Sunday, March 27, 2005

An Alternative to Combat

Screaming into a pillow, while it doesn’t top the charts as the hottest alternative to combat, does have merit. I’m past the urge to lash out at the moment, so I feel like I can rate this coping mechanism with some objectivity. I’m giving it an 8 or 9. It cuts through fury in a tidier way than either verbal or physical assault. I wouldn't condone either.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Nasty, Bratty & Undeserving

I had absolutely nothing to say only moments ago, but with three ring-a-ling-lings of the phone, all my senses are in an uproar and ready to spit wisdom and venom and various bits of my innermost being out all in one sitting.

But that would just be messy, bursting at the seams like that. Fools fall headlong into that trap and find themselves wishing later they could re-dam the river that ends up careening across small towns and washing away their future because they suddenly cut loose at the urge to say something they “felt strongly about.” No, I’ll hold back the caustic breath that would encompass my fiercely chosen words and walk on and whistle a tune to calm myself. I find it helps to reroute the churning emotion and allow it to become a turbine of productivity. Mostly, I just know that something in the no-good category will happen if I move my finger from in front of my lips where I’ve carefully placed it to shush myself.

What I should have done was cut loose on the one who made the phone ring in the first place rather than upon those who wander innocently by after. I wouldn’t really have cared so much if the verbal dam burst and flooded the caller’s little village. I might perhaps, have even smiled a creepy, one sided smile and walked away whistling a tune and meant it. Okay, that’s just mean. Strike that. I’m feeling a little bratty. No, my heart can just race and my temper can boil a few minutes until it settles, and then I’ll do what I can to make something of it all.

Like be off to church for the Good Friday service. Sounds positively hypocritical doesn’t it? Remember though that one's need for the cross is most glaring at ugly moments such as these. That’s what the cross is all about, God bartering for my life, puny and hypocritical and angry and ugly, yet redeemable, forgivable, lovable, changeable. I like that He knew who He was getting in the bargain, after all He made me, and yet He traded his life for mine anyway. Makes me feel like a favored child, sometimes nasty and bratty and undeserving, and yet the apple of His eye.

So that’s where I’ll be, in my dam-busting state, taking an hour to get myself and my mouth under control, because the words form first somewhere deep in the heart, a heart that He wants to stroke with the love that He gave His life to prove. That changes everything.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Reading Between The Scans

It was sometime after noon, but I didn’t pay much attention. The weather was playing games with the sun so that there was no guessing the actual hour by the intensity of the light. The lamp was on of necessity, the necessity of comfort or vision, I’m not sure which, maybe both, and it felt brighter inside than out so it could have easily been dusk outside, except for the fact that I knew better.

I was alone for the day, unbound by my usual drop off/pick up routine as it’s spring break and everyone was gone for the day. I was working, yet it was the mindless and repetitious sort that causes no stress, but which has been known to numb the senses. The work, the dark cozy weather and my situation transported me to an “otherworld” where the usual obligations that delineate space and time didn’t seem to apply. The occasional pattering of raindrops on rooftops added to the unconventional air the day had taken upon itself.

The new office chair’s excellent twirling capabilities helped pass the time while I waited for my work to process, over and again, but after an hour or more with hours yet to go, I got the hint that if this pattern was to be repeated nearly a hundred times, that would mean a very long day of endless twirling and/or trips to the kitchen. Never enough time to do anything more than grab some chips, and just enough to watch dust collect and find my mind dazed by the consistent sameness of my surroundings, same thoughts, eyes affixed to common objects hour after twirly hour, the hypnotizing hum of the scanner lulling me into something just outside of slumber.

The chair stopped spinning for a moment, and my eyes rolled around and landed like a roulette ball on the stack of books nearby. My eye caught “Stephen King on Writing”. The cover had always drawn me since the first time I picked it up and found it full of sweet & sour, colorful words inside. Even the spine of it, the little bit that was showing, was like spying a candy wrapper of the sort I fall victim to. It drew me in. I was reminded that there was something inside I hadn’t yet consumed, like the little lilt in my heart when I discover there is half a bag of sour skittles left that I’ve forgotten. It’s a book that sidles up and whispers of myself in some ways when I read it. I find that to my liking.

The scanning process was taking about 3 to 4 minutes each time, an abnormally long time to stare and wait usually. But that was of no consequence now; something was being poured out in snatches a page or two at a time, lighting up my thoughts and putting an end to my numbed consciousness. The longer the scan, I was finding, the more I could read.

So for the next 5 hours, I kicked my feet up and read between scans, twirling effortlessly back and forth to push buttons and change settings as needed and then twirling myself back to my reading glasses and my book full of “candy”, a sip of Coke now and then to accent the pleasure. Later I could be found leaning forward reading with face in hands, like a kid in a fort, living a make believe adventure while on holiday from life, as the rest of the world was off doing their chores. I had discovered how to do both at once and I liked the combination. I think it was as work should be. I didn’t begrudge myself the snatches of reading. It seemed prudent to fill the emptiness with something productive, and I felt rich with life at the same time. So I finally got the chance to do what I never seem to be able to find time for after my work is through.

This day would have been a keeper, except that you can’t keep a day. Too bad. I favor holding the good stuff close. But I can reuse my newfound time passage tool and pick up where I’ve left off. It’s like having a whole new world at my fingertips. All those books I’ve enjoyed but which I’ve never actually finished will be soon be consumed a page at a time. Soon they will be tucked neatly into the corners of my mind, decorating my thoughts and my outlook. How exciting. I so hope scans galore await my future.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

My Guide to Power Outage

It’s universal. The first things you do when you come home knowing the power is out are:
Try to turn on a light.
Open the refrigerator and look at the darkness.
Wish you could turn on the a/c.
Long for something to eat or drink that requires the use of an electrical appliance, any appliance. (This longing quickly grows to an intense desire for all kinds of things you would normally not consume at this hour, but which begin to appeal to you in new ways now that you can’t have them.)

Then you go from room to room stricken anew by the realization that everything you think of doing requires electricity. Ah! Can’t work on the computer, nope to scanning, forget making something to eat, TV is out, the only music will come from the songs in my head, can’t wash clothes (oh, what am I saying, there is no washing machine anymore anyway.) Too dark to read in here. Too windy outside. Time to call FPL for the outage status.

