Patching holes

Last summer my brother and brother-in-law came up to help me do some minor repairs that I’d been putting off for quite a while.  It was a very busy weekend but great progress was made which I continued for several weeks after they left.  One of the biggest things they help me take care of were two big holes I had, one in a ceiling due to a leak and the other in a wall due to some long ago plumbing work.  The ceiling hole was the newest of the two but was most definitely the biggest.  The wall hole had been there probably 7 years.  Maybe even longer.  I was pretty astounded I’d let it go that long.  Once it was patched and the walls painted and everything else taken care of, I felt like I had a brand new room.  I couldn’t believe I’d let this go for so long.  But in the rush of life, I’d put these repairs and the tattered state of my home in the background along with all the other visual white noise my brain doesn’t see.  Now I go into that room and it makes me smile every time I flip on the light.

Finally patching the holes and doing these repairs made me realize I’d let quite a few areas of my life become neglected and needing repair.  It seems I’d lost the forest while looking at the daily trees.  Note to self, let’s not let that happen again.  Now where did I put that drill?

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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!

Oh Brother!

Today is my brothers birthday.  He’s the one next to me in line so he’s the oldest male in the family.  We are 20 months apart in age but since I was Miss SmartyPants and had to skip a grade, we were 3 grades apart.  In high school the age difference was probably the broadest as he was a freshman when I was a oh-so-cool-I-can’t-talk-to-you senior.  I mean I had my driver’s license.  Come on, how much cooler could I get?  Oh I’d deign to talk to him when I was giving him a ride to school in the mornings.  Poor guy, my extensive ministrations every morning meant we were flying to school as fast as my 1972 Chevy Nova V-8 engine could carry us.  He inevitably was sprinting across the railroad tracks from the student parking lot in a vain attempt to not be late for his first hour of class.  Whatever, he was a freshman.  They’re supposed to suffer.

Strangely enough he followed me to college and enrolled in the engineering school at Marquette my senior year.  There is an infamous story about his interview with the Dean of the engineering school that I accompanied him on.  As I’d done for most of his life, I proceeded to answer all the questions the Dean asked my brother.  At which point the Dean turned to me and oh so elegantly led me down my path of self betrayal “So, do you want to attend Marquette?” he asked.  ” Oh no sir” I replied with no little bit of condescension “I’m already enrolled here”.  He smiled and replied “then I don’t need to talk to you do I?”  The smile on my brother’s face was priceless.  Someone had finally told his sister in no uncertain terms to shut up.  Yes Virginia, miracles do happen.

As we’ve aged, the age difference has dissipated.  In fact, sometimes I think he’s more mature than I am.  He created (along with his beautiful wife) the family I’d always wanted.  He’s been the rock I’ve turned to more times than I can remember, especially these past 20 months.  He’s the one I know will drop everything when I need help.  He calls to check up on me every week and he lets me do all the talking once again.  I can honestly say, he’s more than a brother to me, he’s one of my best friends.  I’m very, very lucky to have him in my life.  Thanks Bro, and Happy Birthday.

Kid Magic

I have to be the luckiest aunt in the universe.  I am blessed with some great nieces and nephews and I’m not just saying that because they are going to have to help Aunt Pam wipe the drool off her face when she’s older and more senile than she is today.  I’ve a good mixture of genders and ages so I really get a cross section of the stages in a child’s life.  They’re all still young so there’s lots of learning and exploring to experience.  Whenever I feel stuck in a rut or down about something, I phone one of my siblings and ask for some kid time.  Let me tell you, it’s one of the greatest gifts I give to myself.  Getting down on the floor and playing make believe with some sticks and cardboard and miscellanea and coming up with a very plausible story out of it all is the best way to unlock one’s creative juices.  I even learn stuff from them.  I mean real stuff.  One of them who’s just started reading chapter books, informed me that Teddy Roosevelt was president from 1901-1909 and when pressed about accuracy, pulled out the book and pointed to the section of text where it could be found.  Remember I need irrefutable facts to believe a statement.  But I can guarantee I’ll never forget the years of TR’s presidency ever!  Kids don’t care if an audition went south or the car is acting up or whatever else ails you in the day.  Kids are immediate in every sense of the word.  Keeping me in the present and active in the conversation, not worrying about stuff that really doesn’t matter at the moment, can’t be resolved by fretting  and most likely is just mind taffy anyway.  It’s a super power they have and they don’t even know it.  But if  you look real close, you might see a few of them in capes zooming around.  I’ll be right behind them trying to shake the cobwebs off my cape.

Spell Check

I find myself in a quandary.  I’ve always considered myself a good speller and grammarian although I successfully hid these talents from my teachers throughout my academic progression.  The spelling talent was a gift of my Mother (along with a great sense of direction) and the grammar via my Dad, the English major turned surgeon.  Because of these gifts, I am quick to spot errors in the writings of others.  This isn’t a talent guaranteed to win you friends so I’ve worked very hard over the years to suppress my need to be right when confronted with the mistakes of others.  Although I was an absolute snot recently at a fancy party where I corrected a delightful gentleman on his pronunciation of Hermes.  Some things just can’t go mispronounced, it’s a crime against fashion and sacrilegious to boot.

However recently while reading several blogs and daily e-blasts from sources I respect and reference consistently, the spelling and syntax errors were so glaring and blatant they took me right out of the story and the experience it had been providing to me.  It was jarring to say the least.  And disappointing.

The quandary comes from the fact that I have recently taken on writing in a fairly consistent and public manner.  I am coming to realize the challenge of feeding this word monster regularly.  And the fact that sometimes in my haste, I may make a error just like I’ve been reading recently.  Top it off with the fact that I HATE to be found wrong.  I know, that may be a shocker to you but if you need confirmation, just ask any of my siblings.  My sister says I need 3 facts to back anything up before I’ll reverse myself on a statement.  I have no idea what she’s talking about.  But, statistically over time, I’m bound to make an error or three.  And that stinks.  I need to invent a thought check so what I’m thinking comes out coherently, structured correctly and spelled to perfection.  Not likely to happen, so maybe I’ll just slow down, re-read what I’ve written and if I do make a mistake, strive to do better next time.