Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Rabbit Trails of My Mind


One of my go-to songs
for just about any kind of day.
Sad days
and happy days
and days of mourning
and days of rejoicing
days of want
and days of plenty.
 
It's a good, thought-provoking tune
with just enough mystery
and a bit of an emotional tug
and build
to a lovely crowd sing-along which
of course always always always
just makes me feel happy and hugged.
 
Thanks, Coldplay.



Hastening to add
no, my heart isn't broken today
nor am I considering jumping off a bridge.
So don't set those little wheels a-turning
to any morose conclusion.
I'm a-ok.
Actually, it's sunny
and cold
in a crisp sort of
post-holiday snap.
The world is frozen solid out there
but it looks really good.
 
I just love this song.
 
I should also addd.
IF perchance, the PooPourri advertisement
with the little redhead in the blue dress precedes the tune and you were inclined to watch it
before listening to the boys. I do love that it's a clever, edgy
bit of a commercial but you're likely as tired as I,
at seeing it so many times
......ohhhhh yowwwww luvuhs uh-pahhhhhhht-ment.......
(I swear, I know the whole script, don't you?)
I'm not sure if it will show up on the video once posted.
We'll see.
Anyway....
if you spend any time at all
watching YouTube videos
you know the ad I'm talking about.
That said.....I think it's a great little commercial
just been around too long for me now...and.....
I have happy news!
 
There is an edgier and
if I might pull up a chair and insinuate myself
as knowledgeable critic
on these sorts of things
for a moment....
ANOTHER commercial for Poo Pourri
and I find it to be
adorable and delightful...
well....as one can possibly be adorable when
dispensing information about a product
where straight-forward talk
about poop
is important.
This truly is adorable.
 
AND
thanks to gift-bearing daughter of
Christmases passed
I can tell you
the product is AMAZING
and I'm a great fan.
So.
My first ever
"I strongly suggest you buy some!"
endorsement
because honestly
it rocks.
 
Evidence
yes, real evidence
from the antiquated bathroom shelf
in my
50's style bathroom
which has yet to be remodeled
in, count them,
yes count them,
six decades.
 
I keep a little spritzer at the ready
and find
not only does it eliminate (arrr arrrrr arrrrrr)
the tensions of ill-timed and inopportune
bodily functions
in a small house
during
festive
friend and family evenings,
but it's a damn fine
conversation piece too!
 
 
 
Catch the following commercial
with Santa and the three little nightgowned angels......and buy a bottle
for your bathroom. You. Will. Love. It.
 

 
 I'm no sure how my love of Coldplay
turned into a chat about poop
but like pretty much everything else in life
I'll just roll with it.
 
 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Popcorn on the Floor

 
I don’t know how or where my mom met Eva.
What I remember is walking three blocks to her house, to sit on her tiny living room floor, watching TV and eating popcorn. Her husband Ivan sat there with us. He smelled like smoke and was always in a white t-shirt, blue jeans and bare feet. He taught me the only way to eat popcorn was with butter: real butter. This was long before shaker flavors, but margarine was sneaking its way onto the American dinner table. Not at Ivan and Eva’s house. I’m grateful to him for that lesson long into my aging years.
If it ain’t butter, don’t bother. I really liked Ivan.
 
 
I have to add here….with a bit of a chuckle and roll of my eyes……in an ironic and almost comical way, the slithery ribbon of memory that winds its way throughout the years of my childhood, is frequently rainbow striped. My overly-poetic way of saying: in my young life it seemed, everywhere I turned around, stood a secretly gay man. Living on the down-low is what we'd call it now.
Ivan was one of them.
“He has a….probbbbbblem…..” I heard my mom say to her friend about her husband, and I remembered the puzzled look on Eva’s face as she sucked a lung full and blew smoke out the side of her mouth to avoid losing me and my sister in a cloud.
“A problem?”
That’s all I remember of the conversation. At the time I’m sure I thought she meant…..well, I have no idea what I thought she meant, but at the tender age of maybe 10, my concept of problems didn’t necessarily default to scandalous sexual relationships between men who fussed over ladies hair in the salon where my mom got her hair permed. I’m pretty sure my grade-school frame of reference probably led me to think Ivan had the measles. Or something.
Well. He didn’t have measles, at least that wasn’t the problem to which my mother referred. She was alluding to the fact that Ivan was A) Married and cheating on his wife B) Gay although no one would use that word in that context until a good 20 years later and C) very likely frolicking with similarly inclined men as opportunities presented themselves, read that: getting nasty with boys and that was just not a good thing for a married guy with two kids. And then of course, if all that wasn’t bad enough, Ivan also appeared to have a bad habit of eating popcorn on the living room floor with the neighbor kids and using up all the butter. A man ahead of his culinary time, he loved bacon too. He'd fry up strips of it and add it to the living room floor buffet.
 Choose your sin, Ivan was naughty.
 