I found out we were a PRIORITY, so much so that they quickly connected me directly to a person who gave me a complete and well-rehearsed apologetic speech about how sorry they were to inconvenience me. It was a pretty long speech. I think following last year’s hurricanes and the irate customers encountered, they’ve hired professional counselors to gently stroke the customers’ edgy nerves. It’s like a crisis hotline now. I wanted desperately to tell the lady about my recent obsessive compulsive behavior and other psychological insights, but mostly, that I had just bought two for $5 ice cream and that Cally had also brought home a third not knowing I had made my purchase and it was melting, so they’d better hurry. You’ll be happy to know I held my tongue, said thank you and hung up. I doubted she cared that I just been to the grocery store and I figure, she’d probably heard the same ice cream story from everyone who called. Who doesn’t buy into the deal when Publix has ice cream two for $5. It’s a given, that’s why they were working so hard. They knew there could be an ice cream melt down the likes of which hasn’t been seen since last fall. The power was out from 10:00 this morning until almost 7:00 tonight. It’s kind of interesting that when you call, they tell you how many people are affected so you don’t feel alone. It really is a great psychological ploy. My first thought with an outage is usually, “are we the only ones?” I always call to find out the status and get the estimated time for power to be restored. It’s the not knowing that kills me. If they give me a deadline, I feel better and they always beat their predicted time. Another mastermind plan. And I’m pretty much okay with it as long as my whole block is hurting with me. And knowing that 2, 344 other customers are standing at the fridge trying not to open the door too gives me even an extra measure of satisfaction.

My neighbor came over to see if I knew what was going on. She had just bought groceries in bulk from Costco to stock up for the next 6 weeks while she isn’t going to be working because of her schooling. She was very concerned about her ice cream too and really wanted to open the freezer just once to check it, but I talked her down from that ledge. She said she felt compelled. I warned her not to do it. If you open the door you lose valuable freeze power and the electricity had already been off a very long time. She decided to be strong and took off to meet some friends without the ability to blow dry her hair before she left and without knowing the condition of her ice cream. Who says women today aren’t strong? We both had “hurricane hair” already. Deja vous-vous. Ahh, there’s nothing quite like a power outage to bring the neighbors together. It was like a hurricane season practice drill.

Right after I got home and realized I couldn’t do ANYTHING, I had the desperate urge to escape to some place via car, some place with pre-made food, like I might never get to eat cooked food again or like the house was uninhabitable without electricity. So weird. I decided that was stupid, so I tried to think of things to do that didn’t need power.

I devised a list of things you can do without power and it really boiled down to hard labor. I chose a broom and a swiffer. The gunky drain which I never did yesterday also made the list of power outage entertainment. But sweeping and swiffer dusting the floor, and wet swiffering after that took almost two hours, along with moving sprinklers, and tackling a number of stubborn weeds that I got sidetracked by while I was outside. Oh yeah, add yard work to the list of things to do when the power is out, and it’s cooler out there, esp. if your window is still cellophane wrapped shut. I missed the opportunity to fix the windows this weekend while it was under 80 degrees, with just cause... you know, the washing machine malfunction, which will most like remain on the disabled list for some time. So just as I was putting away the swiffer thingy, and gearing up to degunk the tub drain, Cally began clapping wildly and I heard the armoire door squeak open and TV sounds began to blare. She didn’t miss a beat getting the TV on. It had been hours of pure power outage pain for her in her room not watching tv and sweating because she didn’t want to open the windows (I don’t know, go figure). I immediately released myself from my contract with myself to degunk the drain. It’s been a long hard prehurricane season afternoon and I had done enough hard labor for one day.

FPL just called (well their computer voice man that is, hmmm, where did the nice counselor lady go?) to tell me my power was now on and that the problem was that a tree or branch had damaged an FPL line. Well, now that the power has been back on for TWO HOURS, it’s a great relief to find that out. And good to know that it only took them 8 hours to remove a tree branch from the line.

It’s gonna be a long hurricane season. Good thing my floors are perpetually dirty and the drain will probably still be clogged by then. I’ll have plenty to keep me busy the next time the power goes out.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Have a Coke and a Smile

I’ve finished the second half of the photo album I’ve been working on for a client. It was of a rafting trip down the Colorado River. Beautiful stuff. I have only to pick up enlargements tomorrow and affix them and it will be completely complete. The next album awaits, for which many photos must be scanned. I think I’ll begin that later tonight.

After I finished my album work, I had a mad urge to scrape the hairspray blobs off of the mirrors in the bathroom. I get the eebies every time I walk in there and see the vastness of the hairspray coverage, but I never bother to do anything about it because it won’t wash off for anything. The task of scraping is one which should probably be done weekly or monthly, and yet I do it maybe yearly... maybe. It looks so horrible and yet taking a single edged razor to it is quite simple and extremely satisfying. Problem is, once you start scraping things with a single edged razor, it’s hard to draw the line on where to stop. This can be a good thing if it gets you to do something you might otherwise not have done, but for obsessives, it becomes borderline manic. Since the same hairspray travels to every vertical and horizontal plane in the bathroom, and half of every wall in the bathroom and the entire shower enclosure is covered in 5x5 shiny tiles (well, not so shiny layered with hairspray and grunge), the stopping point becomes nearly indistinguishable. It's the land of the eternal tile. But the afternoon sun shines a spotlight on the east wall, lighting up my obvious neglect and grossing me out. And so I come to you typing with crippled hands which are still pruney from wringing the dirty water out of the laundry on Friday and are now additionally maimed by the water and Scrubbing Bubbles with which I cleaned the tub. I’m feeling the effects of clutching a tiny razor and scraping for over an hour, always drawn one tile further, on into the shower where soap scum has created layers and layers of goop to entice me. “Eradicate the crud!” That became my motto.

I thought about how pleased everyone will be when they enter the bathroom next time. I dreamed of ooohs and ahhhs reverberating throughout the house, hitting my ears like a sweet song. Ah, but then again, that’s a joke. Noone complimented me on my new shower liner purchase last week and it so obviously reeked of that new poly-chor-a-hex-a-something smell like you couldn’t imagine. If the crispy clean look didn’t make them marvel, the smell certainly should have. The old liner had a layer or two of that orange moldy substance from whatever bacterial, viral whatever-it-is that makes water change form and become something scummy. Did I hear even one sweet sound of pleasure cooing from the lips of my children as they got into the shower after I replaced the grungy liner? Not even. I heard, “who keeps leaving hair in the drain?” and I heard, “who used all the soap!” and I heard, “Who keeps taking my shampoo?” I heard, “Mom, why do you keep taking my towel and washing it?” but not a single person admired the new curtain out loud and praised my deeds from under the spray of the shower. I mean this was monumental in terms of dramatic effect. These kids must be warped by the age in which they’ve grown up. I am certain of it. If they couldn’t make appropriate comments about something so entirely consequential, why would I even dream that even one of them would notice the clean tile? Well, I notice, and more than notice, I know it is eons cleaner and that is what counts. That is what will help me sleep soundly tonight, so soundly. Now, if I could get the rest of that little pit we call a bathroom fixed up, I believe I could fall into such a deep sleep over the pure joy of it that I’d never wake up.

