Friday, September 28, 2007

What am I? #2

You've seen this before... guess "who" is talking.

"I remember when this place was full of life - the small families with their babies beneath us, sheltered from the storms and cooled from the sun. I am quite a bit older now, I admit, but that doesn't mean things had to change so drastically. There had to have been a way to avoid this ending.

I'm so lonely.

Once upon a time, my little sprouts were with me. They grew up like all young ones do, their faces to the sky. It didn't take long and they were as tall as I am! Oh, I was so proud then.

However, nothing compares to the pride I felt when they began their own families. Most of them ended up spreading their roots in the same area; other, taken on the wind to new & exciting parts of the world.

But now... I'm all alone. The journey ends with me. Of the family I loved & cherished I am the last. I hate it. I never expected to be the last to be standing - it's not right!

My lush homeland is now barren & silent. There are no more children playing in the grass, no families calling this home. It's only me. I fear once the seasons change and the heat of summer turns to the icy cold of winter, even I will fall to the hands of fate.

Some say I can serve a better purpose by giving up my life, but I cannot agree. Without me, the last of this place, who will hold the memories of how great it was? Who will even remember I was here? Who will remember this place was once full of life?"

Sunday, September 23, 2007

These Times of Trouble

Have you ever had someone in your life that you tried & tried to get along with & it seemed like no matter what you did, it was never going to get any better?

I have that problem with someone close to my family. In the beginning we were friends, going out to dinner, talking on the phone, hanging out. Then something happened. I think i am supposed to know what changed things, but I don't. I know there was some event, some decision, some comment, something, that transformed the friendship we had into what it is now.

And what it is now... complicated, involved, shoved under the rug, for the most part.

I've tried in my own way to initiate conversations that would lead to the steps of making things work again. My attempts were not met with an effort from the other side.

The events that changed that friendship are so far under the rug that i have to get a flashlight out to look for them. But just b/c those events were in the past doesn't mean that I don't still feel them.

You go through life doing what you have to do to survive. Most of us hope that when we look back on our lives there is more compassion, tolerance, love, joy and forgiveness than the opposite. No one is going to make the right choices all the time. No one is going to think of other people's feelings before their own all the time. But somewhere in the midst of deciding what it the right thing to do, people do make things work for the better.

When you have one of those times where you didn't make the right choice or decision and it changes things (as it has in my case), you just can't ignore it. Sure, you don't have think about it all the time. You don't have to harp on it every chance you get... but you can't just FORGET it either. At some point these things creep back to the surface - they always do. And usually when they do, they aren't very pretty. Being shoved under the rug for a long time would make you look icky too!

Some people don't like confrontation. (I happen to live with one of those people.) The only way to solve a problem it to let it out. Think of the concept of counseling - it's about letting the feelings out so they aren't inside eating away at you. Not many people in this world can read minds, but that doesn't people can't be let into what's going on up there.

Relationships are fragile. Regardless of how long or well you know someone, you can still screw up. You might not even know you are, but you do.
Relationships are give & take... some like to give more, some like to take more. All the best relationships are a balancing act. And like all balancing acts, performers fall once in a while.
Relationships are sometimes about swallowing your pride in order to make someone else happy. Pride is a hard thing to deal with... but for the right reasons, swallowing it makes you feel warm & fuzzy inside, not sick to your stomach.

i don't know what's going to happen with this relationship I spoke of. It's definitely going through some turmoil right now. I hope there is a way to make amends and for that reason I haven't given up completely. But I will be the first to say I have no idea of what to do next.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What am I? --- The Creative Writing Starts

In an effort to get the creative juices flowing, I found some topics to write off of. Today is the first of my attempts... This piece is from the point-of-view of "something". Can you figure out what it is? I highlighted some clues.

"Why did he put me in here? I don't belong in this place!

Is he blind? Or does he just not care? You'd think he would have noticed I'm not like the rest of the slobs in this joint - I have class! I know what soap & water are & I use them.

If he keeps me in here, locked up until he 'gets around' to taking us out, I'll never find my partner... & what's worse - I can't go through this cycle all over again!

I have to think of a way out of here. The edge is too high to climb over without help. Not to mention, I'm not in the best shape anymore - I've seen a few miles on this body!

What are my options for escape? I could scramble to the bottom & hope I get left behind... but that won't help me out.

I KNOW! When he pulls the others out before me, I'll grab hold of their legs and hang on until I clear the edge. As soon as I see freedom below, I'll let go. I won't be where I belong, but I'll be one step closer.