Reflecting back to the day when closet doors were still hermetically sealed and lifestyles hadn’t even become lifestyles yet, the truth was: Ivan was a homosexual man, hiding in a heterosexual marriage and getting what he truly wanted, when he could, on the side. Lest you think my mom (or I) was or am homophobic (another word no one had ever spoken way back then) the answer would be no. But my Dad was gay, too. We’d been through some stuff. We got educated. Don’t get me started. My Dad was a great guy too, but for a while there things were kind of a mess in my family while all the preferences got themselves sorted out. 
Anyway, eventually my mom proved to be right. There was some cavortin’ going on behind the shampoo bowl and Eva had to face the truth about her kids Dad. Of course, Eva ended up divorcing Ivan, despite the fact their names had such a cool ring when you said them together. Ivan and his beloved toy poodle ended up running off with another hairdresser whose Pomeranian companion was, as I recall, dyed pink.

I could go on and on.
 I won’t.
He was just as cool as my Dad and I really, really liked the guy.
 
I continue.
Eva and Ivan had two adorable little girls, Lindy and Teresa. Truly, they were just cute as could be: blonde and pixie-faced bundles of energy, just a couple years younger than my sister and I. With their Dad moving out of the house and the loss of his income (again, long before issues of child- support and assistance were expedited to keep moms and children in their homes with food on the table) Eva and those little girls were in a sad state of affairs.
Mom sat down on the sofa of our little rented duplex  one Sunday after church and told my little sister and I we were about to begin a really fun, exciting adventure! Eva and the girls were moving in with us!
Our duplex residence was a three bedroom place, half of what used to be a very small neighborhood grocery. A wall down the middle of the place created two apartments and we lived in the larger side. The bedrooms were situated down a long hallway of hardwood. The first was large enough to accommodate a set of bunk beds and a chair, the second just a bit larger in that a dresser could be squeezed into the space and the third, way down at the end of that hallway, was the size of a postage stamp. I remember my mom’s double bed just fit; just. No room to walk around it, you could slide into the room sideways, drop your bottom onto the bed and swing your feet up just-so, without knocking your heels against the door. It was tricky. But cozy, as I recall.
And pretty. My mom had a floral bedspread in a wildly scattered pattern of vivid blues and purples. I’ve no clue how long she had it, but smoothed and tucked around the bed in that closet of a room, it made the room look elegant. The only other details I remember about the room is how tightly that bed was pushed up against an odd-sized window. And the little devotional book, Streams in the Desert, that mom kept on the headboard next to a small lamp. I would venture a guess now, with my adult eyes, it was the one place where she could find respite, and perhaps comfort, after tiring days of working long hours and raising two little girls on her own. Many Saturday mornings I can remember running down that long hall after watching cartoons and jumping on the bed in that tiny room to wake mom up.
Friends were moving in with us. A big adventure!
It was decided that Eva would take my mom’s tiny room. My sister and the two little girls would take the room at the end of the hall and I would have my own space in the remaining room. Mom would take her bedspread and pillow to the front of the house; she would be sleeping in the living room on the floor.
At the time, I doubt I even heard….or cared…where mom or any of us would be sleeping. All my sister and I knew was that our little friends would be coming to live with us and they had a puppy. We had a hamster but we’d always wanted a puppy. Happy, happy days were just around the corner. I wonder now if that’s how my mom felt.
 
Eva’s dresser stood in the hallway because her room was too tiny. The top of it was covered with her collection of dangly, colorful earrings and cigarette lighters. She never smoked in the house ~ mom’s rules. But the whole picture fascinated me and my raised-in-a-Bible-thumping-church curiosity. My mother was exquisitely beautiful, but conservative. Eva was pretty. She was also bleached, teased, sprayed, polished and decked out in the latest fashions. She had friends who would stop by and try and teach she and my mom to dance. Keep in mind, it was an era where my sister and I were grooving in our stocking feet with the Where The Action Is dancers every afternoon in front of the TV after school. We had some serious moves. The older ladies attempt to learn The Pony in front of God and everyone driving past the living room windows in the evening?
More than a little embarrassing. Those girls had NO rhythm.
I remember two things about Christmas the year we all lived together. In a close brush with death by pine needling, we nearly lost mom in the middle of the night when our cat knocked over the decorated tree and she was impaled by a dozen tiny glass reindeer and a tree full of shattered Christmas balls in various, festive colors. 
 
