The Recipe of Me

Writing, especially my blog posts, isn’t something I do every day.  I find it takes me quite a while to get into the groove of the words and the message I want to convey.  I may have a tidbit of an idea germinating in my head but it takes some cogitating before I’m at a point where I can put it down on paper.  I use other things to help this process move along.  Finding a quiet place is one way.  Which usually involves turning off all outside stimulation, TV, radio and internet.  That last one is becoming the hardest to do.  I think I’m becoming addicted.  Again, off topic.  Reading past posts is one way I get in the right space in my head to write my thoughts down in a cohesive manner.

Which is where found myself the other day when I had some things I thought would make good posts.  I started reading older posts and in the process realized something about the way I think and find ideas.  I’m greatly influenced by what I’ve recently read, seen, heard or otherwise absorbed.  My posts are littered with references to movies, books, articles, TV shows, news reports, documentaries, conversations.  Which made me stop and think for a minute.  Was I incapable of thinking for myself or was it more a case of being open to new ideas and new ways of learning things?  I’m coming down most squarely on the side of the latter case.  Learning for me is like breathing and I’m constantly seeking out the why and how of things.  The inane facts I have in my RAM memory would put anyone to sleep, or wow your socks off.  I’ll choose the latter on that one as well.

In looking over all these influences and their ensuing posts, I realized that all of these tidbits and ideas make up who I am and what I think.  After all, I didn’t just take everything that crossed my path as gospel.  I weighed what I read and learned and made up my own mind on whether or not I agreed and accepted what I was being presented.  My sister says I need three pieces of facts before I’ll accept something that I feel skeptical about.  This used to make me defensive when she said that but I’ve come to embrace it with open arms.  It’s what makes me, well, me.  Finding my own way to my truth and adding a little bit here and a little bit there keeps me current, involved, active, evolving, seeking, challenged, growing.  And I can’t think of a better way to create this piéce de rèsistance!

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Words, Words, Words

I’ve just returned from an extended holiday in the UK.  It was first vacation I’ve had in probably 8 years that wasn’t work related, even though there was a smidge of work done on the trip.  This time I went further than just the city of London, which is one of my favorite cities on earth.  Even though I was a French major in college and have a fondness for Paris, I absolutely adore and am in serious crush with England.  And it returned the affection.  The weather was fabby, the people wonderful and the sites everything I’d want them to be.

I’d hoped to do more inhaling of the accent than I was able to but circumstances prevented that.  What I did do was listen to all the talking going on around me, which was so easy to do on the tube.  And for a word junkie like me, it was quite the treat.  I’d read somewhere that Americans use about 2000 words but the Brits use approximately 5000 words.  Very soon I was suffering from word envy.  And it was a serious case of the green eyed monster.  They use the language so richly that I was embarrassed to open my mouth sometimes.  Not really but you get my drift.  When you are in the presence of someone who has more skill than you do at something, a shyness comes about when you realize that you don’t measure up to their expertise and you’d be a fool to even try.

Instead of letting this stop me, I’m resolving to try to increase my master of language and all the wonderful words we have available to use.  After all, I just visited the home of where so many words were created hundreds of years ago.  I wouldn’t be doing my travels justice if I didn’t at least try.  So fair warning dear reader, you may need a dictionary nearby in the future.

Sliding into Home

I have been blessed with 8 nieces and nephews.  More nephews than nieces but I’m partial to both.  My brother and sisters were kind enough to select me to be the Godmother of the oldest and the youngest, both boys.  Let me tell you, the youngest one is a pistol and being around him is a blast.  He’s sharp as a tack and built like a toddler linebacker, an interesting combination.  The oldest one is very observant, serious, smart, impatient and likes to know he’s got a handle on everything, that’s he’s in control of his environment.  He’s a good student although I wish he liked to read more as it opens up your world so much.  Whatever Aunt Pam.  Sometimes I feel as if I’ve turned into the adults from the Peanuts cartoon when I’m talking to the kids, so much “wah, wah, wah”.  But start talking to him about sports and watch his face light up.  He’s a huge sports fan, from baseball to golf to football to basketball.  He’s truly a student of the game and it shows in how much he can tell you about any subject.  He’s also an active participant of several sports.  He plays football in the fall, baseball in the spring and has a really nice natural golf swing he breaks out in the summer, which makes his Nana very happy to see.