Once I manage to get my feet on the ground, I'll entice those furry guys who run around the house to check me out. Hopefully they'll bat me around a bit... with a little luck I can catch the eye of the 'practical one'. She'll know where I really belong. All she has to do is smell me! I'm clean!"

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Don't Scratch!

Today I had some real fun. I got tested for allergies! I know lots of people have it done. I procrastinated though... like i need some testing to tell me I'm allergic to cats, dust mites, grass?

My doc has been trying to get me to the allergist for some time now. I kept putting it off. Allergy shots are a serious commitment of time & resources. Alas, i could put it off no longer. Headaches with no cure, for no reason, regardless of the season were enough to get me in the office today.

To my surprise, they didn't have tons of paperwork to fill out. Good start... if only i could get rid of that co-pay!

I got to sit in the exam room talking about all the meds i'm on, what the problem is, why i'm there... i purged & purged to both the nurse & the doc (who allowed me to sit in a CHAIR instead of the exam table - I hope you are listening Dr. Payne!). They were both great - very personable! (Good thing too, b/c i can't stand a doc who doesn't have any personality. I believe there is quite a bit of customer service involved in being a doc!)

I did a strange little breathing test requiring me to put clip on my nose while i blow deep breaths though this mouthpiece. You take a deep breath, exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale - until you blow out all (best case scenario) the candles on the computer screen. Now the funny thing about this was the nurse - it was as though i was running a race.

GO! GO! GO! GO! GO! GO! GO! GO! GO! GO! Just a little more! Almost there! Come on!

yes, she was definitely my cheerleader to get that last candle out. BUT i didn't manage to get that last candle. It eluded me... No worries though. Considering I have asthma, I got a great score. (Probably b/c there wasn't any studying involved!)

After that, I got to speak with the doc for a while about what they were going to do next, what kind of treatment I might be talking about after the scratch tests (how many was that, doc? 30?)... & then... it was time for...


That's right. It was a SHIRT - none of this gown stuff at that office. They scrimped on getting the whole ensemble & glued several paper towels together to make a shirt!

yeah yeah... it wasn't really paper towels, but let's just say i commented to the nurse that i was glad it wasn't going to rain in the office!

The nurse came in, marked up my back with a pen (graffiti? I'm still not convinced her "marks" are gone!) and proceeded to scratch until all the allergens had been dropped in their assigned locations.

She dropped the last scratcher-thingy in the waste bin & declares that she'll be back to check on me in 15mins.


I sat there writing in my notebook, counting the minutes, peeking at my back to see which of the MANY spots were itching. Unfortunately i couldn't decipher anything - the writing on my back wasn't as clear as labeled photos in an album.

The doc told me they stopped doing the allergy testing on arms b/c people would scratch them without thinking about it, causing the test to have to be redone. After sitting there for a few minutes, i think it's a good thing the tests were on my back. My arms would have been ripped to shreds getting those allergens to ease up.

& it was after 10 mins that the doctor peeks in, proclaims "WOW! YOU STILL HAVE 5 MINUTES LEFT & LOOK AT THOSE REACTIONS!"

He told me i was being 'stoic' about all the itching i was enduring, but it was for fear of having to redo the whole that made me keep my hands from going back there.

The doc went over the results of the tests, measuring the welts (they really were welts for some of them!) & telling me what i was allergic too. I think it might have been easier to tell me what i AM NOT allergic to! The list isn't too long, i guess. However, how you stay away from cats (when you have 2), dust mites (when you have millions), trees, ragweed and grass (when everyone has these)?

The answer to this, class, is... you don't. Not exactly. What you have to do is get allergy shots. So, I have decided to give in to that commitment of time & resources & do the one thing that both my docs seem to think is going to make a significant difference. i'm okay with the concept of the shots, but i don't know about the process taking 6 - 9 months before i see results.

How about some instant gratification? No one ever said i was a patience girl =)

Monday, September 17, 2007

All the Sweat & Cussing was for this...

Not all of you have had the chance to come over, crack open a cold one & plop down in a relaxed frame of mind... If you do come over and it's not 100 outside, you'd most likely be here - our new patio.

I say "new" because it's new to us. I has been out there, in various stages, since May. My thought was to get it done before it got too hot & humid. (You know what i'm referring to - the time during the summer when you just assume stay in the house as opposed to walk outside to sweat).

