Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The funny thing about mourning ...

The funny thing about mourning someone’s death is that it strikes you at the weirdest and most inopportune times. Some times are appropriate. I have trouble dealing with holidays and family birthdays. Of course, the death I am referring to is my mother’s, April 10, 2009. She was just a couple months shy of her 67th birthday. She died on Good Friday that year. So now every year, I will actually mourn her death on two days: April 10th and whatever day Good Friday occurs on. My mother always loved the spotlight, so now she gets two official days for me to mourn her (insert awkward reader laugh here).

I mourn on those above dates as well as Mom’s birthday. I mourn on my brother’s, sister’s, and my birthday because my Mom should be here. I think about her on my Nana’s and Grandpop’s Yahrzeit (the Jewish anniversary of death). I wonder if they are together again celebrating their reunion in Heaven. I mourn Mother’s Day and each holiday that my mother is not with us. Thanksgiving is particularly hard as this was Mom’s holiday. She LOVED it. She brought out my Nana’s crystal, china, and silverware to serve with. When my sister was very young, she painted a ceramic turkey napkin holder for my parents as a gift for Thanksgiving. It was painted with the utmost love. Mom named it Turkey-Lerky. My Mom cherished it so much that you’d think it was a piece of her best fine china! Every Thanksgiving, it would come out and hold court in the center of our table, much to my sister’s chagrin! Mom really loved that napkin holder and during the year, it had a special place in the dining room hutch until the following holiday.

I also mourn my mother at the oddest times. One of Mom's favorite shows was Dancing with the Stars. So when the promo comes on TV, you got it, I get upset. There is a particular song I associate with the week she died. Maybe it is because I heard it over and over on the radio. Now when I hear it, I sometimes pull over while driving and have a good cry. I mourn Mom when I play my ABBA, Diana Krall, or Gloria Estefan cds. Mom loved these artists. Particular smells drive me insane. The smell of meatloaf or baked chicken makes me think of Mom cooking them while I was growing up. I would run into the house after a long day at high school, and be overtaken by the smells of comfort food coming from the oven.

Mom’s birthday is August 24th. This year was hard. Luckily, Sheryl and I had Mom’s dearest family cousin, Robert, out with his daughter Dana, for a vacation over her birthday. It was difficult as my brother Adam couldn't not make it out. We relived a lot of memories with them. Between Sheryl and me, I think they saw as much of NYC, Philly, and the PA countryside as anyone could see in such short time. It was a great trip for them. We did particularly enjoy looking at Mom’s photo albums.

I grew very melancholy after that and that is when I took a break from writing. I just wanted to dwell in my sorrows and emotions, to focus on mourning my mother’s death. Well, one week became two, became three, became 2 months, etc. I can’t promise it won’t happen again. I reserve my right be melancholy and mourn my Mom whenever, however, and how often I want to. I continue to be angry, sad, depressed, and despondent at different times during the year. I am SLOWLY allowing happiness back into my life and I am happy, though, to be writing again.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Getting the yard ready for the winter!

It’s been awhile since I have written my blog. There have been various reasons, but nothing that I feel or need to get into right now. So without further adieu, let me get started.

I worked hard this weekend preparing the yard and deck for the coming winter. I forgot how much yard bric-a-brac that I had accumulated this year. My main goal was to get all of the shells, candles, flags, and lawn ornaments put away. My shell collection from childhood is pretty extensive. Most of it is tucked away in the attic, but I keep the large conchs and whelks out on the deck to remind me of my love for the sea and beach. Each one of these is carefully wrapped up at the end of the fall so that I may bring them out and enjoy them again the coming spring. I noticed this year they are really bleaching white from the years in the sun. Candles and lanterns were next. Carefully wrapping everything in newspaper or bubble wrap, I filled about 4 milk crates with all of my yard and deck "stuff."

The lawn hoses were drained and put away. All seat cushions and pillows were aired out, cleaned, and stowed in the garage. I took down the swing on the deck, as well as the umbrella and chairs. While taking the umbrella down, I was showered with what seemed like 100’s of stink bugs hiding in the folds and creases. Thankfully, they are slow and didn’t spray me. I still kind of freaked out (shudder). Dead marigolds were ripped up and tossed into the humus pile. The ornamental grass and dead herbs were cut back. I even got a chance to teeter on a ladder 10 feet up and cover the air conditioner!

One of the activities which brings me the most joy and relaxation is taking care of my feathered friends. I love watching the birds in my yard. The end of fall is about getting the feeders ready for the winter feeding season. I cleaned out each of my three seed feeders and filled them up. My two suet feeders were next. They are filled to capacity with suet cakes. Someone once told me you could make your own suet cakes. I will have to try it out at some point. The birdhouses were also repaired if they needed it, with wood shavings put in each to act as a shelter in inclement winter weather. I created a pile of loose branches right in the woods off the property line to act as shelter as well. Lastly, I have a squirrel feeder in the back which the guest bedroom overlooks. The cats just love watching the squirrels. Each feeder is also placed by windows so that Max and Moxie can spy on the birds. My cats sit on the large window sills and chatter away dreaming of a songbird or squirrel snack.