Since it is Spring, we are in the midst of baseball season for all the kids even the girls.  Every game counts for each team as it gets closer to the playoffs.  This particular game was a real nail biter as it went down to the closing innings and our team was behind.  My nephew is leading off third as the pitcher throws a wild pitch.  He takes off down the baseline and slides into home plate.  Only his cleat catches on the base and his leg goes one way and he goes the other.  Followed by the pitcher falling on him.  Snap!  You could hear it pretty far away.  Both bones, tibia and fibula, broken.  As he was being carried off the field for the trip to the emergency room, tears streaming down his face, he looks up at his coach and asks “was I safe?”  He was.  As the tears resume, he stops them once again to ask “did we win?”  The game wasn’t over but it was the go ahead run.

Pretty amazing.  Not the part that made me smile, the questions that were topmost in his mind, but the total commitment he had to taking advantage of an error and getting to home plate.  Nothing was going to deter him.  His goal was to get to home plate no matter what.  There’s something to be learned from this terrible experience.  There will be obstacles and sometimes setbacks as you pursue what you want.  But being completely fearless and totally committed will get you the results you want in the end.  Oh, and they did win the game…by one run.

High School Reunions

Last weekend was my High School reunion.  I’m not going to say which one it was because it’s noneyabidness but it was long enough ago that we’ve all mellowed a bit.  Or at least we now have the funds to bail ourselves out if things get too out of hand.  I always attend these with mixed feelings because my high school years were not those of 90210, Glee or Gilmore Girls and most certainly not like Gossip Girls!  High School was difficult for me.  I didn’t fit in in many ways, wasn’t a jock or a Cheerio, light years away from a brainiac, I’d skipped a grade so I was a year younger than everyone, didn’t have an older sibling to help pave the way, went to a parochial school instead of a public school.  Nothing really to make my transition to this awkward time any easier.

My freshman year was the year the school board decided to move the 9th grade from the middle school to the high school.  As a result there were about 850 new students, freshman and sophomores, trying to navigate our way into the “big leagues”.  You’d think that would make it easier since over half the school was new but not for me.  Everyone seemed to know each other already since they’d been fed from the middle school.  I stumbled through the first year but didn’t really find my friends until the next group of freshman came in and I started hanging out with them.  Guess I just needed to be with people my age instead of grade.

Because of this, whenever a reunion approaches I’m not struck with the overwhelming desire revisit the memories.  I wasn’t very close to my classmates and haven’t really maintained attachments post graduation.  I went out of state for college and never resided near my hometown.

Having said that, I’ve attended each one.  I sometimes scratch my head over my desire to reconnect but I still spent some very important time with these people.  We had the same experiences, teachers and memories.  Maybe it’s sadistic of me to attend but I’m really curious as to where my peers lives have taken them.  I know I’m a far cry from who I was during high school and I wonder if others evolved as well.  And that seemed to be the case at least among the attendees.  The essence of who they were in high school was still there but it was so much fuller and fascinating.  There were quite a few people like myself that were embarking on their second careers.  Others that were raising families in various stages and ages.  But everyone seemed very happy to be there and really interested in finding out about everyone else.  The cliques seemed to vanish…FINALLY!  Of course we only had a small percentage attend so maybe I’m not getting a full picture of the class.  But I left that evening with a fonder filter with which to remember my school years and school mates.  Oh, and really sore feet.  Fabby looking shoes but oh the price I paid!

Furry Roommates

Pets have always been a part of my life.  I grew up with dogs.  I think I was about 9 or 10 when we got our first dog.  It was a toy poodle and was a complete bundle of nerves. Who wouldn’t be with 4 kids trying to dress you up in doll clothes, running around in total chaos and constantly interrupting your peace and quiet?  Ok so maybe that was just me.  No wonder he didn’t seem to want to come when I called.

When we moved, unfortunately he kept trying to go back to the old house and didn’t make it across the busy road in front of our house.  Mac, our first Sheltie came into our home.   He was big for the breed which helped him hang with our growing family better.  He could keep up with the bike riding and skateboarding no problem.  He lived to the ripe old age of 17.  Then came McDuffy.  His stay was brief, shortened by Lymphoma.