Here comes May, there went May; here comes June, there went June. Patio still not completed. I knew i had to do something to get it done. I needed Cop'er's help too, so what as the motivation going to be?

AHA! A party!

Now, when i had this brilliant idea, i didn't really know if it was going to work, or if it was going to backfire on me. No one likes to have egg on their face though & this was the motivation needed to get the Grayzeees back on track. I made sure the invite was for a "pool & patio party"... (& yes, that does mean the pool had to be cleaned too!) People would be coming to see the patio, therefore, it had to be completed.

You don't have to tell me the whole project looks easy - that's what i thought too! But when i got into it, my anal qualities came out. The blocks had to be in line, they couldn't be off by inches (as aaron tried to make them). If one end of the block was up too high, you had to pick it up & try again, leveling out the area.

Did i mention that these blocks were 20+ lbs EACH & there were 100 of them????

We got the first 50 down in pretty good time... it was the last 50 that really screwed things up for us. We only bought 50 of the stones to begin with. When we went back for the other 50, they didn't have enough! (& yes, we did check all the stores that carry them in the richmond area!)

***** let this be a lesson to you folks who will go after us in this challenge - buy all blocks at one time!

We ended up picking another kind of stone that i had to "make do with". It's ok... i guess. The checkerboard pattern was the result of our change in plans. Before you ask --- that does mean we had to basically take up everything we did previously & redo it. (stop laughing!)

Once the stones were down, there was a great weight lifted from me --- & i'm not just talking about the weight of the blocks either. There we stood - a patio at last!

By the way, the whole reason for this exercise in outdoor creation was because i wanted a pergola. Cop'er didn't want to buy one (they are pretty pricey) & he wasn't up for the task of making one (thank heavens for small favors!). The patio was our compromise. I think i got a good deal, personally.

Since it was so late in the season when we were ready to really start looking for the patio shelter, my choices were a little limited. There are some features on others i had seen that i would have liked to have on this one, but all-in-all, i like this choice. Whatever I bought had to have mosquito netting & this one does. It also has a really nice canvas top that seems a bit more decorative than some out there. and... It only took us 3 hours to get it up! It didn't come put together like OTHER people's did.

Now that it's been up for a bit and people have been over to enjoy it, i started to wonder what the big rush was. The whole time it was in the 90s - 100 outside, you wouldn't have found me out there! But what i do know is I'm glad it's up now, because the perfect weather is finally here! (i should have known this was really something meant to be enjoyed in the fall!)

So if you are in the neighborhood, stop on by. We have plenty to eat and drink & the patio is lighted for those evenings when the weather is perfect for staying out past dark!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering AJ

Today, September 11th, is my Aunt Jean's birthday. This birthday is different from the rest, but still worth celebrating. Aunt Jean (or AJ as I had recently started calling her) passed away in August after a long, courageous battle with breast cancer.

She was a wonderful aunt to me & my sisters. I have lots of great memories of times spent with her - camping in the mountains, swim meets in Richmond where my cousins were competing, holidays, birthdays, weddings, births, summers, amusement parks trips. The list goes on, my memories extensive.

I'm not sure there was woman who loved her family more deeply. And it struck me in the end how much she wanted to hold on to the life that was simply, her family. There's no denying the sadness in her passing, the feeling of loss that we all feel without her here physically. That's why I know the ceremony she planned out for her passing was really for everyone else. I believe that everyone thinks WE (her family) did it for her, to remember her and celebrate her life, the things and people she loved. But it was really something she did for us. From the upbeat music selected by my uncle, to the reading from my cousins, to the remembrances from family & friends, her hand was guiding it all... AJ gave that to us so we'd all know how cherished we were in her life.

As hard as it is to wrap my thoughts around the idea of AJ not being here... i know she's still with us. Much more than in our hearts, she's in our every day. She's watching over the family whatever they are doing; she's comforting those she loves as they grieve for her; she's laughing with her grandchildren as they play and she's celebrating her birthday as we all remember the wonderful life she led.

Today, I plan to send my birthday wishes to AJ. I know she has everything she needs where she is right now, but I think she'd appreciate the "old age" joke I have for her too...

Monday, September 10, 2007

& the Quotes Keep Coming...

Some of you might know this, others won't be surprised... I have been collecting quotes for a long time. I know you are curious about it, so look no more - i'm going to post some. The entire collection is too lengthy to put on here, so consider these some of the highlights.