I think I am in pretty good shape. I will have to continue raking probably until the first snowfall. That’s the breaks when you live on the edge of the woods. Leaves from trees 50 feet in always settle in my yard! It’s not that big of a deal I guess. Yard work these days tends to relax me. I also figure with each leaf pile I rake up, that’s another helping of Thanksgiving dinner that I can treat myself to!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Somber August Moods

So it has been just over a month since my last blog. I took some time off to do just putz around for month of August. I worked on the yard, the house, saw relatives, and have tried to re energize for the coming fall. Well, I kind of feel like that didn't work. I have developed a blasted pinched nerve for the last 3 weeks. Time to see a doctor for this I guess. I just haven't been sleeping well because of it. When I wake up at 3 am, I turn in bed and am in pain from it. Motrin dulls the pain during the day, enough so that I can work. When I come home, I am just exhausted from this constant pain. So what am I waiting for??? I don't know. I am possibly afraid it might be more. Time to suck it up and take care of it.

August also saw a family reunion which was to be for my Mom's anniversary of her memorial service. Family came in, unfortunately not as much family as we would have liked but people's excuses were valid and warranted. No problem there. Travel is expensive and although I missed seeing my brother in particular, I completely understood. I was very happy to see my cousins from the West coast as well as my step sister Kim, her husband Rick, and my grand nephew Devin. I did alot of sightseeing and even went into my first coal mine touring the Ashland Coal Mine in Schuylkill County. That was pretty cool. Unfortunately, the reunion was bittersweet with Mom's memory seemingly getting lost in the mix during one particular night. I said my feelings on it so it is for the most part, done. Unfortunately, her birthday that followed on this past Tuesday left me extremely depressed. I am kind of in this mood still. It just doesn't get easier. You have good days and then REALLY BAD days. I was speaking with John the other day and he remarked how he was just still in shock over Mom's death. It still seems surreal to both of us.  I have become a hoarder of anything of my Mom's. From the cheapest makeup bag to an antique dresser bottle, both items have the same worth to me since Mom owned them.  It is funny that missing someone that much can make you various items. You feel like you have such a connection to them.

This evening I am listening to some great club music. No real connection to my Mom, except she did LOVE ABBA and disco. Ha ha. Music puts me in a better mood. I remember Mom playing her ABBA records on the record player in our dining room when I was about 6 or 7. She also loved jazz, Judy Collins, Wings with Paul McCartney, and various disco and soft rock from the 70's. She loved music as I do today. Whatever put her in a good mood she would listen to. Now, certain music gives me that connection to her as well. I listen to what she listened to, and I feel like she is beside me.

Alright, that's enough for now. Time to take something to try and settle this pinched nerve and I promise to call that doctor tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Some random wonderful things I have seen:

1. A flock of one million red wing black birds in early spring, turning on a dime, showing their "red wings" all at once!
2. A sunset in Berks Cty that looked like a Maxfield Parrish painted sky. It was so beautiful it took  my breath away.
3. The birth of a beluga whale.
4. The birth of an elephant.
5. Watching a mother wren teach her 4 babies how to eat from a bird feeder.
6. A baby deer running across our field in Oley to come investigate me. She came within 10 feet until I heard her mother grunt to her and call her back. She ran back to Mom!
7. Saving a birdhouse of baby barn swallows which had fallen down, and I carefully put it back up on the pole. Momma bird came back and took care of them!
8. Six or Seven years old, Dad showing us a nest of baby bunny rabbits in the back yard.
9. Two otters frolicking and playing in a stream in Pacific Rim National Park in Washington state.
10.  The horseshoe crab migrations and egg laying nights in Fortescue, NJ.
11. Seeing a tornado from far away when I was about 10 driving through Nebraska with my family during one summer.
12. Any good lightening storm.
13. A flock of over 20 wild turkeys "crash" landing at Colton Point Park up at the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.
14. Over 10 turkey vultures feasting on a dead dear carcass along the Brandywine River.
15. Niagra Falls.
16. The Colorado Rockies
17. A red crested pileated woodpecker in my backyard the size of a chicken!
18. Mesa Verde cliff dwellings
19. A South Dakota sunset
20. Galloping pronghorn antelope in the wild
21. The Badlands in South Dakota.
22. Standing on a dock in the middle of the Perkiomen Creek surrounded by over a dozen bats feeding over the waters, not once did one ever hit me, but they flew awful close!
The list could go on and on. I am very fortunate to have seen all of this!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

No Sibling Rivalry Here!

