert.

And really, what’s not to love? The man has a deep, rich voice and his songs tell tales of love and loss and redemption. Of falling down and getting up. Of love that lasts forever. They come from the heart and they speak to the heart. They talk about you. They talk about me.

For years—well, at least during years when we could toss together a few bucks by feeding our kids nothing but hot dogs and macaroni for a solid month—we’d pack a weekend bag and head off to see Don Williams in concert. He never seemed to play in the city, but we made pilgrimages to Wisconsin (ick) and Indiana every time we could. We were kid-free, had a pocket full of money (hey, quarters are so money!), and tickets to see our favorite singer. Life doesn’t get much sweeter than that.

Without fail, my sweetie and I were the youngest members of the audience. Most ticket-holders were white-headed or bald, and many walked slowly up the aisles to their seats with the aid of canes. I’ll bet that hearing aid battery sales boomed in the Wisconsin Dells and Nashville, Indiana on those weekends, but we didn’t care. Those geezers were our peeps. ;O)

DW retired a few years back, and lucky for us, his last concert dates were right here in the Midwest. We got our tickets. We packed our bags. And like we’d done a bunch of times before, we sat between couples old enough to be our grandparents, and we, like them, smiled, clapped, and sang along.

It was fantastic.


********


I invite you to put your feet up, take a couple of minutes, and listen.


One of our favorite DW songs:




And another:




Okay, just one more:





Really, I promise, this is the last one. I see this as the perfect bride & groom's first dance song:





Do Big Bears Sh*t in the Woods?

If you live in northern Illinois and are a football fan, you likely cheer one of two teams. Smart, decent people who have their priorities in line root for the Bears. The others wear green and gold on game day.

I am a card-carrying pacifist and have no use for violence. I think that people can and should settle their differences through thoughtful exchanges and reasonable compromises that respect both sides. The idea of hurting another human being makes me queasy.

Except when it comes to football.

The sport, when played well, is almost vulgarly violent. One giant hulk of a man gets pummeled to the ground by a gang of equally humongous beasts. The first guy’s face smashes into elbows and shoulders and cleats before coming to a sudden stop into half-frozen turf, hunks of which hang from his face mask when he rises, triumphant, the ball still tucked safely under his mangled arm.

It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

So yeah, I’m a Bears fan. Die-hard. I don’t apologize for it and I don’t hang my head when we lose. Those boys rock and they do me proud. I ask only one thing of my team, and that is to beat the team from north of the Cheddar Curtain. Do that and I’m happy.

So do big Bears sh*t in the woods? If those woods are in Wisconsin, you bet your sweet ass they do.


NaBloPoMo

Okay, so I think these past two months may have gotten me more than a little addicted to blogging. First there was the A to Z thing in April, then I blogged my way back from Z to A in May. June 1st arrived and…nothing. Nada. Zilch.


Oh, no!

Of course, I still have GBE 2, but that’s just one blog a week. One. Little. Blog.

Not enough. I could simply blog every day on my own, I suppose, but I kinda like the idea of blogging with the masses. So this morning, I signed up over at NaBloPoMo. They provide one writing prompt a day, every day, all month long. This goes on all year, and each month gets a new theme. Most months, it’s just for fun, but November bloggers can win prizes.

Call me crazy, but I’m gonna give it a whirl.