 
 Fortunately, we were able to extract her from the mess and the holiday was saved.
 
I also remember, Mom gave Eva $100 to buy Christmas presents for her girls that year. She couldn’t afford the $100 she gave to her friend. My mom was always broke and worried about where the rent money was going to come from.
She just did it because it was the right thing to do.
And that’s my point.
My mom taught me to do the right things, even when it would seem to be easier not to do so. I carry those lessons with me today as I find myself making similar decisions. Not because I’m some sort of saint….I’m not and neither was my mom. She had a tough childhood, her share of struggles as an adult and she had plenty of stories of her own. But consistently, through it all, she was a person who endeavored always, to do the right thing.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Rest of the Story:
 
Ivan, the frilly hairdresser eventually died. His poodle died first, of course. I think they both got hit by cars. No really, I honestly think that’s what happened. Different cars on different days but yeah, the ol’ tire tattoo for them both. The whole drama seems befitting in a way since he was as stereotypically animated and flamboyant a gay fellow as you could possibly imagine. He was just a great, fun guy and I’m pretty sure he would have approved of an exit with a bit of flair rather than something banal like, say, a bad case of the flu. Seriously, though. He was the best. Consider it:  Popcorn. On the living room floor. Drowwwwwwned in butter. Feeding bits to the dog while we ate. What’s not to love about a neighbor/Dad like that? I’ll never forget those fun nights and even though I hadn't seen him in decades, I was sad to hear he died, though heartily cheering the newsworthy manner of his exit.
 
Eva and the girls? Well, in an unfortunate side note, their dog ate our hamster one ill-fated night when the little stinker managed to sneak out of his cage. They moved out shortly thereafter, though I don't think the incidents were necessarily related. Although we really did like that hamster.

Tragic rodent events aside, Eva squared herself away nicely to raise those two girls, buy a nice little house and eventually move to North Carolina where she retired early for health reasons. No big surprise here, sad nonetheless because she really was a nice lady…… she eventually died of emphysema. Eva had a great laugh and I’ll never forget it. Deep and crusty from way down in her throat, I realize now it was the black-lung laugh of someone who never managed to put down her smokes. Sad. Her life was too short. But I have often looked back to wonder how Eva and her girls lives might have turned out differently if my mom hadn’t opened her heart and her home and her purse to them all those years ago. Mom was a grand encourager and believer in all things positive and wonderful. I think my mom was a turning point in their lives.
She was in mine too. She was a good lady who had a tough, crazy life-story of her own, who ~ I gotta be honest, got a wee bit weird later on in life ~ but it was no big deal. She was my mom. She taught me good things. I tried to do right by her until the day she died.
 No matter what, I just try to do the right thing. I don't always measure up, but I try.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Friday, December 26, 2014

Wait for It




Recognizing the Pivot


Laughter is the Key

 
 
Life?
It's pretty serious business, right?
Well heck yeah.
Think about it.
I mean,
we're born
and at first breath
we start getting old.
A fatal deterioration
over which
might I add
we have absolutely no control.
This life thing?
Definitely serious business.
 
In the face of which
I'll always
and respectfully
ponder the deep
and consider
with reasonably protracted interest
the philosophical;
I'll hash about ideas
whittle away at radical notions
study manifesto's
and consider
purpose and mission.
 
I just prefer to do it
over a comfort-food meal
in a hometown sort of place
with my elbows on the table
and ketchup
in case I want to dip my fries.
 
Above all things
don't expect me to linger in the depths
too long.
I've got too much to squeeze
out of this life to be
too serious
too introspective.
Ruminative musings
and brevity should always walk hand in hand
if you're on a time-sensitive journey.
Which I am.
And you are.
 
So let's get to this
living like our last day is tomorrow
hugging so tight we can't breath
smiling so big our faces crack
and no regard for
what if
what if
what if
ohhhhhhh what? if? 
Whatever!
 
It's simple.
It really, truly is.
It all boils down to this......
 

 If we can laugh together
we'll handle the what-ifs just fine.
 