My sister celebrates her birthday this next week. She will be turning ??. (Wink Wink). Let’s just say she is my older sister. Sheryl and I have lived in the Philadelphia area for over 20 years. Through these years, we have become close friends … best friends. And as I think as siblings who are best friends, no one knows me better. She knows me better than most of my closest and oldest friends. We are in constant contact, at least once a day, finding out how the day is going, what’s happening, what’s new and exciting, etc.

My brother Adam is just as close with Sheryl and I. It is a rare and wonderful thing that siblings can remain this close as they get older and develop their own lives. And believe me, we do not take this lightly. Our vacations each year invariably involve family. That is how we like it. That is what we have always known and wanted. My parents, Robert and Abby, instilled this strong sense of family in us as we grew up.

I think we became that much closer when Mom passed away. We all realized that our main link to each other, the matriarch of our family, was gone. She had been the one to call and remind all of us about birthdays, anniversaries, and ask rather demandingly, “Have you called your sister/brother lately???” Now it is up to us to keeps these familial bonds close and tight. And we do.

Not a day goes by where I do not talk to my sister or my brother. One of us talks to the other and passes info onto the next. If we don’t talk, email, or text, a red flag goes up and we get in touch with the other sibling to see if they talked to he or she. Confusing? Maybe, but not for us, we have it down to a science. Many of our friends are amazed that we keep in touch as often as we do and are as close as we are. I honestly have never thought to have it any other way. What I do realize now, though, is how truly lucky and blessed I am to be this close with my brother and sister. Mom was proud of this fact, that she created and instilled such strong family bonds in her children. I like to think that she is smiling down on us from Heaven, beaming at how close we have become.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Natural Diet continues!

I am a week into this "natural" diet and am feeling changes which are interesting, uncomfortable, but ultimately satisfying. The first couple days have been a little uncomfortable. I have suffered from mild carb and refined sugar withdrawal.  Just some headaches, belly aches, hunger pangs, and tiredness. But after a week on this diet, I have more energy finally, am eating less, eating better, and actually enjoying new and different food combinations. The drawbacks are that I have to spend more time preparing foods. It takes time getting used to not having the variety of processed food items. I am learning to enjoy fruit more though. Just the juiciness and sweetness of it is so satisfying. And happily, I am starting to loose weight! A couple pounds here and there. But I have to tell you, I am not as sluggish, feel less bloated, and as I stated before, have more energy!

On to the second week!

What does is mean to be disabled?


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Natural Diet

So John and I have started a “natural” diet for 2 weeks. We discussed out eating habits and realized that we were eating too many processed food items, and that old fried “bar menu” was becoming a weekly staple of our diet. Not to mention pizza night and Chinese food night. Sure you can have healthy pizza and healthy Chinese food (the vegetarian “Buddha” delight comes to mind) but who wants to do that when all you want is a pepperoni pizza with extra cheese or General Tsao’s Chicken!

This diet is based on an all natural food diet by Todd Soura, the owner of the Doylestown based Action Personal Training. I found it in the 2010 late spring edition of Bucks Magazine.  The corresponding print article comes with the subtitle “What life would be like if we removed the assembly line from the grocery store.” He is quoted the following from the article:  “This is my 10-day Non-processed Food Plan. The basic aim: cleanse the system of refined sugars, flour, bread, and artificial sweeteners.” John and I decided to follow it, not to a T, but to what was do-able for our crazy lifestyle, and see what effects it would have on us after two weeks. Todd recommends 10 days and states that some people have dropped 5-7 pounds in that time period. I figured I could go two weeks. John agreed and so on July 5th, we started our “natural” diet.

The diet is all about natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, and seafood. It is easier for the purposes of my blog to state what you CAN’T eat: processed foods; flour products such as breads, pitas, bagels, tortillas, muffins, pizzas, cookies, pancakes, waffles, crackers, and pretzels; deli-style lunch meat; high-fructose corn syrup; candy; white rice; pasta; processed meats including hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausage, pepperoni’ and salami; diet drinks with artificial sweeteners; store-bought fruit juices; refined sugars and artificial sweeteners of any kind. UGH.

Two days into it and I am following the diet very well. We have given up all bread and pasta products. I have had eggs for breakfast, salads for lunch, chicken and turkey burgers for dinner, and fruits for dessert. We are modifying it a bit. We are allowing lean pork, home-made farmers cheese (as it’s not store bought processed cheese), and plenty of alcohol :). You are also allowed coffee, tea, and homemade fruit or vegetable juices. The plan actually does allow for alcohol: beer, wine, liquor but with no mixers, and limited to 7 drinks over a 10 day period. Uh .... yeah right. I am using raw sugar in everything instead of artificial sweetener. This plan does get you to read labels though! I never realized that high-fructose corn syrup was in so many products!

I do feel a little bit tired, though. I think I am beginning to feel the withdraw effects of no high-fructose corn syrup and no carbs. Friends who I have talked to about this and have told me the first 3-5 days are the hardest as your body reacts to no refined sugars and carbs.