So I worked and worked on these things that seem to me to be of some consequence and then it began to get dark and dreary out. To me, "dark and dreary" is perfect writing weather, esp at this time of day. It just feels right, and I feel justified after all my labor, what with the added weather bonus, sitting here typing and rambling. I have a Thai Chicken Pizza in the oven from California Pizza Kitchen, well from the Publix freezer section, but made by the California Pizza Kitchen Company. So I am going to go and enjoy the pizza as I enjoy the dark and dreary weather. And I have Coke too, and better yet, I bought ice this week at the grocery store. Store bought ice (giddy glee), now you know I’m living! It’s a luxury to be sure, but since I’m scraping acres of tile with a two inch single edged razor and doing laundry all over town and other things that feel heroic, I think I will enjoy the luxury of my ice and live it up. Cheers! I know, you’re thinking, Coke? Liz, don’t do it! I know. I know. But this is Thai Chicken Pizza, and it wouldn’t be the same without the Coke. It just wouldn’t, and I have no one around to go Coke-freaky on tonight. So, it’ll be ok, I promise. I'm going to have a Coke and a smile. I really think can do it.

As I sit here, the sweet smells of my childhood are coming through the cracks in the window. It’s a good thing, but perhaps a bad one too. Good, because I loved my childhood and still do. Bad because the smell means that probably a lot of particles and junk are also coming through the window along with a scent so strong I feel like I’m literally right there, right there in the midst of new house construction. My neighbor two houses away from my window is re-roofing. It smells exactly like new concrete block house construction... like plaster and concrete and drywall. They’re not building anything new, they are ripping off a concrete tile roof. It just reminds me of the smell of the new homes being built in our neighborhood as kids. Back then we wandered through the homes, picking up Coke bottles to turn in for nickels or dimes. (I always did love Coke. Back then, to me, it was the sign of wealth. It was true luxury to be able to have a Coke. I always thought that I’d know I was rich when I grew up if I could have Coke whenever I wanted it. So tonight anyway, I am rich.) Back then we wandered through the construction picking up the little cylindrical metal pieces that looked like nickels and pretended it was money. We toured the rooms in the houses, imagining what each would be. We sat in the new bathtubs and walked through as of yet, nonexistent walls between the studs and checked out the Port-O-Lets and laughed at the stench and made tunnels in the mounds of white building sand and played king of the hill and tons of other stuff during the late afternoons. What a great playground!

Well, I just heard thunder. I think what that means is that if I fold the laundry that I washed at Mom’s this morning and if I go and at least attempt to degunk the shower drain like I had on my list, then, and only then, I think I should be allowed to sit and read. Certainly one must read in order to write. So not only will it be my joy, but it will also be like a responsible action toward a future writing project or like doing homework or something.

Mmmm, this pizza and Coke hits the spot. I burned the edges of the pizza a tad (at least it smelled like it) and the inside isn’t exactly perfectly done, but nevertheless it’s still mostly warm and I am calling it good stuff. The Coke... well, there’s nothing like the first sip of fizz off the top of the first glass from a newly opened bottle of Coke, especially poured over fresh, store bought ice. The fizz caught my eye this time before I drank it. Usually I’m in such a hurry to slurp it up before it fizzles out (because that’s the best part) that I don’t really look at it. But I was amazed at the bubbles. I’m thinking it was every bit as enticing as they make it appear in advertising. That’s just my opinion. But take a good look next time and see if you don’t agree.

You know, I really don’t feel much like cleaning the goopy, hairy crud out of the drain now. I just don’t. I never will. Do you suppose that it would still be okay for me to read even if I don’t predicate it with this disgusting chore? And if I don’t start scanning all those photos tonight, would I be considered a sluggard? It feels wrong not to do everything and then some more on top of it (as you may have guessed I am the obsessive type for whom simple chores become manic events.) Maybe if the roofers didn’t work so late I wouldn’t feel like such a lug for calling it quits. It ‘s 6:15 pm and getting dark and they are still banging things and yelling in spanish and stirring up the smell of concrete so that I imagine everything is probably covered in a layer of fine dust about now. Their work seems so productive.

The pizza and coke are gone, there is work that has been left undone here in my world, and reading and ice crunching lie ahead. Maybe a scan or two will be thrown in to ease my conscience. Can’t say for sure. But the drain gunk? I don’t think so. Another day, another grungy bathroom chore. I don’t want to burn my obsession at both ends. Better save some for tomorrow.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Wringing Out The Clothes, Wringing My Hands

I watched mary’s copy of The Gleaners and I today. I was going to watch while I worked on the project I have, but it’s enough of a discipline to watch a movie and work at the same time. Add subtitles to the effort and forget it. So, of course, I let the work go and watched the movie. After I picked casey up from school, we found ourselves gleaning. We sometimes have to glean small change from the car in order to pay for fast food. When we came up short of enough gleaned change for pizza for both of us at Costco, we went to the ATM instead and took money out that we shouldn’t have. I knew the line at Costco would be long and didn’t want to be like a little kid counting out her pennies while everyone waited. Had we gone to a drive thru with a dollar menu, we’d have been fine. But we had to go to Costco, so we thought it best to just eat there. But just so you know, once, about two weeks ago, we were able to feed three of us at Wendy's from the dollar menu off of car-gleaned change. We were really excited, like we won the lottery or something. Turns out today was a good free sample day at Costco. We had buffalo chicken, jelly bellys, fruit, and had we been so inclined, they also had soy milk, ravioli, lox and something else I didn’t want. We gleaned a moderate share and moved on. You could net, on a good day, enough samples to skip lunch. Today we didn’t, we wasted money on pizza.

We had to go to Costco because right before I left to pick up Casey, I went to transfer the laundry to the dryer only to find that the washer had spun its last. The washer was seriously afflicted. It would sort of spin but the water wouldn’t pump out. It sounded like it was about to go into convulsions. I have a certain patience when it comes to these things, I mean my rigging track record is superb, but there are four people here and plenty of dirty clothes, all the time. This is one of those things that will unfortunately have to be dealt with. Here goes another Visa purchase.

So we went looking at Costco to get an idea of prices. Wow! the only one they had that wasn’t super-size was $420. So much for ever getting anywhere in life. The whole thing began to get to me.

We got home, and I went outside to throw something away after wringing and wringing and wringing an excessive number of big towels and jeans, etc. By this time I was beyond my initial “I can handle this, and I can just do laundry elsewhere til I can find a cheap machine” attitude, and I had begun an inner dialog that sounded a lot like grumbling. I was quickly working myself into a really good aggravation and a sufficient “woe is me” when I looked up and there coming down the street, across the intersection in his motorized chair, was of all things, the man with no legs. Well, you could say my inner grumbling got a hand slapped across its mouth rather quickly. How can I complain about the 15 or 20 gallons of dirty water I have to bail out of the washer and the money I will have to borrow, and the inconvenience, blah, blah, blah, when a man is riding around the neighborhood with no legs.