 
 
 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Elf Dance


Chuck and Willow and I
had some fun
dancing around the place
in our Christmas jammies
this morning.

video
 
Thought for the day:
 
When life hits you with a snowball
build a snowman!
 
 


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Gratitude Overcomes


Christmas Eve.
 
I spent the whole day looking forward to a really wonderful evening.
Had a great time fussing over stuff all day today
getting ready for
candlelight church service
and a really lovely evening to follow.
 
If you believe
as I do
what Ernest Hemingway said......
 
 
then my full measure of fun
and the anticipation that warmed my day
were the most important part.
 
So I'll just focus on those.
And be thankful
for all these good
and beautiful things
I've managed to find
to enjoy
and appreciate
this evening.
 
 
It's beyond cozy in here tonight.
While the harsh daylight always points fingers
straight at all the projects
that beg for my attention
the night
cares more for me
shading all those sharp
edges
and warming me while I sit
wrapped up in my blanket.
 
 
I found out my candles turn colors.
Small deal
yep.
But it's fun.
I kept leaving the room
and coming back to
ask myself
I don't remember those being red
when I was in here before.....
Well. They weren't.

 
Made cinnamon rolls today.
From scratch, baby.
Like yeah,
right down to the yeast
and the kneading
over which my arthritic elbow
is now whining.
Shut up, elbow.
We had fun making these
and they are quite
delicious.
 
 
I wrapped some presents.
While there are few to give
this year
it's fun to have a little
something or two
to wrap
and have sitting around
looking all merry and stuff.
( I find red bows
to be cheerful and hopelessly merry. )

 
First time I lit a fire
in the fireplace
and I'll be darned
if I haven't had to call
the fire department
and I'm not dead of
smoke inhalation.
We still remember
how to get a blaze going.
No gas jets, people.
No way.
Made my own little
fire-starters today
with a $2.00 bag of cotton wipes
and a bunch of old candles....
and they are AWESOME!

 
So at the last minute
this evening
the page turned
just a few short sentences into the anticipated tale of the night.
Never got to even look at the pictures.
And I sat here for a few minutes
feeling slightly...
ok, well a little more than slightly....
disappointed.
But it took about two minutes
of looking at the cat
and staring down the dog
and wondering why
I got all dressed up
feeling pretty
to look into the mirror and say
"Buck up, girl."
 
And that's what I did.
I reflected on Hemingway's thought
which I usually relate to life in general
but why not to a particular day
over which one fusses
and plans
toward the goal of a fine evening.
Why not.
 
So I recounted today's journey:
I got up early.
Finalized plans.
Went about the day.
Had a great time.
 
I sat and talked to God about the whole journey/disappointment thing for a
good long while, too. Why? Well, because I talk to him about everything.
 He pretty much said, "Cowgirl up, Deb." too.
And of course, he's always right.
I love that about him.
 
Fact: It was a good day. 
I had a fine and wonderful time right up to the moment
it all fell apart.
The journey was good.
There will be other destinations
and evenings
and plans
fulfilled
and disappointments
to weather.
The journey was very, very good.
So it's all good.
I'm good.
 
With that in mind
can't hurt to drop a line
to the old man
just in case
he has some magic left
for a Debbie
who still believes in it.


 Lights out on Christmas Eve.
 
 


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Grey Day. Lovely Day.

 
“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Psalm 126.5)
 
I met someone this summer
and we're getting to know one another.
There are stories to share
thoughts to consider
gifts to remember
and defeats to recount.
 
We've both lived long enough
that our hearts bear 
the inevitable scars
of healing
over shattered windows
and slammed doors.
Some of the stories just
aren't
pretty.
 
Of course there are bright memories to share too.
Moments of great joy
and victory
and insight
and peace.
Moments that make us smile
just to remember
and share.
 
There is something beautiful
about ears that are open to
truly listen
and eyes that watch you as you speak
to make sure they get all of the
body language
so the picture of what you're sharing is complete.
 
There is something beautiful, too
about recounting painful memories
only to find
all these years later
they have no power.
They're just
memories.
Vivid
yet powerless
memories.
 
We shared some of those yesterday
over a comfort-food lunch
tucked into a quiet spot
on a grey winters day.
Icy drizzle streaked the windows
across the room,
the coffee was perfectly hot
and folks hummed quiet
conversations at nearby tables.
 
I asked.
He told me.
He asked.
I told him.
 