With this change in eating habits, I am starting to exercise regularly again. Trips to the pool and gardening have helped out a bit. Since Mom passed away, I have allowed myself to skip working out regularly and have noticed that my beer consumption went up a bit (the beer belly has started). I weighed 150 right before Mom’s accident and have gained a fluctuating 10-15 pounds over a year and a half. So as I turn 40, I have taken a hard look at my diet, and my lack of exercise, and am working on changing this. Wish John and I luck! And any advice anyone can offer I would surely appreciate!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Birds in the early morning

I actually enjoyed waking up his morning at about 5:30 am. The birds always seem to sing the loudest and are most energetic at dawn. I fell back asleep after about 15 minutes of listening to them.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fashion Choices: Are we unfair towards others?

How do we perceive others around us? We often look at others and knowingly or unknowingly judge them with regards to what they are wearing. Why do we do this? Is it correct? Are we being unfair? While I was sitting at the airport bar waiting for my flight to San Diego, I spied a 60-something woman with what I thought were the most garish earrings. Another man was wearing a shirt which looked like he wrapped himself in the American flag. One other elderly man looked like he woke up that morning and thought, “You know what? Today is a great day to wear denim from head to toe!” Lastly, I looked upon a woman with two daughters who were dressed rather conservatively. She, on the other hand was dressed like someone spray painted spandex clothing on every inch of her frame and then she felt that a pair of Lucite heels would be the best way to top off that outfit! How and why do people choose what they wear?

A great many of us are influenced by fashion. This influence comes from TV, movies, fashion mags, music, and the world of celebrity. But still, there are others who get their influence from the unknown god of bad fashion choices. Who decides what is a fashion do or don’t? Is it fair? That woman in the airport with the garish earrings seemed to love those earrings. You could just tell. No one choose something in my mind so hideous and know that they were hideous. I know that is harsh, but my point is that she truly must have at least like them. They were, to me, just a bit … large, loud, and SHINY. The man with the American flag shirt really liked his shirt too. He wore it, as one would say, “Proudly.” People wake up each day and from their closet, pick out what they are going to wear. They do so hoping, and feeling, that they will look good. No one puts on an outfit thinking that they are going to look like crap. Some days, I admit,  I leave the house in sweats and a ripped t-shirt not caring what I look like. And other days, a certain older man picks out that denim shirt and denim pants and may say to himself, “Now THAT will make a great outfit.” The woman in the Lucite heels, though, DOES NOT get a free pass.

So why then do we feel that we can make these subjective view points and stand by them, sometimes to the point of ridiculing others? It is not fair of course. But we all do it at one point or another. My sister raised a good point, “What if someone walks through the airport in a bathing suit and he or she really loves that bathing suit? Is it fair to judge he or she?” I explained to her that I felt this is different, as then you are crossing those moral and ethical bounds on what is appropriate to wear in a public place. It really has nothing to do with their fashion sense as it has to do with what they are wearing at that particular place and time.

There is a lot of advice which is dictated by women’s fashion magazines. Some people follow it religiously while others pick and choose which trends they like. I admit that I love following fashion, but I also think it can be quite ridiculous that some designer’s whim of having the 70’s make a come back on the catwalk helps to determine that bell bottoms will be in for the following fall! Oh, but who am I to judge? I still like wearing my old ratty t-shirts which should have been tossed out ages ago.

So in the future, I vow not to be so judgmental on other’s fashion choices. An outfit that I may think is not attractive may be the "look" that someone likes and was going for. The woman who wears that hat may just love that hat. It may be her favorite, or maybe it was her mother’s hat and has certain sentimental value. The same thing may be said with Aunt Bunny’s hideous flower pin or your coworker’s ugly tie. One last point which may sound a bit judgemental. I still do NOT give that woman with the Lucite heels a free pass. NO WAY.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Creatures in the Garden

It marvels me at what lives in my yard and garden. Being on the edge of the woods, I do get a greater variety of animals, birds, and insects, but it really brings out the science geek in me every time I garden. I trimming back chives the other evening and disturbed a small nest of little white spiders. They weren't mites, but actual spiders. I also came across several nesting sets of earwigs in my flower beds, specifically in the hyacinths. They weren't in the chives or the daffodils. I guess the rent was too expensive. Very interesting. I am a true believer of "God's creatures" so I do not try and disturb as I go along. By the way, I am a bit hypocritical as I still will kill cockroaches, mosquitoes, and the random wasp which singles me out for the kill.  Note to myself, I really must clean my gardening gloves. They still smell of chives four days later. The odor, not that unpleasant, lends it self to a garlicky onion aroma but is hard to get off of me once I have worn those gloves.