I expect you may see me on a documentary soon, gleaning wash cycles from the homes of everyone I know until such a time as I can find the deal of a lifetime or someone ditching a perfectly functional washer just because they want one of those new front loading 50’s style washers available now in an array of colors. There is plenty of excess here in Palm Beach County. No doubt there is a washer graveyard full of young appliances sent to their demise before their time. I doubt I will go driving around looking for them by the side of the road because, well, you know the trouble Casey and I had just trying to get the lattice in the car, but I’ll keep myself open to possibilities. Getting an old appliance out of the house to the road and a new one in is a pretty big chore in and of itself. And think about how gross it's gonna be behind the washer when I pull it out. Plus, you have to time these things carefully and take the old one out on Wednesday night so the guys will take it on Thursday. It’s Friday today. It’s not that easy to to remember to do it at the right time for some reason. Plus, it’s not a simple task to pull a washer up a step, down two, across a yard full of grass to the road. I think I’m complaining again. “Don’t forget the man in the chair, Liz... the man in the chair.” That’ll shut me up for a while.

Okay, I’m going to find some lotion or something. My hands are all pruney from the wringing and the blue water I had to bail for the last hour or so. But I’m not complaining. They are still connected to my arms and quite functional, and I’m really rather happy about that.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Looking for greener grass

I have got to get a digital camera! There are just too many things to photograph in a day that I miss because I don’t have my big 35 mm with me, and rarer still is a day when I have film in it anyway.

And does everybody see as much odd stuff as I do, or am I just usually in the right place at the right time? I took Casey to school a few minutes ago and on my way back to get to work, this guy who looked like he was in his forties was crossing the road in front of me on this crazy bike. Well, it looked like a humongous tricycle, like freakishly circus sized (maybe the guy was formerly a clown) but it was actually a two wheeled bicycle. It looked like a tricycle from the side because the front wheel seemed as tall as a mini van and the back wheel was teeny tiny in comparison. And it seemed even funnier because I was turning right and he was crossing the road I was turning onto, so he was hurrying to get across, thinking I might hit him I guess (which I assure you I would not have done). How could I hit a grown man on a huge tricycle thing? And I couldn’t help but see him; he was peddling with all his might to beat me out and it was hilarious, his feet going round and round at cartoon hyper speed in these tiny circles. I could have had an accident because I was craning my neck around as I drove on, looking backward trying to figure out how the thing worked, with only that little wheel in the back, and it was really skinny like an old time bicycle. I just drove on and wondered, “Where did he get that thing?” and “Why would a grown man ride that thing down a busy street?” But then, I’m sure people wonder about me sometimes too, so I’ll just enjoy the oddity of the show and keep my eyes open for what else might be out there today.

On another note, I thought you might like to get a report on how my fertilizer (weed and feed) worked. If not, I feel compelled to tell you anyway, because maybe you will know what the big problem is or maybe it will save you the trouble of fertilizing your own yard to no avail, especially if your spreader wheel is so hard to turn that while trying to push the thing, you become the neighborhood spectacle. I think they might hold a block party next time I fertilize and get their lawn chairs and coolers out and make an event of it. But then maybe I could just fertilize under the cover of darkness in the future and save myself the embarrassment.

So here’s the deal, my yard hardly looks any different after nearly a week. I watered after I fertilized and then we had two days of rain. What’s that all about? I expected a lush, green lawn with all the weeds shriveled up and keeling over as if they had been poisoned. Nope. The weeds seem hardy, happy and even sort of shiny like I applied conditioner instead of weed killer, and the sort of wimpy brown areas don’t seem to have perked up in the least. That wasn’t what I gave my sweat, money and dignity for. And I don’t want to tell you the brand I used because I hate to knock a product. I’ll just say, it wasn’t the cheap stuff. I only did the front and side yards and a little of the back so I could see if there was a difference, and as much as I want to, I don’t see marked improvement yet. Maybe I should quit going out and checking so often. Maybe I should put some more weed and feed down. If a little is good, a lot is better? Nah, that never works, or does it? I’ll give it til tomorrow and do another close up inspection. Maybe it needs today’s sunshine to kick in and give it that final punch toward growth. I just really wanted it to look like my neighbor’s yard on the corner near us. Theirs is always full and lush. And it’s always greener. Of course.

Lastly, via email, “after careful consideration” by the editor, rejection number two came yesterday. (a mini “told you so”). A very nice one if that makes a difference. They were kind enough to encourage me to submit again. But why? So I can be rejected over and over and over? Whatever. Apparently my stories don’t seem to meet anyone’s current editorial needs. I’m still mulling over what that means exactly. I think it just means, “you don’t fit in.” I’ve read other stuff in these publications and I think I’m sending the type of thing they might print, but then who knows where I cross the line. I have two more submissions out there hanging in the balance. We’ll see what kind of “editorial needs” these other two publications have and whether I can squeeze into somebody’s mold somewhere one day.

And it’s another blessed half day at Casey’s school today. So now that I’ve blogged, it’s practically time to go back and pick her up. It’s a good thing I’m “working” from home today. Well, if you call what I’m doing working. I guess it appears more like goofing off. But good thing I don’t have to be anywhere or this half day would be a big problem. Thing is I do need to make some money, so I should be self-regulating my time a little better and get working on the project at hand so I can make a deposit next week instead of a credit withdrawl. Yeah, I’m brilliant aren’t I?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Press and Seal

While the real world smiles in anticipation of the first day of spring, here in sunny south FL, we watched it arrive and then we waved goodbye as it drove right on by all in the same day. Today I welcomed Summer already, with the flip of the switch on the old A/C. OK, “Welcomed" is a generous word. And it’s a lie. Summer's arrival is untimely. It was other, less kind, murmurings that poured from my lips as the early summer heat closed in today. Just liike that, humidity and bad hair days. Cruel fate.

We really did have to turn the air on tonight. Ever since the front window broke just as our first really cold spell hit, we haven’t been able to open it, or really close it. That makes both front windows unusable now and it's kind of hard to breathe in here. The stupid window crank broke right off (second time for this window) and me and Cally’s cellophane plastered window rig has started to break free. (Yeah, we actually cellophaned over the whole window. What did you think we’d do? Call someone to fix it? ) We couldn't get it to stay all the way shut and it was getting into the 30’s and windy. We had just bought some of that new press and seal wrap when the window crank came off in my hand, and we were really excited by the possibilities, so we gave it a shot. It was impressive. We were impressive. We used packing tape and scotch tape, pretty much anything sticky, to reinforce it. Uh, yeah... So, anyone interested in more tips about this ingenious technique may leave a question in my comment section. I’ll gladly share our time tested secrets with those who inquire, free of charge. Really.

So, now that Summer has come in like tyrant, the window may have reached that point of irrigablility of which I spoke in my previous post “Yabba, Dabba, Doo!”. I’m afraid that I may have to, you know, hire someone to fix it...