These guys were all family pets.  They weren’t really mine; they bonded most closely with my Mom and Dad.  Partly because my siblings and I weren’t permanent residents in the house anymore but most likely because Mom and Dad were ones feeding and caring for them.

My first pet that was just mine was a Sheltie named Lily.  She was my sister from another mister.  Just as bossy and nosy as I am.  We were inseparable, until cancer shortened her life just shy of her 11th birthday.  It broke my heart to say goodbye, but I was looking into her eyes as she drew her last breath.

It took me a long time to get over losing her but I think I’m finally getting ready for another fur baby.  I’ve had a few practice sessions recently with a friends Lab and most recently my Mom’s Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  He’s been a trip.  Still a puppy, his training isn’t the best and his primary focus seems to be loud squeaky toys.  Needless to say we’ve had a few accidents on the floor which I seem to have conveniently forgotten puppies do.  And when I’m trying to work, his drags in his squeaky toys into the studio.  If I don’t pick up on the hint, he proceeds to either consistently depress the squeaker or put it under something where he can’t retrieve it and then bark until I get down on my hands and knees to fetch the errant toy.  Who’s training whom here?

Having him around reminds me how much companionship dogs offer.  I miss that.  It’s a lot of work though and I’m rethinking that part of the equation.  No decisions yet but it does give me pause.

Picking Up Where We Left Off

Recently I got to visit a dear friend of mine.  She used to live very close to me and when she wasn’t travelling we did a lot of fun things together.  She’s a fabulous connector and one of her greatest strengths is when she meets you, she remembers you and important details about you.  And she really does this in a very sincere way.  I’ve learned a lot from just being around her and how she interacts with others.

Sadly several years ago she moved back east and we don’t get to see each other as much as we used to.  We talk about once a week or so but it’s not the same.  So when we get the chance to get together, it’s really a treat for me.  This is the third time this year we’ve been able to be in the same room, which I think is the most since she’s lived here.  My flight got in pretty early on a Saturday and since her boyfriend was playing golf that day, we had several hours of uninterrupted time together.  And it was just like I’d seen her yesterday.  Only we didn’t pause to take a breath for about 3 hours!  Once we got caught up on the personal stuff we had lots of current events and political topics to microscopically examine.  We have pretty similar beliefs and philosophies so it’s like hearing yourself talk sometimes.  And when we disagree, it’s always done in an informed respectful way.  Which is so wonderful and sadly not always easy to find these days.  My Mom really gets a kick out of listening to us talk to each other, I don’t see it but she thinks it’s funny.

The bestest thing about this relationship is how non-judgmental, how supportive and how loving it is.  We truly pick up right where we left off with no recriminations if it’s been several weeks or someone forgot to call back or couldn’t talk earlier.  Friendships like that are absolutely golden.  Not all of my relationships have been this way and when I started to find friends who were, it really cast a harsh light on relationships that might have been more toxic than not.  I let those people move on without me and I’m ok with having done that.  Having fewer but really awesome people in your life is more important to me than having lots of not-so-great acquaintances cluttering up the space.

Thousand Points of Light

One of my two favorite Brothers In Law (full disclosure, I only have 2!) co-opted a phrase a few years back in reference to my sister and myself.  It was back during the second Bush’s presidency and was taken from a speech he’d given on volunteerism.  President Bush made reference to all volunteers being a thousand points of light in the darkness of our world.

As I said, my BIL co-opted this phrase and used it when my sister and I would talk to each other.  One of the things I love about her is how fast she processes information.  She’s even faster than I am  – which of course I’m totally jealous of.  I’m so used to how fast we bang around topics that I am always taken by surprise when I meet someone who isn’t quite as adept.  It can be a bit challenging for those around us when we get started to keep up but boy is it fun when we are in full swing.  Lots of ground gets covered in those talks.  And we can switch gears midstream to a new topic, hence the thousand points of light reference, with ease and then pick up the old topic without a breath.  It truly is refreshing.  What’s really cool is her daughter is just like her and to watch her little brain work far beyond her years just blows me away.

We haven’t done that in a while.  Life, obligations and responsibilities often get in the way.  I miss it.  Maybe when things slow down we can get back to it.  I have this vision though that we’ll both be so deaf, we’ll just be having these lightening fast conversations at each other and not with each other.  That’s when I really pity those around us!