I have a bat I named Bob which flies about the yard each evening. I know I am assuming that he is a boy, but I like the name Bob the Bat. He uses the yard as a sort of arena, eating up insects with each circular pass. I thought he whizzed by me tonight, but I think it was just a random bug. It certainly wasn't a cicada. I know they aren't out yet. I was digging up a new fire pit on the edge of the woods and dug up a juvenile cicada. He was clearly disturbed, and not ready to be exposed to the world. I felt kind of bad, so I buried him in a mossy area by one of the flower beds. Hopefully he will live and continue his life cycle emerging in August to keep me awake at night with his songs.

I have at least two chipmunks. I say at least two because I have seen four, two alive, and two dead. One dead one was smashed in the road next to the mailbox and the other was curiously dead out by the far flower bed by the road where we had a magnificent red rhododendron.  There was no sign of struggle or fight, he was just lying there ... dead. I buried him in his flower bed. Poor little guy. We have one in the flower bed nearest the fire pit. He watches me every know and then as I dig or weed. The last one is right by the garage. I see him walking across the driveway, comically at a very slow pace. He is unafraid of me. I figure they must all be related: cousins, brothers, sisters, etc.

Speaking of furry creatures, the other evening I left the water on and cursing silently under my breath, I went out with my flash light at 12 midnight to turn it off. After doing so, I decided to check out the woods in the back of the house. One night I had seen a deer right on the edge of our property. Startling it, it bolted into the woods, scaring me just as much as I scared her. (I didn't not see antlers, so forgive me for the assumption that it was a doe). The evening of turning off the water, I did not see anything in the deep woods but in the tree right in our property line I clearly had disturbed something which screeched at me. I aimed the flashlight up into the tree beside me and what did I see? A flying squirrel! I was so excited! I recognized him from his white underbelly, brown overcoat, and flappy furry skin between his arms and legs. He had these large luminescent eyes, glowing from the light of my flashlight, and a small little puggish nose. He was beautiful, and oh so rare. What a treat! And in an instant, he was gone. I may never see another one and am so lucky so see that little guy!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Well I am 40! I survived the evening and guess what? I am at peace and feel good. I have a sense of serenity about it all. It's all good.

Friday, June 4, 2010

ok, 1 hour till the birthday

Yes, I am buzzed. But ... not too buzzed to notice that I am on the edge of a new era/time in my life. I am TURNING 40!!!! I figured I could accept it philosophically or drunk. Well I am accepting it philosophically AND drunk. Do you know what made my day??? I have a robin's nest with babies right by my front door. That is just so cool.

My life is becoming exactly what I want it to. I love my home and my garden. My rose bush is BLOOMING! I am so excited I didn't kill it! LOL. I have a great garden. The house is coming along! I am realizing that the key to succeeding in life is to decide on your dreams and THEN MAKE THEM HAPPEN. I want to be a writer and I am succeeding. I am effing writing my effing blog! LOVE IT. Even if two people read it, the difference is that I am writing it for myself. BUT .... I would love you to read it too! :)

The cats are great. Max is a healthy bruiser. Miss little Moxie is not so little. She is on a diet, but we have lost a pound and are on our way to her goal weight. LOL.

SO ... what will the midlife crisis be about? One word: work.  I am OK though as I am, excuse the repetition, working on it. I have a goal and as I said before, you must decide on your dreams and THEN MAKE THEM HAPPEN.

Thanks for all the support friends.
By the way ... the weekend has just started!!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My First Job at Wenonah Elementary School

I started my first job at age 15 at Wenonah Elementary School as a custodial assistant. Yes, I worked as a janitor for one summer and one summer only! I can't believe I would even admit to it now after such disastrous results, but I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I worked with one of my close friends that summer, Mike. He had actually gotten me the job. We were to help clean the school during summer recess:  painting fences and walls, scraping desks, fixing ceilings, mowing the lawn, polishing floors, well, you get the idea. We worked for a crusty old curmudgeon of a custodian named Mr. Brown. He was miserable, smelled like sweat, turpentine, and cigars, but was kind of nice when he let his "grumbly" guard down. He was constantly on us because the school council and administration were constantly on him about his "schedule" to get things done before the fall.

Mike and I worked hard that summer, sweating everyday doing manual labor. We had to do some very difficult jobs, like tarring the roof and climbing into the school boiler to clean it. I am sure that child services would have had a field day with this! It was 1985 and no one was really concerned about the work-related health problems of two gangly 15 year old boys. The pay was alright, I think. I really didn't know as I had nothing to compare it to. Luckily, the school was big enough where we could hide and take frequent naps after mornings of hard work. It was a fun job and Mike taught me a lot about fixing things. The most I had fixed before then was the tire on my bike. Mom and Dad were so proud I was working at such a physical summer job.

One day, while Mike and I were scraping the semi-hard red and brown gum from the bottom of the desks, Mr. Brown sent me to the other side of the school to polish the hallway floor with the floor buffer. This floor buffer was a behemoth of a monstrosity! One has to understand that I was only an adorable little 15 year old, 5'7'', and 125 lbs, if that! The floor buffer easily outweighed me by 50 pounds! I looked at Mr. Brown, and said "Huh?" I think he saw fear in my red, puffy eyes (my allergies were so bad during the summer.)