Pah! Right! Everyone knows the next step after a rig is to fix it yourself. If you could pay to hire someone, you would have done it months ago and saved yourself the trouble of explaining to everyone what that strange swish-swish sound is (the one that sounds like cellophane rustling as a breeze passes by). Trouble is, I’m not entirely up to the miss-fix-it challenge just yet either. I have done this intolerable job three times, and I’ve found the work as impossible as both aol and the weedeater combined, and still, somehow rewarding in turn. I had never replaced a window crank before and I found there are some scientific laws involved that are borderline math (even to the point of geometry... yeah, now you know what I’m talking about. This is big time). Well, I figured out how to do it by myself, which was the rewarding part, but there are easier ways to pop a vein in your forehead. And the fact that one of the cranks broke immediately after I put it in, as I tried to close the window, and the other only lasted about two years almost makes me wonder... almost.

So, here’s what I’m thinking. I wait for that one last cool front to push through (please, please let one more come through), and then I take up the tools (whatever I can find to make them) and spring for two new window cranks and make a day of it while the temperature still signs in at under 80 degrees. (Does anyone know how to make the degrees sign? I’ve pushed a lot of keys with other keys and I’m getting nowhere.) Or I may break down and call a few places and hire someone to do it who will guarantee their work and get it done in 15 minutes flat for a possibly reasonable fee. I think I would be simultaneously elated and ticked if I found out that such a repair is really cheap and I have gone all these months with an astounding rig job to my name for no reason.

I know... what am I saying? It is one of my few claims to fame. Where would I be without such credits. Someday when I’m gone, they will erect a wall with etched scenes from the rigging hall of fame... me and Cally pressing and sealing cling wrap to the window to welcome the Christmas season, me and Casey digging post holes with paint stirrers, me cutting the tree branches off with the only thing I could find, a hack saw blade (just the blade, no saw), me... well, you get my drift. I think we all agree, I belong in the hall of something anyway.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Miraculous Sunday

It was a miraculous Sunday:

There were no incidents at church (ref. my earlier post: Poster Child For The Old Country.)
My oldest went to church and sat next to me.
He also came home and mowed the lawn as well as the next door neighbor's and put up the lattice that Casey and I brought home via the trunk last week (ref. post: Yabba, Dabba, Dooo!). I was thrilled!
On our way home from church, he drove and thanked me for the way I handled a discussion we'd had two nights ago on the phone. He appreciated that I hadn't yelled at him regarding the incident in question. He knew it was hard for me not to and he said it made a big difference for him. He also told me about a decision he'd made which was quite mature and thoughtful and he discussed college plans with me. He turned down the opportunity to go to the beach with all of his friends, go to the Honda Classic with his dad, and declined another invitation from a friend who called while he was working. This was a responsibility day and although he knew he was missing out and kept trying to find reasons to run off and have fun, he stuck to it and did what he needed to. Whether he got going on "A Tale of Two Cities" when he went to his dad's house (the tale that's kicking his butt in English right now) remains to be seen.

Other miraculous events: I showed dramatic perserverence in regard to the weed eater, another patience tester that works about as well as my AOL.
I got most of the lawn fertilized despite the difficult spreader wheel that didn't want to turn. I was so winded after the first 10th of the yard, I had to stop, lean on the spreader and catch my breath, for a while. I don't remember spreading being a chore. I thought it was one of those jobs that appears to onlookers to be a serious yard work event, when in reality it's a piece of cake. No. It was harder than pushing a non-self-propelled lawn mower. I shudder to imagine the sight I afforded those driving by as I struggled to push that thing through the thick grass (and yes, occasionally kicking it). It was a worse sight than watching some people running. I also used my patented weed pulling technique for at least an hour; I must really enjoy a good backache once a week or something. Cally came home from babysitting and without being asked, saw the mess on the back porch from my weedeating attempts and swept it up. I yelled, "I love you!", through the window. She yelled back, "Of course you do!" I still have sand in my hair from my diligent work with that ill-designed weedeater that I like to use as an edger. We went to Costco and got Cally's pictures from the party she went to last night at the Player's Club at the top of Espa... I can't remember the name of the building. The one across from Tommy's office there on Okeechobee. Swanky place. In a few minutes the lawn watering will be complete and Cael and Casey will return and I will make tomorrow's school lunches - oh joy, and then maybe this day, miraculous as it was will wind down. And I do believe it was miraculous despite it's not so pretty "poster child" beginning and despite the hard work that simple tasks often end up being. I have to look back and really think about all that happened sometimes to see the miraculous part. But it's in there.

Poster Child For The Old Country

I awoke looking like a scary movie villain this morning. I wasn’t trying either, that’s the sad part. I passed the full length mirror on my way to awaken Cally for church, shuddered and had this sudden urge to go lay in the sun or apply as candidate for an extreme makeover show. This is a look only TV magic or sun and sleep can correct, aided by a good haircut and color. A ten year time travel backward wouldn’t hurt either. But instead I look like someone drew big black pools around my eyes with a fat black sharpie and highlighted them deftly, as to appear sunken and creepy. It also appears I applied a lipstick named “gray pallor” with a rather heavy hand. Lithuanian heritage has its drawbacks. Imagine me in one of those sepia toned photos from the old country where everyone sits with that stern look on their face, the women dog ugly and haggard from peeling potatoes and pumping water from the well night and day. It doesn’t help that I haven’t had my hair done since before Christmas.

I didn’t feel like this yesterday; yesterday I had a good hair day. My eyes didn’t recede quite so far into my head and my skin didn’t seem lifeless, and I didn’t look like a Lithuanian poster child for the old country. Of course yesterday I wasn’t going to church where I would see people. I was sheltered away at home, working on a DVD project for a client. Figures that I’d turn into a bad example of my heritage just as I enter a world where people congregate in large numbers, looking pretty nice on top of it. The good news is I probably won’t scare any small children, because at our church they meet in a separate building from the adults. I would hate to put a parent in that awkward position of having their child cry, point and say something about “the scary lady” right in front of me. So I am going to make it there just a little late, find a shadowy recess up in the back and try to worship without offending anyone. Thankfully I am going there to stare in awe at God, not myself. Hopefully the people around me are there to do the same and won’t be distracted from their focus by the poster child from the old country.

May your day be a one of rest and of admiring the God who made you, and may all of your reflections be bright.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

I'm Big Enough

I suppose if a person goes around saying “I told you so” when they are right, they should be big enough to say, “I was wrong” when they are wrong. And so today, I freely and humbly admit, “I was... wr...wr... wr... onnn...wr... wr... OK, I was wrong.” I expected rejection number two today and it did not arrive. Not today. However, I don’t for a minute believe that means it’s not coming, I believe that means there was bad weather in the North or the postal folks were having that ever so rare “off day.” But I will spare you further predictions. If another self-addressed, stamped envelope bearing my little imageremix logo and shouting “Reject!” via US post is delivered to my address, I will be up front and share the pathetic news with you. If a bizarre stroke of something unexplainable should paint itself across my life and someone actually reads my submission and chooses me, well then, I will be sure to give a big “woo hoo!” over the blogwaves and let you in on it.

