Monthly Archives: January 2011

Counting Crows

Last night I got home a little bit late (it was 7:15 or so) and I had a horrible headache. It was a long day–in many ways a perfect storm of a day as far as deadlines go. Anyway, I got out of the car and I heard whirring, cawing, and saw a dark swarm of birds rising from the trees in my yard. Although I couldn’t help think of Hitchcock and “Birds,” it was absolutely beautiful. The crows flew around a bit, and then came back to roost in the trees.

I watched and listened for a while, and kept in the urge to clap my hands–just so I could see them fly up into the air again. I have to admit I did it once, and then it just seemed mean, so I kept my hands in my pockets!

This morning they were gone, and their aftermath looked like this:

And this:

And the side of my car looked like this:

It was worth it.

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Missing the Boat

When I was a teenager there was a boy my mom really liked who lived just a couple of houses away. Let’s just call him “Bob.” Bob was a perfectly nice guy (I think he is now a police officer), but I just didn’t have any particular attraction to him. Every time my mom talked about him to my girlfriend and me, she would say something like, “Well, I just think you girls are missing the boat by not going after Bob.” That was all we needed to start saying things like “There’s the boat we’re missing” when we saw him–and soon between us he was just known as “The Boat.” It wasn’t very nice, but show me a teenage girl who’s nice all the time and I’ll show you…well, a very unusual teenage girl.

So now I’m worrying about missing other boats. I had a dream two nights ago that I was reading a book at the airport and when I looked up it was 10 pm and my plane to Brazil had left at 9 pm. I ran around the airport frantically trying to find the gate and realized I had really missed the plane. I woke up extremely agitated. I spent 10 minutes telling myself out lout I hadn’t missed a plane, I WOULDN’T miss a plane because I am so fixated on getting places early, and that I was OK. I’m not Freud, but it didn’t take me long to locate the source of my anxiety. I am afraid I am going to keep working and working and look up and life will have passed me by–and it will be too late. So my one and only new year’s resolution is to take advantage of every opportunity that is offered to me (minor qualification–every opportunity that I actually WANT, as opposed to some of those that will build character!)

Gaymode, Pantyhose, and Madmen

When I first started wearing nylon stockings (probably in about 1962 or 1963) pantyhose had been invented (1959–thank you Allen Gant!) but were not readily availble to be purchased until about 1965. That means I had a few years to struggle with a garter belt and stockings. I found this box earlier this week:

Gaymode–they were a JC Penney brand that (shockingly!) has been discontinued. I think this box must have been from my mother, because even in the 60’s they were typically sold in see-through plastic. By the way, this one has a price tag on the back–98 cents.

All of this is a preface for what I believe is an anachronism on “Madmen” (a truly wonderful show). It’s 1962, and Peggy is shown putting on pantyhose. Even though their agency has the Playtex account, I think this is way too early for pantyhose to have been around. Still a good show.

White Whine

I’m not a drinker, but I do like to wash down my meals with a little white whine. I didn’t realize how bad I was until over the break, when Mike (33-year old son) called me on it. I was talking about my trip to Brazil and said something about our airplane. He said, “Mom, you should send that in to Whitewine.com.” (Be sure to check out complaint # 824.) I had never looked at the site before, and I realized that my complaint fit right in. Basically, I said how terrible it was that the airplane we were in to and from Brazil didn’t have individual tvs, so that I couldn’t play any video games or watch the movies I wanted to. I know. I think about people in Haiti who have been living in a tent for more than a year, who have lost their homes, their family members, and who have had cholera. I need to keep thinking about other people’s struggles every day so that I don’t fit in quite so well to the white whine site.

In that spirit, I have made a vow not to complain about the C word. In writing about it, I may be breaking my vow–I’m not sure. And no, it’s not that C word. Get your mind out of the gutter! It’s the C word that starts with c and ends with -old. I heard myself becoming a broken record with my complaints about the C and my complaints about the S (-now). So I am trying really hard to look at the positive and realize I live in a place that has winter, it’s going to be winter for several more months, and it really is not that big a deal. We have a minute or so of extra light each and every day. I can deal with it.