Mr. Brown, in his gravely voice while puffing cigar smoke in my face, responded, "I'll be back in 30 minutes to see if you have figured out how to turn it on!" He gave me a disconcerting look up and down, which seemed to say "Why on earth did you take this job, kid?"  I was beginning to wonder that myself. With one last puff of his cigar, he turned around and lumbered off like a grizzly bear with arthritis. I stood there coughing up what was left of my fragile teenage lungs. No wonder I developed asthma down the road.

Being equal parts machine and monster, if this floor buffer were in the movies, it would fight against Godzilla. Buffing the floor was one of those tasks that I just did not know where to begin. I couldn't even find the start switch much less "buff" with the thing. I eventually found the huge toggle-like switch and with a couple of grimaces and muffled squeals, I managed to flip it on. The floor buffer shook like we had a 7.5 earthquake happening right under the elementary school. . Now the idea, or so I gathered, was to hold it back on two tiny wheels, get a grip of this machine, and then put it down, gently sweeping it back and forth on the floor, all while buffing to your heart's content. Well ... obviously that's not the way it happened.

The floor buffer had a mind of its own. It was going to control me and not the other way around! I learned that buffing may be, to some, a subjective term, one that actually requires a knowledge of "how to buff." The floor buffer, once gently put down on the linoleum floor, took off and immediately crashed into the left side of the hallway, taking my limp jellyfish arms and spineless body with it! The jarring of this impact felt like someone had pulled my skinny arms out of each socket. While I was reeling in shock from the first crash, the buffer seemed to "grab" the floor once again and this time crashed into the right side of the hallway. Now numb and dazed, something inside of me told myself it would be a good idea to let go while standing, ehr, quivering and shaking, next to it. Bad idea! The floor buffer "grabbed" the floor again and instead of the bottom part spinning, the top part decided to give it a whirl! The 4 foot-plus handle swung a large arc counter clockwise and clocked me in the left side of the head! I, in turn, made contact with the closest concrete wall. That was the last I remembered, besides the stars ... lots and lots of stars.

When I came to, a crumpled former shell of my already weak little frame, I had a splitting headache resonating from both sides of my head. There was the floor buffer, victorious, spinning slowly above my crushed body.  This was when I decided that custodial maintenance would not be the glamorous summer career that I had hoped for. Somewhere in my head, a bell clanged. Maybe it was from the impact? But no ... lo and behold, it was the bell from the other side of the border! The Taco Bell! My next summer job would mark an auspicious beginning into the sophisticated world of restaurants, food service, and hotels! Or so I thought ...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

moving on .... 10 days till 40!!!

OK, so a good friend told me to not forget to blog! She is right. Thank you Kitty!!!  Tonight is not so much a specific anecdote but a rambling of thoughts. So forgive me if they seem unconnected. I will try my best to make sense of it all.

I had a BAD day at work today, simple as that. I am also feeling a little exhausted at home trying to keep up with the garden, cleaning house, my career efforts, normal job stress, and the antique 'side' business. Not to mention my writing, my decorating, my ongoing OCD organizing efforts. Feel sorry for me BOO HOO.  OK so I am stressed about alot .... but .... in the grand scheme of things, it is not so much a big deal.

I have a great home, a growing garden, a stable job in an other wise struggling economy, two great cats, an fabulous antique collection, great friends, and of course, the best thing that ever happened to me (you know who you are!!!).

I think what I am needing is some simplicity in my life. I think it means the purging of unnecessary clutter in my life. All those magazines will be donated. Books I haven't read, donated. Catalogs I have kept since 1998, dumped! LOL. Purging (even a small amount) is very cathartic, so I will try that. I also think I need to set some boundaries in my life for "ME" time. Nothing too extravagant. Just some time each evening to better myself, focus on myself,do something to advance my life and my passions whether it be writing, antiques, my home, etc.

One of my best friends had a close call with her son this weekend. Everything is cool. He is fine and is as happy as ever young little tyke. I am thankful for him and for her. It reminded me that things can happen when you least expect it ... and can change your life in an instant. So friends, remember that! Live each day to the fullest. I am sorry I was so down today friends, tomorrow is another, brighter day!  AND GUESS WHAT???? 10 days till I turn 40!!!!

By the way, my loving mother said to me the week she passed:  "Don't do as I did, I have regrets."  I hear you Mom, and love you so much each and every day. I am still hurting and think of you so much. I miss you and ever time I see that morning dove that visited me the day after you passed, I think of you!!!

I live by this mantra, "Don't do as I did, I have regrets."  Live each day to the fullest friends!

xoxo Marc

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Do What You Love!

A friend and I talked today about where we are in our lives. She stated she is very disenchanted about the direction her life has gone. She saw “greater things” in her future and is disappointed that her life hasn’t gone in that direction. One could say to her, “Well you made your own bed” or “Life is what YOU make of it”, but let’s look at this for a minute.