For now you have my permission to take a break from the edge of your seat where I’m sure you’ve been nervously perched, biting your fingernails or holding your breath as you await my updates. You’ll be needing those fingers to blog on your own site; and breath, well, it can come in pretty handy too.

Carry on in your world. I was going to go out and spread fertilizer on the lawn following after my daughter as she mowed it, but she just backed out of our little deal. Argh! It’s hard to find good, cheap help these days. My big guy has rehearsal every evening and all day Saturday, (almost as if he planned it that way, eh?). The responsible one is cleaning a house and baby-sitting. The young one backed out for reasons I can relate to but nevertheless, the job is not getting done and all this rain is doing nothing to help the brown grass grow; it needs fertilizer. To fertilize, you’re supposed to cut the grass first. And you know I sure as heck don’t want to do it. Maybe I can go ply the young one with some sort of candy related bribe. Candy and money, the world’s most powerful weapons. I’ll let you know whether she, with her 21st century child savvy, has developed countermeasures against such an arsenal, or whether this ploy still holds sway over the hearts and minds of even today’s youth.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

I Told You So

It's not nice to say "I told you so." I know that. I normally try to avoid those words and even the underlying implication. No one likes to be talked down to. I know that uttering those words gives one the appearance of having their nose held higher than what is considered becoming. But if the words were said, say in reference to my prediction that I would be receiving rejection today, and then the prediction comes true, my head would no doubt be cast somewhat downward, a sign of my dejection. It would be difficult under such circumstances to have my nose in the air, wouldn't you say? My "I told you so" would only indicate that I have a keen sense of the obvious, which I must, not a sense of superiority. So let me say that today along with my mailman dressed in a yellow raincoat, came a letter to me from me, with my logo in the return address spot. Only a rejection notice comes in a self-addressed, stamped envelope from myself to myself. I do believe I told you so.

The surprise was the company from which I was rejected right off the bat. This was the one I sort of thought might bite, but now, looking back, I guess I should have known they wouldn't be interested in this story. And let me tell you, finding someone who would be interested in the kind of thing I write is not that easy. This was, however, the second nicest rejection I have received; and I think I've had 4 prior to this. I know, it's early in the game; I'm sure there is rejection galore awaiting me ahead. I hope I can continue to face it without letting it dash my dreams.

This company, unlike many, actually sent a letter with a list of reasons why I may have been rejected, which shows more class than others. They made a check mark next to the line that said my story didn't fit their editorial needs. However, in apparently female handwriting, someone had kindly written, "Sorry!" at an angle after it. Well, either they were being kind or making a point of how bad it was... (i.e. your writing is sorry!) I took it as a kind word implying that they felt bad having to reject me and so I enjoyed this notice more than some. I sent the same story to three places altogether. I await two more answers. I submitted yet a different story elsewhere. I expect I'll be getting mail from myself again tomorrow if my timetable continues to hold true. Four days to New York, four days back.

It's nice to know there are some things I can count on.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Rejection Notice Olympics

Can't decide what I have to say that anyone in blogworld would care to read, even a sister. But you will be pleased to hear that I’m going to pass on sharing petty whinings. Those should be saved for a personal journal where overemphasis on fear, pain and the “waa, waa” of trouble is acceptable, and which also, thankfully, goes unread by an audience at large.

So I’ll tell you this instead... I went to work today, if that’s of any interest. I find I like to have a job that I actually go to here and there to lend validity to my work ethic. It gives me a sense (however misguided) of stability. So, yes, I went to work today. Tomorrow I will work on media projects. Two of which are for actual clients. Yes, I have clients. Whatever small semblance of validity this part of what I do gives to my work ethic matters little really, because it is what I enjoy. What I would love is paying video clients. See, if I could get this aspect of my freelance work to pay off a little more often, then petty whinings would need not spill over to any journal. OK, I really don’t even vent to my personal journal much anymore. I sort of took a stand against whiny journaling because I found it horribly boring to reread. And I like to reread my journals, so I like to write things that I find interesting. So I prefer to write about observations from my life of how I see God in the everyday things around me. That can be fascinating.

Well, since there will be no whining, and I have no video project to share the status of, I will tell all of you, my blog readership, that I sent out four writing submissions last week. If my calculations are correct, and I’m pretty sure they are, I should be receiving my rejection notices, on schedule, as early as tomorrow. Most of these places don’t waste any time sending the notice back. I think they poise themselves with the rejection slip ready as the mailman hits the up button on their elevator downstairs. As he enters the office door, they snatch your manilla envelope from the stack, shove their cruel notice into the self-addressed, stamped envelope you've stupidly provided for this dirty deed, and they do it at precisely the same moment as they open the packet you’ve sent. Without batting an eye, they get the envelope licked and back in the mailman's hand before he exits the room. Amazing talent. It takes deft hands to do this all at once; but then, these people are pros. It’s someone’s sole calling in life to open mail and return rejections at lightning speed. They probably train from childhood preparing for the rejection notice olympics. Maybe trophies and plaques line the walls honoring the rejection notice gold, silver and bronze medalists. I guess you might say I am not prone to believing they ever even read the cover letter. I had one rejection come back so fast it was as if they had sent a courier to intercept my mail halfway, say in North Carolina, so they could yank the return envelope out and slap my rejection back in my face so fast I’d never bother them again. Ha! But bother I did. And bother I will. They don’t know what a bother I can be. (sinister laugh)

Actually, it would be a more accurate picture to imagine me as one who sits moping, chin in my hands, staring down at my toes, hoping that one day, maybe one day, someone will choose me... and then... (sounds of me choking up) I won’t have to be...(sniff) a blogspot... wallflower... any... more. (Full soap opera sob, complete with quivering lip).

Just kidding. I may be a wallflower but I sort of like it. And I submit to the rejection process, well, because I can, and... because... ya just never know.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Yabba Dabba, Doo!

Sunday afternoon:

Went to grocery store = spent too much (grocery prices are going up in tandem with the cost of gas.)

As promised, I took my daughter to the beach despite how late in the day it was = It was so cold I stayed dressed and wrapped in a towel the entire time we were there, which lasted approximately 45 minutes. There was a man-o-war on the beach and no shells through which to search. We ate a bag of sour gummy worms like it was popcorn. Casey talked a lot and I listened and then we left. It was a nice time despite the fact we didn’t do anything. The highlight was the man we saw on the way out of the parking lot with the scariest, hairiest back we’d ever seen. We stared as long as we could without being detected as we drove away, we were compelled, and then we didn’t think we could eat dinner tonight.