Companianable Silence

I need a certain amount of “alone time.” I need some time to read, to think, to ponder. Interestingly, I don’t actually have to be alone, I just have to be left alone. When I wake up in the morning I have about an hour of things I pretty much always do: shower, get ready for work, watch Chad the local weatherman tell me if I need a coat or jacket (it’s January, so I pretty much KNOW I need a coat, but it’s comforting to have him confirm my worst suspicions about what’s going on outside). I like to read the paper, eat my breakfast, put on lipstick and still, though I live with someone, we usually haven’t talked during that entire hour except perhaps to say “good morning,” and sometimes not even that. It’s not a bad thing. In fact I think it’s a good thing. Paul is almost always awake before I am, and is usually sitting in his office either doing his daily crossword puzzle or working on his translation project. It’s comfortable and companionable.

Earlier this week we went to Indianapolis for the visitation for a friend of ours who died. Afterwards we went to Three Sisters Cafe (which was absolutely, wonderful, but the way–if you go, get the Pu Pu Platter appetizer plate, which has nothing to do with a traditional pu pu platter–I think they just must like the alliterataive name. It has an assortment of different vegetarian appetizers including hummus and something with boiled whole wheat that is absolutely delicious.). I guess we were both feeling talkative, and talked in an animated way the entire dinner–me, talking about The Gargoyle, which I was in the middle of, and Paul about his classes, his translation, Brazil, and a host of other things. Earlier in my marriage I had often felt strange in a restaurant when we were not talking–I sometimes felt like a boring old couple, and I compared myself to people on their first dates who seem to be chatting away endlessly. So we often eat fairly quietly, but this time we happened to be voluable, and when we were finished the waitress asked if it would be one check or two. I don’t wear a wedding ring, and I immediately wondered if she thought we were on a “date.” That impression continued when I saw that when we left, she had gone to the side window and was watching us get in our car. I was convinced she was trying to tell whether or not we were married. I’ve since amended this idea, and think she had probably seen someone who looked like us on “America’s Most Wanted,” but either way, I decided we were interesting.

So I guess that’s what companionable silence is. Sometimes we’re silent, sometimes we’re talkative, but it always just feels like what it should be.

And then I was a Gaynote

After I finished my time as a Li-Ho-Ma, I graduated to Gaynote. bringing happiness to others continued as a theme, as evidenced by our new song:

The first thing in the morning, and all day long
I shall be a Gaynote and sing a happy song
I shall greet the new day and all it brings
With a cheerful face and a heart that sings.

I have happy memories of memorizing scriptures, having my own copy of the New Testament, and completing a cross-stitch sampler: I will bring the light of the gospel into my home. I wasn’t very good at it, but at least I eventually finished it, which is more than I can say for future projects (crocheted slippers and knitted scarves sat unfinished).

Would I be different now if the focus had been on figuring out what made me happy?

Little Homemaker

In the early 60’s, when I was an impressionable youth, I was in a church group for girls called “Li-Ho-Mas,” an abbreviation for “little homemakers.” No, unfortunately, I am not making this up. I have never forgotten the song we sang each week in class:

Li-Ho-Mas, Li-Ho-Mas,
We are of noble birth.
Li-Ho-Mas, Li-Ho-Mas,
By choice we came to earth,
Bringing laughter and sushine
To the homes where we may be
Ever helpful, and prayerful,
Looking toward eternity.
Li-Ho-Mas, Li-Ho-Mas,
Our mission is divine.
Li-Ho-Mas, Li-Ho-Mas,
Through us God’s light will shine.

While the girls were singing this, the boys were in boy scouts learning to tie knots, make fires, survive in the outdoors, and do lots of things I wanted to learn how to do. It’s a hard job to be tasked with bringing laughter and sunshine to the homes where we may be. Daunting, and probably impossible sometimes.

So did I ever embrace the “li-ho-ma” within? I can remember telling my mother I never wanted to have children (although I am now glad I did, Mike, Liz, and Greg!) I distinctly remember hearing the term “tricycle engine manufacturer” as a derisive term for motherhood, and I certainly didn’t want that to be my only legacy.

Don’t get me wrong. I can totally get into cooking sometimes–and even cleaning can be fun. I think my kids are the coolest adults I know. I also like making my home a good place to be, and I try to be my Dad’s “happy girl.” I’m the one hamming it up to the camera. My brother Richard is playing the piano, Patty is sitting on my dad’s lap, and Paul is singing.

But somehow the li-ho-ma within me is still pretty stunted.