We all feel this way from time to time. You have great plans coming out of high school or college and then shit happens and life doesn’t go exactly as planned. I personally thought I would be a doctor or lawyer, living in some fabulous apartment in a major city, driving a sports car, and taking exotic vacations every year. Well, that didn’t happen, but I am for the most part, very happy and satisfied. Sure I would have like to have my dream job, a different career as a full time writer, but reality hits you. Once you work your way up in a certain job and start making decent money, it is hard to think about starting over. Going back to college is a difficult choice; no one wants to willingly be a starving-student again. You also become accustomed to living a certain lifestyle within your current salary. If you are used to going out with friends on the weekends, buying those new shoes, taking weekend trips where ever you like, changing careers can be an abrupt lifestyle change due to reduced finances.

My sister gave me some great basic advice. If you have to do a career that is not particularly satisfying, make sure you do what you love in your free time. Do an activity that you love, such as learning to ride horseback, playing a musical instrument, volunteering at a favorite charity, writing that novel (or blog), or working on your garden. It is also said, do what you love, and you will eventually be compensated for it. The problem with that advice is that no one can say how long “eventually” is. No one looks forward to making $25,000 a year for decades while they wait to make money off of a career choice. But I guess maybe that doesn’t matter so much if you are "doing what you love.” Beginning artists, actors, and musicians tend to make lower wages than entry-level white collar professionals (hence the term, starving artist), and yet, they regularly claim greater job satisfaction. Maybe there is something to be said for that. You get over the initial shock of being poor, but, hey, at least you are doing what you love! Artists, actors, and musicians are following their dream, perfecting their art. Not many data entry operators or mid-level managers ever dreamed of doing what they do.

In this day and age not many people stay in the same career for decades and decades like our parents . I read somewhere that the average person will have 3 or 4 career changes in their lifetime. It is not common anymore to work at just one job for life. As I approach 40, I have worked in two different career fields: restaurants and hotels, and county level domestic relations. Both of them are satisfying in many ways, and yet both fall short of my ultimate career goal. Maybe that is why on the side, I continue to write each evening and plod away at the garden in my yard!  If you are young, do what you love first. If you are not young, there is always time to do what you love, but it may involve personal sacrifice.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Remembering a dear family friend.

Just two weeks ago was the 4th anniversary of the death of a close family friend, Marianna. All of her friends called her Tia, and although she was forty years older than us, she encouraged my brother, sister, and I to call her this as well. For Tia, friendship had no age requirement, and she counted us among her closest of friends. Tia was an incredibly artistic, romantic woman. She lived her life surrounded by fine arts, music, and the theater.  I count her as a great influence in how I look at life, art, and culture.

Tia was my father’s student about 50 years ago. Through the years, they developed a close friendship and were confidants during difficult parts of each other’s lives. Tia was very fond of us kids, and we were of her. She reminded me of an incredibly cultured, slightly eccentric and befuddled, zaftig Auntie Mame. Maybe with not the energy, but definitely with the artistic exuberance. She became an arts educator and in her spare time, wrote poetry, collected and created works of art, grew her unruly yet beautiful flower garden, and constantly attended art gallery openings, museum shows, the theater, and the orchestra. Tia was beloved by my family. She would often send you little poems with photographs, or present you with a seashell, testing you to look and find the beauty in it. To Tia, the simple things in life were beautiful. She could see the beauty in the ugliest oyster shell or horseshoe crab.
During my adolescence when it seemed no one understood the pains of growing up, one would not think a woman like this would be of comfort, but to me she was. She soothed my adolescent angst, telling me it would get better, and that life was wonderful! She also implored me not to grow up too fast. She would often write when we did not see each other, enclosing photographs and pieces of her own poetry. I laughed at some of it when I was younger, not recognizing the Romantic and Victorian overtones. Now I reread it seeing the maturity, wisdom, and emotional depth and I am truly amazed.

Tia lived in the same apartment in Glassboro, NJ, for decades. It was just like her personality. Filled with modern art, antiques, and natural artifacts from her walks in the woods and along the beach. It was cluttered, slightly messy, intensely colorful. Some things side by side did not go together, but as a whole, it worked, as it showed the living history of this wonderful woman. From pieces of driftwood from her summers in Stone Harbor to her favorite piece of modern artwork by a close friend of hers, it all formed a vibrant mosaic of this woman's life.  From spending time with Tia, I learned how to respect and revere this remarkable woman. I admired her creativity, her romanticized view of the world, and her positive outlook and zest for life!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Summer Breeze

Summer Breeze

With summer approaching, I have had time to reflect upon some of my favorite memories and anecdotes. I have very fond memories of my summers in the late 70's and early 80's. There is a song by Seals and Croft that goes "Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine on my mind." That sums up my summers as a kid. The late 70's were a time of grooviness, leisure, disco rhythms, Farrah hair cuts, and the general freedom of a feel good culture. After all, it was called "The Me Decade". For me, it was Elton John, the Bee Gees, disco, soft rock, and 70's folk music playing over head on the loud speakers at the local pool. It's funny how you associate music with a particular time in your life. I would fall asleep in the warm summer sun at the swim club for hours, dreaming 70's psychedelic mind trips, awakening to the screams of my mother to put on more Coppertone!