Arrived home to our post-hurricane home which amazingly still looks post hurricane 5 months after, and decided then and there to go to the home improvement store to get lattice to replace that which the wind carried away along with the bougainvillea (I can't spell it either, how's this version?) that once grew upon it. I don’t like my house looking naked. Casey despises home improvement stores but perked up to find we weren’t going to K-mart. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Found Lowe’s lattice department after being taken by Casey through the kitchen and bath centers where she gleefully tested every appliance and faucet, touched every countertop, opened every cabinet and appliance door, dreamed of owning every single cool item we saw, and a few we didn’t. We found and carried the bulky 8’x 4’ lattice out to pay for it, all while Casey, who was bringing up the rear, kept poking me in the butt with the two posts she was carrying as well. She found this exceptionally funny. That’s when it hit us that we would have to have a way to get this huge thing home in our not so huge car. But there was no turning back. We had carried the thing a quarter of a mile. We would find a way to get it in the car.

In a flash of brilliance we decided to try putting the back seats down. We were so excited. We had never used this feature. This would be cool! Actually it wasn’t. The opening from the back seat into the trunk was the size of a toaster oven. So we had no choice; we bent the lattice in half lengthwise, shoved and pulled and risked stares and quizzical looks from passersby and the possibility of breaking or bending it for all eternity. But we are exceptional women. Even without twine to tie down the trunk lid, and the lattice sticking out, we took off, but not without Casey warning that we weren’t allowed to do that. We made it home despite the constant banging of the trunk lid as it flung first all the way up, then crashed down. All the way up, bonk! All the way down. Clunk! Over and over. A little nerve-wracking.

We managed to unbend our lattice quite easily when we got home. I had to get the two posts into the ground to attach the lattice to since it wouldn’t quite reach that far down from the roof where it was to be attached. This was when I realized that I had gone from living in the 60’s, the era I feel stuck in most of the time, and realized that now I had fallen back perhaps to the stone age, doing things in a manner not unlike like the Flintstones. See, I don’t have many tools, and rarely the one I need. I always improvise. Come over some time and I’ll show you ways to rig things you wouldn’t dream of doing on your own property. It may not be professional, but I can usually find a way to make something do for a long time in a less than efficient way. Then I leave it that way until it breaks to the point of ir-rigability

I was digging the post holes, first with a kitchen spoon, and then when I needed to go deeper I moved on to the only other object I could find with enough length and the correct width to do the job. A big paint stirrer. I used it like a drill. One end had indents and I twirled and twirled trying to soften the ground so the 2x2 posts could be sunken by the might of my right arm and a hammer. I thought about my crude tools and the way I find to do the things that have to be done and I thought, what the heck, it’s free. Why spend a money I don’t have on tools I’ll use once in a zillion years, when I can improvise for free. The paint stirrer didn’t cost a penny and it worked. I pounded those posts in like a maniac. And though it took a bit of muscle, yes I have some in there somewhere, and some grit, I got the little posts in really quite far, despite the fact that one of them was the wrong kind and was pointed on both ends and the other had no pointy end. Try hammering a pointy ended piece of wood about a foot and a half into the ground with a hammer. But we did it. Casey helped. I told you we were exceptional women.

We stopped at that point, leaving the lattice up against the wall, job unfinished because I noticed a significant number of weeds in the grass that needed my deft pulling technique. At that point it was all over. I spent the next hour until darkness had overtaken my eyesight, pulling weeds with fury. I get started and I can’t stop. Of course I do it with the most careful posture. Here’s the technique: stand, bend at the waist and pull using only the lower back. Works wonders for keeping pain relief companies in business.

So that was the adventure of the day. Casey and I spent the rest of the night on the couch watching extreme home makeover and another show about people who had struck it rich winning the lottery. The lottery show made me wish for more and made me thankful to have less both at the same time. We discussed our distaste for the gaudy overabundance that we see on TV. I told casey I was content with the things I have. She argued that babies and old people are more content than I. I disagreed, and said babies are the greediest. So we settled on old people as winning the title of most content with what they have. This led to Casey trying to figure out how many years she had left to live and then calculating how old she would be when I died. I tried to remind her that you never know how long you have. I told her we could have an accident at any time. She said something kind of funny about not wanting to hear me talk about accidents. And then she kept calculating though, because she wants to be sure she’s at least 20 before I go. She said she needs to have me around until she moves out at the least. I told her I would do my best. That gives me eight more years. I hope I can make it at least that far. We could have a lot of great times from here to there and beyond. I hope to enjoy each moment like today.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

One Step Forward

I’m scanning again, yes, I’m scanning again. Sing it like a show tune! After a successful software download, I had the ever so gratifying experience of learning another new software program last night. Yeah, you only wish you could have spent Friday night in my shoes (slippers actually).

Let’s just say the journey from familiarity to feeling lost in space gave me an overwhelming urge to cry. I was completely unprepared for the new scanner to be such a pain and so time consuming. I was this close (thumb and forefinger held less than a millimeter apart) to crying because I had already removed all the blue securing tape, the super duper big yellow tape that apparently held some secret force, for they warned severely over and over in the directions that it not be removed until I was ordered to do so. I had peeled off all the protective covering, downloaded the software and started the system in order to begin scanning and figure it all out. There was no turning back. My (i.e. the visa company’s) $160.00 was gone and already collecting more interest than I’ll probably make this week. The last straw was that the new scanner was complicated and time consuming, and I have to be able to scan more than 30 pictures an hour. I don’t have time for frills. Yet, I had invested hours and hours on this new scanner; I had to remain committed to what I had started... I hate that.

Not wanting to face defeat and knowing there are several lifetimes of pictures waiting to be scanned here for a whole lot of projects, I had to buck the trend toward tears and keep going. Crying would only slow me down. I guess I got ticked instead. I couldn’t believe this scanner couldn’t do a simple scan and do it quickly! So I pressed on. Yes, it’s a good thing to get ticked and press on. After wasting several precious hours doing all the wrong things in my quest to learn, while fighting the constant, nagging urge to cry, I ended up scanning about 70 pictures during the next hour and a half. A huge record for me.

Personally I am quite attached to the familiar, but there is something to be said for speedy scanning too. I think I can get the new system figured out eventually, and I don’t remember what buttons I finally pushed in what order to finally do what I wanted, so I’ll most likely have to endure another lesson with myself. There is also an apparent glitch in the system that doesn’t let me do a really basic thing. But, if all goes well and I scan even 40 or so pictures an hour, how great will that be!

Hey, three steps forward, only two back. That beats two forward and three back, right? If I didn’t think so, I’d definitely be crying as I would be digging through the garbage, trying to carefully unwad and reattach the blue and yellow tape and protective covering, and repackage my scanner so as to look like new when I’d try to return it. Then I’d have to start the process all over again.

I decided to take the one step forward that I’m left with and call it a deal. Sometimes I have to do that. Ok, I pretty much always have to do that. But, once again, I’m familiar with that, and I do so love the familiar.

Friday, March 04, 2005

No Such Thing As Nowhere

If you take a look at my photograph of the stairway to nowhere, you see there is a light at the end of the tunnel. While in a heap at the bottom of the stairs, I forgot to look up at that yesterday. I was still looking down until just a short while ago. It was a long night, a long day, and filled with ups and downs and edge of your seat drama. There were phone calls back and forth all day to the participants in our operation of intrigue and other glitches tossed in to turn my stomach.