The guy who takes a chance, who walks the line between the known & the unknown, who is unafraid of failure, will succeed. --- Gordon Parks

The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself. --- Mark Twain

I was much further than you thought & now waving, but drowning. ---- Stevie Smith

Be true to your work, your word, your friend. ---- Henry David Thoreau

God washes the eyes with tears until they can behold the invisible land where tears shall come no more. ---- HW Beecher

Money buys everything except love, personality, freedom and immortality.

I have lived to thank God that all of my prayers have not been answered. ---- J Ingelow

Those who live in the Lord never see each other for the last time. ---- German motto

Confidence is the sexiest thing a woman can have. It's much sexier than any body part. ---- Aimee Mollens

Once the game is over, the king & pawn go back to the same box. ---- Italian proverb

Heaven gives its favorites early death. ---- Lord Byron

No one is a virgin, life screws us all.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

That great day... once upon a year.

I know you thought I was going to talk about a holiday or one of those days when you get the day off from work... wrong.

I'm talking about that one day significant to each of our lives. The day doesn't have to be the same for everyone, but sometimes it is just by coincidence.

Your birthday.

When we are first born, we're too young to know what a birthday is. Do you remember your "first birthday"? Did you have a big party? No, I don't remember either. (For all those parents who haven't figured out that cost-saving method - have a small cupcake for the "cake", a few family members over with cameras & sing a round of 'happy birthday'. When your child gets older & asks about a party from that year, you don't have to lie... but you don't have to break the bank either!)

Once you start to understand the concept of a birthday party - having friends over, getting to play, opening all those presents and eating a cake with your name on it - it's hard to go back to not knowing what a birthday is.

The birthday fun continues on for most people through their 20s. Now, there are always going to be those people who pretend like a birthday is "just another day", regardless of the age they turn. But the truth is, it's a day to celebrate. It doesn't matter what religion you believe in or practice, the process of being born is a great thing to honor.

Oddly, by the time you are old enough to understand how special your birthday is & how it should be celebrated, just about everyone else has given up observation of it. So you are left alone to wonder if anyone remembered. Are there cards in the mailbox for me? Will anyone call with good wishes?

Some people may think it sounds a little selfish to wonder these things about their own birthday. Like I said, everyone has one. It doesn't seem unique. But there is nothing wrong with wanting friends & family to take a pause from their busy lives to say "hey, it's your day. I'm glad you are in my life."

Might sound silly, but it's just one of the great things about birthdays - a chance to reconnect with the people who matter to you... a reason to take a breath and take a moment to celebrate with someone else.

Happy Birthday, Loeb!

Friday, September 7, 2007

When Summer Ends...

Living here in outside wonderful Richmond, VA... IT'S BEEN HOT & HUMID!

I know I say this every year, but i can't wait for fall to get here. There is something refreshing abouto fall. (& It's not even that arguing with Aaron about keeping the pool clean is over for a few months!)

For those of you who don't know, I was born in October - prime leaf-turning weather. I love October. If there was a month made just for me, it's definitely October. Obviously I will be celebrating another birthday next month, but even that's not the great thing about the fall (though my birth in October, so few years ago, is the highlight of my parents' lives).

Have you ever awoken to a chill in the air after a long night of sleep & jumped out of bed to explore what the day offers? (yeah, me either. Mornings suck!) Hypothetically, if you did, you would know it was a fall day that brought on those feelings. You'd get dressed, step out onto your porch & inhale. Deep breath, take a moment, it's not going to be here long.

So much of the earth seems to be shedding its old skin, readying itself for rebirth in the spring. The leaves turn those glorious colors you can't begin to mix in any palette. Every picture taken is beautiful. Every outdoor event is made into an unforgettable memory only described as "that fall we...".

Gone are the heat and humidity, the long, lazy days of summer. In their place are the tease of summer's end, the occasional hot day mixed with the progressively cooler ones... the change from long summer nights, to shorter, colder evenings of fall.

Before you know it, fall has passed through another cycle & it's full-fledge winter. The few days of cloudy, gray weather have become a season where the sky continually looks like it may fall. The colors are gone, replaced with shades of brown in every view. A cold white snow can change this scene in a moment, dropping heavy flakes on all winter's surfaces.

Some may think this is the most beautiful of all of Mother Nature's scenes. For me, no contest, it's a far 2nd behind that brilliant shade of orange that resembles a hotly burning fireball. That shade I have only ever seen during fall, when the leaves are at peak, right before they free themselves from the tree & fall to the ground like a colored snowfall.