The Wenonah Swim Club was the place to go in my town from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Our day would start at 10 AM to get the prime spot, and end by 3 PM, being just 5 minutes away from heatstroke. You had to get there early to get a table and chairs by the pool. Otherwise, you would end up in no-mans land at the other end of the club, next to the pine trees and sand boxes. Mom and Dad took us everyday. She would talk with her girlfriends about the latest crock-pot recipes, macrame projects, or how the kids were all doing in school. Dad was a college level art professor, so happily he was off all summer and could join us each day. He would discuss the progress of the family vegetable garden with our neighbors or various landscaping projects he was always working on. My brother and I would compete for the best tan, basking all summer long. Sun block was laughed at, and almost never used. We would become so brown while lying out and swimming in the pool. Everyone's hair was bleached blond from the chlorine.

My brother Adam and I would take these official swim tests every year to get our "swim bands". The green one was for the little kids in the shallow end; the red one for the big kids in the deep end. You were only cool if you had the red one. That also meant you could jump from the high-dive platform. My jumps were often accompanied by a scream I had hoped was a Tarzan-like below. With my 8 year old lungs, I actually think I sounded like a cat being tortured as I fell 12 feet into the water. I suspect my brother actually pushed me.

The snack shop at the pool was a cornucopia of sugary snacks: red fish, red string licorice, candy dots, pixie sticks, Necco wafers, Marathon bars, wax lips, wax bottles, Candy Stix Cigarettes, jaw breakers, and more! I could go on and on. We would eat cotton candy, hot dogs of some unknown origin, and wet chew soft pretzels, washing it all down with an ice cold Frank's Black Cherry soda. Health food? What was that?

After gorging on these snacks, Adam and I would either get sick in the pool, play tether ball, or try to look like we knew how to play tennis on baking hot clay courts. We never wore our sneaks. We would stand on our pool towels trying the hit with ball without moving. I had more than one burned sole that summer. Ouch!

My sister Sheryl is 5 years older than me. She was going through her teenage years being tormented relentlessly by Adam and I. Sabotaging her private times with her girlfriends was at the top of our devious agenda. We would spend an entire day just spying on them, following Sheryl and her friends from one end of the swim club to the other. I thinking my brother and I had crushes on every girl she was ever friends with! Didn't she realize that we were just trying to impress them? This harassment would continue until my parents would scream at us to get away and let the girls have their fun. Bored, Adam and I would then just go spy on the Harrison brothers smoking grass behind the maintenance shed. We thought they were SO cool.

I remember one time my mom arrived at the swing club coming straight from a hair appointment. Wearing her purple one piece with gold lame' heels, she strutted into the club and every head turned. Mom had gotten a makeover! I think in retrospect, her hairdresser Terri, from nearby Oak Valley, was responsible for bringing big hair to the 80's! Mom's hair was BIG. Think Alexis from the TV show "Dynasty". They must has used at least two bottles of Aqua Net on her. The makeup, I distinctly remember, was purple-frosted eye shadow and matching purple lipstick. My dad loved how she looked, saying she looked glamorous. To me, as an 8 year old kid, your mom should NOT be glamorous. She's just MOM! Needless to say, Mom did not go into the pool that day. She just lounged.

I miss my summers at the Wenonah Swim Club. I tried joining the swim club at one of my last apartment buildings but it just wasn't the same thing, listening to hip-hop and rap blast over the speakers. The kids though, seemed to enjoy it just like I used to. And these days, with skin cancer and having to use SPF 65, its just not worth it to me. The late 70's were an easy feel-good time, at least for this kid. I miss them, what they represented to me, and how much fun I had with my family. But that is what summer is supposed to be about, good times and good memories.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hello 40 (yeah, yeah, I know, I have a month to go)

OK, so the deal is, we turn 40 and have a mid-life crisis. Well, some of us do. I think it is written somewhere that this is supposed to happen. Some talk show clued me in on it. Thanks alot Oprah. I am freaking out because I can't figure out what I want my mid-life crisis to be! I know alot of you are saying, "It picks you!" but seriously, don't I get a say? Whether or not I have one, I invite you all to join me in a rollercoaster ride of going through the following questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? and Where am I going? Hopefully it won't sound as pathetic as it did as I typed it. Feel free to comment. I promise I won't delete what you write (yeah right, whatever). Remember, this is my pending mid-life crisis and I will freak out and be frazzled if I want to!