Sunday, July 31, 2005

What I want . . .

. . . is really quite simple:A small house in the middle of the woods. Two bedrooms. A loft for my office. A deck. A screened-in porch for the cats. No lawn – just trees. I don’t want to spend my time mowing. But I do want a small open space in the back – out of sight – a circle where I will plant special flowers and herbs and have my fire pit. I am designing a concrete circle with a copper fire pit in the middle – I would embed special rocks and stones that I have collected into the concrete.

There was a house similar to that for sale in the Poconos and so I drove up there today to look for it – directions were from and they were wrong – wrong – wrong. The directions lead me into a development of over-priced McMansion-wannabes. I felt my stomach clench as soon as I saw them – huge houses surrounded by small green lawns and large SUVs.

No. No. No. I want serenity, seclusion and nature.

And maybe the Poconos is not the place. It was a beautiful summer day and Rt. 209 was jammed in both directions. Rt. 22 through the Lehigh Valley at rush hour was faster.

Where can I go to hear the birds without the sound of an internal combustion engine? Maybe I’m really Amish.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Right Thing . . .

. . .sometimes that's hard to do. Sometimes it's easy.

I got the call late. I hadn't picked up my messages one day. The voice on the recording was my ex-husband's and he sounded a bit shakey - he needed a quadruple bypass - open heart surgery. Because his surgery was rescheduled, I was able to be at the hospital the day he went into the operating room.

I know - he's my ex-husband. I could hear the jokes. But I had to be there. He's the father of my only child. A daughter who is 3000 miles away and who would be frantic with worry.

I decided to be there when he went to surgery. It's good to know that someone is waiting for you - even if when you come out, you're sedated and on a ventilator. It's the thought that someone is there - someone cares.

And so I was there - have been there - visiting everyday since he became a member of the "zipper club." I visit for about an hour, walk with him down the hall, listen and joke. Then I go home and call Heather to give her an update on her father's progress.

Sometimes it's easy to do the right thing.
Sometimes you don't even have to think about it.

Abraham Lincoln and Harry Potter

You would think there was not much of a connection between the two.
Well, think again.

In the latest wizardly adventure, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry and company must learn to "apparate" - travel invisibly from one place to another. Neat trick. Their professor tells them that the secret to this skill is to think: "Destination, Determination and Deliberation." That phrase struck a cord with me. Isn't that how we should "go" anywhere, invisible or not?

Destination: We decide "where" we want to be - for example: "Where do I want to be five years from now?"

Determination: We set our intention on how we're going to achieve that goal

Deliberation: We proceed to that goal.

Okay, you may say - good ideas, but where does Abe come into the equation?
I recently found this quote by our sixteenth President:

Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.- Abraham Lincoln

"Destination" - the "thing" that must be done.
"Determination" - the reason why it must be done
"Deliberation" - finding the way.

Maybe Lincoln went to Hogwart's.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A library with no books?

That's what the University of Texas at Austin may have soon as it moves out stacks of books for computer terminals, sofas and coffee bars.

My first reaction to this article on Chronicle Careers (a website BTW) was: Well, that's TEXAS for you. My second reaction was sadness and a sense of loss - - - what those students will lose -- more than they may ever know.

Books have been the stabilizer in my life - men may come and go; my daughter may move across the country; friends change; I even have had to put beloved pets to their eternal rest; but my books - my shelves and shelves of books - well, they're always there for me.

Poe is right where I put him last. As is F Scott and even Zelda.
Anne Rice is huddled on a shelf near Stephen King - who has a couple of different spots, depending on the volumes sizes. Lillian Jackson Braun resides close by Anne Kelleher - who really doesn't like cats but that's OK. Geoffrey Ashe's many works sit on a shelf above Dashiel Hammett - both great gentlemen but of different sensibilities. Harlan Ellison stands alone - but close to CS Lewis and Joyce Carol Oates.

There are many more favorite books and soon to be favorite books. Harry Potter and his ilk even have their own rocking chair in my living room.

I can see them whenever I want - gaze at the varied titles - from The Tycoon to Watership Down -whenever I want. I don't have to boot up or log on and I can pile them around me - researching and moving from one to the other without changing screens. I have every one of them "saved" - and not on floppies.

I have two company laptops and my second personal computer. I have an eBookman. But my books - my many-paged and many times paged books - are my constant companions.

Set me in a little house in the woods and all I would need, after food and water, would be a purring cat on my lap and shelves of books.

I guess I'm old fashioned. But that's okay.
I'm having dinner with Edgar Alan tonight and JK Rowling - they make a lovely couple.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Been Busy . . .

. . . reading.

There’s a recent post on this blog about guy-watching at B&N and how I was distracted by – of all things – a book. Well, I’ve been reading that book, The Historian. I finished it Saturday – just in time because Harry was waiting in my mailbox.