And here's what I'm thinking about this morning.
 
Time passes.
Wounds heal.
Scars fade.
Life goes on.
 
Some of the stories I shared yesterday
were the most difficult
most painful
most agonizing
moments of my life.
And I recounted them
smiling some
laughing some
and...yes....
rolling my eyes some
because
someone else was so dang stupid
or I was so dang stupid
or life just slapped me around to the point
it was stupid.
He's been slapped a few times too.
And, like me,
he's seen his share of
magic, inspired moments.
He's learned to smile too.
And laugh.
 
Point being:
I made it.
He made it.
Mostly, we all make it.
 
It's a good thought to hide away in a heart-pocket
for those days when trouble is chasing me
when struggle consumes me
when hopes are dashed
or I'm just feeling
a little bit too alone:
Hold on.
It won't last.
You're close.
Just hold on.
You'll make it.
 
Through it all
good, bad, ugly and uninspired,
(and don't doubt it, we've all got our
good, bad, ugly and uninspired memories),
through it all
mostly
we all make it.







 


Thursday, December 18, 2014

March of My Holiday Soldiers

I really don't have much of any Christmas shopping to do this year.
Still, I prepare for the battle
by lining up my little soldiers
for the spontaneous moment
which simply begs
for a step up
to an improved 
afternoon coffee.


One in the purse.
Always.
Ok....maybe two.
Just in case I stay out longer than I thought.

HoHoHo. 


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Merry Din-ho-ho-ho-saur


All the little kids who visit our gymnastics academy
know our counter-top dinosaur mascot.
He keeps me company year 'round,
while I sit behind the desk
greeting our gym students
and lots of their little brothers and sisters
who patiently hang out
while the family attends classes and practices.
 
He's a stylish fellow
who likes to dress up for the holidays.
The littlest kids who come to visit
always look for him
wondering what he'll be wearing.
 


 
Clever guy, this one.
Decided he would hide himself among the presents
so maybe
just maybe
he could figure out what Santa brought him
before Christmas Day
when he gets to open the boxes
with his name on them.
 
Not so fast, buddy.
Those aren't for you.
Set out the milk and cookies on Christmas Eve
and maybe.
Just maybe.
 
 
 
 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

1000 Sunrises by Mason Jar and the GypsyOutlaws

Just before sunrise is my favorite time of day.
I love the final hour or two of darkness leading up to the morning.
I used to work in a huge studio tucked deep into the woods
where I spent each day at a desk
in an expensive little Herman Miller cubicle
next to a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows
that faced East.
 
In the winter
when the trees were bare and rickety sentries
surrounding the building
I'd arrive early
not so long after the caretaker who unlocked the doors
just so I could wander upstairs
settle in at my desk with a hot cup of coffee
and wait for the faint glow
of the promised sunrise
to appear out those windows.
 
Those moments
of one-on-one acknowledgement
and appreciation
to God who created not only me
but the world that captures my footprints
each and every day
set my day off right.
 
Gratitude.
In the wash of watercolor hues
backdropping those grand trees
I caught glimpses of the days I'd spent
and the days ahead.
The dark colors of tough days.
The brilliance of those filled with joy.
The comforting colors of ordinary days
absent of noteworthy memory.
Perhaps the best kind.
 
With none more important
than the one I was in
right then
right now.
In the moment.
 
I love this song.
Written and sung by a guy
whose gift is sharing the way he sees
and experiences the world
through music. 
 


God, I don't know how many more sunrises
you have planned for me to see.
 
Please help me to keep my eyes focused
on the small and ordinary things
that fill those numbered days
and to appreciate
each and every one.

 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tough Neighborhood

 
Well, dang it anyway, I can't be here every minute of every day.
Someone's gotta work so we can buy bones, right?
Thank goodness, my home is protected by a warrior
of infinite bravery and discriminating taste.


 
Thanks, Chuck.
We've got privacy fence.
We've got security lights.
We've got an alarm on the car.
 
Never, ever thought we'd need bad-ninja traps in this
quiet, serene, diverse neighborhood of old people
and frolicking children.
 
Off to the Home Depot.....hmmmm.
Which aisle?
Catch and release?
Disposal?
Ehh. It's always something.
 


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Faith.


I've got a beautiful little bracelet.
I love it more than I could possibly tell you.
This is the message it carries.
I love the message even more than I love the bracelet.


Things don't have to be easy.
Because my faith tells me all things are possible.