My effort at doing something to facilitate a good deed with the help of a couple of other people was not without turmoil and mystery, anxiety and joy. I don't know of too many things that matter in my life that don't come with the spectrum of such emotion. I should have counted on it.

But the day is behind me now and while the outcome has been different than that which we intended, it turns out that above all, love came through. The participants (willing givers and intended recipients) in this ever thickening plot, although pulled headlong down the stairs and piled together at the bottom in a heap with me, could also be found with huge smiles on their faces and not a few tears of appreciation in their eyes. They could see they were loved enough to be taken on this joy ride, despite the glitches in the plan. Our adventure became the gift of love that it was intended to be, even if not the gift of a tangible item that we had hoped for when we began. And each of us received something, the intended givers and the intended receivers alike.

So I was on my way to somewhere; it only looked like nowhere from the middle of the mess. I don't think there really is such a thing as nowhere, except maybe in my own imagination. I’ll try to remember that next time. Meanwhile, never underestimate the power of an open hand to the One who sees you there on the dark stairway. I find Him always willing to replace the fumblings I hold out to Him, with a gift of His love. It's a worthwhile exchange.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Stairway to nowhere revisited

Stairway to nowhere. How telling that I would post that title last night. I have been on a stairway to nowhere of my own today. I was trying to climb up a few steps to help and care about someone deserving of the effort, trying to be a White Horse Rider like so many have been to me. But I never was good with horses, and apparently I don’t climb stairs too well either. I’ve taken one of those missteps that sent me rolling like Scarlett O’Hara down the grand staircase at her post-Tara mansion (did that one have a name)? I do remember saying the other day that you could call me Scarlett. I was so right.

So I’m pretty anxious tonight, sprawled out here on the steps of my eerie Stairway to Nowhere. Not only am I in this awkward place where everything’s gone wrong, but I have drug a whole host of innocent bystanders down with me as I’ve tumbled helter skelter or whatever it is that I have done in my overzealous effort for good. Why couldn’t I help to make a happy ending for someone? I wore the mask like Zorro and everything. Yet, it turns out I was more of an Underdog prodigy with poor timing, just missing that important something that would save the day.

I want to curl up in a ball and make the anxious thoughts and the competing voices of what’s right and what’s wrong go away. The angel and the demon are bickering on my shoulders again, and it sounds like gibberish to me. So if you don’t hear from me for a while, just picture me at the foot of the stairway trying to translate, or imagine me laying at the bottom in a heap, nursing my bruises and plugging my ears.

Better yet, I’ll pray, right here from the splattered mess of things. I’ll open my little hand and remember that it is all His to give or take as He sees fit. Sees beyond my narrow, dark stairway to nowhere into a somewhere I can’t imagine from my bent and crumpled vantage point. I know there’s a somewhere out there, and I look forward to how He’s going to get me there.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Stairway to Nowhere

I have been lacking images lately so I post this random photograph taken in Palm Beach the day I learned to really use my camera settings. I think this is one of my favorite photos of all time, that I have taken, because I made it look like this with the settings I chose. I couldn't do it again to save my life.

Conversations with Cap Guy

So a young guy comes across the back corner of my yard bearing a chain saw just now. Yes, this made me more than a little nervous. I've been watching them this morning, the workers of destruction. As predicted, Casey is of an ill nature, enough so that she requires extended sleep and a day off. I am working on a photo album job, but I can't tune out the sound of chain saws that have been buzzing on and off for the last hour. My mind is on the work out back. The neighbors tree is on it's side now. Having fallen into their clutches, it didn't stand a chance, and the sounds of its final demise have been stabbing at me so that I almost jump every time they rip into the roots, cutting them to smithereens. The young guy with the cap on had been loitering around the telephone pole at the back corner of our yard every time I looked out. He seemed to be assessing my tree. Fearfully I spied every few minutes from my secret lookout, unable to concentrate on my work. After an hour of this, I got up once more, sensitive to the sound of voices getting closer, and there he was approaching my tree with his chain saw poised to begin an evil deed. Argh! (I think I actually uttered that exact sound.)

I bolted out the door and then slowed down so as not to frighten him and I lilted in a sweet little voice... "excuse me," and I held up a finger like you might do when summoning someone politely. I was trying to avoid the flailing arms and the wretched look in my eye that might make them think they had a whack case on their hands. Even if they do, I figure I should at least try to disguise it a bit in hopes that it will help my case. I said, "You aren't going to take down my tree are you?" I said it in a pathetic little voice, like Cindy Lou Who talking to the grinch. Kind of a "Please Mr., please don't take our tree."

He told me he was going to cut some branches off. At the risk of sounding deaf or stupid, I asked again, for clarity, "But you're not going to tear it down, right?" He replied matter of factly that he wasn't but that he had to get rid of branches hanging in the way of the machines. I was relieved to say the least, but not that easily convinced, so I pushed further, not wanting to take any chances, and made sure he had no intention of cutting off my swing’s branch. "No," he smiled, "we won't." It might have been a condescending smile like "oh brother, here we go" but maybe he was just being nice, I’m not sure. I took a further chance with sounding like I was obsessed with my tree and proposed another scenario, "Now, if I leave thinking my tree is OK, some other guy who thinks differently isn't going to come and rip it out are they?" "No", he said smiling again. Well, what more could I say? I think I beat it pretty well to death. My work was done here so I turned around, satisfied with the outcome and went back into the house where I could fret in private.

Yeah, don’t expect me to quit jumping at every crack, clunk and buzz of the saw. I still plan to run to the window and check on their progress, from out of sight of course. I won’t stand in the yard like the paranoid; I’ll stand at my kitchen window and do it. It affords the best view of my precious tree and swing and ladder. I’m not fully convinced even with “cap guy’s” promise, that they won’t have an accident with that huge lavender back hoe they have out there now. I can just see it barging through and the guy in the cap yelling, “oops!” and looking toward my house with a sheepish look on his face. I’m keeping my eye on those guys. And you probably haven’t heard the last of me on this either.

I just went to get casey some water and much to my surprise, saw my neighbor who lives behind us talking to the workers. They’ve started tearing out his little banana trees and knocked his compost bins over into my yard and he was quietly speaking with them. I know he’s not worried but it did my heart good to at least see him make a showing out there so my concern doesn’t seem so exaggerated. Okay, mine is exaggerated no matter how you look at it. But you know what I mean.

They cut some branches off my tree already while I was typing this and I must say I can’t even tell where they cut them from, but... Oh crud, gotta run, the bobcat is barging past my tree as I type. I think the driver is on speed. He gets this flying start from two yards down and comes at ramming speed past my tree. What's with that? He has to stop at the pile of junk in the corner to pick it up with the claw. Not to be trusted, I tell you. May your day be sewer anxiety-free.