Yes, I’m a Harry Potter fan. But more about Harry in a minute. Back to The Historian.

I have two words for this book: Read it! It’s the thinking person’s DaVinci Code. It’s a well-written and intricate story told in letters and narrative and spanning many countries and centuries – from the Cold War to the Ottoman Empire – all in search of Vlad the Impaler – with beautiful prose interwoven into an exciting adventure.

And now for Harry: What can I say? I am not disappointed. I am well into the new Potter Tome and I am happily ensconced in the world of Wizards, Witches, Dumbeldores and ugly house elves. Happy, happy girl am I. I went from Vlad to Harry with nary a skipped beat of the heart.

I am in love. . .
With words, with pages, with books, with anyone who can transport me from Greenwood Avenue to Sofia, to Istanbul, to Hogwarts. Goddess bless ‘em all.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Not the Pretty One

I've mentioned this before - in a very early post - but it's been knocking around again in my brain lately.

The story goes like this: I overheard one of my father's friends tell him that "at least you have one pretty daughter." I was old enough to know that he was referring to me. It wasn't so much that remark that hurt so bad (it hurt enough) - it was Dad's silence.

I've been chubby since the age of 7 or 8 - at least that's when my school pictures seem to have changed. I also remember being in Children's Hospital of Washington D.C with some mysterious ailment - and being a very skinny kid and picky eater - very picky. I am no longer - I started to eat when Mom and Dad started to equate food with love: "You must not love us if you won't eat the food I worked hard to get for you (Dad) and I worked hard to fix for you (Mom)."

But I can't fault them - they were both children of the Depression and I know that there were many nights when they probably went to bed hungry - eating/food was love to them. And then to me.

There was a time when I lost 80 pounds - immediately after my divorce. Not that I was devastated - I had initiated the break-up. I just decided that I needed to be healthy for my daughter - and the weight came off and the men gathered around. Finally I was pretty - but it took a long time before I found someone who I thought would love me even if I stopped being pretty.

I found him but he died waiting for a heart transplant. And over the years since I've gained back some of that lost weight - I've also gone through menopause and one bout with cancer. I nursed my mother when she was dying of cancer and was at my father's beside when he died.

And I've had my share of gentlemen in those years.

I'm trying to decide if I want to venture down that path again - searching for a male companion as I reach 60.

Is it worth it to bring up all those old insecurities of not being the pretty one - not being pretty enough - not being slim enough . . .

I'm certainly smart enough, outgoing enough, loving enough. . .
But would I look good on the arm of a 60 year old man.
I guess that depends on if he feels GOOD enough for me.

Friday, July 08, 2005

So. . . .things change . . .so what?

In the past year I’ve had two nurses in my department resign (the latest one just this week); I broke up with my boyfriend of five years; and my daughter moved across the country. I’m not drinking, smoking or doing drugs. I’m not even promiscuous. I’m just living my life – still, quietly and in the best way I can – by being a loving, giving person.

It doesn’t take much – just focus on someone else – two-legged or four-legged people – doesn’t make much difference.

And continue to treat everyone – even the ones who leave you for whatever reason – as if they are still precious to you.

Because they were and they still are. Their trip through your life made you what you are today. Hopefully, that’s a good person.

“It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.” Lena Horne

Thursday, July 07, 2005

So you thought I was gone for good?

Nope - just on vacation and now I'm back online.
I was in Gettysburg and there were no computers in 1863.

Observations of a woman alone on vacation

Here is what I saw last week:
Inconsiderate parents
Petulant children
Insolent teenagers

Why would someone take a baby - less than 3 months old - to a reenactment of a Civil War battle - in July - with cannons booming and rifles firing in dust, dirt, heat and bugginess? Why? I was so happy to see the baby pee all over the mom.

Why would ANY parent think that walking a Civil War battlefield is a good way to entertain or educate a child under 6? (See above). Or that the battlefield is the perfect place for a stroller? (Kudos to shops with signs on their doors, saying: "We do not allow strollers in our shop." That saved many an ankle from being bruised.)

Shrill screaming does NOT belong in a restaurant - even a Friendly's - children screaming does NOT make this customer friendly at all.

Why not educate your kids about the Battle and some of its implications before you leave your hometown? Give them an idea WHY you're dragging them away from their videogames.

And, please, please, please, please - when you're child asks you a question, respond to that question so other people around you will not hear the incessant, "Mom - mom -mom - mom - mom . . . . . . . ."

I guess I became a female curmudgeon the morning I saw little kids running and screaming around the gravesites at Gettysburg National Cemetery. To everything, there is a season - and a place - and that is the place for respect. We don't seem to be teaching that to our children - respect and consideration.

Maybe I'm just turning into an old fart?

No. I don't think so. What is right is right.

Respect, consideration - to get it, teach it and give it.